Summary of 3.2 "Lineage of the Awaited Prophet"
There are several prophecies in the Bible foretelling the advent of Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessing be up on him. Many of these prophecies, however, have been interpreted in a traditional way, for hundreds of years, and many are not aware that in fact they do refer to the advent of Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him.
An example of this was given concerning the prophecy in the Book of Genesis. God made a promise to Prophet Abraham to make a great nation of his descendents and that the nations of the earth would be blessed through his descendents. More specifically, God promised to have a covenant through his children, Ishmael and Isaac.
From Isaac, the second son of Abraham, descend all the Israelite prophets including Moses and Jesus may peace and blessings be upon them. Additionally, the covenant of God has been fulfilled, according to the Book of Genesis, through the descendents of Ishmael. We mentioned that the only major prophet that we know of who comes from the descendents of Ishmael, the Father of the Arabs, is the last prophet, Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessings be upon him.
The prophecy is there in the Book of Genesis and the fulfillment has already taken place through both branches of the house of Prophet Abraham, may peace and blessings be upon him.
We, also, discussed the unjustified biases against Ishmael in favor of Isaac. We indicated that this only reflects a type of ethnic prejudice really because the text of the Bible itself and the moral values of any faith does not preclude Ishmael who, as shown in the Bible, is the legitimate first son of Abraham and that his mother, Hagar, is Abraham’s legitimate wife. This is a very crucial and important prophecy in the very beginning of the Bible, but it is not the only one.
3.3 A Prophet Like Unto Moses
Host: Are there other prophecies in the Bible (foretelling the advent of Prophet Muhammad)?
There are many, but only the main ones will be discussed in this program. The most interesting one is in the Book of Deuteronomy, where Moses relays what God told him, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put My words in his mouth; and will speak unto them all that I shall command him.” First, note the phrase ‘from among their brethren’.
Based on the discussion we had earlier on the descendents of Abraham, we mentioned that Ishmael and Isaac were both brothers they were the children of Prophet Abraham. When Prophet Moses may peace and blessings be upon him was quoting God as promising to send a prophet like Moses the verse says ‘from among their brethren’. Who are the brethren of the Israelites? They are, simply, the Ishmaelites. This again is a clear and straightforward indication that the prophet who is going to be ‘like unto Moses’ from the brethren of the Israelites is Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessing be upon him.
Host: This is a very straightforward explanation. Are there other explanations that have been made of this reference and if so what is your assessment of them?
There are definitely other explanations that, in my opinion, don’t really hold much water, specifically when put in the context with the rest of the verse and the verses that follow.
One question that could be raised is regarding ‘their brethren’. Is it possible that Moses is referring to the other children of Abraham, other than the descendents of Isaac and Ishmael, such as the descendents of Keturah, for example, the third wife of Abraham who he married after the death of his first wife Sarah?
This is very weak and not very relevant. Historically speaking, as a matter of fact, we don’t know of any major great prophet that has any resemblance to the great role played by Prophet Moses, may peace and blessings be upon him, from other descendents of Abraham.
We all know that prophet-hood has been basically within the Israelite branch and, through Prophet Muhammad, the Ishmaelite branch. Furthermore, we find that the Bible is very explicit in the case of the promise about making a great nation out of the Israelites and the Ishmaelites, but we don’t see a clear explicit statement for the others. The same applies to the descendents of Esau, the brother of Jacob. There is nothing that supports it (any promises made to them) neither in the text of the Bible nor in actual historical documentation.
Some people may claim that this verse possibly applies to another Israelite prophet. The Bible does say, “from the midst of thee, of thy brethren” (DEUT 18:15) and, therefore, it must be from among the Israelites. There are, however, a number of problems in taking these words literally because it is quite possible the term ‘their midst’ is a later addition to the Bible reflecting these ethnic biases that we have mentioned against Ishmael, for example, when in the favor of the Israelite side of the children of Abraham.
This is not something new or the first time to happen. In the last session, we quoted the story of Hagar and of when she took Ishmael into the wilderness and we showed the clear inconsistencies in certain passages in the King James Bible, which is one of the numerous problems, in terms of the accuracy, in recording the events in the Bible.
