DOES THE BIBLE CONTAIN PROPHECIES CONCERNING MUHAMMAD?
THERE can be no question that Christ's coming was foretold in the Old Testament in many different places. If, therefore, God Most High had intended to send into the world a Prophet far greater than He was, we should naturally expect to find predictions concerning this future Prophet in the Old Testament, and still more in the New. It is natural therefore for Muslims to seek for such prophecies regarding the Founder of their religion. For, if Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets, the person on whose account God created the universe, it would be very strange had God concealed from men the fact that they should look for and obey the coming Prophet. Hence those who believe in Muhammad tell us that clear and unmistakeable predictions regarding him are to be found in the Bible: though they often add that others were once there, but were struck out by Jews and Christians.
We need not concern ourselves with this latter assertion, since in Part I we have proved that the Old Testament and the New remain in our hands in their original languages and in the same form in which they existed in Muhammad's time and for many centuries previously. They have not been corrupted either before or after Muhammad's time. It follows from this that we have nothing to do with mere assertions, but that, if in the text of the Bible as we now have it there do exist true and genuine predictions of Muhammad's coming, we Christians must admit it to be so. We cannot get rid of the force of this argument by saying that such passages are interpolations. On the other hand, should it become clear that the passages which Muslims quote do not refer to Muhammad, it will not be allowable for Muslims to say, “Well, the Bible did once contain such prophecies, but you People of the Book have expunged them.”
The appeal to the Bible in this matter implies that those who refer to it and adduce from it passages which they think to refer to Muhammad thereby admit that it is (1) Divinely inspired, and (2) uncorrupt: otherwise of what use would it be to refer to such a book as authoritative? If our Muslim brothers admit these two points, then an inquiry into the alleged Biblical prophecies regarding Muhammad maybe very interesting and instructive. But if they do not admit these points, it is difficult to see what use it is for them to refer to the Bible at all in proof of the Mission of their prophet. Of course many learned Muslims—all, in fact, who have carefully studied the matter—do admit these two facts. We may hope too that our honoured readers will grant that what has been said in Parts I and II of this Treatise is in accordance with the teaching of Holy Scripture.
It will be granted that we are justified in explaining one passage of the Bible by another. Wise men will admit that this is the correct method of proceeding in case of doubt, difficulty, or dispute about the meaning of any verse or passage not only in the Bible but in any other Book. Obscure passages can often be cleared up by plainer verses and by the context. If a later passage explains an earlier prophecy, for instance, it is unworthy of an unprejudiced man of learning to refuse to accept the explanation thus given by an inspired writer, and to expect us to receive instead some comment which does not suit the context and which is in contradiction to many other passages in the book.
We now proceed to examine the chief passages 1 of the Old Testament in the first place in which our Muslim brethren claim to find predictions regarding Muhammad.
1. Genesis 49:10. This is asserted to refer to Muhammad, especially as “Judah” in ver. 8 comes from a verb meaning “to praise”, as does the name “Muhammad”. But the context shows that Shiloh was to be born among the descendants of Judah. Muhammad was of the Arabian tribe of the Quraish. He was not a Jew. The passage cannot therefore refer to him. Moreover, the sceptre had departed from Judah more than 550 years before Muhammad was born. The verb “to praise” in ver. 8 has no possible connexion with the Arabic verb hamada (حَمَدَ). The Jewish commentaries explain that Shiloh is a title of the Messiah, and the Samaritan Targum implies this also. Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah, and the Gentiles have already in large measure become obedient unto Him.
2. Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. It is urged that the promised prophet was not to rise among the Israelites (“from the midst of thee” in ver. 15 does not occur in the Septuagint or the Samaritan Pentateuch, nor in Acts 3:22) but among their “brethren” the Ishmaelites (compare Genesis 25:9, 18) : that no such prophet did rise among the Israelites (Deuteronomy 34:10): that Muhammad was like Moses in many points, e.g., both were brought up in their enemies' houses, appeared among idolaters, were at first rejected by their own people and afterwards accepted by them, each gave a law, fled from their enemies (Moses to Midian, Muhammad to Medinah, a name of a similar meaning), marched to battle against their enemies, wrought miracles, and enabled their followers after their own decease to conquer Palestine. In reply it may be said that Deuteronomy 34:10 refers only to the time at which it was written, and the word “since” may be said to imply the expectation that such a prophet would arise “ in Israel”, not outside. The words “from the midst of thee” are almost certainly genuine, though even without them the meaning is clear. It is true that Ishmael was Isaac's half-brother: but, if the Ishmaelites may be called the brethren of Israel, assuredly, the Israelite tribes may more correctly be called one another's brethren. (Compare 2 Surah 7, Al A'raf, ver. 83, “their brother Shu'aib.”) Israelites are called one another's brethren in this very book of Deuteronomy, e.g., in chapters 3:18; 15:7; 17:15; 24:14. In ch. 17:15 we have an exactly parallel passage in reference to the appointment of a king: “one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee.” Most, if not all, the kingdoms of Europe are ruled by kings who belong to families which are or were originally foreign: but in all history