Are There Predictions of Muhammad in the Old Testament?
Additional MS 43725, f.260; John xxi. 1-25
c. 1978, The British Library Board; BL/B/MS/X43
Al A'raf 7:157
"Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in the Taurat and the Injil..."
Al Saff 61:6
Qur'anic translation taken from Yusuf Ali
"...Jesus, the son of Mary said: 'O children of Israel! I am the apostle of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Taurat (which came) before me and giving glad tidings of an apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad' "
- Are There Predictions of Muhammad in the Old Testament?
- Muslims Find Muhammad in the Old Testament
- Names which point to Muhammad
- Song of Solomon 5:16
- The Problem with this Exercise
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Are There Predictions of Muhammad in the Old Testament?
Do we find Muhammad in the Old Testament? According to Suras 7 and 61 Muhammad is predicted in the Old Testament (Taurat). For a long time now, Muslims have tried desperately to find these predictions for their prophet in those scriptures which preceded the Qur'an (the Taurat, Zabuur and the Injil), but to no avail. It is ironic that Muslims are now compelled by their own scripture to establish the credibility of their prophet in the Old Testament.
Muslims and Christians alike agree that Christ's coming was predicted often in the Old Testament. Yet, if God had intended to send another prophet far greater than He, we should naturally find predictions concerning him there as well. None are to be found. Therefore, without a prediction the sole criteria for Muhammad's authority rests entirely on the Qur'an. For obvious reasons this kind of circular argument is untenable.
Muslims Find Muhammad in the Old Testament
Due to the situation which Muslims find themselves in, they have come forward with a series of passages from the Old Testament which they believe point to Muhammad. Outside the Deuteronomy 18 passage (dealt with separately in another study), all of these passages, which supposedly refer to a messenger, fall into four general categories:
- This person is someone who used the sword (Psalm 45:2-5; 149; Isaiah 63). However, when we read further, the context in these passages clearly points out that the sword-wielder is not only God, but the Creator, the Lord of Israel and the Lord of Hosts. Few Muslims would be willing to equate these titles with Muhammad.
- This person is someone whose lifestyle parallels that of Muhammad's day (i.e. rides a camel, lives in a desert) (Isaiah 21:7 and 53). Yet the context again refers to both a messenger from Babylon, and a servant who was crushed, pierced, and wounded for others, hardly analogous to Muhammad's life.
- This person is someone whose geographical location coincides with that of Muhammad (Deuteronomy 33:2; Isaiah 63; Habakkuk 3:3). Yet the Mount Paran which they claim to be in Mecca is instead on the Sinai Peninsula, while Bozrah is not Basrah, but modern-day Al-Busairah, situated in Edom, south of the Dead Sea.
In Habbakuk 3:3 we read, "God comes from Teman." Muslims maintain that Teman refers to Islam. To be consistent they must also adhere to the other prophecies concerning Teman. In Jeremiah 49:7 God questions whether there is any wisdom in Teman. Verse 20 says the people of Teman will be aghast at their fate. Ezekiel 25:13 promises that God will lay waste the people of Teman, and God will send fire and consume them (Amos 1:12) and there will be no survivors (Obadiah 8-10). This would imply the destruction of Islam! In reality, when we refer to the Biblical account we find that Teman is not Islam, but a town close to Jericho, in the territory of Edom.
- This person is someone whose name has a common root to that of Muhammad (Genesis 49:8-10=Judah; Song of Solomon 5:16=Ahmad; Haggai 2:7=Hemdah). This last category needs further discussion as it is adhered to more resolutely as real proof for a prediction than the others.
Names which point to Muhammad
Muslims believe that all three of these passages use names which can be translated as "praise" (Judah, Ahmad, and Hemdah), and are semantically similar to "Muhammad," which means "the praised one." However, in Arabic the verb Hamada ("to praise") is the root for many words, yet one does not find Muslims substituting "Muhammad" and "Hamada" interchangeably.
Take for instance the very first Sura of the Qur'an. In the second aya (verse) we find, "Praise (al-hamadi) be to Allah." Do we dare change this to Muhammad? Of course not! That is sacrilege! In Haggai 2:7 Muslims believe Hemdah ("the desire of nations") comes from the same root as the word "Muhammad." Yet they must certainly cringe when this word is again used in Daniel 11:37 to refer to a person "desired by women" who is a false god of the heathen.
Song of Solomon 5:16
But perhaps the best example to illustrate the difficulty in exchanging one word for another is found in the Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 16. In this passage Muslims claim that the Hebrew word machmad ("altogether lovely") can be translated "praise" or "Ahmad." Following is the text of the passage as translated in the Bible (NIV):
Song of Solomon 5:16: "His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
Song of Solomon is a poetic love story between the Beloved and her Lover. It is a piece that explores the beauty of a marriage relationship between a king and his wife.
