Hans Küng

Hans Küng On Is Muham­mad A Prophet”?

Edi­tor’s Note : The fol­low­ing is an excerpt tak­en from Chris­tian­i­ty and World Reli­gions : Dia­logue with Islam”, in Leonard Swi­dler (ed.), Mus­lims in Dia­logue : The Evo­lu­tion of A Dia­logue, vol. 3 (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992) by the Chris­t­ian philoso­pher Hans Küng who con­veyed a Chris­t­ian opin­ion on the Prophet Muham­mad (P). We do not nec­es­sar­i­ly agree with every­thing that has been said here.

Of course many reli­gions do not have prophets in the strictest sense. Hin­dus have their gurus and sad­hus, the Chi­nese their sages, Bud­dhists their mas­ters — but they do not have prophets, as do Jews, Chris­tians, and Mus­lims. There is no doubt that if any­one in the whole of reli­gious his­to­ry is termed the prophet, because he claimed to be just that, but in no way more than that, it was Muham­mad. But may a Chris­t­ian assert that Muham­mad was a prophet ? Chris­tians, if they pause to sur­vey the sit­u­a­tion, must admit the fol­low­ing (espe­cial­ly in light of the Hebrew Bible):

  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad did not func­tion by rea­son of an office assigned to him by the com­mu­ni­ty (or its author­i­ties), but by rea­son of a spe­cial per­son­al rela­tion­ship with God.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad was a per­son of strong will who felt him­self ful­ly imbued with a god­ly call­ing, ful­ly con­sumed, exclu­sive­ly appoint­ed to his task.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad spoke to the heart of a reli­gious and social cri­sis, and with his pas­sion­ate piety and rev­o­lu­tion­ary procla­ma­tion he opposed the wealthy rul­ing class and the tra­di­tion it was try­ing to preserve.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad, who most­ly called him­self the Warn­er”, sought to be noth­ing but the ver­bal instru­ment of God and to pro­claim not his own, but God’s word.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad untir­ing­ly pro­claimed the one God who tol­er­ates no oth­er gods and who is at the same time the good Cre­ator and mer­ci­ful Judge.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad required, as a response to this one God, uncon­di­tion­al obe­di­ence, devo­tion, sub­mis­sion, which is the lit­er­al mean­ing of word Islam : every­thing that includes grat­i­tude to God and gen­eros­i­ty toward fel­low human beings.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muham­mad com­bined monothe­ism with human­ism or human val­ues, belief in the one God and God’s judg­ment with a call to social jus­tice, and a threat to the unjust, who go to hell, with promis­es to the just, who are gath­ered into God’s paradise.

Who­ev­er reads the Bible — at least the Hebrew Bible — togeth­er with the Qur’an will be led to pon­der whether the three Semit­ic reli­gions of rev­e­la­tion-Judaism, Chris­tian­i­ty, and Islam-and espe­cial­ly the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, could have the same foun­da­tion. Is it not one and the same God who speaks so clear­ly in both ? Does not the Thus says the Lord” of the Hebrew Bible cor­re­spond to the Speak” of the Qur’an, and the Go and pro­claim” of the Hebrew Bible to the Stand up and warn” of the Qur’an ? In truth, even the mil­lions of Arab-speak­ing Chris­tians have no oth­er word for God than Allah”.

Might it not there­fore be pure­ly dog­mat­ic prej­u­dice that rec­og­nizes Amos and Hosea, Isa­iah and Jere­mi­ah, as prophets, but not Muham­mad ? What­ev­er one may have against Muham­mad from the stand­point of West­ern Chris­t­ian moral­i­ty (armed vio­lence, polygamy, a sen­su­al lifestyle for males), the fol­low­ing facts are indisputable :

  • Today there are almost eight hun­dred mil­lion per­sons in the huge area between Moroc­co to the west and Bangladesh to the east, between the steppes of cen­tral Asia to the North and the Island world of Indone­sia to the south, who are stamped with the com­pelling pow­er of a faith that, like vir­tu­al­ly no oth­er faith, has mold­ed into a uni­ver­sal type those who con­fess it.
  • All those per­sons are linked by a sim­ple con­fes­sion of faith (There is no God but God, and Muham­mad is his prophet), linked by five basic oblig­a­tions, and linked by thor­ough sub­mis­sion to the will of God, whose unchange­able deci­sion, even when it brings suf­fer­ing, is to be accepted.
  • Among all the Islam­ic peo­ples there has remained a sense of fun­da­men­tal equal­i­ty before God of an inter­na­tion­al sol­i­dar­i­ty that is basi­cal­ly capa­ble of over­com­ing race (Arabs and non-Arabs) and even the castes of India.

