Saturday, June 02, 2007

Characteristics of the Awaited Prophet - A Prophet Like Unto Moses


In the Book of Deuteronomy, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was quoted as saying:
“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.“ (Deuteronomy 18:17-18)
Three important elements are included in this prophecy:

1. A prophet will come from among the “brethren” of the Israelites.
2. This prophet will be “like unto Moses”.
3. God will put his words in the mouth of this prophet.

Let us look closely at each of these elements:
A Prophet From Among the Brethren of the Israelites
When these words were spoken, they were addressed to the Israelites. The most notable “brethren” of Israelites (descendants of Abraham through his second son Isaac), are the Ishmaelites (descendants of Abraham through his first son Ishmael).
According to the Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible, “Brethren” is the:
“Personification of a group of tribes who were regarded as near kinsmen of the Israelites. “
The Bible refers to the Israelites as the brethren of the Ishmaelites (e.g. Gen. 16:12, and Gen. 25:18).
A Prophet Like Unto Moses
It is sometimes contended that the prophet like unto Moses was Jesus. After all both were Israelites and spiritual teachers. Was this prophecy really about Jesus?
To start off, Jesus himself was an Israelite, not of the “brethren” of the Israelites. This fact alone suffices to show that this particular prophecy is not about the coming of Jesus but about another prophet “like unto Moses”. That prophet could have been none but Prophet Muhammad.
Following is a comparison between a few crucial characteristics of Moses, Muhammad and Jesus which may clarify the identity of “that prophet” who was to come after Moses:

Area of Comparison Moses Muhammad Jesus
Birth Usual Usual Unusual
Family Life Married, Children Married, Children No Marriage, or children
Death Usual Usual Unusual
Career Prophet/Statesman Prophet/Statesman Prophet
Forced Emigration (in adulthood) To Median To Medinah None
Encounter with enemies Hot pursuit Hot pursuit/Battles No Similar Encounter
Results of encounter Moral physical victory Moral physical victory Moral victory
Writing dawn of Revelation In his life time (Torah) In his life time (Al-Qur'an) After him
Nature of Teachings Spiritual/ Legal Spiritual/ Legal Mainly Spiritual
Acceptance of leadership(by his people) Rejected Rejected then accepted Rejected (by most Israelites)

This table is self-evident. It shows that not only were Moses and Muhammad very much alike in many respects, but it shows also that Prophet Jesus does not fit this particular prophecy.
Who was then the “Prophet like unto Moses”?
God Will Put His Words in the Mouth of that Prophet
Generally speaking, this description may apply to any messenger of God who is communicating God's message to mankind. While that message may come in "written tablets" as is believed to have been the case with Moses, the specific wording of the above verse is a vivid description of the type of revelation received by Muhammad. Angel Gabriel used to come and dictate to him specific portions of the Qur'an which were then repeated by Prophet Muhammad exactly as he had heard them. Muhammad's own thinking or authorship were not involved in any way in what he uttered. The words of God (The Qur'an) were "put into his mouth". As the Qur'an itself described:
"He (Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire, it is no less than a revelation sent down to him. " The Holy Qur'an , Chapter 53 , Verses 3-4
Numerous passages in the Qur'an command Muhammad in such terms as Qul (say), Thakkir (remind), Nabbi' (inform). Other passages in the Qur'an start with such expressions as wa qala Rabbukum (and your Lord said ...). Still in other passages it reads wa yas'aloonaka ... qul (and they ask you (0 Muhammad) ... say ...).
The above analysis fits not only Deuteronomy 18:18, but is also consistent with the subsequent verses. For example Deuteronomy 18:19 reads:
"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. "
It is interesting to note that 113 out of the 114 Surahs (chapters) of the Qur'an starts with Bismillahir-rahmanir-raheem (In the name of Allah (God), Most Gracious, Most Merciful). The very first passage of the Qur'an revealed to Prophet Muhammad reads:
"Read in the name of your Lord who created ... " The Holy Qur'an , Chapter 96, Verse 1
Following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, there is no other community of believers who starts almost every action in their daily lives with this formula "In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful". It should be noted here that the Arabic term "Allah" is not only the Arabic equivalent of "God", but it is also the personal name of God. To say "In the Name of Allah" is a far clearer fulfillment of the prophecy "... he shall speak in My name" (Deuteronomy 18:19), than other common expressions such as "In the name of God" or "In the name of the Father".
A fair question at this point is this: Since virtually anyone can presume to speak "in the name of God", what criterion should be used to distinguish between a genuine prophet and messenger of God and other false prophets who may also presume to speak in the name of God?
The answer to this question was clearly given in the concluding verses of Chapter 18 of the Book of Deuteronomy: "And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shall not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
It is a fact that not a single prophecy made by Prophet Muhammad proved to be inaccurate in the least degree. Every prophecy he made about the near future at his time did come to pass. Examples of these
a) The prophecy that Muslims were to conquer the two "super-powers" of their time; the Persian and Byzantine empires. This prophecy was made when Muslims were so few and weak that to prophecy their mere physical survival would have sounded too hopeful!
b) A prophecy that Suraqah (a man who was about to kill Prophet Muhammad during the later's journey to Madinah (Medina) after the pagans plotted to kill him) would become a Muslim, participate in the Muslim army conquering the Persian Empire and would actually have access to the Emperor's crown and place it over his head! Not only did this prophecy appear to be a virtual impossibility when it was made, but its fulfillment was so perfect and complete as if the Prophet was looking eye-to-eye at the scene which took place years after his death. The fact that Suraqah did become a Muslim, lived long enough to participate in the conquest of Persia, that the Muslims came out victorious, that Suraqah had access to the Emperor's crown and actually wore it, can hardly be regarded as a coincidence or a self-fulfilling prophecy. Surely the chances are nil that numerous such prophecies, all in the minutest detail described by Prophet Muhammad, happened by accident! Nor can such 100% accuracy every time and at all times emanate from any other than a true and genuine prophet using the criterion stipulated in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

Excerpted from Muhammad in The Bible by Dr. Jamal Badawi

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