An Examination of a Muslim claim regarding the servant of Isaiah 42
This article is written as a response to a Muslim commentary on Isaiah 42 from Mohammad Ghounem's "Jews for Allah" website. In the article, the author(s) claim that this chapter predicts the coming of Mohammad and the advent of Islam. As usual, our comments will be interspersed between the comments of the author(s).
Mustafa is one of Mohammad's titles, and it is not surprising that he would have been given or adopted a title signifying his alleged election by God. In Isaiah 49, we return to this servant and it is said in verse 6:
"….It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to RESTORE THE TRIBES OF JACOB AND BRING BACK THOSE OF ISRAEL I HAVE KEPT. I WILL ALSO MAKE YOU A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, that you may bring MY SALVATION to the ends of the earth." (emphasis added)
According to "The New Strong's Dictionary of Bible Words," the name "Jesus" means "Jehovah saved." Jesus was so named because He was to bring salvation:
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'" (Matthew 1:20-21)
Since this passage is referring to the One that will bring God's salvation to both the Jews and Gentiles, we know that it is the same servant spoken of in chapter 42. Using the logic of the Muslim author, we could claim that this passage is referring to Jesus since the subject is "my salvation," or "Jehovah's salvation." Needless to say, it is wiser to make further examination of both Isaiah 42 as well as other pertinent servant songs before we can draw proper conclusions about our ID.
Notice also that verse 1 says that the Lord will place His Spirit upon the servant. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus:
"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" (Mark 1:9-11)
However, Mohammad never had the Spirit of God placed upon him. One objection that might be said in response is that this prophecy was fulfilled in Mohammad through the alleged revelations of the angel Gabriel to Mohammad as Islam, oddly, claims that Gabriel IS the Holy Spirit. However, there is no Biblical warrant for this. For more information, please visit this article
All prophets after Jacob (pbuh) mentioned in the Bible came for Israelites not Gentiles. This includes Jesus (pbuh) (look Matthew 15:21-26, Matthew 10:5-6 and many more). And Jesus (pbuh) did not stay on earth long enough to do that. But Muhammad (pbuh) was a Gentile and he brought message and judgment to Gentiles first.
Contrary to the claims of the author, Jesus was indeed a prophet sent to the Gentiles. Consider the following excerpt from Glenn Miller's piece on this:
"The writer here makes a very basic exegetical mistake: not recognizing historical progress or change in the narrative.
He is correct that on one occasion Jesus restricted the ministry of his disciples to Jewish towns, and it is true that He identified His ministry as "toward Israel." But as time progressed, this changed. Three specific events highlight this:
One: In John 12.20ff we read:
"Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." 22 Philip *came and *told Andrew; Andrew and Philip *came, and they *told Jesus. 23 And Jesus *answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Jesus saw that the Father was beginning to draw non-Jews to Him (John 6.44: "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."), and then explains in verse 30 that His death will draw ALL MEN to Him (John 12.32)"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." This represents a clear change in the scope of Jesus' ministry.
Two: And in Matthew 28.16ff we have a very explicit statement my the Risen Lord about 'going to the pagans':
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Three: In Acts 1.6-8, the pre-Ascension Lord says this:
And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
It should be obvious from these passages that Jesus expanded His message beyond Israel, and indeed, that was the plan all along. The gospel was supposed to be 'to the Jew first, and then the Greek' (Romans 1). The blessing upon the Gentiles was supposed to come through a redeemed and righteous Israel.
And even His designated ministry did not stop Jesus from ministering to non-Jews during His lifetime. The Samaritan "woman at the well" in John 5 was sought out by Jesus, resulting in revival in the town (John 5.39ff: "And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all the things that I have done." 40 So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.")
And the Syro-Phoenician woman (that our author brings to our attention) was also ministered to by Jesus. I have already written on this case, and explained that the reference to 'children and dogs' had nothing to do with 'jews and gentiles', but with 'disciples and crowds'. And IF Jesus REALLY was not supposed to go the pagans, then He would not have 'given in'!!! Accordingly, this still shows that Jesus knew the meaning of "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" Himself!"
