Muhammad — The Promised One
An extract from ‘The Religion of Islam’
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
اَلَّذِیۡنَ یَتَّبِعُوۡنَ الرَّسُوۡلَ النَّبِیَّ الۡاُمِّیَّ الَّذِیۡ یَجِدُوۡنَہٗ مَکۡتُوۡبًا عِنۡدَہُمۡ فِی التَّوۡرٰىۃِ وَ الۡاِنۡجِیۡلِ ۫
“Those who follow the Messenger (Prophet), the ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel” (The Holy Quran, 7:157).
Prophecies about the advent of Muhammad [pbuh], are met with in earlier sacred books and had great currency among the nations. In fact, those very prophecies might have impelled Jews and Christians to settle down in Arabia; for the land of the Promised Prophet was specified by name in the Scriptures. We would touch upon a few of them.
The Quran asserts that the appearance of Muhammad was foretold by each and all of the foregoing prophets, through whom the covenant was also made with their respective peoples that they would accept him when he made his appearance. The distinguishing feature of the Promised One, they were told, was that he would bear testimony to the truth of all the prophets of the world (The Holy Quran, 3:81). It seems that Providence had deemed fit to depute a separate prophet for the reformation of each nation in the days of yore, when the various peoples inhabiting this planet lived in absolute isolation from one another and modern means of communication had not come into existence. To amalgamate the diverse religious systems into one all-comprehensive faith as well as to weld humanity into one universal brotherhood, was sent a Prophet with a mission for the whole of mankind. Thus, while on the one hand the happy news of such a world-Prophet was given to each preceding prophet, the Promised One was, on the other, commissioned to testify to the truth of all the foregoing prophets wherever and whenever sent all the world over:
وَ اِذۡ اَخَذَ اللّٰہُ مِیۡثَاقَ النَّبِیّٖنَ لَمَاۤ اٰتَیۡتُکُمۡ مِّنۡ کِتٰبٍ وَّ حِکۡمَۃٍ ثُمَّ جَآءَکُمۡ رَسُوۡلٌ مُّصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَکُمۡ لَتُؤۡمِنُنَّ بِہٖ وَ لَتَنۡصُرُنَّہٗ ؕ
“And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets: Certainly what I have given you of the Book of Wisdom — then a Messenger comes to you verifying that which is with you, you shall believe in him and you shall aid him” (The Holy Quran, 3:81).
There is only one Messenger in the whole world — and that is Muhammad — who answers to this description. His description of the faithful runs thus:
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِمَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَیۡکَ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ ۚ
“Those who believe in that which has been revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee” (The Holy Quran, 2:4).
It goes further still and asserts that a prophet was raised in every nation:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡہَا نَذِیۡرٌ ﴿۲۴﴾
“There is not a people but a warner has gone among them” (The Holy Quran, 35:24).
On another occasion it says that it makes mention of some of the prophets while there are others who have not been expressly spoken of:
وَ رُسُلًا قَدۡ قَصَصۡنٰہُمۡ عَلَیۡکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ رُسُلًا لَّمۡ نَقۡصُصۡہُمۡ عَلَیۡکَ ؕ
“And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to you before and messengers We have not mentioned to you” (The Holy Quran, 4:164).
So, Muhammad stands out unique from both these viewpoints: on the one hand, the predictions of all his predecessors find due fulfilment in his person; while, on the other, he alone out of all the prophets has made it a binding article of faith to believe in all the prophets of the world. Thus, he is the last of that noble band of prophets, as foretold by all his predecessors.
The Israelites and the Ishmaelites sprang from a common progenitor — Abraham. Though the Divine Scripture revealed to Abraham has not come down to us, yet much light is thrown on God’s promises to him concerning the future of his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, by the Old Testament in the book of Genesis. The Quran also alludes to the same promises when it says:
وَ اِذِ ابۡتَلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہٖمَ رَبُّہٗ بِکَلِمٰتٍ فَاَتَمَّہُنَّ ؕ قَالَ اِنِّیۡ جَاعِلُکَ لِلنَّاسِ اِمَامًا ؕ قَالَ وَ مِنۡ ذُرِّیَّتِیۡ ؕ قَالَ لَا یَنَالُ عَہۡدِی الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۴﴾
“And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make thee a leader of men. (Abraham) said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the wrongdoers, said He” (The Holy Quran, 2:124).
