Summary of 3.1 - 3.6
The first six programs in this series deal with the foretold advent of Prophet Mohammed in the Old Testament.
3.7 Jesus’ Prophecy (Paraclete)
Host: In the last six programs in Islam in Focus, we’ve examined prophecies in the Old Testament dealing with the advent of Mohammed. Today’s program will examine the New Testament to see if similar prophecies about the advent of Prophet Mohammed exist.
Are there any references in the Qur'an justifying the claim made by many Muslims that the advent of Prophet Mohammed was foretold by Prophet Jesus?
The main reference for Muslims is the Qur'an, as we’ve said many times before, as the last scripture and the last revelations of God that remains intact. In the Qur'an, it says, “And remember Jesus, the son of Mary, said: O children of Israel! I am the Apostle of God sent to you confirming the Torah, which came before me, and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said: this is evident sorcery.” (Qur'an 61:6) The name Ahmad and Mohammed come from the same Arabic root and in essence are the same name.
On the basis of this particular verse in the Qur'an, it is obvious that Prophet Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, did actually foretell the advent of a prophet to come after him and actually even gave his name. This is confirmed further in one of the hadiths (sayings/ traditions of Prophet Mohammed); when asked about his birth he said, “I am the answer of the supplication of my father, Abraham, and the glad tidings given by Jesus.” (Authentic Hadith narrated in Musnad Ahmad by Al-Albany 1545, which is one of the main references for hadiths.)
We’ve seen in previous programs in what sense the advent of Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, is the fulfillment of the prayer of Abraham and the promises made by God, in the Book of Genesis, to Ishamel’s mother Hagar to make of Ishamael a great nation. Additionally, this hadith adds that this is also the fulfillment of the glad tidings of his advent given by Jesus. This connects both the Old and the New Testament in the very same passage.
Indeed, it’s interesting that the verse says that Jesus was telling the Israelites that he came to confirm the Torah that came before him. This also means that he is confirming the prophecies, which had been consistent in the Old Testament, of a great prophet to come. This is an interesting area to look into.
In fact, the very term injeel or Gospel translates to good tidings or good news, which shows the advent of Prophet Jesus, was the prelude or preceded and gave the good news of the coming of the final and universal prophet to mankind.
Host: Moving on to the New Testament then, can you first give us some specific references from the New Testament, itself, in which Prophet Mohammed is prophesied?
One of the most important of the prophecies in the New Testament appears in the writings of John. Prophet Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, speaks of the Paraclete that will come after him. In Greek, it’s Periklytos. This word has been translated, in the Gospel of John, to the ‘Comforter’ in the King James Version, the ‘Advocate’ in the Epistle, and the ‘Counselor’ by others. We’ll use the term Paraclete.
Descriptions of the Paraclete and his profile appear in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of the Gospel of John and the Epistle of John. In chapter 14, verses 15-18 and 26, in chapter 15, verses 26 and 27 and in chapter 16, verses 7 through 15 particularly discuss him. The passage that discusses him, in the Epistle of John, is the first verse in the second chapter. To begin with, these are the main passages that deal with the Paraclete.
Who is he? That’s the issue with much dispute even among many Christian scholars.
Host: How is it that many don’t see that the references you’ve given so far apply to the advent of Prophet Mohammed?
To the best of my knowledge, the common stereotype and interpretation of the Paraclete that Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, foretold is a reference to the decent of the Holy Ghost on the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost is a Jewish festival that used to be celebrated in the spring. It is claimed that about ten days after Jesus died, the Holy Ghost descended on the disciples so that they began speaking in different languages.
In fact, in the Book of Acts, in chapter 2 verses 12-13, describe the disciples as appearing to be drunk and intoxicated, saying things that are unintelligible to one another. Peter defended them and said that this was the Holy Ghost that made them able to speak in different languages. This is the most common interpretation that for hundreds of years has been supported by the official church. Muslim scholars however, take a different view all together from this. They claim that this Paraclete or Comforter about whom Prophet Jesus, may peace be upon him, foretold is Prophet Mohammed. They say that the prophecy is not talking of something vague or a spirit but the prophecy talks of a human being, a person, who would come after Jesus.
