Was Muhammad the Promised Prophet?

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A Christian friend recently asked me if it’s true that Muhammad was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:18 as Muslims claim.

Several Christian apologists like John Gilchrist, Sam Shamoun etc. have done a good job in refuting the “Muhammad in the Bible” fantasies. This is one claim that illustrates the shallow and inconsistent arguments Muslims resort to in a bid to “prove” that Muhammad is a prophet of God.

On the one hand, they tell us that the Bible is “corrupt” and false, but when they are cornered with evidence against Muhammad, they start to appeal to the authority and credibility of the Bible to validate their guru. It’s a cognitive dissonance that is quite amusing and at the same time, sad.

In Deuteronomy 18:18, God says to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”

Because this promised Prophet would be like Moses, some Muslims have tried to link Muhammad with Moses by pointing at some “similarities” – none of which confers any prophetic identity. The Bible indicates 3 unique features that distinguish Moses as Israel’s first prophet:

1. He was the mediator of a covenant.

When God manifested Himself to the children of Israel, He promised to send them a prophet like Moses “as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly” (Dt. 18:16).

Moses mediated the old covenant between God and the Israelites. Through him, God gave the Israelites His law and requirements. As a token of this covenant, Moses sprinkled blood of calves on the people (Heb. 9:20). But Muhammad was no mediator of any covenant.

2. Moses knew God face-to-face.

He had such a unique relationship with God that for 40 years, God manifested and frequently spoke directly to him in a way that He didn’t do with others (Exo. 33:11).

The Quran confirms this in Sura 4:164 “And to Moses Allah spoke directly.” Allah didn’t speak to Muhammad face-to-face as he did to Musa. Instead he (allegedly) received his messages through Jubril.

3. Moses performed great signs and wonders.

God used him to bring plagues on Egypt, divide the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass, bring manna from heaven and water from a rock.

On the other hand, Muhammad had no miracle or sign. Even when his critics demanded for some supernatural signs, he admitted he couldn’t work any miracle. Certainly, Muhammad wasn’t the promised prophet.

Like a drowning man – whether by hook or by crook – Muslims latch on to the phrase “from among your brothers” in Deut. 18:18 arguing that Arabs are the brothers of Israelites, therefore, the promised prophet must be an Arab and he was Muhammad. This claim doesn’t hold any water.

Looking at the whole of Deuteronomy we see that the term “among their brothers” was exclusively used for only the tribes of Israel.

In Dt. 18:2, it was used for the Levites and other tribes in Israel. In each instance the term “their brothers” occurs in the Old Testament, it always refers to the tribes of Israelites, not to non-Israelites:

“… The LORD your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross ahead of your BROTHER Israelites” (Dt. 3:18)

If there is a poor man AMONG YOUR BROTHERS in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted… (Dt. 15:7)

Be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from AMONG YOUR BROTHERS. Do not place a foreigner over you, one WHO IS NOT A BROTHER Israelite” (Dt. 17:15)

Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is A BROTHER ISRAELITE or an alien living in one of your towns” (Dt. 24:14)

Some may argue that Isaac and Ishmael were half-brothers. But no valid connection exists between Ishmael and Muhammad or even the southern Arabs.

In fact, no prophet was to be expected from the lineage of Ishmael because God’s covenant was with Isaac. Even the Quran agrees that prophethood was to come from the Israelites:

“And We gave to Him Isaac and Jacob and placed in his descendants prophethood and scripture…” (Sura 29:27).

Therefore, the promised Prophet was to come out of Israel and He is Jesus Christ. He is the “Prophet” (Mt. 13:57) and “the Son of the God” (Jn. 10:36). Like Moses:

1. He is the Mediator of a covenant.

Through Jesus, God instituted a new covenant replacing that of Moses (Jer. 31:31-34). Under this new covenant, His laws would be written on His people’s hearts. This covenant was effected through blood (1 Cor. 11:25).

2. Jesus knew God face-to-face. He declared this in John 7:29 and 6:46.

3. Jesus performed great miracles. Like Moses, He also exercised power over the sea (Mk. 4:39).

Muhammad deceived his followers to believe that he was mentioned as God’s prophet in the Bible. This is why today Muslims are forced to jump through different hoops to “find” him within its pages. Let’s examine these two claims in the Quran:

Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they (Israelites) will find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) – in the Law and the Gospel – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil … He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them…” (Q 7:157)

This statement was attributed to Moses. But this leads to three major problems:

One, there’s no way the Israelites could have known of any prophecy of an apostle of Allah to come within the pages of the Gospel because the Gospel had not yet been revealed in their time.

The Gospel was penned by Jesus’ apostles – and the Judaists didn’t believe the gospel – so how could Allah be telling them to consult a book that didn’t exist until 1,500 years later?

