Mohammed is the founder of the Islamism; he was born about 570 A.D. in what we know today as Saudi Arabia. Mohammed claimed that Gabriel confronted him and forced him to speak, and in the process called him to be a prophet of Allah, the God.
Is Mohammed a true prophet of God?
Mohammed claimed to be a prophet, a warner of the idol worshipers in his time. At the same time, he claimed that he was the last of the prophets, which included Moses, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, David, and Jesus. Mohammed declared himself the Last Prophet and the Quran as the last revelation.
Both the Quran and Hadith say that Mohammed was the last and final prophet. The Quran says, in The Clans, The Coalition, The Combined Forces 33:40, “Mohammed is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”
In his last sermon he said, “O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words that I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.”
Now, God instructs us in his Word, to test the prophets and we find in scripture not only clear criteria for this testing but also reports of many true and many false prophets so that we may have examples that help us in this evaluation.
Then we must look at some of the problems with this claim.
First, prophets in the Old Testament always called the Israelite people back to the Law and the Covenant. This was the major theme and calling of the prophets. Read any prophetic book of the Old Testament and one will find this theme, calling a rebellious people back to the worship of Yahweh, the Creator and Redeemer.
Mohammed does not fit the mold. He does not call people back to the law and covenant that God had established, but he has a message that in effect replaces the old revelation with his own. The earlier revelation is seen as important only as far as it can serve to support or authenticate his own by the claim that it is in agreement with what came before.
Second, the prophets themselves did not take vengeance on the people. When one reads Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Amos, there is the prophetic word that Yahweh will bring judgment on the disbelieving people. Jeremiah proclaimed that Babylon was the instrument of God to chastise the Israelites. Jeremiah did not recruit a private army to bring his own judgment. However, Mohammed did. In contrast to him, there is in the message of the Biblical prophets no jihad against unbelieving people in general. Nothing is said about a jihad against the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, or anyone else.
Third, the prophets of the Old Testament lived with rejection, slander, persecution, and even death. No prophet attempted to defend himself. In contrast, Mohammed could not tolerate rejection. He did not permit adversaries. This was true concerning individual people as well as large groups. An example of the individual rejection concerns a Jew by the name of Ka’b Ibn Al-Ashraf who wrote sarcastic poems about Mohammed. Mohammed one day asked, “Who will deliver me from Ka’b?” Five men, including Mohammed Ibn Maslama, laid a trap for Ka’b. They coaxed him out of his house, cut off his head, and brought it to Mohammed with the worshipful cry, “Allah is great!” and Mohammed agreed with them.
In another instance, Mohammed was criticized by the Jews and the Meccans for not producing miracles as it was acknowledged that many prophets had. He claimed that the Qur’an was his miracle. Since the Qur’an commands that people look to the existing Scriptures in that time, the Old and New Testaments, we have some rather startling contrasts to make between Mohammed being a prophet and what we find in the Old Testament about the legitimacy of a prophet. Consider a passage often quoted by Muslims in support of Mohammed as a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 declares that God would raise up a prophet like Moses “from among you, from your brethren.” This prophecy is restricted to the Jews in the first place, but the passage continues with the comment of Moses, “and if you say in your heart, ‘how may we know the word which the Lord has spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken, the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.”
Fourth, there is a serious problem for non-Muslims in evaluating Mohammed as a prophet. The issue relates to credibility and truthfulness. It is axiomatic that Muslims accept the Qur’an as true and Mohammed as a truthful person. Prophets are supposed to speak the truth. Not only are the words of the Old Testament prophets about the future true, but their words about the past are true also.
When the past is rehearsed in statements in the Old Testament they are correct and reflect true reality and history. There are issues in the Qur’an that are pawned off as true but which are wrong. Only Mohammed and Muslims regards these fictions as true. Why would one believe Mohammed when the record of history is against him on certain issues?
Take for example the words in the Qur’an, “When God said, Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed thee with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel; and when thou createst out of clay, by My leave, as the likeness of a bird, and thou breathest into it, and it is a bird, by My leave, and thou healest the blind and the leper by My leave, and thou bringest the dead forth by My leave, and when restrained from thee the Children of Israel when thou camest unto them with the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said, ‘This is nothing but sorcery manifest.’” 5:110
We have here a mixture of fact and fiction. No Christian accepts the apocryphal Gospel story about Jesus making a clay bird, giving it life, and letting it fly off. The apocryphal Gospels appeared over a hundred years after the time of Jesus. They are universally regarded as fictions to fill in the gaps of information that curious people had about the years of Jesus life not mentioned in the real Gospels. The Gospel of John declared that the first miracle that Jesus did was at Cana at a wedding in which he turned water into wine. Jesus turning water into wine may seem shocking to the Muslim mindset, but wine was a fact of life in Israel.
Another example is that of the crucifixion of Jesus. Sura 4:157 says, “and for their saying, ‘We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God’—yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regard him, they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise, and they slew him not of a certainly—no indeed.”
