Tell me, what is the means by which you know a Prophet ? Is n’t it said that you shall know him by his marks?
So let me tell you what the marks are by which we know a Prophet. Firstly, a Prophet speaks inspired not by his own heart and soul, but by a Higher Being. This holds true of Muhammad who is told by God to say:
“I tell you not that with me are the treasures of God, nor do I know what is hidden, nor do I tell you I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me”
(The Cattle: 50)
Here you see the mark of a Prophet. He does not claim to be any other than a human or to reveal God’s hidden knowledge. He is only serving as an instrument of God to reveal all that told him.
So here we have a man, Muhammad, forty years old, who starts hearing voices, not the whisperings of his soul, or the stirrings of some unconscious restlessness, but some power clearly beyond human comprehension. He is seized with fear and thinks he is demented. But nay, he is not. He is, over the years, revealed a scripture through the medium of an angel, a revelation so profound that even the most learned men of all Arabia could not produce its like. And here we have an unlettered man Muhammad who had not as much as composed a single verse suddenly having intensely powerful and yet beautifully enlivening words flowing from his lips, words that over the years would go on on to form a compendious scripture that combined verse and prose, words of wisdom with a moral code governing food, dress, marriage, punishment and a host of other mundane matters; inspiring stories and parables with a fascinating cosmology that captivates its readers, revealing as it were the secrets of creation and of nature.
The first such revelation was Soorah Al-Alaq or the ‘Chapter of the Clinging Clot’. This is how it runs:
Read! In the Name of Your Lord, Who created, Created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not
So here we have the angel of revelation, the Archangel Gabriel revealing the first verse to the unlettered Prophet, and what does it say Iqraa Read! The entire revelation comes to be known as the Qur’an and what does it mean- The Reading! All of it revealed to an unlettered man, a revelation from God Himself and one that no hand of man or genie could produce.
If mankind and the jinn joined together to produce the like of the Qur’an, they could not produce its like, even if they helped one another
(The Night Journey:88)
And what does this unlettered man do when the revelation comes? He is terrified, so terrified that he runs all the way home to his wife to find comfort in her like a child clinging to the bosom of its mother. Imagine an Arab running to the arms of a woman one thousand four hundred years ago. This is unthinkable even today and one can only imagine how such as act would have been looked upon then, when men were simply expected to be men. It was only much later, well after the shock of the angel’s embrace had subsided, that he came to believe in his mission and fought to establish it for rest of his life, come what may.
Another mark by which you shall know a Prophet is his being unwelcome among the people to whom he has been sent. Remember the words of Jesus when he was rejected at Nazareth: “A Prophet is not without honour except in his native place” (Matthew 13:57). In like manner when the Prophet Zarathustra came to the Iranians, he first had only one follower, his cousin Maidhyoimanha. The local devil-worshipping priests opposed him so maliciously that he had to migrate to the realm of King Vishtaspa.
This is because the powers that be do not like change, preferring instead the status quo and all the ills that go with it. The strong moral message of the true prophets and their exemplary lives hit hard at these arrogant men, and so they reject these prophets. This is why the Jews rejected Jesus and instead looked to a messiah who would pander to their desires and tolerate their corrupt practices like usury. False prophets in contrast are often welcomed with open arms. Going by this count, although the Prophet was sent to all humanity his mission was initially confined to the people of Mecca, but did they receive him with open arms? No, rather they abused him ridiculed him and even plotted to kill him.
When he felt the Meccans could no longer be preached to, he went to Taif in the hope that the townsfolk there would lend him an ear. But no, they turned out to be even worse than the Meccans. He was so badly treated that he had to flee from some urchins who pelted stones at him mercilessly and have to dive for cover in a garden. Pitying his plight, its owner instructed his Christian slave Addas to take a tray of dates to him.
When he saw the Prophet saying Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before he ate of it, he was surprised. “The people of these lands don’t say these words?” he said. “And where are you from?” the Prophet asked him, to have the boy reply: “I am a Christian from Nineveh (Iraq)”. “From the town of the righteous man, Jonah” asked the Prophet. Addas burst out in excitement: “And what makes you know about Jonah?”. “He is my brother. He was a Prophet, and so am I” was the reply. Addas kisses his forehead, hands and feet while his two masters stared in disbelief. When reprimanded by his masters, Addas replied: “O my masters, there is nothing on earth that is better than he is; he has indeed informed me about a matter that none knows about except for a Prophet”.So there you are. While his own people reject him, a foreigner, a Christian non-Arab acknowledged him as such.
Yet another mark by which you shall know a Prophet is his unswerving zeal, his commitment to passing on the message entrusted to him come what may. In the early years of his mission Muhammad struggled very hard to preach the message to his arrogant townsfolk of Mecca to begin with, but to no avail. His only followers were his immediate family, including his wife Khadijah, daughter Fatima, Cousin Ali and a few very close friends like Abu Bakr and a couple of slaves like Bilal the Abyssinian and Sumayyah, a slave woman who was killed by her master for holding steadfast to the new faith. The Quraysh, his own tribe, persecuted him and his followers to such an extent that many of his close companions had to seek refuge in Abyssinia where they were warmly welcomed by the Christian King Negus. Muhammad himself, to escape the hostility of the Meccans had to migrate to Medina where he was able to unite the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj and lay the foundations for the first Islamic state.