And again, in the joint prayer of Abraham and Ishmael:
رَبَّنَا وَ ابۡعَثۡ فِیۡہِمۡ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡہُمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیٰتِکَ وَ یُعَلِّمُہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ وَ یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ ؕ
“Our Lord, and raise up in them from among them who shall recite to them Thy messages and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and purify them…” (The Holy Quran, 2:129).
The Old Testament records a Divine promise to the same effect, made to Abraham, even before the birth of Isaac and Ishmael:
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis, 12:2, 3).
Then reference is made to Ishmael by name, in the same book of Genesis:
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis, 17:20).
The second prophecy announcing the advent of Muhammad found utterance through Moses:
“I will raise up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth” (Deuteronomy, 18:18).
No one of the Israelite prophets that followed Moses in a long succession down to Jesus ever claimed to be the prophet promised in this prophecy. And for obvious reasons Moses’ successors, who came only to fulfil his law, could not be like unto him. The prophecy was of common knowledge among the Jews who expected, generation after generation, a prophet like unto Moses. This is amply borne out by the conversation that passed between John the Baptist and those who came to ask him:
“‘Who art thou?’ And he confessed: ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Art thou Elias?’ And he saith, ‘I am not’. ‘Art thou that Prophet?’ And he answered: ‘No’” (John, 1:19–21).
This shows positively that the Jews were in expectation of the appearance of three different prophets. Firstly, Elias, who, they thought, was to appear in person: secondly, the Christ: and thirdly, a prophet of such universal fame that in his case, no further specification was thought necessary — “that Prophet” was enough to convey who was meant. Such was the household currency which Moses’ prophecy concerning a prophet like unto him had gained among the Jews. It is thus evident that just before the appearance of Jesus, the Jews were in expectation of three prophets, as foretold in their scriptures.
Now two of these prophecies were fulfilled in the persons of Jesus and John, the one claiming to be the Christ and the other to have been sent in the spirit of Elias. But neither laid claim to be the Promised Prophet like unto Moses. Nor did any of those who accepted them identify them as such. With Jesus, the chain of prophethood among the Israelites came to an end. Thus the prophecy of Deuteronomy regarding a prophet like unto Moses remained unfulfilled so far as the Israelites were concerned. Turning to the history of the world, we find that no other prophet except Muhammad ever claimed to be the Prophet foretold by Moses, and no other sacred book but the Quran ever pointed to anyone as fulfilling the prophecy. Facts also bear out the same conclusion. Moses was a law-giver and so was Muhammad. Among the Israelite prophets who succeeded Moses, no one brought a new law. Muhammad, being the only law-giving Prophet, was thus the only Prophet like unto Moses. The Quran says:
اِنَّاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکُمۡ رَسُوۡلًا ۬ۙ شَاہِدًا عَلَیۡکُمۡ کَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلٰی فِرۡعَوۡنَ رَسُوۡلًا ﴿ؕ۱۵﴾
“Surely We have sent to you a Messenger … as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh” (The Holy Quran, 73:15).
Again, it invites the attention of the Jews to the prophecy in Deuteronomy in these words:
شَہِدَ شَاہِدٌ مِّنۡۢ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ عَلٰی مِثۡلِہٖ
“A witness from among the Children of Israel has borne witness of one like him …” (The Holy Quran, 46:10).
The word of the prophecy, “from among their brethren,” throw further light on the fact that the Promised Prophet was to come, not from among the Israelites themselves but from among their brethren, the Ishmaelites.
A third prophecy in equally clear terms is met with in the same book — Deuteronomy. It says:
“The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came forth with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them” (Deuteronomy, 33:2).
“Coming from Sinai” refers to the appearance of Moses, while “rising up from Seir” refers to the conquest of Seir by David. Now Paran is admittedly the ancient name for the land of Hijaz, where arose Muhammad from among the descendants of Ishmael. The words “he came forth with ten thousands of saints” point still more unmistakably to the identity of the person to whom they refer: Muhammad, of all the world-heroes, is the one solitary historical personage whose triumphal entry into Makkah with ten thousand saintly followers, is an event of common knowledge. The law he gave to the world is to this day known as baida (shining), for it throws full light on all matters pertaining to the religious, moral and social welfare of man. And it is to this that allusion is made in the words, “from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
A fourth prophecy specifies Arabia as the land of the Promised Prophet:
“The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companions of Dedanites. Unto him that was thirsty they brought water, the inhabitants of the land of Tima did meet the fugitives with their bread. For they fled away from the swords, from the drawn sword and from the bent bow and from the grievousness of war” (Isaiah, 21:13–15).
