Martin Bauschke, Der Freund Gottes: Abraham im Islam.
Martin Bauschke, Der Freund Gottes: Abraham im Islam. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2014. Pp. 200. 29.95 [euro].
This book by German theologian and religious scholar Bauschke is a revised and expanded version of his 2008 book on the same topic. In twenty-five of the 114 suras of the Qur'an, 208 verses make reference to Abraham (Ibrahim). Read chronologically according to their presumed revelation to Muhammad, they uncover an intriguing connection between the life experiences and the spiritual journeys of both Abraham and Muhammad. Sporadic references to Abraham's legendary hospitality during the early phase of Muhammad's Meccan activities (610-15 C.E.) are followed by increasingly frequent references to Abraham during the middle-Meccan phase (615-20 C.E.) alongside other figures from the Jewish-Christian tradition, such as Adam, Noah, Moses, Mary, and Jesus.
Allusions to his confrontation with the astral religion of his contemporaries mirror Muhammad's conflicts with the polytheistic cults of the Meccans of his day. In the qur'anic verses revealed during the late-Meccan phase (620-22 C.E.), Abraham's struggles escalate and come to a head in the break with his polytheistic father, the rejection of the paganism of his ancestors, and his emigration. They are mirrored in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents in Mecca and his eventual emigration to Yathrib (Medina). During the remainder of Muhammad's life, his activities become increasingly shaped by Abraham as a model. They culminate in Muhammad's freeing the sanctuary of the Ka'ba in Mecca--founded and renovated by Abraham together with his first-born son Ishmael--from its polytheism and rededicating it to Allah, the one and only God.
As in the Hebrew Bible, the Jewish traditions, and the Christian Testament (jas. 2:23), the Qur'an refers to Abraham as the "friend of God." In all three religions, Abraham represents an exemplar of monotheistic faith. While Judaism includes some of Abraham's more dubious character traits--such as, when seeking to protect himself, he pretends to the Pharaoh and to King Abimelech that Sarai is his sister rather than his wife (Genesis 12 and 20)--Islam idealizes Abraham as a model for the Prophet Muhammed, with both representing what it means to be a perfect Muslim.
Bauschke points out that the Islamic perspective on Abraham represents, as do the Jewish and the Christian perspectives, a perspective of faith rather than a historically accurate portrait of Abraham. He argues that, while in recent years Abraham has been increasingly drawn upon as a symbol of mutual understanding and reconciliation in a trialogue of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is a rather ambivalent figure. His willingness to slaughter and sacrifice his son has produced different, including questionable, interpretations of the concept of sacrifice in the three religions, such as the justification for the September 11,2001, attacks by suicide bomber Mohamed Atta. Meticulously researched, Bauschke's book provides enlightening new information on the story of Abraham and on how essential aspects of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths have evolved from it.
Helene Ijaz, Markham, ON, Canada