Is it justifiable for Muslims to quote the Bible or
quote from it? There appears to be two common and extreme misconceptions about the
Muslims attitudes towards the Bible:
a) that Muslims base their faith
in full or in part on the Bible;
b) that Muslims reject the Bible
in toto and accept no single word
For Muslims the Quran is the last but
not the only holy book
revealed by Allah to mankind through His messengers. It is, however, the only holy
book which remained intact from the time of its revelation until the present time. Not
only is the full text of the Quran available, but it is also available in the full
and exact form as uttered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at the time of its
revelation and in the original language in which it was revealed (Arabic). No addition,
deletion, or interpolation found its way into the Quran. For Muslims, the
Quran is the only remaining authoritative and authentic revelation
available to mankind; authoritative because an objective study of the Quran clearly
shows its divine origin; and authentic because of the conclusive evidence that it remained
intact and was transmitted to us as it was revealed without being mixed with human and
philosophical ideas and doctrines. As such, Muslims do not need any other scriptures to
base their faith on, either in full or in part.
On the other hand, it is erroneous to think that Muslims reject the Bible
in toto and do not accept a single passage of it. There are at least two reasons for this:
a) One of the main articles of faith in Islam is the belief in all
prophets and messengers sent before the advent of the last of them, Prophet Muhammad. This
also necessitates believing in the holy books revealed to those prophets in the original
forms of their revelation;
b) According to the Quran all prophets were Muslims (i.e. those who
consciously and lovingly submitted to the will of Allah), what they taught was nothing but
earlier versions of Islam (conscious and loving submission to Allah) and their sincere
followers were Muslims as well. The fact that the transmission of earlier revelations,
prior to the Quran suffered from inaccuracies and misinterpretations does not
justify a total and categorical rejection of such scriptures. There are bound to be some
passages and portions of the Bible whose essence, if not wording, need not be rejected by
Criterion of Acceptance
What is the Muslim basis or criterion for accepting or not accepting
portions or passages from the Bible? The Quran itself provides such criterion:
And unto you have We revealed the Scripture with the truth,
confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watch over it .... (the
This emphasizes two main aspects of the Quran:
a) The Quran confirms those teachings or passages of previous
scriptures which remained intact.
b) The Quran is the last, complete, authoritative and authentic
revelation. It is the final arbiter and the only criterion to correct any inaccuracy or
misinterpretation which might have occurred in the transmission of scriptures. It helps in
discovering human additions to or interpolations of previous revelations, even as it
reveals possible deletions which might have taken place through the centuries prior to its
revelation (the Quran). Indeed one of the names of the Quran is al-Furqan
criterion which distinguishes between right and wrong, truth and falsehood).
It follows therefore that a Muslim has no reason to reject the essence of
any passage in the Bible if such a passage is confirmed by the Quran. For example,
we read in the New Testament a reiteration of one of the Ten Commandments:
And Jesus answered him. The first of all commandments is hear, 0
Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord (Mark 12:29)
A Muslim who reads this passage in the Quran can find no objection
to its essence. After all the Quran confirms:
Say He is Allaah, the One and Only (God)
If, however, a Muslim reads in the Bible (or other previous scriptures for
that matter) accusations of major moral sins levied against great prophets or doctrines
which are totally negated in the Quran, the Muslim accepts only the Quranic
version as the original unadulterated truth, revealed by Allah (God).
Likewise if the Bible (or other scriptures) contains apparent prophecies
about the advent of Prophet Muhammad, and if the Quran confirms that fact, then
there is nothing unusual or objectionable in referring to such prophecies.
Quranic Reference to Prophecies
Is there any conclusive Quranic basis for claiming that the Bible
did contain prophecies about the advent of Prophet Muhammad?
The original revelations given to prophets in the past contained a
complete and clear profile of the advent of Prophet Muhammad. Even in its present form(s)
the Bible still contains several such prophecies as will be shown in the forthcoming
It is useful, however, to start off by documenting the above statement.
- Describing true believers, the Quran states:
Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom
they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel which are with them). He will enjoin
on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawfu1 for
them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of
their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Men those who believe in him, and
honor him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the
successful. (The Quran 7:157).
This ayah (passage) indicates that the characteristics as well as the teaching
of that Apostle, the unlettered Prophet were mentioned in the
Torah and the Gospel.
- Quoting the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), the Quran states:
And when Jesus, son of Mary said: 0 children of Israel: Lo! I am the messenger of
Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing
good tidings of a messenger who will come after me, whose name is praised one. Yet when he
has come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. (The Quran
An interesting aspect of this ayah is that it indicates that in the original
revelation uttered by Prophet Jesus, even the name of the long-awaited messenger was
given: Ahmad, which is another name of Prophet Muhammad. This issue will be further
discussed later on.
Name or Signs?
Turning to the Bible, some may hasten to ask: I read the Bible several
times, but never saw the name Muhammad. What is the justification for the title
Muhammad in the Bible?
Many Christian theologians find no difficulty in pointing out what they
consider as clear prophecies of the advent of Jesus. Where in the Old Testament does the
name Jesus appear? Nowhere The main question is whether or not the profile of
that prophet to come was materialized, and who fits that profile?