In the first place the word “Arabia” is by itself significant enough. Then the mention of one who fled sheds still further light on the object of the prophecy. The history of the world records but one such flight that has won the importance of a red-letter event — the flight of Muhammad from Mecca. It is from this point of time that the Muslim era commences; for it marked, in fact, the opening of a new chapter in the history of Islam — indeed in the civilization of the world. A yet clearer testimony, however, is contained in the words, “he fled from drawn swords.” History confirms that Muhammad fled from Mecca while his house was surrounded by blood-thirsty enemies with drawn swords ready to fall upon him in a body as soon as he came out. One will in vain turn the pages of history to find another instance of flight, which resulted in issues so far-reaching and momentous, or another prophet who ran for his life through drawn swords. These two authoritative facts of history, supplemented by a direct mention of the land of Arabia as the birthplace of the Promised Prophet, furnish an indisputable clue that the prophecy refers to Muhammad.
There are several other similar prophecies by Israelite prophets, such as David, Solomon, Habakkuk, Haggai, and others. But for the sake of brevity let us refer to one only, by the last of the Israelite prophets — Jesus — which runs thus:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth” (John, 14:15–17).
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all this” (John, 14:26).
“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 send him unto you” (John, 16:7).
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you unto all truth” (John, 16:12, 13).
All these prophetic words predict in unequivocal terms the advent of another prophet after Jesus. The terms of the prophecy do not warrant the conclusion that they are applicable to the Holy Ghost. “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” are words too clear to need any comment. The New Testament says that John was filled with the Holy Ghost even before he was born. Then it speaks of Jesus himself as receiving the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove. Thus, the Holy Ghost used to visit men before the time of Jesus as well as in his own time. To what is then the reference made in the words, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you?” Surely not to the Holy Ghost; for it is almost sacrilegious to think that Jesus was without the Holy Ghost. Genuine reverence for Jesus requires that we should recognize even his disciples, purified as they were at the hands of their great Master, to have been pure enough to merit the company of the Holy Ghost. The Quran, at least, credits the companions of Muhammad with such company in clear terms:
وَ اَیَّدَہُمۡ بِرُوۡحٍ مِّنۡہُ ؕ
“And He aided them with the Holy Spirit from Himself” (The Holy Quran, 58:22).
The words “Holy Ghost” which have also been used in the prophecy, if not by interpolation, are intended to be taken that the Promised One would have such an inseparable union with the Holy Ghost that his advent might be taken, metaphorically of course, as the coming of the Holy Ghost itself. There are other words in the prophecy which are applicable only to Muhammad. The characteristic features set forth in the prophecy are found one and all in him. “That he may abide with you for ever” indicates that there would be no prophet after the Promised One. This is exactly what the Quran says of Muhammad:
خَاتَمَ النَّبِیّٖنَ ؕ
“The Last of the Prophets” (The Holy Quran, 33:40).
Again, “He shall teach you all things,” says the prophecy. The same is in the Quran about the dispensation of Muhammad:
اَلۡیَوۡمَ اَکۡمَلۡتُ لَکُمۡ دِیۡنَکُمۡ
“This day have I perfected for you your religion” (The Holy Quran, 5:3).
Then the Promised One is called the Spirit of Truth in the prophecy, which is also confirmed by the Quran in the words:
اَلۡیَوۡمَ اَکۡمَلۡتُ لَکُمۡ دِیۡنَکُمۡ
“The Truth has come and falsehood vanished” (The Holy Quran, 17:81).
Did you know?
DID YOU KNOW, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the ONLY UNIVERSAL PROPHET sent by God to ALL MANKIND. The Holy Quran says, He, Muhammad, was sent as a MERCY TO ALL NATIONS.
DID YOU KNOW, that all other Prophets of God, including JESUS were NATIONAL PROPHETS, sent only to a Particular People. The Prophet Jesus said,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. … It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew, 15:24, 26).