THE PATHS OF PROPHECY
The Arabian Origin of the Prophets; an Historical Search for the Prophets Nuh (as), Ibrahim (as), Yusuf (as) and Musa (as)
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
The Quran mentions the Prophets recognized by the Jewish and Christian tribes in Arabia. These Prophets (may peace be upon them all) according to Quran 6:83-86 are: Abraham (Ibrahim), Isaac (IsHac), Noah (Nuh), David (Dawood), Solomon (Sulayman), Job (Ayub), Joseph (Yusuf), Moses (Musa), Aaron (Haroon), Zachary (Zakariya), John (Yahya), Jesus (Isa), Elias, Ishmael (Ismail), Elija (Ilyasa), Jonah (Yunus) and Lot (Lut).
While Muslims do not question the existence of these Prophets, archaeological evidence has put Biblical narratives in such doubt that the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) have been searching for evidence that some of the above mentioned Prophets actually lived. Those Prophets whose existence are the most controversial are Nuh (as), Ibrahim (as), Yusuf (as) and Musa (as). The Arab prophets, Hud (as) sent to Aad, Saleh (as) sent to Thamud and Shuaib (as) sent to Median do not generate this kind of intense historical research as they are not recognized outside of Islam. However, the tribal federations, which rejected these Prophets, the Aad, the Thamud and the Midian, are linked to the history of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel, so the search for Nuh, Ibrahim, Yusuf and Musa must include these Arab tribes.
All scholars agree that the history of all the Semitic people of the Middle East began in the Arabian Peninsula (Paran in the Bible). The paths of the early Prophets were established by the caravan tribes (Ishmaelites & Joktani/Qahtani Arabs in the Bible) that originated on the southern coast of Arabia in areas which the Bible designated as Ophir and Havilah (Gen 10:29 & Gen 25:12-18). The words ‘ophir’ and ‘havilah’ mean superabundance in Arabic and refer to the incense growing regions of Yemen and Oman. These tribes migrated from the Arabian Peninsula into the northern areas of Sham (Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) and Iraq. There were two prominent trade routes; the Western trade route which ran from Yemen (Ophir/Havilah in the Bible) along the Red Sea through Mecca, into Canaan and into Egypt. The Eastern trade route ran from Oman along the coast of the Arabian Gulf through Dilmun/Hagar (thought to be Al Ahsa province which anciently included Bahrain) into Mesopotamia.
These caravan tribes formed federations, some of which survived for thousands of years as the Thamud federation which was recorded by Sargon II of Assyria in 715BCE. Thamud survived until the 4th Century CE. Another caravan tribal federation, that of Aad, was located on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula (Arabia Felix) and was associated with the territory of Iram. The territory of Iram (Biblical Aram) stretched from the southern coast of Arabia to Sham, which was also known as the Levant. The Aad marked their caravan routes with pillars or standing stones (emad in Arabic), which are known today as Al Rajajeel or men. These Al Rajajeel, which date to 4000 BCE, still can be seen in the Jawf region of Saudi Arabia. The Bible had Yacoub, Musa, Sulayman and others erecting such pillars in Canaan or ancient Palestine and near Mount Sinai (Gen 28:18,22, Gen 31:13, 45, 51, Ex 24:4, 1 King 7 etc.). The Quran 89:7 refered to these pillars in Iram or the territory of the Aad tribal confederation.
Iram was recorded by the Canaanites, who established the city of Ebla in northern Syria around 2300BCE. (The Eblaite tablets also mentioned such names as Abram (Ibrahim), Dawood, Esau and Ismail, which was a strong argument that these names were well known before the 2nd millennium BCE). A town of Iram, Ubar, was discovered in southwestern Oman in 1992 where 4000-year-old Syrian pottery shards were unearthed, which confirmed the trade relations the Aad federation had with ancient Syria. Ubar was destroyed between the 1st and 3rd Century CE. These dates gave the Aad federation an existence of almost 3000 years.
These caravan tribes not only used land routes, but sea routes as well. One of these sea routes was mentioned in the Quran in reference to Sulayman (Saba 34:120):
“And unto Sulayman (We gave ) the wind, where of the embarking (wind) was a month’s journey and the returning (wind) was a month’s journey, and We caused the fount of copper to gush for him and (We gave him) certain of the jinn who worked before him by permission of his Lord. And such of them as deviated from our command, them We caused to taste the punishment of the flaming fire.”
The winds referred to in this aya (verse) were the winds, which blew along the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Aden in the summer and reversed course during the winter. These winds were generated by the monsoon seasons in the Yemenese Sarawat Mountain range; the northeasterly monsoon winds and the southwesterly monsoon winds. The gales (riha asifatan) produced by these monsoons were mentioned in Quran Surah 21:81 (The Prophets). Sulayman’s sailing ships (biremes) used the northeasterly winds to ship copper mined at the Timna copper mines to the southern regions of the Arabian Peninsula using Ezion Geber as a port of embarkment. The return trip was made when the southwestern monsoon winds blew in the direction of Aqaba. Goods traded in exchange for the copper were then sailed back to Ezion Geber; Sulayman’s port on the Red Sea.
These caravan federations often settled along their trade routes and in areas in which they traded. They became known by various names after which were named the territories they inhabited. In Syria, these caravan tribal federations were known as Aramaeans, Ahlum Aramu and Aribi. In Palestine, the various tribes and their federations were known as Canaanites, Perezites, Moabites, Jebusites, Israelites and Judaeans, to name a few. In Jordan, the Midianite federations of Edom and later, Nabit (the Nabataeans), were prominent. The Midianite confederation stretched from the Negev to the South of Aqaba and the northwestern corner of Arabia. They have been identified in these areas through their Qurayyah pottery. These Semites established empires as the Akkadian Empire, the Chaldean Empire and the Babylonian Empire. In southern Arabia, the Aad established Iram and the Saba federation established Ma’rib in Yemen. All of these various tribes had their common origin in the Arabian Peninsula and they all spoke Semitic languages, although the northern Semitic dialect eventually dominated over the southern Semitic dialect. It is in this place of origin that we must search for one of the earliest prophets that Allah (swt) sent to the Semitic people. One prominent prophet is Nuh (as).
The search for Nuh (as) has proved daunting, but the Quran provides the crucial clues. According to Quran 7:69, Allah addresses the Aad confederation that lived in the territory of Iram (of which Ubar, an ancient town in southwest Oman, was excavated in 1992):
“Do you wonder that there has come to you a message from your Lord through a man of your own people to warn you? Call in remembrance that He made you inheritors after the people of Nuh, and gave you a stature tall among the nations. Call in remembrance the benefits from Allah so you may prosper.”
