Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Muhammad, prophet of Islam

One of Islam's primary claims (I'll call it Claim 1) is that Muhammad is the (most important) prophet of Allah, the one true Creator-God. This page will examine Muhammad. What authentication does he have? How does he measure up to this claim?

The need for authentication

Consider the claims that Muhammad made about himself:-

  • I am more important than other prophets - my status as a prophet (and that of no other) is to be included in the creed (shahada) (Surah 33:40).
  • God has allowed the messages delivered to earlier prophets (the Bible) to be distorted, but he will preserve the message he is delivering to me!
  • God has allowed this tragic situation to continue for thousands of years, but is now remedying the situation: he is now delivering a pure scripture to me.
  • My message is true although it is fundamentally different from the Bible. This is because Jews and Christians who lived long before I was born have distorted the Bible badly.
  • God used dozens of prophets across several centuries and countries to deliver his earlier message, several of them contemporaneous, but he has changed his style: he has chosen to deliver his full message to me exclusively!

The claims in brown are not Muhammad's, but have been made by Islamic apologists to rescue Muhammad from self-contradiction. The above claims are stupendous and outlandish; since blind faith is irrationalMuhammad requires stupendous authentication (this is also called the principle of Laplace: the weight of the evidence should be proportional to the strangeness of the facts). So the obvious questions that arise are:

Question 1: What advance authentication does Muhammad have? Humans have been living for thousands of years before Muhammad. Did God ever say that such a prophet is on his way and that he should be listened to?

Question 2: When Muhammad lived on earth, what proofs did he demonstrate to establish that he is indeed God's prophet (let alone the most important one)?

Question 1: Response from Deuteronomy

In response to Question 1, Muslim apologists cite the Israeli prophet Moses, speaking to his Israeli countrymen in ~1500 BC:-
"Jehovah your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren...Jehovah said to me [Moses]: In that, they have spoken well. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not give heed to My Words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him." – Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19, Bible
While Christians believe Jesus fulfills this prophecy, Muslims claim that Muhammad fulfills this prophecy because:-
  1. He married more than one woman, as Moses did.
  2. He was among their brethren. Muhammad was from Arabia, where most of the inhabitants are descendants of Abraham like the Israelis.
  3. Just like Moses and unlike Jesus Christ, Muhammad was an ordinary man (not an incarnation of God), had a normal birth and death, and his grave remains to this day (he did not ascend to heaven).
  4. Just like Moses, Muhammad was rejected first but was accepted by his people later. He instructed his people.
  5. Just like Moses, Muhammad was also an administrative leader.

However, the argument is invalid because:-

  1. The similarities to Moses mentioned in # 3 are shared not only by Muhammad but almost every human being, so they hardly serve any purpose in identifying Muhammad as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18. The similarities to Moses mentioned in # 4 are shared by other Israeli prophets so they too are inadequate. In contrast, the similarities between Moses and Jesus are highly specific and unique. # 5 is also shared by the Israeli prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 7:15).
  2. The number of wives hardly qualifies as a similarity between prophets. There is much more spiritual similarity between Moses and Jesus.
  3. Which similarities to look for are clarified by Deuteronomy 34:10-12. Here we see that the aspects that matter are miracles and redemption. Moses did miracles and redeemed Israel from Egypt. Muhammad did neither. The Lord Jesus did miracles and made redemption from sin available. His redemption of Israel (yet future) is prophesied in the Bible.
  4. There is ABSOLUTELY NO proof that Muhammad is descended from Abraham. The Koran and Hadith do not contain his genealogy (or any other historical record, for that matter).
  5. The phrase "among your brethren" allows only Israelis – not even Saudi Arabians who may be descendants of Abraham. How do we know this? Deuteronomy 17:15 contains the same phrase in connection with a king over Israel. Moses warns the Israelis that they should only appoint a king who was "from among thy brethren". It is evident that Moses was referring to Israelis here, since the nation of Israel was surrounded by nations descended from Abraham or his relatives, and we find from the Old Testament that these nations were extremely hostile to Israel. There is no way Moses would want the Israelis to have an Ammonite or Syrian king over them! Thus, "from among thy brethren" refers only to Israelis in Deuteronomy 17:15, and thus refers only to Israelis in 18:15, in connection with the coming Prophet.
  6. Note the words "from your midst" in the passage quoted above. Saudi Arabia does not qualify as the midst of Israel. Thus, Muhammad, being non-Israeli, does not fulfill Deuteronomy 18:15. The Muslim claim is false.
  7. Notice the words "I will require it of him" in the quotation above. It is God who will punish those who don't heed the coming prophet. However, in accordance with the Koran, Muslims themselves punish those who don't believe Muhammad (just ask Salman Rushdie, or any Muslim who has converted to another faith in a Muslim country), and thus themselves contradict the very passage that they look to for support.
  8. Jesus Christ satisfies all the conditions of this passage. As you can see from Matthew 1, he was descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), and was very similar to Moses. He was consistent with Deuteronomy 18:19 in not asking Christians to punish those who don't believe in him, but to reserve that retribution to God.

Conclusion: Deuteronomy does not authenticate Muhammad in any way. 

