Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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I have already mentioned that Jesus was conscious of the limits and scope of his mission. He knew that his message was meant only for the house of Jacob, the Israelites. He was aware of their glorious past, as the chosen people of God; and that Prophets had been raised amongst them for their guidance, whom they had disbelieved, maltreated and persecuted, even killing some of them. To his knowledge, the house of Jacob had, time and again, proved to be utterly unworthy of the trust thus reposed in them; and had rendered themselves unfit for future favours. He also knew that the Lord Himself had said:
"Ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers, ye are gone away from My ordinance and have not kept them. Ye are cursed with a curse" (Mal., 3 : 6-7, 9).
The time had, therefore, come when the house of Jacob should be punished, and made an example to the whole world. But God in His Divine Wisdom does not punish anyone without giving him an opportunity for repentance. So Jesus was sent as a Nazir, a warner, to the twelve tribes of Israel living in Judaea and elsewhere. He tried to save them from the Divine Judgement. He addressed the two tribes in Judaea first; but they mocked at him, scorned him and persecuted him. He then cursed them; by cursing the fig-tree (Matt., 21 : 19), he cursed the house of Jacob. Dummelow says:
"The curse of perpetual barrenness pronounced by Jesus upon the fig-tree i.e., upon Israel, has received a signal fulfilment. In the time of Christ it was an active missionary religion... now it enrolls no proselytes" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 694-695).
Jesus not only cursed Israel, but he also cursed the important towns of Judaea, Jerusalem in particular (Luke, 13 : 34-35; Matt., 11 : 20-24: 23 : 37-38), and thus made the significance of this curse absolutely clear. In this matter he was very precise and explicit. He warned them:
"The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you and given to a nation, bringing forth the fruit thereof" (Matt., 21 : 43).
Jesus was so clear in his pronouncement that, for once, those who heard him understood him unmistakably; for, in the next but one verse, we are told that "They perceived that he spoke of them"( Matt., 21 : 45).
Some Christian commentators of the Bible have endeavoured vainly to apply this prophecy of Jesus to Christian converts. They interpret the words a nation as referring to the Gentiles. But the Gentiles have never in history been described as a nation. A reference to the Old Testament, however, will exclude all possibilities of any such interpretation; for in that Book we come across many prophecies pointing out, in unambiguous terms, the nation referred to by Jesus.
The Lord had made a covenant with Abraham (Gen., 17 : 10) and had blessed him with a promise that his seed should multiply exceedingly in numbers (Gen., 15 : 5) and the same promise had been vouchsafed to Hagar, his wife (Gen., 16 : 30). To Abraham, the Lord had further promised:
"And I will make a nation of thee, and I will bless them and make thy name great and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee" (Gen., 12 : 2-3).
If we read this prophecy with the promise to Hagar, the meaning becomes absolutely clear-they mean that a nation would be raised, through Hagar, which would be blessed by the Lord. He would make the name of this nation great and He would bless them, for they would bless Abraham. According to Dummelow the promise to Hagar was "fulfilled in the Arab race" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 25) for Paran is still in possession of Beduin Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael (Ibid., 29. See Gen., 21 : 17-21). But I am able to carry the matter still further. Abraham had prayed for posterity of Ishmael (Gen., 17 : 18): and his prayer had been answered:
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve tribes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation" (Gen., 17 : 20).
This assurance was given at a time when Sarah had not conceived Isaac. There was, of course, a similar prophecy regarding Isaac, the house of Jacob, but subsequently they came under the curse and consequently ceased to be a nation, as foretold by Prophet Jeremiah:
"The seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever" (Jer., 31 : 36).
In order to appreciate these prophetic utterances, I must discuss at some length four other prophecies in the Old Testament, which must be read with the promise to Abraham and Hagar. The first is addressed 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 command him" (Deut., 18: 18).
The second reads:
"Behold, a woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat " (Isa., 7 : 14-15).
The third prophecy runs thus:
"Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth. I have put in My spirit upon him" (Isa., 42 : 1).
The fourth prophecy was:
"But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law, ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts .... " (Mal., 2 : 8).
To appreciate the real significance of these prophetic utterances, we must read them together in the light of the promises to Abraham and Hagar. I will, however, analyse these independently and show that they foretold the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and did not apply to Jesus.
I. The Promises to
Abraham and Hagar:
(a) A nation will be raised from their progeny and God will bless them and make them great.
