Christian tradition has long painted a negative portrait of Ishmael, the son born to Abraham and Hagar when Abraham’s wife Sarah could not conceive. Ishmael is seen as a wild man whose descendants would live at odds with the children of Abraham. But those views are prejudices based on dubious exegesis, according to Christopher Heard. It is especially problematic when Ishmael’s descendants are identified with Arabs or Muslims and used as an explanation for tension in the Middle East. There is little historical proof that Arabs descend from Ishmael. Besides, Ishmael was also blessed by God with the promise of a great nation (Gen. 21:1), just as Abraham’s other descendants were (Interpretation, July).