Question 1: Response from the gospel of John

Another passage cited by Muslims as pointing to Muhammad is Jesus' words in John 16:-
"...the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you... when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth...He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you."
Christians understand the "Comforter" to refer to the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the divine trinity). This is correct and the Muslim apologists' claim is false because:-
  1. The dictionary meaning of the Greek word translated "Comforter", namely "parakletos", includes two nuances: a helping companion, and an advocate. Both are true about the Holy Spirit, but not of Muhammad. The Holy Spirit indwells in all true disciples of Christ (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13-14), helps them (1 Peter 1:22, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Ephesians 2:22, etc), and even intercedes for them (Romans 8:26). This ministry of the Holy Spirit started in AD 32 (Acts 2:1 onwards), shortly after Jesus returned to heaven. In contrast, the Koran neither claims that Muhammad is a constant companion for Muslims or Christians today, nor does it claim that Muhammad intercedes for people to God.
  2. Jesus refers synonymously to the Comforter as "Spirit of truth". He is thus a spirit, not a physical person.
  3. This comforter would glorify Jesus Christ. In the New Testament books written after Jesus, we find Jesus being glorified (see passages such as Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:14-22, Hebrews 1:1-14, etc), with the credit for it being given to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). In contrast, Muhammad did not glorify Jesus. The Koran has very little to say about Jesus, and places him below Muhammad.

Muslim websites contain long lists of references from the Bible and other sources supposedly referring to Muhammad, but when you actually look them up, you find that they are even more unrelated to Muhammad than the above two references. Thus, Muhammad has ABSOLUTELY NO PRIOR AUTHENTICATION. This is of course in stark contrast to Biblical prophets. Either God has been grossly negligent, or Muhammad is a false prophet.

Responses to Question 2

Question 2: When Muhammad lived on earth, what proofs did he demonstrate to establish that he is indeed God's prophet (let alone the most important one)?

The simple answer is: NONE. Islam began to spread because of Muhammad's use of military and political force, and the success of his followers in the apostasy wars against the many Arabs who wanted to renounce Islam.

The Koran says that only it will be his authentication (Surah 17:96, 2:118, 6:37, 6:109, 10:20, 13:7, 11:12, 13:27, 17:59, 17:90-93, 28:48, 20:133, especially 29:48-51). The Koran fails to live up to this claim. In contrast, Biblical prophets are sufficiently authenticated. Muhammad would have us believe that Allah provided so much authentication to Jesus (one of the many prophets) but did not provide authentication for his chief prophet!!

Other issues with Muhammad

There are various other features of Muhammad that are inconsistent with his claims of being the chief prophet of the true God:-

He is factually incorrect: He claimed that his revelation confirmed the Bible (Surah 2:89, 2:97, 3:3 10:37, 12:111, 46:30), but it actually contradicts the Bible. Since the Bible has not been changed, this implicates Muhammad.

He used force to defend himself and attack others: Mecca already had a well established religion when Muhammad claimed to get his revelations. Muhammad wanted to turn Mecca into an Islamic centre. This caused the Meccans to oppose him. So Muhammad fled to Medina, became powerful there, and returned to conquer Mecca. This proves that Islam was established by force. On the other hand, if Muhammad was truly the messenger of a God of mercy and love, he would have allowed himself to be martyred or saved by divine intervention (like the Christian apostles) and his message would have lived on. Even today, Muhammad's followers try to terrorize those who criticize Muhammad. This proves that Muhammad cannot be defended against criticism.

Clarification: Muhammad's wars should not be confused with the wars of the Old Testament waged by kings such as David or Abijah. These were political, not religious wars. Unlike David, Muhammad was not a head of state according to his professed calling. Nor were David's wars any attempt to spread Biblical Christianity.

He used violence against civilians: In his supposed military conflicts, Muhammad did not care if defenseless people were killed.

"The Prophet... was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)."" – Bukhari (52:256)

"They are of them (meaning the enemy)." – Muhammad, in Muslim (19:4321-4323); in these three Hadiths, Muhammad shrugs over the news that innocent children were killed in a raid by his men against non-Muslims.

The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, "Kill any Jew who falls under your power." – Tabari 7:97 [Ashraf was a poet who was killed for criticizing Islam. The same Hadith goes on to say that a Jewish businessman was then slain by his Muslim partner merely for being non-Muslim.]

"Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us" – Muhammad, in Tabari 9:69.

He failed in the area of sexual morality: While no one is perfect, Muhammad is implicated by the gross nature of his failures and his refusal to admit his wrongs.

Although Muhammad claimed to be a prophet, he also became a politician (for obvious reasons). Unlike prophets, heads of state have successors. Muhammad failed to clearly specify who should be his successor. Some Muslims recognized Abu Bakr, whom Muhammad chose to lead the congregational prayers. Others noted that Muhammad had appointed Ali as the sole interpreter of his legacy. These became Sunnis and Shias, who have been butchering each other sporadically ever since. Such opportunism and tactical mistakes on the part of Muhammad expose the simple fact that he was not being guided by God. 

Conclusion

Muhammad fails to authenticate himself as a prophet. His use of force, ignorance, and moral failures further disqualify him from being a prophet. Thus, Claim 1 of Islam is refuted. Also see: