These are the days of revolution, when men would appear to entertain hatred rather than any reverence for tradition. “Down with the past" is the slogan in the air. Humanity seems prepared to build its future without any reference whatsoever to what has gone before. Still, there are many who doubt if humanity can ever actually erect a wholly new structure of civilised life; and whatever hope we may repose in the present Russian spirit of progress by revolution, humanity, at bottom, is averse from taking indefinite risks of an entirely new future. That it desires change there can be no doubt — only such change as comes in the shape, as it were, of pieces grafted on to the principal body of the existing system. A change that thwarts or injures this principal body may excite radicals to hurried enthusiastic action, but can never appeal to the generality of people as a practical programme. Be this as it may, economic and political movements can achieve a measure of success by methods revolutionary, because they have facts and figures to offer that are tangible to external senses, that minister to animal needs, and promise results that are near at hand.
But religion being what it is, has to depend constantly on tradition — a reference to the past religions, prior to Islam, had this as their sole support. Islam, however, introduced for the first time reasoning and argument in the establishment of religious truths, and this reasoning was drawn, first, from the phenomena of nature, and secondly, from the lessons of history. Although this latter kind of reasoning is also a reference to the past, yet it decidedly comes within the category of argument. The sort of reference to the past, however, which religion is particularly wont to make, is that comprised in tradition and prophecy, and Islam, although it had its independent way of carrying conviction to the unbelieving mind, found also the necessity of having recourse to this particular method of proving the truth of its claims. The reason is obvious. However rationalistic a religion may be, its perspective, since it has to deal with facts which require subtler faculties for their comprehension, is naturally far hazier than it is in the case of secular movements. A reference to tradition, to show in the light of present events the fulfilment of some prophecy made in the past, is helpful in creating the faith needed to take action on the lines of the new movement. It not only assists the new leader in his claims to leadership, but also increases faith in those whose prophecies he comes to fulfil. Thus, incidentally, it affords mighty proof of the existence of God — the bedrock of religion inasmuch as it indicates the continuity of a single and conscious will throughout successive periods of human history; and further — and this is of immediate concern — it minimises the uncertainties of treading an untrodden path — the one chalked out by the prophet or the reformer on the field. Even here there is, it is true, the danger of abuse, but where is the method which has not this danger? Considerations such as these constitute, I hope, a sufficient justification for the publication of the present tract. Who knows how many sincere souls there may be, outside the fold, who may find in this a great, sign from their Lord?
A word in conclusion — just to guard against a misunderstanding that may arise in the wake of my contentions that follow. We Muslims resent Christian missionaries quoting from the Quran in support of their own contentions, and yet I have myself based the relevant portion of my arguments on the Christian scriptures. The reality at the bottom of this apparent paradox is that whereas the Christians regard the source of the Holy Quran as unholy, and its Messenger as wholly a pretender, we Muslims look upon the source of the Bible as holy and Divine, and its medium as a truthful man. Of course, Muslims regard the Christian scripture as interpolated, but interpolation still implies retention of some original truths.
“And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets: Certainly what I have given you of Book and wisdom — then an apostle comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must aid him. He said: Do you affirm and accept my compact in this (matter)? They said: We do affirm. He said: Then bear witness, and I (too) am of the bearers of witness with you” (Holy Quran: 3:80).
Prophecies concerning the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) are to be found in the previous sacred books, and had great currency among all nations. In fact, those very prophecies might well have impelled both Jews and Christians to settle down in Arabia; for the land of the promised Prophet was specified by name in their Scriptures.
The Quran declares that the appearance of the Holy Prophet was foretold by each and all of the preceding prophets, through whom also the covenant was 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. It seems that Providence had thought it fit to depute a separate prophet for each nation, in the days of yore, when the nations of the earth lived in absolute isolation one from another, and modern means of communication had not come into existence. Then, to amalgamate the diverse religious systems into one all-comprehensive faith, as well as to weld humanity into one universal brotherhood, He raised up a Prophet whose mission was to the whole of mankind. Thus, while on the one hand the happy tidings of such a world-prophet had been imparted to each preceding prophet, the Promised Prophet was, on the other, commissioned to testify to the truth of all the foregoing prophets wherever and whenever raised up the whole world over. And the Holy Prophet answers in every detail to this description. He laid it down as one of the cardinal doctrines of faith that all the other prophets of the world should be accepted along with him. At the very opening of the Quran, a description of the faithful is given in the words: “And those who believe in that which has been revealed to thee, and that which was revealed before thee” (2:4).
Then, as regards the raising up of a reformer in each nation, the Quran makes a general statement: “There has not been a nation but it had a warner” (35:24).
Elsewhere, too, it says that it makes mention of certain of the prophets, while there are others who have not been expressly spoken of: “And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to thee before and messengers We have not mentioned to thee. And to Moses Allah addressed His word, speaking (to him)” (4:164).
