Jesus and Muhammad in Bible Prophecy - Muhammad
In a verse in the Quran, two scholars, sponsored by the Saudi royal family, insert some parenthetical comments that are not found in the original Arabic.
7:157 Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written in the Taurat (Torah) (Deut, xviii 15 [18:15]) and the Injil (Gospel) (John, xiv 16 [14:16]) with them . . . (Hilali and Khan, my insertions in brackets) (cf. Suras 2:129, 159; 3:81, 164; 61:6)
In this verse, quite apart from the parenthetical insertions, Muhammad clearly connects himself to the Bible, asserting that he has been described in it and implying that he has been predicted in it. The word (ummi), translated here as "who can neither read nor write," may also mean "gentile." Maybe both meanings are true at the same time and on some level. He was an illiterate gentile. These two facts become important, shortly.
The two translators take it for granted that the Biblical references from Deuteronomy and the Gospel of John mention or prophesy Muhammad. This belief has circulated around the Muslim world for many years and has become "gospel truth." Further, Muslim propagandists have searched for clear references to Muhammad in the Torah and the Gospels (and the entire Bible). But have they been successful? Does this belief have any foundation in the Biblical texts?
To answer these questions, we proceed in two short stages. First, we look at the big picture about the culture and timeframe of the Bible and Muhammad; then we fill in the details of the big picture by mentioning articles that analyze Deuteronomy 18 and John 14.
Muhammad constantly retells Bible stories and applies them to himself or reshapes them for his own benefit. Whether he was illiterate or could barely read or write is debatable, but one thing is certain: he was not a scholar, so we should not imagine him poring over dusty Bible manuscripts. He simply retold Bible stories that he had picked up over the years, as they circulated along the trade routes among story tellers and religious folk. Perhaps his assertion in Sura 7:157 is a guess. He was hoping that he could be found in the Bible. It is a big book, after all. But none of this is miraculous.
Let's use myself as an example. I could study (or at least listen to) the huge epic of the Hindus, the Mahabharata. I could spend twenty years uttering religious words and narratives in this monumental epic that I reshape for my own purposes and benefit. I could even claim that I am found in there somewhere, though not revealing where exactly. But does this mean that it actually mentions me or prophesies that I will appear? Can I really be found in it? Of course not. I live too far outside of that culture and timeframe to be taken seriously. Further, we could use a fictitious example of a religious man who admires the epic, but who lived a thousand miles from India (he is not an Indian) and six hundred years after the epic was completed. He too could claim that he is found in it somewhere, without any specifics. Does this mean that the admirer is even remotely mentioned in it?
In both fictional examples, my and the religious man's evidence better be clear and numerous if we want to convince others. And both of us have a lot of ground to cover because we are so far removed from the background of the epic. Also, we should be specific, if we really knew the epic. Why bother speaking in vague generalities, which push our followers to look hard for things that are ambiguous at best and absent at worst? Under these conditions, can we convince an open-minded audience, not to mention reasonable skeptics?
Finally, let's use a real-life example, the founder of the Bahai religion.
Bahá'u'lláh (ba-haw-ol-láh) (1817-1892), born Mírzá Husayn-`Ali [in Persia], was the founder and prophet of the Bahai Faith. He claimed to fulfill the Babi prophecy of "He whom God shall make manifest," but in a broader sense he also claimed to be the Messenger of God prophesied in all great religious traditions. (Source)
Would Muslims take Bahá'u'lláh's assertion seriously that says he is prophesied in the Quran? Christians certainly do not believe that he is prophesied either in the Old Testament or in the New. He is too far outside of both the Quranic and Biblical traditions.
In the same way, Muslim propagandists like Hilali and Khan, the two translators, above, have a lot of ground to cover about Muhammad in the Bible. In fact, they and other Muslim propagandists do not succeed in finding Muhammad in the Bible, for at least three insurmountable, unanswerable reasons.
First, Muhammad was a gentile. The prophets of the Old Testament were and must be Jews. They were not Babylonians or Egyptians, even though Moses was born in Egypt or Ezekiel was taken to Babylon. So Muhammad does not fit into Deuteronomy 18, as we shall explain more fully, below.
