Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Who Can Claim to Be a Prophet?

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

Recently, a newspaper in the Arab Emirates reported:

“A Saudi man mounted a prayers platform at the Grand Mosque in Islam’s holiest shrine in the Gulf kingdom and told thousands of worshippers that he was a prophet and their saviour before he was seized by police.

The 36-year-old man, identified as Sami, waited until the Muslims finished their evening prayers at the Grand Mosque in the western town of Makkah, mounted the podium and delivered his brief, fiery speech. “I am Al Mehdi Al Montathar…I am a prophet sent (by God) to save and guide you,” he told the packed hall before (he) was overpowered by police.

'Okaz' newspaper said the incident took place on Friday night and that Sami insisted during police interrogation that he was a prophet. It said police would subject him to medical examination to check if he is suffering from mental  illness. It was the latest in a series of incidents involving persons claiming to be Al-Mehdi Al-Montathar (the Chosen Imam Al-Mehdi) at Islamic holy sites in Makkah over the past few months.

All of them had been arrested and medically examined. Muslims believe Imam Al-Mehdi, dubbed “the ultimate saviour of mankind’ will eventually reappear as a great reformer who will destroy the beliefs of injustice and ignorance and fill this earth with fairness after it has been filled with injustice and oppression.” (Source)

This story from Saudi Arabia. is interesting and it causes one to ask: how do they know he is not a prophet?  Could it be that the real Al-Mehdi could appear and they would arrest him also? Certainly there were people in Mohammed’s day who had questions about his being a prophet. Since there were no “medical” procedures  available  in those days, nothing was done to question Mohammed’s sanity.  There are people in modern times who have questioned his sanity for a variety of reasons. See here and here.

This man claimed to be a prophet.  How is his claim any different to that of Mohammed?   What did Mohammed do to certify that he was a prophet?  He kept claiming that he was Allah’s apostle.  Why did people accept his claim?   There seems to be only one convincing answer.   That answer may be seen when he marched to Mecca with 10,000 followers and the Meccans surrendered and accepted him as a prophet.  Force is “convincing” but it has nothing to do with the truth of a “prophet’s” claim.

The character of Mohammed can be seen in The Life of Mohammed, a work written by Ibn Ishaq who lived not long after Mohammed and who died 767, or 761.  So we are not quoting some anti-Muslim writer, but one who was a Muslim historian and who lived in a time frame close to the beginning of Islam.

This leads one to ask the question:  Are Muslims really aware of the things Mohammed did? Does it disturb the Muslim mindset that Mohammed did a lot of things that are against the Torah and the Gospels as well as what is rational?   Does it disturb the Muslim believer that Mohammed was a man of war? Mohammed planned 27 raids on other groups and fought in nine of them and approved of others.    (The Life of Mohammed, a translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. by A. Guillaume, Oxford U. Press, 1955,  p. 659-60) 

What will the Muslim believer think about Mohammed giving approval to a follower to use deception and lying in order to kill a man who ridiculed Mohammed?  The man came to Mohammed and said “O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.”  Mohammed  answered, “say what you like, for you are free in the matter.”  (p. 367)   

Muslims today follow Mohammed’s thin-skinned reaction to criticism and ridicule.   Rumors that someone has mistreated a copy of the Qur’an will bring hundreds together to protest  and even kill the accused without a trial or without real information.

Is there any concern on the part of Muslim believers that Mohammed ordered a Jew from Khaybar to be tortured to give up the secret where treasure was stored? “Torture him until you extract what he has, so he kindled a fire with flint and steel in his chest until he was nearly dead.” (p. 515)    

Is there any questioning of the character of Mohammed concerning the Qurayza tribe of Jews when Mohammed approved the beheading of all the men.   The women and children were to be taken as captives, and their property divided up.  Oh, yes, Mohammed was to receive 20 percent of all booty.  There were between 600 and 900 men who were killed that day.  Is this the proper action of a prophet? (p. 464)   Does this raise any questions in the mind of a Muslim believer?         

One might want to ask questions about some of the events in the Old Testament regarding Moses and Joshua and the things they did.  Does it disturb the Jewish and Christian believers to read of events in the Old Testament concerning the destruction of the people in the Promised Land?

However, there is no jihad in the Old Testament.   The Promised Land to the Jews was related to the judgment of Yahweh after 400 years of patient waiting for them to repent.  One may read about this issue here.

The influence of Mohammed’s character continued beyond his death.  The concept of jihad began in his life time, fighting to force people to accept Islam, and millions have died since that time.   Given an Egyptian shaykh’s comments below,  jihad has been a source of accumulating wealth in the past and he recommended it as a  source of gaining wealth in the present time.  Read the quote below.

