Striking commonalities between ancient pagan sacrifices and the early Christian Eucharist

Here is the entry on ancient sacrifices in my copy of The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature an authoritative reference guide to the classical world (ie ancient Greece and Rome) and its literary heritage. When I first read this I couldn’t help noticing the commonalities between the description of blood offerings in pagan sacrifices and the early Christian understanding of the Eucharist in the church:


There are key features to the blood sacrifice:

the slaughter and consumption (of flesh and blood) of a domestic animal (eg a sheep) as an offering to a god was ‘the most popular form of ancient sacrifice’.


  • Jesus was called a lamb of God;
  • Many Christians believed he was slaughtered on the cross as a sacrifice;
  • Many first century Christians believed the flesh and blood of Jesus was literally consumed in a meal.

As evidence, consider the view of Ignatius of Antioch who was born in 35 AD and was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. He wrote in a surviving letter:

“Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us.  They abstain [ie do not eat and drink] from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”

From the Letter to the Smyrnaeans.

While in route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers, of which he is considered one of the three chief ones together with Pope Clement I and Polycarp.

My conclusion:

As the religion of Jesus morphed into the religion about Jesus (the Proclaimer became the proclaimed) and cut itself off from its Jewish roots as it became an almost exclusively gentile religion, is it any surprise that the new faith’s central sacred act – the Eucharist – resembled other pagan sacrificial meals in the gentile world?

Screenshot 2019-10-23 at 20.39.40

Categories: Christianity, History, Paganism

25 replies

  1. That means Allah used a pagan practise to test Ibrahim “Abraham”. To make it worst Ibrahim accept to do a pagan practice. Muslims until today sacrifice animal, Why Muslims are celebrating a pagan practice?

    In Qadi Iyad’s “Ash-Shifa,” page 36, we read:

    “There was also a time when Malik ibn Sinan drank his blood on the Day of Uhud and licked it up. The Prophet allowed him to do that and then said, ‘The Fire will not touch you.'”

    “Something similar occurred when Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr drank cupped blood. (This was blood drawn from Muhammad during the Islamic practice of cupping.) The Prophet said, ‘Woe to you from the people and woe to the people from you,’ but he did not object to what he had done.”

    Maalik ibn Sinaan the father of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him)

    al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said in al-Talkhees al-Habeer (1/31):

    Concerning this topic there is a mursal hadeeth that was narrated by Sa’eed ibn Mansoor (2/221) via ‘Umar ibn al-Saa’ib, who said that he heard that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was wounded, Maalik the father of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, sucked the wound so that to clean it until there was no blood and the whiteness of his skin showed. It was said to him: Spit it out. He said: No, by Allaah, I will never spit it out. Then he went and fought. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever wants to see one of the people of Paradise, let him look at this man.” Then he was martyred. End quote.

    “How can the scholars reconcile between what is stated about blood being naajis (impure) and the idea of Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr drinking the blood of the Prophet?

    They said: This is one of the things that applied only to the Prophet, where the ruling applied only to him and not to the rest of his ummah.”

    The response goes on to note that “Some of the scholars stated that the blood of the Prophet was taahir (pure), based on the story of Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr.”

    • wtf?

      I think you posted your comment to the wrong article mate.

      • If you apply the same level of criticism to Islam. You will surely leave Islam. You’re a Muslim because of you inconsistent in your approach.

        Striking commonalities between ancient pagan and Islam. The evidence from your most authentic sources.

        Worship at the Ka’aba Sahih Bukhari 3:43:658
        Fasting on the 10th of Muharram Sahih Bukhari 5:58:172
        Tawaf between Safa and Marwa Sahih Bukhari 2:26:710
        Requirement of Ihram Sahih Bukhari 2:26:706

        The list gets longer if I use external sources.

        You will leave Islam if you spend more time studying Islam.

      • @ Hot Chocolate

        Uhhhh… we never denied the pagan Arabs (i.e Ishmael’s descendants) took Abraham’s religion and ritual and then modified it with new rituals (which they are criticized in the Quran for). So your whole ramble means nothing quite frankly. Christians took Greek paganism (i.e. something that God did not send nor sanction) and mixed it with their religion. Regarding the blood section keyword:

        “SOME of the scholars stated that the blood of the Prophet was taahir (pure), based on the story of Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr.”

