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Muhammad the Prophet

Jim Davis

Muhammad the founder of Islam lived between 570 (?) and 632 A.D. Muhammad believed himself to be the last of God's prophets. He believed that his teachings consummated the teachings of all of God's prophets. His belief in God was monotheistic, and he believed that his teaching superceded the teaching of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Islam teaches that God is one and Muhammad was his only true prophet. He believed himself to be the last and the most important prophet of God. He believed that all the laws given by God for living culminated in the Quran.

Muhammad recognized the Christian Bible, which contains the Hebrew Old Testament and the New Testament. He believed that God's ultimate laws to distinguish between good and evil was given through the prophets and the Quran. However, he believed that the Bible had been altered and perverted overtime, while he believed the Quran to be the perfect word from God. He claimed that Quran was the word of God, which God had preserved from corruption.

The major conflict between the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures with Islam is that Islam recognizes itself as a restoration and continuation of the revelation of Judaism and Christianity. Muhammad recognized Abraham, Moses and Jesus but he revised the Hebrew and Christian Scripture accounts of each with the belief that his accounts were more accurate.

It is evident that Muhammad had a working knowledge of the basic tenets of the Jewish and Christian doctrine. However, Muhammad proclaimed his own message and recorded it in what is now called the Quran. Muhammad had a self-perceived mission. He believed the original messages of Judaism and Christianity were given by God, but he also believed that the Jews and Christians had distorted them. He believed his mission was to supplant Hebrew and Christian teaching with a newer Islamic code.

Muhammad recognized Jesus was a prophet whose teaching was revealed in the New Testament, but he believed that the original scripture had been distorted over time by Christ's followers as they proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. Muhammad denied the Christian teaching that Jesus was God or that Jesus was God's Son.

Muhammad recognized the strict legal codes of the Hebrew Scriptures were appropriate for their times. However, Muhammad recognized Jesus' code of behavior stressed spirituality rather than ritual and law. Muslims believe Muhammad received the last perfect legal code that balances the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

The primary emphasis of Islamic doctrine is the humanity of Muhammad. He was a mortal man, commissioned by God to deliver a message to humanity.

The Vision of Muhammad

At age 40, Muhammad claimed that he had received his message through a vision he had in a cave outside Mecca while meditating. He claimed the angel Gabriel gave him the message and proclaimed him a prophet.

According to Muslim tradition, one night in Ramadhan about the year 610, as he was asleep or in a trance, the Angel Gabriel came to him and said: "Recite!" He replied: "What shall I recite?" The order was repeated three times, until the angel himself said: "Recite in the name of your Lord who created, created man from clots of blood. Recite! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, who by the pen taught man what he did not know."

When he awoke, these words, we are told, seemed to be "inscribed upon his heart."

Muhammad, who disclaimed power to perform miracles, firmly believed that he was a messenger of God, sent forth to confirm previous scriptures. God had revealed His will to the Jews and the Christians through chosen apostles, but they disobeyed God's commandments and divided themselves into schismatic sects. The Quran accuses the Jews of corrupting the Scriptures and the Christians of worshipping Jesus as the Son of God. Muhammad believed that God had expressly commanded them to worship none but God. Having thus gone astray, they must be brought back to the right path, to the true religion preached by Abraham. This was Islam - absolute submission or resignation to the will of Allah. (From Introduction to the Koran by H. J. Dawood)

Miracles Dismissed In Islamic Tradition

Muhammad believed that the miracles of the Bible were made obsolete. The Quran saw miracles only as a means to instill reverence, but did not believe miracles were necessary to confirm the speaker as a prophet. The following passages from the Quran state this idea.

[17:59] What stopped us from sending the miracles is that the previous generations have rejected them. For example, we showed Thamoud the camel, a profound (miracle), but they transgressed against it. We sent the miracles only to instill reverence.

[17:60] We informed you that your Lord fully controls the people, and we rendered the vision that we showed you a test for the people, and the tree that is accursed in the Quran. We showed them solid proofs to instill reverence in them, but this only augmented their defiance.

[18:54] We have cited in this Quran every kind of example, but the human being is the most argumentative creature.

[18:55] Nothing prevented the people from believing, when the guidance came to them, and from seeking the forgiveness of their Lord, except that they demanded to see the same (kind of miracles) as the previous generations, or challenged to see the retribution beforehand.

[18:56] We only send the messengers as simply deliverers of good news, as well as warners. Those who disbelieve argue with falsehood to defeat the truth, and they take My proofs and warnings in vain.

[17:105] Truthfully, we sent it down, and with the truth it came down. We did not send you except as a bearer of good news, as well as a warner.

