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Friday Sermon: Where is the Prophet Muhammad (s) in the Bible?

The Jews are told not to despise those who come from the lineage of their cousin brothers in Duet 23:7: โ€œDo not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country”.

The Jews are told not to despise those who come from the lineage of their cousin brothers in Duet 23:7: โ€œDo not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country”.

In part 1 we reviewed the Qurโ€™anic verses which explains to Muslims that they have duties of care towards Christian communities. In part 2, we introduced how a community remembers and changes the histories of past figures with new information and social demands. And in part 3 we reviewed how the Gospels were compiled and how they leave a plethora of questions about their authenticity.

In this part we turn to the question of where the Prophet Muhammad (s) is mentioned or indicated to in Biblical scriptures. This is another important aspect of Muslim-Christian dialogue which allows co-religionists to explore each otherโ€™s holy books together and in good faith of the wider perspective of Godโ€™s purpose of revelation.

It is also necessary for Muslims to know where the Prophet (s) is described in the Bible as part of the evidence of Islam is mentioned in the Qurโ€™an, when it says: โ€œThose who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospelโ€ (7:157).

Looking at the Bible today, there appears no apparent mentioning of the Prophet (s) such as by name. We also know from evidence that the Bibles in circulation in the 7th Century at the time of the Prophet in Arabia are greatly the same as the ones today. That means that it is unlikely that the Prophetโ€™s (s) name was removed upon his announcement as this would not have been possible to cover.

Yet the Qurโ€™an speaks at length about Tahreef, or distortions, of the previously revealed books: โ€œAmong the Jews are those who distort words from their [proper] usagesโ€ (4:46) and โ€œWoe, then, to those who write out the Scriptures with their own hands and then, in order to make a trifling gain, claim: ‘This is from Allah'” (2:79).

This suggests then, two potentials: Either the distortions occurred between revelation and the announcement of the Prophet Muhammad (s), meaning there was a removal of all clear descriptions or by distortions, or it is meant as false interpretations or a mixture of both.

In either case, the Qurโ€™an was revealed responding to the presence of these distortions and yet still claimed the presence of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in those very same scriptures.

Let us start by looking at one of the most prominent verses affirming the Prophet Muhammad (s) in Deuteronomy 18:18:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command himโ€ (Berean Study Bible translation).

There appears four distinct parts to this verse:

1) There will be a Prophet from amongst the brothers of the Jews
2) This Prophet will be like you, meaning Moses (s)
3) God will raise him up amongst the people
4) He will speak only what Divinity commands him to

There will be a Prophet from amongst the brothers of the Jews

From the lineage of Abraham (s) comes two prophetic traditions, the line of Isaaq (Ishaaq) and Ishmael (Ismaโ€™il); from the latter comes the Prophet Muhammad (s).

Prophethood here is described as coming from the brothers of the Jews, or the lineage of Prophet Ismaโ€™il (a). The Jews are told not to despise those who come from the lineage of their cousin brothers in Duet 23:7: โ€œDo not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their countryโ€ – the Edomites, as descended from Esau, is the twin brother of Jacob.

In fact the Qurโ€™an places the familial ties so close that it states the People of Book will recognise the Prophet (s) as if one of their own family members: ุงู„ู‘ูŽุฐููŠู†ูŽ ุขุชูŽูŠู’ู†ูŽุงู‡ูู…ู ุงู„ู’ูƒูุชูŽุงุจูŽ ูŠูŽุนู’ุฑููููˆู†ูŽู‡ู ูƒูŽู…ูŽุง ูŠูŽุนู’ุฑููููˆู†ูŽ ุฃูŽุจู’ู†ูŽุงุกูŽู‡ูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฅูู†ู‘ูŽ ููŽุฑููŠู‚ู‹ุง ู…ู‘ูู†ู’ู‡ูู…ู’ ู„ูŽูŠูŽูƒู’ุชูู…ููˆู†ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุญูŽู‚ู‘ูŽ ูˆูŽู‡ูู…ู’ ูŠูŽุนู’ู„ูŽู…ููˆู†ูŽ โ€œThose whom We have given the Book recognize him as they recognize their sons, and a party of them most surely conceal the truth while they know (it)โ€ (2:145).

