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Is Muhammad Prophesied in the Torah?

Raghbir Singh Roudh contacted Islam-Sikhism in July 2010 claiming to have discovered a contradiction in the Qur’an. Based on this contradiction, Roudh thus asserts that Islam is not a true religion of God, Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) is not a true Prophet, and, as he boasts, “the superiority that Muslims feel over the people of other faiths comes from … delusion”.

Before we respond, let it be known that there are no contradictions in the true message of God.

Allah declares emphatically:

Have they (the disbelievers) not considered the Qur’an with deep deliberation? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, then indeed they would have found in it many contradictions. (Qur’an 4:82).

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to an article I read on your website in which you state that all claims of contradictions in the Quran have been thoroughly refuted. I must disagree with you on this point. I believe there are contradictions in the Quran which have never been refuted, as I will explain with reference to relevant evidence. Furthermore, I will provide evidence from the Jewish Bible to prove that Islam cannot be a true religion. Please note that the following does not proceed from any particular religious perspective. It is simply based on the evidence that I have before me. I have assumed that the reader has some knowledge of the Jewish scriptures i.e. the Torah, psalms, etc.

Now the Quran claims that Muhammed is mentioned in the Torah: (sura 7:157). Therefore, for the Quran to be true, Muhammad must be found in the Torah.

The significant part of the verse reads: “…the Prophet who can neither read nor write whom they find written of with them in the Torah and the Gospel …” Hence, it includes both the Torah and the Gospel; though Roudh intends to restrict it to the Torah only.

The problem with this argument is that it is too vague; what does Roudh mean by “mentioned” and “found” in the Torah vis-á-vis his interpretation of this ayaah (not “sura” [sic] as surah means a whole Qur’anic chapter while ayaah means a single Qur’anic verse)?

  1. Does he mean explicitly by name, i.e. Muhammad, and if so, then in which Semitic language: Hebrew or Arabic? [1]
  2. Or that he is mentioned descriptively?
  3. Or both?
  4. Is this argument premised on the assumption that the Torah has remained intact and uncorrupted since its revelation?

The importance of question four cannot be understated because if the Torah has been changed and corrupted by the hand of man, then it raises the inevitable question over whether Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) name and/ or description was part of this textual corruption. The question over whether this distortion took place before and/ or after the revelation of verse 7:157 also needs to be addressed. If this textual corruption did indeed involve the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) name and/ or description, then said verse could be referring exclusively to the uncorrupted Torah and Gospel.

Today’s Bible differs depending on which version one picks up. The Roman Catholic’s version comprises 73 books, while the Protestant’s comprises 66 with seven having been expunged as non-canonical (apocrypha). There are a number of verses in both the Old and New Testaments that are considered interpolations: verses that some consider were not part of the original. But, what does original mean to Muslims in terms of what is referred to as the Old and New Testaments?

When Muslims refer to the Torah, they are certainly not referring to the extant Old Testament that comprises a number of works, by both known and unknown authors, which contain blasphemous and heretical theological beliefs and concepts. And when Muslims refer to the Gospel, they are certainly not referring to the extant New Testament and its 27 books comprising of works ascribed to authors unknown and Paul of Tarsus, whose apostleship Muslims reject. Thus, we reject the four Gospels ascribed to four pseudonymous authors since we believe in only a single Gospel revealed by God and disseminated by one man only: Jesus, son of Mary (who is not considered the Son of God nor part of the fictitiously illogical concept of a Triune God-head).

What we can say in regards to the textual corruption of the Torah from an Islamic point of view is that the Prophet’s description and traits were distorted by the unscrupulous hands of the Jewish and Christian scribes and copyists.