So, according to the Quran, the Aad, who originated in southwestern Oman, were the inheritors of the people of Nuh. Thus, we must look to the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula for the people of Nuh. Surah Nuh (71:23) confirms that this is the correct area.
“And they (Nuh’s people) have said ‘Abandon not your gods: Abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa, neither Yaghowth nor Ya’uq nor Nasr.”
Yaghowth and Ya’uq were worshiped in Yemen; Yaghowth in the form of a lion and Ya’uq in the form of a horse. Yaghowth is a theophoric name comprised of Ya, the name of the god, and ‘ghowth’, which means to aid, succor. Yaghowth means ‘the god Ya helps or aids.’ Ya’uq is a similar theophoric name comprised of the god Ya and the word ‘uq’, which means to prevent (harm). Ya’uq means Ya prevents (harm). Ya was worshiped by the Mineans or Ma’in. Ya as Yah was also worshiped by the northern Semites in the form of a serpent. His name is recorded by these Semites in the Negev inscriptions where his name is spelled in Old Negev as a snake’s head with a protruding forked tongue (>—–O). Yah was recorded as Yhw by the ancient Egyptians as the god of the Shasu, who were the Bedouin in southern Canaan or the Midianites. Yhw was adopted by the Hebrews through the Midianites where he became known as YHWH which means Ya, the snake. ‘Hwh’, is the ancient west Semitic word for snake which in Arabic is ‘hyh.’ The ‘w’ and the ‘y’ are interchangeable in Semitic languages. This god originated as a serpent cult. His ophic (snake) image was carved by the Hebrews on their Beersheba altar (800 BCE) and on the Galilean Migdal synagogue stone, which existed as part of that synagogue during the time of Isa (Jesus).
Wadd, Suwa and Nasr are also found in the Arabian Peninsula. Wadd is the Minaean moon god associated with the god, Ya, with fertility and with snakes. His name is recorded in the Negev inscription which reads: “Wdd flta, ilyt, aby, Yah” or Wadd, seducer, buttock, my father, Yah. Suwa is an Arabian sun god and Nasr is also an Arabian god, whose form was the eagle. So, the names of the gods that the Prophet Nuh’s people were worshiping were all from the Arabian peninsula.
The Quran provides further clues to Nuh’s location in Sura 31:43-44:
“The son replied: ‘I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water. Nuh said: ‘This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy!’ And the waves came between them, and the son was among those who were drowned.”
Then the word went forth: ‘O earth swallow up your water, and O sky withhold (your rain).’ And the water abated and the matter was ended. The boat rested on Al Judi and the word went forth: ‘Away with those who do wrong.”
Thus, the region of Arabia connected with Nuh was mountainous with copious amounts of rain. It was a place known as Al Judi from the Arabic word ‘jada/juda’, which meant the generous and from which was derived the word ‘jaud’, which meant heavy rains (The Dictionary of Modern Arabic, p 146).
Yemen was a mountainous country, which experienced a twice-yearly six-week monsoon, which provided Neolithic Yemen with forested mountains and a very fertile landscape. During the Hellenistic Era, Yemen was still lush; so lush that Yemen was known to the Greeks as Eudaimon Arabia and to the Romans as Arabia Felix, both epithets which mean ‘fortunate Arabia’. Considering the arid climate of the Arabian Peninsula to the north of Yemen, it was no wonder that this area was Al Judi, the generous, the bountiful in rain.
To this day, the natives of Yemen connect their country to the Prophet Nuh. Sanaa, Yemen’s capitol city’s full name is Medinatul Sam ibn Nuh or the City of Shem son of Noah. Although archaeological evidence in Yemen is sparse, excavations have confirmed settlements from as early as the Neolithic. The earliest evidence of ship building is located in Kuwait, where was found the remains of a boat that dates to 5,500BCE.
The Prophet Nuh would have lived in the late Neolithic, well within the time that ship building was known. During the late Neolithic, the mountains of Yemen were well forested with juniper trees (Juniperus Procera) and could have easily supplied the materials to construct a ship. Yemen was also in the path of tsunamis originating in the Makran subduction zone. A very heavy monsoon, the wadis filling with flood waters from the swollen mountain streams and giant tsunami waves like mountains (Quran 11:42) crashing on the coast would have caused a catastrophic flood, which would have drowned the population and floated Nuh’s ship. Because the flood took place in Yemen, the water drained rather quickly into the Gulf of Aden and Nuh and his family would have re-landed on Al Judi’s coast, the land that was generous and bountiful in rain.
Nuh’s descendants seem to have migrated into what is now Oman, where they came into contact with the people who became their inheritors, who were the Aad of Iram known as Aram to the Hebrews. The Aad of Iram and the Thamud were ancient tribal confederations that experienced at least two catastrophes; one circa the time of Musa (Q 40:31) and the other around 300 CE. The original tribal confederations, known as Aad I (Q 53:51) and Thamud I, reconstituted after the first destruction, but were again destroyed much later. Before the final destruction, they became known respectively as Ad II and Thamud II.
Iram was an ancient territory mentioned in the tablets of Ebla in northwestern Syria. Ebla held a large and literate Canaanite community, which traded with Iram and so recorded Iram in its list of trading partners. The city of Ebla is dated to at least 2300 BCE. The Iramean town of Ubar is currently being excavated from underneath tons of sand. Remains of Syrian pottery dating to the second millennium BCE have been retrieved, so the pottery finds at Ubar confirm Iram’s trade with the Canaanites of Syria. The Aad of Iram I & II survived from at least 2300 BCE to circa 300 CE when their fortress at Ubar collapsed and was buried in the sand. This catastrophe is mentioned in the Quran 89:6-7 and 69:6-7:
“Do you not see how your Lord dealt with the Aad of Iram, with the lofty pillars the like of which were not produced in all the land?”
The ‘lofty pillars’ may refer to the standing stones, labeled ‘Al Rajajeel’ (meaning the men) near the town of Sakaka in the Jawf region of the Arabian Peninsula. These standing stones are believed to be more than 6000 years old. The stones, between 6 and 10 feet high, are aligned to the sunrise and sunset, and have Thamudic inscriptions, which were added millennium after they were constructed. Approximately 6000 years ago, during the Chalcolithic or Copper Age, the people of Al Jawf erected 54 groups of these pillars. Their significance is disputed, but there is a strong indication that they were markers on a trade route as Al Jawf was a significant rest stop on the trade route from Yemen to Mesopotamia. One trade route, the oldest in recorded history, ran from Yemen and parallel to the Red Sea coast through Madina, Al Ula and Mada’in Saleh. It turned northeast toward Al Jawf and then north toward Damascus and Turkey. The conclusion is that the Aad had from the Copper Age, settled this region in the Arabian Peninsula, and that their territory, Iram, stretched from southern coast of Arabia to the Jawf region. They were indeed, a very powerful tribal federation before Allah (swt) destroyed them (Q: 69:6-7):
“And the Aad, they were destroyed by a furious wind exceedingly violent. He made it rage against them seven nights and eight days in succession so that you could see the people lying overthrown as if they had been roots of hollow palm trees tumbled down.”