The profile of Prophet Muhammad was so clear to many Jews and Christians
among his contemporaries that many of them embraced Islam and accepted him as the
fulfillment of numerous Biblical prophecies. Ever since, there have been many others who
arrived at the same conclusion. Further questions pertaining to the possible mention of
Muhammads name will be discussed later.
Biblical Prophecies About Jesus
Does that previous discussion mean that all prophecies which were believed
to have been fulfilled in Prophet Jesus were actually fulfilled in Prophet Muhammad
There is no reason to rule out the possibility that some of the Old
Testament Prophecies were in fact fulfilled in Prophet Jesus. This does not constitute a
problem for the Muslims. On the authority of the Quran alone, the Muslims accept
Jesus as a legitimate and major prophet of Allah. The same was reiterated in the sayings
of Prophet Muhammad. There are, however, several Old Testament prophecies which were for a
long time misinterpreted so as to apply to Jesus. Such prophecies do in fact refer to
Prophet Muhammad. One such prophecy is in Deuteronomy 18:18 to be discussed later.
Analysis and reinterpretation of such prophecies should in no way reflect negatively on
the honoured status of Prophet Jesus in the hearts of Muslims. It is rather a revelation
of the truth which would have been proclaimed by Jesus himself if he were among us today.
Main Elements in Muhammeds Profile.
What then are the elements of the profile of Prophet Muhammad
as depicted in the Bible?
That profile includes six crucial elements:
- The lineage of the prophet,
- His characteristics,
- The location from which he was to come,
- The revelation which was to be given to him,
- Events which were to take place in his lifetime, and
- The time when he was to come.
Lineage of That Prophet
Prophet Abraham: Common Father
Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim a common father, Prophet Abraham, the
patriarch of monotheism. What does his family tree look like?
A simple look at it may help show some of the key figures in the Abrahamic
Abraham married Sarah From their union they had in their progeny the
following prophets: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus.
Abraham married Hagar. From their union they had in their progeny the
following prophets: Ishmael and Muhammad.
According to the Bible, Abraham was first named to Sarah who happened to
be a barren woman and bore him no children (Genesis 16:1).
In the chronology of the Book of Genesis, God made an important promise to
Abraham, even before any child was born to him:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee,
and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless
thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 12:2-3)
In a later chapter in the Book of Genesis (Gen. 16) we are told that Sarah
gave Abraham a handmaid (Hagar) to be his wife, in the hope that she may bear a child to
Hagar did bear Abrahams first child whose name, Ishmael (peace be
upon him), meaning God hears, was given by the angels (Gen. 16:11). For the
following fourteen years, Ishmael was Abrahams only child.
After the birth of Ishmael and before the birth of Isaac, Gods
promise to bless the families of the earth through Abrahams descendants was
As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a
father of many nations. (Gen. 17:4)
Another pleasant surprise was in store for Abraham. In his old age, his
first wife Sarah was to bear him another child, Isaac (peace be upon him) (Gen. 21:5).
The Bible tells us that because of jealousy, Sarah asked her husband
Abraham to cast out Ishmael and his mother Hagar (Gen. 21:10) who subsequently dwelt in
the wilderness of PARAN (Gen. 21:21).
Gods promise to bless the descendants of Abraham was indeed
realized. Through Abrahams second son Isaac came the Israelite prophets, including
Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon them all), the last
Israelite prophet. Fulfillment of Gods promise through the Israelite branch of
Abraham is clearly and abundantly articulated in the Bible. How was that promise fulfilled
through the Ishmaelite branch of the Abrahamic family tree? Or was it fulfilled at all? Or
has it yet to be fulfilled?
To start with, God does not renege on His promises, nor does he forget,
them. It is interesting to note that while the Bible contains elaborate details about the
Israelite branch, the Ishmaelite branch is virtually ignored. With the exception of a few
references here and there, the Bible is virtually silent on the Ishmaelites.
If it is accepted that God does not renege on His promises (a prerequisite
of faith for any believer in God) then we are left with two possibilities:
a. that such a promise of blessing which included the Israelites had been
b. that it is yet to be fulfilled.
It is well known that out of the descendants of Ishmael came the last
great prophet of monotheism, Prophet Muhammad, whose followers constitute nearly one-fifth
of the total world population in all corners of the earth.
After blessing the descendants of Isaac, the Israelites, for centuries
with the spiritual leadership, and after many lapses and rebellions against God on their
part, a final chance was given to them through the mission of the last Israelite prophet,
Jesus. When Jesus too was rejected, it was now time in Gods plan to fulfill His
promise to the Ishmaelite branch as well, the branch which remained obscure until it was
made a great nation through the mission of the well-known Prophet Muhammad, a
descendant of Abraham through Ishmael. That shift of prophethood and spiritual leadership
to the Ishmaelite branch of Abrahams descendants brought to completion the
centuries-old promise of God to bless the families of the earth through Abraham, the
father of monotheism and patriarch revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
To any unbiased mind, the above evidence alone suffices to show the
connection between such great prophets as Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Jesus and
If such prophecies about the advent of Prophet Muhammad are that obvious,
how is it that millions of Bible readers could not come to such a conclusion?
Putting other reasons aside for now, it seems that combination of
erroneous notions and misinterpretations are partly responsible for this situation.