So, from both their points of view, the Holy Prophet Muhammad stands forth unique for the predictions of all his predecessors find due fulfilment in his person, and 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 principle that the Prophet testifies to the truth of all previous revelation furnishes a strong foundation for harmony between the various religions of the world, as well as for the unity of the human race, and the fact that all the foregoing prophets testify to the truth of the Prophet Muhammad constitutes a yet stronger testimony to the truth of Islam and the unity of religions. There has been no prophet in any country, among any people, who has not prophesied the advent of the Prophet Muhammad. This is a point which deserves the most earnest consideration at the hands of all reasonable men. Prophets who lived thousands of years ago and in countries far distant from Arabia, all drew their knowledge from the same All-knowing Source, and all foretold the advent of a mighty Prophet in Arabia. These prophecies are not merely so many items of news — they were accompanied by the signs of the mighty hand of God, far beyond the imagination of mortal man.
Among existing world religions, the Parsis and the Arya Samajists, on behalf of Hinduism, vie each with the other to prove a more remote antiquity for their respective faith. Learned Hindu historians, like the late Messrs. Tilak and Lajpat Rai, also admit the antiquity of both these religions, of which we now take the first. The religion of the Parsis has two collections of scriptures, the Dasatir and the Zand Avasta, which may be called respectively the Old and the New Testaments of the Parsi faith. In Dasatir No. 14, which is associated with the name of Sasan I, there is not only a corroboration of the doctrines and teachings of Islam, but a clear prophecy as to the advent of the Prophet Muhammad. This prophecy had gained so much currency and was deemed of so great an importance that for thousands of years after Sasan, the Parsis have been eagerly looking forward to the advent of this Promised One. St. Matthew, the Evangelist, taking advantage of this universal belief among the Parsis, sought to show that the Promised One was Jesus, but, as it happens, there is no prophecy among the Magians which can at all correspond with the figure of Jesus. On the other hand, there is a prophecy contained in the above-named Nama No. 14 which clearly points to the appearance of the Prophet Muhammad. Thus Sasan, after depicting a state of extreme disorder and demoralisation in Persia , says as follows:
“When the Persians should sink so low in morality, a man should be born in Arabia whose followers shall upset their throne, kingdom, religion and everything. The mighty stiff-necked ones of Persia shall be overpowered. The house which was built (referring to Abraham building the Ka'aba), and in which many idols have been placed, shall be purged of idols and men shall say their prayers facing towards it. His followers shall capture the towns of the Parsis and Tas and Balkh and other great cities round about. People will strive with one another, and the wise men of Persia and others will join his followers.”
This prophecy is contained in a book which has always been in the hands of the Parsis. The words are most clear and unambiguous. The coming man is to be an Arab. The Persians would join his faith. Fire-temples would be destroyed. Idols would be removed. People would say prayers facing towards the Ka'aba. Can this prophecy fit in with any person other than the Prophet Muhammad?
Among the Evangelists, St. Matthew is a man with a taste and temperament of his own. Wherever he comes across even a vague rumour, he seizes upon it and applies it to Jesus. He is particularly adept in distorting texts from the ancient scriptures, clothing them with meanings of his own, and making them fit in with the life of Jesus. Where necessary, he does not hesitate to alter the text even of the Old Testament (vide Introduction to the Bible by Prof. Horn). In Persia , the prophecy of Sasan was on everybody's lips, and people were looking forward to the advent of a Tazi man, that is, an Arab. As soon as St. Matthew came to know of this, he at once coined a story about it, containing a great many things which are beyond comprehension. The fact that no other of the Evangelists has mentioned this story is conclusive proof of its falsity.
St. Luke, who claims to record only the authentic reports, gives us, instead, another story about some shepherds. But he makes no mention of the alleged fact that the "Magi" seeing the star, came from Persia and prostrated themselves before Jesus; and indeed the Christian tradition that a certain Magian or a King of the Magians became Christian has no foundations in fact. It is, however, not our purpose to go into such details. Suffice it to say that the prophecy about the Tazi (Arab) man had gained so widespread a currency among the Persians, that for thousands of years the Magians had been eagerly looking forward to his advent. As foretold in the prophecy, just before the coming of the Holy Prophet, the Persians had sunk to very low depths as regards morality and religion. At the hands of his followers Persia was conquered, and the wise men of Persia embraced Islam. Fire-temples were extinguished. Mosques were erected. The House of Ka'aba became the Qibla of the Persians, and thus the prophecy of Sasan was fulfilled to the very letter.
In the Hindu Scriptures also there are many prophecies touching the Holy Prophet Muhammad. A few of these are in the Puranas, two of them in the Upanishads, and others in the Vedas. Of the Puranic prophecies, that in the Bhavishya Purana is the clearest of all. It gives even the name and the main attributes of the Prophet, and for this reason, the Arya Samaj has tried to cast doubt on the authenticity of the passage, their only argument being to the effect that it contains a reference to the Prophet. According to Sanatanist Pandits and the vast bulk of Hindus, however, it is considered quite authentic. The prophecy runs as follows:
“Just then a man with the epithet “Illiterate," Muhammad by name, and an inhabitant of Arabia, appeared with his companions.... O denizen of Arabia and master of the world, to thee is my adoration! O thou who hast found many ways and means to destroy all the devils of the world, to thee is my adoration. O pure one from among the illiterates, O sinless one, the spirit of truth and absolute master, to thee is my adoration. Accept me at thy feet” [Bha'vishya Purana, Para 3, Kanda 3, Adhyaya 3, Shlokas 5, 7, 8].
