I was wondering if there is any prophecy regarding the Prophet of Islam found in the Old Testament (Torah)?
Thank you very much for your question.
First, let me please draw your attention that it is not really accurate to refer to the Old Testament as Torah (pronounced in Arabic as “Tawrah”).
The Old Testament is a Christian term referring to the first 39 books of the Bible.
The Catholic Bible contains seven other books and additions to some books.
The Christians have the New Testament (27 books) also in addition to the Old Testament.
The Jewish Bible consists of 39 books; and the Torah is believed to be the first five books of the Jewish Bible.
The Christians often call these five books, the Law or the “Pentateuch”, which is the Greek word for “Five Books”.
The Torah of the Jewish Bible is practically the same as the Torah of the Christian Bible. But for Muslims, the Torah (Tawrah) was the Book revealed by God to Prophet Moses (Musa, peace be upon him).
Muslims do not believe that the present Jewish (or Christian) Torah is an exact copy of the Tawrah God revealed to Moses, peace be upon him.
One important reason is that the present Torah contains passages that are of questionable authenticity in the eyes of Muslims.
For instance, at the end of the Book of Deuteronomy (the fifth book), you see a passage that describes the death and burial of Moses. (See Deuteronomy 34:5-8).
If this were a book revealed to Moses by God, it is not likely to describe the death and burial of Moses in the past tense there.
In addition, the nature of the narration, as well as the content in several places, clearly points to human authorship or interpolations. But that is another story.
Prophecy of the Last Prophet
Back to your original question, I understand that you are asking whether there is any prophecy regarding Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Torah. This means the first five books of the Bible.
In fact there is a clear prophecy about the coming of the Last Prophet in the fifth book of the Torah (or the Christian Pentateuch).
The verses are from Deuteronomy, Chapter 18:
“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 shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
Here Moses is addressing the Children of Israel. He quotes Jehovah as telling him of the coming of a Prophet.
The marks for recognizing the coming prophet would be as follows:
1. He would be from among the brethren of the Children of Israel.
2. He would be like Moses.
3. He would speak words and commands put in his mouth by God.
4. He would speak in God’s name.
If you examine the above details of the distinguishing traits of the foretold prophet and those of Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was born centuries after this prophecy, you will be surprised to learn of the striking similarities.
Jesus or Muhammad?
Here one may also consider the Christian argument that the above prophecy is about Jesus.
So we need to examine who is actually meant here, with reference to the details of the prophecy.
1. It is clearly mentioned that the coming prophet would be from ‘their brethren’, i.e. from the brethren of the Children of Israel.
We know that Jesus was one of the Children of Israel and so it is clear that the prophecy does not apply to him.
Whereas Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in the family of Ishmael; indeed his grandfather was Qaidar (Biblical name: Kedar), one of the twelve sons of Ishmael.
2. Of the two prophets (i.e. Jesus and Muhammad) one is mentioned to be like Moses.
In fact, it is Prophet Muhammad who is really like Moses, and not Jesus.
For instance, Jesus was born miraculously without a father; he did not marry and lead a family life; his mission was very short (three years at the most); and God raised him unto Himself when he faced the possibility of violent death at the hands of his enemies. (Christians believe that he was crucified).
And so, we find that Jesus did not have the time to realize the dream of establishing a society based on the principles he taught. Indeed, he had declared that his mission was for ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 15:24), and not for the whole of humanity.
Prophet Muhammad’s Mission
Compare the above with the mission of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Like Moses, he had a father and mother; he married and led a family life; his mission was long like that of Moses; he died a natural death; and he brought a Law (Shari`ah) for the establishment of a social system, like Moses.
It is also worth emphasizing that at the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, the following is clearly stated:
“And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand…” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
This makes it clear that there never was a prophet like Moses in the whole of Israel after Moses, according to the Bible.
Thus, we can clearly see that between the two, it was Muhammad from the brethren of the Children of Israel, who could be called, “a Prophet like Moses”.
And Allah knows best.
(This article is from Discovering Islam archives)