There may be some interesting suggestions as to how Mohammed came to this statement, but the record of history goes against him. The record of the Gospels, as well as pagan and Jewish writers affirm that he was crucified. The preaching of the early church as well as the entire Christian tradition affirms that Jesus was crucified and rose from the grave. Mohammed was not in the mainstream of culture. There may be modern people who reject the resurrection of Jesus because of their naturalistic philosophy, but they certainly do not reject the crucifixion of Jesus.
Another example of his misunderstanding or lack of knowledge relates to the nature of God. The Qur’an says, “People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, ‘Three.’ Refrain, better is it for you. God is only One God. Glory be to Him—That He should have a son! To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; God suffices for a guardian.” (4:171)
The rejection of Jesus as the divine Son of God reflects Mohammed’s misunderstanding of the nature of God. If God is love, who was there to love before the creation of the world? The nature of love is to be directed toward another. The monotheistic idea of the Trinity reflects the oneness of the nature of God in which God as Father from eternity, loves his eternal Son, and the eternal Holy Spirit. One cannot read the New Testament and avoid the conclusion that Jesus is the eternal Son of God incarnate, embodied, joined to humanity’s flesh as the only redeemer of mankind.
Fifth, the Muslims have also propounded the idea that Mohammed was sinless. According to an Islamic dogma, “he never committed a deliberate sin, and at the most he may have been guilty only of some involuntary unintentional act which might be reckoned among the lighter sins.”
The claim of Islamic dogma raises questions concerning several issues.
First, the Qur’an describes a revelation in which Allah forgives Mohammed. (Sura 48:1) “Surely We have given thee a manifest victory, that God may forgive thee thy former and thy latter sins, and complete His blessing upon thee, and guide thee on a straight path, and that God may help thee with mighty help.” Andrae quotes Mohammed as praying with the prophets of the past, “O our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our mistakes in this our work; and set our feet firm; and help us against the unbelieving people.” (3:147)
If we are to make sense out of the word “forgiveness”, we cannot avoid the notion that Mohammed sinned.
Second, the contrast between serious and lighter sins is obvious in some cases. There is a difference between lying and stealing in terms of consequences. But these are both grave in their nature. What are we to make out of Mohammed’s life as a prophet? Can we exonerate him from banditry? Can we say this his treatment of the Jews was a light sin? Can we regard the massacre of 600 Jewish men as light? Can we say that his justification of polygamy is a light sin? Can one dismiss these serious events with a rationalization that this is the way life was lived in the desert? If we are to talk about a just God and a sinless prophet can we put these two concepts together in Mohammed? These are serious issues to be raised from the standpoint of what a prophet is.
The prophets of the Old Testament were related to serious ethical issues. Stealing, treachery, divorce, adultery, as well as the evil of idolatry were denounced by the prophets. When one looks at Jesus there is a world of contrast between the moral character of Jesus and Mohammed. To claim that all prophets are sinless, including Mohammed, as Rahman did in keeping with Muslim dogma, is to twist the whole idea of sinlessness. Many prophets of the Old Testament confessed their sins to Yahweh, and they were forgiven. Isaiah (6:1-7) and David are good examples. In the case of Mohammed there seems to be some reasoning that whatever Mohammed did is right and good, and nothing he did can be described as immoral or sin.
Sixth, there is yet another dimension of this we must examine. Mohammed was fond of referring to the Scripture and recommended to both Jews and Christians that they consult and obey their own Scriptures. Up to this point we noted that the Jews ridiculed Mohammed’s understanding of the Old Testament. Little is said about the New Testament. There are some comments made in the New Testament that apply very well to Mohammed. The first letter of John states, “you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come…” (2:18) “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (2:22-23) In the fourth chapter false prophets are noted, and one of the characteristics of a false prophet is to deny that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. In a positive way, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.” (4:15) John continues to warn: “He who believes in the Son has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God, has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, he who has not the Son has not life.” (5:10-12)
The judgment of the New Testament, which Mohammed did not understand, is that his theology is that of a false prophet. This is not a popular conclusion in this pluralistic age. We live in a time when all religious are regarded as equal revelations of God, and all bring salvation. Certainly this attitude is contrary to the whole tone of Islam and Muslim orthodoxy could not accept such a relativistic view. But neither can orthodox Christians. Ravi Zacharias has commented that it is more correct to say that all religions are false than that all religions are true. All religions cannot be true by virtue of the contradictory ideas.
Seventh, there is one other contrast we will consider between the prophets of the Old Testament and Mohammed as a prophet. Some of Mohammed’s prophecies are self-serving. The prophets of the Old Testament were not self-serving. They did not exploit people for their own gain, unless they were false prophets, of which there were many in Israel. They told the king what the king wanted to hear and they were supported by the king. The real prophets told the kings things they did not want to hear, and frequently were jailed for telling God’s word to the king. They were held to a high standard in their conduct and activities. One telling example is that of Moses who at one point did not honor God and was therefore denied the privilege of entering into the promised land. The model of marriage in the Old Testament was monogamy as illustrated by the creation account. There is no commandment justifying polygamy.
