“So Why Did Allah Substitute an innocent ram (or sheep or lamb or goat) in place of Abraham
Updated: May 5, 2020
In the photo below,(a post card from Turkey) you can see Ibrahim (Abraham) (pictures of a prophet drawn by Muslims!), Ismail, the angel Jabril (Gabriel), and the substitutionary ram; and verses from the Qur’an in Arabic, including Surah 37:107 (see below) and a phrase in the Turkish language, “Ibrahim offers his son Ismail as a human sacrifice”.
* “Kurban Bayram” is Turkish; “Eid Al Azha” ??? ?????? is Arabic; and “Eid-e-Qurban” ??? ????? is Farsi. They all mean the “Feast of Sacrifice”.
In the debate, “Was Jesus Crucifed and Died for the Sins of His People?” James White vs. Shabir Ally – (Which I highly recommend); Shabir Ally says, as all Muslims also do, that “God does not need a sacrifice to forgive sins”. He also said that there is a great difference between “ransom” and “sacrifice”; and that the concept of the substitutionary nature of Christ paying for the sins of others is unjust. Shabir Ally said, “there is a difference between sacrifice and ransom; they are two different things, . . . until Anselm”. He also referred to some of the early church ideas of “ransom to Satan”, which is not Biblical at all; and he seemed to imply that “ransom” in Mark 10:45 was the “payment to Satan view”.
Yet the Qur’an testifies that these concepts of ransom and sacrifice are tied very closely together in one act; from the Old Testament story of Abraham. Even in the Qur’an, there is a key verse that includes both concepts of “ransom” and “sacrifice” together in this one act of Allah providing a substitute for Abraham’s son.
In the story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, the Qur’an says:
????????????? ???????? ???????
“We have ransomed you with a mighty sacrifice.”
??????????? = “we ransomed you”
???????? = ?? =b = “with” or “by”; ?????? (zbh)= sacrifice, slaughter, slain victim
The cognate Hebrew word for sacrifice is similar, ZBH, ?????
?????? = “great”, “mighty”, “tremendous”
We are not going to deal with the question of which of Abraham’s sons this was, except to affirm the Bible’s testimony that it was Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18); and to point out that Muslims have traditionally held that it was Ishmael, although the text of the Qur’an does not say this specifically. It is interesting that only Isaac is mentioned by name in this context. (Surah 37:112-113) You can go to www.answering-islam.org and do searches there to find lots of information on that issue.
When sharing the gospel with Muslims, it is not necessary to argue over which son of Abraham it was that was to be sacrificed; especially when you will want to focus on the more important issue of the gospel and the substitutionary sacrifice/atonement of Jesus Christ (Isa Al Masih) for the sins of people from all nations/cultures/tribes/tongues. (Revelation 5:9, John 1:29, Mark 10:45; I Corinthians 15:3-6; Romans 5:9) I have seen former Muslims (Iranians); after becoming Christians, be surprised to find it was Isaac when they read Genesis 22; after they already studied the NT and came to faith in Christ as their Savior, substitute for sin; but they immediately said, “Ok, it is the word of God, I accept it.” (that it was Isaac)
My focus in this article is on the substitutionary nature of the sacrifice of the Messiah; and that the story of Abraham and Allah’s command to sacrifice his son, and the ram who was substituted is in the Qur’an and actually shows some basic understanding of the truth of the concepts of sacrifice and ransom. In this verse, 107 of Surah 37 (Al Saffat, “Those who set the ranks”), both words are used there together of the substitute, ransom (fedieh – ????) and sacrifice ??? – zebh ); this word is also used a few verses earlier in verse 102, “Oh my son! I have seen in a dream that I offer you in sacrifice.”). We have both of these Arabic words in Farsi (or Persian) also. So, Shabir Ally should have understood this, that God has spoken of both ransom/redemption and sacrifice in the Old Testament, the “Taurat- e- Mosa” (the Law of Moses) and the Qur’an affirms it here.
Christians believe that the substitute points to the Messiah to come and was a prophesy of the Messiah and His substitutionary atonement.
Fedieh, or the root, “fada”, are also used of Muslims who voluntarily are willing to give their lives in the front lines of fighting the enemies of Allah in “holy war”, (Harb, Qatal, or Jihad) Harb ??? means “war”; Qatal ( ?????)means “fighting”, “slaying”, “fight to the death” (see Surah 8:39; 9:5, 9:29); and Jihad means to “exert effort”, “striving”, “struggle”. All are used in contexts of military fighting against the Kufur/kaferoon, or unbelievers, infidels, or blasphemers.
For an excellent study of Jihad in Islam, see: “Jihad” in the Qur’an and Hadith.
You may have even heard of the “fadayeen” (those who sacrifice themselves) in the news, they are those who volunteer to fight against the enemy. So there is a sense in which Islamic culture and history should understand Jesus the Messiah’s death as a voluntary sacrifice for others. Another word, “qorban” (?????) is related to the Hebrew/Aramaic term “Corban”. (mentioned in Mark 7:11; the Hebrew is in Leviticus 1:2 twice, and other places.) When Iranians greet one another, we say, “Ghorban-e-shoma!” ????? ??? (“I am your sacrifice or ransom!” – a term of devotion and love and friendship.) When the Arabs converted the Iranians (the Persians) to Islam, it took them about 300 years, but a lot of Arabic came into their language so that, today, Farsi is about 40% Arabic.
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