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The Children of the East

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"The tradition is widespread in the Arab world which associates Ishmael and his descendants with Arabs in general and Muslim Arabs in particular. The esteemed Arab genealogist Ibn al-Kalbi (A.D. 737-818?) made popular the supposed genealogical link between Muhammad and Ishmael, largely through oral tradition. Whether this link is valid or not, clear and even older written records link the ancient nomadic tribes of northern Arabia with Ishmael, as we have noted above (Diorodus of Sicily, the book of Jubilees, Josephus, et al.). Arab genealogists generally trace the Arabians to two main ethnic stocks, the original Arabian Arabs from south Arabia, descended from Joktan (Gen 10:25-26), and the Arabicized Arabs from central and northern Arabia, descended from Ishmael. Other Arab genealogists suggest that the original stock of Arabs came from the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula (Maalouf 2003:44-46). In any case, the link between those known in the OT as “people of the East” and the Arabs of Islam is firmly upheld. Twelve references to Ishmael in the Qur’an and numerous post-Qur’anic Islamic traditions30 affirm the central place of Ishmael in Islam and the genealogical link between him and his ancestors to Muslims, whether by literal bloodline to Arab Muslims, or by theological and geo-cultural ties to Muslims world-wide (See Firestone 1990; Eph‘al 1976:225-235)."



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