The authors also say "And Jesus (pbuh) did not stay on earth long enough to do that." in reference to Christ bringing His message, or not, to the Gentiles. However, as can be seen from the Miller note, Jesus did indeed preach to Gentiles and commissioned His disciples to do so as well. It is claimed by Muslims that the ministry of Christ was truncated by the Jewish conspiracy against Him. In other words, the crucifixion got in the way of carrying out His whole ministry. This is the position of the authors of this piece as they claim that Jesus "did not stay on earth long enough to do that," and also discuss this some more later in the article. However, this is a false premise. This is a good time to provide evidence that Christ considered the events of the cross and His subsequent resurrection to be the pinnacle-event of His three-and-a-half year ministry:
"Then the Jews demanded of him, 'What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."(John 2:18-22)
"From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:21)
"They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise. But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." (Mark 9:30)
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-27)
"Do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matthew 26:53-54)
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, 'What are you discussing together as you walk along?' They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, 'Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?' 'What things,' he asked. 'About Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.' He said to them, 'HOW FOOLISH YOU ARE, AND HOW SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN! DID NOT THE CHRIST HAVE TO SUFFER THESE THINGS AND THEN ENTER HIS GLORY?' AND BEGINNING WITH MOSES AND ALL THE PROPHETS, HE EXPLAINED TO THEM WHAT WAS SAID IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES CONCERNING HIMSELF." (Luke 24:13-27, emphasis added)
Muslims will almost undoubtedly explain these passages away as later additions as part of the alleged "mass corruption" to which the Bible was at some point subjected. However, we find it very interesting that they still use what they claim to be a corrupted book when it suits their purposes, such as their use of passages from Matthew above to try to prove that Christ's ministry was only to Israel.
What about Mohammad? Was he a prophet for all of the Gentiles as the authors claim, or just for Arabia? Obviously, both the messages of Jesus and Mohammad have been carried to people outside of Israel and Arabia, respectively, but this in itself does not prove that their respective ministries were intended to be universal in nature. (Obviously, for instance, Muslims would claim that Christ's followers teach His message to Gentiles only because of later distortions of His message.) For an article written in response to the Muslim claim that Mohammad intended for his ministry to be universal, please see this article.
2- He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heart in the street. Here the word "not cry" is used as "not complain about the duty that I gave him" because we see in verse 13 God says "... he shall cry". There is a difference between these two using of the word cry. Now if we read your Bible Matthew 26:39-42, we can not say that Jesus (pbuh) never complained.
But if you read the life of Muhammad (pbuh) , the history of Islam you cannot find even one complaining word of Muhammad (pbuh) about the mission (duty) that given by God Almighty.
First, verse 7 is the end of this particular servant song and verse 8 begins with a new subject, namely the Lord Himself. In verse 13, alluded to above, we see:
"The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like man of war: HE SHALL CRY, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies."
Obviously, Muslims would never associate Mohammad with the Lord.
Second, verse 2 says simply "He shall not cry,....," period and it says nothing about "complaining about the duty that I (God) gave him." The suggested interpretation of the authors does not appear to be contextually accurate. Third, we should be cautious about absolute all-encompassing statements taking into consideration the use of hyperbole in the Bible. Verse 2 goes on to say that the servant will not "cause his voice to be heard in the street." Obviously, this should be considered as hyperbolic and/or poetic language. The insistence of an absolute literal rendering of this verse would disqualify both Jesus, Mohammad, and anyone who was ever heard by anyone in a street. With this in mind, let's take a look at the verses where Jesus allegedly complained:
"Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. YET NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL.' Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.' He went away a second time and prayed, 'My Father, IF IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THIS CUP TO BE TAKEN AWAY UNLESS I DRINK IT, MAY YOUR WILL BE DONE." (emphasis added)
How it is that anything in this verse constitutes complaining about the duty God gave Jesus, we can only wonder. Is it because Jesus asks God "if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me."? Obviously, a mere request to find another way for Christ's mission to be accomplished other than having to die one of the most horrific deaths known to man cannot constitute "complaining," especially when Jesus goes on to say what we have emphasized in the passage. Perhaps the problem is because Jesus rebukes His disciples for falling asleep when they were supposed to be praying for Him? Still, this hardly constitutes "complaining" about one's God-given duty. Besides, both Jesus and Mohammad constantly "complain" about various sins that people commit (and were committing) and admonished their respective followers to be prepared for the coming Judgment. In closing, even though we have shown that interpreting verse 2 the way the authors do is fallacious, it still cannot be said that Jesus was complaining about His divine call.
