Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Arguments from Al Islam

I was going through the homepage of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's official website when I stumbled across an interesting article entitled "Muhammad in the Bible". I didn't take very long for me to figure out that this was going to be another rehashing of common Islamic arguments based on eisegesis of certain scriptural texts, as some of the passages brought up in the article have been raised before by mainstream Muslims. Still, I think it would be fair to provide an examination of this article and its arguments. Excerpts from the article will be posted in italics.

We find that his coming was foretold in clear and precise terms not only by Jesus himself but by Moses and other Biblical prophets as well. In fact it seems from whatever words of Jesus are available to the world, that the bringing of glad tidings of a great coming prophet was one of the chief objects of his mission.

We find that his coming was foretold in clear and precise terms not only by Jesus himself but by Moses and other Biblical prophets as well. In fact it seems from whatever words of Jesus are available to the world, that the bringing of glad tidings of a great coming prophet was one of the chief objects of his mission.

Again and again Jesus said that he was sent to the world only to give as much guidance as the people of his own time could bear. As for complete teaching which would stay forever with mankind, he said:

But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

Only the prophet of Islam could have fulfilled this prophecy of Jesus. Muhammad was truly sent in his name because he bore testimony to his truth. The Holy Quran says:

The Messiah, son of Mary, was a messenger, "surely messengers like unto him had passed away before him" (The Holy Quran 5:76)

The Holy Quran reports that the angels told Mary:

Surely Allah gives you good news with a word from Him of whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, worthy of regard in this world and hereafter. (The Holy Quran 3:46)

Now when we take this prophecy point by point, it is unmistakably proven that it applies to none else but the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He came after Jesus. The Comforter was supposed to reprove the followers of Jesus. Obviously, he could not be a Christian or a Jew .The prophecy must relate to one who would belong to another people but should respect Jesus and promote reverence for him. The Holy Prophet was neither Jew nor a Christian.

Whoever came up with this argument should have taken a closer look at the passage he quoted. Jesus specifically states that the comforter is the Holy Ghost. The comforter is not a prophet, and it is certainly not Muhammad. In fact, we see the actual fulfillment of this passage in the Pentecost (Acts 2:1 ff), as well as in various other passages throughout the New Testament.

The Holy Prophet testified to the truth of Jesus as a divine and honored Teacher and Prophet, and declared them mistaken and misguided who thought him accursed. The Holy Quran described his teachings as "guidance and light ." Further elaborating the same prophecy, Jesus said:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will sent him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. ... I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. How be it when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.. and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:7-14)

This prophecy clearly lays down that:

1. The Comforter will come after the departure of Jesus.
2. When the Comforter comes, he will reprove the world of sin, truth and justice.
3. He will guide the world into all truth.
4. The book revealed to him will contain no human word.
5. He will foretell things to come.
6. He will glorify Jesus and clear him of all charges.

Considering that John gives perhaps one of the greatest testimonies to the deity of Christ, I really doubt that St. John would have accepted Muhammad's testimony, since Muhammad denies that Jesus is God. Also, one wonders how glorifying Jesus meant "clearing Him of all charges". John makes it clear that glorifying Jesus means proclaiming the truth about Him. This, my friends, is an excellent example of Islamic eisegesis of Biblical texts.

Thus says the Quran:

[The Jews] slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified, and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it: they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this: conjecture into a certainty; on the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself (The Holy Quran 4: 158)

And yet, John testifies that the exact opposite is true. Are you really sure that John's gospel is talking about Muhammad? Anyway, moving a few paragraphs down, we encounter this:

The prophecy said that "he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that he shall speak". This description can only apply to the Prophet Muhammad. The New and Old Testaments do not contain a single book in which man's word has not been mixed with God's. The Quran is nothing but the word of God from beginning to end. Not a word even of the Prophet is to be found in it.

When Peter appeared before the people of Jerusalem, his words were: "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you". John starts one of his conversations with "I, John, who am your brother". On the same lines we read the utterances of Philip, James and others in the Bible.

This is where we come across a fundamental difference between the Christian and Islamic ideas regarding divine revelation. According to Islam, the words of the Qur'an were dictated by God Himself. However, in Christianity, the words of the Bible, though penned down by ordinary human beings, are divinely inspired, or God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This means that each individual human author's thoughts, concerns and writing styles are visible in the biblical text, although it still conveys what God intends it to convey, and by virtue of His divine inspiration is protected from error. The problem with the assertion made by Islam is that it attempts to impose the Islamic view of revelation onto the Christian worldview.

The fact is that before Jesus, Moses had also foretold of a great prophet in clear and precise words. When Moses went to Mount Horeb under the command of God he addressed the Israelites saying:

The Lord thy God will raise unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him ye shall hearken. (Deuteronomy 18:15)

And again, God's words to Moses:

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that, whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)

It is evident from these verses that Moses foretold a Law-giving Prophet who was to appear after him, and who was to be from among the brethren of Israel.That he was to be a Law-giver and not an ordinary Prophet is obvious from the words "like unto Moses", since Moses was also a Law-giver.

I'm not very good at exegeting the texts given above, but from what I understand, the "brethren" are supposed to be "from the midst of thee", that is to say, from the Jewish people. This pretty much disqualifies Muhammad, since he was never "from the midst of" the Jewish people. I think I should get somebody more well versed on this than me to explain the real meaning of the passage:

Moving on:

Was Jesus such a prophet? Was he a Law-giver? Did he bring a new Law into the world to replace an old one? The answer, in his own words:

Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto You, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18)

And the followers of Jesus went so far as to declare:

And the Law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:12-13)

Jesus laid no claim to a new Law; his disciples regarded the Law as a curse. It was the Holy Quran which announced from the very outset that:

This is the (complete and perfect) Book, there is nothing of doubt in it. It is a guidance for the righteous. (The Holy Quran 2:3)

This is because Christianity proclaims a new covenant, one that is not of the law, but is of grace. Thus, this has everything to do with how the old covenant relates to the new. It is explained thus:

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
(Romans 3:27-31)

Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
(Romans 7:1-6)

I don't have time to critique the rest of the article, but going through the first half of the article, we can already see the arguments unravel. Perhaps I can dissect the rest of the article in a future post, or perhaps I can leave it to someone else to take up the task. In any case, the link to the article is up there in the first paragraph of the post. Check it out for yourselves, and see what you think.

Oh, and finally, before I forget, Answering Islam has numerous articles answering claims about Muhammad being in the bible. Go there for further information.

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