Furthermore, what is more important is the 18th verse. In this verse, Moses is directly quoting the Lord. This carries more weight since Moses can’t violate or change the word of God when he says from “their brethren”. And that means the brethren of the Israelites, who are the Ishmaelites.
Moreover, the term, brethren, as used in the context of the Bible has been used visa vie the relationship between the Israelites and the Ishmaelites. For example, the Book of Genesis (16:10-12) talks about Prophet Ishmael, may peace and blessings be upon him. It says that he lived in the presence of his brethren. In chapter 25 verse 18, it talks of him dying in the presence of all his brethren.
In fact, the Hebrew dictionary of the Bible defines brethren, as used in the biblical sense, in the following terms: it says it is the personification of a group of tribes who were regarded as near kinsmen to the Israelites. There is no nearer kinsmen tribe to the Israelites other than the Ishmaelites because they are their brethren- descendents of the brother of Isaac. It is consistent.
In the Book of Acts in the New Testament, Peter quotes the same verse without using ‘their midst’; simply saying “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren.” (ACTS 3:22)
The evidence is consistent, showing that it is in regards to the Ishmaelite branch of the household of Abraham.
Host: Lets look at other aspects and indications in this verse. Are there other comments you’d like to make or other things of interest that may shed light on the verse?
I think perhaps one crucial phrase that is used in the verse is when it says “from among their brethren, like unto thee.” (Duet 18:18) God is saying that He will raise up a prophet that is similar to Moses. This is significant because the only great prophets, who came after Moses, were Jesus and Muhammad. There’s no question that there were other minor prophets, but these two were the major ones who had the greatest impact on the world and its religious history.
As we mentioned before, it could not be Jesus because it said from ‘thy brethren’ and no one denies that Jesus was raised as a Jew and an Israelite. He admits so, the Jews admit it, the Christians admit it and so do the Muslims. There is no difference whatsoever on this point.
Therefore, it does not apply to Jesus because he is not really from the brethren of the Israelites. He is himself an Israelite.
However, others may say that there are similarities between Moses and Jesus in the sense that they were both Jews and they were both prophets. They both had profound miracles; during their time the rulers had ordered the killing of all male children and so on. But again that contradicts the term ‘brethren’ that has already been explained.
Even then, we find that when taken for the sake of argument that Jesus is a possible candidate for this prophecy, you’ll find that there are a great deal more similarities between Prophets Moses and Muhammad than the similarities between prophets Moses and Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon them all.
Host: You have a chart here for comparison purposes. Would you like to share that with us to clarify this last point?
The chart has four columns. The first is the area of comparison and then we have something here about Prophet Moses, Prophet Muhammad, and Prophet Jesus may peace and blessings be upon them. This shows that the resemblance between Prophets Moses and Muhammad is very clear and that in fact Prophet Jesus peace be upon him actually had a great deal of dissimilarity between these two prophets in many respects.
There are ten points being compared; there are more but these are the ones we’ll be discussing.
First of all, Moses was regarded as a Prophet and Muhammad was also regarded as a Prophet while Jesus (at least by Christians) was regarded as the Son of God. This point, alone, precludes Jesus. Because the prophecy is about a prophet like unto Moses. When Jesus is regarded as God incarnate, or the Son of God then that precludes him; at least this specific prophecy doesn’t apply to him. Like I mentioned last time, there are other prophecies that apply to Jesus but not this one.
Secondly, in terms of parents, Moses had a normal mother and father and so did Muhammad. Jesus, however, was born only from a mother. In terms of birth, the birth of Moses was normal so was Muhammad’s where as Jesus’ birth was a virgin birth according to both the Muslim and Christian faiths.
Regarding family life: Moses married and had children so did Muhammad but it’s quite unlikely with Jesus. As far as we know, there are no records of him marrying or having any children.
In terms of death, Moses and Muhammad both had natural deaths from natural causes; the death of Jesus (according to the Christian faith) was a violent death- nailed to the cross.
In terms of the emphasis on his mission, we find that Moses’ mission was both spiritual and legal; he brought about a law. So did Muhammad. Jesus’ mission, on the other hand, was spiritual. Actually, he said ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill’ (Mathew 5:17).