we never hear of the Israelites appointing over themselves a foreigner as king. They should have gone to the Ishmaelites for their kings, if the Muslim explanation of “from among their brethren” in Deuteronomy 18:18 is correct. They did not do so, because they understood their own language. Who at the present day among Muslims, if told to summon one of his “brethren” to receive some important post, would conclude that members of his own family were excluded, and that he must find a man whose ancestors had, hundreds of years before, been kindred to his own? Moreover, the Torah clearly says that no prophet was to be expected from Ishmael, for God's covenant was made with Isaac, not with him (Genesis 17:18-21; 21:10-12). The Qur'an also in several places speaks of the prophetic office as having been entrusted to Isaac's seed (Surah 29, Al Ankabut, ver. 27; Surah 45, Al Jathiyyah, ver. 16). The promised prophet was to be sent unto Israel: but Muhammad professed to be sent to the Arabs among whom he was born. As for a likeness to Moses, we learn from Deuteronomy 34:10-12, that the two points in which the Israelites expected the coming prophet to resemble Moses were: (1) personal knowledge of God, and (2) mighty works. As regards the former, is there not a tradition that Muhammad said, “We have not known Thee in the truth of Thy knowledge (or as Thou shouldest be known)”? With reference to mighty works, 3 the Qur'an tells us that Muhammad was not 4 given the power of working miracles (Surah 17, Al Asra', ver. 61: see Baizawi's and 'Abbasi's commentaries: Surahs 2:112; 6:37, 57, 109; 7:202; 10:21; 13:8, 30; 29: 49, 50). The points of resemblance between Moses and Muhammad which Muslims adduce might be found in Musailamah and in Mani for the most part, but do not prove that these men were prophets. Finally, God Himself has explained in the Gospel that this prophecy referred to Christ, not to Muhammad (compare Deuteronomy 18:15, 19, “Unto Him ye shall hearken,” &c., with Matthew 17:5: see also Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:35). Jesus explains that this and other passages in the Torah refer to Himself (John 5:46: see Genesis 12:3; 26:4; 18:18; 22:18; 28:14). He was descended from Judah (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38; Hebrews 7:14), was born in Israel, and spent almost all His life among the Jews, and sent His disciples in the first place to the latter (Matthew 10:6) and only secondly to the Gentiles (Luke 24:47; Matthew 28:18-20). In Acts 3:25, 26, the prophecy we are considering is definitely referred to Christ.
3. Deuteronomy 32:21: “They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their vanities.” This, we are told, refers to the Arabs, to whom Muhammad was sent. It cannot (Muslims say) refer to the Greeks, to whom St. Paul and the other Apostles of Christ went, for they were wise and learned. But this verse cannot be said to refer to any prophet at all. It tells how God will call the Gentiles, not the Greeks only, but the Arabs, the English, and all others, to become one spiritual brotherhood in Christ. This is the explanation of the passage given in 1 Peter 2:9, 10: compare Ephesians 2:11-13. As for the wisdom of the Greeks, it was not true wisdom, for they had no knowledge of the One True God, and the very beginning of wisdom consists in revering Him (Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
4. Deuteronomy 33:2. Here the words, “The LORD came from Sinai” are said to refer to the giving of the Law to Moses: “And rose from Seir unto them;” to the “descent” of the Injil: while “He shined forth from Mount Paran” is claimed as a prophecy of the bestowal of the Qur'an, since it is said that one of the hills near Mecca is called by a similar name. But the context shows that Moses is here making no reference either to the Injil or to the Qur'an. He is reminding the Israelites how widely God's glory was seen when they were encamped near Mt. Sinai. The map shows that Sinai, Seir, and Paran 5 are three mountains quite close to one another. They are in the Sinaitic Peninsula, many hundreds of miles from Mecca. This is clear from the other places where Paran is mentioned (Genesis 14:6; Numbers 10:12; 12:15; 13:3; Deuteronomy 1:1; 1 Kings 11:18).
5. Psalms 45 is said to be a prophecy regarding Muhammad, since he is called “the Prophet with the sword”, and it is thought that verses 3-5 are especially applicable to him. But there are two answers, either one of which alone would suffice to refute this theory. One is that in ver. 6 we read, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Muslims never claim that Muhammad was God. The other is that in Hebrews 1:8, 9, it is clearly stated that ver. 6 is an address to Christ. The “King's daughter” of ver. 13 is the spiritual bride of Christ, that is, the Christian Church (compare Revelation 21:2), and the foes defeated are Satan and all his hosts and those men whom he has stirred up to oppose Christ's Gospel (see Revelation 19:11-21). Other similar prophecies about Christ are found in Psalms 2, 72, 110. Probably first of all the psalm had reference to Solomon's marriage with Pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 3:1), and this wedding is taken as a type of the spiritual union between Christ and His Church.
6. Psalms 149 is also claimed as a prophecy about Muhammad. The “New song” (ver. 1) is said to be the Qur'an, and the “two-edged sword” (ver. 6) suits the “Prophet with the sword”. ‘Ali too had such a sword, and used it in Muhammad's service. The “king” in ver. 2 is said to be Muhammad. But the Muslims do not use singing in their worship, and the Qur'an cannot be described as in any sense a “song”. The sword is not said to be in the king's hands, but in that of the Israelites, and with it they were to avenge themselves upon their enemies. The “king” in ver. 2 is in the first part of the verse said to be the Creator, and in ver. 4 He is called the LORD. In no sense can it be said that Muhammad was King of Israel. Nor could the Israelites “rejoice” in him, as we shall see, if we remember how he treated the Banu Nadhir, the Banu Qainuqa', the Banu Quraizah and other Jewish communities.
