Summary of 3.3 "A Prophet Like Unto Moses"
Last session we discussed that, in the Book of Genesis, God has made a clear and definite promise to Ishmael, the first son of Prophet Abraham may peace and blessings be upon him, to bless him and make of him a great nation. In fact, the very word Ishmael is a name given through the angels and actually means God Hears or May God Hear.
We indicated that there are many bias statements made in the past and still being repeated today to try and discredit the Ishmaelite branch of Abraham’s household for the benefit and favoring of the Israelite side. We have indicated that this is contradictory to the Bible itself and reflects prejudice against the second branch of Abraham's children.
The point that we focused more, specifically, was the analysis of the prophecy in Deuteronomy, particularly the eighteenth verse in chapter 18, in which Prophet Moses, may peace and blessings be upon him, says very clearly that there will be a prophet that will come after him from the brethren of the Israelites (we explained why the brethren means the Ishmaelites) and that this prophet would be like Moses (or like unto him).
Then we indicated in a chart at least ten points in which we find the similarities between Moses ad Muhammad and we find that they are very similar and much more so than any similarities that could be drawn between Moses and any other Israelite Prophet. For example, both Moses and Muhammad brought a law for the people to follow. There are no prophets in between Moses and Muhammad who claimed to have brought a complete code of law to be followed.
On the basis of that then we have concluded that the only major prophet known in history, who came from the Ishmaelite branch, is the last of all prophets and that is Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessings be upon him. There are very clear evidence, both from lineage and prophecy standpoint, that he is the Prophet Moses was talking of.
3.4 Location (Paran= Mecca)
Host: The theme of today’s program deals with the location of Prophet Muhammad. Are there any indications or references in the Bible about the location from which the expected prophet was to come?
Location is particularly covered in the Bible, in the Book of Deuteronomy, in chapter 33. This prophecy mentions that a prophet was to come from Paran. Now, Paran is equivalent to Arabic’s Faran, which is a reference to Mecca from which Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, is from. The references to this, that we’ll be discussing, relate particularly to the Book of Genesis in chapter 21 and also in chapter 14. We’ll be showing that Paran has also been mentioned in the context of the forced migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. There’s a vivid description to this particularly in the book of Habakkuk in chapter 3 and, also, in the 21st chapter of the Book of Isaiah. We’ll find that there are, also, references specifically to Arabia in the Bible in the context of those prophecies and that is particularly mentioned in the Book of Isaiah.
Finally, the most interesting point is that we find that the name of Mecca is mentioned in the Bible. Mecca is, also, pronounced Becca as we find in the Qur'an and in the tongue of some Arabian tribes. The term Becca has actually been mentioned in the psalms of David, particularly in chapter 84 verses 6. In conclusion, these signs regarding the location of that prophet apply to absolutely none but Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessings be upon him.
To start off, I’ll quote the Book of Deuteronomy. It says, in chapter 33, “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. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; everyone shall receive of thy words.” (DEUT 33:1-3)
The most crucial point in this prophecy given by Prophet Moses, may peace and blessings be upon him, is the second verse in which we find that Moses gives three particular places whereby there is an important relevance to the whole issue of revelation and prophet-hood. The first says that God came from Sinai. Of course when you say God came from Sinai we don’t mean physically because God is not limited by space or size. It means that the revelation of God and his mercy, his compassion, came from there. This is particularly in reference to God gave the Torah to Prophet Moses on Mount Sinai.
Then it moves on to the next stage of revelation or guidance: the second place, He rose from Seir unto them. The Dictionary of the Bible (63d Edition) has a number of meanings given to Seir. Those include a Horite Clan, which lived during biblical times, one of the points that define Judea, and a district south of the Dead Sea. The fourth definition (page 894) says it is probably the mountainous district of East Arabia, the Edomites. According to some scholars this is probably a reference to Prophet Job. He was an Edomite who descended from Esau who is the brother of Jacob the son of Isaac. This is the second location.
The third one is the most interesting one. It says that God shined forth from Mount Paran. The essential question is this: where is Mount Paran? I was surprised to learn that for hundreds of years, the true meaning of Paran has been concealed or confused in such a way that contradicts the text of the Bible itself and contradicts the facts of history.
For example, many biblical literature references, especially the Dictionary of the Bible, claim that Paran is the inland part of Sinai or (and this shows the lack of certainty) the western slopes of the Sinai Peninsula. Where in fact the true meaning of Paran is simply the Arabian Peninsula. This is justified in the Bible itself. Referring back to the book of Genesis, particularly chapter 21 verses 21, it says of Prophet Ishmael, “And he (Ishmael) dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother (Hagar) took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.”
It is very well known, that the Jews and Arabs are considered cousins because Ishmael is regarded as the Grandfather of the Arabs; they relate to Abraham through, his son, Ishmael. It is very well known that they settled in Arabia and that the center of Arabia is Mecca from which Prophet Muhammad was later to be raised. So Paran, according to the Bible itself and according to the facts of history, falls around Mecca and not Sinai.
