SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Where Ibrahim was born has always been an issue of debate. While Christians and Jews say that Ibrahim was born in South Mesopotamia, the prevalent thought in the Islamic world is that his place of birth is around Urfa-Harran. Some new finds show that the Jewish and Christian thesis does not reflect the truth completely.
Jews and Christians depend on the Old Testament for their assertion, because in it, Ibrahim is said to have been born in the city of Ur in South Mesopotamia. After Ibrahim was born and brought up in that city, he is said to have set out on the way to Egypt and to have reached Egypt at the end of a long journey in which he passed through the Harran region of Turkey.
However, a recently found manuscript of the Old Testament generated serious doubts about the validity of this information. In this Greek manuscript from the 3rd century BC, which is accepted to be the oldest copy of the Old Testament yet found, "Ur" is never mentioned. Today, many Old Testament researchers say that the word of "Ur" is inaccurate or a subsequent addition. This implies that Ibrahim was not born in the city of Ur, and may never have been to the Mesopotamian region in his life.
Besides, the names of some locations, and the regions they imply, change by time. In our day, the Mesopotamia plains generally refer to the south banks of the Iraqi land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Yet two millennia before our day, Mesopotamia implied a region more northernly, even reaching as far as Harran, and stretching into presentday Turkish lands. Therefore, even if we accept that the expression "Mesopotamian plain" in the Old Testament is right, it would be misleading to think that the Mesopotamia of two millennia earlier and the Mesopotamia of today are exactly the same places.
Even if there are serious doubts and disagreements on the city of Ur being Ibrahim's birthplace, there is a common agreement on the fact that Harran and its environs region was the place where Ibrahim lived. Moreover, a short research made in the Old Testament itself yields some information supporting the view that Ibrahim's place of birth was Harran. For instance, in the Old Testament, the region of Harran is designated as the "Aram region" (Genesis, 11:31 and 28:10). It is stated that those who came from Ibrahim's family are "sons of an Arami" (Deuteronomy, 26:5). The identification of Ibrahim as an Arami shows that he led his life in this region.
In the Islamic sources, there is a strong evidence that Ibrahim's place of birth is Harran and Urfa. In Urfa, which is called the "city of Prophets", there are many stories and legends about Ibrahim.