7. Some refer chapter 5:16, of the Song of Songs, to Muhammad, simply because in the Hebrew the word mahamaddim, “delights,” “delightfulnesses,” occurs there, and is derived from the same root. But we find that the word in Hebrew is a common, and not a proper noun, as the use of the plural here shows. The same word occurs again as a common noun in Hosea 9:6, 16; 1 Kings 20:6; Lamentations 1:10, 11; 2:4; Joel 4:5; Isaiah 64:10; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Ezekiel 24:16, 21, 25. In the last passage (Ezekiel 24:16, “the desire of thine eyes”) it is applied to a woman, Ezekiel's wife (compare ver. 18), and to the sons and daughters of the idolatrous Jews (ver. 25). It would be just as wise to apply the word to Muhammad here as in the Song of Songs. In Arabic many words are formed from the same root حمد, but they do not on that account denote Muhammad. An ignorant Muslim might just as well assert that Muhammad's name occurred in Surah 1, Al Fatihah, ver. 1: Al hamdo lillahi Rabbi 'lalamin (“Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds”). In the same way a Hindu might assert that the name of Ram or some other of his deities was mentioned in the Qur'an, because in Surah 30, Ar Rum, ver. 1, we read غُلِبَتِ الْرّوُمُ, “the Romans have been overcome,” where Arabic dictionaries give Rum as if derived from the root ram. This kind of argument is unworthy of men of learning and judgement.
8. In Isaiah 21:7, Muslims hold that the words “a chariot 6 (or troop) of asses” are a prediction of the coming of Christ, who entered Jerusalem riding on an ass, and that “a (troop or) chariot of camels” refers to Muhammad, since he always rode on a camel. But the context shows that this chapter refers to neither Christ nor Muhammad. It is a prophecy of the fall of Babylon, as we learn from verse 9, and tells how word is brought by travellers of the capture of the city and the destruction of its idols, which took place under Darius in 519 B.C., and again in 513 B.C.
9. Muslims fancy that in Isaiah 42:1-4, they can find a prophecy about Muhammad. But if we may believe the accounts given us by Ibn Hisham, At Tabari, Ibn Athir, the Katibu'l Waqidi, the Rauzatu's Safa, and other Muhammadan authors and works, the description of a man who was gentle and peaceable does not apply to him who is called “the Prophet with the Sword”. Moreover in Matthew 12:15-21, we are distinctly told that the prophecy refers to Christ, and was fulfilled in Him. The Christian faith is that of the “isles” and coastlands of the Mediterranean, which are those primarily referred to in ver. 4.
10. In the same chapter (Isaiah 42) vers. 10, 11, 12, the mention of Kedar leads some to argue that this word means the Arabs, and hence that a reference is made to their conversion to Islam. But the “new song” in ver. 10 can hardly denote the new Muslim mode of worship, especially as no singing is permitted in it. Kedar was doubtless the name of one of the Arab tribes, but not a few of them (Himyar, Ghassan, Rabi'ah, Najran, Hirah, &c.) had embraced Christianity before they were compelled to become Muslims, or be expelled from Arabia. Doubtless they will be Christians again some day. These verses are a continuation of what is said in vers. 1-4, and must refer to the spread of Christianity even in Arabia, as we are told it would spread in the islands also, and among “ye that go down to the sea” (ver. 10). The expression “My Servant” in ver. 1 is explained in ch. 49:3, as meaning “Israel”, that is, doubtless, the “Israel 7 of God”, those who believe in Christ. He Himself is the “Head 8 of the body, the Church”. Hence in Isaiah 52:13, the ancient Jewish commentators explain the same phrase as meaning the Promised Messiah. Christ came from Israel, and represented it. Muhammad did not.
11. Isaiah 53 is also claimed as referring to Muhammad, because, (1) being born in Arabia, he was “a root out of a dry ground”: (2) “they made his grave with the wicked,” for he was buried in Medinah: (3) the words “he shall see his seed” were fulfilled regarding him. (4) he did “divide the spoil with the strong”, that is, with the Ansars: (5) he fulfilled the words “he poured out his soul unto death”, since he did undoubtedly die, while many Muslims deny Christ's death, and hold that He ascended to Heaven without dying. But (1) the whole of verses 5, 6, 7, 8, are absolutely inapplicable to Muhammad or to anyone but Christ. (2) Half of verses 9 and 12 do not in any way suit Muhammad. (3) As to dividing the spoil, this was to take place after death, which is true in a spiritual sense of Christ (since only after His Resurrection and Ascension did the Gentiles begin to enter His Kingdom), but not of Muhammad. (4) Why the people of Medinah, the Ansars who received and fought for Muhammad, should be called wicked, rather than those of Mecca who rejected him, is not easily seen. (5) All parts of the prophecy were spiritually fulfilled in Christ, whereas many portions of it cannot possibly refer to anyone else, least of all to a victorious warrior like Muhammad. Besides this, the ancient Jewish commentators understood the chapter as a prophecy regarding the Promised Messiah. The whole of the New Testament shows how this prophecy and the similar one in Psalms 22 were fulfilled in Christ alone.
12. Isaiah 54:1 is supposed to be a prophecy of Muhammad's birth from the descendants of Ishmael. It predicts that more people will become his followers and thus be brought to God than were converted by all the prophets of Israel. In reality, however, the prophecy has two meanings, a literal and a spiritual. The literal meaning is that the Jews will be rescued from Babylon and brought back to Jerusalem. This took place under Cyrus, beginning in 536 B.C. The spiritual meaning is taught by St. Paul (Galatians 4:21-31. There we see that it was fulfilled when the Gentiles, long devoted to idolatry and estranged from God, began to receive the Gospel of Christ. Incidentally, moreover, St. Paul in that passage shows that Hagar's descendants were not to be preferred to Sarah's spiritual offspring.
