Figures in the Qu'ran and the Bible

I’m doing a research paper on various spiritual personalities in Islamic and Christian/Jewish Scripture and there’s no subject list . . . which would be great except that other than Jesus, I don’t know much about Islamic Scripture. I know that Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus are in Islamic scripture. Beyond that I don’t know it well enough and don’t really feel like reading the entire Qu’ran through:)

Anyone got another key figure who appears more than once in both the Qu’ran and the Bible? Or know of a website that discusses such, or books I can look to for guidance? Any help here is much appreciated.


Anyone? Anyone?


I’ve got this information, but it’s back at home. There are quite a few OT characters that appear in the Koran/Quran, but their names are often changed significantly. “Cain and Abel” become “Habil and Kabil”, for instance. “Jesus, son of Many” is “Issa bin Miryam”. If no one replies by tonight I’ll plow through my shelf of Islamica and get back to you.

Ishmael, perhaps?

Zev Steinhardt

Are their names changed, or is it just, since it was written in Arabic, those are Arabic versions of the name?

I don’t think it’s merely a transliteration issue, or a pronunciation shift “Kabil” is WAY different from “Cain”. This seems to me along the lines of people speaking English calling the Italian city of “Firenza” “Florence”, or the wat “London” becomes “Londres” to French-speakers.

I can’t help you out, but I would be very interested in reading that paper! It’s a topic that has always intrigued me, but not enough to go out and do my own research. Pathetically apathetic. I know. When you are done though, can you possibly post a link to it around here somewhere? I would be willing to bet I’m not the only one who would like to read it.


I will try to remember to put it up on my website . . .

Come to think of it, I think I’ll put up my original paper on there as well. It’s on Jewish and Xtian concepts of the afterlife.

Adam – Âdam
Eve – Hawwâ’
Cain – Qâbil
Abel – Hâbil
Noah – Nûh
Abraham – Ibrâhîm
Lot – Lût
Isaac – Is.hâq
Ishmael – Ismâîl Jacob -- Yaqûb
Joseph – Yûsuf
Moses – Mûsá
Aaron – Hârûn
Pharaoh – Firawn Saul -- Tâlût David -- Dâwûd Solomon -- Sulaymân Elijah -- Ilyâs Elishah -- al-Yasa
Job – Ayyûb
Jonah – Yûnus
Zachariah – Zakarîyâ
John (the Baptist) – Yahyá
Mary – Maryam
Jesus – `Îsá
Gabriel – Jibrîl
Michael – Mîkâl

Some have tentatively identified the Qur’ânic prophets Shu`ayb and Dhu al-Kifl with Jethro and Ezekiel, but that’s not for certain.

Notice many of these Qur’ânic names are identical to the Biblical ones, allowing for adaptation to Arabic phonetics. A few are quite different.

Arab Christians use the name Yûhannâ for John, since that is based on the Syriac version of the Bible; the name Yahyá (literally ‘he lives’) for John is only in the Qur’ân. Likewise, Arab Christians say Yasû` for Jesus, again from the Syriac form.

Otherwise, these Arabic forms are shared in common by Arabic-speaking Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Any Arab with one of these names could be either Muslim or Christian, you can’t tell from the name alone. For that matter, the name of God in Arabic is Allâh for Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians as well as Muslims. I have heard the Lebanese chanteuse Fayrûz singing a hymn to Mary: yâ Umm Allâh (O Mother of God)!


I have decided to write about the interactions of Moses and the Pharaoh, with much help from Kyla, who was able to show me stories in the Qur’an that correspond enough with their Biblical counterparts that something can be done with them:)

Ishming’s list is interesting, but the comparison of English to Arabic leaves out the Hebrew (which would be the original, of course.) A few samples are below; the Arabic is often (as one would imagine) closer to the Hebrew original than is the English.

English – Arabic – Hebrew
Eve – Hawwâ’ --Khava
Noah – Nûh – Noakh
Abraham – Ibrâhîm – Avrahom
Isaac – Is.hâq – Itz-khaq
Ishmael – Ismâîl -- Ish-mael Jacob -- Yaqûb – Yaqov
Joseph – Yûsuf – Yosaf

Transliteration is always difficult, I am using “kh” for the hard ch sound like in the German “ach”… and most transliterators use “q” for the sound that many use “k”.

The movement from Y to J (Jacob, Joseph, Jerusalem, etc) is interesting, it actually comes from the German. Was it Luther who translated the Bible into common language? He used German pronunciations, where the letter J is pronounced “y”, so it was reasonable to spell “Yosaf” as “Joseph”. English translations picked up the German spellings, and applied English pronunciations, and so all the names that in Hebrew (or Arabic) start with “Y” now start with “J” in English. True of the Tetragrammaton also, which is howcome the name spelled Y H V and H was often translated as Jeho vah.

For those who wanted to see my paper, here it is.

BTW, I make no money from those banners; angelfire puts them up. Heck, I make no money from the page itself; its original intent was to store pictures a friend of mine was having trouble viewing on her mac.

At some point ITF I will get my paper on afterlife stuff up there, but I have other important school stuff to do.