The Archaeology of Arabia Confirmed the Relative Brevity of an Arabian Generation
Archaeology confirms the lower figures for the generations in Arabia. If we study the series of kings in Arabia, both in northern Arabia and Yemen, we come to verify the shortness of Arabian generations when compared to generations in other places, such as Israel. For example, the series of rulers in Saba and Himyar of Yemen begin with the Karibil A. in the 9th century B.C., and run through Maadikarib III, King of Himyar, who was number 102, the last one in the series. He reigned between 575- 577 A.D.[xii] We see 102 generations of kings in a span of about 1,400 years. Remembering that a few of these rulers were brothers of other kings in the same generation, we find between 75 to 80 generations, and we conclude that the average Arabian generation was about 17-20 years.
Considering the shortness of the Arabian generation, let's suppose that each generation in Mohammed's genealogy is 20 years. Since Mohammed is separated from Abraham and Ishmael by 2,670 years, there must have been a little over 133 generations between them. When we do the math, we have 2,670 years divided by 20 years, which equals 133 and one-half generations, not 35 or 40, as claimed by Ibn Ishak and the others who fabricated genealogies for the ancestors of Mohammed. We see how unprepared and unwise they were to claim Mohammed is descended from Abraham and his son, Ishmael.Except for the lineage of Jesus, which was documented by written books of the Bible through the centuries, no other family in history has ever accounted for their ancestors over a period of 2,000 years.
Let's look at this another way. If we assume that the 21st ancestor of Mohammed is known, and if we make a generation 25 years rather than 20 years, then ancestor number 21 would still be 525 years distant from Mohammed. This means that the 21st ancestor of Mohammed lived between 50-70 A.D. This would make the gap between him and Ishmael about 2,000 years.
Except for the linage of Jesus, no family in history had ever verified their ancestors over a period of 2,000 years. The family of Joseph, who was from the royal lineage of Judah, and the family of Mary, who was from the same tribe, could account for their ancestors as far back as Abraham. Because there have been documented, written books of the Bible in each generation, the facts are verified again and again. They give testimony to the promise God made to Abraham and to Isaac, son of Abraham, which God then confirmed to almost every member of the Messianic genealogy. God's divine promise accompanied others in the Messianic line, such as Isaac, his son, Jacob, and Jacob's son, Judah, as it was recorded by Moses in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
The genealogy continued to be recorded in many other books of the Bible. For example, we see God confirming the continuity of the Messianic line in the book of Ruth through Boaz, one of the ancestors of King David. The promise of God concerning the birth of a divine child as Savior was confirmed to David and his son, Solomon, then to many other kings, until we reach the last king who governed Judah at the time of Babylon's captivity, around 586 B.C. The confirmation of God's promise continued after the captivity of Babylon. In fact, God renewed His promise to another ruler in David's royal line, Zerubbabel, who became governor of Judah around 538 B.C.
Many prophets prophesied God's incarnation in human form after Zerubbabel was governor. The series of prophesies continue until we reach the prophet Malachi, who wrote the last book of the Old Testament around 436 B.C. The first chapter of Malachi begins with these words:
Behold I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.
It is clear that the God of the Old Testament, who spoke to Malachi and to all the prophets, was the One who promised to come, announcing the sending of a messenger to prepare the way for Him as a sign of His coming. This messenger was John the Baptist, whom God called in the same generation in which Christ was incarnated, and who testified in John 1:26, 27 concerning Jesus. He said:
I baptize with water, but there stands one among you whom you do not know. It is he who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.
Later, when John was asked by the Jews if He was the Messiah, said in Matthew 3:2 that he was "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." He was the one who came to prepare the way before the Lord, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.There is a complete continuity of documented records and historical testimonies regarding the Messianic genealogy of Jesus.
The royal lineage continued to be well-known between the time of Malachi and Jesus. In fact, rulers in Judah continued their rule in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabees during the 2nd century B.C. This means that the period, which was covered only by oral tradition until we reached Mary and Joseph, doesn't exceed 120-140 years. That was a short time in which families would know about the father of their grandfather who lived 140 years earlier.
When we consider John the Baptist, of whom there is a written testimony, not just in the New Testament, but also in historical literature, such as the writings of Josephus Flavius , the Jewish-Roman historian, we have a complete continuity of documented records and historical testimonies regarding the Messianic genealogy of Jesus.The absence of any record between Mohammed and Ishmael which would support the Islamic claim that Mohammed is descended from Ishmael.
On the other hand, when we come to the family of Mohammed, whose oldest disputable ancestor was 21 people distant from him, and who lived in Yemen in the first century A.D., how can we connect Mohammed's 21st ancestor with Ishmael who lived in Sinai 2,000 years before him? No Arabian documents written before Mohammed even allude to such a claim.
Islam also claims that Abraham and Ishmael founded the city of Mecca, but Mecca was not in existence prior to the 4th century A.D. There's no historical document written during the 2,000 years between Mohammed's 21st ancestor and the time of Ishmael, which claims the 21st ancestor of Mohammed was a descendent of Ishmael. And there is no credible document written between the time of Mohammed's 21st ancestor and his own time.