This Prophet will be like you, meaning Moses (s)

The Qurโ€™an repeats the similarities of the Prophetโ€™s Muhammad (s) and Moses (a), such as their receiving Divine Law (Sharโ€™iah), Revelation, and saving their peoples from tyranny. For example:

ูˆูŽู„ูŽู‚ูŽุฏู’ ุขุชูŽูŠู’ู†ูŽุง ู…ููˆุณูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ูƒูุชูŽุงุจูŽ ููŽู„ูŽุง ุชูŽูƒูู† ูููŠ ู…ูุฑู’ูŠูŽุฉู ู…ู‘ูู† ู„ู‘ูู‚ูŽุงุฆูู‡ู ูˆูŽุฌูŽุนูŽู„ู’ู†ูŽุงู‡ู ู‡ูุฏู‹ู‰ ู„ู‘ูุจูŽู†ููŠ ุฅูุณู’ุฑูŽุงุฆููŠู„ูŽ โ€œAnd certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it [O Muhammad], and We made it a guide for the children of Israelโ€ (32:23).

And: โ€œBehold, [O mankind,] We have sent unto you an apostle who shall bear witness to the truth before you, even as We sent an apostle unto Pharaohโ€ (73:15) ุฅูู†ู‘ูŽุง ุฃูŽุฑู’ุณูŽู„ู’ู†ูŽุง ุฅูู„ูŽูŠู’ูƒูู…ู’ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู‹ุง ุดูŽุงู‡ูุฏู‹ุง ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ูƒูู…ู’ ูƒูŽู…ูŽุง ุฃูŽุฑู’ุณูŽู„ู’ู†ูŽุง ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ููุฑู’ุนูŽูˆู’ู†ูŽ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู‹ุง.

What is most interesting is when the Prophet (s) returned from receiving revelation, he presented himself to his wife, the ‘Lady and Leader of all the Women of the Worldโ€™s’ [Sayyidatu Nisaaโ€™ il-โ€˜Alameen] of her time, Khadija (a), who in turn brought him (s) to her cousin and Christian scribe, Waratah bin Nawfal, who said: โ€œIndeed what has come to you is just as what has come to Moses.โ€

Moreover in a Mutawatir (so widely transmitted narration amongst the generations it yields certainty) narration the Prophet (s) told Imam Ali (a): โ€œAre you not pleased that your position to me as that of Aaron to Moses, except that there shall be no prophet after me?โ€

God will raise him up amongst the people

The Qurโ€™an repeats that messengers are raised to their people and amongst themselves, so that they may distinctly know them. This leaves no excuse that he is not aware of their matters or is untrustworthy to them, or seeking something worldly.

For example this verse says: โ€œIt is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdomโ€ (62:2).

He will speak only what Divinity commands him to

The Qurโ€™an explicitly states that the Prophet Muhammad (s) does not speak of his own caprice and whims: โ€œNor does he speak out of his desire. This is nothing but a revelation that is conveyed to him, something that a very powerful one has imparted to himโ€ (53:3-5).

Interestingly, Isaiah 29:12 states that scripture is to be given to the one who knows no letters, or is unlettered: โ€œOr if the scroll is handed to one unable to read, he will say, ‘I cannot read'”. Famously, the first verse of the Qurโ€™an revealed to the Prophet (s) was that he was told: โ€œRead! In the Name of your Lord!โ€ to which he replied, โ€œI do not read!โ€

Here is just one verse of the previous scriptures referring to the Prophet Muhammad (s). InshaAllah in the coming sermons we will elaborate on where else he is mentioned so that this message may be spread widely.

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