It was in the face of great odds before his migration that his uncle tried to persuade him to cease his preaching, offering all sorts of worldly inducements, but the response he received from his nephew will go down in history as one of the greatest statements of undying zeal to a cause the world has ever seen: ” O uncle, if they were to put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to stop me from preaching Islam, I would never stop. I will keep on preaching until God makes Islam prevail or I die doing so” (Seerah Ibn Hisham).
In Medina he was pledged allegiance by its people and could have easily lived a comfortable life as an uncrowned king, but kept himself away from the pleasures of this life. Although once a well-to-do merchant, he did not like to indulge in worldly delights, giving whatever he earned or received in charity, so that he was not better off, but only worse off materially after becoming a Prophet.
His close friend Umar once visited him and saw him lying on a mat which had left its marks on his sides. Beholding this, he started weeping. “What is making you cry?” asked Muhammad. Umar replied: “O God’s Messenger! Caesar and Chosroes are leading the life, while you, God’s Messenger though you are, is living destitute“. The Prophet replied. ‘Won’t you be satisfied that this world is theirs to enjoy and for us the Hereafter?’ ” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari).
Yet another mark by which you know a true prophet is his truthfulness. So let us see how truthful he was. Do you know that even in his youth, Muhammad was called Al-Ameen ‘The Trustworthy One’ and even in later times was known as such by his pagan compatriots, that is until he began to preach the truth. This could be seen in an interesting incident that took place shortly after he had received his call. That was when he climbed up the Mount Safa and called out to his Meccan townsfolk: “If I tell you that an enemy is approaching behind those hills to attack you, so be on your guard, would you believe me?”. They answered: “We believe you, even though we do not see behind the mountain. Since you are Muhammad the Trustworthy, we never doubt your words”. Upon this Muhammad said: “As you would trust me in this news, you should also believe me that there is only one God who created this world. The idols you worship are but pieces of stone, earth or wood. Leave these idols and believe in One God. Know that God has sent me as a Prophet to you”. Although they accepted his truthfulness, the unbelievers found the truth he preached hard to stomach and departed forthwith. They simply could not wean themselves away from their ancestors’ crooked idolatrous ways.
However his truthfulness could be gleaned from the remorseful words Nadr bin Harith spoke to his tribe: “O Quraysh, a situation has arisen you cannot deal with. Muhammad was a young man most liked amongst you, most truthful in speech and most trustworthy, until, when you saw grey hair on his temple, and he brought you a message, you said he was a sorcerer, a diviner, a poet and was possessed. But by God, there is nothing of this sort in Muhammad, for I have heard him speaking and preaching” (Seerah Ibn Hisham).
His truthfulness was acknowledged even by his greatest enemies. The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius once questioned Abu Sufyan, who was then an avowed enemy of the Prophet. “Has he” asked he “ever dishonoured his word?”. “No” Abu Sufyan replied “He always abides by his word”. Then there was Ubay Bin Khalaf who hated the Prophet so, that he used to boast to his face: “I am breeding a strong horse, and I will one day kill you while riding that horse”. The Prophet answered: “I will one day – God Willing – kill you!”. In the heat of the Battle of Uhud, Ubay looked for the Prophet saying: “If I cannot find him today, I will be doomed!”. When he approached the Prophet his companions wanted to slay him, but the Prophet called out to them: “Let him come to me!”. When he came near, the Prophet took a spear from the hand of a companion and hurled it at him. The weapon whizzed past him, though it was enough to throw him off his horse. He was so shocked that he ran back to his army screaming: “I swear that Muhammad has killed me”. His companions said: “It is only a scratch!” but Ubay was inconsolable, saying: “Muhammad told me ‘I will kill you!’ I swear that I will die even if he spits at me!”. As he kept howling away, Abu Sufyan told him off saying: “You are not supposed to howl about this tiny scratch”, only to have Ubay answer: “Do you know who has done this to me? It is Muhammad, I swear by Laat and Uzza that if this scratch is distributed to the people of Hijaz they would all perish”. The wretch died soon afterwards.
And who can forget that brave Arabian Knight Suraqah’s trust in the Prophet when he thought he had him cornered. That was when the Prophet and his close friend Abu Bakr took flight from Mecca to Medina. The knight on horseback prodded on by the reward of a hundred camels for their heads, tracked them down, only to be told by Muhammad: “Return to your people and I promise you that one day you would wear the bracelets of Chosroes”. Suraqah asked in amazement whether he meant Chosroes, the Emperor of Persia. “Yes” replied the Prophet and no sooner he heard it, the took his word for it and returned to his hometown, embracing Islam when the Prophet took over the city eight years later. The Prophet passed away a couple of years afterwards and ten years later the mighty Persian Empire fell before the armies of Islam in the reign of Caliph Umar. Suraqah was now an old man, and the Caliph who remembered the Prophet’s promise to Suraqah had the erstwhile knight brought before him and in front of the entire congregation presented him the bracelets of the Persian Emperor, saying: “Here are the bracelets of Chosroes, the Emperor of Persia. This is what Muhammad had promised you. Put them on and let all Muslims see them so that they are all assured that Muhammad’s promise is fulfilled!”. Suraqah burst out in tears and the entire assembly wept. Such was the trust people had in Muhammad.