[17:106] A Quran that we have released slowly, in order for you to read it to the people over a long period, although we sent it down all at once.

[17:107] Proclaim, "Believe in it, or do not believe in it." Those who possess knowledge from the previous scriptures, when it is recited to them, they fall down to their chins, prostrating.

[17:108] They say, "Glory be to our Lord. This fulfills our Lord's prophecy."

[17:109] They fall down on their chins, prostrating and weeping, for it augments their reverence.

[17:110] Say, "Call Him GOD, or call Him the Most Gracious; whichever name you use, to Him belongs the best names."

It is obvious that Muhammad believed the miracles of the biblical prophets were to instill reverence rather than prove the authenticity of the prophet. Muhammad never claimed to work miracles. However, his followers say that the single miracle of Muhammad was the Quran itself.

This is probably what is the most mystifying about Islam. Initially it is founded solely upon the word of Muhammad, who felt he had no need to authenticate his teaching with anything but his word.

The Old Testament miracles were designed to authenticate the message of the one speaking was the words of God.

Exodus 4:1-17
Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"

"A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has appeared to you."

Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

"Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." (NIV)

The most obvious difference in the writing of the Quran and the writings of Moses is that Moses leadership was authenticated by the miracles of Egypt as well as God's miraculous sustenance of Israel in the 40-year journey through Sinai. It was there in the wilderness that Israel learned that Moses was God's representative.

The Islamic story of Moses and the Pharaoh differs from the Christian biblical account.

[17:101] We supported Moses with nine profound miracles - ask the Children of Israel. When he went to them, Pharaoh said to him, "I think that you, Moses, are bewitched."

[17:102] He said, "You know full well that no one can manifest these except, obviously, the Lord of the heavens and the earth. I think that you, Pharaoh, are doomed."

[17:103] When he pursued them, as he chased them out of the land, we drowned him, together with those who sided with him, all of them.

[17:104] And we said to the Children of Israel afterwards, "Go live into this land. When the final prophecy comes to pass, we will summon you all in one group."

However, the important thing about the Quran's accounts is that Muhammad was very familiar with the biblical stories of both Hebrew and Christian scriptures. This most certainly verifies the existence of the biblical story before the completion of the cannon of the Bible.

Muhammad recognizes what Moses did before Pharaoh as he writes, in the Quran in 17:102, "You know full well that no one can manifest these except, obviously, the Lord of the heavens and the earth. I think that you, Pharaoh, are doomed." Muhammad recognized the miracles of Moses and he recognizes the purpose for which they were given. However, Muhammad has nothing to authenticate the Quran, but the Quran itself.

God states the purpose of the miracles accompanying Moses was to make Pharaoh let his people go. Pharaoh recognized the miracles as a sign from God authenticating Moses words. For the most powerful nation in the world to bow to Moses demands to let his people go was a miracle in itself. The Israelites recognized the miracles as authenticating Moses teaching. Muhammad recognized Moses as a man who worked miracles by the power of God, but refuses to accept what Moses taught in the first five books of the Bible.

The difference in Moses and Muhammad is that Moses received his teaching in real time as God was intervening in the history of the world, while Muhammad received his teaching in the privacy of a cave. The reception of Moses’ message was witnessed by the world; Muhammad's teaching was witnessed by no one.

Islam means "Submission." Muhammad believed Islam to be the only religion. He asks you to submit to his teaching without questioning.

[3:19] The only religion approved by GOD is "Submission." Ironically, those who have received the scripture are the ones who dispute this fact, despite the knowledge they have received, due to jealousy. For such rejectors of GOD's revelations, GOD is most strict in reckoning.

[3:20] If they argue with you, then say, "I have simply submitted myself to GOD; I and those who follow me." You shall proclaim to those who received the scripture, as well as those who did not, "Would you submit?" If they submit, then they have been guided, but if they turn away, your sole mission is to deliver this message. GOD is Seer of all people.

[3:21] Those who have rejected GOD's revelations, and killed the prophets unjustly, and killed those who advocated justice among the people, promise them a painful retribution.

[3:22] Their works have been nullified, both in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.

Moses' approach was much different as he encouraged Israel to test the prophets concerning the truthfulness of their teaching.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (NIV)

Islam says we should never question God's wisdom, which means that one should accept what Muhammad teaches without question.

[21:23] He is never to be asked about anything He does, while all others are questioned.

[21:24] Have they found other gods beside Him? Say, "Show me your proof. This is the message to my generation, consummating all previous messages." Indeed, most of them do not recognize the truth; this is why they are so hostile.