Lets analyze some of these notions.
Objections to the Inclusion of Ishmael in Gods Covenant with Abraham
Were Ishmael and his descendants excluded from Gods promise and
A common, yet erroneous, answer to this question is yes. A number of
reasons are given:
- Ishmael was not a legitimate son of Abraham. According to the commentators of
The Interpreters Bible:
Ishmael, like Isaac, is a descendant of Abraham; but Isaac is the
child of ultimate promise, born to Sarah the true wife while Ishmael is born of the slave
girl. Though he came of the stock of Abraham, yet it was right that he should be separated
from the legitimate son.
This argument cannot be supported logically, morally, or even on the basis
of the available versions of the Bible itself. Did the alleged state of bondage of Hagar
prevent her from being a legitimate wife of Abraham. Why was she not a true
wife? And if she were not a true wife like Sarah, what kind of wife was she?
The text of the Bible, not withstanding the possibilities of later
insertions or changes, does not make such a claim. In Genesis 16:3, Hagar is described as
If Hagar was a legitimate wife of Abraham, there are no grounds
whatsoever for questioning the legitimacy of her son Ishmael. Indeed the Bible
refers to Ishmael as Abrahams seed. Who was the first born child of Abraham.
Even if Hagar was a bondwoman, does that affect the rights and privileges
of her son Ishmael?
The answer can be found in the Bible itself. In Hebrew traditions, the
firstborn son was to have double portions of honour, even inheritance, and that right
could not be changed due to the status of his mother.
In The Interpreters Bible,
we read the following commentary
on Deut. 21:15-17:
However, the law of the first-born had ancient sanction, and so
long as it was accepted justice demanded that mere favoritism not be allowed to deprive
the eldest son of his rights.
It should be noted that God does not subscribe to human attitudes of
ethnic or racial superiority or exclusivism, much less the submergence of spiritual and
human qualities of mankind because of a certain unfortunate state of bondage. The fallacy
of Ishmaels inferior status owing to his mothers inferior social
status is not only contrary to the Judaic law (e.g. Deut. 21:15-17), it is also contrary
to the moral, humanitarian and universal nature of Gods revelation cherished by any
believer in Him.
b) Only Isaac was the son of promise and covenant.
Sometimes reference is made to the following verses in the Book of
But My Covenant will I establish with Isaac (Gen. 17:2)
For in Isaac shall thy seed be called (Gen. 21:12)
An interesting question is raised here: Is it possible that the writer(s)
of this book (Genesis) inserted such statements to favor his own clan, himself being an
According to The Interpreters Bible:
Many Israelites did not want a God who would be equally the God of
all nations on the earth. They did not want one who would be impartial Holiness. They
wanted a God who would be partial to them. So we read in Deutoronomy of demands for a
complete extermination of all non-Israelitish peoples of Palestine (Deut. 7:2) and as to
the carrying out of that injunction read the harsh sentences of Deut. 20:10-17.
The possibility of insertions introduced to the supposedly
original text of revelation is a matter that many Biblical scholars readily
admit, including those scholars who are earnest believers in Christianity such as the
editors of and contributors to The Interpreters Bible.
For example, the word Egyptian which appears in Genesis 16:3
in reference to Hagar is suspected to be an insertion and that Hagar was indeed a
Bedouin and not an Egyptian woman.
In addition to such a possibility, if not likelihood, of insertions in
Gen. 17:21 and 21:12, they do not in themselves conclusively exclude Ishmael from the
promise and covenant of God.
Both verses could be understood to refer to the relatively
near future extending over centuries during which the covenant of God and the
seeds of prophethood were to be mainly in the Israelite branch of Abrahams family.
Such limitation, however, does not mean or imply the exclusion of the
descendants of Ishmael for good When these two verses (Gen. 17:12 and 21:12) are examined
within the context of other verses in the same book, it becomes evident that the
Ishmaelites were included in Gods promise and His covenant with Abraham: i)
Gods covenant with Abraham was made before the latter had any children (Gen.
12:2-3). It was reiterated after the birth of Ishmael and before the birth
of Isaac (Gen. 17:4); ii) While Gen. 21:12 indicates that in Isaac shall Abrahams
seed be called, the very following verse (Gen. 21:13) calls Ishmael Abrahams seed;
iii) As Isaac was blessed in the same book (Genesis), Ishmael is also specifically blessed
and hence is included in Gods promise.
... of the son of the bondwoman (i.e. Ishmael) will I make a
great nation because he is thy seed (Gen. 21:13)
The above promise was further confirmed a few verses later:
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will
make him a great nation. (Gen. 21:18)
It may be noted here that when God speaks of greatness, He
does not speak merely of numbers. Greatness in His own criterion is above all
founded on faith, spiritual heritage and religious leadership.
c) The Son of Promise must be one or the other: Isaac or Ishmael.
This is typically expressed in a statement like the following:
Ishmael is set aside as the inheritor of the Covenant. The fact
that the (supposed) elder son of Abraham did not become the heir of the divine Promise is
accounted for in J2 by Hagars f1ight before the childs birth (Ch. 16), and in
E by her expulsion with the child (21:9-21)...
