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Dhabih Allah

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"Azmun-i buzurg" (the great trial) by Mahmud Farshchiyan depicts the descent of the angel who prevented Abraham (a) from killing his son, and the ram which was brought to be sacrificed instead.

Dhabiḥ Allāh (Arabic: ذَبیح‌ُ الله) is the title of prophet Abraham's (a) son, God gave Abraham (a) the order to sacrifice. The Qur'an has reported the story of sacrifice, but did not mention the title "Dhabih". Shi'a consider Dhabih Allah the title of Isma'il (a) and Jews consider it the title of Ishaq (a). Sunnis have different opinions on whether Isma'il (a) or Ishaq (a) was Dhabih.

Meaning of Dhabih and the Story of Dhibh (Sacrifice)

Main article: Sacrifice of Isma'il

Dhibh means "to behead" and Dhabih Allah means "sacrificed for God". Dhabih Allah was the title of one of the children of prophet Abraham (a) when he (a) was given the order to sacrifice him in the way of God. Ibrahim (a) and his son began to comply with the divine command, but Jabra'il prevented the knife from cutting, and then a ram from the heaven was sacrificed by Ibrahim (a) instead of Isma'il (a) (Ishmael). The tradition of sacrifice on Eid al-Adha is a remembrance of this event.

Whose Title is Dhabih?

The Qur'an mentioned the story of Sacrifice, but did not mention the title Dhabih. There are two views about which of the children of Abraham (a) had the title Dhabih Allah; some consider it the title of Isma'il (a) and some others consider it the title of Ishaq (a).

Shi'a View

Portrait of Sacrifice of Isma'il by Muhammad Zaman

Shi'a exegetes refer to verses 101 – 113 of Sura al-Saffat [Note 1] and believe that God gave Abraham (a) the good news for the birth of Ishaq (a) after the good news for the birth of Isma'il (a) and the story of sacrifice. According to Makarim Shirazi, those who consider Ishaq (a) as Dhabih considered both good news about him; the first good news about his birth and the second good news about his prophethood. 'Allama Tabataba'i believed that the context and appearance of these verses imply that Isma'il (a) was Dhabih.

They also consider the good news about the prophethood of Ishaq (a) in disagreement with his sacrifice in childhood and refer to the verse, "We gave her the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, and of Jacob, after Isaac." (Qur'an 11:71) and said that Abraham (a) was certain that Ishaq (a) would live and Jacob (a) would be born among his offsprings.

In some hadiths, Isma'il (a) is introduced as Dhabih Allah. For example, in some hadiths, the Prophet (s) called himself "Ibn Dhabihayn" (Son of Two Sacrificed Ones). [Note 2] Also, in Mashlul supplication which is attributed to Imam Ali (a) and hadiths transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Imam al-Rida (a), Isma'il (a) is introduced as Dhabih.

Sunni View

Sunnis have different views about Dhabih. Some of them refer to hadiths some of which are also available in Shi'a hadith sources and consider Dhabih Allah the title of Ishaq (a). This view is attributed to 'Umar b. Khattab, Sa'id b. Zubayr, Ka'b al-Ahbar, Qutada, Zahri, al-Tabari and Malik b. Anas. Some Shi'a authors considered reports which introduced Ishaq Dhabih Allah influenced by Isra'iliyyat and considered it possible that they were forged by Jews.

Some others among Sunnis referred to another group of hadiths and considered Isma'il (a), Dhabih. This view is attributed to Abu Hurayra, 'Amir b. Wathila, 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, Ibn 'Abbas, Sa'id b. Musayyib, Yusuf b. Mihran, Rabi' b. Anas, etc. Also, Fakhr Razi and Ibn 'Ashur considered it possible that Isma'il (a) was Dhabih.

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq mentioned the disagreements among reports and considered Isma'il (a) Dhabih and said, "Since Ishaq (a) was born after the event of Sacrifice, wished that he (a) were the one his father was ordered to sacrifice, but the same as Isma'il (a), he (a) submitted to the will of God and was patient upon His order and regarding rewards reached Isma'il (a).

View of Torah

It can be deduced from the Old Testament that Ishaq (a) was Dhabih. However, in Torah, in some cases, the only son of Abraham (a) is called Dhabih and thus it is in agreement with Shi'a view that considered the birth of Ishaq (a) after the event of Sacrifice.

See Also


  1. So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son (101) When he was old enough to assist in his endeavour, he said, ‘My son! I see in dreams that I am sacrificing you. See what you think.’ He said, ‘Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient.’ (102) So when they had both surrendered [to Allah’s will], and he had laid him down on his forehead, (103) We called out to him, ‘O Abraham! (104) You have indeed fulfilled your vision! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous! (105) This was indeed a manifest test.’ (106) Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, (107) and left for him a good name in posterity: (108) ‘Peace be to Abraham!’ (109) Thus do We reward the virtuous. (110) He is indeed one of Our faithful servants. (111) And We gave him the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, a prophet, one of the righteous. (112) And We blessed him and Isaac. Among their descendants [some] are virtuous, and [some] who manifestly wrong themselves. (113)
  2. : the Prophet (s) called himself "Ibn Dhabihayn" (Son of Two Sacrificed Ones), by which he (a) meant Isma'il (a) and 'Abd Allah, his own father. 'Abd al-Muttalib had made a nadhr that if God gave him ten children, he would sacrifice 'Abd Allah was out…; Ibn Hisham, al-Sirat al-Nabawiyya, 1996, p. 103.