Isaac (a)

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Isaac (a)
"A photo of Hebron, the residence & burial place of Isaac (a)
"A photo of Hebron, the residence & burial place of Isaac (a)
Name in
the Qur'an:
Name in
the Bible:
Place of Birth:Palestine
Place(s) of
Burial place:Jerusalem al-Quds
Before:Jacob (a)
After:Ishmael (a)
Well known
Ibrahim (a), Ishmael (a), Jacob (a)
Repeat in
the Qur'an:
17 times

Isāāc or Isḥāq (Arabic: إسحاق) was a prophet, the son of Abraham (a), and the brother of Ishmael (a). He is the great ancestor of the Children of Israel, and prophets such as Jacob (a), David (a), Solomon (a), Joseph (a), and Moses (a) were his offspring. The Qur'an makes references to Isaac (a) and his prophethood. The Torah and some Sunni sources take Isaac to be Dhabih Allah (God's sacrifice). However, the Shi'as believe that Ishmael (a), the other son of Abraham (a), was Dhabih Allah.

Isaac (a) was born when his father was hundred years old and his mother, Sarah, was ninety years old. The story of the good tidings of his birth are mentioned in the Qur'an. Isaac (a) became a prophet after the death of his brother, Ishmael (a).

The Character

Isaac (a) is a prophet, and the son of Abraham (a) and Sarah,[1] who was born and lived in Palestine.[2] "Isaac" comes from a Hebrew word, meaning smiling.[3] Some people trace it to an Arabic word.[4] He was born five or thirteen years after Ishmael (a).[5] When Isaac (a) was born, his father was over hundred years old and his mother was ninety years old.[6] Isaac (a) married a girl called Rebecca at the age of forty, and they had two children: Esau and Jacob.[7]

Isaac (a) is the great ancestor of the Children of Israel, and as Gabriel gave the good tidings in advance, many prophets were his offspring, including Jacob (a), Joseph (a), David (a), Solomon (a), Job (a), Moses (a), Aaron (a), and other Israelite prophets. According to historical sources, Abraham (a) was Lot (a)'s paternal uncle and thus, Isaac (a) was Lot's cousin.

The story of sacrificing Isaac appears in the Jewish scripture, to which Jews appeal to show the superiority of Isaac (a) over Ishmael (a). The view was espoused by some Sunni Muslims as well. However, the Shi'as appeal to Qur'an 37:112[8] as well as Qur'an 11:71[9] to reject that Isaac (a) was God's sacrifice.

Before his death, Isaac (a) passed on prophethood to his son, Jacob (a), at the command of God. According to the Torah, however, Isaac (a) wanted his other son, Esau, to succeed him as a prophet, but Jacob (a) and his mother deceived Esau, and then Jacob (a) became the prophet.

Muhammad Hadi Ma'rifat, the contemporary exegete and Quranic scholar, refers to the story quoted from the Torah as an insult to prophets, since it takes the Prophet Jacob (a) as a fraud who misused his father's blindness. Moreover, he refers to the story of Isaac (a) being deceived by Jacob (a) as a blatant insult of prominent prophets.

Isaac died at the age of 180, and was buried near Jerusalem in today's Hebron, Palestine.[10]

Good Tidings of his Birth

According to Quranic verses, prior to the birth of Isaac (a), God gave the good tidings of his birth to his father and mother. This is mentioned in Qur'an 11:71. The story of Isaac's birth appears in Qur'an 15:53[11] and Qur'an 51:29[12] without mentioning his name. Isaac's name (Ishaq) appears seventeen times in twelve Quranic suras.[13]


After the death of his brother Ishmael (a), Isaac (a) succeeded him as a prophet,[14] and after that, all subsequent prophets were offspring of Isaac (a), except the Prophet Muhammad (s) who was an offspring of Ishmael (a).[15]

Eight verses of the Qur'an point out the prophethood of Isaac (a) either directly or indirectly, including verses about his prophethood,[16] the revelation of scriptures to his offspring,[17] giving sharia laws to Isaac (a),[18] revelations to him,[19] the command to follow him,[20] and his imamate.[21] In these verses, Isaac's religion or sharia is said to be that of his father Abraham (a); that is, a hanif religion based on monotheism.[22]


  1. Qurʾān 11:71.
  2. Shuqī Abū Khalīl, Aṭlas-i Qurʾān, p. 53.
  3. Al-Muṣṭafawī, al-Taḥqīq fī kalimāt al-Qur'ān al-karīm, vol. 5, p. 70
  4. Qurashī Banāyī, Qāmūs-i Qur'ān, vol. 3, p. 240
  5. Mas'ūdī. Ithbāt al-waṣiya. p. 46; Ṭabarānī, Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol.5, p. 313.
  6. Mas'ūdī. Ithbāt al-waṣīya. p. 46.
  7. Ṭabāṭabā'i. al-Mīzān. vol. 10. p. 324.
  8. And We gave him the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, a prophet, one of the righteous.
  9. His wife, standing by, laughed as We gave her the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, and of Jacob, after Isaac.
  10. Qazwīnī, Al-Mazār, vol. 1, p. 86; Mas'ūdī. Ithbāt al-waṣīya. p. 46.
  11. They said, ‘Do not be afraid. Indeed we give you the good news of a wise son.’
  12. Then his wife came forward crying [with joy]. She beat her face, and said, ‘A barren old woman!’
  13. Shuqī Abū Khalīl, Aṭlas-i Qurʾān , p. 54.
  14. Mas'ūdī. Ithbāt al-waṣiya. p. 46.
  15. Ṭabarī. Tārīkh-i ṭabarī, vol, 1. p. 316.
  16. Qurʾān 19:49.
  17. Qurʾān 29:27.
  18. Qurʾān 21:71.
  19. Qurʾān 6:89.
  20. Qurʾān 4:163.
  21. Qurʾān 2:135-136.
  22. Qurʾān 21:73.


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