This is the spiritual illumination which the author of the Bhavishya Purana obtained and he described, accordingly, the coming of Prophet Muhammad.
Above the Purina in point of importance comes, in Hindu literature, the position of the Upanishads, which are considered by most critics as supplementary to the Vedas. One of these Upanishads is known as Allo Upanishad. From its style and date of compilation it would seem to be a part of the Atharv Veda. In the Sanskrit lexicon, Wachaspati, which is considered to be of very ancient origin, the author, giving the meaning of the word Allah, says that Allah Sukta is a sukta or song of the Atharv Veda. In Shabdkalpadrum, compiled by Raja Radha Kant, also Allah Sukta has been mentioned as a sukta of Atharv Veda. Allo Upanishad has been printed apart from the Veda — one edition in Bombay along with a Gujerati translation by a Shastri Pandit, and another in Calcutta by Upendra Nath Mukhopadhya. In this, the words of the prophecy are:
“Allah is the owner of High attributes, complete, perfect, All-knowing. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, the All-wise. Light upon light, Allah is Imperishable, One, Ever-perfect and Self-subsistent.”
Above the Upanishads come the Vedas and the Atharv Veda has the following clear prophecy about the Holy Prophet:
“O people, hear this most needfully! The man of praise (Muhammad) will be raised among the people. We take the emigrant into our shelter from sixty thousand and ninety enemies — whose means of conveyance are twenty camels and she-camels, whose loftiness of position touches the heaven and lowers it. He gave to Mamah Rishi hundreds of gold coins, ten ciroles, three hundred Arab horses and ten thousand cows” [Atharv Veda, Kanda 20, Sukta 127, Mantra 1 — 3].
The emphasis placed on this passage is nowhere else to be met with in the four Vedas. It is true that in the text of this prophecy there is a certain amount of discrepancy in the various editions of the Atharv Veda, and it would seem that attempts have been made to amend it. The edition of the Veda printed in Ajmer differs in several words from the Sayna Bhashya text of the Atharv Veda. For instance, the Ajmer edition gives the word ishae, whereas Sayna Bhashya has Rishi. It is just possible that, originally, instead of the words Mamah Rishi there may have been Muhammad Rishi. However that may be, there never has existed any such Rishi as Mamah Rishi among the Vedic Rishis. The fact that he had camels and she-camels to ride on also shows that he could not be an Indian Rishi, for, according to Manu Smirti, Shalok 201, it is forbidden for the Rishis to ride on camels. To escape from 60,000 enemies is also a peculiarity of the Prophet's emigration to Medina. The loftiness of his position, reaching up to heaven, is a translation of the Quranic verse: “He is on the highest horizon." Ten thousand cows refer to the 10,000 companions whom the Prophet had with him at the time of the conquest of Mecca, as also mentioned in the Bible, Deut. 33:2. The ten circles are the ten detachments under ten different chiefs into which his army was divided. The three hundred Arab horses also seem to indicate that the prophecy relates to the Arabian Prophet. These two Vedic Mantras refer to the two most conspicuous episodes in the life of the Holy Prophet. One is the emigration when, from the midst of 60,000 enemies bent upon taking his life, God brought him in safety to Medina. This was the height of the Prophet's helplessness. The other landmark selected from his life is the occasion when, at the zenith of his glory and at the head of 10,000 angelic companions, he entered Mecca in triumph, riding on a camel.
Next in point of antiquity comes the religion of the Jews. The religious history of the Jews is unique as regards its continuity of record. A civilised nation emerging in a remote antiquity, they still persist in their own tradition and culture. With all the charges of interpolation brought against it, their Scripture succeeds in giving us a connected history of the whole period of their national existence; and herein we find several prophecies concerning the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
The Israelites and the Ishmaelites came of 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 Holy Quran also alludes to the same promises when it says: “And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said, I will make thee a leader of men. Abraham said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He" (2:124).
And again in the joint prayer of Abraham and Ishmael: “Our Lord! Raise up a Prophet to them from among themselves, who shall recite Thy verses to them, and teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them" (Genesis 12: 2 — 3).
The Old Testament records a Divine promise to the same effect, made to Abraham, even before the birth of Isaac and Ishmael (2:124).
“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” (2:129).
The reference is made to Ishmael by name, in the same book of the Genesis (17:20):
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.
The second prophecy announcing the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad found utterance through Moses :
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth (Deut. 18:18).
