Notes and Reflections on Noah's Other Son, by Brian Arthur Brown -- see introductory post for more information on this book
The next three chapters deal with Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. Sarah is mentioned in the Abraham chapter, but the author didn't devote a single chapter to her.
Mr. Brown commended Abraham for his total submission to God. He let nothing - not even the family he so desired - get in his way of submitting to God's will. Thus why he was willing to sacrifice his son. The author notes that Jews and Christians know this to be Isaac as mentioned in the Bible whereas for Muslims it is Ishmael which he says is mentioned in the Quran. I didn't see a specific son mentioned in the Quran for this, but I know in more recent traditions it is thought to be the older son.
"The test was not to see if Abraham would kill for God, as some have speculated. The test was to determine if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his life's dream of a family and the precious promise made to him regarding that family. That test comes to every human being. Are we willing to put God first, with no rival priority?" (pg. 75)
The author asks if Abraham's children - Jews, Christians and Muslims - can learn to submit completely to God and be in good relation with one another.
The author makes mention of the good mother Hagar was and why she is so revered by Muslims. He points out the favorable things the Jewish Scriptures say about her in Genesis.
Through Ishmael he explains the alienation of the Arabs from the rest of Abraham's spiritual descendants. He says the Quran believes him to have nearly been sacrificed by his father whereas the Bible speaks of his being sent away from his father as a teenager. What child wouldn't feel alienated? He then says a spirit of fearfulness is what drives the lesser jihad -- terrorism.
Chapter 8 was about Lot/Lut whom the author says was made into a "bad actor," "villain" and was deliberately slandered by the ones who wrote/edited the Torah. In the Quran Lot is "rehabilitated" and shown in a much more favorable light - a prophet and warner to the people of Sodom.
I thought this statement was interesting:
"The Bible is not intended as either a whitewash or a slander. It is the story of human corruption and God's redemption of all, including the writers. Sometimes, the writers were unaware of corrupting their own material, as Muslims have charged, but even that is part of the human situation with which God deals. In the case of Lot, the writers would have been very much aware of the hatchet job they were doing."
Why slander Lot in the book of Genesis? "As the ancestor of Israel's enemies, nothing good is said about him in the Bible, while nothing bad is said about him in the Quran. The fact that he assimilated toward the Arab side of the family did nothing for his reputation among the Jews by the time these stories were being written down in the biblical account." (pg. 96) Actually the author notes that the New Testament is more favorable towards Lot. In II Peter 2, Lot is called a "righteous man." We do know even from the Torah that Lot was saved from the destruction God brought down upon the people who stayed behind.
The story of Lot getting drunk and his daughters committing incest with him "was intended not only to discredit Lot, but also to cast Israel's Arab neighbors in the least favorable light, a deliberate slur on traditional enemies who claimed descent from the righteous prophet Lot."
Note: Lot's sons by his daughters were the fathers of the Moabites and Ammonites. Interestingly enough, however, Ruth - of whom a Biblical book is named - is from the Moabites and she accepted the God of her mother in law (Yahweh) when her husband died. She married Boaz who was the great grandfather of King David and she is an ancestress of the Messiah, Jesus.
So, yeah, God is all about redemption even in yucky situations like incest.