The Koran itself makes this statement, and Muslims have strongly attempted to prove this point by referring to particular passages in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
Muslims usually wonder why Christians reject Muhammad as a prophet, and the answer is obvious: 1) the Jewish and Christian Scripture refer nowhere to Muhammad, and secondly 2) Muhammad does not fulfil the standard of a prophet as set out in the Bible.
The Koran says:
“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own Scriptures in the Taurat and he Gospel” (Sura 7: 157)
And remember Jesus, the Son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (Sent) to you, confirming the Taurat (which came) before me, and giving a glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad” but when he came to them with clear signs, they said “This is evident sorcery” (Sura 61: 6)
Thus the Koran states that Muhammad is predicted and found within the Torah and the Gospel as it was read and understood by the Christians and the Jews in the era of Muhammad.
I. Muhammad predicted in the Torah
Muslims will usually claim that God’s blessing upon Ishmael was the prediction concerning Muhammad; however, taking a closer look, we find that there is virtually no prophetic blessing ascribed to Ishmael (Gen. 16:7-15; 17:17-21; 21: 13, 18; 25:12-18). Even the Qur’an itself confirms that the line of prophet-hood ran through the nation of Israel and its prophets (2:47; 29:47; 45:16-17).
The Muslim scholar Jamal Badawi seeks however, to argue his case on the issue by stating that a position of the kind always went to the firstborn first, which in this case is Ishmael, however:
1) this decision was taken before the law was inaugurated,
2) secondly God is above the law and
3) thirdly the context makes the whole setting understandable.
The Bible recognises the same to occur in terms of both David and Solomon (1 Samuel 16:6-13
1 Chronicles 29:23-25), and this is indeed accepted by the Koran:
We gave knowledge to David and Solomoon and they both said: ‘Praise be to Allah, Who has favored us above may of His servants who believe! And Solomon was David’s heir. He said: O ye people we have taught the speech of birds and we have been given of every thing: this is indeed grace manifest (from Allah)’ (Sura 27: 15-16)
The classic point referred to by Muslims is Deuteronomy 18:18 which says:
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you among their own brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I commanded you.”
The attempt of the Muslim is to state that compared to Moses, no prophet presented himself in the same close similitude as Muhammad. To prove their point Muslim scholars have listed a range of parallel elements which mark the life and accomplishments of both individuals.
E.g. Ahmed Deedat in his booklet What the Bible says about Muhammed comes up with these points:
1) Moses and Muhammad were prophets, while Jesus according to the Gospels was the Son of God!
- however, notice that this attempt is futile as the Gospels do refer to Jesus as a prophet too (Mark 6:4)
2) Moses and Muhammad were both married, Jesus was not
- if that is important we also need to consider the number of wives Muhammad had in comparison to Moses, which proves to be highly unequal
3) Moses and Muhammad had both a father and mother, but Jesus had no father
- to use this argument a Muslim is simply referring to Jesus on a much higher level than Muhammad, and secondly if this is important why should we stop here, why not also consider the comparison between the parents of Moses and Muhammad?
4) Both Moses and Muhammad, were accepted by their people while Jesus was rejected
- firstly Jesus was indeed accepted by his followers, and secondly his mission is not over yet. The time is coming when he will receive global acceptance. Secondly, was Muhammad really accepted by all, or did he simply force his rule?
5) Moses and Muhammad were both rulers, Jesus never ruled a people or anyone
- Jesus stated that he is ruling already now over heaven and earth (Matthew 28), however again, his mission is not completed yet, he will return to rule globally
6) Moses and Muhammad gave laws to the people Jesus did not
- wrong again, read the sermon on the mountain or Jesus’ words prior to his ascension (Matt.28:20)
7) Moses and Muhammad died a natural death, while Jesus’ according to the Gospel died as a sacrifice
- 1) Moses was killed by God himself, 2) Jesus died as a sacrifice and 3) Muhammad was possibly poisoned by a Jewish women; which of these three died a natural death?
8) Moses and Muhammad are both buried but Jesus according to the Gospel was taken to heaven
- Jesus was buried for a few days, as for Moses there is no grave, we are left ignorant. The main issue is, is this really and truly relevant anyway?
This kind of approach is obviously formulated by an individual who is grossly desperate and whose lack of Biblical knowledge simply leads him to pull verses out of context, combine them with other verses and add a slight of speculation. For example what has marriage got to do with the similitude of prophet-hood?
If this kind of approach lays the criteria, then the Muslim also needs to consider the elements which speak against Muhammad’s prophet-hood and present a disparate comparison between him and Moses:
Similar argumentation proving Muhammad to be unlike Moses:
1) Both Moses and Jesus were Israelites descending from the prophet line of Isaac of Jacob;
Muhammad was an Arab
2) Both Moses and Jesus were in Egypt; Muhammad was not
3) Both Moses and Jesus were saved as babies; Muhammad was not
4) Moses (Ex.33: 13-14) and Jesus (Matt.11) knew God personally, Muhammad did not!