Jesus belonged to the house of Jacob, was an Israelite and not an Ishmaelite. Therefore, this did not apply to him.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad was in direct line of descent from Ishmael. It is for this reason that Abraham has been styled as his father and has also been described as the progenitor of the Arabs (The Holy Quran, 90 : 3). The Holy Quran records the following prayer of Abraham regarding the progeny of Ishmael: "Our Lord... (raise) from our offspring a nation submitting to Thee (Ibid., 2 : 128).
(b) God will bless them, for they will bless Abraham.
Jesus did not bless Abraham. Christians do not remember or bless him in their prayers.
The Quran sends peace on Abraham (Ibid., 37 : 109), so did the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The Holy Prophet and the Muslims, following the Sunna, say Darud at least eleven times in their five daily prayers, in which Abraham and his descendants are blessed.
(c) The descendants of Ishmael will be made a great nation.
See I (a) above. This is inapplicable to Jesus or to his followers.
No one can deny that the Arabs, after embracing Islam, did become a great nation.
II. The Prophecy of
(a) A prophet will be raised from among their brethren.
See I (a) above. The address being to an Israelite Prophet the words "their brethren" cannot apply to Israel, i.e., the house of Jacob. If, according to the Christian belief, the birth of Jesus was immaculate he could not have been a descendant of Isaac and the question of his brethren can hardly arise.
Ishmael and Isaac, being sons of the same father, Abraham, were brothers. The descendants of the one would be the brethren of the progeny of the other. The term of their brethren has been applied to the progeny of Hagar (Gen., 16 : 10-11) and of Ishmael (Gen., 17 : 20).
(b) That Prophet will be like unto Moses.
Nowhere does Jesus claim to be like unto Moses. His apostles or disciples have never asserted that Jesus was like unto Moses. In fact, if Jesus was the son of God, he could not be like unto Moses, who was a mortal.
The Holy Quran says: "Surely, We have sent to you an Apostle, a witness against you as We sent an Apostle to Pharaoh " (The Holy Quran, 73 : 15).
In another place it says: "And a witness (Moses) among the children of Israel has borne witness of one like him (Muhammad)'' (The Holy Quran. 46 : 10).
Besides, the first six verses of Ch. 52 draw attention to a parallel set of facts in the revelations of Moses and Muhammad. Thus, the likeness of the Holy Prophet to Moses was indicated in very early revelation. The Holy Prophet in a letter to one of the Christian Rulers described himself as a companion of Moses and urged that the prophecy of Moses applied to him (Sirat Ibn-i-Hisham, Vol. I : 196).
Maulvi Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, in his book Muhammad in the World Scriptures, devotes a chapter: "The Advent of a Prophet in the likeness of Moses, to this subject and proves by quotations from the Bible and other ancient literature that that Prophet was the Holy Prophet Muhammad; and the reader, if interested, might read this book for a detailed study.
(c) God will put His words into the mouth of that Prophet.
Jesus was a prophet of God, and this part of the prophecy may be held to be applicable to him.
The Holy Quran says:
"And most surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds" (The Holy Quran, 26 : 192).
(d) That Prophet will address all nations.
I have already explained that to his knowledge the mission of Jesus was confined to Israel; and, in particular, to the Lost Tribes (see Matt., 15 : 24 etc.) and in fact he addressed himself to none besides Israel.
The Holy Quran says: "Blessed is He Who sent down the discrimination upon His servant that he may be a Warner to all nations'' (Ibid., 25 : 1).
This is one of the very early Makkan revelations and shows that the message of the Holy Prophet was meant for all nations from the very beginning.
The Holy Quran also claims that "it is nothing but a reminder to all nations" (Ibid., 6 : 90; 68 : 52; 81 : 27, etc.) from the very beginning and was also meant for those who had received the Books before.
The Holy Quran also says: "We have not sent you (Muhammad) but as a mercy to all nations" (The Holy Quran, 21 : 107). And the Holy Prophet is commanded: "Say, O Prophet! surely I am an Apostle of Allah to you all'' (Ibid., 7 : 158).
Again, the message of the Holy Prophet (Muhammad) was meant for all because God's mercy encompasses all (Ibid., 7 : 156) and because He is "the Creator of all the world'' (Ibid., 1 : 1). This was one of the very earliest Makkan revelations. Thus Muhammad was the Prophet to all nations and had come to remove all barriers and limitations of nationality and colour. That the Holy Prophet succeeded in his mission is testified by Islamic history.
