Islam Muhammad

The Gen­uine­ness of The Prophet & Its Sim­i­lar­i­ty With The Expe­ri­ences of the Bib­li­cal Prophets

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It is not­ed that in his alleged reply” to our sum­ma­ry of the Bib­li­cal Prophets’ expe­ri­ences in their encounter with the Divine pres­ence, the mis­sion­ary had made the arro­gant claim that :

It is rather evi­dent that NONE of these prophets’ expe­ri­ences are even remote­ly sim­i­lar with Muham­mad’s trau­mat­ic experiences…

How­ev­er, the mis­sion­ary empha­sis on the word NONE” is amus­ing in its trav­es­ty, espe­cial­ly when exam­ined in light of the fol­low­ing quo­ta­tions from the fol­low­ing Ori­en­tal­ists who attest­ed that Muham­mad’s trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ences” (the words of the mis­sion­ary, not our own) are strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar to the Bib­li­cal prophets. Empha­sis in these quo­ta­tions are our own.

See : Epilep­tic Symp­toms” In The Bib­li­cal Prophets ?


The out­ward marks of a prophet in Israel were (a) impas­sioned utter­ance ; (b) poet­ry ; (c) intense pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with God and moral issues ; (d) a sense of com­pul­sion urg­ing him to declare the will of God. Nat­u­ral­ly these char­ac­ter­is­tics var­ied from prophet to prophet : in some of the lat­er prophets the feel­ing of excite­ment, the inner urge which bursts as it were the bounds of lan­guage, and the ide­al­ism are alto­geth­er lack­ing ; but the broad pat­tern is con­sis­tent. How far then is it pos­si­ble to say that Muham­mad was a prophet ?

Now if we look at the accounts of his call, as record­ed by the ear­ly biog­ra­phers, some very inter­est­ing par­al­lels with the Hebrew prophets come to light. They say that it was his habit to leave the haunts of men and retire to the moun­tains to give him­self up to prayer and med­i­ta­tion. One night as he was asleep the angel Gabriel came to him with a piece of silk bro­cade where­on words were writ­ten, and said Recite!’ He answered, What shall I recite?’ The order was repeat­ed three times, while he felt con­tin­u­al­ly increas­ing phys­i­cal pres­sure, until the angel said :

Recite in the name of thy Lord who cre­at­ed Man from blood coag­u­lat­ed. Recite ! Thy Lord is won­drous kind Who by the pen has taught mankind Things they knew not (being blind).

When he woke these words seemed to be writ­ten on his heart (or, as we should say, impressed indeli­bly on his mind). Then the thought came to him that he must be a sha’ir (lit­er­al­ly know­ers’) or pos­sessed, he who had so hat­ed such peo­ple that he could not bear the sight of them ; and he could not tol­er­ate the thought that his tribes­men would regard him as one of them — as in fact they after­wards did. There­upon he left the place with the inten­tion of throw­ing him­self over a precipice. But while on his way he heard a voice from heav­en hail­ing him as the Apos­tle of God, and lift­ing up his eye he saw a fig­ure astride the hori­zon which turned him from his pur­pose and kept him root­ed to the spot. And there he remained long after his anx­ious wife’s mes­sen­gers had returned to report that they could not find him.

Clear­ly this sto­ry belongs to the realm of visions and dreams. What­ev­er view is tak­en of their objec­tive real­i­ty, none can doubt their sub­jec­tive real­i­ty to those who expe­ri­ence them. This inau­gur­al vision so affect­ed Muham­mad’s preach­ing — at any rate in its ear­ly stages — and Muham­mad him­self, that it is pos­si­ble to believe that he was a prophet. The bur­den of Muham­mad’s mes­sage from first to last was the almighty pow­er of God and man’s duty to obey him, of sin and judg­ment. The sense of com­pul­sion under which he labored is clear­ly brought out in the dream in which the angel forced him to speak. Some of his biog­ra­phers have delet­ed the pas­sages which speak of his doubts and fears ; but they are per­haps the most con­vinc­ing ele­ments in the sto­ry, and, apart from his con­tem­plat­ed sui­cide, are strong­ly rem­i­nis­cent of Jere­mi­ah’s doubts as to whether he was inspired or whether he was on the same lev­el as the false prophets of his day. And as we shall see, Muham­mad’s tenac­i­ty was test­ed by adver­si­ty — mock­ery, accu­sa­tions of sooth­say­ings and of teach­ing the doc­trines of for­eign­ers, and final­ly undis­guised per­se­cu­tion. His biog­ra­phers says tru­ly that prophet­hood is a weighty and painful office which few can sus­tain owing to the oppo­si­tion that they encounter.em>Islam (G. Britain, 1969), pp. 28 – 30


…[Muham­mad] was tru­ly in the suc­ces­sion of the Old Tes­ta­ment Prophets.Aspects of Islam (New York, 1911), p. 66


…The [Bib­li­cal] pas­sage where the peo­ple of God are told that God will raise up for them one of their own num­ber, sim­i­lar to Moses, who will them[1] give them guidance[2]. This is often tak­en by Chris­tians to mean that God will raise up a prophet­ic order (whose supreme exem­plar is Jesus) so that in times of dif­fi­cul­ty the peo­ple of God will have a prophet to guide them. With a lit­tle stretch­ing of the sense here and there, Muham­mad might per­haps be said to be one ful­fill­ment of this prophecy…

…It has been argued that Muham­mad is a charis­mat­ic reli­gious leader with­in the Abra­ham­ic (or Judaeo-Chris­t­ian) tra­di­tion, who guid­ed some of the peo­ple of God in a time of dif­fi­cul­ty. He may thus be called a prophet in cer­tain sens­es of the word.Islam and the Inte­gra­tion of Soci­ety (Lon­don, 1966), pp. 270 – 71

    [1] While the orig­i­nal text here has them”, it is most like­ly a then”.
    [2] Deut. xvi­ii. 1518.

It is clear that the above cita­tions regard­ing the gen­uine­ness of his mis­sion and its sim­i­lar­ites with the expe­ri­ences of the Bib­li­cal Prophets, as attest­ed by even the Ori­en­tal­ists, can­not leave any room for doubt. As remarked by Noldeke :

Die Haupt­sache bleibt doch, da?er bis zum let­zten Atemzuge f??einen Gott und das See­len­heil seines Volkes, ja der ganzen Men­schheit geeifert, und da?er die feste Gewi?eit von sein­er g??ichen Sendung nie ver­loren hat.Geschichte des Qorans (Hildesheim, 1909), p. 6

(The deci­sive fact remains that to his very last breath he laboured zeal­ous­ly for his God and for the sal­va­tion of his peo­ple, for all mankind, indeed, and that he nev­er lost his firm faith in his divine mission.)

W. Mont­gomery Watt rein­forces the same point by stat­ing that

His readi­ness to under­go per­se­cu­tion for his beliefs, the high moral char­ac­ter of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the great­ness of his ulti­mate achieve­ment — all argue his fun­da­men­tal integri­ty. To sup­pose Muham­mad rais­es more prob­lems than it solves.Muham­mad at Mec­ca (Oxford, 1953), p. 52

Hence, once again, the mis­sion­ary is refut­ed on the mat­ter. And only God knows best !


The author wish­es to cred­it Bro. Asif Iqbal with hav­ing made avail­able the cita­tions which are repro­duced above, for the pur­pose of this article.


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