See Surah 2 verse 260: the Quran does not encourage blind faith; faith/trust (in G-d) should come not only through the use of intellect and reason, but also through the "heart"/conviction in order to be true. One has to be convinced in both the head and heart. For that reason,the Quran encourages people to follow the example of Prophet Abraham(pbuh). (That does not mean one has to go around cutting up birds --- that would be simplistic thinking!!!!)
To quote Quran 2:260, from here:
YUSUFALI: When Abraham said: "Show me, Lord, how You will raise the dead, " He replied: "Have you no faith?" He said "Yes, but just to reassure my heart." Allah said, "Take four birds, draw them to you, and cut their bodies to pieces. Scatter them over the mountain-tops, then call them back. They will come swiftly to you. Know that Allah is Mighty, Wise."
PICKTHAL: And when Abraham said (unto his Lord): My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: Dost thou not believe? Abraham said: Yea, but (I ask) in order that my heart may be at ease. (His Lord) said: Take four of the birds and cause them to incline unto thee, then place a part of them on each hill, then call them, they will come to thee in haste, and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.
SHAKIR: And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: What! and do you not believe? He said: Yes, but that my heart may be at ease. He said: Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying; and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.
My reply there:
In Genesis 15:7, God tells Avraham,
I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.Avraham replies (verse 8),
O Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
God then prescribes a whole ritual (verses 9-12, involving the splitting of a few cows and birds in half), and tells Avraham (verses 13-14),
Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
So the question is, exactly what just happened? I believe the splitting of the cows and birds and half was a common method of making a covenant back then. Indeed, the Hebrew word for "covenant", brit, literally means a cutting. That ritual in verses 9-12 is known in Hebrew as the brit bein ha-betarim, which is usually translated as "the covenant (brit) between (bein) the (ha-) pieces (betarim), but which most literally would translate as "the cutting between the cut-pieces". So to cut the animals in half, etc., was the common way then of making a covenant.
But what is verses 13-14, God's informing Avraham of the upcoming slavery in Egypt?
Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.How does this answer verse 8, Avraham's question as to how he'd know that God's promise would come true?
O Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
There are a few answers:
(1) The Rabbis say that Avraham displayed little faith in asking this question of God, that he should have simply trusted God's promise and let it rest. (This would be diametrically opposed to Quran 2:260.) The slavery in Egypt was then a punishment for Avraham's little faith. (I'm not sure how this would be a fitting punishment. I'd have to study this whole interpretation more thoroughly in the original literature.)
I should note that Jews are never considered bound to trust in the words of the Rabbis. Their laws are binding, as the words of any legal authority are binding on their subjects, but the Rabbis' philosophical and theological beliefs are not considered binding. Now, one may (or may not be) be an idiot for doubting their words, but he is most unequivocally not a heretic for disagreeing with them. Therefore, a different explanation...
(2) I have heard it suggested by some that Avraham's question was quite proper. Humans need to have visceral manifestations of things, to believe in them; we only truly believe what our eyes see. "Seeing is believing". Surely Avraham cognitively believed and trusted God that his children would inherit the land, but this is only with one's mind, one's reason. If one wishes to truly believe something in his innards, in his bowels, in his heart, he needs something visual or tangible to trust in. (This would be very similar then to what you [viz "Anonymous Muslim"] showed from Quran 2:260.) Indeed, with Noah, God didn't merely promise He'd never said another flood; He also showed a rainbow as something visual. So the ritual of cutting the animals was something visual and tangible. Also, God told about the upcoming slavery, as something that is definite and empirical; to vaguely promise Avraham that his children would inherit the land is one thing, but to provide concrete and definite details of the history strengthened Avraham's confidence.
There's another interpretation I like.
In verse 8, Avraham asked, "O Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?". So far, we've taken this simply as a request for reassurance. But one rabbi suggested to me that what Avraham was really saying was, "God, you've promised me the land of Israel for me and my descendants. Wonderful, thank you. But what about the people who already live here?"
In Genesis 13:7, we read, "And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle." The Torah doesn't tell us what the dispute was, but the Rabbis tell us that Lot was pasturing his flock on other people's land; Avraham accused him of theft. But hadn't God already promised all of the land to Avraham? Indeed, Lot claimed that for just this reason, he wasn't stealing. But Avraham wasn't content to rely on the strict letter of the law. Yes, technically, the land all belonged to him, but he wasn't going to rely on this in practice to pasture his flocks on other people's property. There's a story in the Talmud of a group of porters who broke the barrels they were paid to carry. The employer wanted to deny them pay, but the rabbis forced him to pay the porters, saying that the porters were poor and needed the money. Yes, technically, the porters were at fault and technically didn't deserve pay, but this isn't how decent moral people behave with poor porters. "You shall do what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord". (Deuteronomy 6:18.) Avraham exemplified this teaching.
And witness Avraham's dispute with God over Sodom and Gomorrah! One suspects that if inheriting Israel meant the expulsion or death of the Canaanites, Avraham would have rejected God's offer.
We quoted verses 13-14,
And He said unto Abram: 'Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
But God doesn't stop there. He adds, in verse 16,
And in the fourth generation they shall come back hither; for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full.
What does this have to do with anything? Avraham asked God how he'd know his inhabitants would inherit the land, really intending to ask what would happen to the native inhabitants, and God answered that the Jews would come from Egypt only when the natives of the land deserved to be expelled, and not a moment sooner. This conforted Avraham.
Indeed, God repeats precisely this message to the Jewish people themselves in Deuteronomy 9:4-6:
4. "Speak not thou in thy heart, after that the Lord thy God hath thrust them out from before thee, saying: 'For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land'; whereas for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee."For God to say the same thing three times in a row shows He's really trying to make a point!
5. "Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may establish the word which the Lord swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."
6. "Know therefore that it is not for thy righteousness that the Lord thy God giveth thee this good land to possess it; for thou art a stiffnecked people."