The authors also state that it cannot be found that Mohammad ever complained about his alleged divine call. However, consider the following excerpts dealing with Mohammad's first encounters with a spiritual entity. (taken from this article)
Here are additional details from Ibn Ishaq's "Sirat Rasulallah" from Guillaume's translation, "The Life of Muhammad", , page 106. Words in [ ] type brackets are mine. Words in ( ) brackets are the author's.
"So I [Muhammad] read it, and he [Gabriel] departed from me. And I awoke from my sleep, and it was though these words were written on my heart. (Tabari: Now none of God's creatures was more hateful to me than an (ecstatic) poet or a man possessed: I could not even look at them. I thought, Woe is me poet or possessed - Never shall Quraysh say this of me! I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest. So I went forth to do so and then) when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying "O Muhammad! thou are the apostle of God and I am Gabriel."
" The "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", (Book of the Major Classes), by Ibn Sa'd, translated by S. Moinal Haq, , page 225 has Muhammad saying:
"O Khadija, I see light and hear sounds and I fear I am mad".
The visitations from the spirit continued. Then they stopped for a time believed to have been from 6 months to 3 years. When this happened, Tabari, , volume 6 page 76, records:
"The inspiration ceased to come to the messenger of God for a while, and he was deeply grieved. He began to go to the tops of mountain crags, in order to fling himself from them; but every time he reached the summit of a mountain, Gabriel appeared to him and said to him, "You are the Prophet of God." Thereupon his anxiety would subside and he would come back to himself."
Also, from Tabari Vol. 9, page 167, note 1151 says:
"The pre-Islamic Arabs believed in the demon of poetry, and they thought that a great poet was directly inspired by demons...."
This explains why Muhammad thought he was demon possessed, or influenced by demons; the Quran in many places reads like typical Arabic poetry.
In "Muhammad at Mecca", by W. M. Watt, , pages 40, 41, there are also references that detail Muhammad's suicidal thoughts. Watt quotes from az-Zuhri's material.
"He (Muhammad) said, I had been meditating throwing myself from a mountain crag, but while I was so meditating, he appeared to me and said, "O Muhammad, I am Gabriel, and thou are the Messenger of God."....
Az-Zuhri said: "There was a gap for a time in the revelation to the Messenger of God and he was very sorrowful. He started going early to the tops of the mountains to throw himself down from them. But whenever he reached the summit of a mountain, Gabriel would appear to him and say, "Thou are the Prophet of God."
We see in the above excerpts that Mohammad believed that he was demon-possessed as a result of His encounters with an entity that claimed to be the angel Gabriel. This led to various suicide attempts and caused him to proclaim to his first wife, and only wife at the time, Khadija, that he had gone mad. Given this, it is obvious that Mohammad, at this time, wanted no part of his alleged divine call. He would not have gone to the top of a mountain with thoughts of hurling himself off of it otherwise. If Christ asking His Father to find another way than the cross to accomplish His salvific mission, yet acknowledging in the very same sentence that He is prepared to go to the cross if necessary, constitutes "complaining about one's divine mission," then how much more do suicide attempts spell out, at the very least, an "inner complaint" of one's divine call? We acknowledge, of course, that one who thinks he is demon-possessed has very good reason to complain! However, this contradicts the position of the author of the piece to which we are responding. Once again, we should note, this does not appear to be a problem for either side's interpretation since the interpretation itself is flawed. For more on Mohammad and his encounter with demons, see here, here, and here.
3- A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. This is true almost all prophets.
We agree that this certainly describes Jesus:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven."(Matthew 5:43-45)
"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. (Luke 9:51-54)
"While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?' When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, 'Lord, should we strike with our swords?' And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And he touched the man's ear and healed him. (Luke 22:47-51)
"Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 'Put your sword back in its place,' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?'" (Matthew 26:51-54)
"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'...." (Luke 23:33-34)
We see in the above passages that Jesus taught His followers to love their enemies and lived by this extremely high standard Himself. Jesus rebuked His disciples' suggestion that they rain down fire on the town that rejected their message. He healed one of the men that had arrested Him, claimed that all who live by the sword will die by the sword, and even asked God for forgiveness for those that were crucifying Him! The closest thing to violence ever performed by Christ would be the temple-cleaning event:
'When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here!' How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!' His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"
Zealous yes, and rightfully so to any pious Jew. Violent? Hardly. Nothing would have been hurt in this exchange except for possibly some feelings. See Glenn Miller's piece on this for more information. Interestingly, there is also a parable in Luke 19:12-27 that seems to be popular not only among Muslims attempting to defend Mohammad, but also by anti-missionaries. The verse often alluded to is 27:
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."