The Aad were obviously once a very powerful tribal confederation that controlled a considerable part of the incense trade from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula through the Levant and into Egypt. Their trade routes were gradually taken over by the tribal confederations of Qataban and Saba. Much later, their northern trade routes came under the control of the tribal federation of Thamud II whose main cities included Petra in Jordan and Al Hijr in Saudi Arabia. The Thamud II federation included the Nabataean Arabs, who were associated with the marvelous rock carved structures at Petra and Al Hijr. The Thamud II were associated with the town of AlHijr where they were known to the Quraish of Mecca as Thamud. Thamud II, who were destroyed in an earthquake at Petra in 363CE, yielded their trade routes to the Quraish of Mecca, the city in southwest Arabia founded by Ibrahim and his son Ismail.
It is mentioned in the Quran 6:74 that the name of Ibrahim’s father was Azar. Genesis 11:26 mentions that Ibrahim’s father’s name was Terah. Genesis 11:31 says that Terah led Abram (Ibrahim’s original name), which means, in Akkadian, seal (of the covenant), and exalted father or father of the Arameans in Aramaic, and Ibrahim’s nephew, Lut, and their wives out of Ur of the Chaldees and into the land of Canaan. The Bible is absolutely incorrect on this account. The Chaldean Empire was the last ruling dynasty of the Babylonian Empire and it ruled from 612-539 BCE. According to the Biblical historians, who use the Bible for historical events, Ibrahim could not have lived before 2000 BCE, so the idea that Ibrahim could have come from Ur of the Chaldees is extremely inaccurate. Historical and Quranic evidence points to a date for Ibrahim as circa 2800 BCE or about 800 years before the biblical scholars place him in history.
The Quran again corrects Biblical history. Allah (swt) gives evidence as to the exact date, which Ibrahim lived, as well as Ibrahim’s country of origin. Quran 6:74 says:
“Lo! Abraham said to his father Azar: “Takest thou idols for gods? For I see thee and thy people in manifest error.”
Terah was the name of Abram’s father according to Gen 11:26. The meaning of Terah is uncertain in Hebrew, but it means ‘repudiated’ in Arabic. Terah was repudiated in the Biblical Book of Joshua 24:2, in the Midrash Book Genesis Rabbah 38:13 and in the Quran 6:74 for his service to other gods and for his profession as a fashioner of idols. The name Azar most likely derives from the Akkadian word zeru which means ‘to hate’ and from which the word ‘izru’ or curse is derived. So, the biblical name Terah and the Quran’s name for Abram’s father, Azar, have similar meanings.
According to Genesis 11 & 12, Azar (Terah) left Mesopotamia in order to take his family to Canaan. However, he died before he reached his destination and Abram continued the journey into Canaan where he settled in a village. At that time Ibrahim encountered the village elders and destroyed their gods. Archaeologists are now excavating the idols that the Canaanites worshipped. So, Allah (swt) again has placed a prophet in time and place which fits perfectly with the time line established in the Quran. This confirms that Ibrahim, as the Quran says, was not a Jew. Ibrahim lived long before the person, Judah, for whom the Jews were named. Ibrahim was from one of the ancient cities of Canaan.
Ibrahim left Canaan for Paran or the Arabian Peninsula after defying the elders of his village. According to hadiths, but not the Quran, his wife, Hajar, accompanied him (even the Bible admits that Hajar was Ibrahim’s wife in the Genisis 16:3) .
Hagar or Hajar means ‘one who emigrates’ in Arabic and ‘flight’ in Hebrew. However, the original meaning in Sayhadic or Old South Arabic was town/city. The name Hagar refers to a wealthy province in the ancient Eastern Arabian Peninsula, which included Bahrain. This province was known in Sayhadic as Hagar and in Greek as Gerrha. The city, Hagar, was personified in the Bible as Ibrahim’s wife and mother of his first son, Ismail. The Biblical authors described her descendants, who are named as both Ishmaelites (Judges 8:24) and Hagarites (I Chronicles 5), as hailing from the east of Gilead or East of the East bank of the Jordan River as well as from Ophir/Havilah or modern Yemen & Oman (Gen 10:29 & Gen 25:12-18). So, the Biblical authors describe the Ishmaelites as Arabs originating from Hagar which was located on the Eastern trade route while the Arabian tradition places them as originating from Mecca, a town on the Western trade route. Mecca, or Baka, was known to the Hebrews and is mentioned in Psalm 84:6 as a valley of blessings and wells. A similar description can be found in the Quran 3:96 where Baka (Mecca) is described as a blessed place. Hagar is described as Sarah’s slave in Genesis 16:1. Hagar (Hajar in Arabic) as an historical person is not attested to before the 5th Century BCE. However, the names Ibrahim and Ismail are mentioned in the Eblaite tablets which date as early as 2300 BCE.
Ismail’s mother’s name does not seem to have been Hagar or Hajar. The hadiths which link the hajj rituals to Ismail’s mother most likely have a basis in fact, but that does not mean that the hadiths are entirely accurate. Written traditions proceeded from oral traditions, which were greatly embellished to capture the attention and imagination of the listening audience. This cultural trait of enhancing a story was carried over into writing. It was also a custom to attribute one’s own ideas to a more famous person, which is called pseudepigrapha. The embellishment of a story and the attribution of the story to a more renowned person was a common practice, which one can trace in the variations in the hadith narratives as well as in the Bible stories.
The name Hagar means flight in Hebrew. The Hebrew authors were unaware that the origin of the word Hagar was from the Sayhadic word for city, so they equated her name to their word for ‘flight’ and then authored a fantasy which explained Hagar’s name; Hagar’s flight from a jealous Sarah. Sarah whose original name was Sarai according to the Genesis narrative, was portrayed as Hagar’s mistress and Ibrahim’s first wife. Her name, Sarai, (Sry in Hebrew) means ‘my princess’ in Hebrew and ’concubine’ or ‘a purchased female/slave’ in Arabic and in the Semitic language of Ugarit. (The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew & English Lexicon suggests that the word Sarai is a cognate of the Arabic word ‘shara’ which means a purchased female or slave.).