No one of the prophets of Israel , that followed Moses in a long succession down to Jesus, ever claimed to be the prophet promised here — and that for obvious reasons. The successors of Moses, who came simply to fulfil the law of Moses, 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, and 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 clearly enough that the Jews were in expectation of the appearance of three different prophets. Firstly, Elias, who, they thought, was to reappear in person: secondly, the Christ; and, thirdly, a Prophet of such universal fame that, in his case, no farther 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. So let me repeat, it is quite evident that, just before the appearance of Jesus, the Jews were eagerly looking for three prophets, as foretold in their scriptures — the Christ, Elias in his second advent, and the Prophet "like unto Moses." 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 raised in the spirit of Elias, but neither of the two laid any 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. Now, turning to the history of the world, we find that no other prophet except Muhammad (peace be on him), ever claimed to be the Prophet foretold by Moses; and that no other sacred book, but the Holy Quran, even so much as hinted at anyone as fulfilling the prophecy, and actual facts support the same conclusion. Moses was a law-giver and so was Muhammad (peace be on them). Among the Israelite Prophets who succeeded Moses, no one brought a new law, so the Holy Prophet Muhammad, being the only law-giving Prophet, is thus the only Prophet “like unto Moses." The Holy Quran says:
“Verily, We have raised a Prophet among you, like unto the Prophet that we sent to Pharaoh” (73:15).
Again, it invites the attention of the Jews to the prophecy in Deuteronomy in these words:
“A witness from among the Israelites has borne witness of one like him” (46: 10).
The words of the prophecy, “from among their brethren," throw further light on the fact that the Promised Prophet was to arise, not from among the Israelites themselves, but from among their brethren, the sons of Ishmael.
A third prophecy in equally clear terms is to be found 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” (33:2).
“Coming from Sinai" refers to the appearance of Moses, and "rising up from Seir" to the conquest of Seir by David. Now, Paran is admittedly the ancient name for the land of Hedjaz, where arose Muhammad (on whom be peace) 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. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, of all world-heroes, is the one solitary historical personage whose triumphal entry into Mecca with ten thousand saintly followers is a matter of common knowledge. The Law which he gave to the world is, to this day, known as baiza or 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 the land of the Promised Prophet as Arabia:
“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.”
In the first place, the word “Arabia" is itself significant. Then, the mention of one who fled sheds still further light on the meaning of the prophecy. History records but one such flight that has won the importance of a red-letter event — the flight of the Holy Prophet 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, or rather of the civilisation of the world. A yet clearer testimony, however, is contained in the words “he fled from drawn swords." History confirms that the Holy Prophet Muhammad fled from Mecca while his house was surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies with drawn swords ready to fall upon him in a body as soon as he should come out. In vain will you turn the pages of history to find another instance of a flight which resulted in issues so far-reaching and momentous, or of another who escaped for his life through swords. These two acknowledged facts of history, supplemented by a direct mention of the land of Arabia as the birthplace of the Promised Prophet, will furnish well-nigh indisputable presumption, amounting almost to proof that the prophecy refers to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
Next in point of antiquity comes Buddhism. Although this religion started as a movement, reformative of Hinduism, and although Buddha has since found a place in the Hindu Pantheon, it has become, for all practical purposes, a separate religion, as it runs counter to two very fundamental principles of Hinduism as it stands today. It does not regard itself a national cult belonging exclusively to the Aryan Hindu race nor does it countenance the caste system, which is the mainstay of that much philosophised cult. It is remarkable that a product of the Indian soil, Buddhism, is conspicuous by its absence in that country and is professed and upheld at the moment by races other than Hindu, and, curiously enough, this mostly by the people of the Mongolian stock.
Buddha, the founder of this religion, was a Hindu, living some five hundred years before Jesus. Although he is regarded almost as an incarnation of God, it is interesting to note that he does not arrogate an exclusive Buddhahood for himself. He claims to be the last of a series of Buddhas, seven in number, and, according to some authorities, even twenty-four. We are told on the authority of T. W. Rhys Davids that "the earliest and the shortest list of these Buddhas may reach back nearly, if not quite, to the time of the Buddha." It is clear from this that Buddha really claimed to be one of the many Buddhas that had appeared before him; and this is in perfect harmony with the implications of the Quranic verse which says that there has not been a people but a Warner has gone among them. India is an ancient land of civilisation and needed, indeed, a series of Buddhas in the long course of its history. We are told that the Buddha Vainsa or History of the Buddhas gives the names of the twenty-four Buddhas, and that the Pali Commentary on the Jatakas gives certain details regarding each of the twenty-four. It is quite clear from this that the term Buddha is not a personal name, but only an appellative, having the same sense as the Arabic and Hebrew word Nabi. The personal name of the sage was Gautama, and he was, according to his own statement, the last of a series of Buddhas. But apart from the Buddhas of the past, Gautama Buddha also spoke of a Buddha that would follow him and whose name would be Metteyya. As a matter of fact, Buddha Gautama holds the same position in the religious history of the Hindu race as Jesus did in that of the Jews. He was the last of the national prophets of India ; he was born at a time when the Indian nation, along with other nations of the world, was feeling an inner urge for an international religion; his teachings, like those of Jesus, must therefore have contained a strong and unprecedented international leaven. Or else, being a reformative movement of the exclusively national religion of Hinduism, it could not have found the congenial response which it did in foreign people. It is necessary to bear in mind, in this connection, that although Buddhism had its glorious days also in India , even here it was more popular among the non-Aryans and the downtrodden than among the high-bred Aryans. In every respect, therefore, Buddhism may be said to have played the same part in the history of Hinduism as did Christianity with regard to Judaism, and the reason is obvious. Each of them emerged in its respective community, when that community was at the end of its exclusive national existence and entering upon a period of international existence.
