When Christians begin studying Islam, it becomes clear very quickly that Muhammad borrowed or incorporated many ideas from Christianity and the Bible into the Qur'an and Islamic teaching. Parallels, both overt and subtle, can be found in common to both Christianity and Islam. One such borrowed idea is the interesting parallel between Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom and Gomorrah and Muhammad bargaining with Allah over the required number of prayers.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were steeped in sexual vice and perversion. In Genesis 18, the LORD and two angels appear to Sarah to prophecy of her coming pregnancy of Isaac. After this encounter we read the following:
Gen. 18:16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
Gen. 18:22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Gen. 18:26 So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
Gen. 18:27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”
So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
Gen. 18:29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
Gen. 18:30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Gen. 18:31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
Gen. 18:32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” 33 So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Note that Abraham asked if God would destroy the cities if 50 righteous could be found. After God agreed not to destroy if 50 righteous could be found, Abraham lowers the limit to 45, then 40, 30, 20, and finally 10, with God agreeing to each change.
Islam has an odd parallel story to this bargaining with God. In his famous night journey, Muhammad is swept away from Mecca to Jerusalem and deposited on the Temple Mount. A ladder descends which Muhammad begins to climb, passing through different levels of heaven, meeting a different prophet of old along the way, until he reaches level seven, where he speaks with Allah. The story picks up here, from Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah:
From a tradition of 'Abdullah b. Mas'ud from the prophet there has reached me the following: When Gabriel took him up to each of the heavens and asked permission to enter he had to say whom he had brought and whether he had received a mission and they would say 'God grant him life, brother and friend!' until they reached the seventh heaven and his Lord. There the duty of fifty prayers a day was laid upon him.
The apostle said: 'On my return I passed by Moses and what a fine friend of yours he was! He asked me how many prayers had been laid upon me and when I told him fifty he said, "Prayer is a weighty matter and your people are weak, so go back to your Lord and ask him to reduce the number for you and your community". I did so and He took off ten. Again I passed by Moses and he said the same again; and so it went on until only five prayers for the whole day and night were left. Moses again gave me the same advice. I replied that I had been back to my Lord and asked him to reduce the number until I was ashamed, and I would not do it again. He of you who performs them in faith and trust will have the reward of fifty prayers.
Here Muhammad is told by Allah the Muslim community must commit to 50 prayers per day. Moses convinced Muhammad the burden was too high and encouraged Muhammad to bargain with Allah to reduce the burden. Allah reduces the prayers from 50 to 40, Moses again tells Muhammad to go back and reduce the number even more. This back and forth bargaining between Allah and Muhammad continues until the requirement is set at five daily prayers, after which Muhammad was too embarrassed to ask for further reductions.
In comparing these two narratives, one immediately notices the distinct parallel of bargaining with God for an initial reduction, subsequent further bargaining, and a final settlement where no further bargaining is needed or desired. Abraham bargains with God regarding the number of righteous in Sodom which will spare the city; Muhammad bargains with Allah regarding the required number of daily prayers. Both men begin their bargaining at 50, and whittle it down through subsequent interactions with the deity figure.
The parallelism is obvious and strongly suggests once again Muhammad created Islam and the traditions by borrowing or even plagiarizing material from Judaism and the Bible.