When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he wrote a charter in which he made the Jews part of “One Ummah” (nation) with rights and responsibilities. He recognized that the Jews were the chosen people of their time, and, as fellow monotheists, they were his natural allies against the polytheists. The Qur’an confirms the Jews’ status as the “chosen people”: “O Children of Israel! Remember My favors which I bestowed upon you, and that I exalted you above all the nations of the time.”7
I encourage my Jewish and Christian brethren to reflect on the similarities among the three Abrahamic faiths and ask, Could they be mere coincidences of history? Muslims believe in the miracles that the prophets Moses, Jesus, and others performed with God’s permission. If Jews and Christians were to study the life of the Prophet Muhammad from the authentic sources, as this book strives to present, they would realize that he could not possibly have been a “false prophet,” as some allege. The People of the Book should ask, Could a false prophet command such an abiding respect from his followers consistently for nearly a millennia and a half? Has a false prophet ever stood the scrutiny of time and inspired great civilizations and enlightenment? Could the ranks of his followers keep growing if he were not a true messenger of God? And finally, is it a mere coincidence that the innumerable Jews and Christians who accepted Islam over the last 1,447 years found in it a reaffirmation of their former faith?
An open and honest look at his life, the miracles he performed, and the certainty of knowledge he exhibited will inextricably lead to one conclusion: that the Prophet Muhammad was God’s true Messenger to mankind.
Now, let us look at some of the relevant verses from all three holy books to reflect on the unmistakable similarities. The Qur’an says that God had given clear signs of His Last Messenger in earlier scriptures. Those signs were so clear that a denial of the Prophet Muhammad would be unimaginable:
Those to whom We gave the Scripture (Jews and Christians) recognize him (Muhammad) as they recognize their sons. But verily, a party of them conceals the truth while they know it.8
By citing verses from the Torah and Gospels to draw parallels with Islam, I have opened myself to criticism from Muslims who might ask, Why am I using scriptures that have undergone several revisions over the centuries? To that I would say that although the Torah and Gospels have not been preserved in the same way the Qur’an was, there are many verses in the ancient scriptures that bear strikingly close resemblance to the verses in the Muslim holy book and therefore can be assumed to have come from the same source.
In the Torah, God said to the Prophet Moses,
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.9
While Christians believe the above passage is talking about Jesus, the Muslims see it as referring to the Prophet Muhammad, as the latter was the only prophet from the progeny of Ishmael, who was an older brother of Isaac from a different mother. The Prophet Muhammad was like Moses in that he also received a new canonical law and fought against those who showed enmity to God’s commands. For them there was no other prophet like Moses among the children of Israel. Jesus was different from the prophet Moses in that he was born without a father and raised up alive when the Romans tried to crucify him, while Moses had a normal birth and died.10 In his first coming, Jesus did not establish political authority while the Prophet Muhammad and Moses did.
Jews might say that Deuteronomy 18:17–19 refers to the whole line of prophets God would send after Moses to preach His truth and guide His people, and they would be only from the children of Israel. However, a famous rabbi in Madinah, Abdullaah bin Salaam, had no problem accepting the Prophet Muhammad as the prophet foretold in the Jewish scriptures. Since then, many other Jews have accepted the Prophet Muhammad and embraced Islam, recognizing it as the continuation of the religion of Moses.
According to Jewish tradition, the religion that Noah11 taught consisted of seven laws:
Do not deny God
Do not blaspheme God
Do not commit murder
Do not engage in illicit sexual relations
Do not steal
Do not eat of a live animal
Establish courts/legal systems to ensure obedience to the law
Rabbinic tradition holds that while the Jews are obligated to keep all 613 commandments in the Torah, all non-Jews, regardless of religion, are subject to these seven laws in order to be considered righteous people. Any future religion claiming to be of divine origin had to, at minimum, adhere to them. All seven of those principles are found in Islam.