        They have no evidence for this position so it can be rejected and the thing to remember is that Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr was like 7 years old when he did that AND Prophet Muhammad(saw) did not ORDER him to do it. So again this analogy is faulty.

      • “You will leave Islam if you spend more time studying Islam.”


    • @StewJO It can’t be from Abraham or Ismael. According to Muhammad, the Kaaba was built (998-991 BC) long after the death of Abraham or Ismael. Which will contradict the Quran.

      Other contraction, Allah send a warner to each nation. So You can’t have more than one warner to the same nation. And other places the Quran said no warner was sent to them before Muhammad. Just to mention a few problems you have with such claims.

      Islam is a religion copied from Judeo-Christian and paganism. No historical or archeological evidence that they got it from Abraham and Ismael. But strong historical evidence that its pure form of paganism.From Muslim sources and external sources.

      Let me see if you can truly reject it. Why can’t you drink the blood of your prophet? Is his blood naajis?

  2. St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 A.D.)

    I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, WHICH IS THE FLESH OF JESUS CHRIST, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I DESIRE HIS BLOOD, which is love incorruptible. (Letter to the Romans 7:3)

    They [i.e. the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that THE EUCHARIST IS THE FLESH OF OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. (Letter to Smyrnians 7:1)

    St. Justin the Martyr (c. 100 – 165 A.D.)

    For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, AND BY THE CHANGE OF WHICH our blood and flesh is nourished, IS BOTH THE FLESH AND THE BLOOD OF THAT INCARNATED JESUS. (First Apology, 66)

    St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 140 – 202 A.D.)

    But what consistency is there in those who hold that the bread over which thanks have been given IS THE BODY OF THEIR LORD, and the cup HIS BLOOD, if they do not acknowledge that He is the Son of the Creator… How can they say that the flesh which has been nourished BY THE BODY OF THE LORD AND BY HIS BLOOD gives way to corruption and does not partake of life? …For as the bread from the earth, receiving the invocation of God, IS NO LONGER COMMON BREAD BUT THE EUCHARIST, consisting of two elements, earthly and heavenly… (Against Heresies 4:18:4-5)

    When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and BECOMES THE EUCHARIST, THE BODY OF CHRIST, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, WHICH IS ETERNAL LIFE — flesh which is nourished BY THE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD…receiving the Word of God, BECOMES THE EUCHARIST, WHICH IS THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST… (Against Heresies 5:2:2-3)

    Origen (c. 185 – 254 A.D.)

    We give thanks to the Creator of all, and, along with thanksgiving and prayer for the blessings we have received, we also eat the bread presented to us; and this bread BECOMES BY PRAYER A SACRED BODY, which sanctifies those who sincerely partake of it.(Against Celsus 8:33)

    You see how the ALTARS are no longer sprinkled with the blood of oxen, but consecrated BY THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST. (Homilies on Joshua 2:1)

    St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 – 258 A.D.)

    He Himself warns us, saying, “UNLESS YOU EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD, YOU SHALL NOT HAVE LIFE IN YOU.” Therefore do we ask that our Bread, WHICH IS CHRIST, be given to us daily, so that we who abide and live in Christ may not withdraw from His sanctification and from His Body. (The Lord’s Prayer 18)

    Also in the priest Melchisedech we see THE SACRAMENT OF THE SACRIFICE OF THE LORD prefigured…The order certainly is that which comes from his [Mel’s] sacrifice and which comes down from it: because Mel was a priest of the Most High God; because he offered bread; and because he blessed Abraham. And who is more a priest of the Most High God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who, WHEN HE OFFERED SACRIFICE TO GOD THE FATHER, OFFERED THE VERY SAME WHICH MELCHISEDECH HAD OFFERED, NAMELY BREAD AND WINE, WHICH IS IN FACT HIS BODY AND BLOOD! (Letters 63:4)

    Aphraates the Persian Sage (c. 280 – 345 A.D.)

    After having spoken thus [“This is My body…This is My blood”], the Lord rose up from the place where He had made the Passover and had given His Body as food and His Blood as drink, and He went with His disciples to the place where He was to be arrested. But He ate of His own Body and drank of His own Blood, while He was pondering on the dead. With His own hands the Lord presented His own Body to be eaten, and before He was crucified He gave His blood as drink… (Treatises 12:6)

    St. Athanasius (c. 295 – 373 A.D.)

