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Summary of 12.3 “Muhammad (P) & Abrahamic Tree III: Attempts to Exclude Ishmael”

We discussed some of the objectsion that were raised by scholars and writers that determine the prophecies about the advent of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the book of Genesis. More particularly the book of Genesis shows that God promised to bless all the nations of earth through the descendants of Abraham and that both Isaac and Ishmael were both specifically mentioned in these blessings.

We discussed first the claim that Isaac was the only legitimate son or that Isaac is the son of the free woman while Ishmael is the son of the slave woman, Hagar, or that Isaac is the only son of promise. We discussed all of these objections in the cases that to all these views, really, it would be contrary to the cherished values that all Jews, Muslims and Christians uphold in terms of humanity, justice and equality of the races. We indicated, also, that these kinds of claims are contrary to the Bible itself, because specifically in Genesis 21 verses 13 and 18 we find specific mentions of the blessings bestowed on Ishmael in making of him a great nation. The Bible clearly indicates that Hagar was a legitimate wife and called Ishmael the seed of Abraham or the son of Abraham.

The other objection discussed was when people say that if the prophecies include these children of Abraham why not then include the children of Ketura, the third wife of Abraham. We said let it be. We have no problems, as Muslims, with that since this is not a matter of either/or. Ishmael and Isaac had been specified in specific and explicit terms in the Bible. This is not a problem at all.

The other aspect we discussed was that many of these objections are not really well founded and even the writers of the Old Testament, themselves being Israelites, obviously were more inclined to magnify the role of the Israelites and put down the role of their cousins, the Ishmaelites, which is a natural human bias expected.

At the end, we discussed the question, which also relates to this human bias, about who was the son of sacrifice. We indicated that according to the Qur'an there is no doubt that was Ishmael and not Isaac. Even though we still respect both of them. By reading the Bible, we indicated that in Genesis 22 verse 2, there are some inconsistencies because it says to Abraham to take his only son Isaac. The Bible acknowledges that the only son that Abraham had for fourteen years was not Isaac but Ishmael and Isaac was born 14 years later. Obviously, this indicates that maybe the original version of this passage was that he was to take his only son Ishmael.

This was basically the discussion and conclusion of the prophecies in the book of Genesis.


12.4 Muhammad (P) & Abrahamic Tree IV: Moses’ Prophecy About Muhammad (P)

Host: are there any other prophesies of prophet Muhammad may peace be upon him in what is commonly referred to as the Torah?

Jamal Badawi:

In other words the first five books of the Bible. There are two major other prophesies in the Torah. One is in Deuteronomy 18 and the other is in same book in chapter 33. Let me give you two verses from Deuteronomy 18 verses 18 and 19: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), 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.” Now, to explain this prophecy I believe we need to relate it both to what was mentioned before in the Book of Genesis where it says about blessing the nations of the earth through the descendants of Abraham, which includes the Israelites and the Ishmaelites as well. Now, the question is that Moses is saying or quoting God as promising to raise a prophet from the brethren of the Israelites. Obviously, the word brethren could refer to the same people or could refer to a clan or group that is closely connected with them.

Since, this prophesy is made already in the presence of the Israelites, a blessing before the birth of Moses, that means then that the reference to brethren here would be the closest kin to the Israelites. The closest kin to the Israelites are the descendants of the other son, Ishmael, the Ishmaelites.

Secondly, it says “a prophet like unto thee”. I am aware that some theologians have tried to interpret this as a prophecy in reference to the coming of Jesus peace be upon him. I find that rather strange because on one hand the same theologians uphold that Jesus was not only a prophet, but he was God incarnate. He was a full man and full God. As such, that does not seem to relate to this kind of comparison of a prophet like Moses. Moses was only a prophet whereas Muhammad was only a prophet and so this comparison stands quite clearly. On the other hand, prophet Jesus peace be upon him is an Israelite he’s not from the brethren of the Israelites.

