Good News for Muslims 3
DID MOSES PROPHESY THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD?
They make an exception, however. The Koran teaches that Muhammad was prophesied in the Bible: “… I (i.e. Allah) will show it (i.e. my mercy) to those that … follow the apostle, the unlettered prophet (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written among them in the Torah and in the Gospel ...” (Sura al-A'raf 7:156-157; compare Sura al-Saff 61:6). To prove the Koran is right, Muslims study the Bible and quote references from it that, in their opinion, show Muhammad was prophesied in it. The most important reference from the Torah of Moses that Muslims cite is: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” (Deuteronomy 18:15; see also verse 18) They believe that Moses prophesied the coming of Muhammad in this verse. When doing this they trust the Bible deeply.
Muslims know that Christians believe this reference in the Torah prophesied the coming of Christ, and not Muhammad. To refute this, Muslims argue on the basis of the Koran: 1) Muhammad was like Moses, both were begotten in a natural manner from father and mother. -- Christ, however, was begotten in His mother Mary through a supernatural miracle of God. 2) Muhammad was like Moses in that both are dead and buried in the earth. -- Christ, however, is not dead, but alive; He is not buried in the earth, but is today in heaven. Thus Muslims believe that by saying “A prophet like me …” Moses would have not been prophesying the coming of Christ, but of Muhammad.
Do Christians have to revise their opinion and believe that Moses did not prophesy the coming of Christ, but of Muhammad?
In view of the Muslim understanding of Deuteronomy 18:15 however, the following facts are important: 1) My grandfather was like Moses and Muhammad, for all three of them were born in the normal way, from father and mother. 2) My grandfather was like Moses and Muhammad, for all three of them died and were buried in the earth. Does that make my grandfather into a prophet like Moses? Of course not! Therefore, based on these comparative features alone, Muhammad cannot be the one who Moses prophesied would come.
In order for a later man to be a prophet like Moses, the comparative features need to be chosen in such a way as to emphasize that which is out of the ordinary. We should notice the following: 1) Christ and Moses are alike in that God worked many miracles through both of them. (Moses, for example, parted the sea, and Christ raised the dead). -- According to the Koran, however, Muhammad did not perform a single miracle. 2) Moses died in accordance with God's plan and now lives in heaven. The same is true of Christ: His earthly life ended according to the plan of God, and he now lives in heaven too. – Muhammad, however, died under the influence of poison and is not in heaven, but still in the grave (in his mosque in Medina). These similarities and differences are not only found in the Bible, but also taught in the Koran. Therefore Christ is the promised prophet like Moses, and not Muhammad.
GOOD NEWS: I can trust the book of the Torah that we received from Moses and which today makes up a part of the Bible. It tells the truth and has not been corrupted. It is right for Muslims to search the Bible in order to shed light upon statements of the Koran about the Torah and the Gospel.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Some years ago I was on a visit in South Africa. There I visited an Islamic missions center in Johannesburg where I was allowed to spend many hours in the library. I was amazed to find a big shelf full of books in which Muslims researched the Bible to prove the Koran was right in stating that Muhammad had been prophesied in the Bible. The thickest book of this kind had more than 1000 pages and was composed by a Muslim as his doctoral thesis at the Islamic university in Mecca. These Muslim books prove that the Bible was not corrupted, like many Muslims believe. Otherwise respected leaders of Islam would not spend months researching the Bible nor take its statements so seriously.
The first man to try to prove that Muhammad was prophesied in the Bible was a Jew who had converted to Islam: Ali ibn Rabban al-Tabari. In the year 855 he published a book (Kitab al-Din wa al-Dawla = The Book of Religion and the State) in which he used quotations from 16 books of the Bible. With the help of these verses he tried to prove that Muhammad was there prophesied. After the passage we quoted above from Moses, he trusted the following books of the Bible: from the Prophet David (Psalm 48:1-2), from the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2-4), from the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33-34), from the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:2-8 and 19-24), and from Christ (the Gospel according to John 14:16, 26), as well as others. His book was used by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil as an important instrument for spreading Islam. Thus the founders of orthodox Islam proved in the 9th century that the Bible had not been corrupted by Jews and Christians, for they quoted important verses of the prophets Moses, David, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Christ, and even of the apostle Paul. By so doing they trusted that the books of these messengers of God were true and not corrupted, many years after the death of Muhammad.
One quote in the book of al-Tabari is especially remarkable. Christ said: “But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26). Tabari claims that here Christ prophesied of Muhammad, for the comforter is supposedly the Prophet of Islam. Many Muslims today follow the example of Tabari. By doing so they indirectly recognize that God is Father, for the Comforter is sent by the heavenly Father of Christ into the world.
TESTIMONY: My name is Ahmad and I live in the African country of Chad. I used to be a Koran teacher and lived from selling transistor radios and repairing defective receivers. Different radios were always laying around my workshop with which I could pick up various radio stations. One day I used such a receiver to tune into a program being broadcast and listened to the message. I soon noticed that it was a Christian station. The Arabic speaker was reading a Psalm of David. I was deeply moved by the content of this Psalm. I said to myself that if Christians could praise God in such a wonderful way as they were doing with this Psalm then they must not be as bad and evil as I had been taught about them. I so much wanted to read this Psalm again, but I had no Bible. I searched for several months before I finally found an Arabic Bible. Then I needed some more months to find the page in my Bible containing the Psalm that had been read on the radio when I was listening. It was Psalm 145. I was overjoyed when I found it. I thought a great deal about its content. In the course of time, God helped me starting out from this Psalm to unlock the message of the Bible. I was especially touched by the message of Christ. For this reason I decided to follow Christ. I told my Koran students that from now on we would no longer be studying the Koran, but the Bible. Most of them have followed my example and today believe in Christ.
PRAYER: With all my heart I thank you God, my king, that you are gracious and merciful, patient and of great kindness. You are faithful in all your words, therefore I trust your Word. I confess that I have sinned against you. Save me from sin, the devil, and death. You hear my cry and help me. Let all flesh praise your holy name forever and ever.
QUESTIONS: Why do Muslims study and search in the Bible? How can they say the Bible has been corrupted if they trust the biblical statements they believe relate to Muhammad? Whom did Moses prophesy: Christ or Muhammad?