Muhammad in the Bible?
When the Christian reads the Bible or hears it publicly read in church it never enters into the smallest recesses of the mind that he may be reading or hearing about Muhammad. The whole idea is preposterous for the scriptures do not speak of Muhammad, yet despite this Muslims insist and argue to the contrary. This is not a new form of Muslim apologetic for it has been in operation since the times of Al Tabari, who converted from Christianity and wrote the Book of Religion and Empire in the 9th century where he quoted many passages from the Bible which he claimed were fulfilled in Muhammad.
Why do Muslims insist that we will find references to Muhammad in Bible?
They insist because the Quran states that Muhammad is mentioned in the Bible: “Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), in the law and the Gospel” (Al A’raf 7:157). They insist because Jesus allegedly prophesied Muhammad’s coming: “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “this is evident sorcery!” (An-Saff 61:6)
Why do Christians insist Muhammad is not spoken about in the Bible?
It is not only a matter of conviction but it is also a matter of handling the Bible correctly. In their enthusiasm to find some reference to Muhammad, Muslims invariably takes verses out of context and forcibly apply them to a new setting to which they do not belong. Where possible, analogies with Muhammad which can be found in the Bible, are seized upon and developed particularly in those areas which relate to a similar lifestyle to Muhammad; some location which sounds as though it were a place familiar to Muhammad; and someone whose name sounds similar to Muhammad.
Do Muslims then deny the prophecies that relate to Christ?
Muslims do not deny that Christ is the Messiah nor do they contest that there were many prophecies regarding Christ in the Old Testament but they do contest that some verses said by Christians to be prophecies about Christ actually are prophecies about Muhammad.
Common examples used by Muslim apologists to argue their cause
“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” Song of Solomon 5:16
The Muslim argues that the Hebrew term machmad (altogether lovely) can be translated ‘praise’ or ‘Ahmed’ and the correct reading should be “His mouth is most sweet: he is Muhammad. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
This verse is not a prophesy and is found in a series of verses expressing poetic love between one called the Beloved and her Lover. The immediate context of the person being addressed as machmad is someone in the time of Solomon (3:11) who is loved by a Shulamite (6:13).
While identity cannot be proved beyond all doubt, its setting is Israel, for as we read through the book of Song of Solomon we find ourselves coming to Jerusalem and meeting her daughters. There is no record of Muhammad courting any of these ladies. A search of the twelve occurrences of the Hebrew word machmad shows that the word has nothing to do with praise but rather its meaning is ‘what is desirable.’
Analogy of Muhammad being the unlettered prophet
Muslims suggest that Muhammad’s experience in the cave of Hira which was later called Jabal-un-Nur (‘The Mountain of Light’) is an exact fulfilment of Isaiah 29:12 where the book is delivered to the unlearned one: “And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.”
They claim that Muhammad was a person without any previous learning and that he was taught directly by Allah and so he was able to confounded the wise. This they say is expressed in the Quran in the following way: “Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: He was taught by one mighty in power” (An-Najm 53:3-5)
When Isaiah 29:12 is read in context a different picture emerges. The passage refers to the judgement of Jerusalem and it is likened to two men, one of which is learned, and the other unlearned. The learned could not read because the book had a seal on it; the unlearned because he was illiterate. The people of Jerusalem at the time, were like those in a deep sleep or drunk (verses 9 & 10) and the vision like an unopened book had no value to them. It has nothing to do with prophecy nor has it anything to do with Muhammad.
Analogy of an awaited prophet who was to come from Arabia
“And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, 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. (Deuteronomy 33:1-2)
Muhammad is said to have come from the mountains of Arabia after receiving his revelation. Muslims identify the geographical areas in ways which do not support the Biblical evidence. They place Seir ‘as probably the village of Sa’ir near Jerusalem.’
Geographically the areas Sinai, Seir and Paran were all in the Sinai peninsula, hundreds of miles away from Arabia. It was in these areas that God showed his glory. The Sinai peninsula was a wilderness area and Ishmael settled in the wilderness of Paran (Genesis 21:21).