There is a saying of the Holy Prophet which is pertinent to the discussion. He said: "I said I am the Apostle of Allah to you all but you said: You lie, and Abu Bakr said: You speak the truth." While dealing with the Hadith I have already mentioned the fact that the Holy Prophet sent letters to various Christian Rulers beyond Arabia to embrace Islam (Ubi. Sup., p. 76).
He sent some of his Companions to preach Islam to far off countries even to China. He would not have done so if Islam, to him, had not been the universal religion.
(e) God will command that Prophet.
For reasons given in II (c) above this may be conceded to be applicable to Jesus; though the Gospels disclose no such commands.
Peake, while dealing with this prophecy in Deuteronomy, says that "it contains no primary reference to the Messiah'' (The Holy Quran, 74 : 1-2).
The Holy Quran says:
''O you who are clothed (Muhammad) arise and warn'' (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 239).
"O Apostle! declare what has been revealed to you from your Lord" (The Holy Quran 5 : 67).
"Say (O Muhammad): My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. No associate has He; and this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit" (Ibid., 6 : 162-163).
III. The Prophecy
of Prophet Isaiah:
(a) The Prophet shall be conceived of a woman.
In this particular verse the words Haalmah or `alma (women) has been confused with Bethulah (virgin) to make the prophecy applicable to Jesus. I will quote Peake again:
"The rendering 'virgin' is unjustifiable... the word employed here `almah means a young woman of marriageable age, without any suggestion that she is not married... It has, therefore, no reference to the birth of Jesus... The name Immanuel means 'God is with us,' not 'God with us;' there is no reference in it to any Incarnation of God " (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 442).
Jesus was certainly born of a woman through natural human agency. But the significance here is that the child will only be conceived of a woman and will not have the protection of his mother or father, as in the case of Moses. Jesus, as already shown, had the protection of his parents. Matthew unjustifiably applies this prophecy to Jesus (Matt., 1 : 22-24).
The Holy Prophet was a posthumous child of Abdullah. His mother, Amina, died when he was only six years old. Thus in his tender years he was deprived of both his parents. The significance of the prophecy has been explained above.
(b) He shall eat butter and honey.
Nowhere are we told that the usual diet of Jesus was butter or honey. On the contrary, in his very first miracle he converted pure water into wine (John, 2 : 8-9). He must have been eating food and drinking wine heavily, for people to have called him a "gluttonous man" (Matt., 2 : 19) and " a wine-bibber" (Luke, 7 : 34).
The usual and staple food of the Holy Prophet consisted of dates, barley bread and milk. Abu Daud records that the Holy Prophet used to take delight in eating butter and Bukhari records a similar Hadith regarding honey.
(c) People will associate, counsel and gird themselves against him, but they shall be broken in pieces.
It is true that the Pharisees and Sadducees did associate and hold counsels against Jesus, but they were not broken in pieces, certainly not during his life-time. In any case they did not gird themselves against him. To "gird yourself' means "warfare" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 419).
It would merely be repeating history to say that the idolaters of Makka conspired together to persecute and kill Muhammad. By degrees, no doubt, the persecution grew. But the conversion of Hazrat Hamza and Hazrat Umar infuriated them. The Holy Prophet suffered indignities at their hands. His followers had twice to emigrate to Abyssinia. In the end Muhammad himself had to leave Makka and take refuge in Madina. The Makkans did not only conspire against the Holy Prophet but actually "girded themselves" to warfare. They with 1,000 men attacked at Badr the Muslims who were only 313 in number. The Makkans were routed, and two years after they attacked again, 3,000 strong, and a battle had to be fought at Uhud. The Muslims numbered 1,000. In this battle the Muslims suffered a setback. Hazrat Hamza, the uncle of the Holy Prophet was killed and the Holy Prophet himself received injuries. But neither the Holy Prophet nor his followers were discouraged by this defeat. The Makkans again in the following year attacked with an army of 10,000 men and in the battle of Ahzab besieged Madina itself, but this time they were defeated. I am not concerned here with any justification of these wars. I am only pointing out that the Makkans did "associate, counsel and gird themselves" against the Holy Prophet Muhammad. That they were broken up in pieces is, again, a matter of history. When the Holy Prophet Muhammad entered Makka as the Supreme Ruler of Arabia, he forgave them all-even Hinda who had devoured the raw liver of Hazrat Hamza, after removing it from the dead body on the battlefield of Uhud.