If one examines carefully, some of the issues of comparison of ten points (and this was mentioned in detail in a previous series Muhammad in the Bible, so I’ll be brief here) where we find that Muhammad and Moses are very very similar in their lives and in all of these points Jesus is different.  That includes the natural birth of both Moses and Muhammad but not so in the case of Jesus. They both had a normal family life with having children and that is not known in the case of Jesus. The fact that both of them died of natural causes and we know that according to the Qur'an and the Bible the end of Jesus’ mission on earth is clouded with some mystery.  Also, in the case of Moses and Muhammad, they both received a code of law, a complete code of law; Jesus’ teaching was essentially spiritual and he said so himself when he said that he did not come to destroy the law but came to fulfill them. Moses and Muhammad both faced their enemies in hot pursuit and they both have moral as well as physical victory over their enemies.  We don’t have these parallels in the life of Jesus. Moses and Muhammad were both prophets, judges and statesmen; they succeeded or God gave them the life and the possibility to achieve in their objectives, not only in the spiritual sense but also in establishing a state and control over the state according to the commands of God. That is not a parallel in the case of Jesus.

The Torah was a revealed to Moses in Mount Sinai and was all written down during his lifetime, so was the Qur'an revealed to prophet Muhammad and this is not so in the case of the teachings of Jesus where records were written much after that. In all of these points, like I said, these and more relate obviously that the closest prophet that came after Moses that was like unto him with the same greatness and the same impact and the same nature of the message and life was not really prophet Jesus, even though we recognize his prophet-hood and his authority and all, but was really pertaining to prophet Muhammad may peace be upon them all.

Host: What objections, if any, are there to this interpretation and what is your response to these objections?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all there are some who claim that this prophecy may apply to Joshua, who came after Moses. Again that is not a very good explanation because Joshua was only a student and a follower of Moses, he did not receive a complete code of law. He was just following and implementing the law that Moses had received.

A second objection is similar to the one we mentioned last time, in the course of discussion of Genesis, some say when Moses is told by God that He will raise a prophet like him from the brethren of the Israelites that the children of Ketura may also be regarded as brethren of the Israelites. This is true, but tell of us which prophet from the children of Ketura resembles Moses in his greatness and impact on history who had received the complete code of law after Moses? The answer is none. There may have been prophets but none really that compare with either Moses or Muhammad.

A third objection is that some say that the definition of his brethren could mean from ‘among you’. As I indicated earlier this is a definite possibility. They say, further, that in the very same chapter a few verses before “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15) Again, “from the midst” of you does not necessarily mean that that prophet is going to be an Israelite prophet, because we all know that when prophet Muhammad went to Medina was actually living in the midst of Jews. There were Jews already living in Medina in the area of Yathrib where he migrated. He was raised in the midst of them, but not necessarily was an Israelite himself but the brethren of the Israelites.

We must notice here that this is not just some sheer conjecture because there are places in the Bible where the term ‘brethren’ has been used to refer to the children of Ishmael. Examples of that are in reference to Ishmael: “and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12) and “he died in the presence of all his brethren” (Genesis 25:18).

Furthermore, if you compare Deuteronomy verse 15 with verse 18 one says in the midst of you while the other says from among your brethren. The second verse is more important because it quotes God directly and so should be given more authority. Even if we take verse 15 as it is, from the midst of you, then the prophet Muhammad still fills this requirement because he was living in the midst of Jews in Medina.

In addition to this, the context of the prophecy does not apply as we indicated early because it’s saying that this prophet would be like Moses. Moses had a complete code of law and Jesus didn’t.