According to the book, A Dictionary of The Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition, page 791, the Hebrew word Sry (Sarai) is a derivative of the Ugaritic word srr-y which means concubine. According to the same citation, the word srh or Sarah is the Hebrew equivalent of the Ugarit word srr-y. In addition, the Akkadian word for concubine is serretu. So, the Hebrew word sry (sarai) the Arabic word syrh, the Ugaritic word srr-y and the Akkadian word serretu all mean concubine. The Hebrew meaning for Sry (Sarai in English), my princess, therefore, is untenable as the name is the Hebrew version of a common Semitic word which means concubine. In addition, the Hebrew meaning for Sry (Sarai) is untenable as the Israelites bore no royal titles until Samuel made Saul a king. Saul established the first Israelite monarchy around 1000 BCE. According to Hebrew scholars, Sarai would have lived around 2000 BCE or 1000 years before Israel had a monarch and royal titles.
The Arabic meaning, ‘concubine’ is consistent with the Biblical narratives. The Hebrew word for concubine is ‘pelegesh’; a loanword from the Greek word ’pillakis’ while ‘syrh’ is an ancient Semitic word meaning concubine. According to Genesis, Chapters 12 & 20, Sarai was traded to 2 royals (Pharaoh & Abimelech) as a guarantee of security for Abraham. This trade could only happen with a concubine, but never with a wife. A wife would have incurred the death penalty for adultery, while a concubine was excused from punishment for having sexual relations with males other than her master. Sarai probably gained the status of a wife after producing Isaac. Her name was later changed to Sarah (Gen 17:15).
The Biblical stories regarding these 2 women were authored by Hebrew scribes who wished to portray their matriarch as superior to their rival’s matriarch. Ophir (Yemen), Magan (Oman), and Hagar (Bahrain territory) were wealthy and powerful Arab city-states, which participated in the incense trade. Except for a brief period under Sulayman, the Hebrews were lacking the wealth and political power associated with the incense trade as they suffered occupation under the dominating regional powers of Egypt, Assyria, Aram, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. The Hebrew authors thus edited their history by manufacturing a role reversal in which the chief wife became a slave and the concubine was elevated to first wife position. This reversal is expanded upon in hadiths which date to 250 years after the Prophet’s death, when Muslims scholars were influenced by the Jewish scholars (Masoretes) residing in Palestine and Iraq. Such stories are nowhere mentioned in the pre-Islamic literature of the Peninsula. Therefore, it must be concluded that the Biblical names of Ibrahim’s wives and their relationship to one another were unknown in pre-Islamic Arabia. They were not a part of the Arabian tradition, so they were not mentioned in the Quran. However, according to Islamic tradition, Ibrahim headed into the Arabian Peninsula with his wife and son. The Quran does not mention that Ibrahim’s wife accompanied him. However, it does mention that one of his sons made the journey. Islamic scholars insist that this son was Ismail.
It was in the Meccan valley that Ibrahim settled his first family and built the Kaba with his son, Ismail (Q 2:125-127). Where Ibrahim wandered from there is purely speculative. It is doubtful that he returned to Hazor to face his persecutors. Since the Canaanites lived in what is now Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, he may have settled in any other Canaanite village. It was in one of these areas that IsHac was born to an elderly wife whose name is not mentioned in the Quran.
Traditionally, Islamic literature (not Quranic) has Ibrahim as the builder of the original house of worship in what is now Jerusalem, which may have happened since that area was not urbanized at the time of Ibrahim. When Ibrahim returned to Palestine is uncertain, and, since IsHac was born when he was elderly, some time must have passed before he dared to re-enter that part of Canaan. Perhaps, his persecutors had all died by then or he lived a life of a herdsman, wandering from pasture to pasture and out of reach of those who would do him harm. Or he resumed his trade as a caravaneer. Only Allah (swt) knows! But what we do know is that Ibrahim was from Canaan, specifically, Hazor. Again, Allah (swt) has confirmed the absolute accuracy of the Quran. The Prophet Ibrahim may have wandered in Egypt as a pastoralist, or more likely, traded in Egypt as a caravaneer. His descendants, likely dwelt in the Sinai as pastoralists, caravaneers, and miners, who worked the copper and turquoise mines for the Egyptians.
Ibrahim was most certainly a merchant who traded with the various kingdoms and empires of his day. Quran 4:54 states that Ibrahim was given writing (kitaba) and wisdom (hikma). One of the earliest systems of writing is the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which date to 3200 BCE. In addition, the earliest form of Egyptian hieroglypic writing was in a Semitic language.
Another early system of writing was Sumerian cuneiform, which emerged in southern Mesopotamia around the 30th Century BCE. Current scholarship indicates that the Sumerians may have borrowed this system of writing from an even older culture than theirs. Sumerian is not a Semitic language, so the Quran appears to be referring to Egypt as the language of the ‘kitaba’ or writing, which Allah (swt) gave to Ibrahim. Egypt had been trading with Canaan since the 4th millenium BCE, so it seems that Ibrahim was involved in this early trade between Egypt and Canaan. This early trade connection with Egypt led another prophet, Yusuf, to take advantage of the friendly trade relations between Canaan and Egypt.
The Prophet Yusuf’s [Joseph (as)] existence under an Egyptian king has long been the object of archaeological research . The only Egyptian king, who is associated with a seven year famine and a dream associated with that famine, is Djoser (2630-2611 BCE), a king of the 3rd dynasty. The famine and the dream associated with it are recorded on the Famine Stele on the Island of Sehel in Aswan, Egypt. The record carved on the Famine Stele was attributed to Ptolemy V (205-180 BCE) who lived much later, but obviously had access to ancient Egyptian records. The legend is Egyptianized to bring it in line with the Egyptian religion. Khnum, the ram’s headed god who fashioned men from clay, was credited for ending the famine.
However, the men that Djoser consulted are also mentioned. One is Imhotep, who was the master builder and designer of the step pyramid. The other is Mesir, the governor of certain territories in Upper Egypt. The name Mesir (the spelling is uncertain) may refer to Yusuf whom Djoser appointed as administrator or magistrate of his storehouses (Sura 12:55 & Gen 41:56). Also, the name Imhotep, may be a reference to Yusuf as Imhotep means ‘he comes in peace’ in ancient Egyptian. The name may indicate that Yusuf was a foreigner from a group that was considered a threat to the native Egyptians. The Semites, who settled the delta region of lower Egypt were viewed as unwelcome interlopers by native Egyptians. However, because Yusuf was in Egypt, he was given an Egyptian name indicating that, although he was of foreign origin, he and his fellow Semites were accepted as peaceful guests in the land of Egypt . Also, Muslims will instantly recognize this Egyptian name as referring to Islam, which also means peace. So, now we have one of the Egyptian rulers that Allah (swt) mentioned in the Quran.