When you study the life of Muhammad you will certainly not find the psychological profile of a conman, for his life was throughout one of sincerity; nor of a madman, for every word he uttered made immense sense, not only to his compatriots but also to us of the present day. Had his followers perceived the slightest sign of deception in him, his entire mission would have crumbled in the blink of an eye. This is why the great historian W. Montgomery tells us after studying the history of our Prophet: “His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves”.
Another mark of a Prophet is his ability to foretell the future with accuracy. His prophecies always come true whether in his lifetime or after. This is because only an All-Knowing God could know the future. As the Bible itself says: “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Going by this token, the Prophet made several predictions that have come true since, including among others the Islamic conquest of Persia and Byzantium, the greatest empires of the day, the Mongol invasion and even of things we see in our day and age.
It once happened that some companions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) were working on a trench, a defence against the Meccan Pagans. They dug on until they came across a huge, white rock. The Prophet took a pickaxe from the hands of one of the diggers, Salman and struck the rock so hard it split. From it came a flash of light so strong as to illuminate all the way between the two ends of Medina. It seemed like a great lantern on a very dark night. The Messenger of God invoked God’s greatness, saying “God is most Great” as at a victory, and the Muslims did so as well. He then struck it again and the same thing happened, and a third time with the same result. The companions asked the Prophet what it meant and he replied, “From the first, the castles of al-Hira and cities of Chosroe were lit up to be seen like the fangs of dogs. Gabriel announced to me that my nation would be victorious over them. From the second, the red castles of Byzantium were illuminated, as though they were the fangs of dogs; Gabriel announced to me that my nation would be victorious over them. From the third, the castles of Sana were lit up like the fangs of dogs; Gabriel announced to me that my nation would be victorious over them. So be joyful at this news!” The Muslims were delighted, and said “Praise be to God!‘ (Seerah, Ibn Ishaq).
When the enemy clans appeared for battle, the believers assured one another that what God and his messenger had promised them would come true. The hypocrites among them however said: “He tells you he can see from Yathrib (Medina) to the castles of al-Hira and the cities of Chosroe, and that they will be rendered up to you, yet here you are digging the trench and can’t even come out into the open!‘. It was that about them that God revealed, “(Remember) when the hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts say, “What God and his messenger promise us is mere fancy!“‘”(The Confederates:12).
And so it came to pass that the Muslims conquered Yemen in 630, a good part of the Byzantine Empire in 638 and all of Persia in 651. The capital of Byzantium, Constantinople did not fall until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks under the leadership of the young Mehmed took it, but even this too was prophesied by our Prophet when he declared: “Surely, Constantinople will be conquered (by my community); how blessed the commander who will conquer it, and how blessed his army” (Saheeh Muslim).
The Prophet, Upon Him Be Peace, also predicted the Mongol invasion, saying: “The Hour will not come before you fight against a people with red faces, small, slant eyes and flat noses. They wear hairy leather boots” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari). And so it came to pass that the Mongols from Far Asia led by Hulagu Khan invaded the Arab lands taking Baghdad in 1258. It was of course not long before the conquerors themselves became the conquered when they embraced Islam, perhaps the only instance in history when the conquerors accepted the faith of the conquered. The Moghuls who conquered India for Islam were in fact descendants of these Mongols.
Coming to more recent times, our beloved Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, told his followers that the Last Day would not come until “The shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of high rise buildings” (Saheeh Muslim). We see that this has already become a reality in the Arab countries today. One such country in the Gulf, an Emirate, has constructed the tallest standing skyscraper on the face of the earth, the Burj Arab Tower. Many more are in line in the other rich gulf countries to compete even with this. He also said that the Last Hour will not come before “The land of the Arabs becomes meadows with rivers” (Saheeh Muslim). This too we see gradually becoming a reality with modern technology, with drip irrigation, man-made rivers and other novel techniques that could over time transform the deserts of Arabia to fertile fields and gardens.
Besides these marks, there is one very important mark by which we can know of a final universal messenger, and that is his advent being prophesied in earlier scripture. We know very well from the Bible that the nations of the world will gain salvation from the seed of Abraham in keeping with God’s Promise.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
From this pledge made by God to Abraham even before he had any offspring we gather that the promise could apply equally to Ishmael, his firstborn son through his handmaiden Hagar as much as his second born son Isaac through his wife Sarah. Thus it would apply equally well to Ishmael’s descendants the Arabs among whom Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was born as to Isaac’s descendants, the Jews to whom were sent numerous prophets including its final messenger Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him).
However, there is a stronger case for supposing that the promise applies more to Ishmael and his Arabian descendants than Isaac or the Children of Israel. For one thing we know that the promise in question was made to Abraham before any child was born to him. God also promised to Abraham at the time: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). True to God’s promise, Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael, the Arabs, came to settle in the land between the Nile and the Euphrates within a few years following the revelation of Islam to the Prophet who was himself a descendant of Ishmael. They are to this day very much its inhabitants. Abraham’s children through Isaac, the Jews, never at any given time of their history held this portion of land.
