the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of The Scribe, we reprint
selected articles from previous issues.
Father of the Middle East
Issue No. 1
by N E Dangoor
many ways Abraham is the common denominator of the Middle
East especially that part of the region known as the Fertile
Crescent. He was an Aramaean born in Iraq who had to migrate
to Canaan for the sake of religious freedom. His compliance
with the divine command which bade him to leave thy
country, thy kindred and thy fathers house,
demonstrates both his obedience to God and his attachment
to his native land which he did not leave out of choice:
both Isaac and Jacob had to choose their wives from the
spoke Aramaic (Syriac) which at the end of the eighth century
B.C.E. became the lingua franca of the Middle East. From
that time and for 1,200 years Aramaic was the spoken language
of Jews in Palestine and Babylonia right up to the Moslem
conquest of the Middle East. The Hebrew that was used in
writing the Bible and was the language of the prophets and
the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah was in fact the language
of Canaan. Abrahams ancestors originally came to Iraq
from the north-eastern part of the Arabian peninsula which
was the cradle of the Semitic family which emigrated into
the Fertile Crescent, the people who subsequently became
the Hebrews, Phoenicians, Babylonians and Assyrians of history.
travels took him first to Haran in northern Iraq and then
to Damascus where he resided for some time. He later proceeded
to Canaan, which at that time was sparsely populated and
consisted of a number of small city states. One of these
was Salem (Jerusalem) whose king, Melchisedek, priest of
the Most High God, was particularly friendly with Abraham.
had eight sons: Ishmael by Hagar, Isaac by Sarah and six
sons by Keturah. Ishmaels offspring became the Nabataens
who populated northern Arabia from the Euphrates to the
Red Sea. Africa is named after Ofren, one of Abrahams
grandchildren, who conquered Libya.
was shrewd, loyal to his kin, brave in war, desirous of
numerous offspring, extremely hospitable, just, a hard bargainer,
and an unquestioning believer in God. His religion, according
to the Bible, was the first monotheistic faith. He was the
first to venture the notion that there was but one God,
the Creator of the Universe. In that field of course his
influence became felt throughout the civilised world, first
through Judaism and then through Christianity and Islam
so that today the greater part of mankind acknowledges the
God of Abraham.
regarded Abraham as the spiritual ancestor of Islam. The
submission of Abraham and his son to the will of God in
the supreme test when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his
son, expressed in the verb aslama (submitted
themselves), was evidently the act that provided Mohammed
with the name Islam for his faith.
is interesting to dwell further on Abrahams personality:
a visionary and a prophet he is referred to as the
friend of God in the Old Testament and the Koran;
a tribal chief, a merchant prince and a traveller; a warrior
and a brilliant tactician. On his return from one trip to
Egypt he adopted some hieroglyphic symbols and, by making
each symbol represent a particular sound, developed the
first alphabet, suitable for the Hebrew nomads and which
was used to record the fascinating story of the Chosen People
which was beginning to unfold as well as the old sagas that
go back to Noah and beyond.
tradition and personality of Abraham can be used as a basis
to forge a democratic federation of the Fertile Crescent
comprising Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan - all Abrahams
country in which still live a score of different nationalities.
Of these only the Arabs would oppose and frustrate such
a union, in order that they may achieve complete Arabisation.
ideal capital for such a federation would be at Abu-Kemal,
half-way on the Euphrates and near Mari of old in which
Abraham once lived. What better name can such a capital
have than that of Abraham?
selected articles from previous issues :
Jewry Celebrates Cyrus
The Cellar Club
In the Footsteps of Adam
The Arabs Will Never Make Peace with
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