The fourth objection is that some say that there are similarities that can be drawn between Moses and Jesus, which are not applicable to prophet Muhammad. First of all, both Moses and Jesus were Israelites and Muhammad was not. If we were to take this argument then why single out Jesus alone when there are so many prophets that came after Moses. It is not a conclusive argument in itself; it could be supporting evidence. A second argument is that both Moses and Jesus were redeemers for their people. What again is meant by redeemer? I think that redeemer as understood by Jews is different from what redeemer is viewed by Christian theology. In one sense, if we were to apply the term redeemer to Moses, then it applies to Muhammad and all the other prophets as well. They save the people from sins and save them from tyranny and so Jesus and Moses are not the only case. A third objection is that both Jesus and Moses left Egypt in order to do the work of God, both of them gave up a great deal of wealth and lived in poverty, both of them ‘spoke’ to God directly and both of them have represented a sort of covenant from God. My response to this group of objections is that many of the writers who write those objections are perhaps not very familiar with Islam.

A typical example is a little booklet that was written in South Africa by a lawyer, Bill Christ, that indicates that he lacks the basic understanding of what Islam is really all about and the history of Islam. First of all, he says that both Moses and Jesus left Egypt to do the work of God he makes a reference to the book of Hosea in chapter 11 verse 1 where it says “called my son out of Egypt”. We have discussed this before in the series on Jesus and indicated that this prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus because ‘my son’ here is in reference to Israel. There is a misunderstanding, not only of Islam but also misinterpretation of the Biblical statements beyond what they’re talking about.

Even if we take it as referring to Jesus, Muhammad also left Mecca, his home, to do the work of God in Medina after persecution. This doesn’t seem to provide any contrast at all between the prophets. The point that was raised by the writer that Moses and Jesus forsook wealth and lived in poverty; he may not have read anything about the history of prophet Muhammad because a month or two would pass without Muhammad eating a single cooked meal in his household and survived only on water and milk or dates. The prophet died while his shield was held as collateral with a Jew because he bought from him barley. He died leaving nothing behind. So this applies to all three prophets.

The discussion moves on to the miracles performed by Moses and Jesus, well the same applies to prophet Muhammad. He did have miracles though they were not over emphasized neither in the Qur'an or by the prophet himself, but the greatest of all of these miracles is the Qur'an itself and we indicated that it in itself is a miracle in a 32 segment series in this program.

When the author says that Moses and Jesus talked to God ‘face to face’, he must not have realized that prophet Muhammad also spoke in an even more direct way with God in the night of his ascension when he was taken on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascended unto the heavens. This point is not a distinction between Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. All of them had that privilege and honor from God.

The fourth and final objection is an argument that was raised by an Egyptian priest by the name of Sargious. He says that the chapter 2 verse 19 in Deuteronomy that whoever does not listen to this prophet God will be required of him. The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic and so how could God hold people who don’t know Arabic responsible if they do not know the language? This is a very strange argument because this can be said about any scripture. They are all revealed in different languages. The idea is that it is communicated and translated to other languages which means that anyone receiving that message in whatever language he understands and whatever translation and then does not harken to that then God will punish him for refusing or being too proud to accept the message of God as coming through the last prophet Muhammad may peace be upon him.

In addition to this, I must say that having responded to all of these objections, it appears to me that the context of the prophecy itself, even in itself, is a great and important truth that applies only to prophet Muhammad.

Host: In reference to this passage, could you elaborate and explain what you mean by this comment in context?

Jamal Badawi:

When I recited the two verses earlier we indicated that God is saying that He will put His word in his mouth. “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 18:18-19) Obviously, we can say that basically about any of the prophets because the prophet is communicating the mission and the message of God then God is putting the words in their mouths. However, there is no prophet that we know of where the literal meaning of God putting the words in his mouth is the case in the revelation of the Qur'an. The revelation of the Qur'an is quite different from any other revelation before it. As the prophet describes that the angel of revelation comes to him and dictates the Qur'an word for word and he repeats it. That’s the closest meaning really of God putting the words in his mouth. This is, by the way, confirmed in the Qur'an says that “Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred, nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed.” (53:2-4)

When it says that God put the words in his mouth, it does not apply to Jesus because if Jesus is a full man and a full God then he does not have anyone to put words in his mouth. He himself is divine, according to that definition. Obviously, the argument doesn’t really have any standing in this case. Nor does it apply to a Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is also a part of the trinity.