One may inquire at this point: i) Why should there be only one child as
the heir of the divine promise? Why not both sons in view of the evidence discussed
already? ii) What type of divine justice punishes an innocent child because of his
mothers flight before he was even born (especially if that flight was prompted by
the jealousy and mistreatment of Sarah)? iii) What type of divine justice (or even common
sense) is that which punishes an innocent child because he and his mother were
expelled to satisfy Sarahs ego and bless her jealousy? Was Sarah
dictating her desires to God, too?
Why Were Ishmael and Hagar Taken Away?
If Muslims too believe that Hagar, (Abrahams wife) and her son
Ishmael were settled in a different location, what is their version of the story? And how
does that version compare to the Biblical version?
The Muslim Version
Prophet Abraham received instruction from God to take Hagar and her baby
Ishmael to a specified barren and lifeless place in Arabia (paran), more specifically to
Makkah (Mecca). In the Quran, Abraham is quoted:
Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley
without cultivation by thy sacred house; in order, 0 Lord, that they may establish prayer:
So fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: So
they may give thanks. (The Quran 14:37)
When Abraham began to leave Hagar and Ishmael alone in such barren
wilderness, Hagar cried to him: Where are you leaving us? The question was
repeated three times but no answer was given by Abraham. Hagar then asked: Did
God ordain you to do this? Abraham said: Yes. In complete
faith and trust on God she responded Then, He will not suffer us to be lost.
When Hagar ran out of water, she started to hasten between two little
hills called As-Safa and Al-Marwah in search of water or for any passing traveler. After
she hastened seven times without success, she returned to check on her baby (Ishmael) who
was crying and kicking the ground with his heels. In this moment of despair and apparent
certain death, a spring of water suddenly gushed forth from under Ishmaels feet.
That well later came to be known as the well of Zamzam. Since water is the most crucial
element in desert life, some Bedouins began to settle around the well, gradually growing
into the most important city in Arabia, Makkah (Mecca). Centuries later, out of the
descendants of Ishmael came the last prophet of God, Prophet Muhammad who was born in
Makkah (Mecca) some five centuries after the mission of the last Israelite prophet Jesus.
It is interesting to note that until the present time, the hills of
As-Safa and Al-Marwah are still easily identifiable. Indeed, hastening between these two
hills is part of the annual rites of hajj (pilgrimage) performed by innumerable pilgrims
every year. This rite is actually performed partly in commemoration of Hagars search
for water and it dates back to Ishmael, long before the advent of Prophet Muhammad.
Likewise, the Well of Zamzam which miraculously gushed forth from under baby
Ishmaels feet is still gushing with water until this time. Hundreds of thousands of
pilgrims to Makkah (recently about two million) drink from it annually and many others
drink from it year round.
The Biblical Version
Sarah, Abrahams first wife was jealous of Hagar and her son Ishmael.
She did not want Ishmael to inherit with her son Isaac as Ishmael was the son of the
bondwoman. She was particularly angry because of what she considered as
mockery on the part of Ishmael toward his younger brother Isaac while they were playing
together. This incident took place after Isaac was weaned.
Abraham obeyed his wife Sarah whose demand of casting out the
bondwoman and her son was blessed by God who told Abraham to hearken
unto her voice.
One morning Abraham rose up, gave provisions and water to his wife Hagar
and put her child Ishmael upon her shoulder, and left them in the wilderness of Beer Sheba
in southern Palestine. When Hagar ran out of water, she could not stand sitting there and
watching her child die. An angel appeared before her and showed her a spring of water of
which she went and brought drink to the lad. The angel further told her Arise, lift
up the lad and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
Ishmael dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. He begot twelve sons
one of whom was named Kedar
Similarities Between the Two Versions
How does this tradition compare with the Muslim version? There appear to
be at least three similarities between the two versions:
i) That Hagar and Ishmael were taken away from Palestine and dwelt in the
wilderness (of Paran);
ii) That Hagar ran out of water and was worried about the life of her son
iii) That, unexpectedly, she had access to water which she gave to her son
to save his life.
Differences Between the Two Versions
According to the Muslim version:
Hagar and Ishmael were taken away because of a specific divine instruction
given to Abraham as part of the divine plan. When the time came, prophethood was to shift
from the Israelites to the Ishmaelites, after the rejection of the last Israelite prophet,
Jesus, by the Israelites.
Hagar and Ishmael were taken to the wilderness of Arabia, specifically to
Makkah (Mecca) and not to Beet Sheba.
This incident took place before the birth of Isaac and not after, when
Ishmael was a baby, which is a further confirmation of the real reason for Hagar and
Ishmaels apparent exile as stated in the first difference.
Analysis of Differences
Is reconciliation of these differences possible? Lets focus on the
last difference, namely did this incident take place before or after Isaacs birth?
If we were to accept the Biblical version, we would encounter a number of
inconsistencies and contradictions.
It is abundantly clear from the story in Gen. 21:14-19 that Ishmael was a
little baby at the time. Following is the documentation of this statement:
According to Gen. 16:16 Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.
And according to Gen. 21:5 Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. It
follows that Ishmael was already fourteen years old when his younger brother Isaac was
According to Gen. 21:14-19, the incident took place after Isaac was
weaned. Biblical scholars tell us that the child was weaned about the age of
It follows that when Hagar and Ishmael were taken away Ishmael was a full
grown teenager seventeen years old.