13. Isaiah 63:1-6. Muslims say that the warrior here mentioned is Muhammad, as he was “the prophet with the sword”. They think that Bozrah mentioned in ver. 1 is the famous city of Basrah. But ver. 1 shows that Bozrah is in Edom. It is now called Al Busairah, and is a little south of the Dead Sea. If we compare ver. 5 with Isaiah 59:15, 16, it will be seen that the warrior is the Lord of Hosts Himself, who has punished Edom for its sins. The imagery is used again in Revelation 19:11-16, where the warrior is explained as the Kalimatu’llah, who will finally punish the wicked and put down all enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25).
14. Isaiah 65:1-6. This passage is asserted to be a prophecy of the conversion of the Arabs to Muhammad. The second and following verses are said to tell of the sins of the Jews and Christians, who were therefore rejected by God. In reality, however, ver.1 is a prophecy of the conversion of many of the Gentiles to Christ. The sins of some of the Jews are mentioned in vers. 2-6, but vers. 8-10 tell us that God will not finally reject the whole Jewish nation (compare Romans 11). Nothing is said of the Christians, and not a word about Muhammad.
15. Daniel 2:45 contains a prophecy of the rise and spread of Islam, in the opinion of some Muslims. They say that the four kingdoms mentioned in that chapter are the Chaldaean, the Median, the Kayanian (or Persian), and the Macedonian. Alexander the Great shattered the Persian Empire, but under the Sasanian kings it revived. At one time strong, at another weak, it lasted until Muhammad's birth in the time of Khusrau Anushiravan. But soon after Muhammad's death the Muslim hosts overthrew the Persian Empire, conquered Persia, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and “filled the whole land” (vers. 44, 45). This explanation, however, does not agree with the facts of history for the simple reason that (1) there was no Median Empire after the Babylonian (Darius the Mede—Daniel 5:31; vi; 9:1—”was made king” of Chaldaea only, i.e. the region around Babylon, reigned only part of one year, and was viceroy of Cyrus the Great), and hence the Persian was the second Empire (Daniel 8:3, 4, 20): (2) The Macedonian was the third Empire (Daniel 8:5, 7, 21): (3) The fourth was the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:40), which was the greatest of them all, and which the Muslim version of history entirely omits: (4) The revived Persian Empire under the Sasanians might be counted as the fifth, or as the third Empire, but could not be the fourth, and yet the prophecy refers to what happened during the fourth Empire (Daniel 2:40, 44; 7:7, 19, 23). That the Macedonian Empire was the third, and not the fourth, is clear from what is actually said about it, for it overthrew the Persian Empire (Daniel 8:5, 7, 21), and, after Alexander's death, was divided into four (Daniel 8:8, 22) and thus gradually faded into insignificance and was swallowed up by the Roman Empire. It was in the time of the Roman Empire, when it ruled nearly the whole civilized world, that Christ was born in part of that Empire. The kingdom which He set up was “not of this world” (John 18:36; Luke 1:31-33; Daniel 7:13, 14, 27) and did not spread through the sword, like all earthly kingdoms. Christ called Himself the Son of Man, and thus showed that He was the person mentioned in Daniel 7:13. His is the kingdom which is described as the stone that filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:45). When He returns, to Him every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9-11).
16. Habakkuk 3:3. Muslims seem to fancy that “The Holy One from Mount Paran” was Muhammad. But we find that the verse goes on to say “His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise”, where the use of the singular pronoun clearly shows that the “Holy One” is God, who is mentioned at the beginning of the verse. We have already seen that Mt. Paran is in the Sinaitic Peninsula, and not anywhere near Mecca. Teman was a district and town in Edom, the town of this name being not far from Sela (Petra), and only a few days' journey south of Jericho. Mt. Paran and Teman were therefore close to one another, and both were hundreds of miles north of Mecca and very much nearer Jerusalem. The fact that Teman is spoken of as descended from Esau, father of the Edomites (Genesis 36:11, 19), confirms what we learn from historians, geographers, and the statements of the prophets (Jeremiah 49:7, 20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:11, 12: Obadiah, vers. 8, 9, 10) regarding the situation of the town, which bore the same name. If after this Muslim theologians persist in stating that Teman is in some way connected with Islam, we must ask them to notice how in Obadiah God threatens Teman with utter destruction. But we Christians do not apply this prophecy to Islam, because we know that there is no connexion whatever between Islam and Teman.
17. Haggai 2:7. Here Muslims argue that “the Desire of all nations” means Muhammad, because the Hebrew word meaning “desire” (חמדּה hemdah — حمداة) comes from the same root as does the word “Muhammad”. But it is admitted that, even in Arabic, not every word derived from that root refers to Muhammad, still less does every such Hebrew word. This very word hemdah is employed again in Daniel 11:37, “the desire of women,” and there probably denotes a false god worshipped by the heathen. We cannot therefore logically found any argument upon the form of the word. Nor can it be shown that the nations of the world “desired” Muhammad's advent, for the Muhammadan conquest of many lands was hardly to be considered a desirable thing for the conquered, though the Arabs desired to make such conquests. “The Desire of all nations” denotes either (1) “the desirable things of all nations”, referring to the silver and gold mentioned in ver. 8; or (2) “the choice of all the Gentiles”, that is “the election of grace” (Romans 11:5) from among them, i.e. the Christian Church; or (3) the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who did come to His Temple, and in Jerusalem by His Atonement gave peace (Hag. 2:9; Malachi 3:3; Matthew 12:6, 41, 42; Luke 24:36; John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26) to His people.
The Shi‘ahs have founded arguments in support of their own ideas upon a few passages in the Old Testament. Although the Sunnis do not agree with them in this, yet it may be worth while to consider their arguments, because they really have as solid or as unstable a foundation as those which we have already dealt with.
18. The Shi‘ahs say that Genesis 17:20, “Twelve princes shall he beget,” is a prophecy of the twelve Imams, whom they hold to be the legitimate successors of Muhammad. In answer to this we need do nothing but refer to Genesis 25:13-16, where we are told that the promise was fulfilled in the twelve sons born to Ishmael, whose names are there given, and who are distinctly called “twelve princes” in the end of ver. 16.
19. They also hold that Jeremiah 46:10, “The Lord, the LORD of Hosts, hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates,” is a prophecy of the murder of Husain at Karbala, believing that in some way his death was a sacrifice for sin and an atonement. But the second verse of this very same chapter states that the reference is to “the army of Pharaoh-neco king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah”, 606 B.C. It can hardly be supposed by any Muslim that the slaughter of a host of Egyptians, who were then heathens, was an atonement for sin. The word rendered “sacrifice” also means “slaughter” (as is evident from such passages as Isaiah 34:6-8; Ezekiel 39:17-21; Zephaniah 1:7, 8). Besides all this, Karbala could in no sense be said by Jeremiah to be “in the north country”.
We now pass to the New Testament, in order to consider with due care and attention the passages in it which Muslims claim as prophecies relating to Muhammad.
1. Matthew 3:2, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” These words of John the Baptist, repeated by Jesus (Matthew 4:17), are said by Muslims to be a prediction of the establishment of the power of Islam (see also Matthew 13:31, 32), the Qur'an being the Law of the Kingdom. But, in order to understand what is meant by “The Kingdom of Heaven”, or, as it is also called, “The Kingdom of God,” we must consider all the passages in the New Testament in which the words occur. One of these is Matthew 12:28, where Christ says, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then is the Kingdom of God come upon you.” In Mark 9:1, Christ tells His disciples that some of those who stood there should not taste of death till they saw the Kingdom of God come with power. In some verses this Kingdom is spoken of as already established in Christ's lifetime, in others to be established after His death. It was begun before He was crucified, but its perfection is to be when He comes again to judge the world (Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 11:15). Meanwhile it is spreading daily through the preaching of the Gospel and the invitation being given to all men to enter it (Matthew 28:18-20). It is not a kingdom of this world (John 18:36); it does not come with worldly pomp and show (Luke 17:20); it belongs to the humble-minded (Matthew 5:3), not to the proud; men can enter it only through a new, spiritual birth (John 3:3, 5); it is not possible for the wicked to be in it (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5). Hence it can hardly be identified with the dominion founded by Muhammad and his successors.
2. Matthew 17:11. Some Muslims take the words “Elias (Elijah) indeed cometh” here as a prediction of Muhammad's advent. But Christ goes on to say, “Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they listed” (ver. 12). The next verse adds, “Then understood the disciples that He spake unto them of John the Baptist” (ver. 13). Of course John the Baptist was not Elijah in person, for transmigration of souls (تناسُخ) is not taught in the Bible; therefore he answered as he did (John 1:21) when asked whether he was Elijah or not. But he was Christ's forerunner, appointed before birth to go before Him “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), as the Angel Gabriel had predicted (Luke 1:19), and in this sense, as Malachi had foretold (Malachi 4:5), he came as Elijah, living in much the same way (Matthew 3:4) as the latter had done, often in the desert (1 Kings 17:1-6).
3. Matthew 20:1-16. In this parable some Muslims say that the “morning” represents the Jewish, “noon” the Christian, and “evening” the Muhammadan dispensation. But the “even” of ver. 8 is the time mentioned in ch. 19:28, as “the Regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory”, that is to say, at the end of the ages, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to judge the world (Matthew 24:30, 31; Mark 13:26, 27; Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7; 20:11-15). This is clear from the fact that Matthew 20 begins with “for”, and that the parable ends with the words, “So the last shall be first, and the first last”, which are repeated with little change from the end of the preceding chapter. The evening of the world's history is now drawing nigh, and both Christians and Muslims expect the return of Christ to take place very soon. As He rules up to the end of the world, and is then to judge the quick and the dead at His appearance (2 Timothy 4:1), there is no room for the Islamic dispensation. It cannot therefore be predicted in this parable.