Second, Muhammad often confuses the Old Testament or invents stories that contradict it. Two examples follow. He makes Moses appear baffled and in need of teaching about deep truths, being led around by an unnamed servant, whom later traditions call Khidir (Sura 18:60-82). Next, Muhammad fabricates a legend that Abraham almost sacrificed Ishmael, not Isaac, at least when we accept the most common Muslim interpretation of this passage: Sura 37:99-113. It is unimaginable that a true prophet in the Biblical tradition would insult Moses like this or invent a glaring discrepancy of such importance. A true prophet would never say: "O Great King! O chief priests and Levites! Lo! Verily, Moses was baffled about some things and so was led around by an unnamed servant to be taught hidden truths! Understand this! It was not Isaac who was nearly sacrificed, but Ishmael!" The chief priests and Levites would then check the Bible scrolls and manuscripts. With such egregious errors in fact (not matters of interpretation), the "prophet" would have been laughed out of court; he would never have received a further hearing from the King or priests or Levites who knew the Torah thoroughly, after such madness.
Incidentally, these errors and inventions in the Quran explain why Muslim polemicists must always fall back to their default position. Even though the Bible comes first and is the standard by which we evaluate all other later assertions that cross its path, Muslim polemicists say that the Bible was corrupted and the Quran corrects it. But if the Bible is so corrupt, then why do they bother inserting Muhammad back into it? Maybe it is pure in the passages where they believe that Muhammad can be found. The logic is beautiful from their point of view. They cannot lose with it. Though the polemicists' assertions are factually wrong, it would require entirely different articles to show how.
However, let's get back to reality, and leave behind shaky-belief-above-stubborn-facts.
Here is the third reason why Muhammad does not fit into the Bible. He lived 600 years after Jesus Christ, who lived in Israel and was a Jew. As we shall see, Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the prophecies in the Old Testament infinitely more accurately than Muhammad of Mecca would, even if the prophet of Islam were a Jew. The evidence for Christ is clear and numerous.
We now come to the second stage, filling in the details of the big picture. Researchers have already easily demonstrated that Muhammad does not fit the profile of a Biblical prophet or any other saint mentioned or predicted in the Bible.
Is Muhammad mentioned in Deuteronomy 18?
In this chapter (verses 15-19) Moses predicts that God will raise up a prophet like Moses from among his brothers (that is, Israelites themselves), and the people will listen to and follow him. Muslims like Hilali and Khan (the two translators) claim that Muhammad fits the description, even though he is not an Israelite.
In reply, however, this mid-length chapter in a book lists the basic arguments by Muslims and answers then point by point. It then lists the similarities between Moses and Christ.
This mid-length article also lists the characteristics of Moses and Christ and demonstrates the match between the two. The similarities and the length of the list are remarkable. Muhammad is excluded. It also lists the use of the word "brothers" in the Torah. It almost always means Israelites. But when "brothers" is used as a distant relation in only two examples, they "were spelled out and specifically identified by their name and relationship or location," like Esau and Edom (scroll down to "Who are the brethren of the prophet in Deuteronomy 18:18?").
This short article has a three way contrast between Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. One example is the prophet of Islam's inability to work miracles according to the Quran (Sura 6:37; 28:48).
But let us assume that Muhammad shares some characteristic with Moses (e.g. both prohibit eating pork). Then this one fact is bedrock: in no way is Muhammad found anywhere in the entire New Testament, and this falsifies Sura 7:157, which says that the Gospels mention him. This leads us to the next quick section.
Is Muhammad found in John 14?
In this chapter Jesus says he will send a Helper or Comforter (Greek is paracletos) to his followers after his Ascension. The New Testament teaches that the paracletos is the Holy Spirit and that Christ fulfilled his promise in Acts 2, which describes the infilling of the Spirit and the formal creation of his church. Muslims, however, claim that Muhammad is the Helper or Comforter.
In reply, points no. one and two in this chapter answer the question. No, Muhammad is not found in John 14.
But the most thorough refutation of the claim that Muhammad is the Comforter is found in this chapter in a larger book. It even has an image of a Greek papyrus containing John 14:9-26 that shows the New Testament was not tampered with and that paracletos is the right word in the chapter, not periclytos ("much praise" in Greek; cf. Sura 61:6).
This article is a thorough refutation of a Muslim polemicist's claim (and this polemicist is not alone) that Sura 61:6 says that Jesus prophesies the appearance of a certain "Ahmad" (meaning "Praise"). Islamic research on this issue is terribly confused and substandard.
These articles together consist of a thorough exegesis of Biblical texts, taking them in historical and literary contexts. Thus, the absence of any clear reference in the Bible to Muhammad as some sort of future spokesman for God is not surprising. Culturally and chronologically, he was too far removed from the Bible. He was also much too inaccurate about the Bible in matters of verifiable, textual facts.
The result of this quick study: Muhammad is absent from Bible prophecy and all other areas of the Bible.