I am con­vinced that, despite all the renewed fears of Islam, there is a grow­ing con­vic­tion among Chris­tians that, in the light of Muham­mad’s place in world his­to­ry, we must cor­rect our atti­tude toward Islam. The scourge of exclu­sive­ness”, aris­ing from Chris­t­ian dog­mat­ic impa­tience and intol­er­ance, con­demned by the British his­to­ri­an Arnold Toyn­bee, must be aban­doned. Regard­ing the fig­ure of the prophet, I believe the fol­low­ing must be admitted :

  • Ara­bi­ans in the sev­enth cen­tu­ry right­ly lis­tened to and fol­lowed the voice of Muhammad.
  • In com­par­i­son to the very world­ly poly­the­ism of the old Ara­bi­an trib­al reli­gions before Muham­mad, the reli­gion of the peo­ple was raised to a com­plete­ly new lev­el, that of a puri­fied monotheism.
  • The first Mus­lims received from Muham­mad — or, bet­ter still, from the Qur’an — end­less inspi­ra­tion, courage, and strength for a new reli­gious start : a start toward greater truth and deep­er under­stand­ing, toward a break­through in the revi­tal­iz­ing and renew­al of tra­di­tion­al religion.

In truth, Muham­mad was and is for per­sons in the Ara­bi­an world, and for many oth­ers, the reli­gious reformer, law­giv­er, and leader ; the prophet per se. Basi­cal­ly Muham­mad, who nev­er claimed to be any­thing more than a human being, is more to those who fol­low him than a prophet is to us : he is a mod­el for the mode of life that Islam strives to be. If the Catholic Church, accord­ing to the Vat­i­can II Dec­la­ra­tion on Non-Chris­t­ian Reli­gions”, regards with esteem the Mus­lims”, then the same church must also respect the one whose name is embar­rass­ing­ly absent from the same dec­la­ra­tion, although he and he alone led the Mus­lims to pray to this one God, for through him this God has spo­ken to human­i­ty”: Muham­mad the prophet. But does not such an acknowl­edg­ment have very grave con­se­quences, espe­cial­ly for the mes­sage he pro­claimed, the teach­ings set down in the Qur’an ?

I think for the peo­ples of Ara­bia Muham­mad’s prophe­cy led to tremen­dous progress. What­ev­er we Chris­tians do with this fact, we must affirm that he act­ed as a prophet and that he was a prophet. I do not see how we can avoid the con­clu­sion that on their way of sal­va­tion, Mus­lims fol­low a prophet who is deci­sive for them.Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Hans Küng, Hans Küng On Is Muham­mad A Prophet”?,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Decem­ber 23, 2005, last accessed April 17, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​m​u​h​a​m​m​a​d​/​h​a​n​s​-​k​u​n​g​-​o​n​-​m​u​h​a​m​m​ad/

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3 responses to “Hans Küng On Is Muham­mad A Prophet”?”

  1. nehpets nazrep Avatar
    nehpets nazrep

    I am a Catholic Chris­t­ian and I feel and believe very much in what Has Kung is say­ing in this arti­cle. I am cur­rent­ly read­ing his book, ISLAM. I believe in the good­ness of Muham­mad and the peo­ple who ture­ly fol­low what is the truth of the Quran, and that what he said must in some­way”, in the some­way” as the scrip­tures for Hebrews and Chris­tians, be from God.

  2. shadowofears Avatar
    shadowofears

    I was get­ting shock when I read that Parak­ly­tos” is actu­al­ly Muham­mad” in Ara­ma­ic — the moth­er tongue’ of Prophet Jesus (p.b.u.h).
    Fol­low me as we trace the Bib­li­cal his­to­ry of this Greek word Par­a­clete”. Star­tling as it may seem, at one time the word read Perik­ly­tos” and Parak­ly­tos”, which is the name for Muham­mad” in Greek. Sur­pris­ing ? It should not be because both words mean Praised” or Cel­e­brate,” the mean­ing and char­ac­ter of the man Muham­mad.” (1 Jesus in The Qur’an, One World Pub­li­ca­tions, (c) Geof­frey Par­rinder 1965, 1995, ISBN 1851680942. Know­ing this, there is a need for us to study the life of Prophet Muham­mad in depth to see if it all stands up. Sur­pris­ing­ly it does.
    Allahu Akbar (GOD is Great)!, for the com­plete expla­na­tion by Ara­ma­ic Bible Soci­ety please visit :

    http://​www​.ara​ma​ic​.org/​P​A​R​A​V​L​E​T​E​.​h​tml

    This proved what has been said by Qur’an :

    Those who fol­low the apos­tle the unlet­tered prophet (prophet Muham­mad — p.b.u.h) whom they find men­tioned in their own (Scrip­tures); in the law (Torah) and the Gospel” (Qur’an 7:157)
    Accord­ing to Holy Qur’an the name of prophet Muham­mad or Ahmad (p.b.u.h) is men­tion by name in the Gospel (Injeel):

    And when Jesus son of Mary said : O Chil­dren of Israel ! Lo ! I am the mes­sen­ger of Allah unto you, con­firm­ing that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bring­ing good tid­ings of a mes­sen­ger who cometh after me, whose name is Ahmad (the Praised One).” (Qur’an 61:6)
    If you refer to Song of Solomon in Hebrew scrip­ture, the name Muham­mad’ also men­tion there, please read Song of Solomon 5:16, it looks like this :
    Hikow mam­taqiym wku­low mahamadiym zeh dowdiy wzeh ree‘iy bnowt yruushaalaaim.”