4. Matthew 21:33-44 (see also Mark 12:1-11; Luke 20:9-18). Muslims argue that here Christ is prophesying of Muhammad's coming and the success of his arms. They admit that the householder is God, and that Christ in this parable is speaking of Himself when He mentions the householder's son. They admit that in the parable Christ speaks of Himself as slain by the Jews. It would be well if they would ponder these admissions. If Christ said this, then they must confess that He is the Son of God, and that He died for men's sins. If this is admitted, there is no need to find a prophecy about Muhammad. But if they do not admit that this was said by Christ, then they have no right to assert that He spoke this parable at all, and hence its meaning is of no importance to them. Here then their argument at once breaks down. It should be noted also that in the parable there is no messenger sent after the Son. As the Muslims grant that the servants whom the householder sends are God's prophets, it is evident from the parable that no prophet was to be sent after Christ. Here for a second time their whole argument is refuted. Again, Christ quotes the statement about “the stone which the builders rejected” from Psalms 118:22, and in Acts 4:11, 12, Peter explains that the Psalmist meant Christ Himself by this stone. 9 He says, “He is the stone which was set at nought OF YOU the builders.” Therefore the builders were the Jews of His own time, and not Abraham and Ishmael, who built the Ka'bah, as the Muhammadan story asserts. The parable said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). Muslims hold that this means the sons of Ishmael; but the New Testament shows that it denotes the true believers in Christ, who are “an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession”, chosen to show forth the excellences of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light; “which in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). This passage teaches us also what were the fruits which the Lord God required to be produced. The same lesson is taught in Titus 2:14 (compare Galatians 5:22-24). The “other husbandmen” to whom the vineyard was to be given are explained to be the Christian Church, and the vineyard is the Kingdom of God (Matthew 21:43 explains ver. 41). Therefore they cannot be Muhammad and his disciples. Since the stone is Christ, it cannot be Hagar, or the Black Stone in the wall of the Ka'bah, nor can it be Muhammad. Opposition to Christ is therefore what the parable shows to be displeasing to God, and in the end fatal and ruinous to all His enemies. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, about forty years after the Crucifixion of Christ, explained part of its meaning. Some Muslims fancy that the “Lord of the Vineyard” who was to come (Matthew 21:40) was Muhammad. But this cannot be maintained, for Christ (ver. 37) was the Son of the Lord of the Vineyard, and no one imagines Him to be Muhammad's son. It is only by wresting words from their places and omitting to consider the context and the explanations given in other parts of the Bible that an appearance of plausibility can be given to the Muslim view regarding this parable.
5. Mark 1:7. Muslims often say, “The Injil contains the words of Jesus, and accordingly we find that in Mark 1:7 He prophesied of Muhammad, saying, 'There cometh after Me he that is mightier than I,' &c.” This shows how hopelessly impossible it is for Muslims to find any prophecy regarding Muhammad; for ver. 6 of this chapter tells us that these words were not spoken by Jesus, but by John the Baptist. Moreover, we learn from John 1:26-34, that John spoke of Christ, not of Muhammad. The context shows this clearly (see also Matthew 3:11-14; Luke 3:16, 17). If it be said that Christ was already in the world, and that therefore He could not be said to come after John, the answer is that He began to preach only after John had been cast into prison (Mark 1:14 compare Matthew 4:12, 17) and had thus ended his ministry, for he was soon after beheaded in prison by Herod's command.
6. John 1:21. “Here,” say some among the Muslims, “we have a clear mention of Muhammad. The Jews mentioned three prophets in succession, Christ, Elijah, and 'the Prophet', i.e. Muhammad, and John did not contradict them. 'The Prophet' is Muhammad, who is foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18. He cannot be Christ or Elijah, who are mentioned quite separately.” But we have already seen that Deuteronomy 18:18 cannot refer to Muhammad, but does refer to Christ. Hence “the Prophet” in this verse is Christ. The Jews were reckoning backwards. They thought John the Baptist might be the promised Messiah. When he denied this, they asked whether he was the Messiah's forerunner, Elijah (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10; Mark 9:11). John explained that he was not Elijah in person, nor had the latter returned to earth, as the Jews thought he would (though John was the person to whom Malachi 4:5 pointed; see Matthew 11:14). Being then unable to understand who he was, the Jews asked whether he was “the prophet”, referring to Deuteronomy 18:18. With regard to the meaning of this latter prophecy there was at that time some difference of opinion among the Jews. Many rightly understood that it indicated the promised Messiah, as is clear from John 6:14. But others did not think so, as we see from John 7:40, 41, supposing that the prophet mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, was another forerunner of the promised Messiah. The whole passage (John 1:19-28) shows that the questioners wanted to learn whether John the Baptist was the Messiah, or one of His forerunners. It would not have been reasonable to ask whether John the Baptist was a supposed prophet coming hundreds of years after the Messiah, when the Messiah Himself had not yet declared Himself such, and was not recognized by them.
7. John 4:21 is supposed by some to be a declaration that Jerusalem would be the Holy City and the Qiblah no longer, but that its place would be taken by another city, which, the Muslims say, must be Mecca. But in vers. 23, 24, Christ Himself explains the meaning of His own words, by saying that true and acceptable worship does not depend upon the place where it is offered, but upon the state of the worshipper's heart. Hence He does away with the possibility of there ever afterwards being a true Qiblah on earth.
8. John 14:30. “The Prince of the World cometh.” Many Muslims consider that these words of Christ are a prediction of the coming of Muhammad. But, in the first place, the context shows that here Christ was not speaking of a prophet who was to come after Him, for He adds, “and he hath nothing in Me.” This shows that the person spoken of was an enemy of all that is good; which cannot be said of any prophet. Secondly, when we compare other passages of Scripture where this or other equivalent titles are given to the person here spoken of we see that he is Satan. See Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2: 6:11, 12.
