Re: Ishmael being offered as sacrifice

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on March 31, 2002 at 14:23:00:

In Reply to: Ishmael being offered as sacrifice posted by Hedyeh Lafaurie on March 24, 2002 at 20:06:41:

In addition to the other reference Rob as given, look at the last two paragraphs of the following:

As a side note, the Qur'án does not explicitly state that Ishamel was the one sacrificed, although the context would imply it. However, given that Baha'u'llah affirms it is so (and as His Interpreters further confirm), we of course should accept this.

The previous should be enough to go on, but if you like, read on... :)

Cole writes, "When asked about this contradiction with the Bible, 'Abdu'l-Bahá acknowledges that early Islamic tradition admitted both possibilities, but that at that point the people of the East tended to speak of Ishmael. He says that the name is unimportant, and either could be used, since it is the symbol of the sacrifice that is key ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Makátib, volume 2 [Cairo: Matba'ah Kurdistan al-'Ilmiyyah, 1912] 328-30)." ( (I don't have an English translation to verify this understanding.) (However, I would disagree with the rest of this author's implied contention published therein that there is some contradiction with Shoghi Effendi's requirement of Bahá'ís to uphold it as being Ishmael, as various factors, such as progressive unfoldment within the revelation and/or the need for seekers not to be engaged in needless argumentation would be implied by 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement (and that of the Universal House of Justice above). Shoghi Effendi's statement would seem to focus on upholding the integrity of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, while 'Abdu'l-Bahá's would seem to focus on one needing not to dwell on this if Muslims or Christians wish to contend otherwise.

The Central Figures have always sought to bring us to recognize the progressive sequence of Revelation (Jews and Christians should accept Muhammad, for example, and not stay aloof from or feel their religion superior to that of Muslims or expect Muslims to make their love exclusive to Moses or Christ), However, this is always done so as not to push those too strongly who are still anchored in their excessive attachment (though out of a kind of love) to the earlier Manifestation. The same applies, I would say, for us as Bahá'ís in upholding the exclusive necessity to recognize Bahá'u'lláh alone as the Manifestation of God for this age (a principle implied in the "oneness of God") while consorting in fellowship with followers of other religions whether or not they ever accept His Faith. Both aspects provide a divine test for seekers and for those who accept the most recent Manifestation:

1) Love is required for Bahá'ís to come out of their shells to nudge seekers to accept the more recent Manifestations up through Bahá'u'lláh, even if it is a challenge for the seeker to hear. To paraphrase a quotation in Gleanings, we must see their objections only as a baby being weaned from its mother's milk.

2) Love is required for Bahá'ís to be sensitive so as not to push this need or to dwell on terms or divisive points which detract from the purpose of bringing the seeker to capture the spirit of a more universal love (let alone fuller measure of guidance) which the acceptance of more recent Manifestations will bring (unless addressing these points is really necessary to that seeker in which case love implies we should research it further and not dismiss their concerns).

The corresponding seeker responsibilities I would say would be:

1) Love is required of seekers to hope sufficiently that a reconciliation of the Faiths is possible and realize their seeing with their own eyes to intellectually and spiritually accept other Manifestations of God (and the fuller revelation of the more recent Ones) does not reject their legitimate loyalties to a smaller segment of human civilization to which they belong (e.g., to their fellow Christians or Jews), but rather confirms this commitment and love in addition to expanding it to embrace Muslims, and so forth. Of course the Bahá'í cannot force this love, but we should realize it is their challenge and privilege to deal with. Of course the acceptance of a new way of thinking (as well as an implied and required new way of life) or obviously a great challenge.

2) Love is also required of seekers to not be caught up in nonessentials or arguments in making such an investigation, especially if they have a sincere enough love to become reconciled with God and their fellow men.

I feel the spirit of this love is powerfully captured in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's powerful enjoinders to Christians and Jews to investigate Muhammad (and Jews to investigate Christ) as can be found in Promulgation of Universal Peace (pp. 366-369, 407-415) and Paris Talks (section 13.17-13.19, pp. 40-41).

Congratulations for the good work in your loving engagement to share the proofs with a thirsting humanity!

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