I personally am amazed when I see this being used to discredit the Christian message as it appears to spell out the desperation to which some would dishonestly resort. First of all, anyone should be leary when running across such a passage being used to convey that Jesus intended violence to be performed by His followers as it is obviously contradictory to the teachings of Jesus throughout the Gospels, some of which has been expounded upon in the passages we quoted. Secondly, this is a parable and "a certain nobleman," (verse 12) the subject of Christ's parable, is the speaker of this passage. Thirdly, we know that Christ's disciples, the ones most intimately connected to Jesus and His ministry, did not wield the sword nor did the Christian Church for the first 3 centuries of the faith's existence. Rather, the pagans of the Roman Empire were astonished by the LOVE that Christ's followers had for their enemies rather than hatred. Finally, and most importantly, in context, this is referring to the second coming of Christ when all who are not cleansed by Christ will be destroyed by His wrath. Please see this short article for more information.
When we turn to Mohammad, on the other hand, we see that this verse in the passage under discussion is one which perhaps most blatantly disqualifies Mohammad from being the servant described. Mohammad taught peace at the beginning of his ministry, and at the very beginning, he taught his followers not to even retaliate in the midst of persecution. Eventually, after more power was attained, he allowed his followers to fight only if in self-defense. Thus, pertinent verses abound in the Qur'an teaching peace, tolerance, and fighting only in self-defense. However, in Medina, Mohammad eventually grew powerful enough to take the offensive, and so he did. The chapters (i.e. surahs) of the Qur'an are not in chronological order. Consider these verses from surah 9, believed by some scholars to be the last one written:
"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge." (Ali Surah 9:5-6)
"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Ali Surah 9:29)
A more in-depth study, placing these verses within their appropriate textual and historical contexts, as well as commentaries from early Islamic scholars, can be found on this page.
Consider also the following Hadith:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, "O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have." (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 8, #387)
Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, #256)
Narrated Khalid bin Madan: That 'Umair bin Al-Aswad Al-Anasi told him that he went to 'Ubada bin As-Samit while he was staying in his house at the sea-shore of Hims with (his wife) Um Haram. 'Umair said. Um Haram informed us that she heard the Prophet saying, "Paradise is granted to the first batch of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition." Um Haram added, I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Will I be amongst them?' He replied, 'You are amongst them.' The Prophet then said, 'The first army amongst' my followers who will invade Caesar's City will be forgiven their sins.' I asked, 'Will I be one of them, O Allah's Apostle?' He replied in the negative." (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, #175)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him." (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, #177)
Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' " (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, #260)
Mohammad ordered a host of murders to be performed by his followers. One example is Abu Afak, a Jew reportedly of 120 years of age, who was murdered because he had encouraged citizens of Medina to leave Islam. Another example is that of Asma Bint Marwan who was murdered for her criticizing Mohammad because of his murder of Abu Afak. In addition, Mohammad executed between 600 and 900 Jewish men of the Banu Qurayza tribe while enslaving the women and children allegedly because this tribe had betrayed he and the Muslims. Muslims often tout Mohammad's invasion of Mecca as a great exercise in forgiveness on Mohammad's part, since he did not have the city massacred for their persecution of him when he was first preaching his message. However, this is not quite accurate. Mohammad forced the citizens to become Muslims, and placed ten names on a hit list, seven of which were eventually executed. Three of the ten were slave girls whose only crime was poking fun at Mohammad before he had become powerful. Two of these three were eventually executed. For more information on these stories as well as many others, please see this page as well as the last link provided in this article. When examining the records of Mohammad, we see that Isaiah 42:3 is one verse which perhaps most blatantly disqualifies Mohammad from being the servant described in the passage under scrutiny.
4- He shall not fall nor be discouraged, till he had set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Until "earth:" Jesus (pbuh) couldn't finish his mission which had continued only for ~3 years. He fall and discouraged (you will find many places in NT about this) and he couldn't set judgment in the earth, because his followers were a few and they had little faith (you will find many places in NT about this). And yet they "forsook him and fled" at the time that Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus (pbuh). And Jesus (pbuh) himself says "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence " John 18:36 But Muhammad established a state and ruled with his law that given by God. Therefore he set judgment in the earth and he did not fall and he was not discouraged.
As noted earlier, this objection is based on a misunderstanding of Christ's mission. Christ came not only to preach, but to die for the forgiveness of sins and be resurrected. He predicted this many times in advance, and indeed, He did not fail. Christ is still succeeding in His mission as the Gospel and His Law is being taken to the ends of the earth. The authors claim that Jesus did "fall and get discouraged," but they do not give us any evidence of this. On the other hand, Mohammad was so discouraged that he attempted suicide! The disciples' degree of faith as mentioned by the authors is irrelevant to this issue. The allusion to John 18:36 is not helpful to our opponents' case either. Jesus says that His Kingdom is not of this world, but in context it appears that Jesus is responding to Pilate's inquiry as to why the Jews would treat Him as a criminal, if indeed He is their King:
"Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' 'Is that your own idea,' Jesus asked, 'or did others talk to you about me?' 'Am I a Jew?' Pilate replied. 'It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?' Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. IF IT WERE, MY SERVANTS WOULD FIGHT TO PREVENT MY ARREST BY THE JEWS. But now my kingdom is from another place.' 'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'" (John 18:33-38, emphasis added)
The key words are emphasized in the above excerpt. Jesus is indicating that, although He is the King of the Jews, it is not His mission to establish a political Kingdom. If it were, He would have escaped and accomplished His mission. To the contrary, His mission is to begin a spiritual Kingdom comprised of those cleansed by the horrific death that He is about to suffer, which will spread throughout the whole world. This Kingdom comprised of indwellers of the Holy Spirit, beginning at the day of Pentecost, is what is meant by a Kingdom "not of this world," but one that obviously could only come from God. Eventually, of course, Christ will return for the second time, eliminating sin, and establishing a new kingdom on a new earth that will never decay. The inhabitants will consist of those redeemed in Christ. (Revelation 21-22)
The authors go on to say that since Mohammad did establish a political kingdom and because he was not discouraged, he fulfilled this verse. However, as has been shown, he was obviously discouraged and his political kingdom, while very successful for a time, ultimately failed to encompass the globe.
After "earth:" Here God says "his law", and in verse 9 says "former things come to pass". This means that he (new prophet) will bring new law. But if we read the Bible again, we see that Jesus (pbuh) says Matthew 5:17 "Think not I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but fulfill". And if we read further we understand that Jesus (pbuh) did not come with new law. But Muhammad (pbuh) came with new law.
Actually, there is no necessary correlation between verse 4 and 9. As mentioned earlier, starting at verse 8, the subject is God and not the servant. However, Jesus did bring new teachings. Consider, for instance:
"'You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'" (Matthew 5:27-28)
"'It has been said, "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce." But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.'" (Matthew 5:31-32)
For more information on divorce, please visit: http://www.tektonics.org/qt/remarry.html Other examples would include the new institutions to commemorate our Lord's sacrificial death, the Lord's Supper and Baptism, that Christ ordained:
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'" (Luke 22:19-20)
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)
As to the bit about Matthew 5:17-18, please see here
5- Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which come out of it ; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein;
6- I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.
Muhammad (pbuh) is a descendent of Abraham (pbuh) and came to Gentiles.
See the above comments on verse 2.
7- To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. "To open blind eyes". If we read verse 19 we will see more clearly that the word blind is used as idiom. Meaning, he will show people the things that they did not know and will show people how to comprehend God and His message.
Prison is used as an idiom too. If a spirit doesn't know God and doesn't obey Him, then that spirit is in prison of Satan, and that person is prisoner of Satan. By accepting oneness of God and by obeying Him, the spirit of a person will be free and this makes that person free from prison of Satan. And in verse 8 God clearly states what He meant.
