Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) descended from Isma’il (عليه السلام)

People harbouring hate for the Messenger (ﷺ) of God Almighty have created reasons to deny him since ages. Sometimes the Prophet Isma’il (عليه السلام) is condemned while quite recently, it has been alleged that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was not his descendant. At least it is a step forward where a Messenger of God ((Isma’il (عليه السلام)) is not condemned, abused and hated like he was previously done so.

A quick way to earn fame or money these days is to come up with absurd and wild conspiracy theories; the bigger they are the better they provide an earning. Some atheists have alleged that Prophet Eisa (عليه السلام) did not exist and following their footsteps, Christians have made similar claims about Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Following this conspiracy theory approach, a hollow piece by Amari alleges that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was not a descendant of Isma’il (عليه السلام).[1] We shall see how true the claim really is.

Background to the claim

The surprising thing about the claim is the approach used for it. The background approach adopted is that the earth is 6,000 years old and hence if anything of history contradicts this ‘self-claimed fact’, then that is false. To take accounts from a scripture, that mentions a 6,000 year old civilization, would not be a wise thing to do. Furthermore, if the author of the claim had paid a little attention inside his glass house[2], he would have thought better. However, on top of that, the author makes some really silly claims such as:

“…shortly following Noah, perhaps around 5500 B.C.

Did the Prophet () himself deny being an Isma’ili?

One of the claims is that the Prophet (ﷺ) himself stated that he only knew till his 17th ancestor and that ‘anyone who claimed otherwise or added further ancestors, has lied’ while on the other hand the author states that Prophet (ﷺ) called himself the son of Ibrahim (عليه السلام) and most similar to him in appearance. The author states that he said this to make his claim stronger. This is a contradictory approach from the claimant. On one hand he admits the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) that suits his desires (that he allegedly did not know his ancestry) and on the other hand, he denies what does not suit him (that he knew his ancestry). Is there any criteria or does the author believe the readers are as naïve as he thinks?

Firstly, the claim of knowing till 17th ancestor is weak and more reliable one is till 20th ancestor. Secondly, it is an incorrect conclusion that Prophet (ﷺ) did not know his lineage. His statement that anyone who claims to know the exact names all the way has erred. This, in no way, is a rejection but a statement that exact records have not been kept and that there are some guesses and estimates along the way. There are numerous reports available from the Prophet (ﷺ) where he has explicitly stated to be the descendant of Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il (عليهم السلام).

What the statement actually means

The statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) that whoever gave names of ancestors past a certain point has erred is actually a scientific statement in the favour of Muslims. Associating a few dozen ancestors all the way till Adam (عليه السلام) would be a scientific blunder which the writers of the Bible make. Consider the following narration:

لَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ مَسَحَ ظَهْرَهُ فَسَقَطَ مِنْ ظَهْرِهِ كُلُّ نَسَمَةٍ هُوَ خَالِقُهَا مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَ عَيْنَىْ كُلِّ إِنْسَانٍ مِنْهُمْ وَبِيصًا مِنْ نُورٍ ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى آدَمَ فَقَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَؤُلاَءِ قَالَ هَؤُلاَءِ ذُرِّيَّتُكَ فَرَأَى رَجُلاً مِنْهُمْ فَأَعْجَبَهُ وَبِيصُ مَا بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ فَقَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَذَا فَقَالَ هَذَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ آخِرِ الأُمَمِ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِكَ يُقَالُ لَهُ دَاوُدُ

“When Allah created Adam He wiped his back and every person that He created among his offspring until the Day of Resurrection fell out of his back. He placed a ray of light between the eyes of every person. Then He showed them to Adam and he said: ‘O Lord! Who are these people?’ He said: ‘These are your offspring.’ He saw one of them whose ray between his eyes amazed him, so he said: ‘O Lord! Who is this?’ He said: ‘This is a man from the latter nations of your offspring called Dawud.’[3]

If Prophet Da’ood (عليه السلام) is stated to be from the latter nations, we can confidently know that the life of earth is not 6,000 years and hence using Biblical dates and times to arrive at the accuracy of the lineage of the Prophet (ﷺ) would be too foolish. Can we ask Rafat Amari to present his genealogy till Adam (عليه السلام) and, in the absence of any recorded evidence, state that he is not his descendant? Using Amari’s approach, this would be a totally valid argument.

A person from, say, a Native American tribe would not need to know his exact and entire ancestry to be proven to be a Native American. His association and appearance is sufficient for the people to know his ancestry. However, in the case of the Prophet (ﷺ), it is not as vague as the quoted example; his ancestry is easily traced to a certain point and the people in that certain point are well proven to be from the descendants of Isma’il (عليه السلام) through the Jurhum – more on this below.