In contrast, Mohammed claims special privileges especially in the area of marriage and sexuality. I have never read a Muslim writer who is critical of Mohammed in the area of sex and marriage. Mohammed could do no wrong in their eyes. The fact that he married Ayesha when she was a mere 9 years old and he was 45 years older than her does not bother Muslims. For his followers, they were limited to four wives at the most along with slaves they might use for sexual purposes. Sura 4:3 says in support of this limitation, “If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four, but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own, so it is likelier you will not be partial.”
On the other hand, Mohammed had nine wives and could marry anyone he wanted since it was an honor for a woman to be his wife. One of the most unusual situations occurred when Mohammed went to see Zeid and he was not home. However, his wife was there and appeared at the door in a light garment Arab women wore in the house. Mohammed was overwhelmed by her beauty and exclaimed, “Praise be Allah who changeth the hearts of men!” Zainab heard these words, told her husband who came to divorce her so that Mohammed could marry her. The possibility of scandal arose in the situation but Mohammed had a revelation from Allah affirming his action. Sura 33:37 declares, “When thou saidst to him whom God had blessed and thou hadst favoured, ‘Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God’ and thou wast concealing within thyself what God should reveal, fearing other men; and God has better right for thee to fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished what he would of her, then We gave her in marriage to thee, so that there should not be any fault in the believers, touching the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them, and God’s commandment must be performed.” The response of Ayesha was “Truly thy Lord makes haste to do thy pleasure.”
The prophets of the Old Testament did not make new laws. They called people to observe and obey the laws given to Moses. It is strange for a prophet to claim special privileges in contrast to pious believers and followers. No prophet in the Old Testament started a new religion, and even Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. The fact that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah concerning the New Covenant brought about a departure from Judaism because the Jews rejected this fulfillment in the person of Jesus. The story of the Bible is about Yahweh’s revealing Himself beginning with Adam, Noah, Abraham, the Patriarchs, and the prophets, being fulfilled in his self-revelation in Jesus, the Christ, the eternal Son of God. When God has come in human form, anything else is a regression, and anticlimactic.
The Death of Mohammed
Mohammed died in 632 A.D. He died as a result of being poisoned following his attack upon and conquest of the Jewish settlement of Khaibar. About 2 month before his attack on Khaibar Mohammed failed in an attempt to go to Mecca. This failure resulted in the Treaty of Hudaybiyya with the Meccans. He returned humiliated in the eyes of the Meccans and in the minds of his people. To lift their defeated spirit, Mohammed told his followers that the events at Hudaybiyya were really a victory. In fact, another convenient “revelation” was given to Mohammed as proof that it really was a victory (Sura 48:1). However, Allah was not able to deliver the Meccan’s goods as booty, so Mohammed told his followers that they were going to attack and plunder the weaker Jewish settlement of Khaibar.
About 6 weeks later Mohammed led his army and attacked the Jews while they were on their way to work on their date palms. Khaibar was a settlement defended by a number of forts spread apart from each other. One by one, Mohammed’s army took the forts. Finally, the last few surrendered to him. Mohammed had several of the leaders of the Jewish settlement beheaded, one leader (Kinana) was tortured to reveal where buried treasure was hidden. Then when Kinana was near death, Mohammed commanded that he be beheaded. Many of the women and children were enslaved. Mohammed even took the most beautiful woman for himself and married her (Safiyah).
Some of Khaibar’s residents made a deal with Mohammed. Instead of enslaving them, which would leave the rich orchards of Khaibar to go untended and unproductive, the Jews would give Mohammed and the Muslims 1/2 of all of what they produced. Mohammed accepted the deal, with the stipulation that they could be expelled at his slightest whim. Years later, Umar expelled the last remaining Jews from Khaibar.
Immediately following the conquest of Khaibar, a Jewish woman prepared a dinner for Mohammed and some of his men. Unknown to the Muslims was that she had put a poison into the lamb (some say goat) that was served at dinner. Mohammed ate some of the poisoned lamb and died as a result three years later.
Mohammed was not a real prophet, he was a false prophet. He died as a result of eating poison that he didn’t know about. The poisoned lamb “spoke” to him too late. Only when he realized he was dying did Mohammed “spiritualize” his suffering and coming death. Prior to that, he tried to get well.
Moses knew about his coming death (Deut 34:1-5). Jesus also knew of His future death (Mark 8:32, 32). Yet Mohammed was in the dark until he himself realized he was going to die.
Paul the apostle was bitten by a poisonous snake (Acts 28:1-6), but Paul suffered no ill effects from the bite. God had his hand of protection on Paul, to finish the work laid out for him. Mohammed died so suddenly that there was confusion as to would be the next ruler of the Islamic state. To this day, part of that confusion remains. The Islamic world is divided in part because of this issue (Shia vs. Sunni). Wouldn’t Allah, who abhors division within the Ummah have protected Mohammed long enough to insure that his state remain unified, and a clearly defined successor be named?
Jesus predicted false prophets would come into the world and mislead many (Matthew 24:24). Mohammed was such a false prophet. Both Jesus and Moses knew God face to face, Mohammed only had a spirit or angel he called “Gabriel” speaking to him. In the end, even this angel’s prayers were not answered by Allah. Could it be that this “Gabriel” was preaching a false religion (Galatians 1:8) to Mohammed? Could Gabriel have been a deceptive demon or Satan himself?