    You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ….Let us approach the celebration of the mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread and wine — and thus is His Body confected. (Sermon to the Newly Baptized, from Eutyches)

    And there are A LOT more!

    Drinking the blood and eating the flesh of their mangod. All I can is…wow.

    • this is from a materialistic religion which sees almighty as a material being. it is no surprise the devil worshipping church fathers see the bread and wine and literal and physical thing which exist in crosstians body. my wondering is which part of jesus are christians imagining when they are eating jesus? any choicest part because yhwh used to like quality parts from offerings . so is it a bum cheek? is it the penis? the testicles? the whole body?

      and how about the blood ? yhwh said “blood atones”

      did he have in mind human blood, pigs blood, dogs blood…..?

      christianity says human blood. whats going on here?

  3. Lol.. HC did you actually read carefully the article you posted a link to?… you conveniently left out those details related to the dubious authenticity of the narration you… 😁

    • Read the conclusion and tell me which one is the most sound report?

      Conclusion: Out of the reports about the Sahaabah drinking some of the blood of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), the report about ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr (may Allaah be pleased with him) is the most sound, although there is some debate about its isnaad. No other report is sound.

      Secondly, your scholars try to reconcile between what is stated about blood being naajis and the idea of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr drinking the blood of Muhammad.

      You’re not laughing at me but your scholars who takes it seriously. If not there’s no need to reconcile anything. Show some respect to your scholars.

      I’ll ask you the same question I asked Stewjo: “Let me see if you can truly reject it. Why can’t you drink the blood of your prophet? Is his blood naajis?”

      • Step back a little HC lol… from the outset you quoted the narration in your original post, , *** “The Fire will not touch you” *** which as I said you conveniently left out the details that illustrate the dubious authenticity of your quote – the narration – classed as unreliable, weak….

        and yes there may be some basis for the story of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr consuming the blood, however note the Prophet (p) did expressed his dislike of al-Zubayr’s action. No other narrations on this matter are reliable.

        and the difference of opinions on whether the Prophet’s blood is naajis or not, makes not difference to me personally, regardless – I wouldn’t ….

      • @ HC

        Because you seem to be so knowledgable about hadith what is the background of the incident with Abdullah ibn Zubayr(ra). Did he have a cup for giggles? I eagerly await your answer.

    • You write “maybe” it has some basis. However, the article did not say “maybe”. After the ““The Fire will never touch you.”

      “When taking all these reports into account, it seems that there is some basis for the story of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr drinking the blood of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and Allaah knows best.”

      And you wrote the other hadith is “rejected, weak…” I would suggest looking up Sheikh Hamza Yusuf on weak hadith. He even said the argument of weak hadith is a weak argument. Your own scholar says that your argument is weak.

      While you wrote the prophet express his dislike you’re ignoring where he approved.

      ” in some reports it says that he approved of that, and in others it says that he denounced them.”

      You’re the one who conveniently left out the apart that he approves.

      The conclusion: report about ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr is the most sound

      And they went on making excuse why it’s permissible to drink the blood of Muhammad.

      It’s clear from the conclusion the are more persuaded it’s allowed to drink the blood of Muhammad. Otherwise, no point trying to reconcile about blood being naajis and the idea of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr drinking the blood of the Prophet.

      I think their no point debating on this. You’re allowed to have a version of Islam different from your scholars. Maybe Islam can be reformed after all.

      Why you won’t drink his blood. What’s your problem with the blood of Muhammad?

      • @ HC

        Lol, Hamza Yusuf is already “off” but to clarify what he means because you don’t know what you’ ‘re talking about:

        A weak hadith can not be used as an evidence in and of itself. The MOST it can do is be used for encouragement so, for example, let’s say there is a weak hadith that says you will get 1,000,000 good deeds for giving too the poor. A peron can quote this to encourage someone. However, a weak hadith CANNOT be used for either legal discussion or foundations of faith and belief (i.e. what you are currently trying to establish)

  4. @ Hot Chocolate

    To begin nobody knows when David (as) or Solomon (as) reigned. So your date is basically a guess not fact. Furthermore, the Prophet(saw) is referring to the time of Adam(as) and this is a known thing.

