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The father of three great religions

January 10, 2006|by CHRIS COPLEY

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all trace their origins to Abraham. All three religions follow Abraham's belief in one god and trace their roots to one of Abraham's sons.

The holy books of all three religions - the Quran of the Muslims, the Torah of the Jews and the Bible of the Christians - include the stories about Abraham's family found in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Jews trace their ancestry through Isaac, Abraham's younger son by his wife, Sarah. Since Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, Christians read and study the Jews' holy books (known as the Old Testament in the Bible) and consider Isaac to be a spiritual ancestor.

Muslims follow the teaching of Muhammad, who traced his lineage to Ishmael, the older son of Abraham by Sarah's handmaid, Hagar.

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One key difference between the Bible and the Quran occurs in a story told in the 22nd chapter of Genesis, in which God demands that Abraham sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. Later, an angel of God tells Abraham not to kill his son; Abraham sacrifices a ram instead.

In the Bible and the Torah, the son is identified as Isaac. But the Quran says the son was Abraham's older boy, Ishmael, who was Abraham's only son at the time of the story.

The difference is important to believers, since God blesses the son and promises to multiply his descendents like grains of sand upon the seashore.

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