The profile of Ishmael in Gen. 21:14-19, however, is that of a small baby
and not of a teenager. Why?
First: According to The Interpreters Bible,
Hebrew for Gen. 21:14 was ... and put the child upon her shoulder. The same
reading is rendered in the Revised Standard Edition of the Bible.
How would a mother carry a seventeen year old teenager upon her
shoulder? Certainly he was strong enough to carry his mother! Ishmael must have been
Second: In Gen. 21:15 we are told that Hagar cast the child
under one of the shrubs, Again, according to this Biblical text Ishmael must have been a
baby and not a teenager.
Third: In Gen. 21:16 we are told that Hagar sat away so that she may not
see the death of the child before her own eyes. Is that a profile of a husky seventeen
year old teenager who probably was capable of being worried about his mother dying before
his eyes? Or is it obviously a profile of a small helpless baby or at most a small child?
Fourth: According to Gen. 21:17, the angels told Hagar arise, lift
up the lad. Is a seventeen year old young man a proper object to be lifted
up by a woman? Or is that a reference to a small child or a baby?
Fifth: In Gen. 21:19, we are told that Hagar went to fill the bottle with
water and give the lad a drink. One would expect a strong young man of
seventeen to go and bring water to his mother instead.
The above analysis leads to the inevitable conclusion that while the Bible
contains some truths as explained earlier, there is also evidence of human additions,
deletions, and interpolations which only a subsequent authentic revelation (The
Quran) could clear. The Islamic version of the story is fully consistent and
coherent from A to Z; Ishmael was a baby and Isaac was not born yet when this incident
took place. This coherence and consistency are confirmed by centuries-old traditions and
even actual locations in Makkah (Mecca) where Hagar and Ishmael settled. This clearly
implies that the real reason behind their settlement in Arabia (Paran) was not the
dictation, jealousy, ego or sense of racial superiority on the part of Sarah. It was
rather Gods plan; pure and simple.
It may be relevant to indicate that this issue is not the only instance of
inconsistency in respect to Ishmaels story. The Interpreters Bible
the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Gen. 21:14-19 with that in an earlier chapter (Gen.
16:1-16) and concludes the inclusion in Genesis of both stories so nearly alike and
yet sufficiently different to be inconsistent, is one of many instances of the
reluctance of the compilers to sacrifice any of the traditions which has become
established in Israel.
The Symbol of Gods Covenant with Ishmael and his Descendants
According to Gen. 17:10-14, circumcision was regarded as a symbol of the
covenant with God and a sign of purification from polytheism.
The significance of circumcision is further reiterated by Christian
Biblical scholars who indicate that it is not merely an external act:
This was His own sign and seal that Israel was a chosen people.
Through it a mans life was linked with a great fellowship whose dignity was its high
consciousness that it must fulfill the purposes of God.
This picture is completed by referring to Gen. 17:23-27 in which we are
told that Abraham took Ishmael and all those males born in his household and circumcised
them. Commenting on this, The Interpreters Bible admits that the Ishmaelites
and other descendants of Abraham were somehow participating in the Abrahamic
It is notable that the descendant of Ishmael, Prophet Muhammad, as well as
his followers remain until today faithful to this covenant. Circumcision is required of
every male Muslim. Using The Interpreters Bibles wording, doesnt
that mean that this was Gods sign and seal that the Ishmaelites
also part of Gods covenant in view of their commitment to purify their belief from
all forms of polytheism and to restore the pure and true monotheism of their grandfather
Abraham? Are they not closer to the Abrahamic covenant than those who sought excuses not
to practice circumcision?
Surely many nations on earth were blessed through Abraham. Those closest
to Abraham, to the purity and universal scope of the monotheism he taught and to the
sign and seal of his covenant with God are presently found among the followers
of Ishmaels notable descendant Muhammad. Even without this blood relationship, which
is undisputed, the more important relationship with Abraham is the relationship of faith
in Gods words:
Abraham was not a Jew or Christian; but he was true in Faith, and
bowed his will to Gods (was a Muslim) and he joined not gods with God. Without
doubt, among people, the nearest of kin to Abraham are those who follow him, as are also
this apostle (Muhammad) and those who believe. And God is the Protector of those who have
faith. (The Quran 3:67-68)
Further Evidence About the Lineage of the Long-awaited Prophet
The foregoing discussion is more than enough to demonstrate that the
advent of Prophet Muhammad, a descendant of Ishmael, was indeed the fulfillment of the
promise made to Abraham and Hagar (Gen. 21:13, and 18).
An additional confirmation which leaves no iota of doubt is found in the
of Isaiah (Ch. 11:1-2):
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a
branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the
spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.
The profile given in this chapter is of someone who will be a prophet, a
statesmen and a judge and is of the descendants of Jesse. Who is
Jesse? And who met these descriptions?
Some contend that Jesse is a reference to Davids father.
According to Encyclopedia Biblica, however, we read: Jesse is contracted
The only one who came from Ishmaels stem who was a
prophet, statesmen and judge was Prophet Muhammad.
Characteristics of the Awaited Prophet - A Prophet Like Unto Moses
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was quoted
And the Lord said unto me, they have well spoken that which they
have spoken, 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. (Deuteronomy 18:17-18)
Three important elements are included in this prophecy: A prophet will
come from among the brethren of the Israelites; this prophet will be
like unto Moses; God will put his words in the mouth of this prophet.
Let us look closely at each of these elements:
A Prophet From Among the Brethren of the Israelites
When these words were spoken, they were addressed to the Israelites. The
most notable brethren of Israelites (descendants of Abraham through his second
son Isaac), are the Ishmaelites (descendants of Abraham through his first son Ishmael).
According to the Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible,
Personification of a group of tribes who were regarded as near
kinsmen of the Israelites.
The Bible refers to the Israelites as the brethren of the Ishmaelites
(e.g. Gen. 16:12, and Gen. 25:18).
A Prophet Like Unto Moses
It is sometimes contended that the prophet like unto Moses was Jesus.
After all both were Israelites and spiritual teachers. Was this prophecy really about
To start off, Jesus himself was an Israelite, not of the
brethren of the Israelites. This fact alone suffices to show that this
particular prophecy is not about the coming of Jesus but about another prophet like
unto Moses. That prophet could have been none but Prophet Muhammad.
Following is a comparison between a few crucial characteristics of Moses,
Muhammad and Jesus which may clarify the identity of that prophet who was to
come after Moses:
Area of Comparison Moses Muhammad Jesus
Birth Usual Usual Usual
Family Life Married, Children Married, Children No Marriage, or children
Death Usual Usual Unusual
Career Prophet/Statesman Prophet/Statesman Prophet
Forced Emigration (in adulthood) To Median To Medinah None
Encounter with enemies Hot pursuit Hot pursuit/Battles No Similar
Results of encounter Moral phys.victory Moral physical victory Moral
Writing dawn of Revelation In his life time In his lifetime After him
Nature of Teachings Spiritual/ Legal Spiritual/Legal Mainly Spiritual
Acceptance of leadership Rejected Rejected then accepted Rejected (by most
(by his people)
This table is self-evident. It shows that not only were Moses and Muhammad
very much alike in many respects, but it shows also that Prophet Jesus does not fit this
particular prophecy. Following are the
The birth of Jesus was unusual. According to Christian and Muslim beliefs,
he was miraculously born of the virgin Mary. Both Moses and Muhammad were born in the
Both Moses and Muhammad were married and begot children. There is no
similar record of marriage and offspring in the case of Jesus.
Both Moses and Muhammad died of natural causes and were buried. The end of
the mission of Jesus on earth was unusual; crucifixion according to Christian beliefs and
being raised up to heavens without crucifixion according to Muslim beliefs,
Both Moses and Muhammad were not only prophets and spiritual teachers in
the usual sense, but they were also heads of states whose mission included the
establishment of a state founded on the teachings of their faith No such
opportunity presented itself to Prophet Jesus.
Moses left Egypt following knowledge of a plot to kill him and went to
Median where he was welcomed and assured by Jethro. Muhammad left Makkah (Mecca) following
knowledge of a plot to kill him and went to Yathrib which was later called Al-Madinah
(Medina). No similar incident was reported about Jesus in his adulthood and after he began
his mission as a prophet.
Moses encountered his enemies (the Pharaohs army) who sought to
destroy him and his followers in hot pursuit. Muhammad encountered his enemies
(the pagan Arabs) who sought to destroy him and his followers in several battles. No such
encounter was reported in the case of Jesus. Indeed he was reported to have commanded
Simon Peter to put his sword into the sheath when he attempted to defend Jesus at the time
of his arrest.
Moses encounter with his enemies ended with a military and moral
victory. His enemies drowned and Moses and his followers were saved. Muhammads
encounters with his enemies ended with his final military and moral victory over them. He
and his followers reentered Makkah (Mecca), the center of plotting against him. Impressed
with his truthfulness and magnanimity, the great majority of his former enemies chose to
become Muslims and were among his ardent supporters. Jesus victory against his
enemies was only a moral victory which did not involve an immediate military victory over
them at the same time.
The teachings revealed to Moses were available in a written form in his
lifetime. The Quran revealed to Muhammad was fully written down in his lifetime and
under his supervision. The teachings of Jesus were not committed to writing in his
lifetime. Even the earliest Gospel was written down many years after him.
Unlike any other prophets from the lineage of Abraham, the revelation
given to Moses and Muhammad contained comprehensive codes of law, in addition to the
spiritual and moral elements of their teachings. The teachings of Jesus were almost
entirely spiritual. Indeed Jesus never claimed to bring a new law, nor even to abrogate
the existing Old Testament Law. He simply added a spiritual and human touch to the concept
of law, which by his time had been reduced to the level of lifeless and at times
hypocritical formalism. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, Jesus was quoted as saying.
After initial resistance and skepticism by his people, Moses was accepted
by his people as a prophet and a leader in his lifetime, notwithstanding certain lapses
(such as the worship of the golden calf). After initial resistance, Muhammad was
enthusiastically accepted as a prophet and a leader in his lifetime. Until the end,
however, and with the exceptions of a few followers, Jesus was rejected by his people (the
Who was then the Prophet like unto Moses?