    Next your warner point is wrong on two fronts:

    1. Nations can have more than 1 warner like for example the town in Surah Yaseen or the Jews. There is nothing in the Quran or sunnah that states a single warner can come to each nation.

    2. Its not a contradiction and is easy to understand if you’ve actually read the Quran. God sent a warner to every nation so for example, the Greeks, Chinese, Africans, Native Americans etc.

    I appointed a Messenger for each nation telling them to worship God and to stay away from forces calling to rebellion. Among them are some God guided and some who misguidance materialized so they deserved to be led astray. Just travel throughout the earth and take a look for yourself. How was the fate of those who denied? (16:36)

    The no warner is referring to the people during the time of Prophet Muhammad(saw)

    28:45. I’ve brought into being many generations who lived long lives, but you did not live among the people of Midian nor recite My Revelations to them, it was I who was the Sender.
    28:46. Nor were you on the side of the mountain when I called out to Moses. But now you too have been sent as an act of love and concern from your Lord, to give warning to a nation which no warner has come before, so that they might remember.
    28:47. And so that they can’t say, if a disaster should befall them as a result of what they’ve done with their own hands: “Oh Lord, if only You had sent us a Messenger, we would’ve followed Your message and became believers!”

    So no contradiction just your lack of knowledge about Islam.

    As for your archaeological ramble, wow that’s a really interesting claim considering there is almost no archaeological evidence of pre-Islamic Arabia. Also, kinda common sense here, if Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael(as) who he and his father was a monotheist, then he more than likely taught belief this to his children. Like the Jews, the Arabs had strayed into idolatry and had been in it for a long time. Ta-dah not that hard. Also again it’s not “copying” as both religions come from the same source. Why would you expect us to have drastically different rules and principles when we don’t claim to be anything new?

    Is his blood naajis?
    Yup. Easy one there.

    So now with all that answered what’s the deal with you guys taking Greek paganism and mixing it with Jesus’s(as) religion (aka the topic of the article)?

    • Let even assume we don’t know when Solomon reigned. The gap between Abraham building the Kaaba and Solomon reigning will not be a 40 years gap. Even if I’m being generous with you, it’s not a good argument. Still, it can’t be from Abraham or Ismael. It comes from the purest form of paganism. Anyway, that date is around 958-951 BC. Don’t know what you’re referring about Adam. Sound that the story is about to get worst once you elaborate.

      1) “There is nothing in the Quran or sunnah that states a single warner can come to each nation.” Which Quran do you read? Hafs, Walsh, Doori,…?

      AYAH Yunus 10:47 “to every people (was sent) a messenger:” Y.A

      AYAH an-Nahl 16:36 “For We assuredly sent amongst every People a messenger”

      2) you claim god send prophet to many nations: Chinese, Africans, Native Americans. What were the names of those prophets? what name of the book that Allah gave them? Are you making up stories with no historical evidence?

      And you have verses who claim no warner was sent to the Arabs before Muhammad

      AYAH al-Qasas 28:46 “…o give warning to a people to whom no warner had come before thee..”

      AYAH as-Sajdah 32:3 “…that thou mayest admonish a people to whom no warner has come before thee…”

      AYAH Fatir 36:6

      M. M. Pickthall That thou mayst warn a folk whose fathers were not warned

      Shakir That you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned

      The Study Quran that thou mayest warn a people whose fathers were not warned

      Muhammad Mahmoud Ghali That you may warn a people; In no way were their fathers warned

      Muhammad Sarwar so that you may warn a people who are unaware because their fathers were not warned.

      Umm Muhammad (Sahih International) That you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are unaware.

      [The Monotheist Group] (2013 Edition) To warn a people whose fathers were not warned, for they are unaware.

      “wow that’s a really interesting claim considering there is almost no archaeological evidence of pre-Islamic Arabia” I actually agree with you. I don’t see how that will refute my point. That a great point against you. I will go even further to my knowledge their zero historical evidence of Muslims before the 7th century. Islam goes against historical evidence it’s born from copying the pagans, Christians and Jews.

      Even that I don’t care about the similarities. However, I already addressed it. If the article is correct. In Islam, Abraham accepted to do a pagan practice to sacrifice his child, and until today Muslim celebrate animal sacrifice. If Jews and Christian are pagan. That means your prophet had no problem with a pagan practice and Muslims are pagans as well.