In Genesis, Joseph’s Egyptian name is Tsaphenath-Paneah (tsphnth-panh in Hebrew) which is a transliteration of the Arabic phrase, tasafeenah ba’nah and it means ‘a dowry settlement’. The Pharaoh Djoser gave Joseph a dowry settlement for his marriage to Asenath, the daughter of his priest, Poti-Phera. This conclusion was reached after a review of the circumstances under which the Masoretic texts were translated/edited/standardized in Tiberias, Jerusalem, and Babylon between the 7th and 10th Centuries. Hebrew had not been spoken for centuries at that time when the Masorete’s language became the language of those who ruled this area; the Arab Caliphates of the Rashideen, the Ummayyads and the Abbassids. The Masoretes or Jewish scholars who standardized the TaNaKh or Old Testament, relied heavily upon the Arabic language and grammar in order to reconstruct their texts. However, these Masoretes did not hesitate to make this Arabic phrase a Hebrew phrase by transliterating the Arabic letters into Hebrew equivalents. According to the Greek Biblical texts (Septuagint) available to the Masoretes, the original phrase was ‘psonthomphanech’, which made no sense to the Masoretes. So, the Masoretes equated the Septuagint phrase to the Arabic phrase ‘tasafeenah ba’nah’ which means a dowry settlement. However, the circumstances surrounding the phrase,’ Tsaphenath-Paneah’ or ‘tasafeenah ba’nh’, is proof that this interpretation is correct. According to Gen 41:41-45:
”So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way, Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. The Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Tsaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.”
So, the phrase, tsaphenath paneah (tsfeenah banah) means that Djoser bestowed a dowry settlement upon Joseph which included the tokens of Pharaoh’s ring and a chain of office indicating Joseph’s new position when he married an Egyptian wife who was the daughter of the priest of On. By the way, the chief vizier of Djoser was Imhotep whose Egyptian name means ‘he comes in peace.’ The name Imhotep may have been chosen for a foreigner from a group that was not regarded favorably by the Egyptian population. The Egyptians were not fond of the Semitic people. They periodically drove them from their land or enslaved them.
Yusuf’s position as a governor or wazir under Djoser prompted his brothers and their relatives to migrate from the famine stricken areas of Sham (Syria, Palestine) into the Egyptian controlled areas of the Nile delta and the Sinai. Yusuf’s brothers were caravaneers, who brought with them camels loaded with the goods they traded from other caravan tribes to exchange for grain. Because of Yusuf, Yusuf’s family was treated generously by Djoser. However, later pharaohs took advantage of the Semitic tribes, who entered their domain and treated them cruelly. It was a situation in which Allah (swt) sent Musa to intervene on behalf of the sons of Yacoub and their tribal federation, which included the Midianites (Midian).
At this point, the camel controversy must be addressed as there are those who would argue that this beast of burden, which is mentioned in Surah Yusuf (12:66 & 12:72), was not domesticated in the 3rd millennium BCE. While the history of the Arabian camel (Camelus Dromedarius) reaches back into the Middle Pleistocene (c 400,000 BCE), some scholars thought that the camel was not domesticated as a beast of burden until circa 1100BCE; an opinion that is now obsolete. The majority of scholars now maintain that C. Dromedarius was domesticated in Arabia by the 3rd millenium BCE. This current supposition about the camel’s domestication fits well within the time frame to put Yusuf as a contemporary of Djoser. Modern scholarship has affirmed as accurate the Quran’s assertion that the sons of Jacob used camels to transport their goods to Egypt. Just as the Quran has solved the historical search for Yusuf, so the Quran provides clues to confirm the historical era in which the Prophet Musa lived.
The search for Musa has been as intense as the search for Yusuf. Again, Allah (swt ) has not only revealed the vital clues in his revelation of the Quran, but He has preserved the necessary archaeological data to confirm the historical presence of His Prophet in Egypt.
It is well known that the Bible (Exodus 12:37) specifically mentions Rameses as the Pharaoh of Musa. However, extensive research has shown that the tribes of Yacub were not in Egypt at the time of Rameses. The Quran clears up the matter.
There is an important clue in the Quran as to the identity of the Pharaoh of Musa. Sura 28:38 states: Pharaoh said: “O Leaders, I don’t know if you have a god other than myself, therefore, O Haman! Light (a fire) on the clay and build for me a high building that I may mount up to the god of Musa, but as far as I’m concerned, I think he is a liar.”
Sura 10:92 states: “This day shall We save you (pharaoh) in your body, that you may be a sign to those who come after you. But truly, many among mankind are heedless of our signs.”
So, associated with the Pharaoh of Musa are a wazir (vizier) named Haman, a tall building, and a preserved body or mummy. The focus is, of course, on Haman. Haman is mentioned in the biblical book of Esther as the wazir of the Persian King Ahasuerus. The biblically knowledgeable often point to the Haman of the Bible as proof that the Quran is mistaken. But, then, of course, Allah (swt) never errs.
Haman is Arabic for Hemon (Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton, published by Thames and Hudson, page 47), which is English for the Egyptian hieroglyphs U36-O28-G43, currently pronounced by Western scholars as Hemiunu; a name which means ‘Priest of Awn’. Awn or On was the city dedicated to the Egyptian sun god, Ra. Ancient Egyptian is a language in which words were written in pictograms. Only the pictograms or hieroglyphs, U36-O28-G43, appear in the original texts. The pronunciation of these hieroglyphs is very uncertain so the current pronunciation, ‘Hemiunu, is speculative. Haman was the nephew, prince, master builder, chief of works and wazir to the 4th dynasty Pharaoh Khufu (2589-2566 BCE) or Cheops who built the Cheops pyramid:
“Hemiumu was the son of Nefermaat I and Atet and the grandson of Sneferu. His statue has a list of his titles inscribed on it: “Member of the elite, high official, vizier, king’s seal bearer, attendant of Nekhen, and spokesman of every resident of Pe, priest of Bastest, priest of Shesmetet, priest of the Ram Mendes, keeper of the Apis Bull, the White Bull, whom his lord loves, elder of the palace, high priest of Thoth, whom his lord loves, courtier, Overseer of Royal Scribes, priest of the Panther Goddess, Director of Music of the South and North, Overseer of All Construction Projects of the King, king’s [grand]son of his own body”.