Thus the promise seems to apply more to the children of Abraham through Ishmael rather than through Isaac. Further according to the Bible the traditional rights and privileges of the first born son are not to be affected by the social status, whether free or slave, of his mother (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). Going by this token we may suppose that the promise should really apply to Ishmael, the son of the bondswoman Hagar than to his younger half-brother Isaac born to the freewoman Sarah.
Thus it came to pass that after Jesus, the last Israelite prophet whom the Jews rejected, God in fulfilling his pledge to Abraham bestowed the final mission to their cousins, the Arabs, through whom all the nations were to be blessed. The chosen one was none other than Muhammad who was from the progeny of Abraham through Ishmael. It is very likely with reference to this that Jesus said: “Therefore, say I unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof” (Matthew 21:43). Thus Jesus himself told his Israelite followers that the Divine Mission would be taken away from them and given to another nation. Now who would this other nation be but the Arabs through whom God had promised Abraham that the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
This is also supported by another passage from the Bible, this time from the Old Testament where it is written: “And Jacob called unto his sons and said: “Gather unto yourselves together that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days” and he said: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”” (Genesis 49:1-11). Now Shiloh we know is a Hebrew word meaning ‘peace’ or ‘peace through submission to God”, in other words Islam, which was established by the Arabian Prophet Muhammad. What becomes clear from Jacob’s words is that the prophethood passed through the lineage of Isaac will cease as soon as the Arabian Prophet emerges. And this is exactly what happened.
But that’s not all. The coming of the Prophet was clearly prophesied in the Bible, for we read in the Old Testament Moses predicting the rise of another prophet:
And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 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
If we consider this prophecy we would find that it describes none other than Prophet Muhammad, and not Jesus whom Christians believe it refers to.
Firstly, let us take the phrase I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee. That the Hebrew word thus used for brethren ahgh could also mean kinsfolk is borne out by other Biblical passages such as the one where the Jews are told by Moses not to hate the Edomites: “You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother (ahgh)” (Deuteronomy 23:7). So just as the term could apply to the Edomites who were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, it could as easily apply to the descendants of Ishmael, the half brother of Jacob’s father Isaac.
Now, it is well known that the elder son of Abraham Ishmael is the father of the Arabs just as his younger son Isaac is the father of the Jews. The Arabs are thus the brethren of the Jews. Both are the descendants of Abraham through different mothers, the former through Hagar and the latter through Sarah. Thus they are in fact the brethren of the Jews. The prophecy in question distinctly mentions that the coming prophet who would be like Moses, must arise not from the Children of Israel, but from among “their brethren” who are none other than the Children of Ishmael, in other words, the Arabs.
The second part of the prophesy runs like unto thee (that is Moses) which cannot refer to any but our Prophet. Muhammad like Moses was born naturally of both father and mother and was married with children. Like Moses he also had political authority being a lawgiver and military leader at the same time and like him was victorious over his opponents. In contrast Jesus was immaculately conceived through a virgin mother, he never married or had children. He did not enjoy political power, nor was he victorious over his opponents who almost crucified him had it not been for God’s timely intervention in taking him up to Himself.
Both Moses and Muhammad were accepted as prophets by the vast majority of their people during their own lifetime and died only after they had fulfilled their mission. In contrast Jesus was rejected by the greater part of his people before he was taken to God. His mission on earth is yet to come, when he shall descent to earth and establish a kingdom of God on earth. Further, the Christian view that the Prophet referred to is Jesus is far-fetched when we consider that the established Christian view holds that Jesus was not a prophet, but the Son of God.
In the rest of the prophecy God tells us: “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” (Deuteronomy 18:19). So here we are warned by God that whoever does not hearken to the words of His Prophet shall earn His Wrath. Thus all, be they Jew or gentile, ought to accept the Prophethood of the final messenger.
Up to the time of Jesus (peace be upon him), the Jews were awaiting the prophet like unto Moses prophesied in Deuteronomy. When John the Baptist came, they asked him if he was Christ and he said “no“. They asked him if he was Elias and he said “no“. Then, in apparent reference to Deuteronomy 18:18, they asked him “Art thou that Prophet” and he answered, “no“. (John 1: 1 9-2 1). Nor did Jesus ever claim to be the Prophet referred to. He merely warned us to beware of false prophets, giving us the criteria to identify false prophets and implying that another Prophet would come after him when he said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
Thus Jesus clearly indicated that a true Prophet would come after him, while warning against false prophets: Therefore, by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:15-20).
It is also well known that the Jews and Christians of pre-Islamic Arabia living in the midst of Arabs were awaiting a prophet. They would say: “The time has come for the unlettered prophet to appear who will revive the religion of Abraham. We will join his ranks and wage fierce war against you.” When Muhammad actually appeared, some of them believed in him, and some refused. This is why God revealed:
And when there comes to them a Book (Quran) from God confirming that which was with them – although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved – but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieve in it; But the curse of God be upon the disbelievers
But that’s not all. Moses predicted the coming of the Prophet in another little understood prophecy. He said to his people: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand (went) a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints (are) in Thy hand: and they sat down at Thy feet; (every one) shall receive of Thy words” (Deuteronomy 33:2).