Prophet () knew he descended from Ibrahim (عليه السلام)

Direct admission of the Prophet (ﷺ) to be a descendant of Ibrahim (عليه السلام), conveniently and selectively rejected by the author, state as follows:

وُلِدَ لِيَ اللَّيْلَةَ غُلاَمٌ فَسَمَّيْتُهُ بِاسْمِ أَبِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ

A child was born into me this night and I named him after the name of my father Ibrahim.[4]

There are countless more such narrations and pages could be filled with these.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَى كِنَانَةَ مِنْ وَلَدِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ وَاصْطَفَى قُرَيْشًا مِنْ كِنَانَةَ وَاصْطَفَى مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ وَاصْطَفَانِي مِنْ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ

Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinana from amongst the descendants of Isma’il, and he granted eminence to the Quraish amongst Kinana, and he granted eminence to Banu Hashim amongst the Quraish, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim.[5]

The Prophet (ﷺ) here explains his lineage without going into the specifics. His tribe, the Arabicised Arabs, also had a habit of sending their infants to the Bedouins (the original Arabs) in the desert for a number of reasons; one of them being to teach their children proper and purer Arabic. Even after centuries, when it came to proper Arabic customs and language, the Arabicised Arabs considered the original Arabs to be best teachers for their children.

A narration in Sahih al-Bukhari states:

فَتِلْكَ أُمُّكُمْ يَا بَنِي مَاءِ السَّمَاءِ

…that (Hajra) is your mother O Bani Ma Is-Samaa…[6]

The above statement is that of Abu Hurayra (رضي الله عنه) who was a Yemeni where he states that the tribe of Bani Ma Is-Samaa are the descendants of Isma’il (عليه السلام). This was common knowledge back then that the tribe of Quresh were descendants of Prophet Isma’il (عليه السلام) and if at all the claim that the Prophet (ﷺ) was of Yemeni origin, then Abu Hurayra, the Yemeni, would definitely have known this. Furthermore, the two tribes of Madina namely Aws and Khazraj, who were Yemenis themselves would surely have known as well and on top of that, the polytheists of Madina or the hypocrites would have surely contradicted the Prophet (ﷺ) about his lineage and ‘exposed’ the lie if that was the case. The absence of any attack of this nature from the hypocrites and disbelievers of Madina is sufficient proof against the Yemeni origin theory of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). The contradictory claim of the author is a massive conspiracy theory having no sound basis. Over reliance on the Bible has led to the baseless claims by the author.

Proofs from the Bible and related books

We find ample proofs in the Bible and related books of notes affirming the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was an Isma’ili. [7]

The banned books of the Bible provide us the following:

And Ishmael and his sons, and the sons of Keturah and their sons, went together and dwelt from Paran (Makkah) to the entering in of Babylon in all the land which is towards the East facing the desert. And these mingled with each other, and their name was called Arabs, and Ishmaelite.[8]

Although the author does not claim that Arabs are not Isma’ili at all but many like him have made such absurd claims and hence the verse has been shared.

“All those words of Jesus of Nazareth and of this Ishmaelite [i.e., Muhammad] who arose after him are only to make straight the path for the messianic king and to prepare the whole world to serve the Lord together.[9]

“a prophet sent to Ishmael according to God’s will”[10]

Professor Scott B. Noegel, a specialist in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and Professor Brannon M. Wheeler, also state that Ismail (عليه السلام) was the ancestor of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and several Arab prominent tribes.[11]

Edward Gibbon, among many other historians, also has similar views. He states that the great grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had married a Yemeni woman who gave birth to the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).[12] The Prophet (ﷺ)’s great grandmother was of Yemeni origin while the author incorrectly states that he (ﷺ) himself was of Yemeni origin.

A.J. Wensinck states:

Ishma’il is considered the progenitor of the last group (Arabicised Arabs), whose ancestor is Adnan.[13]

Let us take a look at views of some of the earlier people:

For the Biblical scholar (St. Jerome, 347-420 CE) who translated the Bible and wrote so many commentaries, it was not easy to dissociate the Arabs from their Biblical image as the sons of Ishmael.[14]

It was common knowledge not only amongst the Arabs, but also amongst other nations that Arabs were the children of Isma’il (عليه السلام). Salminius Hermias Sozomenus, a historian of the Christian Church, also believed Arabs were the sons of Isma’il (عليه السلام).[15]

If someone claims that the descendants of Isma’il (عليه السلام) suddenly went extinct or were completely eliminated, then he proposes a theory that an entire nation was wiped out and no one in history ever got to know about it and they were replaced by other people from Yemen all of a sudden. Bold claims like these require evidences or else they remain redundant theories.

