Monday, 18 August 2008

The mention of Mohammed in the Bible

draft version 1.0

One important component of the cumulative argument for the warrant of Islamic belief, is the authority of Mohammed as a prophet within the biblical scriptures. Many non Muslims, more so Christians would be perplexed by the idea that Muslims would be referring to biblical scriptures to demonstrate the prophethood of Mohammed. However this contention can simply be overcome by the understanding of Islam not as a new religion as such, but more so as a continuation of prophethood and the finality of messangerhood. From the time of Adam to Mohammed, it is stated that there have been anything from one hundred to twenty thousand prophets sent to mankind. Each brought new revelation or confirmed the previous message. If we understand Islam in this sense and that Mohammed (saw ) was the final and last messenger, the most important messenger, then it would be quite plausible to inquire as to whether Moses, Jesus or another prophet from the lineage of prophets would mention such a great prophet.

The other explanation of such an enterprise is that God, ‘Allah’, in the Quran mentions that Mohammed is included within the biblical scriptures.

“Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own Scriptures, in the Torah and the Gospel” (Quran 7:157; Trans.: Yusuf Ali)

To present a summary of the argument that the Prophet of Islam is mentioned within the biblical scriptures, I shall explore two main arguments comprised of two verses each, with supportive arguments, containing other verses to add further contextualisation.

Christian apologists overtly dismiss the claim that the authority of Mohammed is mentioned within the Bible. They claim that the mention of Islam’s prophet is nowhere to be found. Their defence is that Muslims are misquoting the biblical references and namely, taking them out of their ‘proper’context.

Muslim apologists claim that Moses prophesised the coming of a new prophet and within this prophecy a clue is given to recognise this new prophet.

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." Deuteronomy 18:18

Muslim Apologists claim that this particular verse is referring to Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. Their first argument is based upon to the mention that a prophet will rise amongst their brethren. The second argument is that Mohammed is more similar to Moses, than Jesus is similar to Moses, and lastly the verse containing the particular and rather descriptive sentence “put words in his mouth”.

1) “A Prophet will rise amongst their brethren…”

It is argued that the brethren of the Israelites, as mentioned in the verse, are the Ishmaelites. The late Ahmed Deedat a prominent South African biblical scholar explains that Abraham had two sons from two different wives, Sarah the mother of Isaac who is the father of the Jews and Hagar the mother of Ishmael the father of the Arabs.[1]

As it is widely accepted that Mohammed come from Arabia, the lineage of the Ishmaelites i.e Arabs, Mohammed therefore falls within this description. The Bible also confirms this historical relationship. [2]

2) Mohammed is more similar to Moses than Jesus is similar to Moses; therefore the prophecy is foretelling the coming of Mohammed rather than Jesus.

Ahmed Deedat drew analogies between Moses and Mohammed. Firstly, Moses had a father and mother, whereas Jesus had a miraculous birth. Moses married as did Mohammed, Jesus did not. Both Moses and Mohammed were accepted by their people in their very lifetime, where as Jesus was rejected by his people during his life. Moses and Muhammad were prophets as well as kings. Dedat explains that Moses not only was a spiritual leader but also a material leader too. Moses had the power over his people to punish. An example is given of the Israelite who was found picking up firewood on Sabbath Day, and Moses had him stoned to death. (Numbers- 15:13). Mohammed is also known to not to be just a spiritual leader but also material leader. Jesus on the other hand was known to have said that his kingdom was not of this world.

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”(John 18:36).

Moses and Muhammad brought new laws and new regulations for their people. Moses not only gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, but a very comprehensive ceremonial law for the guidance of his people. Jesus however, as Deedat demonstrates with the following verse, does not:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”.(Mathew 5:17-18).

Hence Jesus did not come with a new law. Mohammed on the other hand, as it is well known brought a new set of laws to the Arabs. Both Moses and Muhammad died natural deaths, but according to Deedat and orthodox Christian belief, Jesus’ body is in Heaven. [3].

Deedat also focuses on Jesus’ unique characteristics, such as him being known as the Son of God and of his alleged resurrection where he died for the sins of the world and also that he was in Hell for three days. By this Deedat suggests that Moses and Jesus are incomparable.

