An understanding of Abraham through Heidegger and Derrida: a study on the ethics of Abraham in the Qur’an
Peters, Kenneth Browne
This is the beginning of our writing and our writing is about the relationship between Abraham and his sons, it is about how this relationship affects all relationships, how the relationship between Abraham and his sons impacts us all. For the Tanakh, the Christian Bible, and the Qur’an all share the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. For the Jewish and Christian stories that son is Isaac. For the Muslims it is either Isaac or Ishmael. This paper will explore that development among other things. The paper focuses primarily on trying to understand how the sacrifice of the son mimics the sacrifices we make everyday, all the time, with every decision. This understanding is presented in the paper after we explore the steps needed to get there. First, we begin with the story of Ibrahim and his sons, which is followed by an analysis of the story as it relates to the Islamic milieu. Then we transition to the work of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida in an effort to explain the Derridian concepts that we conclude with. These concepts, the concepts of hospitality, decision, the gift, and sacrifice, are all intertwined, co-dependent, and co-named. Eventually we come to the conclusion that in all things, in all decisions, if such a thing exists, we repeat the sacrifice of Isaac, the sacrifice of Ishmael, the sacrifice of Abraham’s son. And then we come to the central focus of the paper, whether or not Abraham was culpable, whether or not he was a murder, as named by Kierkegaard. We will show that the philosophy of Derrida provides a new re-interpretation of the story of Abraham and that it does not fall outside the bounds of Islamic ethics. We will show that the story of Abraham benefits from an analysis using the concepts of the gift, decision, and hospitality.