Is Prophet Muhammad (sa) mentioned in the Bible?

When Moses went to Mount Horeb under the command of God, He spoke to Moses saying:

“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. 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. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:18–20).

From these passages it is evident that Moses prophesied about a Law-giving Prophet who was to appear after him, and who was to be from among the brethren of Israel. That he was to be a Law-giver, and not an ordinary Prophet is obvious from the words “like unto” Moses. As Moses was a Law-giver, the Prophet, who was to be like Moses, was also to be a Law-giver. The Promised Prophet is described as one who “shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” From this also it appears that the Promised Prophet was to be a Law-giving Prophet. The promulgation of a new Law means the initiation of a new movement, a new nation. A Prophet who promulgates a new Law, therefore, is no ordinary Teacher or Reformer. He has to present a comprehensive teaching, incorporating fundamental principles as well as detailed rules. Without it a new nation cannot be raised. But a Prophet who does not bring a new Law has only to explain and to annotate an already existing Law. It is not necessary for him to present all that he receives from God to his people. It is possible that some of his revelations may be meant only for his personal edification, which he is under no obligation to pass on to his people. The prophecy also lays down that the Promised Prophet will “speak in my name”, and those who will not listen to him, God will “require it” of them; that is, those who turn a deaf ear will incur punishment. We are also told that any one who pretends to fulfil the prophecy will be put to death.

If we keep in view all the terms of the prophecy, we are bound to conclude that until at least the time of Jesus no Prophet had appeared in the world who could be said to have answered to the description of the Promised Prophet. All the Prophets who appeared between Moses and Jesus, therefore, may be ignored, when we set out in search of the Prophet who could be said to have fulfilled this prophecy. They have left no following and no people who could espouse their claims. Only Jesus remains who has a large following, and who is regarded by his followers as the last Teacher sent by God into this world. But when we apply, one by one, the terms of the prophecy to Jesus, we find that not one of them applies to him:

First, the Promised Prophet was to be a Law-giving Prophet. Was Jesus a Law-giver? Did he bring a new Law into the world to replace an old one? Jesus said clearly:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17–18).

The followers of Jesus went so far as to declare:

And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, … (Galatians, 3:12–13).

Jesus laid no claim to giving a new Law, and his disciples regard the Law as a curse. How then can Jesus and his followers be said to fulfil the prophecy in Deuteronomy?

Secondly, the Promised Prophet was to be raised not from among Israel but from among their brethren and Jesus was an Israelite.

Christian exponents, confronted with this fact, are wont to say that Jesus had no earthly father, so he can be said to be one of the brethren of Israel. But such a construction would be untenable. The prophecy speaks of brethren, which means they were to constitute a race or a people from among whom the Promised Prophet was to rise. Jesus stands alone, as son of God. If there were other sons of God, he might have answered to the description of the prophecy. But, apart from this, it is clearly laid down in the Bible that Christ was to be of the seed of David (Psalms, 13 132:11; Jeremiah, 23:5). Jesus may shed his Israelite origin because he had no earthly father: but he will not then remain a son of David, so that the prophecy of the Psalms relating to Christ will not apply to him.

Thirdly, the prophecy says: “I will put my words in his mouth.” But the Gospels do not consist of words which God put in Jesus’ mouth. They only tell us the story of Jesus and what he said in some of his public addresses and what his disciples said or did on different occasions.

Fourthly, the Promised One was to be a Prophet, while the Christian view is that Jesus was not a Prophet, but the son of God. How, then, can Jesus answer to the description of the prophecy?

Fifthly, we have in the prophecy: “Words which he shall speak in my name.” Strange as it may seem, there is in the Gospels not a single example of words which Jesus maybe said to have received from God with the command to pass them on to the people whom he taught.

Sixthly, we have in the prophecy: “He shall speak unto them all that I shall command.” The Promised Prophet, according to this, was to give to the world a complete and comprehensive teaching. But Jesus claimed no such mission for himself. He regarded himself as the forerunner of a greater Teacher yet to come. Thus we have (John, 16:12–13):

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

From these verses it appears that the prophecy in Deuteronomy was not fulfilled in Jesus. We cannot but conclude, therefore, that both the Old and the New Testaments foretold the coming of a Prophet after Jesus who was to guide the world “unto all truth”, and who was to establish the name of God on earth for all time. Our claim is that the revelation of the Quran and the advent of the Holy Prophet mark the fulfilment of the prophecy in Deuteronomy. The following facts bear this out:

(i) The Holy Prophet Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael. The descendants of Ishmael were the brethren of the descendants of Isaac, the Israelites.

(ii) The Holy Prophet is the only one claiming to be a Prophet like Moses. We have in the Quran (73:16):

“Verily We have sent to you a Messenger, who is a witness over you, even as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh.”

The Quran definitely likens the Holy Prophet to Moses.

(iii) The prophecy described the Promised One as a Prophet. The Holy Prophet claimed to be a Prophet only. Jesus, we are told, on the other hand, did not claim to be a Prophet. We read in Mark (8:27–30):

“He asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? and they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I Am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him. Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.”