    He does­not act­ed like prophet but he is the last prophet.

  3. bruce786 Avatar
    bruce786

    SCREW BIN LADEN, AL-QAEDA & SADDAM HUSSIAN all trained by that human­i­tar­i­an orga­ni­za­tion called the CIA.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/​ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Chris­t­ian ver­sion becomes null and void and we are wast­ing our time and resources i.e. we could save tril­lions of dol­lars and cre­ate a more peace­ful world rather than fight­ing against Islam the reli­gion of Abra­ham, Moses, Jesus and Muham­mad (peace be upon them all).

    The COVENANT with Abra­ham and his DESCENDANTS is cen­tral to islam/​chritianity/​judaism.

    Please note this is not a com­pe­ti­tion between faiths but an attempt to deci­pher fact from fiction.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son ; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish?mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish?mael to Abram.
    GENESIS 21:5
    Abra­ham was a hun­dred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Gen­e­sis 22 Abra­ham had only 2 sons oth­ers came lat­er. The Quran men­tions that it was Ish­mael that was sac­ri­ficed hence the ref­er­ence in gen­e­sis 22:2 your only son can only mean some­one has sub­sti­tut­ed Ish­mael names for Isaac!!

    BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no con­cept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 years old ? 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC?S WEANING

    THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14 – 21
    BUT IT ISDESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

    Care­ful­ly read sev­er­al times the above pas­sage and then tell me the men­tal pic­ture you get between the moth­er child inter­ac­tions what is the age of the child. If the men­tal pic­ture is that of a 17 year old child being car­ried on the shoul­der of his moth­er, being phys­i­cal­ly placed in the bush, cry­ing like a baby, moth­er hav­ing to give him water to drink, than the Islam­ic view­point is null and void.

    GENESIS:21:14 — 21
    So Abra­ham rose ear­ly in the morn­ing, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoul­der, along with the child, and sent her away. And she depart­ed, and wan­dered in the wilder­ness of Beer-She­ba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bush­es. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the dis­tance of a bow­shot ; for she said, ?Let me not look upon the death of the child.? And as she sat over against him, the child lift­ed up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad ; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heav­en, and said to her, ?What trou­bles you, Hagar ? Fear not ; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand ; for I will make him a great nation.? Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water ; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew up ; he lived in the wilder­ness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilder­ness of Paran ; and his moth­er took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14 – 21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS INTWIST.

    For back­ground info on the future reli­gion of mankind see the fol­low­ing websites :

    http://​www​.al​-sun​nah​.com/​m​u​h​a​m​m​a​d​_​i​n​_​t​h​e​_​b​i​b​l​e​.​htm (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)
    http://​www​.wit​ness​-pio​neer​.org/​v​i​l​/​B​o​o​k​s​/​M​B​_​B​Q​S​/​d​e​f​a​u​l​t​.​htm (Quran and Science)
    http://​www​.harun​yahya​.com/
    http://​www​.barn​abas​.net/
    http://​www​.answer​ing​-chris​tian​i​ty​.com/​a​c​.​htm
    http://​www​.islam​ic​i​ty​.com/
    http://​www​.isla​m​on​line​.net/​e​n​g​l​i​s​h​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​s​h​tml

    HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 vers­es 101 — 122

    101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suf­fer and forbear.

    102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (seri­ous) work with him, he said : O my son ! I see in vision that I offer thee in sac­ri­fice : Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said : O my father ! Do as thou art com­mand­ed : thou will find me, if Allah so wills one prac­tis­ing Patience and Constancy!”

    103. So when they had both sub­mit­ted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him pros­trate on his fore­head (for sacrifice),

    104. We called out to him O Abraham !

    105. Thou hast already ful­filled the vision!” — thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    106. For this was obvi­ous­ly a trial-

    107. And We ran­somed him with a momen­tous sacrifice :

    108. And We left (this bless­ing) for him among gen­er­a­tions (to come) in lat­er times :

    109. Peace and salu­ta­tion to Abraham!”

    110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    111. For he was one of our believ­ing Servants.

    112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac — a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

    113. We blessed him and Isaac : but of their prog­e­ny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obvi­ous­ly do wrong, to their own souls.

    114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

    115. And We deliv­ered them and their peo­ple from (their) Great Calamity ;

    116. And We helped them, so they over­came (their troubles);

    117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear ;

    118. And We guid­ed them to the Straight Way.

    119. And We left (this bless­ing) for them among gen­er­a­tions (to come) in lat­er times :

    120. Peace and salu­ta­tion to Moses and Aaron!”

    121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    122. For they were two of our believ­ing Servants.

    ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????

    There­fore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed with­out the need of any WMD,s.

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