In general, we agree with the conclusions of the author on the meaning of this verse except the same could certainly be said for Jesus and the truths that He brought to humanity as well with His teachings. Plus, we'll add that for Jesus this verse could have a double-fulfillment since He literally opened blind eyes as well. (See John 9:1-7, for instance)
8- I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (With explanation of verse 7) we understand that the person that God is talking about will come to a place that people worship idols as their gods. If we read verse 17, we may understand this better. From verses 7 and 8, we understand that God is not talking about Jesus (pbuh) but Muhammad (pbuh). Because Jesus (pbuh) came to Israelites and they were not worshipping idols. But Muhammad (pbuh) came during the Jahilliya (ignorance) period of Arabs and destroy the idols. If we read verse 17, it will be understood more clearly.
Again, the subject switches from the servant to God starting with this verse. However, we agree that this new passage well could be a continuation of the theme of the spreading of the message of the servant (from verses 1-7). With this being the case, the fact that Jesus preached to the Israelites (although as noted earlier never intended for this to be restricted to them) and Mohammad primarily to the pagan Arabs is irrelevant. Remember, the thrust of this passage is the dominion the servant shall have in the whole world (see verse 4). As the Christian message spread throughout the Roman Empire and since then all over the world, people have forsaken their idols for the light of the God of Israel. Of course, Muslims could counter by saying that many have converted from the worship of idols to that of Allah. However, the bottom line at this point is that Jesus cannot be disqualified nor can Mohammad be qualified as the servant based on this particular argument that the author employs.
9- Behold, the former things come to pass, the new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. As we read in verse 4 and my explanation of it, the person, God is talking about, will come new law. And this person cannot be Jesus (pbuh) because of the reasons stated above. This person is nobody but prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Again, see the above section where this has been addressed.
10- Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles and inhabitants thereof. If you want to hear this new song please listen to someone reciting the Qur'an. The new song that God talking about is Noble Qur'an. If you hear how people recite the Noble Qur'an, you will understand what God is talking about.
The authors seem to be claiming that reading Qu'ranic poetry constitutes the fulfillment of this passage. We could just as easily claim that this refers to the advent of the Gospel since it resulted in the proliferation of many new religious hymns, and perhaps even somewhat more accurately so since these are actually songs rather than poetry. However, either interpretation appears to be an exercise in eisegesis. The context of the chapter indicates that this is figurative language describing the new teachings of the servant in verses 1-7 or simply a general admonition to pagans to abandon their idols and worship the living God.
11- Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
12- Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.
Kedar is son of Ishmael (pbuh) (Genesis 25:13-16), and has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh). This verse (verse 11) is not talking about Jesus (pbuh) but Muhammad (pbuh). As you know Muhammad (pbuh) is descendent of Abraham (pbuh) through Ishmael (pbuh). And the cities that they inhabited are in Arabia namely Telma (Tema/Teman), Yathrib (Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah), Paran (Makkah) etc. And if you observe the ritual of Muslims (especially during Hajj), you will see that cities (Makkah and Al-Madinah) lift up their voices** and people shout and glorify Allah from top of mountains, especially Mt. Arafat**. The rock is the rock that God sent to Adam from heaven, and it is located at the side of Kaba. As you know Muslim people make 7 tours around Kaba and kiss this rock while glorifying the Lord.
**in fact, you can see this in every Muslim country, when people are called to prayer, muezzins read the Adhan (calling to prayer) that sounds like a song. And even far from city you can hear this Adhan, it will look like that city lifted up its voice. Meaning of Adhan is
For the claims made about Paran and Mohammad being a descendant of Ishmael please see here, and here. As far as Kedar is concerned, according to the author of this piece, Kedar was located geographically in what is today Southern Jordan. Please see the link near the end of this response for more information.
The author makes significance of the fact that Kedar, a son of Ishmael, is mentioned in this passage. However, Isaiah lists more places than just Kedar. Also mentioned are the sea and the islands (v. 10), "the wilderness and its cities," and "the people of the rock" (v. 11). Indeed, as is clear from the context, the passage is worldwide in scope as it all begins in verse 10 with "….and his praise from the end of the earth…." What good reason should we pay special heed to the mention of Kedar? It seems much more likely, in light of the general thrust of this passage, that an individual will come to bring justice to the whole earth and that various geographical locations are mentioned throughout the earth (especially such vague wide-sweeping ones like "the seas and the islands) that will rejoice as a result of the coming of this justice-bringer. The mention of "deserts," again, appears to be more of a general term not referring to any specific desert or set of deserts just like the sea and the islands do not appear to be referring to any specific sea or island.