Jurhum and Khuza’a tribes

When Hajra and Isma’il (عليه السلام) had settled in Makkah, a bunch of people from Jurhum came and settled with them. Isma’il (عليه السلام) married into this tribe and their descendants became what are known as Arabicised Arabs.

وَأَقْبَلَ جُرْهُمُ فَقَالُوا أَتَأْذَنِينَ أَنْ نَنْزِلَ عِنْدَكِ قَالَتْ نَعَمْ وَلاَ حَقَّ لَكُمْ فِي الْمَاءِ‏.‏ قَالُوا نَعَمْ

Jurhum (an Arab tribe) came and asked her, ‘May we settle at your dwelling?’ She said, ‘Yes, but you have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed.[16]

The author believes that there is no historical record to prove that Jurhum existed in Makkah. He seeks Roman and Greek records and when he does not find them, concludes that the Islamic stance is false. If he remains consistent and applies the same reasoning to his beliefs, he will have to reject crucifixion, along with many other beliefs, in the absence of any Roman record.[17]

Regarding the Jurhum, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century states as follows:

All the discussion of Jurhum must begin with its attestation in an incontestable Greek source, the Ethnica of Stephanus of Byzantium, who apparently wrote his dictionary in the reign of Justinian I and who knew of the Γοραμηνοι. Thus Jurhum is a historical reality in the pre-Islamic past of the sixth century.[18]

Regarding Jurhum, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century further states on page 390 regarding Jurhum ‘documentation of its historicity and association with the Ka’ba and Mecca is strong and is on an entirely different level ’. There is no question about the historical reality of Jurhum, since it is attested in the Greek source.[19]

The Jurhum controlled Makkah until it was taken over by the tribe of Khuza’a:

‘… they were ousted from their custodianship of the Ka’ba and from Mecca … by a new tribal group from the south, Khuza’a.[20]

When the Khuza’a had expelled Jurhum from Makkah, the Jurhumites dispersed in surrounding areas of Makkah to Najran and even beyond. Qusai ibn Kilab, a descendant of Isma’il (عليه السلام) whose father is said to have died when he was still a baby, and whose mother was subsequently married to Rabi‘a bin Haram, from the tribe of Bani ‘Udhra was taken to the homeland of his step-father to the north on the borders of Syria.

Qusayy’s own immediate background and residence in the north near the Byzantine border seems confirmed by a number of indications. (a) The name Qusayy appears in the Nabataean inscriptions; although found elsewhere, it is not a common name, so its epigraphic attestation in the Nabataean north is significant.[21]

Qusai returned as a youth to Makkah and married the daughter of the tribal chief.

The name of the daughter of the Khuza’a chief whom Qusayy married is given as Hubba. This is an archaic name which speaks for itself and has been recovered in the Nabataean inscriptions.[22]

A thing to note here is the name of the father of Hubba which was Halil ibn Habsha (Halil son of the Abyssinian).

‘Amr’s mother (ancestor of Halil ibn Habsha) was an Abyssinian lady, and this may be related to the fact that in fourth century, which possibly witnessed Khuza’a’s supremacy in Mecca, the Abyssinians under their king ‘Ezana, the Constantine of Abyssinia, invaded South Arabia and occupied it for some time.[23] An event of such importance must have convulsed western Arabia, and the movement of tribes such as Khuza’a from the south to the north could be related to this invasion.[24]

After the death of Halil ibn Habsha, Qusai (who took pride in his lineal descent from the sons of Isma’il (عليه السلام), Qaydar and Nabit) took over Makkah. He invited the surrounding Isma’ili tribes and expelled Khuza’a from Makkah after which the control of Makkah, the ancestral city of Qusai, came back to the descendants of Isma’il (عليه السلام).

Based on this basic review of history, we can conclude the following:

  • Isma’il (عليه السلام) lived with his mother in Makkah
  • Some people of Jurhum passed by and asked to stay there
  • Jurhmites mixed with Isma’il (عليه السلام)
  • Makkah was taken over from the Jurhum by Khuza’a
  • Later on, Qusai ibn-Kilab managed to regain control of Makkah
  • His people in the surrounding areas, who had been dispelled, returned to Makkah

Furthermore, the same book states:

‘…the two large tribal groups Rabi’a and Mudar, who are the genuine Ishmaelite Arabs of this second inter-testamental period, between the New Testament and the Koran in the seventh century.

