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Ishmael was the illegitimate son of the prophet Abraham by his wife's maidservant. He is held by Muslims to have been the sacrifice offered to Allah by Abraham, and also to have been the direct ancestor of the prophet Muhammad. Jews and Christians believe that it was Isaac whom Abraham tried to sacrifice to YHWH. As evidence for the patriarchs is minimal at best, who can tell which way it supposedly happened? If, indeed, it happened at all.
In one of many examples of God and the patriarchs being cruel, Abraham was told by his wife Sara and by God to cast out Ishmael and his mother Hagar, who was Abraham's concubine. Ishmael nearly died in the desert before God told them where to find water. (Genesis 21:8-21) He spent the rest of his life in the desert and according to tradition was ancestor of 12 tribes including the "pure" Arabs of the Arabian peninsula, whose number included the prophet Muhammad. (Today the word "Arab" has a much greater geographical extent than those allegedly descended from Ishmael, if it matters.)