Host: How do we know for sure that the Paraclete foretold by Jesus is a human being and not a spirit as commonly believed by the Christian community for such a long period?
First of all, the words of Jesus, in the Book of John (in the verses noted above), talks of the Paraclete as someone who has not yet been sent by the Father and that the world did not know him. Going back, both to the Old and New Testament, you’ll see that the Holy Ghost is something that was already known before Jesus came. In the story of the baptizing of Jesus, John the Baptist says that he saw the Holy Ghost descending upon Jesus. Throughout the scripture of the Old Testament, the concept of the Holy Ghost, the Angel of Revelation, or Gabriel were known to the people whereas Jesus insists that the world does not know the Paraclete and that he was yet to be sent by the Father. The Holy Ghost was sent in a variety of occasions.
Secondly, Jesus also says that “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7) This means that the going of Jesus is a prerequisite to the coming of the Comforter. He will not come unless Jesus goes. Then this is something that will happen in the future.
Jesus says, “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16) It is quite significant that he uses the term ‘another’ because if the Paraclete is the Holy Ghost then it is not another. According to the concept of the Trinity, the Son (Jesus), the Father, and the Holy Ghost are all one and the same. When he says another he’s talking about something different and independent.
We find further evidence, from Christian sources, that the masculine gender was used to refer to the Paraclete to come, which shows again that instead of using ‘it,’ it says ‘he’ showing that he is a person and a man. Indeed, in the Dictionary of the Bible (Edited by John McKenzie, 1965, pg. 637) after describing the Paraclete as derived from the Gospel of John, it says, “These items (describing the Paraclete), it must be admitted, do not give an entirely coherent picture.” To interpret it as a spirit is quite incoherent because some of the descriptions do not fit the profile of a spirit.
Historically speaking, not all early Christians subscribed to this early theory that the Paraclete is the Holy Ghost. Those Christians were already familiar with what occurred during the Pentecost. However, we still find throughout Christian history, among Christians, many people have risen claiming to be the Paraclete prophesied by Jesus. If they believe that the Paraclete was a spirit, then there would be no point in doing this. In fact, Johann Mosheim says in his book, An Ecclesiastical History, some such as Saint Augustine and Father Tertullian, at some point in their lives, followed some of those who claimed to being the Comforter. This shows that the Comforter was not really regarded as a spirit but rather a person to come.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, which is a very major and credible source for Christian theology, admits that the original Greek wording of the Gospel’s masculine pronoun and adjectives are used. The word another is used. And it shows that this Spirit is regarded as fully personal. Of course, the main point here is that there is recognition that this passage is talking of another and not something that is part of the trinity. (Pgs. 654-655)
Host: Can you provide some additional evidence that the one promised in this prophecy by Jesus was another prophet and not the Holy Ghost as it is often interpreted?
The first that comes to mind is in the New Testament, in the Gospel of John in the chapters mentioned earlier, it is mentioned, more than once, that this Paraclete or sometimes mentioned as the Spirit of Truth will “not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13) He will not speak from himself but whatever he hears from the Father he will say. This shows that this Comforter is receiving instruction, knowledge, and revelation from another source- God. If we say that the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost we know is part of God-hood, then he doesn’t need another source to receive revelation from. This, in itself, rejects the notion that the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, and instead is talking of a human being.
Indeed, when looked at the other way around, we can say that this is the exact description of the revelation as given to Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him. We’ve shown this in one of the previous programs. One of the main points we said was that Prophet Mohammed was not speaking of his own, the Qur'an itself says, “Nor does he say aught of his own Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: he is taught by One Mighty in Power.” (Qur'an 53: 3-5)
Another verse in the Qur'an tells Prophet Mohammed to respond to those in doubt by saying, “I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: this is nothing but lights from your Lord, and Guidance, and Mercy.” (Qur'an 7:203) As we mentioned before, the chapters of the Qur'an always begin with “In the Name of God,” the prophet did not invent these words and is actually something that has been revealed to him.