Muhammad’s tribe, Quraysh, belonged to Mudar. The strong Ishmaelite tradition in the Arabic sources about the Arabs of this second inter-testamental period suggests that the mysterious early history of the tribe of Quraysh, depicted in the sources as an Ishmaelite tribe, may have to be accepted and that this tradition … also contains kernels of truth, especially as regards the relations of Qusayy with Northern Hijaz – former Nabataean territory.

Furthermore, it is added:

In the three centuries before the rise of Islam, the tribal and genealogical landscape of Arabia presents a spectacle in which the term Ishmaelite ceases to exist as a denotation for a large tribal group, and with it such terms as the Nabataeans and Kedar also disappear. New large tribal groupings appear, the most important of which are Ma’add and Quda’a. The first is attested in inscriptions, in genuine pre-Islamic poetry, and in the Syriac sources.[25]

Was the idea of Isma’ili descent introduced by the Prophet ()?

Some references have been shared above. In addition to those, Theodoret, also speaks not of Isma’ilis in general but of Isma’il (عليه السلام) himself and the Arab veneration of their eponymous ancestor. Through there sources, we can safely conclude that at least till three centuries before the Prophet (ﷺ), the idea of Isma’ili descent was very common among the Arabs. Furthermore, pre-Islamic poetry also confirms this fact:

The precious reference to the “sons of Hagar” in an authentic pre-Islamic poem by Al-Afwah al-Awdi clinches the point made by an examination of the passage in Theodoret. Here is an entirely independent tradition coming from the world of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry which echoes what the patristic author affirms. This poem, too, has not been noted by those who have discussed the concept of Ishmaelism in pre-Islamic times, but it forms, together with the passage in Theodoret, solid evidence for the reality of the concept and suggests that it did not make its first appearance in the Koran.[26]

The tribe of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was a well-respected tribe not only because it ruled over Makkah but also because the Arabs considered it noble due to its lineage. Hence, for someone to claim that the Prophet (ﷺ) fabricated his genealogy, which the whole tribe and all other Arabs accepted, is not only against basic history but requires considerable mental gymnastics.

Some more blunders from the author

The author of the conspiracy theory states that there are errors in the Qur’an:

Thamud continued until the 5th century A.D

Amari argues that the Qur’an destroyed the nation of Thamud whereas they continued to exist long afterwards and hence its claims and genealogies are not reliable. Since he read that Thamud were destroyed, it would have been nice if he had read the entire passage about them:

فَإِذَا هُمْ فَرِيقَانِ يَخْتَصِمُونَ

Then look! They became two parties quarreling with each other.[27]

Does he expect one of the two parties (of believers) to be destroyed along with the other party (of disbelievers)? Has he not read his own books as to how the disbelieving ones were destroyed while the believers were saved? Once the disbelievers were destroyed, the believers would migrate from the town or city and live elsewhere. From where he gets the impression of a complete annihilation, including the believers, is a matter of surprise.

Another allegation placed by the Bible thumper is that since the Qur’an does not agree with the Bible regarding Namrud, the Qur’an is wrong and hence Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is not a descendant of Isma’il (عليه السلام). Amazing logic! He concludes that the narration of the Qur’an is taken from the Jewish book called Midrash Rabbah, chapter 17. This is an example of a circular logic one comes across with missionaries; they tell you to believe in the Bible as it is the book of God because the Bible itself says it is the book of God. Do such claims even require addressing?

How can anyone embrace these enormous mistakes, when a simple study of history demonstrates how wrong they are

It is a wonder that the believer of a 6,000 year old earth considers the Bible as a simple study of history.


  • Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had descended from Isma’il (عليه السلام). Isma’il (عليه السلام) had married into the Jurhum tribe and his descendants ruled over Makkah till they were expelled from Makkah. Not only are Arabic and Islamic sources reliable, they are backed up by pre-Islamic Arabian poetic records as well as Greek and Roman sources. These sources either did not come to the attention of pseudo historians or they deliberately overlooked them. Makkah was taken back by Qusai, a descendant of Isma’il (عليه السلام) and descendants of Isma’il (عليه السلام) returned to Makkah to live there.
  • Furthermore, the Madinan people of Yemeni origin never challenged the claim of the Prophet (ﷺ) as well; neither did the pagans or hypocrites challenged it and the Jews and northern and southern Christians remained silent on the issue as well. If there were slightest of doubt about his descent, then this would have been made into a massive issue.
  • Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) knew that he was Isma’ili in descent but did not encourage people to go beyond a certain point in calculating the lineage which proves the scientific truth of Islam that the earth is not a few thousand years old.

