22 June 2003

Abraham in Arabia

My remarks on Kamal Salibi two days ago may need to be put in context. A story on Abraham in the December 2001 issue of National Geographic reminded me that the Koran itself places Abraham in Arabia. According to author Tad Szulc,

The Koran reports that Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House. The “house” is the Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest shrine. One of the four corners of this small rectangular structure is a sacred black stone that is a remnant of the original building. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, when Muslims from all over the world circle the Kaaba, reinforces the central role of Abraham and Ishmael in the Islamic faith.

Given that the Koran is revered by Muslims as divinely inspired scripture, the notion of southern Arabia being the promised land may not be so far fetched from their perspective. Still Salibi's theory faces a number of obstacles, the most obvious of which are geographical and archaeological.

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