Host: Can you go on and develop this point further? You say that some interpret Paran to be located either in Sinai or in Mecca. Why should we accept the interpretation that suggests that Mecca is the proper location for Paran and not Sinai?
The first reason, as I’ve already given in Genesis 21:21, shows that where the Ishmaelites dwelt that’s where Paran is. It is quite possible that some of the Ishmaelites might have gone to other places but the majority established in Hijaz, which includes Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in Islam.
There are, at least, four additional reasons why Mecca is the proper interpretation of Paran. First of all, in the Book of Deuteronomy in chapter 33 verses 2, discusses three different places. The first, Sinai, the second is Seir, and then the third is Paran. If Paran is referring to Sinai then it’s redundant. It would be a useless and senseless repetition. Sinai has already been mentioned and so it refers to a third place- and that third place can only be the other option- Mecca.
We find that the Bible supports this point because, for example in Genesis in chapter 14 verses 6 and in Moses’ Book of Numbers chapter 10 verses 12, talk in such a way that there is a distinction between the wilderness of Sinai and the wilderness of Paran. So, they are not the same place.
Furthermore, here’s a very simple and logical reason: What major prophet has come or was sent in the wilderness of Sinai after Moses? The answer is none. The manifestation of history is that this prophecy is not applicable to any of the Israelite prophets.
The second reason, the term Paran itself, as we have shown earlier, as it appears in English translations of the Bible is the equivalent to the sound of the letter ph, in Arabic, Pharan. For example, Palestine translates to Philistine in the Arabic language converting the p sound to an ph sound. If you really analyze the term Pharan, according to some scholars, comes from the Arabic word Pharran. In Arabic, Pharran means the two runaways. The reason being is that when Hagar, the wife of Abraham, and her son Ishmael were placed in the wilderness of Paran, some people thought that they were runaways from their family. That is possibly why that area was named after them. In Hebrew, Al-pharan means sanctuary and this is consistent again because that was their sanctuary. We find that the Qur'an describes the Kaabah in Mecca as a house of peace and sanctuary. Whichever meaning is taken is very consistent with the fact that Paran is actually Mecca.
A third important reason is we find for hundreds of years many of the ancient Arab geographers have always used the term Pharan to refer to Mecca. An old reference called the Mujham El Beldan, uses the term Pharan to refer to Mecca. This is not an invention; the term was definitely traditionally used for hundreds of years.
The fourth reason is in history and tradition; hundreds of years even before Muhammad was born (no one can say that this is concocted just to prove his prophet-hood) we find that there are clear traditions of the Arabs descending from Ishmael refer to him as their Grandfather. There are many relics that refer to Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael who was also regarded as a prophet. In fact, we find that one of the relics is the Kaabah itself, as the Qur'an refers to it, was built originally by Prophet Abraham with the help of his son Ishmael.
The Kaabah houses the Black Stone, which is a relic since the days of Prophet Abraham and a symbol of monotheism. We find that there are other evidences that can be explored that show, very clearly, that when discussing Paran/Pharan we’re really talking about Mecca and that’s what the Bible prophesized. Sinai is a very dubious argument really.
Host: In addition to the evidence just discussed in the Bible and ones that have manifested themselves in historical accounts, are there any claims in the Qur'an itself about the relationship of Ishmael and prophet-hood to Mecca?
In other words, you’re looking for internal evidence from the Qur'an aside from the Bible and history. There are plenty, but I’ll sight six specific ones. For example, in chapter 14 verses 37, it quotes Prophet Abraham praying to God, “O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House.” The sacred house was known to exist even before and that reference is made to the Kabah in Mecca.
The Qur'an, in chapter 2 verses 127, describes that when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundation and building the Kabah, praying to God, "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us.”
I have previously discussed the hills of Safa and Marwa, which are a part of the rituals of pilgrimage until this day. In chapter 2 verses 158 in the Qur'an describes the Safa and the Marwa and how, according to Muslim tradition, is the place where Hagar was running back and forth-in search for water for her son, Ishmael.
Fourth, in more than one place we find the Qur'an describe the Kabah as Baytul Attik, which means the ancient house or the ancient house of worship; a house that was there even before the temple in Jerusalem was built.
The quotation appears in chapter 22 verses 29 and 33. Again the command is given to Abraham in the same chapter 22 verse 26, that the house of God should be purified for those who come to worship and to have pilgrimage. This was said hundreds of years before pilgrimage became a regular part of Islamic faith.
Finally, one of the most interesting one appears in chapter 2 verse 128, where Prophet Abraham prayed to God, when he placed Ishmael in Mecca, asking Him to send for those people (the descendents of Ishmael) from among themselves a prophet who will purify and teach them the book and wisdom and guide them to the straight path.
