Important verses Muslims like to ignore
Al-Kahdi's strategy in this section is to use a well known Bible verse which predicts the coming of a prophet after and like Moses, and claim this Prophet is Muhammad. What Al-Kahdi like many other Muslim apologists tend to ignore when trying to reason from the Bible, is that the Bible actually describes the fulfilment of this prophecy by Jesus Christ.
Two verses that are often glossed over is an account from the book of Acts where the Apostle Peter is speaking to fellow Israelites in Jerusalem, about Jesus Christ.
Both Muslims and Christians both share the unique belief that Jesus now lives in Heaven and will return again to bring salvation to those who follow God's will. Now let us move on to the following verse, remember in the previous verse Peter was speaking of Jesus, and so he continues,
So, the Apostle Peter was in fact quoting Deuteronomy 18:15 and claiming fulfilment of this prophecy by Jesus.
Putting Words into whose mouth?
One of the attributes that Al-Kahdi sets aside for this prophet is that God's words will be `put into his mouth'. Al-Kahdi's reasoning like so many other Muslim apologists goes along the following lines.
The Quran is the `word of God', Muhammad recited the Quran and so this description fits Muhammad. He then goes on to quote extensively from the Quran as proof.
Al-Kahdi makes a staggering assumption, that is Christians believe the Qur'an to be the word of God, they do not. So to argue the Christian side from an Islamic view point achieves nothing.
Even if Christians were for a moment, to take the Islamic viewpoint and assume the Qur'an was the Word of God we shall see that this description does not uniquely describe the prophet that Moses spoke of.
For God said to the prophet Jeremiah;
Jesus is also identified with this special attribute,
So this attribute does not uniquely identify the prophet, let us consider the other attributes that Al Kahdi proposes.
A similar argument
In order to support his case for Muhammad, Al-Kahdi draws upon several similarities between Moses and Muhammad in order to satisfy the pre-requisite that the prophet is `like unto thee (Moses)'. So Al-Kahdi lists off several attributes that are common to both Moses and Muhammad, such as the fact that they both had an earthly mother and father, they were both 40 years of age when they started their missions, they married and that they now reside in earthly graves. He then argues that because attributes do not apply to Jesus and so therefore Jesus is not the prophet spoken by Moses, it is true that Jesus did not posses such attributes, which are attributes associated with normal men, but the absence of these attributes go to illustrate how much more of a special position Jesus has over mankind and reveal something of his divinity.
Such attributes could be applied to many of the prophets that followed on from Moses, they do not uniquely identify the particular single prophet that Moses was speaking of. In order for us to determine the prophet we need to use attributes that are distinct to Moses.
Can be a Jew
Another argument Al Kahdi puts forward is that the one promised by God, `cannot be a Jew'. He uses a verse from Deuteronomy to support this point, re-reading of the verse however, refutes this theory. First let us consider the argument put forward, from Deuteronomy 34:10
The first thing we notice about this verse is that it comes from the Book of Deuteronomy from the Torah written about 1450 years before the time of Christ. The second thing we notice is that the verse is not prophetic, rather a comment of the history up to that point in time, if it were a prophecy it would read something like
When in fact the verse is simply making a historical comment about what had already passed hence
This is only a part of the verse we shall cover its entire meaning later on, in the section entitled `The real attributes of the prophet to follow Moses'.
Who are `their brethren'?
From this verse Al Kahdi goes onto state that `their brethren' in the verse above in fact means the brethren of the Israelites as a nation, i.e. the Ishmaelites. He goes further to contend that Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael and qualifies as being the prophet as he fits the criteria mentioned in the verse above. This is fine, but we are speaking of a Biblical prophecy and we need to ask more importantly, "who does the Bible say `their' and who `their brethren' are"?
The key to understanding what the verse is speaking about is to read it in context with the rest of the text, if we go to the beginning of chapter 18 we read the following;
As we continue to read through the chapter we notice that the priestly tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel is the main subject of what is being spoken of in this chapter, and the brethren of the tribe of Levi would be in fact the other 11 tribes of Israel, in this case the other 11 tribes of Israel would receive a share of the land distribution.
Thus in context the verse of Deuteronomy 18:18 can only be logically and contextually interpreted as
The Bible often speaks of the brethren of a tribe being the other 11 tribes of Israel,
(Examples taken from Is Muhammad Foretold in the Bible - John Gilchrist)
So in fact we can conclude that there is no Biblical or logical basis for assuming that the brethren mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:18 refers to the Ishmaelites or descendants of Ishmael, rather a descendant from one of the other 11 tribes of Israel other than the tribe of Levi.
