Moslems respect the Christian Bible as the inspired Word of God. Their own holy book, The Koran, says this about the Bible:
It was we who revealed the Law (to Moses); therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the Prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah’s will, by the Rabbis and the doctors of Law; for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book. Surah 5:44
These particular words most directly relate to the Old Testament. The passage goes on to say this about the New Testament and its alignment with the Old Testament:
We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him. Surah 5:46
The respect of Moslems for the Bible means that we have common ground in the Scriptures for testing the claims of Islam. Moslems claim that the Bible provides evidence for the validity of Islam. This article seeks to test some of these claims in the light of the Bible. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible is our only court of appeal. If what is said does not stack up against the Bible it is not truth, it is error. It is not enlightening, it is darkness.
A prophet like unto Moses
Moslems themselves use the Bible to make claims about Islam. An example of this is their approach to Deuteronomy 18, where God tells Moses that at some future time he would raise up a special prophet like Moses. Jews have always seen this as a promise of their Messiah and Christians recognise this passage as a prophecy about the Lord Jesus Christ:
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. (Deuteronomy 18:17-19)
This prophecy clearly says that a man would be provided by God from among the Jews who would speak the words of God and who would have supreme authority. We apply this to the Lord Jesus Christ but Moslem scholars do not agree with that interpretation. They claim the prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Mohammed. One Islamic scholar, Ahmed Deedat, in his book What the Bible says about Muhummed (Islamic Propaganda Centre International, Birmingham, 1989) makes these points to prove that this prophecy could not apply to Jesus because Jesus was not like Moses:
Islamic arguments that Moses was not like Jesus
|Moses was a man||Jesus is God|
|Moses did not die for the sins of the world||Jesus did die for the sins of the world|
|Moses did not go to hell||Jesus did go to hell for three days|
The first of these points is invalid because it is based on an erroneous Trinitarian understanding of Christian doctrine, whereas the Bible says quite clearly that Jesus was a man. Mr Deedat is also wrong in relation to hell. The Bible concept of hell is the grave so, although the Bible never says so in those exact words, it is certain that Moses did actually go to hell in the Biblical sense.
Ahmed Deedat goes on to claim that, while there were important differences between Moses and Jesus, there are many parallels between Moses and Mohammed:
Islamic arguments that Mohammed was more like Moses than was Jesus
|Moses and Mohammed had a father and mother||Jesus had only one human parent|
|Moses and Mohammed were born through natural processes||Jesus’ birth was miraculous|
|Moses and Mohammed were married||Jesus was unmarried|
|Moses and Mohammed were accepted by their people||Jesus was rejected|
|Moses and Mohammed died from natural causes||Jesus was executed|
Mr Deedat concludes, therefore, that Deuteronomy 18 refers to Mohammed rather than to Jesus. This conclusion, however, ignores three key elements of the passage:
- In verse 18 God says that He will raise up the prophet. The prophet was not, therefore, going to be someone who would be generated through a natural process. God Himself would intervene in human affairs to raise up a prophet. This was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary.
- Verse 18 says that this prophet would be an Israelite, one of their brethren, not an Arab. Jesus was the son of a Jewish mother, whereas Mohammed was an Arab.
- Ahmed Deedat’s emphasis on the parallels between Moses and Mohammed is misplaced. Verse 18 says the prophet would be “like unto Moses”, not identical to Moses. Jesus was not identical to Moses, as Mr Deedat points out, but he most certainly was like Moses. Both were men with a special mission from God, both played key roles in God’s redemptive plan and both provided guidance in worship and lifestyle for the true servants of God.
- The New Testament, a text accepted as inspired by both Christians and Moslems, confirms that this prophecy relates to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than to Mohammed. In at least six places the New Testament specifically applies this prophecy to the Lord Jesus Christ. Four of these references are in the Gospels (Matthew 11:3; Luke 7:16; John 1:45 and 6:14), and two are in Acts. Peter, when preaching to the Jews in Jerusalem, made this point:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:19-23)
There can be no ambiguity about the person to whom Peter thought the prophecy in Deuteronomy applied. It was Jesus, not Mohammed.
Shiloh – Jesus or Mohammed?
Moslem claims about this key prophecy in Deuteronomy are mistaken. Their failure to recognise that that prophecy applies to the Lord Jesus Christ is reflected in other prophecies relating to Jesus Christ as the Messiah and saviour. The final words of Jacob as recorded in Genesis 49 are a prophecy about the future of the tribes of Israel that shall descend from his 12 sons. Arguably the most significant of these prophecies is that which relates to Judah:
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:8-10)
Judah is to have a pivotal role in the destiny of Israel. From verse 8 we learn that the tribe of Judah is to have special authority in the nation. This was fulfilled in Israel’s history when the royal house was established in the family of David – a man of the tribe of Judah. In the plan of God it was determined that the Messiah should be a descendent of Judah and should come specifically from the line of David. Verse 10 indicates that, although the kingdom would be disrupted, the throne would never pass to another tribe.
When the Lord Jesus Christ was born, he was born into the family of David. The angel promised his mother he would sit on the throne of his father David. We know from other prophecies that he will reign from that throne for ever and, as verse 10 suggests, all nations will be subject to him. The Lord Jesus Christ is, therefore, the Shiloh to which verse 10 refers.
But Moslem scholars say that Shiloh is a reference to Mohammed. They argue that Shiloh means peace, as does the name Islam. Those meanings might be valid, but the interpretation is at odds with the passage which clearly suggests that Shiloh will be from the tribe of Judah, and that he will rule over the nations. This will be true of the Lord Jesus Christ when the Kingdom of God is re-established on earth but it was not true of Mohammed, a man who exercised rule over only a few tribes in his lifetime.
Psalm 110 is another Messianic prophecy that Moslem scholars apply invalidly to Mohammed. David, the author of the Psalm, speaks of someone in the future who would be his Lord: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (verse 1).
This verse is quoted by the Lord in Matthew 22 and it is clear that Moslems have the same problem with the verse that the Pharisees had in Jesus’ day. Moslem scholars argue that this statement could not refer to Jesus because, as Jesus is a descendent of David, he could not be David’s Lord. They conclude, therefore, that David’s Lord in this place is actually Mohammed. The error in their logic mirrors the mistake made by the Pharisees:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? (Matthew 22:41-45)
David could call his descendent Lord because, in addition to being a son of David, Jesus was also the son of God. Moslems repeat the mistake made by the Jewish rulers in Jesus’ day because they too refuse to recognise the truth about the Messiah and are thus unable to accept the logic of the Messianic prophecies.
One of the most curious of Moslem claims about the Bible is the suggestion that Mohammed’s name is found in the Song of Solomon. Again, the passage used in fact points forward to the Lord Jesus Christ but they see it as a reference to Mohammed:
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 phrase ‘altogether lovely’ represents the Hebrew word ‘Machmaddim’. Moslem scholars point out that the word sounds rather like Mohammed and that it means ‘the praised one’, a term which they could apply to Mohammed.
This is spurious reasoning. Firstly many words in different languages sound alike yet have no similarity or link. Secondly, the word ‘machmaddim’ does not mean ‘the praised one’. Its primary meaning is ‘an object of desire’. The word is found 13 times in the Bible and is never used in the context of praise. It is always used of things which are desirable: in 2 Chronicles 36:19 the word is used of things which are destroyed; in Isaiah 64:10 of things that are laid waste; and in Lamentations 2:4 and Hosea 9:16 of desirable men who were slain by God. Moslem scholars do not find Mohammed’s name in these passages, only in Song of Solomon, even though the same noun is used in all cases.
A false prophet?
In Isaiah there is another passage some Moslem scholars claim refers to Mohammed. This is a particularly curious claim because, if true, it would seriously compromise his authority. Most Moslem scholars say that Mohammed was illiterate, although there is some doubt about that fact. Those who assume that he was illiterate see these words as applying to him:
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:9-14)
The unlearned prophet in verse 12 is said to be Mohammed. The scholars argue that all of the Biblical prophets could read and write, so this must be someone else. This is a bizarre claim, because Isaiah is referring in this passage to a false prophet. In verse 10 the religious rulers have been lulled into sleep; they are blind leaders. God has forsaken these leaders because, as the prophet says in verse 13, they have taught the ideas of men rather than God.
If this were a prophecy about Mohammed it would demonstrate that Islam is a false religious system based on the teachings of man rather than God. It is indeed that, but Moslem scholars quoting this passage do not wish us draw this conclusion.
Moslem scholars identify a similar verse in Jeremiah about a prophet of peace as a prediction of Mohammed:
The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him. (Jeremiah 28:9)
In this chapter Jeremiah is in conflict with a false prophet named Hananiah. Verses 5 to 8 say Hananiah prophesied of peace and prosperity whereas true prophets like Jeremiah predicted war and tumult. In verse 9 Jeremiah rather sarcastically ridiculed Hananiah’s false prophecy. This is another example of Moslem scholars taking a reference to a false prophet and applying it to Mohammed.
John the Baptist and Mohammed
Some Moslem scholars claim that these words of John the Baptist are a reference to Mohammed:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Moslem scholars note that John the Baptist unreservedly acknowledges in this verse the superiority of the one who would come after him. They then claim that John the Baptist did not become a follower of Jesus, so the person to whom he was referring must be someone else – in their view Mohammed.
This reasoning is flawed. John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod and beheaded at about the time that Jesus began his ministry, so there was no opportunity for him to become a follower of Jesus.
As to the claims made in this verse, could we say that Mohammed bestowed the Holy Spirit upon his followers? The Koran makes no such claim. Certainly none of his followers became prophets. On the other hand, the disciples of Jesus did receive the Holy Spirit and some of them were noted prophets.
In this article we have considered a few of the claims made by Moslems about the Bible. We have seen that those claims are mistaken at best. We started with a quote from Isaiah 8 which said that men’s words not in harmony with “the law and the testimony” are invalid. We have seen that the claims of Moslem scholars in relation to the Bible are not “according to the law and the testimony” of Scripture: that proves that there is no true light in their teaching.
Islam is a religion that embodies the teachings of men rather than God. On the whole, Moslems are no better or worse than any other large group of people. The problem with Islam, as with any other false system such as orthodox Christianity, Buddhism or Humanism, is that it is astray from the teaching of the Bible, which is the inspired and infallible word of God. In the case of Islam, it is especially flawed when it comes to understanding the role of the Lord Jesus Christ in the plan and purpose of Almighty God. The Bible says there is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved. Moslems will never find salvation in Mohammed or in the religion he established. Like all other men, they can find salvation only if they come to an appreciation of the gospel message embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ and outlined in the Bible.