(d) That Prophet will be Immanuel, i.e., to him "God is with us" will apply.
Immanuel is a prophetic, and not a real, name, and has a significance of its own. The clue is to be found in its meaning: God is with us. Instead of God being with Jesus, he actually complained of his having been forsaken by Him (Matt., 27 : 46). By this utterance Jesus in fact confessed that at the most crucial moment of his life God was not with him. Matthew wrongly applied this name to Jesus (Matt., 1 : 23) and based on it his theory of virgin birth, which in itself is the result of a Christian forgery.
The idolaters of Makka had conspired to kill Muhammad. Most of the followers, with the exception of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Ali, had already, at the suggestion of the Prophet, emigrated to Madina. The Holy Prophet left Makka with Hazrat Abu Bakr. The city was in a ferment when this fact became known. The Quraish sent scouts in all directions to trace the whereabouts of the Holy Prophet. To avoid detection he and his Companion took refuge in one of the caves of Mount Saur for three days. (See illustration, page 360.) The persecutors of Makka, still continuing the pursuit, arrived before the cavern. The expert trackers positively declared from the footprints that the wanted men were inside the cave. The two inside heard their conversation. There was no other outlet. Hazrat Abu Bakr felt it to be a time of jeopardy, and he whispered his fears that they were but two against many. "Fear not, Abu Bakr," said the Holy Prophet, "we are not two. Surely God is with us."
The spider's web against the entry to the cavern, however, convinced the Makkans that the Holy Prophet Muhammad could not be inside; and they left. This testimony proves that God is with us was a prophetic reference to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He repeated exactly the words of the Prophet Isaiah.
This incident is referred to in a much later revelation (at Madina) in the Holy Quran:
"Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his Companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us" (The Holy Quran, 9 : 40).
Moses used the same phrase (Ibid., 26 : 61-62) when he was being followed by the Egyptian host.
I have already given brief details of the three battles which the Holy Prophet was compelled to fight. His belief in the ultimate triumph of his cause, his faith that God was with him brought victory after victory to him; although on each occasion the odds were against him, yet his enemies were broken into pieces.
I will refer to two other incidents of his life. In the Battle of Hunain, the Hawazin, famous throughout Arabia for their prowess in archery, had gathered in great numbers and drawn up in masked recesses of the valley commanding the steep and narrow defile which formed the only entrance of the valley. As the Muslims approached the valley, the Hawazin sprang from their ambuscade and charged impetuously down upon them. Staggered by the sudden onslaught the Muslims fell back; and the galling archery of the enemy compelled a retreat. Instead of going to his fast retreating followers the Holy Prophet advanced alone towards the enemy, shouting: "I am the Prophet and I am not a liar. I am the son of Abdul Muttalib". A handful of Companions ran towards him and followed him. They were met with showers of arrows, "so thick and well sustained that they darkened the sky like a flight of locusts." The Holy Prophet picked up, as he had done at Badr, a handful of gravel, and cast it at the enemy, saying "God hath cast fear into their hearts." The noble example of the Holy Prophet and the clarion call of Hazrat Abbas brought the rest of the followers to the side of the Holy Prophet shouting: Labbaik, Labbaik ya Rasulallah: "Here we are, here we are, O Messenger of God!" The fight that ensued was fierce and cruel but in the end the faith of the Holy Prophet in God being with him won the day for the Muslims.
The second incident is even more singular. The Holy Prophet was sleeping under a tree alone at a distance from his camp. Ghauris bin Haris, his deadliest enemy, saw him, and drawing his sword, stealthily approached him. The Holy Prophet awoke and saw him. Ghauris taunted: "O Muhammad! who is here to protect and save thee?" Calmly came the reply from the Holy Prophet: "Allah:' Ghauris was struck with awe, and the sword fell from his hand. The Holy Prophet picked it up and in his turn questioned him: " O Ghauris, who is there now to save thee?" "No one," pleaded Ghauris. "Then," said the Holy Prophet, "learn from me to forgive and to be merciful to your enemies." With these words the Holy Prophet returned him his sword. This incident proves better than any other that the Holy Prophet had not only a unique faith in God but that he also believed that God was with him.