Seeing all this, a Muslim is tempted to expect to find some sort of prophecy recorded in Buddhist Scriptures as to the advent of the great World-Prophet, whose way he had come, so to say, to prepare, like the prophecies of Jesus concerning the Comforter in the Gospel of John, which we are going to discuss in the next chapter. And he is, indeed, reassured in this hope, on learning that Digha Nikaya, one of the oldest documents of Buddhist doctrines, mentions the name of the Buddha of the Future, who, when the religion of Gautama shall have been forgotten, will again reveal the path to men. His name is given, as already mentioned, as Metteyya (Sanskrit — Maitreya) Buddha, or the Buddha of kindness or benevolence. A Muslim is at once reminded of a verse in the Holy Quran regarding the Holy Prophet Muhammad:
“And We have not sent you but as a Mercy to (all) the nations” (21:107).
The personal name of Maitreya is said to be Aijita, meaning unconquerable. To a Muslim, the name is suggestive of another aspect of the Prophet Muhammad's appearance, which is described in the Quran in its following verse:
“He it is Who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the True Religion, that he may make it overcome the religions, all of them, though the polytheists may be averse” (61:9).
It should be remembered that this doctrine of Maitreya Buddha forms part of the Hinayana, or Little Vehicle system of Buddhism, which is the old and orthodox school of thought based on the teachings of the Pitakas, as distinguished from the later school called the Mahayana or the Great Vehicle.
A closer study of the Buddhist Scriptures may lead to the discovery of clearer statements on the subject, but those that have been discussed here are clear enough for our purpose.
There are also prophecies by other Israelite Prophets, such as David, Solomon, Habakkuk, Haggai and others, but for the sake of brevity we will refer to only one, by the last of the Israelite prophets, that is to say, by Jesus — the founder of Christianity — the last of the great religions before Islam — which runs:
“If ye love me, keep my commands. 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, shall teach all things” (Ibid. 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” (Ibid. 10: 17.).
“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 truths” (Ibid. 16: 12-13.).
All these prophetic words clearly predict 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 plain words and unambiguous. The New Testament says that John was filled with the Holy Ghost even before he was born, and speaks of Jesus himself as receiving the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. Thus, the Holy Ghost was wont to visit men before Jesus as well as in his own time. To what, then, is the reference in the words, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you?” Surely not to the Holy Ghost; for it would be sacrilege to assume for a moment that Jesus was without the Holy Ghost; and genuine reverence for Jesus demands that we should recognise even his disciples purified as they were at the hands of their great Master as having been pure enough to merit the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Quran at least credits the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad with such company in clear terms: “And He aided them with the Holy Spirit from Himself” (58:22).
The words Holy Ghost in the prophecy, if they were not an interpolation, are intended to signify 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 himself. There are other words, too, in the prophecy which are solely applicable to the Prophet Muhammad, and the characteristic features set forth therein are, one and all, to be found in him. "That he may abide with you for ever," indicates that there would be no prophet after the Promised One, and this is precisely what the Holy Quran says of Muhammad: "The last of the Prophets" (33:40).
Again, “He shall teach you all things," says the prophecy, and the Holy Quran telling of the dispensation of the Prophet Muhammad replies: "This day I have made perfect for you your religion" (3:3).
The Promised One is called the “Spirit of Truth" in the prophecy, to which the Holy Quran responds in the words: " Say, the Truth has come and falsehood has vanished" (17:18).
The word translated Comforter in the English versions of the Bible has given rise to considerable controversy between Christian and Muslim theologians. The word in the Greek version is Paraclete. The Muslims contend that it is a deliberate interpolation made by the Christians to set aside the claims of Muhammad, and that the original word was periclyte, which word, they argue, is still to be found in the Gospel of Barnabas (who is unjustly denounced by Christian theologians as a renegade to Islam) and has the meaning of much praised, as has the word Muhammad in Arabic. But, even admitting for the sake of argument that paraclete is correct, its translation comforter, they say, is not correct, and they argue thus:
Jesus, born of Jewish parents, having lived and moved always among the Jews and preached to the Jews, must have imparted his lessons in Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people. His favourite disciples were simple fishermen, not well-versed in foreign languages. The sole object set before himself was that of reforming the Jewish people. The Jews accused him of plagiarism; for he quoted so often from old Jewish writings — all of which facts go to show that Jesus instructed his people through the medium of their own language, that is to say, in Hebrew.
