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18. Bible and Qur'an Series
(A response to Ahmad Deedat's Booklet:What the Bible says about Muhummed)

3. A Prophet Like Unto Moses

The Islamic publications listed in the Bibliography to this booklet are full of comparisons between Moses and Muhammad where evidence is brought forward of certain likenesses between them. These publications also produce many differences between Jesus and Moses as the authors try to disprove that Jesus is the prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18.

In his booklet “What the Bible Says About Muhummed” Mr. Deedat produces a number of similarities between Moses and Muhammad which he claims do not exist between Moses and Jesus. Most of these are meaningless, however, and only serve to show the supreme uniqueness of Jesus over against the whole human race. For example, Deedat argues that Moses and Muhammad were both born naturally of human parents and are buried on earth, whereas Jesus was born of a virgin-woman, had no earthly father, and ascended to heaven (Deedat, What the Bible Says About Muhummed, page 7, 12). It is obvious that all men have natural parents and go back to the dust, and all Mr. Deedat is doing is to reveal certain ways in which Jesus was absolutely unique among men. This does not help to identify the prophet predicted by Moses, however.

In the publications referred to we do find occasionally more prominent likenesses between Moses and Muhammad which do need to be analyzed more carefully. Three such comparisons are:

  1. Moses and Muhammad became the lawgivers, military leaders, and spiritual guides of their peoples and nations;
  2. Moses and Muhammad were at first rejected by their own people, fled into exile, but returned some years later to become the religious and secular leaders of their nations;
  3. Moses and Muhammad made possible the immediate and successful conquests of the land of Palestine after their deaths by their followers, Joshua and Umar respectively.

At the same time it is alleged in these publications that Jesus and Moses were so different, according to Christian belief, that Jesus cannot be the prophet referred to. Such differences are these:

  1. Moses was only a prophet but, according to Christian belief, Jesus is the Son of God;
  2. Moses died naturally but Jesus died violently;
  3. Moses was the national ruler of Israel which Jesus was not at any time during his ministry here on earth.

We are constrained to ask: do these similarities and contrasts in any way prove that Muhammad is the prophet like Moses whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18? It is the easiest of matters to show that this sort of reasoning will in no way assist us to discover the real identity of the prophet. Firstly, none of the alleged differences between Moses and Jesus are of any importance. The Bible often calls Jesus a prophet as well as the Son of God (see, for example, Matthew 13:57, 21:11, and John 4:44) and the fact that Jesus died violently is hardly relevant to the issues at stake. Many prophets were killed by the Jews for their testimonies, a fact to which both the Bible and the Qur'an bear witness, (cf. Matthew 23:31, Surah al-Baqara 2:91). Furthermore the Bible teaches that the Christian Church as a whole has replaced the nation of Israel in this age as the collective object of God's special favors. Likewise, whereas Moses led that nation during his life on earth, so Jesus today heads the Church of God from his throne in heaven above. In this respect, therefore, he is really like Moses.

Secondly, if we reverse the process we can show many similarities between Moses and Jesus where Muhammad at the same time can be contrasted with them. Some of these are:

  1. Moses and Jesus were Israelites - Muhammad was an Ishmaelite. (This is, as we have seen, a crucial factor in really determining the identity of the prophet who was to follow Moses).
  2. Moses and Jesus both left Egypt to perform God's work - Muhammad was never in Egypt. Of Moses we read: “By faith he forsook Egypt” (Hebrews 11:27). Of Jesus we read: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son” (Matthew 2:15).
  3. Moses and Jesus forsook great wealth to share the poverty of their people which Muhammad did not. Of Moses we read: “He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt” and that he chose “to share ill-treatment with the people of God” (Hebrews 11:25-26). Of Jesus we read: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

So we have similarities between Moses and Jesus where Muhammad can be contrasted with them. This shows how weak the Muslim method of comparing Moses with Muhammad (while contrasting them with Jesus) is, for it works both ways. How then can we truly identify the prophet who was to be like Moses?

As there were numerous prophets down the ages, it is logical to assume that this prophet would be uniquely like Moses in a way that none of the other prophets were. Clearly the prophet to come would emulate him in the exceptional and unique characteristics of his prophethood. Indeed we would expect that God would give some indication in the prophecy of the distinguishing features of this prophet who was to be like Moses. We only have to refer to the context of the prophecy to find this striking verse which very clearly gives us an indication of the nature of the prophet to follow:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren - him you shall heed - just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die’. (Deuteronomy 18:15-16)

The prophet would be raised up just as God had raised Moses up as the mediator of the covenant which he gave at Horeb. The Israelites pleaded with Moses to become a mediator between them and God because they did not wish to hear God's voice face to face, and God said “They have rightly said all that they have spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:17). God henceforth raised Moses up as the mediator of the covenant between himself and Israel. We need also to consider that God spoke to Moses in a very special way as well and in the Bible we read:

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11)

The Qur'an also teaches that God spoke directly to Moses in a way in which he did not speak to other prophets (Surah al-Nisa' 4:164). Furthermore, to confirm the great mediatorial work which Moses was to perform, God did great signs and miracles through him in the presence of all Israel. Now as God had promised that the prophet to come would be like him in this mediatorial work, we must conclude that the distinguishing features of the prophet would be these:

  1. He would be the direct mediator of a covenant between God and his people;
  2. He would know God face to face;
  3. His office would be confirmed by great signs and wonders which he would do by the power of God in the sight of all the nation of Israel.

This conclusion is in fact clearly established by these last words in the Book of Deuteronomy:

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

The three distinguishing features of Moses as a prophet are clearly mentioned: he was the mediator between God and Israel, he knew the LORD face to face, and he did great signs and wonders. The prophet like him would obviously have to emulate these unique features of his prophethood. Did Muhammad possess these exceptional characteristics by which the prophet was to be recognized?

Firstly, whereas God spoke directly to Moses, so that he was a direct mediator between God and the people of Israel, the Qur'an is alleged to have come at all times from the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad and at no time did God directly communicate it to him face to face, as the Muslims themselves admit. He also did not mediate a covenant between God and the people of Israel.

Secondly, Muhammad performed no signs and wonders. Although the Hadith record some fanciful miracles, these are purely mythical, for the Qur'an very clearly says of Muhammad that he performed no signs. In Surah al-An'am 6:37, when Muhammad's adversaries say “Why has no sign been sent down to him from his Lord?”, Muhammad is bidden to reply merely that God could send one if he wanted to, but had not done so. In the same Surah we read that Muhammad said, “I have not that for which you are impatient” (Surah al-An'am 6:57), meaning signs and wonders such as Moses had. He goes on to say that if he had had them, the dispute between him and them would have been decided long ago.

Again in the same Surah Muhammad's adversaries say they will believe if signs come from God, but he only replies that God has reserved them, because they would still disbelieve anyway (as indeed the Jews did with Jesus - John 12:37). Furthermore the Qur'an also says that Muhammad's adversaries in Mecca also once said to him:

Why are not (signs) sent to him, like those which were sent to Moses? (Surah al-Qasas 28:48)

The answer the Qur'an gives is much the same - they rejected the signs of Moses anyway, so why do they now expect Muhammad to perform signs? Nevertheless, in terms of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:18, this was a very poignant and significant observation for it plainly distinguishes between Moses and Muhammad in the very important matter of performing signs and wonders. How indeed could Muhammad possibly be the prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18 if he was not granted the power to perform the kind of signs and wonders performed by Moses? In this case, therefore, he was definitely not like Moses in one of the vital, distinguishing characteristics of his prophethood. The Qur'an has its own testimony to this effect.

So we find that Muhammad was not a direct mediator between God and man, nor could he do any signs and wonders to confirm his office. Deuteronomy 34:11 makes it essential that the prophet like Moses would do similar signs and wonders to those which Moses did, and as Muhammad did not, we have a second fatal objection against the theory that he is the prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18. We can conclude by saying that whatever evidence the Muslims may produce in favor of their assertion, the really relevant and crucial evidence needed to prove the point is not only unfavorable in his case but in fact fatally rules out the possibility that he might indeed be the prophet of whom Moses spoke.

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