In this grim sixth century, it was not only the condition of the world and its atrocities that necessitated relief from a most compassionate God. Alongside this, many of those versed in biblical scripture were awaiting a final prophesied messenger, of whom there was a crystal-clear description in their literature. Hence, Allah says about the Qur’an and subsequently its bearer, “And has it not been a sign to them that it is recognized by the scholars of the Children of Israel?”
Though some contemporaries of the Final Prophet ﷺ rejected him out of animosity and prejudice, and others simply had not yet been guided, some of the biblically versed—like ‘Abdullāh ibn Salām (rA)—quickly accepted Islam, and that was one of the proofs Allah cited against the idolators of Arabia, since most Arabs were illiterate, did not ascribe to any scripture, and held that the Jews were superior to them for being People of the Book.
Despite adulteration, strong indicators of the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ remain even today in the Judeo-Christian texts, of which we will showcase a few.
A Gentile prophet like Moses
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.
In this passage, God reveals to Moses that He will send another prophet to the Israelites, and that he will emerge from among their brethren. The New International Version of the Bible chose an exclusivist translation of this, qualifying it as “from among their fellow Israelites,
” but the Bible itself also refers to non-Israelites as their brothers. For instance, in Deuteronomy 2:4, God says that “you are about to pass through the territory of your brethren,
” referring to the lands of the Edomites. This led some biblical exegetes to suggest that a Gentile (non-Israelite) prophet could in fact be intended here;
a prophet hailing from some “brethren
” of the Israelites such as the Ishmaelites or Edomites (Arabs or Nabateans). Also, restricting this prophecy to the Israelites would mean it has never been fulfilled, since according to Deuteronomy 34:10, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses…
Deuteronomy 18:18 also establishes that the awaited prophet would have a striking resemblance to Moses. Both Moses and Muhammad (peace be upon them) were prophets born of two parents, both married and had children, both came with a new comprehensive code of law, both faced persecution causing them to leave their homelands, both returned to defeat their oppressors, and both experienced natural death and burial. No other two prophets, especially in the Abrahamic tradition, come close to this degree of similarity.
Deuteronomy 18:18 also describes this awaited prophet as someone who will serve as a faithful mouthpiece for God, only conveying from Him that which He commands. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was tireless in teaching his followers this very fact: that not a single word of the Qur’an should be credited to him: “By the star when it descends, your companion (Muhammad) has not strayed, nor has he erred, nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is but a revelation revealed.”
John the Baptist and the awaited prophet
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
Here, we find John the Baptist (as) being questioned about the nature of his ministry and whether he was claiming to be “the prophet
.” This proves that some Jews were still awaiting the fulfillment of this divine promise in Deuteronomy 18:18, that of the Mosaic antitype, up until the time of Jesus Christ (as) and even thereafter.
It also begs the question: who is this luminary who is neither Christ nor Elijah? Who is being referred to here as “the
prophet” and not just “a
prophet,” as if his name does not even require stating, and his coming was eagerly anticipated? Indeed, they were awaiting the greatest prophet of all, the Final Prophet who would illuminate for humanity the path to God one last time, and whose identity could not be mistaken. It is for this reason that Allah said, “Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons. But indeed, a party of them conceal the truth while they know [it].”
God’s servant where Kedar lives
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out nor raise his voice, nor make his voice heard in the street. A bent reed he will not break off and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until he has established justice on the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for his law.
… Sing to the LORD a new song, Sing His praise from the ends of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it; You islands, and those who live on them. Let the wilderness and its cities raise their voices, The settlements which Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of Sela sing aloud, let them shout for joy from the tops of the mountains.
This description of the “servant
” in Isaiah 42 seems to position the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as its worthiest candidate. His primary title throughout the Qur’an is “Our servant
His homeland being Arabia matches that of the Kedarites; the Bible identifies Kedar as the direct son of Ishmael (as).
It was under the leadership of Muhammad ﷺ that the Ishmaelites (Arabs) finally became a “nation
” as God had promised Abraham they would,
after being scattered feudal tribes for around two millennia. And only after being unified did they amass enough power to successfully establish “God’s justice
” in the region as Isaiah 42:4 foretells. It is problematic to assume the servant in Isaiah was Jesus Christ (as) because Christianity and Islam agree that he rose without bringing justice to the nations; his handful of disciples did not possess the political strength to enforce God’s law in their society. This servant also cannot be Moses (as) for the same reason; after forty years of wandering the desert, he died outside the Promised Land on Mount Nebo according to the Bible, without having “established justice in the earth
.” He also never abolished idolatry among the Kedarites, as Isaiah 42:17 explicitly says “the prophet
” would, while the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ most definitely did.