(e) That Prophet will bind up the testimony and seal the law.
"Bind up the testimony" according to Peake means: "secure the preservation of his own prophecies'' (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 443). I have already shown the worth of the Gospels. Jesus did not preserve his revelations or prophecies. He also did not seal the law, i.e., he did not bring the final code. He had, in fact, come to fulfil the law of Moses (Matt., 5 : 17) and had enjoined his followers to keep the Commandments of Moses (Matt., 19: 17). He did not bring any new law and cannot be said to have "sealed" it. On the contrary he foretold the advent of the Comforter who shall "teach you all things" (John, 14 : 26) and "guide you into all truth" (John, 16 : 13).
I have already described at great length, how the Holy Prophet during his life took every possible measure to preserve the Holy Quran in its pristine purity, and that the Book as we have it to-day is word for word the same as it was in his life-time. He also sealed the law. The Holy Quran says:
"Muhammad is not the father of any of you, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the seal of the Prophets; and Allah is cognisant of all things" (The Holy Quran, 33 : 40).
He could not have been the seal of the Prophets, i.e., the last of the Prophets if he had not sealed the law.
Says the Holy Quran:
"This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as your religion" (Ibid., 5 : 3).
The Holy Prophet did seal the law, for the law promulgated by him is everlasting. No prophet could come or has come during the last 1400 years. The Holy Prophet's Mission was universal (The Holy Quran, 7 : 158) even for the People of the Book, to whom previous prophets had come (Ibid., 6 : 90-91; 34 : 28; 68 : 52; 81 : 27, etc.). If the Holy Quran had lost its pristine purity there would of necessity have come a new Prophet and a new law to earth. But the finality, the sealing of his revelation, saw its perfection too. In the Holy Prophet Muhammad the manifestation of Divine Will was accomplished. His law meets the requirements of all ages and all countries. That is why he sealed the law and said: "There will be no prophet after me."
(f) The Prophet will be a servant of God.
Jesus called himself Son of Man; and the "devils" called him the son of God. Therefore, according to their faith, this aspect of the prophecy could not apply to him. I would, however, maintain that it did, because, like other Prophets of God, he also was a servant of God and not the son of God.
The Holy Quran describes the Holy Prophet in these words:
"Blessed is He Who sent down the discrimination upon His servant that he may be a wamer to the nations" (Ibid., 25 : 1).
"And He revealed to His servant what He revealed."
The Islamic formula of Faith, Kalimah, includes:
"I bear witness that Muhammad is the servant and Apostle of Allah."
The Holy Prophet is reported to have said:
"I sit at meals as a servant, I eat like a servant, for I really am a servant."
(g) He will be an elect of God with whom God will be pleased.
I would say that, as a Prophet of God, this did apply to Jesus.
Equally this would apply to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He is reported to have said:
"Verily Allah created the creation and made me among the best of them..."
"Behold! I am the beloved of Allah and there is no exaggeration in this...'
(h) That Prophet will not fail, nor will he be discouraged and he shall accomplish his mission and thus shall deliver judgement of God.
Jews and Christians alike believe, though for different reasons, that Jesus had died on the cross according to the Jews an accursed death (Deut., 21 : 23). In these circumstances, can anyone say that Jesus fulfilled his mission on earth? He should not have, if the prophecy in fact applied to him, felt discouraged. His prayer on Gethsemane: "Let this cup pass away from me," (Matt., 26: 39) and his cry of despair on the cross (Matt., 27 : 46) show that he had lost all courage. Again, instead of bringing God's judgement on earth, i.e., setting up the Kingdom of God on earth, he only prayed for its coming (Matt., 6 : 10) and expressed ignorance as to when it would be set up (Mark, 13 : 32-33). He did not, however, set it up but, on the contrary, left the earth, according to the Christians, to sit at the right hand of God in heaven.
Says the Holy Quran:
"Your companion (Muhammad) does not err, nor shall he fail."
History proves, and even Christian critics have to admit, that he was "the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities" (Ency. Brit., Art. Quran). Because he was ordained to be successful in his earthly Mission he was to have "a favour never to be cut off" (The Holy Quran, 68 : 3). Regarding his courage of heart even a bigoted Christian like Sir William Muir had to admit:
"We search in vain through the pages of profane history for a parallel to the struggle in which for thirteen years the Prophet of Arabia, in the face of discouragement and threats, rejection and persecution, retained thus his faith unwavering, preached repentance, and denounced God's wrath against his godless fellow citizens. Surrounded by a little band of a faithful men and women, he met insults, menace, and danger with a lofty and patient truth in the future" (Muir, The Life of Muhammad).