In addition to this, in the end of the chapter it indicates again one sign about the prophet to come that a prophet who says or predicts something that does not come to pass then we shall not be afraid of him. In other words, he is not a genuine prophet. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22). In several programs in the past, we’ve indicated, with conclusive and clear evidence, that the no single prophecy made by prophet Muhammad did not come to pass (they all came to pass no matter how unlikely they seemed). They include the victory of Muslims against the two great superpowers of the time: the Persians and the byzantine empires, the protection of the Qur'an from loss or change, Suraqa the man who tried to kill the prophet becoming a Muslim and live until he participates in the conquest of Persia and many other prophecies. Not a single one did not come to pass. The context also indicates that the Bible is referring to none but prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

Host: Let’s get back to something you said earlier in the program about prophecies concerning the coming of prophet Muhammad may peace b upon him. You mentioned one, could you tell us what the second one is?

Jamal Badawi:

The second one is in the book of Deuteronomy where it says, “And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2). It says that God came from Sinai, rose up unto them from Seir and came forth from Mount Paran. In the King James translation it also says that with him came ten thousand saints and from his right hand came a fiery law for them. In those two verses we understand that applies to three great prophets: Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Sinai is an apparent reference to God giving the Torah to Moses.

Some people claim that Seir is a mountain in Sinai, but this is doubtful because it speaks of three different places: Sinai, Seir and Paran so it could not be the same place. On the other hand, we find in some old references that Seir actually is a village in Palestine. In the 14th Century, Ibn AlQayem referred to Seir in his book Ibadat al Harara as Seyer. This is a village that is known until today in Jerusalem. All the references, even in the 14th century, in geography, specifically Al Yaquti Al Baghdadi, says that this is the name of the mountains in Palestine between Nazareth and Tabariah (Volume 3 page 71 of Mujam Al Buldan).

Obviously, this is a reference to the coming of Jesus. Then the verse states the coming forth from Mount Paran. Again, people have tried to interpret Paran as a place in Sinai and have given all kinds of contradictory explanations. Some say it’s in the middle of Sinai, some say it’s in the western slopes of Sinai, and some say it’s a mountain in Sinai but this is in fact contrary to what the Bible says. According to the book of Genesis it says that when Abraham took his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael they settled in the wilderness of Paran, “And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt” (Genesis 21:21).  Now, we all know that the Ishmaelites did not settle in Sinai, they settled in Mecca where the Kabah was later built and where the well of Zamzam gushed with water underneath the feet of Ishmael at the time.

On the other hand, the book of Genesis uses the Hebrew term El-Paran which is the same place.  It says, “Unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness”(Genesis 14:6). El-Paran, in Hebrew, means the sanctuary. The Kabah has always been a sanctuary.

In the book of Numbers, Paran is mentioned as distinct from Sinai, which is on the borders of Sinai but not part of Sinai itself. It says, “The children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran”(Numbers 10:12).

Furthermore, it is pointless to repeat because it says Sinai, Seir, and Paran. The interesting thing about this prophecy is that it is consistent with the progression of revelation by Moses, then through Jesus and then ultimately through prophet Muhammad. Notice the words carefully it says that God came from Sinai and rose up unto them just like the sun does and when it comes to Paran or Mecca it says it shone upon them. This is the completion of revelation, the completion of religion, the culmination of the essence of all revelation that has been given to the previous prophets in the past.

I don’t think there’s anything that is clearer and more obvious than that.

The other signs that shows that it’s in the proper context is it says that from His right hand went a fiery law for them. Prophet Jesus did not bring a code of law. The only great prophet with a complete code of law after Moses is none other than prophet Muhammad. It also says that with him came 10,000 saints. This is the exact number of the Muslim army in a major turning point of the history of Islam when they returned to Mecca, the place from which they were driven away.

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