4.7 Islamic Claims About Muhammad
There are many embellishments around the personality of Muhammad which have been made in Muslim tradition; but there is a difference between the image which many Muslims have of Muhammad, and the actual information which is contained within the text of the Qur’an. For example, the idea that there is nur-I-Muhammadi, “the light of Muhammad”, is not found in the Qur’an. It is purely an Islamic tradition. The New Testament clearly states that Jesus is the light of the world (Jn. 8:12).
If Muhammad was indeed the last prophet, whose word in the Qur’an is unalterable, then there should be no need for a Muslim to rely upon the traditions or sayings of other Muslims as the basis for faith and living. Seeing that the Qur’an was written down some time after Muhammad died, it follows that those who wrote down the oral traditions were not prophets; they were not inspired by God’s spirit to write. The Biblical account of inspiration is far more appealing, and brings God that much closer to His word. Every word is as it were the breathing of God Himself to us, albeit through the pens of men. Those words aren’t just the writing down of a man’s words, remembered and passed on by uninspired men, written down by fallible people who lacked the Spirit of God guiding them. The Ahadith, or short stories about Muhammad , rest for their authority upon the good reputation of those who passed them on. There is no mechanism to show whether or not the stories were passed on accurately or not. Because of this there are variations in Islamic belief and practice, resulting in the divided state of Islam (Shi’ite, subdivided into the Twelvers and the Seveners; Alawites; Druze; Sunni etc.).
Muslim claims that the Old Testament predicts the coming of Muhammad raises the question of whether the Old Testament is corrupt or not. Muslims quote from the Old Testament; and yet they claim that the original Old Testament given to Moses has been lost, and that the Old Testament text which we now have has been corrupted. They can’t have it both ways. Their quotation of Deuteronomy 18:18 as relevant to Muhammad is an example: “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”. The similarities with Jesus are far greater than with Muhammad:
- Moses and Jesus both left Egypt to do God’s work (Mt. 2:15)- Muhammad was never in Egypt.
- Both forsook riches (Heb. 11:25,26 cp. 2 Cor. 8:9). Muhammad never did this.
- Deuteronomy 18:15-18 makes it clear that the similarity between Moses and the later prophet would be in that like Moses, the coming One would be a mediator between God and His people. As Moses sprinkled the people with blood under the old covenant, so Jesus “is the mediator of a new covenant” through His own blood (Heb. 9:15).
- The Jews who believed thought that Jesus fulfilled Deuteronomy 18:18: “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world…Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet” (Jn. 6:14; 7:40). Acts 3:22 specifically says that this is indeed so: “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you”.
- When the Jews asked Jesus to give them a sign, just as Moses had done (Jn. 6:30), He created bread in the same way as Moses gave manna in the wilderness; and then He discoursed about the similarities and superiorities between Him and Moses: “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn. 6:48-51).
- Muhammad was hardly a prophet “from among their brethren”, as he was not a Jew. The phrase “their brethren” is used in the context (Dt. 18:2) to refer to the other tribes of Israel apart from Levi (as Judges 20:13). Earlier in Deuteronomy 17:15 the Jews were told they could only have a king “from among your brethren…you may not put a foreigner over you”.
- “I will put my words in his mouth” was not uniquely true of Muhammad . The same words are used of Jeremiah (Jer. 1:9) and also Jesus: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (Jn. 12:49,50).
Again, the desperation of Muslim claims raises questions as to why they have to resort to this level of appeal if truth is really behind them. Thus the Qur’an claims that Jesus prophesied the coming of a prophet called Ahmad (61.6). But although there are some similar letters to ‘Muhammad’ , these are two different words. The two names exist to the present day as quite different personal names. Muslims claim that the parakletos of John’s Gospel is really periklutos, a word with a similar meaning [“one who is praised”] to Ahmad. But these are two totally different words in the Greek text. If as Muslims claim the New Testament was corrupted, then the question is, where are the original uncorrupted manuscripts? Is it not that Islam has been driven to create evidence for the erroneous claims of the Qur’an ? In any case, the parakletos was to abide “for ever”, as a comfort to the disciples, as a replacement and substitute for the personal presence of Jesus which they were now losing - not to appear hundreds of years later as a person called Muhammad . The parakletos is clearly defined as the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26), which they were to wait in Jerusalem until they received (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4,5).
A similar desperation is found in claims that the Gospel Of Barnabas ought to be included in the Bible, and it denies the crucifixion and prophecies of Muhammad. Yet this ‘Gospel’ was first published in 1907, although it seems to have been written some time before that, and was subsequently reprinted by Muslims. It totally contradicts the other Gospels and the rest of the New Testament - as well as the Old Testament. Thus it claims that the Jubilee year came every 100 years (The Gospel of Barnabas p. 104), whereas the Old Testament teaches this was to be every fiftieth year (Lev. 25:11). Further the text says: “The year of Jubilee, which now cometh every hundred years”, as if alluding to the way that Pope Boniface in the 14th century decreed that the year of Jubilee should be observed every 100 years. Parts of the ‘Gospel’ quote from Dante’s Divina Comedia and Inferno. And the Qur’an claims there are seven heavens (2.29), whereas the Gospel of Barnabas says there are 10 Heavens (p. 223). It speaks of “the vegetative soul”, quoting from Aristotle. And Nazareth is presented as a harbour city on Galilee (p. 23), when it was inland. The Qur’an says that Mary experienced “the pangs of childbirth” and pain (19.23), whereas ‘Barnabas’ repeats the Roman Catholic idea that she brought forth Jesus without pain (p. 5). ‘Barnabas’ says that Jesus said “I am not the Messiah” (pp. 54,104), whereas the Qur’an often says He was the Messiah (3.45 etc.).