We will suffice ourselves with what Bassam Zawadi has delineated in his response to a similar objection raised by a Christian evangelist. Zawadi begins by correctly making a distinction between what the Qur’an refers to as the Torah and Gospel originally revealed to Moses and Jesus, respectively. This information, he says, found itself in what is today called “[T]he Bible, which also contains much falsehood according to Islamic teachings”. He then cites one of the leading interpreters of the Qur’an and a companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Ibn Abbas:

(Therefore woe) severe punishment, and it is said this means: a valley in Hell (be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands) [and] change the description and traits of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Book (and then say, “This is) in the Book that has come (from Allah”, that they may purchase) through changing and altering it (a small gain therewith) a small gain in terms of means of subsistence and surplus of property. (Woe unto them) theirs is a severe punishment (for what their hands have written) have altered (and woe unto them) and theirs is a severe punishment (for what they earn thereby) of unlawful earnings and bribes. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, Commentary on Surah 2:79, Source) 

He also quotes “early Qur’anic commentator Muqatil bin Sulaiman” who says of the Qur’anic verse 2:79:

The leaders of the Jews in Medina erased the descriptions and traits of Muhammad peace be upon him from the Torah, and they wrote other traits and descriptions (Source) 

Zawadi concludes:

Thus, it is not a surprise for a Muslim to find that the predictions [2] of Muhammad (peace be upon him) are vague and some how isolated from the context of the entire Bible. The reason for this is because there is also falsehood in the Bible, which would distort the truth.

Thus, the Muslim is not required in any way to prove that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is clearly predicted in the Bible by taking all the verses in the Bible into consideration. This is simply the Muslim position regardless of [sic] one likes it or not. [3] 

In addition, we can also confirm that there exists evidence in the historical tradition of Islam to suggest that the Torah in the hands of the Jewish community in Arabia during the time of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) must have gone through some textual corruption given that it differs to the Torah we have today.

Zawadi observes that “it is also possible that parts of the true Torah and Injeel [Gospel] existed until the 7th century [during Muhammad’s time] and are not found in the Bible today”. He supports this claim by citing five authentic Islamic traditions that point to references and injunctions apparently present in what the Jews in that area and epoch referred to as the Torah, but which “we don’t find … today with us in the Bible”, and “[t]herefore … must have been removed, thus indicating textual corruption”. [4]

Having said this, however, the textual corruption vis-á-vis Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) name and/ or description has not been expunged in toto. This is based on two observations.

The first is from the angle of interpretation. According to the commentary of Ibn Kathir, the portion of the verse in question: “…the Prophet who can neither read nor write whom they find written of with them in the Torah and the Gospel …” was understood to mean:

The characteristics and attributes (Arabic: sifah) [5] of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). [6] 

And the answer to the question of what was specifically meant by “characteristics and attributes” is to be found in the famous hadith collection of Imam al-Bukhari’s Jami’ as-Sahih:

On the authority of Ata’ Ibn Yasar, al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih: “I met Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aa’s and asked him, ‘Tell me about the description of Allah’s Messenger which is mentioned in Torah.’ He replied, ‘Yes. By Allah, he is described in [the] Torah with some of the qualities attributed to him in the Qur’an as follows: “O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, a giver of glad tidings, and a warner.” (33:45) [7] (bold ours) 

Hence, a description of his mission and/ or general qualities is alluded to in the Torah and the Gospel.

The second is that many Muslim academics and proselytisers, both in the past and in recent times, have argued that although an explicit mention of his name is no longer present in the Bible, there are to be found descriptions in both the Torah and the Gospels that strongly match the characteristics and/ or historical mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). [8]

Both these reasons support the understanding that, despite the textual corruption of the Torah and Gospel, the Jews and Christians failed to completely purge the original of all references and allusions to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Having said all that, it is impossible for us to settle this matter conclusively with Roudh’s given argument until he satisfactorily answers the four aforementioned questions.

Muslims claim that they have found prophecies of Muhammad in the Torah. The most frequently quoted ‘prophecy’ is in Deuteronomy 18:17-20.

The fallacy in this instance is Roudh’s assumption that a premise can be valid by simply appealing to authority, in this case: a number of unknown Muslims. Further still, Roudh also begs the question by assuming that said verse is indeed a prophecy accepted by all Muslims, and thus citable as proof. The counter we throw in response is to simply ask how Roudh knows we here at Islam-Sikhism accept this verse to be a prophecy? If we do not, then poor Roudh has wasted his time arguing a strawman.