      Your other points. Your not copying from the Judeo-Christian. You claim it the same source, nothing new. No drastically different rules and principles. You can say the same about the pagan practice in Islam Same source not copying, no drastic different rules and principles.

      Here some additional pre-Islamic pagan practises which I did not mention before: Veneration of the Black-stone, Praying 5 Times Towards Mecca, Circumambulation 7 Times, Crescent Moon Symbol.

      And I already showed that Muslims scholars have no problem with drinking the blood of Muhammad. If early Christianity is Pagan. Islam is pagan as well.

      You claim his blood is naajis. But your scholar says his blood is pure. So what’s your problem with drinking his pure blood?

      • @ HC

        Yes, I agree, the story about how you were shown to be ignorant will get worse once I elaborate.

        The Kaaba was built/rebuilt 5 times. The first time (and the hadith you’re quoting) is talking about when Adam(as) established both sanctuaries. Later his descendant Abraham(as) and his descendant Solomon (as) were ordered to rebuild them again which is what you think the hadith was talking about.

        As for which Quran accent I read, why all of them silly as they were all revealed by the Prophet(saw). Which Bible do you read? All since you seem to know so much about qiraat lol what are they and what differences do they contain?

        Moving on to warners I thought it was obvious from my point but allow me to rephrase ahem:

        There is nothing in the Quran and Sunnah that says only ONE warner can come to a nation and then no more.

        As for your next point, what does it matter if we know the name of every prophet God ever sent? They all came with the same message. It’s equivalent to believing in angels. Monotheism has existed throughout history and as a quick note we only have about 4,000 years of recorded history humans have existed at least 100,000 years so we’re batting a whopping 4% right now.

        It refutes your point because you claimed:
        “But strong historical evidence that its pure form of paganism.From Muslim sources and external sources.”

        What are these “strong” external sources that we don’t already concede? Also, I don’t understand your point about zero historical evidence of Muslims before the 7th century but since I believe you are potentially schizophrenic I’ll just group it in with the rest of your ramblings and poor attempt to “machine gun”.

        Moving on, lol there are a LOT of differences between the pagan Arab practices and principle to ours. For someone who claims to have strong evidence it’s really weird you would claim this. Like the Christians and Jews we sometimes only have a rough skeleton of the same thing. (An example, would be the Anti-Christ) Again we concede the pagans did this but they thought in their minds they were following Abraham(as) and Ishmael’s(as) religion. Like how the Jews think they are following Jacob’s(as) or the Christians think they are following Jesus’s(as) religion. Islam does not need a reformation because at inception it was a reformation of people altering what God sent.

        Finally, regarding his blood, it does not matter what a scholar says because guess what he can be wrong (gasp). The story can’t be used for a proof for anything because if you understood it you would see why this is a reach. Again here’s the background of what you’re quoting (as you obviously don’t know it AND a refutation saying they were arguing this purely off emotion)

        @ 21:30:

        So there is NOTHING in the text that says his blood is pure. Muhammad(saw) is a human-like EVERYBODY else.

        PS. The crescent is not a symbol of Islam it was the symbol of the Ottomans that the West associates with Muslims now. Challenge for you show me a hadith where Muhammad(saw) put a moon on his standard. Also, the pagan Arabs did not pray 5 times toward Mecca and they had no idea what Muhammad(saw) was doing. Another challenge shows me a hadith where the pagan Arabs say they know of praying 5 time a day ESPECIALLY considering that Muslims prayed 2 times a day in Mecca originally. These are just some of the MANY things you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • White chocolate is just repeating what he hears in a vain attempt to pretend as if he knows what he’s talking about.

      • @ QB

        Oh, no doubt I was almost done when he thought the moon was a symbol for Islam. This dude had so many issues I am just trying to be semi concise for the sake of brevity.

    • Stew can you give a link to the source for Adam built botth Masjid al Haram and al-Aqsa? Or maybe a source that more candidly explains what persons this particular hadith talks about?