The Greek word Paraclete must, therefore, owe its origin to the Hebrew language. The word was obviously used as a proper noun to indicate, as we shall later on show, the person whose advent was foretold. It is not reasonable to suppose that the present Greek form thereof was adopted as equivalent, in respect of meaning, to the original word uttered by Jesus in Hebrew. In all probability the very word must have been retained in the Greek version as well, with such phonetic adjustments as would be alterable to fit in with the Greek form of pronunciation. It is thus irrelevant to argue that in Greek the word Paraclete means Comforter, or this or that, seeing that such meaning is applicable neither to Muhammad nor to Ahmad, the two names of the Holy Prophet of Arabia. We must be obviously on the wrong track if the Greek sense of the word is taken into consideration, for it was not with reference to its connotation but rather its phonetic adjustability that the word was imported into the Greek text; and this should be our guiding principle in hunting down the origin of the word in Hebrew.
Hebrew being, unfortunately, a language long since dead and buried, we can only resort to its living representative, that is, Arabic, if we are to arrive at any clue. Experts on Philology are at one on the point that, of all the members of the Semitic family of languages, Arabic alone is such as can throw light upon doubtful issues that may arise in connection with the rest. Arabic, moreover, has significant characteristic of its own; for an Arabic word, in its etymological sense, points always to the purpose with which the word was coined. Corresponding to the Greek Paraclete we have the word Farqaleet which it closely resembles. Let us, therefore, consider whether or not the original Hebrew word was Farqaleet; for it is not infrequently the case that we come upon words common to both of these sister tongues. We have ample grounds for so supposing, both in the etymological sense of the word and also when we counter the characteristics and functions of the Promised One.
The word Farqaleet is composed of two parts, fariq and leet; fariq signifying one that discriminates something; and leet standing for satan or falsehood. Farqaleet, therefore, must indicate one that discriminates falsehood. Now, turning to the words of the prophecy we find that the Paraclete is also spoken of as the Spirit of Truth; and what else can discriminate falsehood but the Spirit of Truth? Farqaleet and the Spirit of Truth are, therefore, synonymous, and Paraclete being no other than Farqaleet cannot carry the Greek sense of Comforter, but the sense conveyed in its original form, that is to say one that discriminates between truth and falsehood.
Next, let us see whether, in its true original sense, the word is applicable to the Holy Prophet of Arabia. We find in the Holy Quran, 61:6, a passage corresponding to John, 14, 16, foretelling the advent of a Paraclete, that Jesus predicted the appearance of an Ahmad. We must, therefore, compare the words Paraclete and Ahmad to ascertain if they refer to the same person. Paraclete has already been explained as one that discriminates between truth and falsehood. The word Ahmad is derived from hamd, and means one that profusely praises good attributes. The Holy Prophet of Arabia appeared at a time when idol-worship was in full swing in Arabia. False deities had been set up throughout the land; and false attributes were being imputed to the Divine Being almost throughout the world, among such being the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It was the be-all and end-all of the Prophet's mission to establish the Unity of God, purged of all evil attributes that had accumulated around the conception of Him in the minds of the multitude. The Holy Prophet therefore addressed himself, heart and soul, to the establishment of the true attributes of God and to the dispelling of all false ones, and this is exactly what the word Ahmad implies. He discriminated, so to say, between the true and false attributes of God. Was he not then the Spirit of Truth, at the appearance of whom falsehood vanished? Hence Ahmad imports the same sense as Paraclete. The Holy Quran, therefore, correctly refers to the prediction in John, 14, 16, as to the advent of a Prophet who will discriminate truth from falsehood — a Paraclete or an Ahmad.
This puts an end, one may imagine, to all contention as to whether Paraclete or Periclyte is the word contained in the prophecy of John, 14, 16, and whether this prophecy and the one in the Quran, 61: 6, both refer to the advent of the same person, since our Holy Prophet has, by a happy coincidence, two names, Ahmad and Muhammad, corresponding to these two Greek words, and conveying, respectively, the same meanings. Let us now turn to what is, perhaps, a more important aspect of the question. The Gospel gives a number of characteristics that are to distinguish the Promised One — is the Quranic Ahmad or Muhammad possessed of these? A comparative glance at the Bible and the Quran will reveal the fact that the description of the Promised One as given in the two books is the same to the very letter. The Paraclete is repeatedly spoken of in the Bible as the Spirit of Truth, and it may be observed here in passing that the word Paraclete can, by no stretch of fancy, be twisted to fit in with the Holy Ghost, for nowhere in the Bible is the latter called the Spirit of Truth. Furthermore, Jesus speaks of him as another Paraclete. Jesus himself was of course one Paraclete; the other foretold, therefore, must also be a mortal like himself. The Quranic picture is the same in this respect, when it proclaims the advent of the Holy Prophet in the following words: "Say, the Spirit of Truth (that had been promised to you) is come and falsehood is vanished," when it is evident that the Holy Prophet claimed to be the Spirit of Truth. The defining al prefixed to the word haq recalls attention to the promise God made through Jesus. It is futile to object that the Holy Prophet was a man and not a Spirit. The Bible itself has used the word Spirit in a large variety of senses, as, for example, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," where it signifies the spiritual part of man. Again, it is also used to stand for God, both in the Holy Quran and the Bible, as descending upon the righteous, and yet again it signifies a holy person: “That which is born of the spirit is spirit." The Christian contention that the word spirit cannot apply to a corporeal being is therefore without basis. Even the Holy Ghost himself assumed visible shape, a bodily shape like a dove; cloven tongues like as of fire, and therefore this can be no objection to the mention of the Holy Prophet as a spirit in a metaphorical sense, when we consider that the Holy Ghost can appear as a dove and even the second person of the threefold Godhead can assume human form. Perhaps, the words of the Bible, regarding the Paraclete, that the world "seeth him not, neither knoweth him," afford some ground to the Christian for believing that he must not be a visible human being but an invisible spirit. But this again is no less untenable. Does the same Bible not use similar words on a similar occasion: "Because they seeing see not," and again: "that seeing they might not see”? These words should, on the other hand, furnish yet further evidence that the Paraclete is no other than the Holy Prophet, of whom the Holy Quran has used exactly the same words: "They look at thee, but they do not see thee."