The Qur’an says that the religion of the Prophet Muhammad is the same as those of God’s other prophets. In the following verse, some of God’s prophets are mentioned, while all are implied:
He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Noah, and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses and Jesus saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it.12
The Qur’an says,
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 Ahmed.’ But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, ‘This is evident sorcery!’13
Ahmed and Muhammad are derived from the same Arabic root that means praised, so the Prophet’s two names mean The Praised One. In the Qur’an Ahmed has been mentioned once to refer to the Prophet Muhammad from the blessed tongue of Jesus.
Jesus said, “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”14
Parakletos, the Greek term used here for comforter, means “called to one’s side, called to one’s aid.” Other translations are advocate and helper.
I have yet many things to say unto you,” Jesus said, “but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” 15
Jesus further said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” 16
Christians normally read the above verses from the Gospel of John as referring to the Holy Spirit. However, according to Luke 1:15 and 1:41, the Holy Spirit was already present in the world prior to Jesus’s birth.17
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam emphasize the unity of God. For example, the Torah says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”18 As we saw in Mark 12:29–30, Jesus affirmed that “the Lord is One God. And the Qur’an said, “And your God is one God; there is no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful.”19
In their open letter to the Christian world, the Muslim scholars write:
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”
On a side note, but an important one, more than 120 Muslim scholars have issued a point-by-point denunciation of ISIS and its claim to Islamic caliphate. Yet, much of the mainstream US media have not found this newsworthy.
Muslims are not at war with Christians or Jews, nor should they be so long as the latter do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them, or drive them out of their homes. The Qur’an says:
Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice.20
On the other hand, the Qur’an praises the righteous among the Jews and Christians, saying:
They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book there is a party who stand by their covenant; they recite the word of Allah in the hours of night and prostrate themselves before Him. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin what is good and forbid evil, and hasten, vying with one another, in good works. And these are among the righteous.21
In his thought-provoking article in The Huffington Post, Ian Mevorach writes:
Historically, most Christian theologians—including John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Nicholas of Cusa, and Martin Luther—have seen Muhammad not as a “Spirit of Truth” but as a “Spirit of Error,” a false prophet or heretic. There are many Christians today who respect the Islamic tradition and would never make such an offensive statement about Muhammad.
However, the majority of Christians still maintain a fundamentally Islamophobic position on Muhammad. So I believe that the time has come for peacemaking Christians to contradict this position directly. Changing our view of Muhammad—so that we recognize him as a true prophet rather than discredit him as a false prophet—would effectively inoculate Christians against Islamophobia and would help to establish a new paradigm of cooperative Christian-Muslim relations.
There is no better candidate than Muhammad, no one in fact that comes even close, in terms of fulfilling Jesus’s promise of the Spirit of Truth who would bring forth a new revelation from God.22
In conclusion, I invite our brethren from the Jewish and Christian faiths to read this biography of the Prophet Muhammad with open minds and decide for themselves if the noble life described herein could in fact be that of a true prophet of God. His triumphs and tragedies, prophecies and conduct, miracles and spirituality, his public and private life, and the revelations he recited deserve an open exploration. The truth emancipates us from irrational fear. Let us seek it without fetters. I believe that religious creed is too serious a matter to be left to chance, and it must be based on analysis, comparison, verification, and reflection.
(Excerpted from the blogger’s book, Muhammad: Son of Abraham, Brother of Moses, Successor of Jesus)
7 Baqarah 2:122
8 Baqarah 2:146
9 Deuteronomy 18: 18–19 KJV
10 Muslims believe that Allaah raised Jesus unto Himself when the Romans tried to crucify him and that he will return to complete his mission and then die. The Romans did crucify someone but that was not Jesus.
11 Noah came before Moses and he is considered by both Muslims and Jews to be a prophet.
12 Shoora 42:13
13 Saff 61:6
14 John: 14:16
15 John 16:12–14 KJV
16 John 16:7 KJV
17 Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The True Message of Jesus Christ (Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House, 2002)
18 Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV
19 Baqarah 2:163
20 Mumtahanah 60:8
21 Aal Imraan 3:114-115
22 Ian Mevorach, “Did Jesus Predict Muhammad? A Biblical Portal Between Christianity and Islam,” Huffington Post, April 25, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-mevorach/did-jesus-predict-muhammad_b_9762934.html.