The Holy Quran says:
"Is it then the judgement of the times of ignorance that they desire? And who is better than Allah to judge for a people who are sure" (The Holy Quran, 5 : 50).
In the preceding verse the Holy Prophet is invited to judge people "by what Allah has revealed."
That he completed his mission on earth no one can deny. Idolatry vanished, the doctrine of the Unity and Infinite Perfection of God became a living principle in the hearts and lives of his followers and submission to the Divine Will became the governing rule of life. Nor were social virtues wanting. Universal Brotherhood was inculcated, infanticide proscribed, orphans protected, slaves emancipated, usury and intoxicating drinks prohibited.
Indeed, well may Muhammad, and he alone, say on his Farewell Pilgrimage: "O Lord! I have delivered my message and have accomplished my work."
(i) The inhabitants of the wilderness, the cities and villages of Kedar will sing his praises.
This did not apply to Jesus. He never addressed himself to the Arabs.
Kedar refers to "the tribes of Arabia" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 441. See also Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 447). The Prophet Jeremiah said that Paran will be the place where Ishmael shall live (Gen., 21 : 217).
Paran according to Biblical geography was near Hijaz.
It is evident, therefore, that this prophecy could apply in all its details only to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
IV. The Prophecy of
That Prophet will not belong to the house of Jacob, for Israel did not walk in the way of the Lord and corrupted the covenant of Levi, and that Prophet will be the Messenger of God.
This prophecy does not apply to Jesus. The designation " Messenger of God" was never applied to him. He belonged to the house of Jacob, which had violated the covenant of Levi. The mention of this covenant and its breach excludes Jesus. In any case that Prophet had to be apart from the Messiah. Dummelow says:
"There is no Messianic prophecy in Malachi in the ordinary sense of the word" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 613).
Peake observes that "Malachi was not predicting Christ" (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 517).
Taking the two together the Holy Prophet did not belong to the house of Jacob and was the Messenger of God.
It is, therefore, abundantly clear that out of all the principal components of these Biblical prophecies only three apply to Jesus, and that simply because they would suit the character of any Prophet of God. It can, therefore, be asserted that none of these prophecies really applied to him at all. On the other hand, all of them literally befit the life, character and mission of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
But there is another aspect of the question. No one can deny that the Jews were expecting this prophet. For over a thousand years they had been expecting a Prophet like unto Moses. The Prophet Ezra, some nine hundred years after Moses, bewailed:
"And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Dem., 34: 10.; cf Nu., 12: 6. Dem., 18: 15, 18).
The Jews questioned, and inquired of every prophet that arose amongst them whether he was that prophet. They asked John the Baptist:
"Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No" (John, 1 : 21).
This incident clearly shows that the Jews were anxiously awaiting three prophets: Elias, the Messiah and that Prophet. Thus Elias, according to Jesus, came in the person of John the Baptist. Jesus was the Messiah, and that Prophet had yet to come, for Jesus never put forward any claim to be that Prophet. This becomes abundantly clear, for John tells us that the Jews further questioned John the Baptist.
"Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, neither that Prophet" (John, 1: 25).
In fact, as I will presently show, Jesus himself confirmed their belief by promising the future advent of that Prophet whom he described as the Paraclete. Even after him, his apostles, like Peter, looked forward to the coming of that Prophet (Acts, III: 22). Jude also referred to the same future event and said:
"And Enoch also, then seventh from Adam, prophesied of these sayings: Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints" (Jude, 14).
Thus according to both Peter and Jude the second advent of Christ had to be preceded by the coming of that Prophet. If we read the 14th and 16th chapters of John's Gospel it will become apparent that Jesus was also responsible for these views. He said:
"But the Comforter which is the Holy Spirit, whom the 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).
In another place, he is reported to have said:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Paraclete will not come unto you...... and when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement" (John, 16 : 7-8).
The words: I have many things to say, have been interpreted to convey that Jesus had much to say, but as they, the people of Judaea, would not listen to him, he must say them to another audience (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 753).