Another characteristic of the Promised Paraclete, as set forth in the Bible, has proved another stumbling block to the Christians. “That he (the Paraclete) may abide with you for ever" gives them the erroneous impression that the Paraclete, in order to be immortal, must needs be a spirit and not a human being, which betrays their ignorance of the Bible itself. The very words of Jesus in this connection will suffice to remove this erroneous idea: "He shall give you another Paraclete that he may abide with you for ever," clearly indicates that the Paraclete will abide for ever in a certain sense in which Jesus himself shall not. It is obvious, therefore, that the Paraclete's abiding for ever must not be taken in the sense of a spiritual life; for in that sense Jesus too shares the privilege with him. Jesus does claim an eternal life for himself, so far as the life of the spirit as distinct from the physical body is concerned, when he says: "If a man love me, he will keep my words and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." But the Paraclete shall have eternal life in a sense other than that in which Jesus might have it, as the previous quotation shows. The abiding for ever on the part of the Paraclete cannot, therefore, be in a spiritual sense, and it is absurd to argue that because the Holy Ghost enjoys eternal life he must therefore be the same as the Paraclete, for the Holy Ghost's eternity of life, like that of Jesus and unlike that of the Paraclete is in a spiritual state.
As a matter of fact, when Jesus spoke of the cessation of his own life and the continuation of that of the Paraclete, he implicitly referred to the duration of their existence through their teachings and their spiritual influence on mankind. When a prophet is raised up for the reformation of a people, he is equipped with a twofold weapon — a code of laws wherewith to regulate the life of man, and a personal magnetism exercising an ennobling influence upon whomsoever he may come in contact with. In both these respects, Jesus has ceased to exist long since, while the Holy Prophet of Arabia lives on to this day and shall live on for ever. Jesus came with a set of laws and a spiritual force, whereby he effected a considerable reformation among his own people for a time. But, by and by, the laws that were suited to the then stage of society ceased to be of practical utility when found with the subsequent growth and development of that society, and the spiritual force that had wrought miracles of old, lost its efficacy and vanished. Thus arose the need for another Paraclete who should bring with him a perfect law, not for a particular clan or clime but for the whole of the human race. Civilisation was, by this time, sufficiently grown up, to receive teachings which went far beyond the mental capacity of the Jews of Jesus’ time. Realising the inferiority of the stuff Jesus had to deal with, he frankly confesses the deficiency of his own teachings: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." At the advent of the Holy Prophet of Arabia, the barriers of nationalities had been to a great extent demolished and human society was on the way to be welded into one vast family under the common Fatherhood of God. Therefore, the pearls of Jesus, intended exclusively for the Jewish nation, failed to meet the requirements arising out of this new situation. A perfect law to regulate the whole of human society was thus required to replace the inadequate code of Jesus. Muhammad was raised up to meet the need in reference to which the Holy Quran says:
“And We have not sent thee but as an embodiment of Mercy for all the worlds, that is, for all peoples and all ages."
This, in fact, is the sense in which Jesus could not abide forever, and another Paraclete appeared in the person of the Holy Prophet of Arabia as a permanent source of blessings. Nigh on fourteen centuries have elapsed since the dawn of this spiritual light from the summit of Mount Paran, and to this day its rays are as bright as ever. He is the ever-living source from which blessing has emanated through all those fourteen centuries. The history of Islam abounds with glowing accounts of spiritual giants appearing among Muslims from time to time to invigorate society and vindicate the cause of truth and righteousness. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “Verily, God shall raise for this (Muslim) nation, at the commencement of each century, one who shall put fresh life into their Faith." The prophecy has turned out true to the very letter and not a century has since passed but some such person has made his appearance to uplift mankind.