This is an interesting area that shows that Prophet Muhammad was not just something that happened by chance. He has been prophesied and he is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham; a promise that was made to Hagar according to the Book of Genesis that her son would be blessed and he will be made a great nation. And the prayer that Abraham made in Mecca where he placed his son that a prophet would come from among them.
It’s quite obvious, when you put the pieces together, that on the basis of the text of the Bible, the text of the Qur'an, history, tradition and physical evidence and relics that survive until now in Arabia, particularly in Mecca, all evidences very clearly support that the real prophet that was referred to in these prophecies was none other than Prophet Muhammad. Any attempts in trying to discredit the Ishmaelite side, is simply like trying to deny the sun shines when it’s clear and obvious that it does.
Host: Going back to the Bible, are there any additional verses in the Bible that mention Paran or Mount Paran, which would throw some further light on Chapter 33 in the Book of Deuteronomy?
In addition to what was mentioned before here, there is a very interesting passage, which appears in the Book of Habakkuk chapter 3 verses 3 says, “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.” According to the Dictionary of the Bible under Tema, says that this is a large oasis in the north of what is now Medina, the second Holiest shrine in Islam (page 961). This is where Prophet Muhammad was forced to migrate to under the persecution of the pagan Arabs. In that sense, the mention of Mecca and Medina is both there in that single passage. Who is that Holy One from Paran or Mecca? None but Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessings be upon him.
An even more interesting passage, in the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah chapter 21 verses 14-17 says, “The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.” This is very clear reference, when having knowledge of the history of Islam, of the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina when he and his followers were persecuted. Indeed, in history we find ample evidence that Prophet Muhammad was received with water and bread. In other words, the people of Medina shared what they had with the new immigrants coming from Mecca.
The rest of the verses in this chapter go on, “For thus has the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the Lord God of Israel hath spoken it.” The people of Medina defended the immigrants and took an oath to help them incase they were attacked. What is even more surprising is that this passage gives a very vivid description to what happens to the opponents of the Prophet who came to destroy them. They were defeated.
Verses 15 and 16 mention that the glory of Kedar will fail and that the mighty men of the children of Kedar will be diminished. It says that this will happen within a year. Historically, the famous battle of Badr in which Muslims defended themselves against the attacking army of the Meccan pagans took place in the second year of the migration to Medina. That is in accordance with the prophecy in the Bible, within one year they had victory over the mighty men and leaders of Quraish. Many of them were killed during this battle waged against the people of Medina.
I don’t know what could be more crystal clear. Not only in terms of place but even exact historical development that had taken place (years after the Bible was written).
Host: Besides the mention of Paran, is there any mention in the Bible of Arabia in the way that it is clear to anyone reading that it relates to the advent of Prophet Muhammad?
In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 21 verses 13 (the very previous one to the verses just mentioned), says, “The burden upon Arabia.” This could be interpreted to mean that the burden of carrying the message, conducting and leading the new religious revolution in the history of the world will fall upon Arabia especially if we know that in many places Jesus may peace and blessings be upon him (in the parable of the victory) was threatening that the people rejecting him might result in the fact that the honor of prophet-hood or implying the honor of prophet-hood might be taken away to another nation that would bring and bear fruits of that.
The most interesting part, perhaps if we can focus on it, is in Psalms of David in 84 verse 6 we find that there is mention there of the term Baca. As you notice here, I have in Arabic the two alternative terms used for Mecca. The first is obviously Mecca and the other is Becca. Both of them are mentioned in the Qur'an. For example, Mecca is mentioned in chapter 48 verses 24 but it is mentioned as Becca in chapter 3 verses 96. It is quite obvious that both verses speak of the same place. Some commentators on the Qur'an say that this is just an alternative tongue of some of the Arabian tribes to say Becca instead of Mecca. Mecca, when written in English, is phonetically written Macca or Makka. The term used in the Qur'an for Becca, phonetically should be written Bacca. In Psalms of David it is Baca, which is precisely the same thing.
Some may claim that Baca is only an allegorical place but I wonder. Many scholars go to great lengths trying to prove certain minor places but when it comes to Baca why is it allegorical though all the other prophecies are consistent point out to its being Mecca?
Host: Can you go back to the main verse discussed in this program that is Deuteronomy 33:2 and show us in the context of this verse that it does in fact support the interpretation and that it does in fact relate to Prophet Muhammad?
If you go to chapter 33 in the Book of Deuteronomy verses 1-3, you notice that there are two important cues. The first is that it says ‘from his right hand went a fiery law for them.’ This means that there will be revealed a complete code of law. There is no other prophet other than Moses that claimed to have a complete code of law other than Muhammad.
Secondly, it says ‘he came with ten thousands of saints’ and that is the exact number Muhammad had with him in one crucial turning point and that is the bloodless conquest of Mecca when the Muslims returned to the home that they had been driven from.