Two, if Muhammad was unlettered or illiterate (as Muslims claim) how could he have certainly known that his coming was predicted in the Law and Gospel?

Three, Moses says the coming prophet would uphold justice, fairness and free the Jews from their yokes, but Muhammad was a great enemy to the Jews. He hated them; cursed them; enslaved them, assaulted them and unjustly murdered hundreds of them in one single day. Ibn Umar reported Muhammad as saying:

“You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say ‘Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me), kill him’.” (Muslim 7:41:6981)

Are we to believe that God who called Israel “the apple of [His] eye” (Zech. 2:8) and loved them “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) would then send them an apostle “like Moses” to rape, oppress, banish and slaughter them? Far from it!

In the second claim, the Jesus of the Quran is quoted saying:

O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat (Torah) which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. they said: this is obvious sorcery!” (Q 61:6).

This statement lacks an eye witness account and like many fictional speeches Muhammad imputed onto Bible characters, it is invalid.

Here was a man who lived for 40 years as a good ol’pagan, going on caravan journeys, sitting around night fires with Jewish, Christian and Sabean traders listening to their stories and … boom, he suddenly wakes up one morning to realize that his name is “Ahmad” and he was announced as Jesus’ successor in the Gospels! Megalomania much?

Maybe, Muhammad forgot he had earlier recited that prophethood was reserved only for the Israelites:

“And We [Allah] did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things…” (Sura 45:16)

The textual validity of Sura 61:6 is also questionable. The manuscript of Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (one of the 4 earliest memorisers of the Quran), though destroyed by Uthman, survives in quotations and it reads differently from the common version:

“O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God to you And I announce to you a prophet (nabiy) whose community (umma) will be the last community and by which God will put a seal on prophets (nabiyun) and messengers (rusul), they said: this is obvious sorcery!”

The part appearing in bold says nothing about an “Ahmad” promised by Jesus. It was obviously a later interpolation. Both variants may have been smuggled into the text to support an agenda.

The cheap labours of Muslim apologists to legitimize Muhammad from the Bible notwithstanding, in the light of scriptural evidence, they simply have no ground to stand on.

The “Jesus” of the Quran

“We Muslims believe in Jesus and we respect him even more than Christians.”

This is a very popular Muslim dawah trope. When we peel off that label and actually compare the Isa (“Jesus”) of the Quran with the Jesus of the Bible, a very wide gulf between the two characters is seen, and it’s one that no ecumenical dialogue can bridge.

Christians believe that eternal truth is a Person – Jesus. He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and it’s what a book says about Him that determines whether it contains the truth or not.

Only the Bible contains the reliable record of what Jesus did or said. And since the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible is not disputed by the Quran, if the Jesus it presents is different from the Biblical Jesus, the logical conclusion is that the Quran is a false revelation.

The Quran refers to Jesus 97 times. It calls Him a Prophet, Messenger, Servant, Messiah, the “sign” and “mercy” who was born of a virgin – which all agree with the Bible. But the points where the Quran deviates from and opposes the Bible will be examined below.

I have divided the Quran’s Christology into what Allah/Muhammad said about Jesus and what its “Isa” allegedly says about himself.

I. What Allah/Muhammad Said

1. “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messenger and say not ‘Three’. Refrain: better is it for you God is only one God...” (Sura 4:171)

That Jesus is called the Word of God means that He is eternal like God. The Bible says Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:18), so He is not only a Messenger of God.

Jesus, being the Word of God, is His Mouthpiece, and anyone who will know what God is saying must hear and obey Jesus or he will be lost eternally.

Some Muslims claim the “word of God” used here doesn’t refer to a person rather to a creative command (“Be”) of God, but this title is unique because there is nothing created by God that is given that title.

The Quran calls Adam “the chosen one of Allah” (Safiullah), Noah “the saved by Allah” (Najiullah) and Abraham, “the friend of Allah” (Khalil). Only Jesus Christ has a title given to no other in the Quran: the Word of God (Khalimatullah).

Jesus is also called “the Spirit from God” and “Our Spirit” (Sura 21:91). The Bible agrees that Jesus was conceived by the Spirit of God inside Mary. Since the Spirit of God is God, and God is one, that means the Spirit of God that became the Son of Maryam is God.

2. “Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, ‘Be’ and he is” (Sura 3:59).

The view espoused here is false and it contradicts the previous verse.

Adam was created from dust, but Jesus, being the Word of God, is not dust. Adam was created, but Jesus was uncreated.

The Bible clearly distinguishes between Adam who was “of the earth” and Jesus who “is the Lord from heaven” (1Cor. 15:47). Adam went back into the dust, but Jesus was taken to Heaven (even in the Quran) body, soul and spirit.