So much of what is written in the Bible is built upon what the previous spokesman for God had written. Each successive writer built upon what was previously said without contradicting what the previous writer said. However, after a six hundred year period after John’s revelation, Muhammad comes upon the scene denying everything previously said with nothing more than his assertion that he had a vision, which his followers scramble to prove after he is dead and gone.

Differences In the Bible and Quran Accounts

The Qurranic and biblical story about Abraham's sacrifice of his son suggests that it was Ishmael, not Isaac who was offered as a sacrifice. Of course, the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael and not Isaac, from whom Israel descended. Below is the Quran's version of Abraham's sacrifice of his son.

2:124] Recall that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commands, and he fulfilled them. (God) said, "I am appointing you an imam for the people." He said, "And also my descendants?" He said, "My covenant does not include the transgressors."

[2:125] We have rendered the shrine (the Ka`aba) a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham's shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ismail: "You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate."

[2:127] As Abraham raised the foundations of the shrine, together with Ismail (they prayed): "Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the Hearer, the Omniscient.

Muhammad indicates that Abraham and Ishmael built the altar for the sacrifice together. However, it was Abraham and Isaac who went up the Mountain to worship God. Traditional Jews believed the place where Abraham and Isaac built the altar was the place where the city of Jerusalem was eventually built. It is was also the place where the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was eventually built.

Today there is a Muslim temple built upon the place where the Jewish temple once stood. The irony is that it is the place where the Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven when he died. We can begin to understand the deep-seated conflict between the Arabs and Jews.

Islam would have us to believe that Abraham delivered all the practices of Islam at this very place, but this would have Abraham delivering the practices of Islam over 2500 years before Muhammad was born. We have no historical record of this fact. The Quran says:

[2:136] Say, "We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters."

There seems to be an effort to make Islam predate Judaism as well as Christianity. We have no record of this assertion of Islam. Moses indicates that only Abraham and Isaac went upon the mountain to build an altar. Moses reveals Isaac’s descendants as the ones who followed Abraham.

In the following verses of the Quran Muhammad indicates that Abraham prayed for his people to be submitters and that God would give his people a prophet. Of course, Muhammad sees himself as the prophet that Abraham prays for.

[2:128] "Our Lord, make us submitters to You, and from our descendants let there be a community of submitters to You. Teach us the rites of our religion, and redeem us. You are the Redeemer, Most Merciful.

[2:129] "Our Lord, and raise among them a messenger to recite to them Your revelations, teach them the scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, Most Wise."

[2:130] Who would forsake the religion of Abraham, except one who fools his own soul? We have chosen him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be with the righteous.

[2:131] When his Lord said to him, "Submit," he said, "I submit to the Lord of the universe."

[2:132] Moreover, Abraham exhorted his children to do the same, and so did Jacob: "O my children, GOD has pointed out the religion for you; do not die except as submitters."

[2:133] Had you witnessed Jacob on his death bed; he said to his children, "What will you worship after I die?" They said, "We will worship your god; the god of your fathers Abraham, Ismail, and Isaac; the one god. To Him we are submitters."

[2:134] Such is a community from the past. They are responsible for what they earned, and you are responsible for what you earned. You are not answerable for anything they have done.

Moses' indicates that the blessing upon Abraham's descendants was to be upon Isaac.

Genesis 17:17-22
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"

Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. (NIV)

Who are we to believe, the authenticated words of Moses or the assertions of Muhammad. When Abraham had given up on having more children, he pleaded with God to allow the blessing to come through Ishmael. God said no! Why should I believe Moses account above Muhammad's, we have no doubt that Moses was a prophet of God. Islam recognizes this much. But there is no such authentication for Muhammad other than the fact that what he wrote is proof in itself. Islam relies on numerology to prove its truth, while Moses' writing was given in real time as the historiography of the world was developing for the whole world to see.

In Islam belief in the message of Muhammad comes second only to belief in the one God. If you reject Muhammad, you reject God for he is the only perfect prophet of God.

Conclusion:

Moses is not the only prophet Muhammad calls into question. He calls into question the entire Christian Bible.

The distortion of God through religion has been such that is appears that God favors one race or sex over another. This may help us understand why there is so much tension between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. However, what most do not realize is that God’s blessing through Abraham and Isaac was for every family on earth.

Genesis 12:1-3
The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (NIV).

Galatians 3:26-29
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (NIV).

I heard an Islamic scholar on a talk radio program leave the impression that Islam accepts Abraham, Moses, the prophets and Christ. However, that doesn't mean that they accept what Christians believe each of them taught. They have reinterpreted the Scriptures according to Muhammad's vision.

One thing the Quran does prove for the Christian is that the biblical account of Judaism and Christianity had been well circulated by the end of the 6th century A.D.

 

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