Jesus and the Comforter
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you…
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come.
Jesus (as) could not be implying the Holy Spirit here, calling him the Comforter that cannot arrive until Jesus departs, since the Holy Spirit was always with Jesus. Jesus could not be implying Paul or the papacy, since they did away with laws instead of perfecting them, and did not present proof that they communicated with the heavens. It was only the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who revived the honor of Jesus without burying his legacy of worshipping the Creator alone. In this respect, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “I enjoy the closest proximity to Jesus, the Son of Mary, in this life and the hereafter.” His Companions asked, “How is that, O Messenger of God?” He said, “The prophets are all paternal brothers, with different mothers, but they have one religion. Also, there was no other prophet between us (myself and Jesus Christ).”
Furthermore, he ﷺ would accurately foretell future events, and brought definitive guidance on all truths, perfecting the divine code of law for humanity until the end times.
In conjunction with this, Jesus Christ (as) also supplied the famous Vineyard Parable in Mark 12 amidst his final sermon, wherein he prophesied that the allegorical “vineyard” would be pulled from the corrupt murderous tenants “and given to others.” Ultimately, the Jews were enraged upon realizing that this parable was about them, their hostilities towards God’s prophets, and God’s covenant and prophecy leaving them as a result. This further elucidates that the awaited Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, must be a non-Israelite prophet who also came from the Abrahamic line.
Zamzam and the Flourishing City
Then God opened her [Hagar’s] eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Within Arabia’s city of Mecca, the historical epicenter of Islam and birthplace of Muhammad ﷺ, there exists the well of Zamzam—what may be the oldest active spring of water the world has ever known. Put the two millennia before the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ aside, and merely consider the millions of pilgrims visiting for Hajj and ‘umrah over the past 1,500 years, who each return home with gallons of Zamzam water. In addition, a round-the-clock supply of this water is transported to Qubā’ and the Prophetic Mosque in Madinah, while residents of Mecca have tanks installed in their homes for regular Zamzam delivery. This was clearly a blessed well which Hagar and Ishmael received, and the first brick set by God for this sacred city to flourish.
In addition to Zamzam, consider the construction of the Ka‘bah. Even the idolatrous Arabs recognized Abraham as the ultimate patriarch, and due to their esteem for him, all paid homage to him by visiting the House he built for God’s worship in Mecca (the Ka‘bah). Even though they were idolaters, these polytheists affirmed that Mecca was a special sanctuary venerated by God. They saw themselves as the heirs of that heritage, and thus they felt compelled to honor this Ka‘bah that Abraham had erected. Why else would God command Abraham to just leave Hagar and his firstborn infant in a particular place, and a barren wilderness at that? It is difficult to conceive that Allah sent Abraham to construct the Ka‘bah, established the blessed well of Zamzam beneath it, gave rise to a great nation because of it, and protected it from invasions—just so it would be surrounded by idols and become a venue for depravity. It is no surprise, then, why many people at that time believed that something was about to happen, something momentous that would change the entire scene in that part of the world and far beyond it.
Some may wonder how this writer can invoke the Bible as evidence for the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ, when the Qur’an asserts that parts of the previously revealed texts have been distorted. As quoted earlier, the Qur’an also calls our attention to biblical experts affirming these descriptions in their scriptures. To reconcile, we recognize that the original message of Jesus Christ (as) has been at least partially lost, as is exemplified—for instance—in the non-traceability of the Bible’s revisions and source manuscripts. However, this does not prevent us from being critical readers of history who infer from an inductive scan of these texts a preponderance of evidence in favor of the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ. Put simply, while no single passage in the Bible today squarely says “Muhammad,” they collectively point to him more than anyone else. In defining those who will win God’s grace and salvation, Allah said,
Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written [i.e., described] in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and prohibits them from what is wrong, and makes lawful for them what is good and forbids them from what is evil, and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him, and followed the light which was sent down with him—it is those who will be the successful. Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death.” So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided.