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Der Islam

Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East

Ed. by Heidemann, Stefan / Hagen, Gottfried / Kaplony, Andreas / Matthee, Rudi

2 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.04

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.100

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Volume 90, Issue 2


Hagar’s Wanderings: Between Judaism and Islam

Marcel Poorthuis
Published Online: 2013-10-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2013-0008

Abstract: Hagar and Ishmael have been portrayed in Jewish sources in an increasingly negative way, even before the rise of Islam. The culmination of that negative portrayal constitutes the story of the expulsion of mother and son as rendered by Pirke de rabbi Eliezer. This story in its basic pre-Islamic form, functioning as a midrash interpretation of the Bible relating Hagar’s expulsion and the twofold visit of Abraham to Ishmael, was to serve as the point of departure for Islamic stories about Hagar. The first Islamic source for the story of Hagar, ʿAbd al-Razzāq, had already transformed the Jewish story into a highly positive account of Hagar as trusting in God and worthy of miracles. Simultaneously, this Islamic version harmonized the story with Qurʾānic statements about Abraham building the House, connected it to an utterance of Muhammad and buttressed the ritual of the Saʿy, the running between the two hills in Mecca, thereby refuting pagan associations as secondary deviations. As for Ishmael, he becomes associated with the pure Arabic tribe of the Jurhum. The story of the two wives of Ishmael, which serves in the Jewish version as a an exegesis of Gen 21:21 by adducing a derogatory statement on the Moabites and ending in a reconciliation between Abraham and Ishmael, is transformed into a foundation story of the Arabic offspring of Ishmael who marries into the Jurhum tribe. Whereas the Islamic stories, transmitted by al-Ţabarī and Bukharī, can be traced back two generations earlier than the latter, namely to ʿAbd al-Razzāq, his isnad in turn proves to be reliable up to Ibn Jubayr. Ibn Jubayr’s debate about different versions of the story took place around 700 C.E., an attribution that can be trusted, hence corroborating Harald Motzki’s overall but careful thesis about the reliability of the isnad. The integration of the Hagar story into the Qurʾānic story of Abraham building ‘the House’ together with Ishmael dates, at the latest, from 700 C.E.

: Abd al-Razzāq; Al-Ţabarī; Bukhārī; Hagar; Ishmael; isnad; Jewish midrash; Kaʾba; Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer

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Published Online: 2013-10-01

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: Der Islam, Volume 90, Issue 2, Pages 220–244, ISSN (Online) 1613-0928, ISSN (Print) 0021-1818, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2013-0008.

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