Today I would like to share a topic that I have recently begun to delve farther into, that I find quite fascinating: mentions of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the scriptures of Christianity.

 

Note: In Islam, the names of prophets are usually followed by the acronym (as), which stands for the Arabic “alayhi salaam,” or “peace be upon him.” The name of the Prophet Muhammad is usually followed by the acronym (saws) which is the Arabic equivalent of “peace and blessings be upon him.” For the ease of the non-Muslim reader these acronyms have been omitted in writing this article, but should be pronounced if the reader is able to remember.

 

Until very recently, I had no idea that there was any mention of another prophet that would be yet to come in the Bible, and in fact even in my Christian days I was never very familiar with the idea of prophecies in the Bible. That was something that wasn't really talked about to the “layman” in my church, and something that was left to the scholars.

 

But just a few weeks ago, I came across an interesting little booklet called What the Bible says about Muhammad, peace be upon him by Sheikh Ahmed Deedat. Naturally, the title sparked my attention straight away, so I dived right in! It was a short read, only 17 pages, from a talk that the sheikh gave at a conference, but I would like to share the interesting things that I learned from it.

 

The talk focused on one specific prophecy, and the conversation he had with a pastor in South Africa about this prophecy, so I will also keep this article to just that one verse (until I can to some more in-depth research):

 

“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.”

Deuteronomy 18:18

 

For context, this was a prophecy spoken to Moses, and generally considered to be foretelling the coming of Jesus. Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, however, made some interesting points as to how this prophecy actually doesn't fit Jesus very well at all.

 

Firstly, the prophecy specifically mentions that the new prophet will be “like unto thee,” that is, similar to Moses. But there are two rather striking differences between Jesus and Moses, according to Christian thought.

 

  1. Jesus, in Christian doctrine, is considered to be a part of the trinity. Depending on which denomination of the church you belong to this can mean the “son of God” or even a part of God himself. Moses, however, has never been viewed with any amount of divinity, and is just a normal prophet sent by God to lead his people.
  2. Jesus, according to Christian doctrine, was sent so that he could die for the sins of the world. It is held that when he was crucified, God then forgave the sins of all the world through his suffering. Moses, however, did not have to undergo any such death for the salvation of humanity. The only way he could achieve salvation for his people was if they followed his preaching and lived according to the scriptures, as is the case with any normal prophet.

 

Besides these rather large differences between Jesus and Moses, there are some pretty striking similarities between Muhammad and Moses, that make him the more likely prophet announced in this prophecy.

 

  1. Moses and Muhammad both had a mother and father; Jesus was miraculously born of the virgin Mary.
  2. Both Moses and Muhammad had natural births, as previously mentioned, not of any divine or miraculous nature.
  3. Both Moses and Muhammad were married and had children. Most will hold that Jesus was not married and did not have offspring.
  4. Jesus was largely rejected by his people, and ended up dying because of it, according to Christian thought. Moses and Muhammad, however, were accepted as prophets by their communities, though those same communities did give them plenty of trouble in their lifetimes by disobedience.
  5. Both Moses and Muhammad, after being accepted by their communities, also became political leaders as well. Jesus did not have this claim, and when dragged before Pontius Pilate, he made his defence with the statement, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” John 18:36.
  6. Jesus did not bring any new laws for his people, and in fact states this himself in the Bible. Moses and Muhammad both brought a new set of laws for their people.
  7. Moses and Muhammad, as they both came into the world naturally, they died natural deaths. Jesus did not; according to Christian doctrine he was killed on the cross after being tortured and humiliated.
  8. Moses and Muhammad are both buried in graves. Jesus, however, ascended directly to heaven, where he waits for the time of the second coming to fulfil his role as the Messiah.

 

The first part of this statement in the prophecy also deserves analysis: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren....

 

If we look at who the “brethren” that may be referred to are, we can see that this seems to indicate the Arabs. The prophet Abraham had two boys: Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was raised and stayed in the land of Palestine, while his brother Ishmael was sent with his mother to live in the holy city of Mecca, where the first mosque is.

 

Therefore, the children and descendants of Isaac are the Jews of Palestine, while their “brethren,” would be the Arabs, the children and descendants of Ishmael.

 

As for the second part of the prophecy that relates that God will put “His words in his mouth,” this can also fit very neatly with the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Muhammad was an unlettered prophet, i.e. he did not know how to read or write. We believe that the Qur'an, the scripture he was sent with, was revealed to him directly from God, through the angel Gabriel. Muhammad, in turn, memorised the words of his God that were revealed to him, and later they were written down by some of the scribes of the time that did have the skill of reading and writing.

 

God quite literally “put the words in his mouth.”

 

“And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.” Isaiah 29:12

 

If you go look up the story as to how the Qur'an began to be revealed to Muhammad, it will fit this verse to a T. The angel Gabriel comes to him while he is worshipping in seclusion in the cave of Hira, close to Mecca, and instructs him “iqra!” Which, in Arabic means both read and recite. The Prophet Muhammad replies, “I cannot read!” This exchange occurs a few more times until the Prophet finally realises, the angel is telling him to recite! And from here the revelation began (see also Qur'an chapter 96), where the Prophet Muhammad would faithfully recite everything that came to him from the blessed messenger.

 

In the pamphlet that I read it also mentions that even the name Muhammad is mentioned in the song of Solomon 5:16, but that was a side note, and a place where I intend to begin doing some more in-depth linguistic research.

 

I absolutely love the idea that Islam did not come to obliterate the other two monotheistic religions, but instead came to complete them. Like I have said in my previous posts, interfaith work and understanding is more important in these times than it has ever been before.

 

For now, I hope this has been as interesting of a topic for you as it has been for me to read about, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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