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Islam Ibrahim Prepares to Sacrifice His Son, Isma‛il

Qisas al-Anbiya [Tales of the Prophets]. Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Nishapuri. Qazwin (?), Iran, AH 984 (1577 CE). NYPL, Spencer Collection.

In the Qur'an, Ibrahim (Abraham) is presented as the founder of the faith that will be known as Islam. His willingness to sacrifice his son, Isma‛il (Ishmael), is viewed as a model of obedience to God's will. The Qur'anic description of this event (37:102-107) presents the son as ready to submit to God's will. In the first page from the Tales of the Prophets featured here, that message is conveyed by the son's calm demeanor as he waits for his father to slit his throat. The drama of the moment is enhanced by the fact that the son's eyes are open, and by the realistic manner in which the descending angel grasps the torso and legs of the ram that will be sacrificed in place of Isma‛il. The identity of the dark-skinned man seen in the upper left is uncertain because his presence is not mentioned in Nishapuri's text.

View more images from the Tales of the Prophets in the Library's Digital Gallery.