By Dr. Jamal Badawi
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses relays what God told him, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put My words in his mouth; and will speak unto them all that I shall command him.” First, note the phrase ‘from among their brethren’.
Ishmael and Isaac were both brothers and they were the children of Prophet Abraham. When Prophet Moses, may peace and blessings be upon him, was quoting God as promising to send a prophet like Moses the verse says ‘from among their brethren’. Who are the brethren of the Israelites? They are, simply, the Ishmaelites. This is a clear and straightforward indication that the prophet who is going to be ‘like unto Moses’ from the brethren of the Israelites is Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessing be upon him.
In fact, the Hebrew dictionary of the Bible defines brethren, as used in the biblical sense, in the following terms: it says it is the personification of a group of tribes who were regarded as near kinsmen to the Israelites. There is no nearer kinsmen tribe to the Israelites other than the Ishmaelites because they are their brethren- descendents of the brother of Isaac. It is consistent.
Moses and Muhammad: “Like Unto Thee”
I think perhaps one crucial phrase that is used in the verse is when it says “from among their brethren, like unto thee.” (Duet 18:18) God is saying that He will raise up a prophet that is similar to Moses. This is significant because the only great prophets, who came after Moses, were Jesus and Muhammad. However, it does not apply to Jesus because he is not really from the brethren of the Israelites. He is himself an Israelite. (Read more: Concept of God in Christianity)
There are similarities between Moses and Jesus in the sense that they were both Jews and they were both prophets. They both had profound miracles; during their time the rulers had ordered the killing of all male children and so on. But again that contradicts the term ‘brethren’ that has already been explained. Even then, we find that when taken for the sake of argument that Jesus is a possible candidate for this prophecy, you’ll find that there are a great deal more similarities between Prophets Moses and Muhammad than the similarities between prophets Moses and Jesus, may peace and blessings be upon them all.
First of all, Moses was regarded as a Prophet and Muhammad was also regarded as a Prophet while Jesus (at least by Christians) was regarded as the Son of God. This point, alone, precludes Jesus. Because the prophecy is about a prophet like unto Moses. When Jesus is regarded as God incarnate, or the Son of God then that precludes him; at least this specific prophecy doesn’t apply to him. Like I mentioned last time, there are other prophecies that apply to Jesus but not this one.
Secondly, in terms of parents, Moses had a normal mother and father and so did Muhammad. Jesus, however, was born only from a mother. In terms of birth, the birth of Moses was normal so was Muhammad’s where as Jesus’ birth was a virgin birth according to both the Muslim and Christian faiths. (Learn more: The Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary)
Regarding family life: Moses married and had children so did Muhammad but it’s quite unlikely with Jesus. As far as we know, there are no records of him marrying or having any children.
In terms of death, Moses and Muhammad both had natural deaths from natural causes; the death of Jesus (according to the Christian faith) was a violent death- nailed to the cross.
In terms of the emphasis on his mission, we find that Moses’ mission was both spiritual and legal; he brought about a law. So did Muhammad. Jesus’ mission, on the other hand, was spiritual. Actually, he said ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill’ (Mathew 5:17).
Regarding acceptance of leadership: Moses’ leadership was, for the most part, accepted by his people. They may have given him a hard time but his leadership was accepted during his lifetime. The same is true for Muhammad. Whereas Jesus himself complained that his leadership was not accepted, but was resisted, by the very people he was sent to- the Israelites. He mentions this often.
In terms of career, we find that Moses had a career both as a prophet and as a governor/ ruler to implement the divine law. Such is the same for Muhammad. In the case of Jesus, his career did not include that authority.
In terms of battles and encounters with enemies: We find that Moses did encounter his enemies, the Egyptians and they were drowned- he had victory over them. Muhammad did encounter the pagans that tried to destroy him and his followers and he had victory over them in the battlefield. No such event occurs, in terms of physical combat, in the case of Prophet Jesus may peace and blessings be upon him.
In terms of the mission: We find that the mission of Prophet Moses was completed in a sense that he not only succeeded in his preaching, but also established a new order following those commandments. The same thing is applicable to Muhammad. Before his death, there was already an Islamic community that was victorious over its enemies. In the case of Jesus, we find the opposite is true. The persecution of Christians persisted for many years to come and not until the year 325, when Constantine was said to have embraced Christianity, did the pressures on Christians begin to lighten.
These points are not the only ones. Another striking similarity is that Moses left Egypt, his birthplace at a time when there was a conspiracy to kill him and he went to Median, to Prophet Jethro. Muhammad, also, left his birthplace, Mecca, on the same night he was to be assassinated and fled to Medina. (Click here to read Moses’ encounter with Khidr, a man of knowledge.)
Moses and Muhammad: “Put My Words in His Mouth”
The way the revelation came to Prophet Muhammad was that Angel Gabriel would come to him and dictate to him and then Muhammad would simply recites what was said to him. In other words, Muhammad was not the author of the Qur’an, as many people make this mistake. He is not the author of it, he did not create it, and he was not even using his own intellect and knowledge when he recited the Qur’an.
He was simply repeating what Gabriel was saying. This is not a hidden secret. It continued for 23 years in the presence of hundreds of followers and that the Qur’an was committed directly to memory in his presence as well as in writing. What could be a more beautiful explanation of the phrase ‘put My words in his mouth’? That God was putting the words in the mouth of Prophet Muhammad; that he was repeating what was exactly dictated to him.
To make sure that things are put in the proper context let me cite the verse following that one. It says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18: 19-20) This in the biblical language also means that he shall be put to death.
This is an interesting point because one of the signs of that foretold prophet is that he will speak in the name of God. That term has been repeated twice in verses 19 and 20. Now, this is an extremely interesting point to comment on for those who are not familiar with the Qur’an. The Qur’an contains 114 chapters called surahs. 113 of these surahs start with “Bismi Allah Al Rahman Al Raheem” which translates to “In the name of God the Beneficent, the merciful.” Virtually every chapter in the Qur’an starts with in the name of God. That’s quite interesting because the prophecy says that he will speak in the name of God, not the authorship of Muhammad that he’s presenting this in the name of God but because God revealed that to him.
This is interesting because usually the Christian term we normally hear is ‘In the name of the Father,’ or ‘In the name of the Lord,’ or ‘In the name of God,’ but that’s not the name of God. That’s a description. Only the term Allah is the personal name of God. This is corroborating evidence, again, that beautifully and perfectly fits with the terms used in the Book of Deuteronomy.
Adapted, with permission, from transcribed audio lectures on www.jamalbadawi.org