      • @ Maqs

        Scholars differed as to who built the Kaaba first. I originally went with Ibn Kathir’s opinion that the site was designated to Adam(as) and Abraham(as) built an actual structure on top of the site, but thanks to your question which caused me to do some more research, I’m starting to shift to this hadith is instead referring to when the Heavens and Earth were created (but I am not entirely convinced yet however this is nitpicking as the two views don’t contradict). Quoting from Qurtubi on Q. 2:197:

        “The word “qawa’id” (foundations) mentioned here is the subject of some discussion. Abu ‘Ubayda and al-Farra’ say it means foundations but al-Kisa’i says it means walls. Its usual meaning, however, is foundations…It is said that the foundations had been demolished and Allah informed Ibrahim about them. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The House was set on foundations which existed a thousand years before this world was created.”

        People disagree about who first built the House and its foundations. It is said that it was the angels. ‘Ata’ and lbn al-Musayyab reported that Allah revealed to Adam, “When you go down to the earth, build me a House. Then go around it as you saw the angels going around My Throne in heaven..”

        Now quoting from Ibn Kathir:

        “There are several other Hadiths that indicate that Allah made Makkah a sacred area before He created the heavens and earth. The Two Sahihs recorded `Abdullah bin `Abbas saying that the Messenger of Allah said,

        “Allah has made this city a sanctuary (sacred place) the Day He created the heavens and earth. Therefore, it is a sanctuary until the Day of Resurrection because Allah made it a sanctuary. It was not legal for anyone to fight in it before me, and it was legal for me for a few hours of one day. Therefore, it is a sanctuary until the Day of Resurrection, because Allah made it a sanctuary…”


        “Allah, not the people, made Makkah a sanctuary…”

        Ibn Kathir then quotes the following hadith which mentions Abraham(as) made the following prayer that the Quran quotes when he left Ishmael(as) and Hajar(ra) in the valley of what would become Mecca:

        “…Ishmael’s mother followed him saying, “O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us,” and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka`ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:

        14:37. “Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring settle down in a valley without cultivation, close to Your Sacred House, Lord, so that they can establish the prayer. Make the hearts of people fall in love with them, and provide them with all kinds of produce, so that they can be thankful…”

        Notice he said, “Your Sacred House” BEFORE they built the Kaaba indicating that this spot was already something and gives precedence to the view that the word “qawa’id” (foundations) means walls. But God knows best. For further scholars who held this position from Jalalyn:

        When they said, ‘Our direction of prayer (qibla) came before yours’, the following was revealed: The first house, for worship, established for the people, on earth, was that at Bakka… it was built by the angels before the creation of Adam, and after it the Aqsā [in Jerusalem] was built, a period of forty years separating them, as reported in the hadīth of the two Sahīhs [sc. of al-Bukhārī and Muslim]…

        Our Lord, indeed I have made some of my seed, that is, Ishmael and his mother Hagar, to dwell in a valley where there is no sown land, namely, Mecca, by Your Sacred House, which had been there since before the Flood…

        And, mention, when We settled, [when] We pointed out, for Abraham the site of the House, that he may
        build it — for it [the House] had been raised [to heaven] at the time of the Flood…

        Tabari also mentions this in his tafsir of 2:167 as well.

        Also as a bonus, I found the following because as I was explaining to HC that the pagans thought they were following the religion of Abraham(as):

        Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

        When Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) arrived in Mecca, he refused to enter the Ka`ba while there were idols in it. So he ordered that they be taken out. The pictures of the (Prophets) Abraham and Ishmael, holding arrows of divination in their hands, were carried out. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “May Allah ruin them (i.e. the infidels) for they knew very well that they (i.e. Abraham and Ishmael) never drew lots by these…

        I hope that helped.

      • Thanks a lot Stew that’s extremely helpful, very nice work. I think like you I don’t know what to go with here. I don’t think it is rational that Adam built or founded both Masjids 100000 years ago. Maybe its an Israiliyat? I think Jews have similar traditions about Adam laying the foundation stone of the temple the beit al-maqdes. If on the other hand we say it is Ibrahim there is the issue with the forty years. All in all it is a little odd that the Hadith is not explaining who it talks about, when ahadith usually elucidate the Quran. Do we know anything about the status of this hadith?