In spite of the apparent contradiction in verses 26 and 30 (John, Ch. 14th) the Prophecy is in unambiguous terms. The Comforter stands for the Greek word Paraclete. Wastenfells explains that the word used by Jesus was Mauhamana (Aramaic) and in Hebrew it was Mauhmnna-both meaning the praised. In the sister language, Arabic, this word would be Muhammad or Ahmad which are derived from the same root hamd, which means praising.
Before discussing the Quranic version regarding the fulfilment of this and the other prophecies in the person of the Holy Prophet, a reference should be made to the Gospel of St. Barnabas. Barnabas was an Apostle of Jesus (Acts, 14: 14) selected by the Holy Spirit, an uncle of Mark the Evangelist (Col., 4 : 10), and a companion of Paul. (Acts, 15 : 12). He travelled throughout Palestine, from Damascus to Caesarea, and from Philipi to Mt. Sinai, preaching the Gospel. His relics were discovered in a tomb in Cyprus in the fourth year of Emperor Zeno (478 CE) and a copy of his Gospel, written in his own hand, was found lying on his breast. The Gospel of St. Barnabas was condemned by the Church by three successive Decrees: the Decree of the Western Church (382 CE), of Innocent I (465 CE) and of Gelasius (496 CE). The Gelasian Decree mentions the Evangelium Barnabae in its index of the prohibited and heretical Gospels. The recovered Gospel gradually found its way to the library of Pope Sixtus V and it was found there in 1549 by a monk named Fra Marino.
The Gospel of St. Barnabas was accepted and read in the Churches up to the Gelasian Decree. The Gospel contains a complete life of Jesus from his birth to his ascension. It begins with the miraculous birth of Jesus and deals with his circumcision, the visit of the Magi, the Massacre of the Infants, the flight into and the return of the family from Egypt, and the discussion in the Temple. Its central portions deal with the journeys, miracles, discourses, parables and ethical and eschatological teachings of Jesus. Finally, it gives a description of the Paschal Supper and records the betrayal, the trial and the crucifixion. The Gospel concludes with the reappearance of the Lord and his ascension to heaven. After going through this very brief summary of its contents, one wonders why it was rejected by the Church. Sale alleged in his Preliminary Discourse to the Koran that it was a barefaced forgery and asserted:
"The Muhammadans have also a Gospel in Arabic attributed to St. Barnabas, wherein the history of Jesus Christ is related in a manner very different from what we find in the true Gospels and corresponds to traditions which Muhammad had followed in his Koran" (Sale, The Preliminary Discourse to the Translation of the Koran, 58).
To begin with, this Gospel does not differ in material particulars with the Canonical Gospels, or as Sale would have it, the true Gospels. When Sale was challenged to produce this Gospel in Arabic, he was forced to confess:
"I had not seen it (the Gospel of St. Barnabas), when the little I said of it in the Preliminary Discourse. And the other extracts I had borrowed from M. de la Monnoye and M. Toland" (Ibid., Preface to the Reader, 9).
Sale's knowledge, then, of the "Arabic" Gospel of St. Barnabas was after all second-hand and based on the publications of M. de la Monnoye (1716) and M. Toland (1718). These two gentlemen had never seen an Arabic copy. They had only heard of it; and, doubting the correctness of this false rumour, had themselves initiated the series of challenges to the Muslim world to produce the Gospel in Arabic. In fact no such Arabic Gospel of St. Barnabas existed and the rumour was without foundation or justification. With the confession of Sale, the authority for the existence of any Arabic original melts away into the baseless conjectures from which it arose. Unless the original copy which was rejected by the Gelasian Council is produced, or in the absence of proof that the present copy is different from the copy of the Gospel which was recovered from the tomb of St. Bamabas, the Gospel in its present form must be accepted.