9. John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:13, &c. Muslims assert that the Paraclete here mentioned by Christ is Muhammad, whose name they fancy to be a translation of this word. They contend that the prophecy was fulfilled in Muhammad, since he received the Qur'an from the Angel Gabriel (whom Muslims imagine to be the Holy Spirit), and bore witness to Christ (John 15:26) and glorified Him (John 16:14) as a prophet, as born of a Virgin, as a worker of miracles, as having ascended up to Heaven without dying, as not God's Son, and as never having claimed to be such, and as having had the Gospel brought to Him. That the early Christians understood Christ to have promised that another great prophet should come is, the Muslims assert, clear from the fact that Mani claimed to be the Paraclete, and was on that account accepted by many Christians as having come in fulfilment of this prophecy. But it is quite impossible for any scholar and for anyone who carefully studies the New Testament to accept this explanation of our Lord's words in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of St. John's Gospel. For:
(1) First of all, the word Paraclete does not mean anything at all like “Muhammad”. It means the “Comforter” or “Sustainer”, and also the “Advocate” (الوكيل). The first of these titles is clearly unsuited to the “Prophet with the Sword”, and the Qur'an itself denies the title of Advocate to all but God Himself (Surahs 17, Al Asra' or Banu Isra'il, ver. 56: Surah 4, An Nisa', ver. 83). Hence Muhammad cannot be the Paraclete. (2) In the New Testament the title Paraclete is applied only to the Holy Spirit, as in these chapters (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:13), and also by implication to Christ (John 14:16: see 1 John 2:1). (3) The Paraclete of whom Christ here speaks is therefore not a man, but a spirit, the Spirit of Truth, invisible: He was then dwelling with Christ's disciples and was to be in their hearts (John 14:17; 16:14). (4) He was to be sent by Christ (John 15:26; 16:7), which Muslims cannot admit concerning Muhammad. (5) His work was not to gather armies and gain victories with earthly weapons, but to convict men of sin, the very essence of sin being disbelief in Christ (16:9). (6) His teaching was to glorify not Himself, but Christ, and was not to be His own, but what Christ gave Him (John 16:14, 15). (7) To teach men to deny the truth of Christ's Sonship, which Christ had affirmed on oath (Mark 14:61), and to oppose belief in His Divine Nature, which (as we have seen) is taught in both Old Testament and New (for example in Isaiah 9:6; Psalms 45:6; John 10:30; Hebrews i), is not to glorify Christ, but to oppose Him. (8) To deny that Christ was crucified and thereby atoned for the sins of the whole world is to deny another of the most vital doctrines of the whole Bible (Psalms 22; Isaiah 52:13 and 53; Matthew 20:19, &c. &c.), for on the fact of the Atonement made in His death on the cross depends the salvation of all men. (9) Denial of His Crucifixion implies denial of His Resurrection, upon which the whole Christian faith is based (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). As therefore Muhammad contradicts the Injil in these and other leading doctrines, and thereby utterly opposes the faith which Christ taught and which He bade His disciples teach all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), it is impossible to say that Muhammad fulfilled the prophecy that the Paraclete would bring to the remembrance of the Apostles what Christ had taught them (John 14:26). (10) To appeal to Mani's claim to be the Paraclete in proof that Muhammad was such, is a strange way of arguing. If we Christians were to compare Muhammad with Mani and the Qur'an with the Artang, 10 which book Mani claimed had been brought him from heaven, and was such that no one could produce another like it, our Muslim brethren would be much offended. Let it be noticed that the writer of these pages carefully abstains from instituting any such comparison. But it is clear that the best instructed Christians refused to accept Mani principally because they knew (1) that the prophecies regarding the Paraclete were such that they could be fulfilled by no man, but only by the Holy Spirit, and that (2) these prophecies had already been fulfilled by the descent of the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day after the Crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:1-36). This shows that the teaching of the New Testament in Mani's time was just what it is now. Christ's only prophecies about prophets who would come after Him were not such as to induce Christians to accept any who claimed to be prophets (Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22: compare Matthew 7:15), hence they refused to accept Mani, whom Muslims also hold to have been a false prophet. (11) The Paraclete was to dwell in the hearts of all true Christians (John 16:14: compare 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9), which cannot be said of Muhammad. (12) Christ promised that the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), should descend from Heaven upon the disciples within a few days of His Ascension (Acts 1:5), and bade them not begin their task of evangelizing the world (Matthew 28:19, 20) until the Paraclete had come upon them, but to remain at Jerusalem until this promise was fulfilled (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8). Did this mean that they should wait until Muhammad's claim to be a prophet was made, nearly 600 years afterwards? By that time they were all dead. Moreover, as we have seen, the promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii), just after Christ's Ascension. Then, rightly understanding their duty, they began their task of preaching the Gospel throughout the world. It is clear therefore that in the promise of the coming of the Paraclete no reference to Muhammad can be found.
10. In 1 John 4:2, 3, some have endeavoured to prove that “the Spirit of God” denotes Muhammad. But no true Muslim ever gives Muhammad such a title. Some say that, in accordance with ver. 2, Muhammad taught that Jesus Christ had “come in the flesh” because he denied Christ's Deity and affirmed that He was a mere man. But “to come in the flesh” is an unmeaning phrase, if applied to a mere man. In reality the verse condemns the Docetic view that Christ had only a phantom body, and not a real human one. The belief that Christ was a mere man is condemned in scathing terms in this very Epistle (1 John 2:22, 23; 5:5, 9-13, 20). Hence the deduction which scholars draw from 1 John 4:2, 3, is not one which in any way confirms Muhammad's claims.