Regarding acceptance of leadership: Moses’ leadership was, for the most part, accepted by his people. They may have given him a hard time but his leadership was accepted during his lifetime. The same is true for Muhammad. Whereas Jesus himself complained that his leadership was not accepted, but was resisted, by the very people he was sent to- the Israelites. He mentions this often.
In terms of career, we find that Moses had a career both as a prophet and as a governor/ ruler to implement the divine law. Such is the same for Muhammad. In the case of Jesus, his career did not include that authority.
In terms of battles and encounters with enemies: We find that Moses did encounter his enemies, the Egyptians and they were drowned- he had victory over them. Muhammad did encounter the pagans that tried to destroy him and his followers and he had victory over them in the battlefield. No such event occurs, in terms of physical combat, in the case of Prophet Jesus may peace and blessings be upon him.
In terms of the mission: We find that the mission of Prophet Moses was completed in a sense that he not only succeeded in his preaching, but also established a new order following those commandments. The same thing is applicable to Muhammad. Before his death, there was already an Islamic community that was victorious over its enemies. In the case of Jesus, we find the opposite is true. The persecution of Christians persisted for many years to come and not until the year 325, when Constantine was said to have embraced Christianity, did the pressures on Christians begin to lighten.
These points are not the only ones. Another striking similarity is that Moses left Egypt, his birthplace at a time when there was a conspiracy to kill him and he went to Median, to Prophet Jethro. Muhammad, also, left his birthplace, Mecca, on the same night he was to be assassinated and fled to Medina.
Host: Earlier when you were reading the verse there was the section saying God will put the “words in his mouth”. Do you consider this to be relevant to Prophet Muhammad?
I consider this section very crucial. Repeat after me: La illaha ila Allah. (The host repeats this.) When you said that, did you say it out of your own choice?
Host: No, I said it out of instruction.
Then I put the words in your mouth. You did not think, you did not author them. You are simply repeating what I told you. This is a perfect example.
This is very striking because as we described, previously in one of the programs on prophet-hood, that the way the revelation came to Prophet Muhammad was that Angel Gabriel would come to him and dictate to him and then Muhammad would simply recites what was said to him. In other words, Muhammad was not the author of the Qur'an, as many people make this mistake. He is not the author of it, he did not create it, and he was not even using his own intellect and knowledge when he recited the Qur'an.
He was simply repeating what Gabriel was saying. This is not a hidden secret. It continued for 23 years in the presence of hundreds of followers and that the Qur'an was committed directly to memory in his presence as well as in writing. What could be a more beautiful explanation of the phrase ‘put My words in his mouth’? That God was putting the words in the mouth of Prophet Muhammad; that he was repeating what was exactly dictated to him.
Additionally, as I indicated, before, the prophetic tradition, which comes from the mouth of the prophet, is kept separate from the Qur'an because Prophet Muhammad uses his own words to express the revelation where the verses in the Qur'an are verbatim: word for word.
We, also, find that there is internal evidence of this in the Qur'an itself. For example, the Qur'an says, “Your Companion (Muhammad) is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than revelation sent down to him.” (53:2-4) Prophet Muhammad does not say what he wants, but what is being reveled and dictated to him.
It is obvious then that on the basis of overwhelming historical evidence and on the basis of internal evidence from the Qur'an itself, that the Qur'an is nothing but the words ‘put in the mouth’ of the prophet and is the manifestation and fulfillment of that prophet-hood.
In fact, if you recall, the very first verse reveled to Prophet Muhammad says, “Recite in the name of your Lord.” This means to recite what is being taught to you. That is a very obvious sign of who this prophet is.
Host: Can you please explain this verse in the context of the verse in the Book of Deuteronomy (18:18)? Is there any additional corroboration in this verse for the interpretations we’ve been discussing?
To make sure that things are put in the proper context let me sight the verse following that one. It says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18: 19-20) This in the biblical language also means that he shall be put to death.