The second title from last is perhaps the most important as it confirms that he was the overseer in charge of building the burial palace of the pharaoh (amongst other monuments). As a result, he is often credited as the architect responsible for the Great Pyramid of Khufu. He was buried in a mastaba close to the pyramid.
Haman’s tomb was discovered in 1912 and is located next to the great pyramid. Haman’s statue is in the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum, in Germany and was displayed in the US in 1996 at the “Splendors of Ancient Egypt exhibition”.
It was Haman, who designed and built this pyramid for Khufu. Khufu’s pyramid was a monument to his patron deity, Khnum, the rams-headed god of resurrection who also was represented as the great pillar that upheld the sky. Khufu’s pyramid was meant to represent Khnum in his role as the support of the sky; a pillar which was also a stairway to an afterlife of eternal abundance and bliss for the pharaoh who aspired to live among the deities he worshiped. This is what Pharaoh meant, when he told Haman to build him a high building, so he could climb up to the God of Musa.
There is a reference to firing clay in this aya . The Egyptians did not employ clay-fired bricks until the Middle Kingdom. However, long bars of baked clay were employed in pre-dynastic grain kilns. Also, pottery kilns were prolific by the 4th millennium BCE. When Kufu ordered Haman to fire clay, it was in preparation for the granaries and the storage vessels needed to supply the workers, who were building the pyramid.
Before Haman, it was thought that Djoser, an Egyptian king of the 3rd Dynasty, had employed Imhotep as his master builder. It was this stone structured step-pyramid that resembled a stairway, which was the tallest building in Egypt before Haman designed Khufu’s pyramid. When Khufu ordered Haman to build the tall building to see the God of Musa, he was thinking to imitate Djoser’s famous tomb, which was designed as a stairway to heaven. Haman designed Khufu’s pyramid so that it surpassed Imhotep’s in size and splendor; making the tomb the largest structure in Egypt. Haman used escape hatches or doors in Khufu’s pyramid instead of stairs. These doors were designed as escape routes for Pharaoh’s ka or soul. Haman must have thought that it would be much easier for Pharaoh to fly into heaven through magical doors than to use a the laborious staircase of the step pyramid design.
Furthermore, when the Quran mentions that Pharaoh would be preserved in his body, it is a clue that this pharaoh was mummified. The mummification process involved the use of frankincense and myrrh; two of the products traded by the Arab caravaneers to Egypt. This incense may have been the goods the sons of Yacoub exchanged for grain. Also mentioned was that this pharaoh’s mummy was entombed in a tall building. It was buried in the Cheops pyramid, the tallest of the pyramids at Giza. However, the mummy was moved later and has not been located.
According to the Quran, the Pharaoh of Musa was so arrogant and cruel that he thought nothing of murdering children (Q 28:4). Khufu was ruthless and has retained that historical characterization even today. He was noted for his expeditions into the Sinai to conquer the Semitic people dwelling there, which was probably where he came into contact with Yacoub’s family and their client tribes. His arrogance led him to believe that he himself was a god as was also mentioned in the Quran. He called himself Re (sun god), was worshiped as a god and had his own cult. Also preserved in the Westcar Papyrus, which was written about 900 years after the reign of Khufu, is the name of one of the magicians that worked for Khufu. His name was Djedi. (Khufu’s magicians are mentioned extensively in the Quran, especially Surah 7:112-126)
Quran also names the Pharaoh of Musa as “faraoun al awtad”, or the pharaoh of the logs or poles (Quran 89:10). Khufu, followed his father’s (the Pharaoh Snefru) policy of importing cedar logs stripped of their bark or poles from Lebanon. As a matter of fact, Khufu’s name is inscribed at Byblos, because he imported tons of cedar poles from Lebanon for his building projects. Khufu’s son, Djedfre, also imported cedar poles to construct his father’s fleet of funerary ships, some of which were excavated from around Cheops pyramid.
Contrary to the biblical position that Yacoub’s tribe was enslaved to build the monuments of Rameses II (Khufu lived more than 1000 years before the biblically named Rameses), the problem that the tribes of Yacub had with this Pharaoh was not his building projects. The people who built Cheops (Cheops is Greek for Khufu) pyramid were buried around the pyramid and they were all Egyptians. The pharaohs did not employ foreigners as slave labor for work on the pyramids. Natives of Egypt did all of the building.
However, Khufu like his predecessors in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dynasties had a love for beautiful jewelry, copper tools and weapons of war. The makings were in the Sinai, where the tribes were dwelling. It appears that Khufu, like the pharaohs before him, forced Yacoub’s tribe and other Semitic dwellers in the Sinai to mine turquoise and copper. So, the Hebrews were not builders, but miners in the Sinai, which was why no archaeologist could find them in Egypt proper. The tribe’s experience as enslaved miners was recalled in Deuteronomy 4:20:
“But you are the people whom the Lord brought out of Egypt, from the smelting furnace, and took for his own possession, as you are to this day.”
The smelting furnaces were located next to the mines so that copper could be extracted on site.
An interesting note is that Khufu’s first son, Kewab, died of mysterious causes, before he could ascend the throne. His brother, Djedfre, ascended the throne, and reigned 10 to 14 years. Khufu’s third son was Khafre, who built the 2nd pyramid at Giza. Could it be that the first son, Kewab, died because of the plague? Only Allah (swt) knows. None of the mummies are available for examination.
In addition to this mountain of evidence that Khufu was the Pharaoh of Musa, the Quran added another fact to this heap of proofs. According to the Quran 20:85 and 20:95-97, a person whose title was the Samiri accompanied Musa and the tribes on the exodus from Egypt. The Quran states in 20:85: “Allah said: “We have tested your people in your absence: The Samiri has led them astray.”
Samiri, meaning the dark one, is an accurate designation for the people of the land modern scholars call Sumer. The Sumerians called their land ‘ki-en gir’, or the land of the civilized lords. The Sumerians called themselves ‘ug gag gig-ga’, which means ‘the black headed people’. So, the Quran’s designation for the Sumerian, who accompanied Musa on the Exodus as the Samiri, or the dark one, is an accurate translation of the name the Sumerians called themselves, ‘the black headed people.’
