Once upon a time, there lived a man called Abraham in a place called Ur (which is present-day Iraq) in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia in those days had polytheism, meaning many people followed many different gods, and an idolatry form of worshipping was common.
Abraham worked in his father’s idol shop, but he himself never saw the point of worshipping some idol created by humans itself, and would often question its rationale. Then one day, Abraham had a revelation from the God himself telling him that there is indeed only one God and not many gods like most people believe. Abraham was also commanded by God to depart the house of his father Terah and move to the land called Canaan which is the present-day Israel-Palestine.
Despite being foretold that he would be blessed with an offspring by the God in his revelation, Abraham and his wife Sarah remained childless for a long time. When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, he was given the certainty that his wife would have a son. Sarah, skeptical about how a couple their age could possibly have a child, did not believe in this revelation. However, Sarah soon became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, at the very moment which had been predicted. Abraham, a hundred years old at the time, named the child “Isaac.”
When Isaac grew to be a young boy, God tested Abraham by telling him to take his son and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Abraham, being a firm believer in God, decided to kill his own son and offer him in the name of god, despite loving his son immensely. After walking to the hill with his son where he was asked to perform the sacrifice, he was all ready to kill his own son and offer him to god. At that very moment, a revelation came again, which said God was testing his faith and did not intend any harm on Isaac.
Isaac later married Rebekah, but even after years of marriage, they were childless. Isaac prayed for a child and God granted his wish by blessing him with twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob himself would also receive a similar revelation later, where God would call him Israel (which basically means ‘God Rules’). He would go on to become the Patriarch of the Israelites and these Israelites would give rise to a religion called Judaism.
Amidst various adversities and struggles, the Jews (the followers of Judaism) would continue to live, migrate, and come back again to live in their promised land. And in 04 BC, in the same region known as Judea, which had fallen into the Roman hands by then, a monumental figure would be born in a Jew family. That figure, known as Jesus of Nazareth at the time of this birth, would be known as Jesus years later, and would go on to become the central figure of the most followed religion on earth, known as Christianity.
Remember I said ‘A man and tale of his two sons’ at the beginning. However, if you have noticed, up until this point we have only talked about his one son – Isaac. Let us go back to the initial parts of this story where Abraham and Sarah were struggling to have a child. Believing that she would not be able to give birth to a child, Sarah had suggested that Abraham should have a child with Sarah’s handmaiden from Egypt known as Hagar. Abraham complied, and Hager gave birth to Abraham’s first child, named Ishmael.
Later, after Abraham and Sarah had their own son, Sarah grew continuously warier of Ismael being the heir to Abraham, on the ground of him being the eldest son. She believed her own son would suffer under Ishmael’s shadow and Abraham, in order to please his wife, asked Hagar to take their son Ishmael and leave.
Sad and dejected, the mother-son duo walked towards the Arabian desert, alongside the Red Sea. After a point, Hagar became really sad and started crying in front of a rock. Ishmael, on the other hand, was engulfed with fury and anger, and thus started kicking around the sand. And in the process, he went on to uncover a water stream in a desert (which we come to know as Oasis.) Upon hearing about the Oasis, Abraham came to meet Hagar and his son Ishmael and built a temple for him near this Oasis, by installing a sacred Black Stone there.
The descendants through Ishmael would be known as Ishmaelites and they would go on to be the ancestors of the people living in this Arabian Peninsula, known as the Arabs.
The Black Stone that Abraham had installed in the temple, who be the famous stone from the time of Adam and Eve that Abraham had inherited. The temple built around that Black Stone would be an important place of pilgrimage for these Arabs, and would come to be known as Kaaba. And an important city would go on to form around this temple of Kaaba, known as the Mecca.
In 570 AD, another monumental figure would take born amongst these Arabs people, who would not only unite the Arabs, and but also go on to create another influential religion, known as Islam. The figure would be known as Mohammad.
And hence, from the descendants of one man and his two sons, three of the most influential religions in the world would originate – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The names of the important figures would be slightly different in different religions, with Isaac becoming Ishaq, Moses becoming Musa, Solomon becoming Sulaiman, and Jesus becoming Isha, but the characters would be the same. They would all come from the same lineage of man – Abraham – and these three religions would be known as the Abrahamic Religion.
And that is how the tale of a man and his two sons would go on to become an important tale in shaping human history.