This prophecy tells of God’s speaking to Moses in Mount Sinai, His Words becoming established in the land of Seir near Jerusalem with the advent of Jesus and his Message attaining its peak in Mount Paran, when the chosen one came with 10,000 men and gave unto them a strong and lasting code of law, a criterion between good and evil. Paran is an obvious reference to the Hijaz country of Arabia which in the Bible (Genesis 21:21) is called the wilderness of Paran where Ishmael and his mother Hagar dwelt after being driven out by Sarah and the mount it refers to is Mount Hira where the Prophet received the first call to his universal mission. The ten thousand saints it refers to are the ten thousand strong army that followed the Prophet in taking Mecca for Islam and the fiery law is no doubt the law of Islam which brooks no idolatry and tolerates no injustice.
The Prophet Isaiah likewise made a very clear reference to Muhammad’s mission when he proclaimed:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgement to the gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. He shall bring forth judgement unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he has set judgement in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law. I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from the end of the earth. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit, let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord and declare His praise in the islands
These words seem to speak of the universal mission of Muhammad who was sent not just to the Arabs and their Jewish cousins, but also to the rest of mankind insultingly called gentiles by the Jews. When God says Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth it seems specifically to refer to Muhammad who often used to call himself a servant or slave of God, like when he once told a companion who had called him Our master: “God alone is the Master! I am no one’s master. Let not the devil deceive you; I do not wish you to raise me to a status higher than that God has placed me. I am only God’s Slave and His Messenger” (Ahmed).
When God says: He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he has set judgement in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law, what He means is he would persist in his mission till it spreads all over and justice is established far and wide. This is a fitting description of the Prophet’s mission which was meant for all humanity.
When He says: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles, it means that the chosen one would be the seal of the messengers and that his message would be embraced by the gentiles, which is exactly what Islam was all about, the final revelation of God to all humanity.
When He says: To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house, it means nothing but bringing the Pagans out of the darkness and blindness of idolatry to the light of the One True God. Bringing out the prisoners from the prison may either mean saving or enfranchising people from the prison of this world and guiding them on to the path to true freedom in the hereafter, or in a more literal sense freeing slaves, both of which the Prophet achieved.
When He says: I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from the end of the earth, what He is saying is that the Chosen One would establish the Oneness of God for all time through a new dispensation and a new language which would reach all the corners of the world. This too is a fitting description of the Prophet’s mission, which to this day remains the most monotheistic and most iconoclastic of all faiths. This faith came through the vehicle of a new language Arabic, the new song referred to, so that God’s praises could be heard from all over the world, like in the minarets of the mosques scattered over every continent. What this also says is the faith would be a universal one as God’s praises would emanate from the ends of the earth, which can be nothing but Islam.
And when He says: Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit, let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord and declare His praise in the islands, He is referring to the message commencing among the children of Kedar, son of Ishmael in their Arabian homeland and spreading to the most distant islands like the numerous islands of the Indonesian archipelago. The Prophet was in fact a descendant of Kedar as were his Arabian followers and his message did in fact spread to the furthest islands of the world. The reference to the inhabitants of the rock shouting God’s praises from the top of the mountains is a fair description of Muslims gathering every year at Mount Arafat during the Islamic pilgrimage to cry out at the top of their voices: “Here I come O God. Here I come. Here I come. There is no partner with you. Verily yours is the Praise”
That this description cannot refer to Jesus as Matthew (15:18-21) wrongly believed is seen from the fact that as Jesus himself said, he had been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In contrast, Islam which Muhammad brought was meant for all, Jew and gentile. Further Jesus was unable to bring victory to justice or justice to the gentiles due to the schemes of the Jews, but Muhammad was, after vanquishing the Jews on numerous occasions. And if as most Christians today hold that he was the Son of God, then he certainly cannot be My servant whom I uphold, though it can very well refer to Muhammad who claimed to be no more than a Messenger and Slave of God.
Besides, the awaited one is here said to be a descendant of Ke’dar. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about Kedar:
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations
So Ke’dar is here described as the son of Ishmael who was the son of Abraham. He was the progenitor of the Quraysh tribe and hence the forefather of Muhammad. So when the awaited one is described as being of Abraham’s seed it must obviously refer to Muhammad. Jesus was not a descendant of Ishmael, but of Isaac.
The Prophet Haggai said: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord Almighty.“; (Haggai 2: 6-7): “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the Lord Almighty. and in this place I will grant peace, declares the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai (2:9). The Prophet Malachi added: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1).
This set of prophecies no doubt speak of the Prophet foretold by Moses. In the first God tells us that “the desired of all nations will come” and who else can this be than the universal prophet Muhammad. In the second we are told “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house and in this place I will grant peace” which implies that the new house chosen by God will surpass the old house in glory, which is to say the temple of Mecca will surpass the temple of Jerusalem, and the house of Islam will supersede the House of Israel and that it will enjoy peace. The third “I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple” speaks of the sudden appearance of the Prophet in the temple of Mecca, the Ka’aba, where he destroys the idols and dedicates it to the worship of the One true God. But that’s not all. Take the words of the Prophet Daniel who proclaimed:
I saw one like the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; when he came to the Ancient of days (God), and was presented before him, he received dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him his dominion is an everlasting dominion,which shall not be taken away (Daniel 7:13-14)
The phrase ‘Son of Man’ means in Biblical terminology a prophet; his coming to the presence of the ‘Most Ancient of Days’ seems but a reference to Muhammad’s coming before the presence of God Almighty who is also known in Islamic tradition by the same term ‘The most Ancient of Days’. This is little doubt a reference to our Prophet’s ascension to the heavens from Jerusalem accompanied by the angel Gabriel and his meeting with God who enjoined on his followers the daily prayers which Muslims offer to this day; His being given dominion and a kingdom of all nations and languages no doubt refers to Muhammad’s imperial power and his universal mission for all the nations of the earth. It could not refer to Jesus as he did not enjoy temporal dominion as Muhammad did. It could also not refer to Jesus as he was not sent to all of humanity, but rather to the lost sheep of Israel. Muhammad, on the other hand proclaimed he was a universal messenger to mankind and openly invited other nations to enter the fold of Islam, even going to the extent of writing missives to the rulers of the neighbouring nations like the Byzantines and Persians.