The Old Kingdom of Egypt (the 3rd to the 6th Dynasties), which lasted from 2850-2052 BCE, and included the 4th Pharaonic Dynasty of Khufu, was a contemporary of the Sumerian Empire (located in the south of Iraq), which existed from 2740 BCE to 2350 BCE. The Sumerians were overrun by the Akkadians, whose empire was established in 2350 BCE. (Sumer briefly re-established itself, but was again conquered by the Amorites (Aramaeans) and was totally absorbed by the Babylonians around 1763 BCE). Therefore, the idea that Rameses II (1279-1213 BCE), a pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, could have been the pharaoh of Musa, was eliminated by Allah (swt) in the Quran as the Sumerian Empire did not exist at the time of the Rameside pharaohs.
However, the Sumerian empire was in full bloom when Khufu was on the throne of Egypt. Given the trade routes and the fact that Semites and other peoples were in constant contact with Egypt, whether by migration, trade or war, it is entirely probable that a Sumerian, looking for safety in numbers, or an opportunity for trade, would have chosen to join Musa and the tribes, who were headed east through the Sinai, the direction of the Samiri’s home in southern Iraq.
At this point must be mentioned the controversy regarding the use of the term pharaoh or “faraoun” for the king that ruled Egypt at the time of Musa, and the word king or “malak” for the king that ruled Egypt at the time of Yusuf. The word “peraa” (Egyptian for “great house”) or pharaoh was not used by the Egyptians to refer to their kings until Akhenaton (1353 BCE) or the 18th Dynasty. The Greeks and Hebrews, who refer to the kings of Egypt, used the word pharaoh (Greek) and pero (Hebrew). The Jewish tribes of Arabia knew the king of Egypt, who dominated Yacoub’s tribe, as Pharaoh, so the title pharaoh was used for Khufu even though such an appellation was anachronistic. However, the use of the word ‘king’ for the ruler, who appointed Yusuf over the store houses of Egypt, was a possible reference to how the 7th Century Jewish tribes in Arabia referred to this ruler in their stories.
The Biblical stories regarding the ancient patriarchs are often a reflection of the era in which the story was written rather than an accurate reconstruction of an historical event. The Biblical accounts of the patriarchs were not recorded until the 6th Century BCE and later. Thus, more recent history and the contemporary situation of the Jewish authors became a part of the ‘history’, so anachronisms abound in these accounts. Thus, Haman is relocated from a wazir, who served an Egyptian king to a wazir, who served under a Persian king in the biblical Book of Esther. The reason for this was that the story was written while the Jews were under Persian domination. The same problem occurs with the stories of Yusuf and Musa, which were also recorded much later than the events, when memories of those events became lost in the mists of history. So, the authors of the Biblical narratives used events, which were more current and thus more memorable.
The massive exodus recorded in the Torah recounts a much later event, when Semitic tribes (Canaanites and Aramaeans) from Syria and Palestine were expelled from Egypt circa 1567 BCE. These Semitic tribes were known to the Egyptians as Hyksos (foreign rulers). The Hyksos had established a dynasty in Egypt from circa 1674 BCE to circa 1567 BCE. The tribes of Yacoub may not have been in the Hyksos ruling dynasty, but they were certainly beneficiaries of their rule. The Jews of Arabia would have had fond memories of the Hyksos rulers, and, so referred to these Semitic rulers as kings to distinguish them from the native Egyptian pharaohs, who treated the Semites cruelly. The biblical authors confused the Hyksos kings with the Egyptian king who appointed Yusuf as a governor in Egypt. Because he was remembered kindly like the Hyksos kings, Yusuf’s ruler is referred to as a king rather than a pharaoh by the tribes of 7th Century Arabia. Thus, the term king was used in the Quranic story of Yusuf and the word pharaoh was employed in the Quranic story of Musa. These terms were used by the tribes in Arabia to differentiate these two rulers, so Allah (swt) used this identification in the Quran.
Allah (swt) used the contemporary language of 7th Century Arabia to refer to historical figures. For instance, the name Musa was used to refer to the Prophet Moses (English), whose name in Hebrew was Mosheh. Musa or Mosheh had many different meanings in the languages of the peoples with whom the Hebrews were associated. For example, the name Mosheh most likely derives from the word ‘mshy’ and it means ‘to walk’. The Egyptian name for the tribes living in Southern Canaan was ‘shasu’ which means ‘walkers’ ; a name which described their profession as caravaneers. Musa also meant hero in Sumerian, to draw out in Hebrew and snake/shine in Babylonian. The name Isa (as) was used to refer to the Prophet Jesus (English) or Yeshua (Hebrew). Isa was a derivative of the Greek Iesous. The gospels available at the time of the Prophet were written in Greek so Isa or Iesous was the name the Arabs knew for Jesus. The same was true for the name of the Prophet Ezra, which was given in both the Hebrew (Uzair) and the Greek (Esdras) derivatives in Arabic, i.e., Uzair and Idris. Allah (swt) made clear that the Quran was revealed in Arabic (12:2, 13:37, 41:44, 42:7, and 43:30) and He does not hesitate to use the Arabic words for the people and places that were in contemporary use at the time of the revelation. The only way to narrate these stories was to use the names and titles, which were familiar to the listening audience. Otherwise, the audience would not have known to whom the story was referring. Thus, using both malak and faraoun to refer to the kings of Egypt was perfectly legitimate as these were the words in use by the tribes in Arabia to refer to these two kings of Egypt at the time the Quran was revealed.
By the way, all that remains of Khufu is a 9 cm ivory statue, which was most likely carved long after the reign of this pharaoh. Allah (swt) has utterly destroyed him and his other projects. The pyramid is the last monument of this pharaoh left standing. Allah (swt) preserved it until we understood the full meaning of Sura 28:38 and the implication this aya has for Muslims today. Needless to say, the miracle of the Quran is again proven. None of this information was available before the 20th Century. The statue and tomb of Haman were preserved as testimony to the absolute truth of the revelation in the Quran.
The people of Musa left Egypt and wandered in the Sinai, the Arabian Peninsula, Sham and Mesopotamia for more than one thousand years before gradually settling in Palestine. During their 1300 years of wandering, they undoubtedly became associated with powerful tribal federations as the Aramaeans, who established the capitol of the Aramaean Kingdom at Damascus in the 2nd millennium BCE. The Bible has Ibrahim briefly settling in Haran, northern Syria, before he proceeded into Canaan (modern Palestine). Ibrahim’s original name in the Eblaite tablets is Abram which means ‘the father is exalted’ and ‘father of the Aramaeans’. Perhaps, he was so named because the tribes of the exodus became the founding tribes of the Aramaean federation. The Biblical Book of Deuteronomy 26:5 puts the following words into the mouth of the Prophet Musa:
“Then you must recite before your God: ‘My father was a wandering Aramaean who went down to Egypt and lived there with a small band of people, but there it became a great, powerful, and large nation.”