3. “O Jesus! I will make Thee die and take Thee up again to me and will clear thee of those who misbelieve and will make those who follow thee above those who misbelieve, at the day of Judgement, then to me is your return. I will decide between you concerning what wherein ye disagree.” (Sura 3:55)

This refers to Jesus’ death which creates another problem for the Quran. It also says Christians will be exalted over all others until the day of judgement.

Jesus has declared: “All power is given to me in heaven and [on] earth” (Matt. 28:18). No prophet or messenger can make such a powerful claim. No man has the power to deliver men from sin and the devil as Jesus has (Mt. 1:21; Jn. 1:30).

This supreme position marks Jesus out as being greater than a prophet. Muhammad is inferior to Jesus because he had no power over death and the grave. That’s an incontestable fact.

4. “They say: ‘[Allah] Most Gracious has begotten a son! Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!” (Sura 19:88)

Muhammad found this “most monstrous” because he confused the Sonship of Jesus Christ with the pagan (or physical) idea of a deity impregnating a woman to have a son. Such ignorance militates against the divine origin of the Quran.

What the Bible means by ‘the Son of God’ is a spiritual, eternal relationship, not a carnal, earthly one as envisaged by Muhammad.

Muhammad seemed to have some difficulty considering the term “Sonship” in anything but human terms. But this is a strange logic, even by the Quran’s standards.

Abu Lahab was called the “father of flame” (Sura 111:1) and a traveller was also called “son of the road” (Sura 2:177). Does this mean Abu Lahab gave birth to a flame or the traveller was birthed by the earth? No.

God the Father didn’t “take a son to Himself,” He has been a Father from eternity. The Son only took human form at a point in history and became the Man Jesus Christ. Both God and His Son share the same divine essence. God delegated His authority to the Son and men are to honour the Son as the Father (John 5:22-23).

5. “And the Jews say Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say Messiah is the Son of Allah…They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!” (Sura 9:30)

These are strong words, but they are based on straw man arguments.

First of all, the Jews do not believe Ezra is the Son of God as Jesus was. Even the Concise Dictionary of Islam points out that: “There are many details regarding Judaism [in the Quran] which are in variance with Jewish belief” (p. 2).

Second, the name “Isa” used for Jesus in the Quran appears to be a corruption of the name “Esau” used by unbelieving Jews to derogatorily refer to Jesus. The Arabic name of Jesus is Yasu, not Isa. This exposes the human origin of the Quran.

If that book was authored by an all-knowing deity, we would expect him to get his facts right.

6. “They have certainly disbelieved who say ‘Allah is the Messiah, the Son of Mary’…They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the one God. If they desist not from saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve” (Sura 5:72-73)

This is an error. Christians do not believe Allah is the Messiah or Christ. The Quran misrepresents the distinctions of Persons within the Godhead.

The belief that “Allah is the third of three” is ludicrous. Christianity teaches that there is one God in three Persons, not that God is “a third of three.” Even the Encyclopedia Britannica states that there are “mistaken concepts of the Trinity in the Quran.” Again, Allah didn’t know what Christians really believed.

The Biblical historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that there is essentially One God revealed as Three distinct Persons (Mt. 28:19).

Neither God nor Jesus is a “third of three.” The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead and God is not in three parts. What the Quran is attacking here is Tritheism, not the Christian Trinity.

II. The alleged statements of “Jesus”

1. “I am a servant of Allah; he has given me the book and he has appointed me a prophet, and he has made me blessed wherever I may be. He has enjoined me to offer salat and give zakat so long as I shall live.” (Sura 19:29-31)

This was allegedly said by baby Jesus from his cradle. Since these narratives are not based on eye witness accounts, they cannot be taken with any level of seriousness.

Muhammad lived 6 centuries after Christ and can’t logically be taken as an authority on anything Christ said. He was not an eye witness to anything Jesus said or did. And what we find in the Quran, purported to come from God, have been found to come from pre-Islamic heretical/Gnostic legends and myths.

For instance, the story about the talking baby Jesus is not in the Bible, but was borrowed from an apocryphal legend, The Infancy Gospel of Christ, written centuries after Christ.

While the original material quotes baby Jesus saying: “Verily, I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Word which thou hast borne” the author of the Quran alters the legend and the words of Jesus to suit his peculiar beliefs.

Thus, in the Quranic version of apocryphal stories, Jesus is made to deny His deity, adhere to Islam’s ideas of prophethood (“he has given me the book”) and follow Islamic rites (salat, zakat). Indeed, the “Jesus” of the Quran is a product of Muhammad’s wild imaginations.

2. “It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; Then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.” (Sura 3:51)

Muhammad claimed to preach one God and receive a book from Him. He termed his brand of beliefs, ‘the straight path.’

