Muhammad in the Bible

Andy Bannister wrote in message <7iora4$5ee$>...

[About verse 7:157]

>If this verse is correct, then Muhammad is to be found in both the Old >Testament section of the Christian Bible, as well as the New Testament. >Finding such a prophecy is important for Muslims; if the prophecy is there, >then this is a major proof of the Qu'ran. If the prophecy is not there, then >there are great problems around this verse if nothing else.

If the prophecy is not there, then it was removed. Where is the problem?

It is a false premise that finding such a prophecy is important for Muslims. Our directive in this chapter is that we have neither to believe nor disbelieve whatever Israelite reports tell us. To put it bluntly, Muslims other than the first generation do not and cannot rely even on Muslim extra-Qur'anic sources, let alone the altered books of abrogated religions, to verify Qur'anic statements. What is found outside may illustrate, or confirm, or parallel, but not verify.

A more accurate observation is that it would be _interesting_ for Muslims to find such a prophecy in the Torah and the Evangel. It would be like finding Noah's ark on Mount Ararat. It would add nor subtract nothing to the faith of a Muslim in the Qur'anic disclosure. (But where are the Torah and the Evangel?)

>Another issue to point out is that without prophecies in the previous >revelations, then Muhammad's prophethood rests on his testimony alone; it is >not verified by the Qu'ran, because otherwise a logical loop develops: > >1 - we can trust the Qu'ran because Muhammad was a prophet of God >2 - we know that Muhammad is a prophet of God because the Qu'ran says so >3 - return to step (1)

The first premise must be incorrect since `Umar ibn al-Khattab first trusted the Qur'an not because Muhammad was a prophet of God, but because when `Umar first heard it, it dawned on him that this cannot be human invention. This aspect of the Qur'an is called inimitability or a "disabling of human powers" (i`jaz). I`jaz al-Qur'an is the ongoing miracle at the hand of the Prophet Muhammad -- Allah bless and greet him -- as opposed to the miracles of our masters and Prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus which all came to an end -- Allah bless and greet them.

Of course some deny the miracle of the Qur'an, since divine wisdom dictated that there be deniers of prophets and their miracles in every age. But their responsibilities in carrying out this denial probably vary. They say that "Man is the enemy of what he knows not." Most if not all Arabophones realize the inimitability of the Qur'an, although I believe that the Arabs' relation to their own language is at its feeblest in our time. Let us say that a cognizant Arab who denies the Qur'an is in a very dire position. A non-Arab who denies it, thinking he knows it or knowing that he does not know it, or living in total ignorance of it is probably in a different category of denial. We know that the idiot, the child, the deafmute, the madman will all have excuses on the Day of Resurrection.

A third group believed in the Prophet Muhammad just from seeing him. Another early Companion, `Abd Allah ibn Rawaha said:

Even if there had not been clear signs among us, His face would have told you the news.

Abu `Ubayda ibn Muhammad ibn `Ammar ibn Yasir said: I said to al-Rubayyi` bint Mu`awwadh: "Describe for me Allah's Messenger." She replied: "If you saw him you would say: The sun is rising."

Yet others believed just from hearing about him, without hearing nor seeing him such as the Yemeni saint, Uways al-Qarani.

If you like logic, then you know Anselm's primum mobile argument about the existence of God. Now when you see the Empire State or the Golden Gate bridge, you know that someone must have built this, a great architect. Look at Islam and its greatness as a civilization of spiritual and social upliftment and consider that it sprang from the call of a lone, illiterate man in the desert of pagan Arabia. Do you honestly think that that man is just a clever inventor? May Allah lead you and me out of blindness and delusion.

>However, if some such prophecy exists externally of the Qu'ran - i.e. in the >Bible - then this is extremely valuable external evidence for the prophet >hood of Muhammad, and the circle above is broken!

Again, the prophethood you mentioned is not verified by the criteria that you think, because it was not subject to these criteria in the first place, much less 1,400 years later. Israelite sources that we are bound neither to believe nor disbelieve cannot possibly form "extremely valuable external evidence" for such a fundamental principle as prophethood. Let alone an abrogating prophethood meant to convey the last, exclusive, and final dispensation.

Let us be clear that Allah in the above verse is referring to and addressing the Christians and Jews by reminding them of their own scriptures. In addition He is addressing them at a time when they knew and felt much more vividly than now that a prophet was to come. As for the gentile Arabs of that time they were scriptureless, and then the Muslims had the Qur'an.

I have nothing to add to the discussion about the Song of Solomon, some say yea and some say nay and that is that. Its interest to Muslims is not as a proof-text in the first place (nothing in the Bible(s) could be except in specific juridical understandings of "other people's laws") but as an interesting observation. I have seen many such interesting parallels, one even in John of Patmos's book of Revelation, a mention of "the truthful and trustworthy one" riding on a white horse. These are known attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless and greet him.

One note: to subject the language of prophetic poetry in Canticles to questions like "If this is Muhammad, which of his wives is speaking? And was Muhammad ever married to a dark woman he wooed from Lebanon?" is silly. Ask your countless Christian exegetes who said this is the Church speaking to Christ, is Christ's Church a dark Lebanese lady? Let us at least agree that everything does not have to match perfectly for suggestion to arise, and the language of prophecy (in this case "typology") is often -- not always -- more suggestive than explicit.