God Will Put His Words in the Mouth of that Prophet
Generally speaking, this description may apply to any messenger of God who
is communicating Gods message to mankind. While that message may come in
written tablets as is believed to have been the case with Moses, the specific
wording of the above verse is a vivid description of the type of revelation received by
Muhammad. Angel Gabriel used to come and dictate to him specific portions of the
Quran which were then repeated by Prophet Muhammad exactly as he had heard them.
Muhammads own thinking or authorship were not involved in any way in what he
uttered. The words of God (The Quran) were put into his mouth. As the
Quran itself described:
He (Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire, it is no less
than a revelation sent down to him. (The Quran 53:3-4)
Numerous passages in the Quran command Muhammad in such terms as Qul
(say), Thakkir (remind), Nabbi (inform). Other passages in the Quran start
with such expressions as wa qala Rabbukum (and your Lord said ...). Still in other
passages it reads wa yasaloonaka ... qul (and they ask you (0 Muhammad) ... say
The above analysis fits not only Deuteronomy 18:18, but is also consistent
with the subsequent verses. For example Deuteronomy 18:19 reads:
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.
It is interesting to note that 113 out of the 114 Surahs (chapters) of the
Quran starts with Bismillahir-rahmanir-raheem (In the name of Allah (God),
Most Gracious, Most Merciful). The very first passage of the Quran revealed to
Prophet Muhammad reads:
Read in the name of your Lord who created ... (The
Following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, there is no other community
of believers who starts almost every action in their daily lives with this formula
the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. It should be noted here that
the Arabic term Allah is not only the Arabic equivalent of God,
but it is also the personal name of God. To say In the Name of Allah is a far
clearer fulfillment of the prophecy ... he shall speak in My name (Deuteronomy
18:19), than other common expressions such as In the name of God or In
the name of the Father.
A fair question at this point is this: Since virtually anyone can presume
to speak in the name of God, what criterion should be used to distinguish
between a genuine prophet and messenger of God and other false prophets who may also
presume to speak in the name of God?
The answer to this question was clearly given in the concluding verses of
Chapter 18 of the Book of Deuteronomy:
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 shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy
It is a fact that not a single prophecy made by Prophet Muhammad proved to
be inaccurate in the least degree. Every prophecy he made about the near future at his
time did come to pass. Examples of these
a) The prophecy that Muslims were to conquer the two
super-powers of their time; the Persian and Byzantine empires. This prophecy
was made when Muslims were so few and weak that to prophecy their mere physical survival
would have sounded too hopeful!
b) A prophecy that Suraqah (a man who was about to kill Prophet Muhammad
during the laters journey to Madinah (Medina) after the pagans plotted to kill him)
would become a Muslim,
participate in the Muslim army conquering the Persian Empire and would
actually have access to the Emperors crown and place it over his head! Not only did
this prophecy appear to be a virtual impossibility when it was made, but its fulfillment
was so perfect and complete as if the Prophet was looking eye-to-eye at the scene which
took place years after his death. The fact that Suraqah did become a Muslim, lived long
enough to participate in the conquest of Persia, that the Muslims came out victorious,
that Suraqah had access to the Emperors crown and actually wore it, can hardly be
regarded as a coincidence or a self-fulfilling prophecy. Surely the chances are nil that
numerous such prophecies, all in the minutest detail described by Prophet Muhammad,
happened by accident! Nor can such 100% accuracy every time and at all times emanate from
any other than a true and genuine prophet using the criterion stipulated in Deuteronomy
Other Characteristics of That Prophet
An equally interesting and most revealing profile of Prophet Muhammad is
found in the 42nd chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Let us examine some of these
The One in Whom Gods soul delights is called the servant of God (V.
1), His elect (V. 1) and His Messenger (V. 19).
Translated into Arabic these titles read Abduhu
warusooluhul-Mustapha. Surely all prophets were indeed servants, messengers and
elects of God. Yet no prophet in history is as universally called by these specific titles
as is Muhammad. The testimony of faith by which the person enters into the fold of Islam
I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and I bear witness
that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.
Virtually the same formula is repeated five times a day during the call to
prayers, five times a day immediately before the beginning of prayers (iqamah), nine times
a day during the minimum mandatory prayers, several more times if the Muslim performs
additional recommended prayers (s ). The most common title of Prophet Muhammad since his
mission until today is Rasoolullah (the messenger of God). The Quran gives him this
title. During his lifetime he was addressed as such by his followers. The voluminous
collections of hadith (Prophet Muhammads sayings) are narrated typically in these
forms: I heard the Messenger of Allah say ..., The Messenger of Allah
said or replied ....
He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he has set judgment in the earth
(V. 4), he shall prevail against his enemies (V. 13) and shall bring judgment to the
Gentiles (V. 1).
In comparing the lives and missions of Jesus and Muhammad, it becomes
readily clear that in the case of Jesus he expressed on more than one occasion how
disappointed he was in the Israelites rejection of him. Nor did Jesus live long
enough on Earth to prevail over his enemies (beyond the moral victory which is a common
victory for all prophets).
