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16. Who Started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs?
Chapter 3. Did Abraham visit Mecca?

3.3. Which problems arise from these Koran verses about Abraham and Mecca?

These verses of the Koran raise a number of puzzling questions.

They speak of a house, which Allah calls "my house" (22:26 and 2:125). In what sense is it the house of Allah? Does Allah live in it? Or does it just belong to him, like the whole earth belongs to him? How did this house become Allah's house? By him entering it and living there, or by just saying it is his house?

It was the first house that was placed for people as being blessed and as a source of guidance (3:95). Did this happen before Abraham came, or was Abraham the first to erect it? Muslims identify this house with the Kaaba in Mecca today, even though they have narrations, which make it clear that this house was erected multiple times by different persons in the course history, even prior to Islam. There is even a Narration (Hadith) claiming that during the flood of Noah "the House (i.e. the Ka'ba) that Adam had erected was raised to heaven to save it from being submerged" by the flood waters! (Quoted from: Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir. English translation by S. Moinul Haq. Volume 1, page 30).

Abraham is said to have raised the foundations from the house (2:127). Did he raise previous foundations to a higher place, or was he the one to first construct the foundations of this house?

It is not clear if the house was in Bekka, or if the house was for Bekka (3:95). Muslims argue that Bekka today is called Mecca. But the word Mecca does not appear in the Koran.

The house of Allah is said to be taboo (haram), but the Koran gives no indications for whom or in what sense it is taboo (14:37).

Allah is said to have settled Abraham at the place of the house (2:127), but Abraham told Allah that he made some of his offspring to dwell in a barren valley (without plants) near Allah's house (14:37). Did Abraham live there permanently, or did Abraham leave after he settled some of his offspring there? Which offspring did Abraham settle there? Why did Abraham settle some of his offspring there? Why did this offspring not live where Abraham himself lived? Muslims argue that it was only Hagar and Ishmael that were settled there. Where did Sarah and Isaac live, when Abraham settled Hagar and Ishmael near the house? How did Abraham get there with part of his family? And where did he return after he left? He must have left at some time, because today his grave is in Hebron (Palestine) and there is no house of Allah, where Abraham is buried today.

This house has in it the abode of Abraham (3:96) and this abode of Abraham is to be taken as a place for prayer (2:125). Is this abode the place, where Abraham lived himself, or only the place, where he stood, when he repaired / constructed the house, or when he prayed there? Is this abode inside the house or near it? If it is inside the house, does this mean that Abraham lived inside the house of Allah? And are people to pray inside the house or outside it, or both, because of the ambiguity in these two verses about the abode of Abraham?

This house is called "the pilgrimage house" (3:96). Who was to go on a pilgrimage there? Was it Abraham, or Ishmael, or Hagar? Did any other people live there in addition to Abraham and his family, when Abraham settled some of his offspring there?

And finally, Abraham with Ishmael were commanded through a covenant with their Lord to cleanse Allah's house for the circumambulators, the dwellers, the devotees and the kneeling prostrators (22:26 and 2:125). If Abraham left his wife and son there without anybody else living in this barren valley, for whom were he and his son to cleanse this house? If the Arabs truly are descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, then there were no Arabs around, when Ishmael was settled there by his father Abraham. Or were there other people prior to the Arabs, who were to circumambulate around the house?

Why do these verses never speak of the mother of Ishmael? Was she to dwell somewhere else? Was she allowed to pray there too?

These puzzling questions demonstrate how vague and scanty the information is, which these Koran verses give about this aspect of Abraham's Muslim life.

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