      • @ Maqs

        I haven’t been able to find anyting on the hadith’s authenticity. However I did fin Ibn Hajar explaining the hadith in his famous Fath Al Bari he notes another hadith in play (cap from me):

        His saying (40 years)
        Ibn al-Jawzi said: It raises a problem since Abraham built the Ka`bah and Solomon built Bayt al-Maqdis [another name of al-Masjid al-Aqsa cf. Hebrew Bet ha-Miqdash] and there are 1,000 years between them. His evidence for saying that it is Solomon – peace be upon him – who built the Farthest Mosque is the narration of al-Nasa’i from the hadith of `Abd Allah Ibn `Amr Ibn al-`As attributed to the Prophet with an authentic isnad that “When Solomon built Bayt al-Maqdis he asked God the Most High for three things etc.” and in al-Tabarani from the hadith of Rafi` Ibn `Umayrah that “David – peace be upon him – started building Bayt al-Maqdis but God inspired him: I shall accomplish its building with Solomon” and the hadith has a story. He [Ibn al-Jawzi] said: “The answer to that is that the mention concerns the first construction and the foundation of the mosque and it is not Abraham who built the Ka`bah for the first time nor is it Solomon who built Bayt al-Maqdis for the first time. Indeed, we have narrated that the first one who built the Ka`bah is Adam. Then his progeny spread out on earth. Therefore, it is possible that one of them built Bayt al-Maqdis. Later, Abraham (re)built the Ka`bah according to the Qur’an.” Likewise, al-Qurtubi said: The hadith does not indicate that Abraham and Solomon were the first ones to build the two mosques. It was only a renovation of what had been founded by others.[16]

        But the possibility mentioned by Ibn al-Jawzi is more pertinent. And I found evidence supporting those who say that it is Adam who founded both mosques. For instance, Ibn Hisham mentioned in “Kitab al-Tijan” that when Adam built the Ka`bah, God ordered him to walk to Bayt al-Maqdis and build it and so he did and offered worship in it. And the construction of the House [Arabic: al-Bayt, i.e., the Ka`bah] is famous and we have mentioned earlier THE HADITH of `Abd Allah Ibn `Amr that the House was elevated in the time of the flood until God showed Abraham its location. Ibn Abi Hatim narrated from the way of Ma`mar from Qatadah: God founded the House with Adam when he descended. But Adam missed the voices of the Angels and their prayers. Therefore, God told him: I sent down a House around which [people] will revolve like it is revolved around my Throne, so set out to it. Adam set out to Makkah – He had descended in India, and his steps were enlarged until he reached the House and revolved around it. It was also said that when he had prayed at the Ka`bah, he was ordered to set out to Jerusalem where he built a masjid [mosque] and prayed therein so that it became a qiblah to a part of his progeny.[17]

        My thing is compiling all the evidence we have now:

        1. The hadith of 40 years is a snippet of a conversation.
        2. We have another hadith talking about the founding of Mecca which was before the Kaaba was built (we know this because Ishmael(as) is a baby in the hadith and the Quran says he was an adult when he built it) and Abraham(as) says in his prayer he left his offspring by the Sacred House before he built it.
        3. We have a hadith of the Prophet(saw) saying Allah is the one who designated Mecca to be a sanctuary when he created the heavens and earth (VERY strong imo)
        4. The word in the ayat about what Ibrahim(as) raised can mean foundation or wall. If we go with wall then there’s no doubt something was at the site previously. If we want to go with the usual meaning of foundations that doesn’t negate anything because:

        a. A foundation is usually part of the wall
        b. He could have raised the foundation of what was already there higher.

        5. While it is true that it could be an Israliyyat, we still have two Tabieen saying Adam founded it, a Sahabi, and another prolific Sahabi saying: “The House was set on foundations which existed a thousand years before this world was created.”
        So imo (and I could be wrong admittedly) it makes more sense to combine these with the above points then to just dismiss them as Israliyyat especially since we know of no corresponding one.

        6. Another point we’re missing is what is a masjid? It’s simply a place to bow. No need for a building or anything. For example, even when Masjid Al Aqsa was destroyed and it had its little bit of rubble lying around it was STILL Masjid Al Aqsa. All Adam(as) would have to do to “found it is lay a couple stones down and say “It’s good guys” or point designate markers. And even if you want to reject Adam(as) having something to do with it then the angels or Allah could just do the same thing when creation started. It would be no different than Allah designating Friday as the best day of the week, Ramadan the best month or Eid as the best day of the year.

        But at the end of the day, Allah knows best.

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