The connection drawn between Muslims singing from Mr. Arafat and the mention of "….let them shot from the top of the mountains." is spurious at best since, once again, this passage clearly is not referring to a single mountain, but is worldwide in scope. Obviously, Christians also praise God from the tops of mountains as well. Finally, we have the mention of the "inhabitants of the rock." It is said that this is reference to the black stone that is beside the K'aba. However, how can it be said that Muslims/Arabs are INHABITANTS of this particular rock? This is especially curious as the word for "rock," which is "cela," can be defined as "a craggy rock or fig. (a fortress):-rock, stone, strong hold [The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; The New Strong's Complete Dictionary of Bible Words]. Given the context, since people are inhabiting this particular "cela," it appears that this refers to a fortress or stronghold. Obviously, neither the rock nor the K'aba (which is not inhabited) can apply.
13- The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.
14- I have long time holding my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing women; I will destroy and devour at once.
Until Islam, God had never ordered any prophets to fight against unbelievers to destroy them. Believer were fighting only to defense themselves. But Allah ordered Muhammad (pbuh) to fight against unbelievers, and slay them if they don't accept Allah. And if you study the life of Muhammad (pbuh) you will see that he was the commander of the army and he fought with his sword and he lost one of his teeth during the war. And God destroyed unbelievers at once (with only during of one prophet)
It is amazing what Muslims will admit when trying to fit Mohammad into the Bible. However, in making this admission, the authors are implicitly confirming our assertion that the description of this servant in verse 3 ("A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench:….") cannot possibly fit Mohammad. See also the above section on this. However, Mohammad and Islam still cannot be said to fulfill these particular verses. More on this as we continue….
15- I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.
Here God is talking about deserts of Arabia. In desert place, mountains and hills of sand are not steady, they diminish with winds and another one appears. And you can not find rivers but small water islands as described by God.
Also this verse has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh)
Two possible options appear to be viable for explaining verses 13-15. One is that the enemies that God will prevail against are the idols with which He is competing for worship, given that this chapter is about turning away people from their worship of graven images (see verse 8). The other would be that God is speaking of literally devouring the wicked. The authors claim that Mohammad's destruction of the unbelievers fulfills this prophecy. However, in verse 15 we see that God will make waste the mountains and hills, dry up all the herbs, make rivers into islands, and dry up pools. The authors claim in response that verse 15 is referring to small water islands that exist in the desert and the unstable sandy hills in the desert. However, once again, we have demonstrated that this prophecy is worldwide in scope so it is more likely that God is speaking of mountains, rivers, etc. throughout the earth. Plus, it is more than obvious that the context of this passage screams for a more forceful interpretation than unstable sand dunes! God is speaking about prevailing over His enemies. If this is meant to be taken literally, what is most likely being described are apocalyptic events when God's wrath eliminates the wicked from the earth. Compare with this passage:
"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND ISLAND WAS REMOVED FROM ITS PLACE. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'" (Revelation 6:12-17)
Obviously, neither Mohammad nor his armies leveled mountains, dried up all herbs, etc. etc.
The authors claim that this has nothing to do with Jesus, but we would object since, if taken literally or metaphorically, this is or will be fulfilled by Jesus. If literal, then the reference appears, once again, to be speaking of apocalyptic events, and hence Christ's 2nd return to earth. If metaphorical, then God devours His enemies as people around the world turn from their idols and accept the Gospel.
16- And I will bring blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked thins straight. These things I will do unto them, and not forsake them.
As God says above, He did not send to pagan Arabs until Muhammad (pbuh) as stated in verse 22. Until Muhammad (pbuh), Arabs were worshipping idols, killing baby girls, drinking alcohol, gambling etc. Allah a way (Islam, unity of God) that they did not know, made Qur'an and Muhammad (pbuh) guided (as light before) them, and made crooked things (mentioned above) straight.
This verse also has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh).