But why was this shameless and wicked suggestion made by Sale, and why did he attribute the origin of this Gospel to Muslims? And why was this Gospel rejected by the Church? The reason is not far to seek. It must have contained something very unpalatable to them both. I will quote verbatim two verses from it, which explain both its condemnation and Sale's shameless effort to deny its authenticity. It records a saying of Jesus:
"Verily, I say unto you that the Messenger of God is a splendour that shall give gladness to nearly all that God hath made: for he is adorned with the Spirit of understanding and of counsel, the Spirit of wisdom and might, the Spirit of forbearing and love, the Spirit of prudence and temperance; he is adorned with the Spirit of charity and mercy, the Spirit of justice and piety, the Spirit of gentleness and patience which he hath received from God, three times more than He hath given to all His Creatures. O Blessed time, when he shall come to the world! Believe me that I have seen him, and have done him reverence, even as every prophet hath seen and done; seeing that His Spirit God giveth to them prophets. And when I saw him, my soul was filled with consolation, saying "O Muhammad! God be with thee, and may He make me worthy to untie thy shoe latchets, for obtaining this I shall be a great prophet and Holy one of God." And having said this Jesus rendered his thanks to God" (The Gospel of St. Barnabas, 163 : 180. The translation is by Laura Ragg).
I will quote another incident recorded in this Gospel:
"Jesus went into the wilderness beyond Jordan with his disciples, and when the midday prayer was done, he sat near a palm-tree, and under the shadow of the palm-tree sat his disciples.
The presence of the name Muhammad is really explained by the Aramaic equivalent, Mauhamana, or the Greek word Paraclete, which John uses in his Gospel. Jesus had, therefore, foretold the future advent of the Paraclete, that is, Mauhamana or Muhammad, the Messenger of God.
The importance of these passages in this Gospel becomes apparent when we recall that the Gospel was recovered and condemned some three or four centuries before the Holy Prophet was born or had proclaimed his Divine Mission. No wonder the Church condemned it as heretical and Sale felt uneasy about these passages and had to set his mind at rest by concocting a lie; even though his disgraceful attempt did not deride, but rather enhanced the testimony of this Gospel.
Was the Holy Prophet Muhammad the Comforter foretold by Jesus? The Holy Quran says:
"Those who follow the Apostle Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel...... and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these are the successful" (The Holy Quran, 7 : 157).
The Gospels also contain passages which can be construed as foretelling the advent of that Prophet. The parable of the owner of the vineyard (Matt., 21 : 33-44; Mark, 12 : 1-11; Luke, 20 : 9 : 18), coming after the son (i.e., Jesus), who is maltreated, contains a clear indication.
The Comforter foretold by Jesus had to be "the Spirit of Truth" who was to glorify Jesus (John, 16 : 12-14).
The Holy Quran refers to Muhammad as the Truth (The Holy Quran, 17 : 81), and with a Muslim it is an Article of Faith that he should believe in all the prophets of God preceding Muhammad, and in their revelation (Ibid., 2 : 4). The Holy Prophet did glorify Jesus by denouncing as utterly false all those calumnies which were levelled by Jews against Jesus and his mother Mary. Referring to the allegations of the Jewish Talmudists against Jesus and Mary, Dummelow says:
"It is interesting to notice that Mohamed indignantly refuted these Jewish calumnies" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 668).
The Holy Quran was revealed to clarify and confirm the truth of the earlier revealed Books of God (The Holy Quran, 2 : 97; 5 : 15) and to affirm that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was that Prophet who had also been mentioned by Jesus. Says the Holy Quran:
"And when Jesus son of Mary said, O children of Israel! Surely I am the Apostle of Allah to you! Verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of the Apostle who will come after me, his name being Ahmad, but when he came to them with clear arguments they said: It is clear enchantment" (Ibid., 61 : 6).
I have already mentioned that Ahmad is only another name of the Holy Prophet. It is a significant fact that when the New Testament was translated into Arabic the Christians themselves translated the word Paraclete as Ahmad. Of course, when Sale in 1826, was deputed to revise and correct the Arabic translation of the Bible, the translation of this word was changed.
Jesus is reported to have said:
"As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world" (John, 9 : 5).
By this Jesus clearly meant that after his death, he would cease to enlighten the world. It also suggests, if we read it with the prophecy about the Paraclete, that the Paraclete would bring the light of truth into the world, and the Holy Quran asserts that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the light (The Holy Quran, 5 : 15).
It may now be said with certainty that Jesus, who had come as a prophet of God for the house of Jacob in general, and for the Lost Tribes of Israel in particular, having prophesied the approach of the Kingdom of God and the future advent of the Comforter, the Paraclete, Muhammad, or Ahmad, the Praised, left for far-off lands to give the same Gospel (good news) to the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Thus Jesus, the Prophet of God, fulfilled and achieved all the three objects for which he was sent to this world. May the Almighty be pleased and bless His servant, `Isa, the son of Mary.