On the other hand, we find no trace of Prophet Muhammads
discouragement even in the most critical moments of his mission. In one year his beloved
and supporting wife Khadijah died following 25 years of successful marriage; his uncle
Abu-Talib, who was instrumental in protecting him from the fury of the pagan Arabs also
died. These two tragedies were combined with the fact that his followers constituted only
a small persecuted and tortured group. Under such trying circumstances, Muhammad went to
the city of at-Taif to invite people to Islam and seek their support in his struggle
against paganism. He was rejected, mocked at and stoned to the point of bleeding. In spite
of all this he was never discouraged to use Isaiahs term (V. 4): 0
Allah! Forgive my people for they do not know what theyre doing was his
utterance. When Angel Gabriel offered him the chance to retaliate by destroying their
city, he refused in the hope that out of the descendants of these wicked people would come
those who would worship God, and come they did!
After this bitter struggle, Muhammad prevailed against his
enemies, established a strong community of believers who indeed brought
judgment to the Gentiles, especially in the Persian and Byzantine Empires. Many such
Gentiles were guided to Islam while others suffered defeats. As such he was truly a
light of the Gentiles of the whole world.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the
street (V. 2).
Not only was this a distinct characteristic and mark of decency of
Muhammads, it was indeed the embodiment of the revelation given to him. In the words
of the Quran:
Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice. Lo! the harshest
of all voices is the voice of the ass. (The Quran 31:19)
Allah loveth not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who has
been wronged. (The Quran 4:148)
The Isles shall wait for his law.
The only prophet who
came, after this prophecy was made (Isaiahs time) with a complete and comprehensive
code of law was Prophet Muhammad. The law revealed to him spread to all corners of the
earth, even in many remote isles and to the farthest deserts.
He will be sent to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners
from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (V. 7).
Many of those who were opposed to the truth and bitterly fought Muhammad
ended up among the most devout believers. Their blindness to truth was cured. Those who
lived in the darkness of an unholy life came to the light of truth completed through the
mission of Muhammad.
No wonder the Quran describes itself as Nooram-mubeena
or light manifest. Describing the Quran, God addresses Prophet Muhammad:
A book which we revealed unto you, in order that you may lead
mankind out of the depths of darkness unto light by the leave of their Lord to the way of
Him, the exalted in power, worthy of all praise. (The Quran 14: l.
Gods glory will not be given to another (V. 8).
The greatest glory a person receives from God is to be entrusted as His
messenger to mankind and receive His glorious revelation. Not only did this apply to
Prophet Muhammad, but it uniquely applied to him as the last messenger and prophet
of God. Truly Gods glory (revelation of scriptures) was not given and will not be
given to another prophet after Muhammad, as he is the seal of all prophets. It
is already about 1400 years since Muhammad was sent and the Quran was revealed to
him. Yet we hear of no genuine prophet of the magnitude and influence on humanity
to be compared with such figures as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Nor do we hear
about another post-Quranic (glory) or holy book that has influenced mankind to such
Sing unto the Lord a new song,
and his praise from the end of the
earth ...(V. 10).
A new song may be a reference to a new scripture in a language other that
the language of the Israelite scriptures. This interpretation seems consistent with a more
explicit mention of someone who will be speaking to people (including the Israelites) in
another tongue Isaiah 28:11).
This explanation seems to fit closely with the second half of the same
verse Isaiah 42:16) which speaks of the praise of God from the ends of the
earth. Only in the case of Islam do we find this prophecy realized in amazing
accuracy. In all ends of the earth, five times every day the praise of God and of His last
messenger, Muhammad, is chanted from the minarets of hundreds of thousands, perhaps
millions, of mosques around the world. Additionally, frequent praise of God and Muhammad
by millions of devout Muslims is made on daily basis. It is even a part of the required
five daily prayers to include the praise of Abraham and his descendants and of Muhammad
and his descendants. This is known as As-Salatul-Ibrahimiyyah.
This person to come is connected with the Arabs, and specifically with the
descendants of Ishmael (who settled in Makkah and its environs). Verse 11 to the 42nd
chapter of Isaiah leaves absolutely no doubt about the identity of that
Let the wilderness of and the cities thereof lip up their voice,
the villages that Kedar does inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them
shout from the top of the mountains. Isaiah 42:11)
According to the Book of Genesis, Kedar was the second son of
Ishmael (Gen. 25:13). The best known prophet who came from Ishmaels descendants is
Muhammad. His enemies (who were of his own clan!), who were misled by their leaders or
mighty men (as described in Isaiah 21:17) ultimately embraced Islam and were embraced by
it. Indeed they had reason to lift up their voice, to sing praise
of God, and shout from the top of the mountains. is that possibly a reference
to the shouting of:
Here I come (for your service) 0 Allah. Here I come. Here
I come. Were is nor a partner with You. Here I come. Verily yours is the Praise, the
blessings and sovereignty. Were is no partner besides you.
This shouting is chanted annually by multitudes of
Muslims from all over the world from Mount Arafat as part of the annual rites of
The 42nd chapter of Isaiah is indeed a fascinating one. It is
not a casual or ambiguous reference to that servant and messenger of God who was to come
centuries later. It is rather a comprehensive profile which not only fits Prophet Muhammad
but fits no one else. After all, the chapter relates this profile to Kedar son of
Ishmael and no other descendants of Ishmael fits these descriptions but Muhammad (peace be