This quote is obviously an exaggeration to make the Israelites of the Exodus into a huge population, or a reflection of the much later expulsion of the Hyksos tribes by the Egyptians. Taking into account the time lapse between the kings Djoser and Khufu, the Egyptians could not have dominated Musa’s people for more than a couple of generations. However, the biblical period of enslavement could have been expanded to include the pharaohs of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd dynasties along with Khufu of the 4th dynasty. These Egyptian kings had been enslaving the tribes in the Sinai to work the mines for at least 400 years, which coincided with the Biblical account of a 400 year enslavement.
According to the Quran 26:54, the fleeing Hebrews were a small group. Excavations in the Sinai show that during Early Bronze Age III, the population inhabiting this region could not have been numerous. There is evidence of mining activity in the Sinai as well as Bedouin encampments and religious sites. All of these sites point to a sparse population. The Sinai was abandoned between the Middle Bronze until Iron Age I, so no exodus through the Sinai took place during this time, which excluded a later exodus for Musa’s people. However, Early Bronze Age sites in the Sinai, which coincided with the reign of Khufu, confirmed that there were shepherding Bedouin in the area. Again, the Quran’s designation of the fleeing Hebrews as a small group has been confirmed by archaeological evidence.
Some of Musa’s people settled in the Sinai while others proceeded into the Arabian Peninsula and Sham where they undoubtedly became part of the Aramaean federation, and, thus, retained the tribal history of the Aramaeans as their own; an example of which is the Hyksos explusion story that was confused with the exodus of Musa. Over a period of 1300 years of wandering, the tribes settled gradually into Palestine circa 1130 BCE, where they came into contact with the Canaanites of the area, and were gradually absorbed by them as well as the surrounding tribes of Palestine. The Biblical Book of Judges 3:5-7 confirms this scenario when it explains:
“So the people of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites (Aramaeans), the Perezzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and they took their daughters to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they served their gods. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth.”
It wasn’t until the 7th Century BCE, after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians, that the southern kingdom of Judah/Judea distinguished itself from the Canaanites. This distinction came under the Judean rule of Hezekiah and Josiah . The Assyrians had previously defeated the polytheistic Kingdom of Israel in the north, which was dominated by the Omride dynasty, who adopted the Canaanite culture. After the fall of the Kingdom of Israel, the Judaean monarchs, Hezekiah (715-686 BCE) and Josiah (641-609 BCE), attempted to eliminate the numerous gods worshiped by the population in order to establish a centralized religion in the surviving Kingdom of Judah, whose capitol was Jerusalem. Nebuchanezzer (605-562 BCE), the Babylonian king, took the Judaeans captive until the Persian King Cyrus (576-530 BCE) dominated Babylon and released the Judaeans. It was Cyrus, who freed the Judeans, and financed the second temple in Jerusalem, which was completed under Darius I (522-486 BCE). The Judaeans continued to be dominated by the Persians, the Greeks (under whom the famous Macabees revolt took place) and the Romans; all of whose cultures were assimilated into Judaism. Isa (as) was sent to re-establish the Torah (Matthew 5:17-19). The Judaeans rejected his efforts, and the path of prophecy reverted to the Arabian Peninsula, to Mecca and to the Prophet Mohammed ibn Abdullah (pbuh), who spread the message Allah revealed to Nuh, Ibrahim, Yusuf and Musa to the entire world. May Allah (swt) continue to grant us the mercy of His miracle, the Quran.
Nuh in Yemen circa the Late Neolithic-3500BCE
Ibrahim from Hazor in Canaan-circa 2800BCE
Yusuf in Egypt under the Pharaoh Djoser-circa 2611BCE
Musa in Egypt under the Pharaoh Khufu-circa 2589BCE
It is also worthy of note that recent DNA evidence has placed the Prophet Mohammed, in the line of descent from Ibrahim through Nuh. The specific haplotype, J1C3d, can be traced to a single male founder or patriarch, who passed the DNA to his male offspring, which included the Quraysh of Mecca and the Hebrews. The DNA was isolated from the cohanim, who were Jewish priests descended from Haroun, the brother of Musa. The Bible traces Musa’s descent from the founding patriarch Ibrahim, who was the father of IsHaq and Ismail. According to the Quran 2:127, Ismail and his father built the Kaba in Mecca, which was the location of the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraysh. Ismail was the ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad (saws):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_J1_(Y-DNA) J1c3d* accounts for the majority of J1 in Yemen, Cohen Jews and Ethiopia as well as Quraysh including Seyyed (Sayyid). J1c3d has also been labeled as J-L147.1 but the links to Yemen, Cohen Jews , Ethiopia and the Quraysh remain the same.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quraysh_tribe The Quraysh or Quraish were a powerful merchant tribe that controlled Mecca and its Kaaba upon the appearance of the religion of Islam. Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seyyed Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet’s daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib
According to genetic researchers Sergio Tofanelli and A. Nebel, this haplotype most likely arose at least 4500 years ago and may be as early as 8600 ago. For references on the age and origin of this haplotype, please refer to the following publications:
Nebel, A (2002). “Genetic Evidence for the Expansion of Arabian Tribes into the Southern Levant and North Africa”, The American Journal of Human Genetics 70(6): 1594-6. Doi:10.1086/340669.PMC379148.PMID11992266
Tofanelli, Sergio; Ferri, Gianmarco; Bulayeva, Kazima; Caciagli, Laura; Onofri, Valerio; Taglioli, Luca; Bulayev, Oleg; Boschi, Ilaria et al. (2009). “J1-M267 Y lineage marks climate-driven pre-historical human displacements”. European Journal of Human Genetics 17(11): 1520-4. Doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.58.PMC 2986692. PMID 19367321.
From the above information, we can conclude that the Prophet Mohammed was in a direct line of prophets, who descended from Abraham (as). According to Genesis 17, Ibrahim was the ‘seal of the covenant’, so it was fitting that Allah chose his direct descendant, Mohammed, as the ‘seal of the prophets’. Thus, it is little wonder that the Quran mentions his fellow prophets and that so many prophecies about Mohammed were included in Jewish scripture. Indeed, all mankind should celebrate Allah’s praise for His mercy in sending the biblically prophesied Prophet of Islam to the nations of the earth as was foretold by the ancient prophets. Only one man in all of history has fulfilled to the letter every line of these prophecies and this is Mohammed, the Prophet of Allah. May Allah continue to bless those who follow His Prophet and the religion revealed to him, Islam.