Conspiracy theories sell well but this one would require a lot more effort than a simple twisting of basic facts.

References and footnotes:

[1] The conspiratory claim by Amari

[2] Which is more historically reliable?

[3] Tirmidhi vol. 5, book 44, Hadith 3076

[4] Sahih Muslim book 43, Hadith 83

[5] Sahih Muslim book 43, Hadith 1

[6] Sahih Bukhari, book 67, Hadith 22

[7] Ibrahim and his link to Makkah, pilgrimage and Arabs [1][2][3]

[8] Book of Jubilees p.118 verse 12-13

[9] Hilkhot Melakhim 11:10–12

[10] Secrets (Nistarot) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

[11] A-Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism

[12] The decline and fall of the Roman Empire

[13] “Isma’il” in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., Leiden 1954

[14] Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, pg. 295 – He himself quotes this verse (Genesis 16:12) in Letter 126, sec. 2; see supra, note 36

[15] Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, pg. 188

[16] Sahih al-Bukhari, book 42, Hadith 16

[17] … there exists, outside of the New Testament, no evidence whatever, in book, inscription, or monument, that Jesus of Nazareth was either scourged or crucified under Pontius Pilate. Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Philo, nor any of their contemporaries, ever refer to the fact of this crucifixion, or express any belief thereon. (T.W. Doane, Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions, p. 516)

In the nineteenth century an eminent scholar, Rabbi Wise, searched the records of Pilate’s court, still extant, for evidence of this trial. He found nothing. (Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 343)

There is no verification of a significant crucifixion in the writings of historians such as Philo, Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Epictectus, Cluvius Rufus, Quintus, Curtis Rufus, Josephus, nor the Roman Consul, Publius Petronius. The crucifixion also was unknown to early Christians until as late as the Second Century.

[18] The work of Stephanus has survived only in fragments in the work of the 6th-century Hermolaus and in those of Eustathius of Salonika (d. around 1193); see Cambridge Medieval History, The Byzantine Empire, Part II (1967), 295 for the reference to the Γοραμηνοι; in the Ethnica, see Stephanus of Byzantium (London, 1688), 276. On the attestation of Jurhum in Sabaic epigraphy, Addenda et Corrigenda, 548

[19] See entry in El2; it is also attested in Sabaic epigraphy

[20] Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, pg. 337

[21] See Della Vida, El. col. 520 and the attestations in R. Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syric avant l’Islam (Paris, 1907), 123-24

[22] R. Dagorn, La geste d’Ismael d’apres l’onomastique et la tradition arabe (Paris, 1981). In this inscription and another also discovered at Mada’in Salih, the name of Hagar is attested; ibid., 322-23

[23] See BAFOC, 90-100

[24] Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, pg. 353

[25] In the Namara inscription, in the poetry of Nabigha, and in Procopius; for these see, BAFOC, 38, 43; Noldeke, GF, 38 note 3; and Wars, 1, xx, 9, respectively

[26] Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, pg. 383

[27] Qur’an 27:45


3 thoughts on “Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) descended from Isma’il (عليه السلام)

  1. You did an absolutely beautiful work of explaining things. As a Christian seminarian, completing a PHD in archaeology, but also one who lived and worked with Muslims on 4 continents, studied the Quran, hadiths, and sunas for 27-years, and enjoys attending salat / raka’at at mosque with my son, please accept my apology for those who insult, deny or marginalize Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him and his prodigy & Muslims). It is from ignorance that people do this. As a Christian, who knows Islam, the prophet and Muslims for most of my life, I can honestly say I fell in love with the prophet, I know he is a very special, devoted, merciful and courageous prophet, community leader and statesman. I truly believe that he wasn’t only a descendent of Ismail, but in my heart I feel that Allah, the magnificent, merciful and sublime, set up Muhammad’s life much lie Ismail, to build him into the unique and dedicated servant he was. Its obvious that the hardships he endured with the untimely death of his parents, and his seeking Allah with all his heart, mind, and soul, in combination with Allah purifying him 3-times, that he had an enormous heart for people, and was completely devoted to God. I share this with my fellow Christians, along with the fact that Muslims love and revere Mary and Jesus, peace be upon them, and that Muslim traditions of worship and culture are almost identical to the first Christians before things were changed in Christianity. I am writing a book on this at the moment. Thank you brother for your good work, and with all my heart I apologize for those who insult and marginalize Islam out of ignorance.

  2. I’m sorry for the typos on my previous comment. please feel to correct. Strangely, my computer was fighting me and acting very difficult, and it never does this. Iblis?

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