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Basic Beliefs and Common Stories

Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that God made a covenant, or agreement, with Abraham. It was to keep faith in One God and to worship Him, and to teach the practice of worship to his children down the generations.

In return, God would preserve, protect, and multiply the children of Abraham. This covenant became the legacy, or trust, for the children of Abraham to continue.

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael (son of Hagar) and Isaac (son of Sarah). He settled them in different parts of the Arabian Peninsula: Isaac near Jerusalem and Ishmael near Makkah.

According to the scriptures, Abraham's offspring would become the fathers of great nations. The people of these nations are now called Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They are all monotheists, which means people who believe in one God, or the Creator of all that is in the universe and on earth. 

The common core of Abraham’s story is his faith and obedience to the call of God. Judaic and Christian traditions convey this theme in the book of Genesis. God calls to Abraham, and he replies "Here I am" (Genesis 1:22).

Likewise, the Qur’an states "When his Lord said to him: 'Surrender!', he said: 'I have surrendered to the Lord of the Worlds'" (2:131).

In fact, when Muslim pilgrims say "Labaik! Allahuma labaik!" as they approach the sanctuary at Makkah -- which they believe Abraham built -- they are repeating, “Here I am, Lord, at Your Command!”

There is also another act belonging to the common core of Abraham's story. In this story, God tells Abraham in a dream to sacrifice his son. Abraham and his son were prepared to obey this divine command. But, instead, God redeemed the sacrifice with a magnificent ram. This miracle meant that God does not require human sacrifice, but only the willingness to obey.

While the story is the same among the monotheistic traditions, it is interpreted slightly differently. The Biblical account says the son to be sacrificed is Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac, while the Qur’an states it is, Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar. The lesson of obedience and strength of faith, however, is the same.

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