Is Muhammad Mentioned in the Bible?
Islamic apologists have attempted to bolster the credibility of their beliefs by claiming that the Bible makes reference to the coming of the prophet Muhammad. This claim comes even in the face of the prevailing Islamic contention that the Bible has been corrupted, and thus cannot be relied upon as an accurate record of God’s Word. Nevertheless, at least four Bible verses are referenced, two of which I will address in this article. The reader is urged to weigh these claims in light of the exegetical evidence.
First, Muslims appeal to Isaiah 29:12—“Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please’; and he says, ‘I am not literate.’ ” Muslims insist that: (a) the book referred to in this verse is the Quran; (b) the one to whom the book was delivered is Muhammad; and (c) the one who ordered Muhammad to read the book is Gabriel. They suggest that Muhammad fits the description of this individual, since Muhammad was illiterate when the angel Gabriel revealed the words of Allah to him.
To understand the context of the verse, one must remember that Isaiah, who lived in the 8th century B.C., is known as the “messianic prophet” because he prophesied so many details about Jesus—not Muhammad. Isaiah 29 is in a context in which God pronounced woes on Judah for her sins at that time, i.e., 702 B.C. The context indicates that within a year, the great Assyrian king Sennacherib would lay siege to Jerusalem in 701 B.C. (vs. 3). Jerusalem (called “Ariel”) would be attacked by her enemies and punished for her sins against God, and then those enemies themselves also would receive their just desserts (vss. 4-8).
God’s people were in the throes of deliberate spiritual blindness, and Judah’s false prophets/seers were not helping the situation (vss. 9-10). Notice that Isaiah then described the unwillingness of the people of his day to heed the truth by comparing them to a literate person who is told to read something, but refuses, excusing himself by saying the document is sealed (vs. 11). It then is delivered to an illiterate person, but he excuses himself by saying he cannot read (vs. 12). The point is that the people of Isaiah’s day refused to pay attention to God’s Word as spoken through His prophets. They did not want it! Verses 13-16 explain that because of their closed minds, they would suffer for their rejection of His Word when the Assyrians arrived to besiege the city. But, as usual, God revealed a better day when people would listen (vss. 17ff.). Having examined the context, it is evident that these verses have nothing to do with Muhammad!
A second verse that Muslims brandish in support of their claims is the promise of a coming prophet in Deuteronomy 18:18—“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.” Muslims believe that this prophet was Muhammad.
Again, a simple examination of additional biblical evidence reveals that the statement made to Moses was divinely intended to refer to Jesus Christ—not Muhammad. Shortly after the establishment of the church of Christ and the Christian religion (in A.D. 30 in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus—Acts 2), two of the twelve apostles (Peter and John) went to the Jewish temple and healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-11). When people—out of amazement at what had happened—began to gather in large numbers, Peter used the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them (Acts 3:12-26). He made several crucial points pertaining to the person of the Christ: (1) the recently crucified Jesus was, in fact, the One Whom the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had glorified (vs. 13); (2) God had raised Him from the dead (vs. 15); (3) it was the “name” (i.e., authority/power) of Jesus, and faith in Him, that procured the miraculous healing of the lame man (vs. 16); (4) the suffering of Christ was predicted previously by God through the prophets (vs. 18); (5) at the conclusion of human history, God will send Jesus back (not any of the prophets, let alone Muhammad)—an unmistakable reference to the Second Coming of Christ that will occur immediately preceding the Judgment (vss. 20-21; cf. Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.). It was at this point that Peter quoted from the passage in Deuteronomy and applied it to Jesus—not Muhammad (vss. 22ff.). Peter’s inspired application is unmistakable; he clearly identified Christ as the fulfillment: “God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (vs. 26).
Both of these verses (and the others to which Muslims appeal) may be understood with a little study and consideration of context. Those who apply these passages to Muhammad demonstrate that they possess a superficial understanding of the Bible. The truth is available for anyone who cares to examine it. But searching for the truth requires effort. Yet it can be done. As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).