“We are in the era of jihad. The era of jihad has come over us, and jihad in the path of Allah is a pleasure. It is a real pleasure. The companions (of the Prophet) used to compete to (perform jihad). The poverty that we’re in—is it not due to our abandonment of jihad? But if we could conduct one, two, or three jihadist operations every year, many people throughout the earth would become Muslims. And whoever rejected this da’wa, or stood in our way, we would fight against him and take him prisoner, and confiscate his wealth, his children, and his women—all of this means money. Every mujahid who returned from jihad, his pockets would be full. He would return with 3 or 4 slaves, 3 or 4 women, and 3 or 4 children. Multiply each head by 300 dirhams, or 300 dinar, and you have a good amount of profit. If he were to go to the West and work on a commercial deal, he would not make that much money. Whenever things became difficult (financially), he could take the head (i.e. the prisoner) and sell it, and ease his (financial) crisis. He would sell it like groceries.” (Source)

Can you imagine the arrogance of this man?   He is spelling out the horrible consequences of jihad leading to the slavery of men, women, and children.  The lives of these people are reduced to money and they can be sold like items in a grocery store. 

The history of Islam has been recently affirmed by an Egyptian imam relating to robbing, killing, and destroying.  Is this the real character of Islam?   Slavery, murder, rape, and conquests have been the story of Islamic history beginning with Mohammed.

Jesus had some serious words about false prophets: “Look out for false prophets, who come to you under the guise of sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves. You must recognize them by their fruits.”  (Matthew 7:15-16)

Maybe there are other explanations for the poverty issue:  lack of initiative, unemployment,  blaming others for our problems – a rather common thing in any culture –, lack of freedom in scientific development due to negative attitudes toward science, depending on the government for support, authoritarian government controlling everyone, etc.

What has happened is that Muslims accept the command of Mohammed without questioning its ethical truth, or its consistency with what has been revealed in the Torah and the Gospels.  The prophets of the Old Testament always called the people of Israel to repent of their sins and return to the obeying the laws of Yahweh as given to Moses.  Mohammed does not do this in his claim to be a prophet.  Instead he proclaims new commands particularly in the issue of jihad. It appears that Allah is not really consistent and remembers what has been revealed before.   Is Allah all that fickle?

When we look at the life of Jesus, he had lots of important people questioning his claims.  His claims were much stronger  than simple prophethood.

John the Baptist had declared Jesus to be the Son of God, the Messiah (John 1:33 CEV).  Here Jesus speaks about John’s comments and enlarges the issue:

“But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me. The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face.  You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent.” (John 5:36-38)

What are the things that the Father has given him to do:  he healed the blind, he healed the lepers, he healed the lame, he healed the feverish, he raised the dead, and preached the Kingdom of God to the poor.  Now the crucial issue is raised: have you refused to have faith in the Son who is sent by the Father?

This answer is re-enforced in chapter 6:  

“What exactly does God want us to do?” the people asked.  Jesus answered, “God wants you to have faith in the one he sent.” (John 6:28-29)

Faith in Jesus is not a life of religious works doing a regimen of things like praying five times a day the same prayer – day after day.  Faith is a commitment of your life to Jesus.  The goal of winning God’s approval by human works or achievements is to miss the mark.  Surely a useful life is a human goal but it does not put you in a relationship with Yahweh. An act of commitment puts you in a relationship with Jesus, who is in union with Yahweh.   This is reflected in God’s act in the following verse.

“The Spirit is the one who gives life! Human strength can do nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are from that life-giving Spirit.” (John 6:63)

Jesus affirmed his role as a savior of people in these words: “A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.”  (John 10:10)

Jesus came to give us freedom.  There is forgiveness from sin.  There is freedom in Yahweh’s love.  There is freedom from any  depression brought on by not doing enough good “works” to win God’s favor. There is freedom to live a life of loving our neighbor as ourselves because we love God who loved us first.  There is joy in knowing the promise of Yahweh that we have the gift of everlasting life in the Kingdom of God.  

Now what we all face is the question: who is the most appealing, the most credible, and the most loving – Mohammed or Jesus?  The reader from a Muslim background will have to ask the question: what has Islam done for me?   Or, what has Jesus done for me?   The answer is obvious.  Mohammed and Islam has done nothing for you.  Jesus has done so much for you. He died on the cross, was raised to life on the third day, and his death affirms the New Covenant in his blood.  Here are his words about his death:

“Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take this and drink it. This is (represents) my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven. From now on I am not going to drink any wine, until I drink new wine with you in my Father's kingdom.’” (Matthew 26:27-29)

God will make the same agreement with you when you place your trust in Jesus as Savior.

You will know that your sins are forgiven. You will drink new wine in the Father’s kingdom.

It does not get any better than that!!  Don’t miss it.  Please don’t deceive yourself with the idea of 72 perpetual virgins.  Jesus said that there is no marriage in heaven.  “Jesus answered them, ‘The men and women of this age marry,  but the men and women who are worthy to rise from death and live in the age to come will not then marry.  They will be like angels and cannot die. They are the children of God, because they have risen from death.’” (Luke 20:34-36 GNB)

You can know more about the life of Jesus by reading the Gospels.  Please don’t ignore the real truth about Jesus.  Please don’t let imams determine your life when they don’t know the real meaning of Jesus.  Search the New Testament and learn the truth about Jesus yourself.  Don’t put your destiny in the hands of people ignorant of the New Testament.