The Bible does not only speak of a person as the Comforter but it shows that this Comforter is Prophet Mohammed. As we said before, Jesus speaks of the Comforter as someone who will come after himself. There is no one who came after Prophet Jesus that meets all the descriptions, other than Prophet Mohammed. The Bible Jesus says, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8) He will be someone who would criticize those who rejected Jesus and this is found amply done in the Qur'an. In having judgment, he will prevail over the enemies and punish those who will try and stop the truth from being revealed and presented to the people. Obviously, this will be done by a person, a prophet, and not a spirit.
Host: In the context of the prophecy we’ve been discussing, it says that this Comforter will guide the followers (of Jesus) to all truth and tell them of things to come (John 16:13). In what sense does this apply to Prophet Mohammed?
It is fully consistent with the nature of Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, and what the Qur'an, itself, says about his mission. First, the Qur'an makes it clear that it is the most complete scripture revealed by God. It says, describing the Qur'an as “explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy and Glad Tidings.” (Qur'an 16:89) One of the very last verses in the Qur'an says, “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Qur'an 5:3) This shows conclusively something, which is not clear in any of the previous scriptures. Only the Qur'an makes it very obvious and very explicit that it is the last revelation from God and the completion of the message of all prophets.
Additionally, for comparative purposes, going back to the Gospel of John, Jesus is quoted telling his disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” (16:12-13) This shows that the Comforter is going to add something: his mission; he will bring a law to complete things and not to detract from them.
If we interpret this as some Christian theologians interpret the comforter as the coming of the Holy Ghost, we know that this is definitely not true because after the day of Pentecost they did not increase in the practice of the teaching of Christ. Instead they began reducing some things, such as the law of not observing the Sabbath, which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus said about this comforter coming to complete or add to what he is giving.
The Gospel of John also says that this comforter will show all the truth so there will be no reason to differ among one another. History testifies that after the day of Pentecost and until today, for two thousand years, different Christian sects are still not in agreement with fundamentals such as the nature of Prophet Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him. This shows, again, that there was no new truth or revelation given to the disciples after the Pentecost. It was to come later on. This applies to Prophet Mohammed not to the disciples and the Holy Ghost. Only, when Prophet Mohammed came with the final revelation did he indicate all the points of differences and confusion that have divided the Christian community. Many of the Christians, who embraced Islam, since the time of the Prophet until today, have found satisfactory answers to many of their confusing issues that they could not fully address before.
In a sense, the mission of this prophet to come was to remind people of the truth that Jesus had preached. The Gospel of John uses similar terminology saying that the advent will ‘bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ (John 14:26) The Advent will remind the followers of Jesus that what he is teaching is simply that Prophet Jesus was a great messenger of God; Jesus was carrying the news of the final prophet to come after him and that is Prophet Mohammed.
Host: Some, I’m sure, would raise objections to the interpretation as you’ve just described it saying that the Paraclete or Comforter as foretold by Jesus, in Gospel of John, will abide with you forever. (John 14:16) We all know that Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, died over 1400 years ago. Does this not add credence to their claim?
Many will, also, claim that Jesus as a physical body does not exist but he did exist. He existed in the sense that is understood to Christians, but also, in the sense understood by Muslim, he exists in terms of his law and his teaching- at least whatever remains intact of his teachings remains till this day. When he says, abide with you forever; no human being ever lives forever. Muslims believe Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, is a human being created by God and he’s a prophet just like Mohammed.
The language of the scripture, when saying things abide forever, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person will be around forever, but what is brought about through the person will- such as the law. Today we have clear evidence of this. Fourteen hundred years after the death of Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, each and every word uttered of the Qur'an is available intact, in the very original language, as if he is with us reciting the word of God to us.
In addition, the sayings of the prophet, called A-Hadith, have been recorded intact until today. In terms of the law that he brought and the scripture and final revelation that came from God, it can be said that Prophet Mohammed, metaphorically, will abide with the believers forever. It’s one of the clearest evidence of the finality of the prophet-hood since it’s been 1400 years and all of this still exists intact and no other person came claiming any scripture that in any way has come close to what the Bible or the Qur'an have achieved. This is a manifestation in itself.
Host: In the prophecy in the Gospel of John, Jesus says that the Comforter will “testify of me”. (John 15:26) In another verse, he says, “He shall glorify me.” (John 16:14) How does this apply to Prophet Mohammed?
The Qur'an, in fact, glorifies Prophet Jesus more than the Gospel itself (other than the areas implying his Godhood) and I know this is going to come as a surprise to many. In terms of his character and dealings, the Qur'an glorifies him more than what can be found in the New Testament.
First of all, Prophet Mohammed testified, as God revealed to him through the Qur'an, that it was not Jesus who was crucified. What happened when people believed in Jesus as the man who died on the cross? First, some of those who rejected him took this as proof that he was a false prophet when he was not. They refer to the book of Deuteronomy, for example, where it says, “And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death.”(Deut. 13:5) The Jewish law applies to him and this proves that he was a false prophet.
We find that even the friends, the sincere disciples of Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, have agreed with his enemies on one point- saying he was accursed in order to forgive the sins of men. This is specifically mentioned in the Book of Galatians, which says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it hath been written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Gala. 3:13) The Qur'an says that Prophet Jesus was neither crucified as a false prophet nor was he cursed, but that God actually saved him. He was not the one who was put on the cross.
Secondly, the Qur'an, also, vindicates Prophet Jesus from what is attributed to him particularly in the Gospel of Matthew, which says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) and in the Gospel of Mark, which repeats the pervious verse, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ” (Mark 15:34) These verses claim that while he was on the cross and about to die, Jesus cried out asking God why He had forsaken him.
Everyone knows that there are people, who are not saints and not prophets and definitely not sons of God in any theological sense, who were able to face death, for the sake of God, without losing trust in God at the very last minute. This shows that it was most likely not Jesus who was shouting those words and showing this distrust and impatience in the Father while on the cross.
Thirdly, it is only the Qur'an that makes it undeniably clear and obvious that the mother of Jesus is a respectable, truthful and honest woman and vindicated her from all of the accusations that were raised concerning her conception and birthing of Jesus. Indeed, the Qur'an absolves Jesus even in another area. There are verses that are not commonly mentioned since most people don’t really examine these verses critically. There are many unkind and untruthful attributes given to Prophet Jesus. In the Gospel of John, for example, Jesus is quoted as telling his mother, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (John 2:4)
In the Qur'an, Jesus says, “God has made me kind and compassionate to my mother, and hath not made me arrogant.” (19:32) This compassion is definitely confirmed in the Qur'an, while it is denied in the verse in John that shows some kind of roughness on his part towards his own mother.
Similar things have been attributed to Jesus. Some examples can be found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 23 verses 13-33. In chapter 15, verses 22-28, he’s accused in using harsh language. Everyone is familiar with the story of the Cananite woman when he called other nations dogs. Whereas the Qur'an never mentions Prophet Jesus other than with full respect and adoration and deny that any such harsh statements or actions were made by him.
In this sense, who is really testifying of and vindicating Jesus more than Prophet Mohammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, who came after him? The recognition of him as a great prophet and the rejection of false claims that has been attributed to him are very clearly manifested in the Qur'an.
Host: Is there anything relating to the context of these references we’ve been discussing in this program, which confirm the interpretation we’ve been discussing?
I would recommend, since we don’t have the time to go into detail, to particularly look into the Gospel of John chapter 14 verses 15, 21, 23 and also in chapter 15 verse 13. You’ll notice that in those two chapters, five times Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon him, repeating over and over again something to the effect ‘If you love me keep my commands,’ showing that he’s not just telling them about the Comforter or prophet to come after him for the sake of academic information or knowledge, but he’s telling them that if you really claim to love me as Christ, then you should follow my commands. When he tells them that this Paraclete will show you all the truth, will testify of him and glorify him, it means that he’s telling them to follow this Paraclete. It’s not just saying to keep this knowledge in your heads and do nothing about it. There’s a moral obligation to follow this Paraclete once you’ve realized that he’s the comforter that Prophet Jesus had foretold.