Muslims believe that the adjectival clause "altogether lovely" can be changed to a proper noun, "Muhammad." The text, they state, should then read, when translated into English:
"His mouth is sweetness itself; he is Muhammad. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
This rendering, however, begs a number of difficult questions according to the context of the entire book.
What, then, is this prophecy saying? The stressed words in the text above are the English renderings of the Hebrew word, machmad. Strong's concordance defines machmad as: desire, desirable thing, a pleasant thing.
- Who are the daughters of Jerusalem? Did Muhammad ever court one of his many wives in Jerusalem?
- If this is Muhammad, which of his wives is speaking? Was Muhammad ever married to a dark woman he wooed from Lebanon?
- Did Muhammad ever claim kingship?
So, can machmad signify Muhammad? Wise men allow that when one verse is in doubt it is justified to explain one passage of the Bible by another. The word machmad appears another twelve times in the Old Testament. Since Muslims are so intent on finding the Arabic name of Muhammad in the Hebrew word machmad, it is important that they remain consistent. Therefore, we have printed three of the twelve prophetic verses below and leave it to you to ascertain whether they fit. (Note: we have been consistent in now translating this word as the long-neglected "proper noun" which Muslims claim it to be.)
- 1 Kings 20:6
"Yet I will send my servants to thee tomorrow about this time, and they shall search thy house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, [that] whatever is Muhammad in thy eyes, they shall take [it] in their hand, and carry [it] away."
- Lamentations 1:11
"All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their Muhammad things for food to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile."
- Ezekiel 24:21
"Speak to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellence of your strength, the Muhammad of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword."
If this mutilation of Scripture seems to you ridiculous, it is meant to be as it shows the quality of the theory behind such an idea. But don't just take our word for it. Look up the other nine references which employ machmad and see for yourself whether Muhammad would fit. They are: 2 Chronicles 36:19, Isaiah 64:11, Lamentations 1:10, Lamentations 2:4, Ezekiel 24:16, Ezekiel 24:25, Hosea 9:6, Hosea 9:16 and Joel 3:5.
When taken to its logical conclusion it makes a mockery of Hebrew grammar. Why should an adjectival clause be translated a proper noun? Machmad already has a proper noun counterpart, 'Chemdan' (or 'Hemdan', the eldest son of Dishon of Anah the Horite). If machmad should have been written as a proper noun the author would have written Chemdan.
The Problem with this Exercise
This claim is similar to the issue of the paraclete in the book of John, which Muslims contend is a prophecy of Muhammad. Yet this prophecy in John 14 and 16 refers to the Spirit of God. We find it peculiar that Muslims will, in one text, base their claim on the meaning of one word at the expense of its pronunciation (paracletos versus periclytos) and yet with another text base their claim on the pronunciation of a single word at the expense of its meaning (desire versus praise)!
If these techniques of hermeneutics are justifiable, then wouldn't it be quite in line to expect to find a substitute for the word paracletos a prophet named "Perry Clinton," whose name really means "the desired one?" Absurd? Yes! That is the point. Using this technique one can conjure up a prophecy for nearly any prophet one happens to fancy.
Conversely, a Hindu could claim that in Sura 30:1, the word al-rum (for Romans), which can be written Ram, must be referring to the Hindu deity Rama.
A further irony in this whole exercise is that Muhammad is not even his original name. According to Muslim tradition, in his youth Muhammad was called Amin, a common Arab name meaning "faithful, or trustworthy." Amin was his given name, a masculine form from the same root as his mother's name "Amina."
We understand the desire by Muslims to find any prophecy which will give credence to Muhammad, for without it Muhammad has no outside evidence to authenticate his prophethood. That then leaves the authority for the beliefs of over one billion Muslims hanging on the single testimony of just one finite man. We ask, however, that Muslims not twist or attack the Scriptures in order to gain their own agenda. We are constantly amazed that Muslims should be at once both critics and stewards of the Holy Scriptures of Christians and Jews. It would be better to be of one mind.
If Muslims firmly believe the Scriptures are inadequate then they should behave accordingly and abstain from picking and choosing what they like from what they deem a hopelessly inadequate book. We will not insult them for bravely allying with other enemies of the Bible.
But it is hypocrisy to use data from a book they claim is crude and inferior to support an already illogical argument.
If you believe the Scriptures and desire to find prophecies then please come, read them all and learn. Truly submit yourselves, as genuine believers do, to the authoritative and COMPLETE teachings of Scripture as they have been diligently preserved throughout the ages.
This pamphlet was compiled by an interdenominational group of evangelical Christians concerned with Muslim-Christian dialogue.