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According to both Biblical and Qur'anic tradition , Abraham had two wives: Sarah and Hagar. He had a son by each woman: Ishmael his first born son from his wife Hagar and Isaac from his wife Sarah. Circumstances forced Abraham to leave Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness of Paran. It was stated by God that each son would be the father of a nation. The Israelites descended from Isaac and the Ishmaelites from Ishmael.

In Islamic tradition the Ishmaelites are known as the Banu Ismail.

The Ishmaelites are sometimes identified with the Arab people although this is an over-simplification. Arab tradition traces the original Arabs of southern Arabia to Qahtan and the Mustaribs (the people of northern Arabia who assimilated into the Arabs) to Adnan, a descendant of Ishmael.

In Judaeo-Christian tradition the Ishmaelites are no longer mentioned after the time of King David, having assimilated into other peoples. Some are shown in Judges as having become part of the Midianites. Others are mentioned living amongst the Israelites. The Hagarites split off as a separate group from the rest of the Ishmaelites and were conquered and assimilated by the Israelites during the reign of Saul. The Book of Jubilees claims that the sons of Ishmael intermingled with the children of Keturah from Abraham and were called Arabs and Ishmaelities:

Book of Jubilees 20:13 And Ishmael and his sons, and the sons of Keturah and their sons, went together and dwelt from Paranmarker to the entering in of Babylonmarker in all the land which is towards the East facing the desert.
And these mingled with each other, and their name was called Arabs, and Ishmaelites.


Some commentators have understood the accounts to mean that the term "Ishmaelite" included descendants of Keturah's sons or was interchangeable with the terms "Midianite" and "Medanite", names of two of the tribes descended from Keturah.

Offspring of Ishmael

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