They would eventually be overtaken by Islam, so that the little Islamic city state of Medina founded by Muhammad a few decades earlier would expand to encompass within it diverse nations who spoke different tongues.
We further read in the Psalms revealed to David (Upon Whom Be Peace) of a long awaited Prophet whose description best matches that of Muhammad:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou (the Prophet to come) hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone (stumble). Thou shalt tread upon the lion (Persia) and adder (Egypt); the young lion (Byzantium) and the dragon (the Orient) shalt thou trample under feet. Because he (the Prophet) has set his love upon me (God), therefore, will I deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
This long verse from the Psalms reveals to us many things concerning the coming Prophet which we can compare with the life and times of Prophet Muhammad. Thus his dwelling in the Secret Place of the Most High seems to refer to Muhammad’s frequent meditations in a secret cave on the Jabal al Noor or ‘Mountain of Light’; the terror by night referred to seems to have occurred when the pagan tribes hatched a plot to kill him while he slept; the arrows referred to were likely those the Prophet encountered when he entered into hostilities against the pagan tribes; the angels having him under their protection refers to the angels sent to help him and his followers at the battle of Badr and to strengthen his resolve in the face of great adversity. The conquest of the Lion, Adder and Dragon is nothing but a symbolic reference to the victory of the Muslim armies against Persia, Egypt and the Orient, namely parts of China, for the Lion was the symbol of Persia, the Serpent that of Egypt and the Dragon that of the Orient.
David’s son Solomon also prophesized the coming of a promised one not of the Children of Israel whose prayers he beseeched God to answer:
Moreover concerning a stranger that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm); when he shall come and pray toward this house. Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have built is called by thy name
Here we are told of one coming out of a distant land in the name of God, that is a prophet; the far country referred to could well be Arabia which was in those days a journey of several months by camel or caravan from Palestine where Solomon had his kingdom; He would not be of the chosen people of Israel, but of another nation which when we take God’s promise to Abraham would have to refer to a descendant of Ishmael, Abraham’s elder son from whom the Ishmaelites or Arabs are descended; his coming towards this house (that is the Temple of Jerusalem) refers to his miraculous nightly journey to heaven from a rock in the temple which is today a mosque surmounted by a golden dome and his praying towards it refers to the fact that he and his followers initially had Jerusalem as their original direction of prayer before it was directed towards Mecca; Finally Solomon prays for the success of the awaited one’s mission so that God would be known throughout the earth which again agrees with the universal mission of Muhammad.
We also read in the Song of Songs which is some sort of wedding allegory told by Good King Solomon:
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand; His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven; His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies dropping with sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphire; His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold; his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars; His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is Muhammedim. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. O daughters of Jerusalem
(Song of Songs 5:10-16 )
In Hebrew the last verse in which Muhammad occurs reads as: “Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Yerusalem.”
So here we have the bride, the Shulamite, describing her beloved as Muhammed in the plural form Muhammedim which is a form of respect in the same style that the Hebrew term for God Elohim is used, a device used in a language that has no capital letters like English or a definite article like Arabic to give distinction to a revered proper noun. She refers to her intended as her brother, which makes sense if we consider it to refer to the Prophet Muhammad who was of the Ishmaelites or Arabs, the half-brothers of the Israelites or Jews. The bride though of dark hue, a colour which she compares with the tents of Kedar asks her companions not to shun her because of her dark complexion and proudly sings that her beloved is fair.
She describes him as being white and ruddy which is exactly how the companions of Muhammad described him, a handsome fair complexioned man of a kindly disposition. Even though her spouse is fair she reminds her companions that her complexion is prized by the people with whom she is being united, that is the people of Kedar, who as we saw earlier was the second son of Ishmael and the founding father of the Quraysh, the tribe to which Muhammad himself belonged. The mention of her beloved being the chief of ten thousand seems to refer to the 10,000 holy warriors who marched to Mecca under the command of Muhammad.