“YHWH said to me, ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything that I have not commanded him to say or a prophet who speaks in the names of other gods must be put to death.”

Notice that Moses here speaks this prophecy in the name of his God YHWH i.e. “YHWH said to me” (not Allah). Moses wrote the name YHWH 1600 times in his Torah.
Moses gives no other name for God. The name Allah does not appear in the Torah once.

Roudh presupposes that the Arabic name of God: Allah, is immutable in the sense that it must be consistently used to address Him for all time and in all languages. But as stated above, since languages differ grammatically, the name of God cannot, therefore, be the same, phonetically speaking, across the board. For example, the titles: El, Eloah, Elohim, and Allah’im [9] used by Jews for God in the Tanakh bare a striking resemblance not only to the proper name Allah, but also the name, as suggested by Muslim scholars such as Ibn al-Qayyim et al., from which it was derived: al-Ilaah (the God). Similarly, Jesus is recorded in the Gospels to have called upon God in Aramaic: Eli and Eloi, which again sounds remarkably similar to Allah and al-Ilaah. Hence, Muslims would have no qualms in accepting the possibility that Allah could have revealed his name to other non-Arabic speaking nations that would be distinguished by an obvious difference in pronunciation.

As for the proper name YHWH in the Tanakh, then we wish to ask Roudh to provide the vowel points in order so that God’s name can be pronounced correctly. The reason why we ask is because of the opinion that no one can say for certain what the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is, which came about due to the nonsensical ancient Judaic rule that it was forbidden to pronounce His name outside the Temple in Jerusalem. The irony here is that Roudh acknowledges this crucial point nearing the end of his missive, but fails to recognise its dire implications. Moreover, ignorance of the alleged true name of God is further proof of the Torah having been distorted and, thus, corrupted.

Now this prophecy clearly says that the true prophet will speak in YHWH’s name.
Since Muhammad never spoke in YHWH’s name, he cannot be the prophet mentioned here. In addition, this prophecy says that if a prophet speaks in a name other than that of YHWH, then that prophet must be put to death. This last point also has serious implications for Muhammad’s claim to be a true prophet.

As stated before, this entire line of argumentation is fallacious since it is built on the assumption that we somehow accept Deut 18:18 to be a prophecy of Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah).

One Muslim writer, Al Kadhi, who tried to extricate his prophet from the difficulties posed by this prophecy, wrote:

“But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have commanded him not to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods even that prophet shall die”: Deuteronomy 18:20

“Muhammad (PBUH) spoke not just a single word, but dictated a whole book in God’s name. For twenty three years, he spoke exclusively in the name of God Almighty. He was given 114 chapters, all of which were, and are today, recited day after day in God’s name. Chapters in the Quran begin with the words “In the name of God, the Gracious, and the Merciful”. Yet he did not die, but lived to fulfil his message completely”.

But Al Kadhi has missed the point completely. It is irrelevant whether Muhammad lived or died. Just as it is irrelevant how many aubergines are found with the name Allah written in them. Or how many numerical miracles are discovered in the Quran. What is relevant is that if this prophecy (whose authenticity has been vouched for) finds Muhammad speaking in the name of a god other than YHWH, then he cannot be a true prophet.

The conclusion is inescapable: since Muhammad spoke in the name of Allah, he therefore spoke in the name of a god other than YHWH, and thus he falls into the category of prophets considered false by this prophecy.

Both Al Kadhi’s and Roudh’s fault here is to assume that Deut 18:18 was part of the original Torah revealed to Moses. Until Roudh addresses the four questions vis-á-vis verse 7:157 we posed above, his entire line of argumentation is flawed.

The Quran further claims that Allah revealed both the Torah and the Quran. The Quran also claims to confirm the Torah. But the two books cannot even agree as to what the name of God is. Neither book recognises the other book’s name(s) for God.

Ibid. 

According to the Torah, God has only one name – YHWH. Allah, a name for deity in the Quran, is never found in the Torah. According to the Quran, God has at least 99 names but the Quran never recognises YHWH as a name for God.

As a side note, the Tetragrammaton is unpronounceable because it has no vowel points. Instead, the titles Adonai (mentioned during prayer) or HaShem (mentioned at all other times) are used as substitutes in Judaism.

