Paran or wilderness of Paran has been mentioned about 11 times in the Bible and there is also frequent mention of the term in the Islamic literature. The expositors of the Bible suggest the location of wilderness of Paran in the Sinai Peninsula. Most of their descriptions refer to the wilderness lying between Beersheba and the Sinai Mountains while on the western side, it extends to Shur as mentioned by the Bible. The western parts of the modern Jordan and areas south of the Dead Sea on both sides of the Gulf of Aqaba seem to be included in Paran. We shall discuss the same in detail subsequently.
The Islamic traditions, however, suggest a different location as compared with its description in the Bible. Paran of the Arabs, perhaps, starts from Araba and covers the entire Hijaz province of Saudi Arabia including parts of Jordan adjoining the Saudi Kingdom. Thus, the valley, the wilderness including the range of mountains from Yemen to Petra and south from there to Midian and all the lands on the south-eastern side of the Read Sea are included in Paran. The center of Paran (Faran) is Makkah with the holy sanctuary (i.e Kaaba) known to be the first and the most ancient house of the Lord (Almighty Allah) on Earth.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH ) rightly said that “الصدق ینجی والکذب یھلک”, “it is only the truth that saves and it is falsehood that destroys”. We can, therefore, conclude that nothing but truth can lead the human beings to permanent success or welfare in this world as well as in the life hereafter. Falsehood misleads the people and misdirects them from the path leading to the attainment of their ultimate wellbeing. It is, therefore, necessary that one should free himself from the presupposed notions and prejudices, and love the truth for the sake of truth. The seekers of truth cannot, therefore, depend on one sided story of any single culture or community, and must start a search for truth objectively. To appreciate the truth, however, it is necessary that one must evaluate all the facts in their true perspective with a naked eye and without using the colored glasses to get at reality.
We must appreciate the truth by taking into view all the ground facts as well as the history of the region in its true perspective laying aside the colored glasses and evaluate the relevant evidence objectively. We are constrained to say so because the Jewish scholarship of the old has been intentionally camouflaging the truth and confusing the true meanings of certain most important revelations in the Holy Book, just to serve their self interest and to promote the cause of Israel. The advent of the promised prophet in Arabia was, perhaps, the most important fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament which was not acceptable to the Jews as well as the Christians. They, therefore, continue to make earnest efforts to confuse the location of Paran. Such efforts, however, mislead their readers who rely on the integrity of the expositors as fair and honest interpreters of the events. Such concealment of facts has already deprived a major part of humanity of receiving the true guidance from the Lord through His final revelation in the Qur’an. The burden for misleading the innocent readers falls, therefore, on those Jewish and Christians scholars who have concealed or twisted the revelations and the relevant prophecies in the Bible in order to prevent people from the right path and from following the law as per final commandments of the Lord.
So far as Paran is concerned, the Jews seem to have concealed the truth intentionally to confuse the meaning of certain most important revelations in the Holy Book. Besides confusing the place of the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Arabia, the Israelites as well as the Christians also deny the settlement of Ishmaelites at Makkah. Anyhow, it is the law of nature that ultimately the truth must prevail over the falsehood and last forever. The Qur’an has exquisitely asserted that
وَقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا
And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing). (Al Quran: 17:81)
It is a fit time, therefore, to establish the truth and to obliterate the untruth about Paran spread by age long propaganda of certain writers of the West. We, therefore, hope that an honest and independent appraisal of the material facts exposing the other side of the picture may be helpful to the unbiased and impartial readers for a well founded and balanced judgment in the matter. This may help the true seeker of truth to adopt the path for their righteous conduct in life and salvation in the Hereafter.
As regards Paran, the misconception is so deep-rooted in the Jewish/Christian minds as well as in their literature that they are not even prepared to hear anything against their pre-established notions. Facts are, however, facts whether people acknowledge the same or not.