5) Moses and Jesus could read, Muhammad could not, according to most Muslims
6) Both Moses and Jesus did miracles, but according to the Qur’an Muhammad performed none (Sura 24: 13) (29: 50).
7) Jesus and Moses never advocated foreign gods, however Muhammad at one point encouraged the worship of the three daughters of Allah.
8) The passage in Deut.18: 18 cannot refer to Muhammad since the whole context deals with Israel and individual positions within that society, such as prophets, who were to originate from the nation of Israel, that is: from among their own brothers, just like the kings (17:14-15) and priests (18:2).
Hence this prophecy whether a prediction of a line of prophets (from Joshua and unward) or a specific reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, is a prediction of prophets or a prophet who is an Israelite. This completely devastates the claim of Muslims that this particular prophecy refers to Muhammad.
The Actual context of Deut.18: 15-20
The argument falls to ground merely by considering the actual context of Deut.18, and this is where modern Islamic scholarship finds itself debunked.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your own brethren—him you shall heed (15). Just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die’ (16). And the Lord said to me, ‘They have rightly said all that they have spoken’ (17). I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth…(18)”.
In other words the promise of a prophet like Moses was an answer to Israel’s prayer. One who will succeed Moses and stand between Israel as a nation and God; in this context it had no global or international implication; the matter concerns the nation of Israel only.
“And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him (19). But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death (20)”.
It becomes obvious from verses 19-20 that the prophet has a plural significance, in other words, the ‘prophet’ is a prediction of several prophets rather than a particular one.
Secondly, since the passage refers to the context of Israel and the function of prophets there within. In other words, the prophet like Moses begins with Joshua. Thus the most accurate interpretation reveals that the ‘prophet’ refers to the line of prophets, from Moses up to Jesus Christ.
It is vital here, that Muhammad did at one time through prophetical utterance permit the worship of idols. This according to Deuteronomy 18: 20 renders Muhammad as a false prophet. Later the particular verses (known as the satanic verses) were abrogated from the Quran by the angel Gabriel (Sura 17:73 – 75, Sura 22:52-53, Sura 52: 19-26 Bukhari 6: 385; Tabari vol 6: 107).
This one of the main reasons, why Christians refuse to accept Muhammad as a prophet from God and certainly not as the last prophet, he simply did not meet the standard!
There is more, verses 21-22, speak of the actual sign which confirms prophethood, that is the fulfilment of his predictions, say a prophet really speaks for God and Muhammad did fail in this area as well; e.g. Sunan Abu Dawud, book 37: Number 4283 (Did the Dajjal appear in the seventh year of the battle over Constantinople?).
II. Is Muhammad predicted elsewhere in the Old Testament?
Since the word mahamaddim is used in Song of songs 5:16 Muslims quickly assert that Muhammad is being predicted.
However mahamaddim is a Hebrew word, which simply refers to a ‘loved one’ (literary it means delights) in a romantic setting; the same noun is applied in several Old Testament passages such as Hosea 9:6,16; 1 Kings 20:6; Lamentations 1:10,11; 2:4; Isaiah 64:10; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Ezekiel 24:16,21,25.
Secondly the passage does not describe Muhammad but possibly king Solomon or even a shepherd boy.
Often Deut.33: 2 and Habakkuk 3: 3 are used to claim that Paran refers to Mecca, however Paran is located in the Sinai Peninsula near Egypt. Secondly, the context of Deut.33 speaks of an event in the history of Israel, not Saudi Arabia in the era of Muhammad.
Some Muslims refer to the servant in Isaiah 42:1 to prove Muhammad, however the context clearly refers to a Jewish related individual, who is a peacemaker and fits the full context of the anointed Messiah.
The Muslim scholar Badawi postulates that Isaiah 21:13-17 is a reference to the battle of Badr, however the context speaks about the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions of Arabia.
Psalm 84:6 is often used to prove the pilgrimage to Mecca, however the name used, Baca, is located in northern Israel, as near as five miles from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 29: 11-12 is supposed to refer to the giving of the Quran to someone who is unable to read (Muhammad), however according to the context, it is the rebellious people of Israel (not God) who provide the book. Thus, say Muhammad is the focus, then not Allah but the rebellious people of Israel provide Muhammad with the Koran (talk about corruption), and then again, how about the other individual who is literate? Who is he? Also we need to consider that the text is plural, and no particular individual seems to be in mind, and finally the book is sealed and can therefore not be read; is the Muslim thus willing to admit that he can’t read his own holy book?
Isaiah 42-45 speak about a chosen anointed one, yet again we need to look at the context as; in Isaiah 42 the chosen anointed servant clearly is a Messianic prediction, in Isaiah 42-44, 48-49 it is Israel, and in Isaiah 41 and 45 it is the Persian king Cyrus.