The two books could not be further apart. Therefore the Quran contradicts the book it claims to confirm. Two books ‘revealed’ by the same deity cannot be contradictory to the point of being opposites, as God cannot be the author of utter confusion. Therefore the Quran’s claim has to be rejected as false.

As we have shown, the Qur’an does not contradict the Torah in this regard precisely because it does not “confirm” it in toto. Hence, Roudh is correct this time round in recognising that “[t]he two books could not be further apart”.

Finally, I would like to give some background information for the benefit of those who may not know. The name YHWH appears in the Jewish scriptures more than 6000 times – 1600 times in the Torah alone. It is also known as the Tetragrammaton, and within Judaism as Ha Shem, The Name. At some point in their history, out of reverence, the Israelites stopped pronouncing this name. It is feared that the pronunciation of this name might now be lost. But it is the only noun that the Jewish scriptures give for the name of God. Muhammad claimed that he received his revelation from the God of the Jewish scriptures. His ignorance of this name is irrefutable proof that he lied.

It seems somewhat disjointed for Roudh to readily affirm that the Tetragrammaton’s correct pronunciation has been lost to Judaism, and yet find fault with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for being ignorant of a name lost to posterity centuries before. As stated earlier, this lost knowledge would come under the classification of scriptural corruption.

Hence, Roudh is mistaken to say that Allah is the “God of the Jewish scriptures”. This assertion may reveal why Roudh’s entire line of reasoning is so jumbled and absurd. If he understood that Allaah is the God of the Torah originally revealed to Moses before it was textually corrupted (not the extant Tanakh, Pentateuch or the Bible), then perhaps he might have saved himself all this trouble.

For God not to reveal his identity in his revelation, is not only inconceivable, but defeats the purpose of revelation. And the superiority that Muslims feel over the people of other faiths comes from the delusion that the sources of their faith (i.e., their prophet, their scriptures and their god) are superior to the sources of other faiths.

I hope it will be seen that the conclusions drawn above have been compelled by evidence. Although offence may be taken, please know that none was intended.

Our sincere advice to Roudh would be to not only thoroughly familiarise himself with Islam, if he truly intends on living up to the boast of disproving its superiority, but also Judaism.

Allaah yahdeeka

[1] Although Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages, the name would necessarily differ given the obvious grammatical dissimilarity between the two.
[2] Zawadi incorrectly uses the word “predicated” in claiming that “Muhammad (peace be upon him) was predicted in the original Torah and Gospel”. The term predicted here is clearly being misused in this context since the foretelling of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not based upon a possible timeline of future events based upon known systems or observed phenomena and related by a non-divine source, but upon certain knowledge of a single future event originating from a divine source and conveyed through revelation. The former is always restricted to potential guess work, while the latter is not. In any case, the correct word to use in such contexts is prophecy as opposed to prediction.
[3] B. Zawadi (2008), Rebuttal to David Wood’s Article “Muhammad in the Bible?: An Analysis of the Muslim Appeal to Biblical Prophecy”, (Call to Monotheism, April 20).
[4] B. Zawadi (2008), Rebuttal to Derik Adams’s Article “Are there Prophecies of Muhammad in the Bible?”, (Call to Monotheism, September 19).
[5] For the Arabic text: Quran.al-Islam.com.
[6] Ibn Kathir; Abridged Sheikh M. N. ar-Rafa’i (2001), Tafsir Ibn Kathir – Part 9, (Al-Firdous Ltd, London), p. 84.
[7] Ibid., pp.84-5.
[8] Some of the proofs cited by these Muslims include: Deuteronomy 18:18; Deuteronomy 33:1; John 16:7; 1 John 4:1-3.
[9] Rabbi Shalomim Y. Halahawi states:

The Muslims call him Allah and Israelites call him Hashem, Adonai, or Allah’im (elohim) or YAH. (bold ours)
– S.Y. Halahawi (2007), The Way! The Prophetic Messianic Voice to the Path of the Edenic Kingdom Redemption, (Lulu.com), p. 344.

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