His Quranic narratives attempt to put back these ideas into the mouths of Bible characters and the Lord Jesus. He changed Biblical patriarchs and prophets into Arabs and switched the scenery of Biblical events to Arabia!

The Quran says nothing about the old Jewish prophets’ prophecies of the coming Messiah, the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

By putting vague words like “straight path” into the mouths of Bible characters, Muhammad was redacting them into 7th century Muslims, but he missed a simple fact: Jesus is the Straight Path, not a set of beliefs, and Christians who have faith in Him are on the straight path (Jn. 14:6).

Christians don’t have to pray daily to Allah to guide them to a “straight path” like Muslims do.

3. “When Jesus found unbelief on their part He said: ‘Who will be my helpers to [the work of] Allah? Said the Disciples: ‘We are Allah’s helpers we believe in Allah, and do you bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Sura 3:52)

Interestingly, this is about the only place Jesus’ disciples are mentioned in the Quran. Apart from its fraudulent statements, the book says nothing about Christ’s teachings or parables (while the Bible records over 43 parables).

The book says nothing about Jesus’ verbal confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders and says little about His miracles. It takes a level of blindness to say the Quranic account is superior to the Bible.

Sura 5:110 says the child Jesus made birds out of clay and “breathest into it and it becometh a bird.”

This was also an apocryphal fairy tale stolen from the Gospel of Thomas the Israelite. It’s understandable why many Christians then didn’t accept Muhammad’s claims about Christ – because no Christian group believed the legends presented in the apocrypha or his Quran as facts.

Islamic biographer, Ibn Ishaq claims that some Christians in Najran (Southern Arabia) cited a passage from their book about the boy Jesus making clay birds.

While the dominant sect in Najran were the Abyssinian Monophysites, in the 6th century, all Eastern Orthodox groups held to the same canon of the Bible as the Western church. So the possibility of these Christians quoting apocrypha writings as an authority is doubtful.

If Muslims maintain that Jesus did create live birds from clay, then they must also agree that He certainly has the power to create, which only God has. Life can only come from God, and since Jesus created the birds the same way God created Adam from dust, then Jesus is one with God.

4. “O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat (Torah) which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad [Muhammad]…” (Sura 61:6)

Like the other examples we have seen, this statement was made up by Muhammad to legitimize his prophethood because nowhere does such a statement appear in the Bible. Muslims evade this dilemma by claiming that:

(a) “the Bible has been corrupted to expunge any reference to Muhammad.”

Yet for centuries, Muslims have sweated to “find” what they believe to be Muhammad in the “corrupted” Bible.

(b) “Christians in Muhammad’s time agreed with what the Quran says.”

In fact, no true Christian – past or present – buys into Muhammad’s bogus claims. God spoke to the Israelites through the prophets and has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1). Why would He send “a last prophet” to finish up what the Lord Jesus had already completed?

Even Muhammad’s messages to the Jews were those of hate, curses and death – hardly a vestige of “glad tidings” the Isa of the Quran promised.

5. “And behold Allah will say ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Did you say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah’? He will say: ‘Glory to You! Never could I say what I had no right [to say]. Had I said such a thing, you would have indeed known it” (Sura 5:116)

This query from Allah is hinged on a misrepresentation of Christian doctrine, and by implication, the answer given by this “Jesus” is also fictitious.

True Christians do not take (and have never taken) Mary and Jesus as “two gods” besides God. The Christian Trinity consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not of God, Jesus and Mary. Christians didn’t “make” Jesus, a mere man, into God rather, He has always been God. Christians believe in His Deity as well as His humanity.

It’s possible Muhammad ran into a heretical sect (the Choloridians) who exalted Mary as a goddess and then took their heresy as representative of what Christians believe. This again proves the human authorship of the Quran. If Allah is all-knowing, he ought to know what Christians really believed.

The Concise Dictionary of Islam admits: “In some cases the ‘material’ which forms the substance of Quranic narrative, details of the creeds of Christianity and Judaism for example, does not correspond to those religion’s own understanding of their beliefs. This could be said, for example, of the notion of the Trinity found in the Quran …The Trinity ‘seen’ in the Quran is not the Trinity of the Apostle Creed, or of the Nicene creed” (pp. 229-230).

Muslims maintain their belief in this false Jesus by:

1. Believing the abrogated recitations of one man above the consistent testimony of over 40 inspired writers of the Bible.

2. Taking the fraudulent speeches of a man 6 centuries after Christ over the record of eye-witnesses of Jesus in the Bible.

3. Superimposing the false Christ of the Quran on the true Jesus of the Bible and reinforcing their delusion with distorted Bible verses.

4. Believing in a “Jesus” that is neither Biblical nor historical. They reject Biblical and historical evidence, clinging instead to a fictional Jesus with a false message. This decision has tragic eternal consequences for the Muslim.