This seems to be some sort of wedding allegory symbolizing the outcastes among the Jews, the black sheep among them, so to say, who had not the arrogance of that proud race, uniting with the Arabs under Muhammad to form a single community. We learn from Islamic history that it were only a very few Jews who chose to follow Muhammad and this may well be a reference to their number. It could also refer to the Christians who began as an outcaste offshoot of Judaism and who gave the Prophet and his followers a most warm reception such as the Negus of Abyssinia did when the persecuted Muslims of Mecca migrated to his kingdom. Interestingly these Ethiopian Christians though of Semitic stock like the Jews and Arabs were not as fair-skinned as them on account of mixing with other peoples and were ruled by a monarch, the Negus of the tribe of Judah who claimed descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
The Assyrian Bible also preserves a memory of a prophet to come who closely resembles Muhammad.: “And I will shake all nations and the praised one of all the nations will come. And in this place I will give Peace, says the Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 11:79). The word used here for ‘Praised One’ is himada which in turn is derived from an ancient Hebrew or Aramaic root hemed or hemida and which being a Semitic word has the same origin as Arabic Ahmad, another name for Muhammad mentioned in the Qur’an itself. Also interesting is the fact that the passage mentions ‘Peace’ as the final testament. This takes the form Shalom, and Shalom we know is the Hebrew form of the Arabic Salaam also meaning ‘peace’. However, it could also mean Islam meaning submission (to God). So here we are told of a prophet whose name literally means ‘Praised One’ who will bring a religion called ‘Peace’ or ‘Peace through Submission’.
But that’s not all. Jesus (Upon Whom Be Peace) also foretold the coming of Muhammad. For one thing he warned the Jews: “Say I unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof” (Matthew 21:43). For another he predicted the rise of another spirit (In his language a Prophet) who was described in the Greek translation of his original Aramaic speech as a ‘Comforter’
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you”
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”
That the Holy Spirit referred to here is not the Holy Ghost or Angel Gabriel is clear from the words of Jesus himself: He shall give you another Comforter. Besides, the Holy Ghost was, according to Christians, as well as Muslims, already present to help and guide Jesus, in other words to strengthen him in his mission. That the Holy Spirit is none but a prophet is clear from John himself when he uses spirit in the sense of Prophet: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (John 4:1). But that’s not all. He goes on to say: “Hereby know ye the spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (John 4:2).
Here John uses spirit for prophet, and not just that. He says that the prophet who says Jesus came in the flesh is certainly a true prophet, which shows that Muhammad who spoke so well of Jesus, acknowledging his immaculate birth, his miracles and many other things, must be, according to this criteria, considered a true prophet, and indeed the comforter Jesus refers to when he says: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever”. If Jesus is the first comforter, which is obvious from this passage, then the other he refers to, it must follow must be like him, that is in the flesh and not spirit as the Holy Ghost is thought as.
Now, the Greek word used to describe the coming one Parakletos, has been translated here as ‘Comforter’ though it more precisely means ‘one who pleads another’s cause, an intercessor’. That John understood the Parac1ete to be a flesh and blood person, and not a incorporeal spirit or angel is clear from another book of his where he uses the term with reference to Jesus: “We have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous“(1 John 2: 1). Thus the Parakletos, the Comforter or Intercessor spoken of cannot be an angel or Holy Ghost that descended to Jesus in the form of Gabriel. Rather, it means a prophet of flesh and blood.
However it is possible, nay very likely that the actual word spoken by Jesus was Mawhamana meaning ‘Praised One’ and that it was originally translated to Greek Periklytos ‘The Much-Praised’, which is an exact Greek translation of the Aramaic term which was the speech of Jesus, this being the language used in Palestine at the time. Thus it is likely that the Greek term Parakletos is actually a translator or copyist’s error of Periklytos. Interestingly both these terms, the Aramaic and the Greek have the same meaning as the Arabic Muhammad which means ‘The Praised One’ from the Semitic root hmd ‘praise’. It is the same root that gives rise to the Arabic Ahmad which the Qur’an tells us was the term Jesus used in describing the Prophet to come after him:
And remember, Jesus, The son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God (Sent) to you, confirming Torah (which came) Before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger To come after me, Whose name shall be Ahmad (i.e. Muhammad)”
(The Battle Array:6)
The character of this personality also matches that of Muhammad. For one thing, he is called ‘The spirit of Truth’, in other words a Prophet known for the Words of Truth he speaks. This is confirmed in the Qur’an where God Almighty says of Muhammad: “O mankind! The Messenger has now come unto you with the truth from your Lord: believe, then, for your own good!” (The Women:170). The Greek term used in the Bible is pneuma tees aleetheais ‘the inspired truthful one’ and interestingly enough this Greek word aleetheais has exactly the same meaning as the Arabic Al-Ameen “the Trustworthy”, which was a title by which Muhammad was known, even in his Pre-Prophetic days.
The promised one is also described by Jesus as one who will “abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). What Jesus is telling us here is that his mission like that of the earlier prophets, has to give way to a more lasting one taught by another, until the end of days. Here he draws a very fundamental distinction between his mission and the one to come which will be a lasting one. Now who would that be but Muhammad whose teachings will last and have universal appeal. After all, Muhammad is God’s last messenger to humanity. His teachings are preserved in all its pristine purity and he dwells in the hearts of his followers who worship God in the manner he laid down. At the same time it affirms for a fact that the Gospel brought by Jesus himself is not the final word of God, nor complete, as it clearly announces the coming of another to perfect the message left incomplete by Jesus. This of course came to pass with Muhammad;s ministry when God Himself revealed: “This Day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My Favour upon You”
Jesus also says of him: “He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, (that) shall he speak” (John 16:13), and this too is corroborated in the Qur’an which says of Muhammad: “Neither does he speak out of his own desire: that (which he conveys to you) is but (a divine) inspiration sent down to him” (The Star:3-4). He also says of him: “He shall glorify me.” (John 16:14) and in the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad we find Jesus being spoken of in very high terms: “Behold! The angels said: O Mary! God gives you Glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name shall be Christ Jesus, son of Mary, held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter and of those Nearest to God” (Family Imraan:45). Muhammad not only glorified Jesus, but also cleared him of the blasphemies the Jews accused him of and the calumnies they cast upon his mother Mary.