However, if we look at the genealogy of Jesus in the gospels we see that Jesus is a descendant from the Israelite tribe of Judah (Luke 3:33, Matt 1:2-3), the tribe of Judah qualifies as the brethren, and so we can see that Jesus fits this criteria of the promised prophet.
The real attributes of the Prophet to follow Moses
We know that Moses grew up in Egypt as an exile from his own country, Jesus was also exiled into Egypt where he grew up, Luke 2:13-15. There seems to be no Muslim record or other sources of Muhammad ever having lived in Egypt.
As a consequence of Moses' birth the ruler of the day Pharaoh put out an edict to kill all baby boys, Exodus 1:16.
When Jesus was born the ruler of the day, King Herod also put out an edict to kill all the baby boys, Matthew 1:16.
Moses left Egypt to follow God's plan, "By faith he forsook Egypt" (Hebrews 11:27). Jesus left Egypt to follow God's will, "Out of Egypt I have called my Son" (Matthew 2:15).
Again there seems to be no Muslim or other source that records Muhammad as ever having faced the possibility of being killed at Birth because the ruler of the day had set out an edict to kill all baby boys. Neither do we record of Muhammad leaving Egypt to follow God's plan for him.
Three more important points that distinguish the mission of Moses from the other prophets recorded in the Taurat can be identified as the following.
1. God spoke to Moses face to face, there was direct contact between Moses and God on a very close level.
The Quran also identifies this unique attribute with Moses "...and Allah spoke directly unto Moses" Quran 4:164
If we consider Moses' initial encounter with God the burning bush in which God appeared to Moses is recorded in the Taurat (Exodus chapter 3) and the Quran 20:9-12.
There is no record in the Qur'an of Muhammad meeting God face to face.
2. God confirmed Moses' prophet-hood by allowing him to perform great miracles and signs, such as the feeding of the people of Israel, and the spectacular parting of the Red Sea.
Although the Hadith may say otherwise, the Qur'an records Muhammad as not performing miracles or signs, in fact when tested by his opponents to produce such a sign his response is to say that if God had willed him to produce such signs he would have done so, but in fact God had not chosen to empower Muhammad with such attributes. It is interesting to note how one challenge even brings Moses into the equation
3. Moses was also the mediator of a Covenant between God and the people of Israel.
Muhammad did not receive direct revelation from God, rather the Qur'an it is claimed by Muslims was transmitted to Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel). The Qur'an also does not record Muhammad as mediating a covenant between God and the people of Israel.
These three criterion are summed up in three verses that were touch upon earlier.
Is Jesus the prophet `like unto Moses'?
So we now need to consider whether the distinguishing features of Moses' prophet-hood apply to Jesus or not, and it is important to remember that all three have to present for this prophet to be `like unto Moses'.
1. He knew God face to face
The following verse from the Gospel reveals the following special attribute, in speaking of Jesus,
The following verse reveals a similar unique office,
This verse tells us not only that Jesus is the one who exclusively knows the Father but he also has the ability to reveal the Father to those that he chooses.
2. Performed miracles and signs to confirm his prophet-hood.
Moses was given powers to control the sea,
What do we read of Jesus, he was able to still the sea at Galilee and his disciples response was,
Another great sign that Moses performed was to feed the Israelite people whilst they were on exodus through the desert. Jesus also performed a similar miracle by feeding 5000 people with just five loaves of bread. Jesus was actually queried on this point knowing that Moses had performed such a feat the question was posed,
3. The Mediator of a covenant between God and his people
The outstanding feature of Moses' prophet-hood is that a covenant was established between God and his people. In speaking of the new prophet, a new covenant would be established,
After the time of Moses the prophet Jeremiah writes,
In the book of Hebrews we read,
The first covenant was sealed with blood,
In the same way the new covenant is also sealed with blood,
The warning is in the name
After giving such an important prophecy given to Moses God tells the people of Israel one of the major criterion on which to identify the prophet. the warning comes directly after the prophecy,
The answer is in the following verse
There are two criteria one obviously being that the prophecy should come true, the first being that the prophet should speak in God's name.
Quite rightly Al-Kahdi picks up on this and in concluding, Al-Kahdi makes a big issue about the `prophet' Muhammad using God's name and he concludes that because every chapter of the Quran always begins with the words, "In the name of God..." and so he concludes that the name of God is being used.
A glaring omission that Al Kahdi seems to make from his reasoning, is to ask, what exactly is God's name?
It was Moses who asked the question when first called by God before the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 3:13), that God revealed his name to be Yahweh (Exodus 3:14-15) sometimes transliterated as Jehovah and is usually written in Bible translations as LORD.
The name is used throughout the Bible up to 6,828 times. There is no record of Muhammad using the name of God within the Quran, so his claim to prophet-hood fails this attribute, and the claim to divine prophecy.
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
Answering Islam Home Page