The following verses also explain that the places mentioned in Deuteronomy 33:1-2 are associated with the Sinai Peninsula and not Arabia: “And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness” (Genesis 14:6); “And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran” (Numbers 10:12); “And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran” (Numbers 13:3 c/f Deuteronomy 1:1).
These verses have nothing to do with Muhammad, nor do they make any promises concerning him. Muslims fail to look in other parts of scripture which identify the mentioned named places.
The analogy of Mecca sounding like the Hebrew word Baca
The King James Version mentions that the pilgrims passed through Ba’ca which the Muslims say is another name for Mecca: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. (Psalm 84:4-6) The Hebrew of Psalm 84:6 is emeb habbaka means ‘the valley of the balsam tree. The location is not known. If it can be proved that Mecca’s original meaning was connected with balsam trees then at least the Muslim could begin an argument and then look into the geography.
The analogy of Kedar to substantiate the claim that Muhammad brought the long awaited law
In turning to Isaiah 42:1-13 Muslims claim that this section concerning the servant of the Lord, the beloved of God and the elect messenger who will bring down the long awaited law and he will not fail until he has set judgement on the earth is Muhammad. They do this by the use of analogy for verse 11 which states “the villages that Kedar doth inhabit‘ is connected to the Kedar of Genesis 25:13 who was the second son of Ishmael and therefore the ancestor of Muhammad.
These words, quoted from Isaiah, are also found in Matthew 12:17-20 where they are translated from Hebrew to the Greek. Matthew’s purpose is to show that Jesus withdrew himself when pressure became intense, until his appointed hour came, and rather than being a Messiah who is thought of in military terms his Messianic features characterise tranquillity (v 19) and gentleness (v 20) and this conduct was nothing more than a fulfillment of this scripture.
The Isaiah chapter prophecies about the Servant of the Lord who will be “a light for the Gentiles” (v 6) being responsible for bringing those outside the Jewish covenant into salvation. For this reason the chapter continues – a new song is sung (v10) from the ends of the earth, islands, the wilderness, the cities, even the village of Kedar, where the offspring of Ishmael dwell will rejoice as once they had no opportunity for salvation but now in the Servant of the Lord (Jesus Christ) there is hope.
The analogy of Teman being in the district of Medina
“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise” (Habakuk 3:3). Muslims, having allegedly claimed that the Bible scholar Hastings in his Dictionary of the Bible’ (published 1898-1904) placed Teman as an oasis north of Medina: “God (God’s help) coming from Teman (Medina) and the holy one coming from Paran (Mecca). That holy one who under persecution migrated from Paran to be received enthusiastically in Medina was none but Prophet Muhammad.” The argument continues that Jesus, never in his life, travelled to the mountainous regions of Paran nor Teman but Muhammad was born in Paran and died there in the capital of Islamic religion (What the Bible says about Muhammad by Ahmed Deedat published by Islamic Mission).
A look at Hastings Dictionary on-line (http://www.studylight.org/dic/hdb/view.cgi?n=5418) shows that the description given in the booklet is incorrect for under the heading of Teman we read “A tribe (and district) of Edom……” The Hastings Dictionary is correct Teman was part of the kingdom of Edom. Kedar was a descendent of Ishmael so Teman was the grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:10,11). Edom denotes the name Esau and is in present day Jordan.
The correct interpretation of Habakuk 3:3 is that this prophet poetically glances back over the historical experiences of Israel from Egypt to Sinai and on into his present experience. As in the past when God came, for the salvation of his people, from Teman, (located in Edom, east of the Arabah and midway between the south end of the Dead Sea and the north end of the Gulf of Aqabah) and (Paran situated west of Edom and north-west of Aqabah), so he will come again to help. The text has nothing to say about Muhammad he is not the subject of the sentence only the Lord (YHWH)
If Muslims want to be consistent about applying Teman to Medina they will be disturbed to learn that Teman was punished by by fire (Amos 1:12) and their mighty men were dismayed (Obadiah verse 9).
All the above clearly show that the text cannot refer to Muhammad.