11. Jude 14, 15. Some people have ventured to assert that “the Lord” in this passage is Muhammad, and that the “executing judgement” denotes his being “the Prophet with the Sword” and waging war with his enemies. But no true Muslim can hold this view, for the title “the Lord” (الرّبّ) belongs to God, and in the Qur'an (compare Surah 9, At Taubah, ver. 31) is given to Him only. Enoch's prophecy which is quoted by Jude refers to Christ's second Advent, when He will judge the world (Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 24:29-51; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21). The title “Lord” is often applied to Christ in the New Testament, and correctly, as we learn from Philippians 2:9-11.
12. Revelation 2:26-29. Some Muslims claim this also as a prediction of “the Prophet with the Sword”. But if so, it would follow that Muhammad had received power from Christ, because he had kept Christ's works, i.e. obeyed His commands, unto the end. Muslims hold that Muhammad was a greater Prophet than Christ, and therefore they cannot really believe that these words refer to Muhammad. It must be noticed that the speaker in these verses is Christ, and that He speaks of God as His Father. The meaning of the verse is evident from a comparison with vers. 7, 11, 17; and ch. 3, vers. 5, 12, 21, in which the phrase “He that overcometh” is repeated again and again. The context shows that the promise is general, to everyone who gains the victory, and that the victory is not over men, but over one's own sins and the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
These are all the important passages which Muslims fancy contain prophecies concerning Muhammad. It is quite clear that not a single one of them all does constitute a prediction about him. Nor does the New Testament lead us to expect any other Dispensation after the Christian, before the return of Christ and the complete establishment of His everlasting Kingdom. This particular proof of Muhammad's Divine Commission therefore has completely broken down. It is true that certain people have been astounded at noticing the fact that in Revelation 9:4, these words occur: “And it was said unto them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads.” For they tell us that this prophecy was actually fulfilled when the Khalifah Abu Bakr sent out the armies of Islam to conquer Syria. It is certainly very remarkable to find in two Arabic historians, both of whom were probably unacquainted with this passage, statements which remind the reader of it: Shaikh Jalalu'ddin Suyuti 11 quotes Al Baihaqi and others as affirming, on the authority of ‘Imranu'l Juni, that Abu Bakr, when placing Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan in command of the army that was starting for Syria, said to him: “Ye shall not slay a woman or a child or a decrepit old man, nor shall ye cut down fruit-bearing trees, nor shall ye lay waste cultivated ground, nor shall ye slaughter sheep or beast of burden except for food, nor shall ye split a date-palm, nor burn it: nor shalt thou deal treacherously, nor shalt thou be cowardly.” The Katibu'l Waqidi also 12 relates the same thing at greater length. He tells us that on that occasion Abu Bakr said to Yazid: “When ye shall have prevailed over your enemies, do not slay a lad or a very old man or a woman or a babe, nor approach a date-palm, nor burn a cornfield, nor cut down fruit-bearing trees, nor slaughter beasts, unless a beast for food, nor shall ye deceive when ye have made an agreement; nor shall ye break the compact when ye have made peace. And ye shall pass by communities in cells, monks who fancy that they are serving God, therefore let them alone, unto Him have they not secluded themselves, and they are satisfied for themselves with Him: and ye shall not pull down their cells, nor shall ye slay them. And ye shall find another community, the sect of Satan and worshippers of crosses, who have shaved the middle of their heads until they are, as it were, nests of the Qata-bird 13 (القطا). Therefore with your swords strike through the middle of their heads, until they return to Islam or 'give the Jizyah-tax out of hand, and are humble'. And to God have I commended 14 you.” There is no doubt that the resemblance between the prophecy in the Book of Revelation and the command thus given to the Arabs, who came forth from the land of the locusts and in swarms almost as numerous, is very great. But the passage contains nothing about a prophet, and so cannot be said to support Muhammad's claims. Nor can any true Muslim adduce this chapter with any satisfaction, even if it be granted that it is a prophecy which was fulfilled a few years after Muhammad's death.
1. Many of the passages which are here dealt with are adduced in the Izharu'l Haqq and are fully explained in the Ibhatu'l Mujtahidin, the five volumes of the Hidayah, and other Christian works.
2. Notice this as of supreme importance as a complete refutation of the Muslim argument. Compare Surah 7:63, 71, 83 (whereto 'Ad, Thamud, and Madyan are sent Hud, Salih, and Shu'aib, each being called “their brother”, though each addresses those to whom he is sent as “My people”): cf. Surah 7:57: also Surah 11:27, 30, 52, 64, 85; and Surah 26:105, 106; 123, 124; 141, 142; 176, 177.
3. Those of Moses are referred to in the Qur'an (Surah 7:101-116, 160).
4. See Chapter V below.
5. See a full answer in Ibhatu'l Mujtahidin, pp. 84 sqq.
6. [“A riding-party” would probably be the right word.]
7. Galatians 6:16.
8. Colossians 1:18.
9. See also 1 Peter 2:4-8.
10. The fact that Mani was a painter and that the Artang was full of pictures is mentioned in the Shahnamah, but not by Al Ya'qubi, Al Biruni, Ash Shahristani, and other Arabic writers of authority.
11. Tarikhu'l Khulafa (تاريخ الْخُلَفاء), printed at the Muhammadi Press, Lahore, Panjab, A.H. 1304, p. 66.
12. Futuhu'sh Sham (فتوح الشّام), printed at the Nawal Kishor Press, Kanpur, A.H. 1287, p. 5.
13. Ardea stellaris.
14. In the Rauzatu's Safa (vol. ii, p. 164) we are told that, before the expedition to Tabuk, Muhammad himself gave the same directions (in a shorter form) to his troops. See Part III, ch. vii.