This is an interesting point because one of the signs of that foretold prophet is that he will speak in the name of God. That term has been repeated twice in verses 19 and 20. Now, this is an extremely interesting point to comment on for those who are not familiar with the Qur'an. The Qur'an contains 114 chapters called surahs. 113 of these surahs start with “Bismi Allah Al Rahman Al Raheem” which translates to “In the name of God the Beneficent, the merciful.” Virtually every chapter in the Qur'an starts with in the name of God. That’s quite interesting because the prophecy says that he will speak in the name of God, not the authorship of Muhammad that he’s presenting this in the name of God but because God revealed that to him.
That’s not all. In fact, it has been the custom of Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, to always began each act: when eating, drinking, sleeping, and even when walking, by saying ‘In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful.’ He taught Muslims to do the same. He always spoke in the name of the Lord.
Another thing that’s quite important, as well, as you know when comparing the Islamic saying ‘Bismi Allah Al Rahman Al Raheem’ it uses the term Allah not God, which as I explained in one of the previous programs on monotheism that this is a very delicate term. It is a lot more accurate because Allah means the one and only God and it also is the personal name of God. The work Allah has no gender and does not have a plural form. This establishes a personal rapport between us humans and the creator. This is very significant.
Like we said before, the term God, is subject to plurality. You can say Gods and gods. It is subject to gender changing: God being male and Goddess being female. But only the term Allah is not subject to any of these. It is not subject to gender or to pluralizing.
This is interesting because usually the Christian term we normally hear is ‘In the name of the Father,’ or ‘In the name of the Lord,’ or ‘In the name of God,’ but that’s not the name of God. That’s a description. Only the term Allah is the personal name of God. This is corroborating evidence, again, that beautifully and perfectly fits with the terms used in the Book of Deuteronomy.
Host: Are there anything additional that you’d like to comment on?
The rest of the eighteenth chapter in the Book of Deuteronomy, provide additional clues to the prophecy. First of all, it says that the prophet who shall speak or pretend to speak in God’s name when God had not commanded him shall die or be put to death. Now, we know that Moses was not put to death. We know for sure that Muhammad was not put to death despite the fact that both Prophets were subject to assassinations conspiracies.
In addition to that, you notice as you read verses 21 and 22, there are some criteria that Moses gives to find out whether the prophet is really speaking in the name of God or whether he’s an imposter. “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 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.” One of the most important things he mentions is the truthfulness of that prophet. If a prophet tells you something that does not come to pass then you shall not be afraid of that prophet, which in turn means he’s a false prophet.
Suffice to say, that both in the Qur'an and the prophetic tradition of Prophet Muhammad there are numerous prophecies that were made at a time where it sounded very unlikely that they would actually come to pass and they did indeed come to pass. Not a single prophecy has been proven to be false. This is the clearest manifestation according to the biblical criteria itself of the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him.
For example, Prophet Muhammad predicted that the Romans would have victory over their opponents for some time. He predicted that Muslims would have a conquest in Persia and overthrow the tyrannical regimes that were dominant at the time. This prophecy was made at a time when Muslims were very few and persecuted and it sounded very unlikely.
About one particular person who was planning on assassinating the prophet, Surakah, the prophet told him that one day he would wear the crown of the ruler of Persia and this did actually happen after the death of the prophet. The prophecy that Muslims would be divided after his death and fight one another, the prophecy that his grandson Al-Hasan would play an important role in reconciling the differences between the Muslims- they all came to pass.
There are numerous prophecies and none of them proved to be false or inapplicable.
Host: In the context of the Bible itself, what would be the appropriate response (and are there any obligations implied according to the Bible) to those who hear these prophecies; what are they expected to do?
In the context of the Bible or any other religion or sensible criteria- as human beings we have a moral and spiritual obligation to seek the truth and once we find the truth we are obliged to follow it, not to just pay lip service to it or to discuss it as an academic issue. Since you’re asking particularly about the criteria in the Bible, in chapter 18, the nineteenth verse, in the Book of Deuteronomy it says that whosoever will not hearken unto God’s words, the words of God, that God will require it of him. That’s a clear indication that it’s not a matter of academic discussion but there is a moral obligation to follow the truth once the person’s heart is comforted and reaches the state of certitude.