That is to say, Jesus denies being either John the Baptist, or Elias, or one of the Prophets. But the prophecy in Deuteronomy speaks of the Promised One as a Prophet like Moses. The prophecy, therefore, applies to the Prophet of Islam and not to Jesus.

(iv) The prophecy speaks of “words I will put in his mouth.” The Gospels do not contain any such words. On the contrary, the Holy Prophet of Islam brought to the world the Quran which is from beginning to end only the word of God, which God put into his mouth. The Quran describes itself as the word of God (2:76).

(v) The prophecy said that the Promised One would speak all that he was commanded. We have quoted the Gospels to prove that Jesus did not pass on everything he received from God, and that there was to be another after him, who was to do so. The Holy Prophet of Islam fully answers to this description. We have in the Quran (5:68): “O Messenger! convey to the people what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord.” The verse seems to say, “O Prophet, there is an ancient prophecy about you which said that when you come into the world you would give to it all the truths you received from your God. Therefore preach to the world whatever is revealed to you, whether it likes it or not.” Similarly, the verse revealed on the completion of the revelation of the Quran says: This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion (5:4).

That is to say, “Through the revelation of the Quran, faith has been made perfect and the gift of guidance made complete for you, and peace and tranquillity have been appointed for you as your religion.” It was the Holy Prophet of Islam, therefore, who taught everything and kept back nothing. In the time of Jesus, people were not ready to receive and to believe in everything that was worth while. But in the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam man had traversed all the stages of spiritual evolution and the time had come for all the truths to be revealed to the world.

(vi) The prophecy speaks of “words which he shall speak in my name”. This part of the prophecy also was fulfilled in the Holy Prophet of Islam. He is the only one who spoke in the name of God, because every Chapter of the revealed Book brought by him begins with the words: “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.” This great sign, duly incorporated in the Quran, also proves that the last stride in the spiritual advance of humanity, foretold by Moses, was registered with the advent of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

(vii) The prophecy laid down the important criterion:

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20).

In this verse the world was taught how to distinguish the Promised One of the prophecy from those who should only pretend to fulfil the prophecy. It was necessary that a clear criterion should be laid down. The Promised One had to be charged with the important mission of initiating the last stage in the spiritual advance of man. If pretenders to this office should arise, the world would run great risks. To ward off these risks, God laid down the criterion that a pretender would incur divine punishment and meet with death and defeat. The Holy Prophet of Islam laid claim to this office very early in his career, and in the clearest terms. When he announced his claim, he was friendless and weak. The enemy was large in numbers and was strong, and he left no stone unturned to bring to nought his message and his mission and spared no pains to put an end to his life. Mighty rulers also set themselves against him but it was they, not the Prophet who suffered discomfiture and disgrace. The Holy Prophet died full of success. When he died, the whole of Arabia had declared faith in him; and after his death his first Successors in a few years spread Islam throughout the whole of the then known world.

Moses was a true Prophet. The prophecy in Deuteronomy was a revelation from God. But was the Holy Prophet bound to succeed in the way he did? And, were his enemies, who thirsted for his blood, bound to fail in the way they did? No, neither the Holy Prophet’s success nor the failure of his enemies was an accident. On the other hand, it seems that the Quran had in view the terms of the prophecy in Deuteronomy when it declared before all Arabia and early in the career of the Holy Prophet:

“And Allah will protect thee from men” (5:68).

Similarly, addressing the enemies of the Prophet, the Quran declared:

“He is the Knower of the unseen; and He reveals not His secrets to any one, except him whom He chooses, namely a Messenger of His. And then He causes an escort of guarding angels to go before him and behind him”

(72:27–28).

That is to say, the Prophet, having been charged with an important mission, would not be left unprotected. Enemies would never be able to kill him.

These verses proved that the success which the Holy Prophet attained was not an accident of good fortune. He declared early, through revelations received by him from God and recorded to this day in the Quran, that God would protect him from the murderous attacks of his enemies. He warned the world that because he was not a pretender but the Prophet promised in the prophecy in Deuteronomy, he would not be killed.

In short, one thousand nine hundred years before the advent of the Prophet of Islam, Moses declared that his own Law was, in the divine scheme, not the last Law; that the world was to have a fuller Law later on; and that, for this, God would send in the Latter Days another Messenger of His. This Messenger was to teach all truths; it was he who was to mark the last stage in the spiritual advance of man. The world had to wait for another book and another Prophet. If, therefore, the Quran and the Holy Prophet have come after the Bible and after the Prophets Moses and Jesus, and if they claim to have come from God as guidance to man, their claim must be treated as just and true. It must be taken as the fulfilment of ancient prophecies. The revelation of the Quran was not a gratuitous revelation, a redundance in the presence of those revelations. Indeed, if the Qur’an had not been revealed, promises made by God through His Messengers would have gone unfulfilled, and the world would have become afflicted with doubt and disbelief.

Excerpted from Muhammad in The Bible by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra)

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