This, in brief, was the sense in which Jesus said that the Paraclete should abide for ever, while he himself would not. We have a further characteristic of the Paraclete in St. John's Gospel, namely, that “He shall not speak of himself but whatever he shall hear that shall he speak." Again, the words are clear enough and cannot be twisted to refer to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, being the third person of the Trinity, is a co-partner of the Godhead, and has a fair claim to at least one-third of it. Why, then, should it be reduced to the status of a recipient, hearing anything from any other person? It is, on the other hand, the active agent imparting words to others who should communicate them to mankind. Obviously, the passage refers to a man inspired by God, who shall transmit to others nothing beyond what is revealed to him. In other words, he speaks only what he hears from God. The reference must be to a man holding communication with God and communicating God's Will to the people. There is one and only one person who answers to this description of the Paraclete as contained in the Gospel of St. John, which the Holy Quran corroborates in the following words: "He doth not speak of himself, but it is the word of God that is revealed to him," that is, he speaks what he hears from God. This is an attribute peculiar to the Holy Prophet of Arabia alone. The prophets before him, it is true, heard God's word and afterwards spoke to the people. But when they spoke at other times, when not under the influence of the Holy Ghost, they spoke as of themselves and not of God. The Holy Prophet, on the other hand, was never forsaken for one moment by the Holy Ghost, who was his constant companion. Therefore, he did not utter a single word of himself, but whatever he heard from God. Of the noble band of prophets, there is not one who lays claim to the distinction that he spoke not a word of himself but only what he heard from God. It is the Holy Prophet of Arabia alone who is depicted as such and he, therefore, is the Promised Paraclete.
Yet another function of the Paraclete as set forth in the same Gospel: “He shall testify of me," that is,to the truth of Jesus, is absurd on the face of it. The process implies the presence of a human being to bear evidence. What the Holy Ghost can at best do is no more than to instil certain ideas into human minds — this, however, is anything but "testifying." Even granting, for the sake of argument, that the Holy Ghost did actually bear "witness through human beings,” the question arises whether he did purify Jesus of the false charges laid at his door. The Jews heaped curses upon him and alleged that he had died on the cross, which they regarded as an accursed death. Did the Christians, inspired by the Holy Ghost, clear him of this? No! On the contrary, they assisted the Jews in their blasphemous propaganda, by admitting his death on the cross. Furthermore, they imputed to him the most abominable offence, namely, that he called himself the Son of God.
The Holy Prophet of Arabia (peace and blessings of God be upon him) alone fulfilled these prophetic words of the Gospel. He it was who emphatically pronounced the Divine words:
“I shall purify thee (O Jesus) of all the false charges imputed, to thee by the unbeliever.”
How far the Holy Prophet succeeded in achieving this can be judged from the fact that every Muslim looks upon Jesus as the righteous servant of God; as His Prophet, belief in whom forms part of a Muslim's faith. Excess of hatred and enmity on the part of the Jews was responsible for the blackest picture of Jesus, while excess of zeal and love on the part of his admirers, the Christians, painted him in fantastic colours no less hideous. The Holy Prophet came and testified of him as he, in reality, was — the Prophet of God, His servant and His beloved. He purged him of all the rubbish accumulated round about him by virtue of excess on both sides. Thus he fulfilled the words of Jesus, “He shall testify of me."
To sum up, the true word in the prophecy whether Paraclete or Periclyte applies to the Holy Prophet of Arabia, the one meaning Ahmad and the other Muhammad.
The characteristics of the Paraclete, as laid down in the Gospel of St. John, are met with, one and all, in the person of the Holy Prophet. He came to discriminate truth from falsehood and was thus the Spirit of Truth. He brought a perfect code of laws and so fulfilled the words of Jesus: "I have yet many things to say to ye, but ye cannot bear them now. ...Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you unto all truth."
The Holy Ghost never left him and so he never spoke of himself, but, whatever he heard, he spoke. He alone cleared Jesus of all the false charges made against him, and thus “testified" of him.
Who else, then, but the Holy Prophet (peace and the blessings of God be upon him), fulfilling as he did all the conditions of the prophecy in St. John, can claim to be the Paraclete? He, in fact, it was whose auspicious advent was foretold by Jesus, and not his advent only. But the signs whereby he might be known, so that his people might readily recognise him, and partake of the spiritual blessings in store for the human race, which was to be manifested through the Holy Prophet of Arabia (peace and blessings of God be upon him).
We have examined some very clear prophecies in the Parsi Scriptures, and in the Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and Christian sacred books, and we have a very serious question to consider if we are, in the least, religiously disposed.
That an unlettered man, knowing nothing of foreign languages, should say something that has never been said before by seer or prophet; that students of comparative religion should confirm the truth of that statement, and that a whole chain of prophets down all the ages and among all people, thousands of years ago, speaking different languages, should all give in their Scriptures the happy tidings of the advent of a particular man in a particular land, accompanied by no common events of everyday occurrence, but by signs beyond the power of man to accomplish; and, above all, that the teachings of the universally Promised Prophet should be actually without a parallel for the unification and brotherhood of the whole mankind — do all these considerations not constitute testimony which should make all fair-minded men who lay any claim at all to wisdom or even common sense put their heads together and ponder?