Dr Jamal Badawi a well-known author, activist adds further similarities. Badawi likens Moses to Mohammed as Moses migrated as did Mohammed during his time as a prophet. Moses left Egypt for Median and Mohammed left Makkah for Yathrib which is now called Medina. The other commonalty between Moses and Mohammed is that both of their encounters with enemies ended with a military and moral victory, where as Jesus only ended with a moral victory. Lastly, the teachings revealed to Moses were available in a written form in their lifetimes, whereas the Gospel was written down many years after Jesus. [4]

3) “Put words in his mouth…”

Proceeding with arguments for verse Deuteronomy 18:18, the specific wording of the verse “put words in his mouth” is a vivid description of the type of revelation received by Muhammad. Angel Gabriel used to come and dictate to him specific portions of the Qur’an which were then repeated by Prophet Muhammad exactly as he had heard them. Muhammad’s own thinking or authorship were not involved in any way in what he uttered.[5] As the Qur’an describes:

“He (Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire, it is no less than a revelation sent down to him.” (The Qur’an 53:3-4)

The second verse that has caused much controversy within the Muslim-Christian dialogue, is the verses pertaining to the Gospel of John speaking of the coming of a “Paraclete.” The “Paraclete”, in its English form comes from the Greek word “Parakletos”, which means “one who consoles, one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate”.[6] 'Paraclete' appears in the New Testament in the Gospel of John (14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, 20:22) where it may be translated in English as "Counselor", "Helper", or "Comforter". The Christian apologists say that this description is for the Holy Spirit.[7]

There are two distinct arguments as to why the mention of ‘Paraclete’ is in fact a reference to Mohammed. First the origin and etymology of the word ‘Paraclete’ and second the context the ‘Paraclete’ is mentioned.

Muslim apologists claim that the ‘Paraclete’ is actually Prophet Mohammed. They argue that the ‘Parakletos’ is the corrupted form of a very similar word ‘Periklitos”, which means ‘admired one’ or ‘glorified one’, which is the identical meaning of the name ‘Ahmad’ in Arabic, which was itself the other name of Mohammed. [8]

With respect to the contextual arguments, Deedat argues that this ‘Paraclete’ could not be the ‘Holy Spirit’, as it must be a ‘person’ indicated by the grammatical expression within the Johannone verses. The verses pertaining to the ‘Paraclete’ for example John 16:13 use the masculine pronouns “He and “himself”. Deedat points out that if the ‘Paraclete’ were referring to the Holy Spirit, then why would the verses use masculine pronouns, when in fact they should be using the pronoun ‘it’ for a neutral gender. [9] This is based on the assumption that the Holy Spirit is neutral in gender of course.

Continuing the discussion about the grammatical expression used, Dr Maurice Bucaille also suggests that these verses can not be attributed to the Holy Spirit but rather “to a being with hearing and speech organs”. [10] He demonstrates this by examining the Greek verb ‘to hear’, ‘akouo’, meaning to perceive sound. The Greek verb ‘to speak’, ‘laleo’, which is the general meaning of ‘to emit sound’ specifically ‘to speak’. The verb occurs very frequently in the Greek text with respect to Jesus’ preaching, and with this in mind, he suggests the ‘Paraclete’ will be hearing and speaking in a physical capacity. Bucaille adds that “It has a very obvious material character moreover, which comes from the idea of the emission of sounds conveyed by the Greek word that defines it.”[11]

Now let us look at the contextual arguments. In John 16 6-17 , Deedat asks us to home unto two main points. Firstly, Jesus says that if he does not go the ‘Paraclete’ cannot come. The second is that Jesus says that he has many things to say but it could not be told then and that the ‘Spirit of Truth’ would guide them to all truths.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.” (16 6-17)

Argument thus follows:

1. Jesus has to leave for the ‘paralcete’ to appear

2. If ‘Paraclete’ appears he will guide to all truths

3. Jesus did leave

4. Therefore the ‘Paraclete’ appeared to guide to all truths.

Deedat explains that this is a rather strange conditional clause by Jesus for the Holy Spirit to arrive, as the ‘Holy Spirit’ was already around. He quotes “And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:15), “and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him (Jesus), and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). According to Deedat this conditional arrival could not be for the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit was always here among mankind. Also Deedat, quite boldly challenges Christians that if the ‘Spirit of Truth’ is the ‘Holy Spirit’ then what new truths did the Holy Spirit provide, that Jesus didn’t provide? [12] The answer being nothing. He then concludes that these references can not be the Holy Spirit, but rather refer to Mohammed, as he brought new religious knowledge to the world.

[1] What the Bible says about Mohammed (Islamic Propagation Centre, Durban, South Africa 1976)

[2] Genesis 24:67, 16:15 - 16

[3]WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT MUHAMMAD (Islamic Propagation Centre, Durban, South Africa 1976)

[4] Mohammed in the Bible ( Dr Jamal Badawi)

[5] ibid



[8]Jesus' Prophecy (Paraclete) ( Dr Jamal Badawi)

[9]Muhammad, the natural successor to Christ (Ahmed Deedat)

[10] The Bible, The Quran and Science (Dr Maurice Bucaille)

[11] ibid

[12] Mohammed in the Bible (Ahmed Deedat)