As if this were not enough evidence that Mohammed couldn't have descended from Ishmael, we have the testimony of thousands of inscriptions, annals and archaeological records which speak about hundreds of rulers in Arabia who belonged to many different tribes, but no inscription or record includes material on any of the ancestors of Mohammed. This can only confirm that Mohammed's family was an ordinary and unknown family like any other family in Yemen, and that it never ruled in any city in western Arabia, even though Islamic tradition claims it ruled in Mecca.The Impossibility of the 21st Ancestor of Mohammed Claiming to be Descended from Ishmael
Because Mohammed came from an average Yemeni family, how can his 21st ancestor possess information about ancestors who lived at the time of Abraham? Although printing was invented in the 15th century, and archiving and documentation has since become more organized, and easier, than in previous centuries, none of the families in our generation know the names of their ancestors who lived 1,000 years ago. How, then, could an ordinary man, such as the 21st ancestor of Mohammed, who lived around the 1st century A.D., know anything about an ancestor who lived 2000 years before him?
From Assyrian records dated between the 9th and 7th century B.C., we know that Ishmaelite tribes lived as nomads in Sinai and the Fertile Crescent. But none of these records include the name Ishmael. No inscription shows that they called any person by that name. This demonstrates to us that they didn't know their lineage from Ishmael. Otherwise, they would certainly have been proud to be his descendants, and they would have recorded Ishmael in each subsequent generation, just as the Israelites recorded Isaac as part of their Israelite religious heritage in every ancient book they wrote. Because Ishmael received no spiritual call from God, his only historical descendants were the twelve tribes which descended from his sons. In consequent generations, even his sons' descendents forgot about him, including his name, even though the time between Ishmael and these tribes was only about 1,200 years (between the 7th and 9th century B.C.). Since this is the case for the true descendants of Ishmael, how can a man who lived in Yemen, far from where Ishmael lived, conclude he descended from Ishmael who lived 2,000 years before him? If the Ishmaelites themselves were not aware of their ancestry from Ishmael, who would have told the 21st ancestor of Mohammed that he was descended from Ishmael?
There is no proof that Mohammed's ancestors, number 17 or number 21, ever claimed to be descendants from Ishmael. There's no written document before Mohammed that make such a claim. Even if such document were to have existed, still this ancestor would have no right to claim descendancy from a man who lived 2,000 years before him, without written documents in each generation to prove his case.
It is clear that the claim of Islam about Mohammed coming from Ishmael progeny is farther from the truth than if I claimed that I came from the line of Julius Cesar who lived 2,000 years before my time. Though I would claim that my 21st ancestor was from Julius Cesar, I have nothing to confirm my claim. Such a claim is impossible to verify by anyone living in our generation. That's why no one today, even in Rome itself, claims descendancy from Julius Cesar, nor did any Italian who lived 1,000 years ago dare to make such a claim. It's understood that even 1,000 years without any documented testimony renders the claim ridiculous.It was a common custom in Arabia at the time of Mohammed for many who claimed to be prophets to claim that they were descended from Biblical figures.
Such claim, if anyone would embrace it, would be considered as transgressing honesty and logic. Yet, there were those people in Arabia, specifically at the time of Mohammed, who knowingly held to the claim that they were descendents of Biblical figures. Men who claimed to be prophets often claimed to descend from known figures in history, or from people mentioned in the Bible. Umayya bin abi al-Salt, a maternal cousin of Mohammed, claimed to be a prophet. He said the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, was his aunt.[xiii] He said this to establish that he was from the line of her brother. Also Tubb'a (the Yemeni leader who ruled between A.D. 410 and 435 and occupied Mecca) claimed to be a prophet and claimed that the Queen of Sheba was his aunt.[xiv] Throughout history we have had people like Umayya bin Abi al-Salt, who wanted to be prophets over their people. They made their claims because knew that many around them were naive and ignorant and wouldn't refute their claims.
Although false prophets in Arabia had the audacity to claim they were offspring from a man who lived 1,000 years before them, Mohammed claimed to descend from Ishmael who lived 2,700 years before him, yet without any historical written document. My heart goes out to our Muslims friends who continue to trust their eternal destiny to a claim which is against logic and history.Mohammed claimed to have ascended to heaven, met Abraham, and learned that he was a true copy of Abraham, so as to convince his followers that he was descended from Abraham.
We saw how Mohammed claimed that Ishmael was his ancestor. He claimed this, even though the time between Mohammed and Ishmael was about 2,700 years, and there were no written documents at any time to support this claim.
But there is more involved than supporting an unhistorical claim. Mohammed connected himself to Abraham by saying he was a physically-true copy of Abraham, because he had ascended to heaven where he encountered many Biblical figures - and among them was Abraham.
He also claimed that heaven has seven layers, copying the idea embraced by many religions and sects of his time, such as Gnosticism, Manicheism and Zoroastrianism. Gnostic literature makes man responsible for each of the sky's seven layers. Mohammed claimed the same. Mohammed placed Abraham in the sky's seventh layer,[xv] where he ruled over believers who did more works, and performed more religious rites, than the inhabitants of the lower layers.In order to persuade his followers that he was the offspring of Abraham, Mohammed claimed that he was a true copy of Abraham.
When his followers asked Mohammed what Abraham looked like, he told them that Abraham was a copy of Mohammed himself. He told them:
I did not see a man similar to him like your friend, nor is your friend likened to any person like him.[xvi] (By "friend," Mohammed meant himself.)
Al-Bukhari, the authoritative book of Mohammed's Hadith, quotes Mohammed as saying, "I am the most likened son to Abraham." [ xvii ] Mohammed wanted to persuade his followers that he was the offspring of Abraham, so he claimed that physically he was a copy of Abraham. Isaac did not dare to make such a claim, though he was Abraham's son, and his mother was Abraham's step sister. Neither did Jacob, or any of his descendents who were close to Abraham's time, claim that they were a physical copy of Abraham. How could a man who lived 2,700 years after Abraham make such claim?http://religionresearchinstitute.org/Mohammad/ishmael.htm