Jesus further says of him: “And bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26) which again agrees with the words of the Quran which quotes Christ as saying, ‘O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord’” (The Repast:72). Thus it reminds Christians of the first and greatest command of Jesus which they have since forgotten: “The first of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord’” (Mark 12:29). Jesus also says of the Paraclete: “He will teach you all things” (John 14:26) which again agrees with the teachings of the Prophet, which is an entire way of life, covering the spiritual, moral, social and political spheres of human life in a manner no other religion does.
You will be surprised to learn that all this is corroborated by our Holy Book, the Qur’an which expressly tells us that both the Old and New Testaments contain references to Muhammad as the coming Prophet:
Those who follow the Messenger, The unlettered Prophet, Whom they find mentioned In their own (Scriptures) -In the Law and the Gospel – It is they who will prosper
And remember, Jesus, The son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God (Sent) to you, confirming Torah (which came) Before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger To come after me, Whose name shall be Ahmad (i.e. Muhammad)”
(The Battle Array: 6)
Surely, all of these prophecies foretold by these two great prophets when considered together with the words of the Qur’an tell us but one thing: That Muhammad was the promised one, the universal messenger from God Almighty sent to all mankind. How is it that the Bible prophesies the coming of a Prophet whose description fits exactly that of Muhammad while at the same time keeping in mind the biblical promise that the saviour shall be from the seed of Abraham through whom all the families of the world would be blessed.
One of the earliest to recognize him as such was a Christian monk Bahira, also known as Sergius who spotted the signs of Prophethood on the young Muhammad, then only a child. The boy had traveled to Syria with a Meccan caravan accompanied by his uncle Abu Talib , and when it passed by his cell, the monk invited the merchants to a feast. After the feast, the monk told Abu Talib that Muhammad would be a great prophet one day. He observed that when he had seen the caravan in the distance there had been a cloud hanging over them, shading them from the heat of the desert.
When the caravan halted under a tree the cloud also stopped above them. He looked at the cloud when it overshadowed the tree and saw its branches bending and drooping over Muhammad until he was in the shadow beneath it. The monk advised his uncle that Muhammad be taken back to Mecca at once, for if the Jews were to find out who he was they would kill him. Abu Talib took the advice of this wise monk and sent his nephew back with some of the guides.
Then there was Waraqa, another Christian savant. He was a cousin of Muhammad’s wife Khadijah and the good lady had consulted him about her husband’s first encounter with Gabriel which had so scared him. He too prophesied that Muhammad would be a prophet, though he did not become a Muslim. “Holy Holy! By Him in whose hand is Waraqa’s soul, if you are telling me the truth, O Khadija, (it means that) there has indeed come to him the great Namus” and by Namus he meant Gabriel, upon whom be peace, who used to come to Moses, “He will assuredly be the prophet to his own people. Tell him so and bid him be brave of heart“. When the two men met subsequently in the street, the blind old man told him: “I swear by Him in Whose hand Waraqa’s life is, God has chosen you to be the prophet of this people. They will call you a liar, they will persecute you, they will banish you, they will fight against you. Oh, that I could live to those days. I would fight for thee.” (Seerah Ibn Hisham).
He kissed him on his forehead and died shortly after this solitary meeting with the coming prophet. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) would later dream of him in white robes – signifying that Waraqa was in heaven. Thus Waraqa was very likely a Unitarian Christian, perhaps one of the last of his breed which was dying out after being persecuted by the Byzantines who had adopted the heretical Trinitarian doctrine.
Finally I can only cite the words of Thomas Carlyle who very wisely observed of Muhammad’s mission:
“Our current hypothesis about Mohammed, that he was a scheming impostor, a Falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to any one. The lies, which well-meaning zeal have heaped around this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only”. He goes on to add of the reason behind the success of Muhammad’s faith: “What an umpire Nature is; what a greatness, composure of depth and tolerance there is in her. you take wheat to cast into the earth’s bosom; your wheat may be mixed with chaff, chopped straw, barn sweepings, dust and all imaginable rubbish; no matter: you cast it into the kind, just Earth; she grows the wheat- the whole rubbish she silently absorbs, shrouds it in, says nothing of the rubbish. The yellow wheat is growing there; the good earth is silent about all the rest, has silently turned all the rest to some benefit too, and makes no complaint about it! So everywhere in nature she is true and not a lie”.
What better way to dismiss the impostor claim than the words of this wise man from the west. In so few words he says it best, that Muhammad could not have been a charlatan due to the way nature – and by this he meant all nature including human nature – accepted his claims, which could have only been so if he were in contact with the great heart of the universe, in other words, the Supreme Being Himself.