Once again, the authors are guilty of narrowing the scope to Arabia. The blind being spoken of are all pagans throughout the world as is made clear by the context, and indeed this does have to do with Jesus as His message has been spread, and the spiritually blind have received sight, throughout the earth.
17- They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that they say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
This is exactly what pagan Arabs did, when they heard the message that given to Muhammad (pbuh) by God. They offered money, authority and many things to our prophet and he did not accept any of them. They ashamed, because they thought that all other Arabs will mock them, and will not visit the Kaba (at that time they were using Kaba as place of the idols that all other Arab tribes were using) and this would be their economic end. And they turned graven images and they asked help from those images. This verse also has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh).
Once again we see the unwarranted narrowing of the author's scope to Arabia. It is spurious to claim that this refers specifically to the Arabs turning away from idols when Mohammad preached his message. The authors claim that the Arabs were ashamed because other tribes would mock them and because they would suffer economically, but such ideas are to be found nowhere in the text. The text says that the idol worshippers will be ashamed, and this would apply to any idol worshipper that is shown the light of the true and living God. One other item that should be noted is that one driving force for early Roman persecution of Christians was due to the economic hardships of the Romans due to Christians turning away the people of the Empire from idols. Given the worldwide scope of this passage, and using the logic of the author, we could claim that Jesus fulfills this verse as well. However, this particular interpretation appears to be forced, as we have made note.
18- Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
19- Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant?
20- Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. In this verses God talks to Christians and Jews.
In verse 18: Hear you (Christians and Jews) deaf, and look you (Christians and Jews) blind, you may see that above things are happening every day in Islamic world. In verse 19: God says, "Who is blind or deaf? My messenger (Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers) or you?
What we have here appears to be the largest eisegetical mutilation of the Scriptures yet. Based apparently on the assumption that Islam is true, the author claims that God is speaking to Jews and Christians as blind or deaf. In verse 19, the author reworded the text to make it appear that God is asking whether the servant or "you," (speaking of Jews and Christians according to the author) is blind or deaf. However, please read the text again carefully. God is asking who is blind AS the servant. In light of this, according to the authors, Mohammad is blind or deaf. We should add that verses 18-25 are clearly speaking of the nation of Israel. More on this below….
In verse 20: You do see these things but you don't pay attention, you don't comprehend. You do hear the Qur'an and you know that Muslims sing new song and Muslim cities lift up their voices and they shout from top of mountains, they glorify Me, but you don't pay attention, you don't comprehend.
Indeed, Christians and Jews think that Muslims do not see the right path (blind). Even you wrote that "What Muslims do not understand...". These verses also have nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh).
This appears to be more textual rewording. Verses 18-25 are referring to the servant, which is Israel in this case, who God is referring to as blind and deaf. More below….
21- The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. In Qur'an many places Allah calls Prophet as "My friend" (friend is not exactly translation for Habeeb/Habib, because Habeeb is closer then friend but I couldn't find another word for this). And He magnified the law and people still follow his law. Jesus did not bring new law, and non of the Christians follows the law that he was following. This verse also has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh)
We've already responded to this earlier, and once again the authors have apparently failed to recognize that verses 18-25 are referring to the nation of Israel.
22- But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. In this verse God talks about corrupted society of pagan Arabs. And, indeed, He had not send any prophets to Arabs until Muhammad (pbuh). That's why "none saith, Restore". But up to Jesus (pbuh), many prophets had been send to Israelites. This verse also has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh)
Again, these verses are referring to Israel and have nothing to do with Mohammad OR Jesus. Let's take a look at the whole of this passage beginning at verse 18:
"Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.' It pleased the Lord for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious. But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, 'Send them back.' Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart." (Isaiah 42:18-25)
As one can clearly see, the subject shifts in this passage to the nation of Israel, and it is a REBUKE against the servant for being blind and deaf, not a comparison between Mohammad and Christians and Jews!
To wrap things up, we must stress that much is written about this servant by Isaiah and other major descriptive passages include Isaiah 49:1-7 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It is essential to study all aspects of the servant given in prophecy, as well as to differentiate the passages that are referring to Israel (such as 42:18-25) from that of passages describing an individual in order to make a proper identification. Fortunately, Jochen Katz and Sam Shamoun have recently written a very helpful article which expands upon this issue, replete with corroboration from authoritative Jewish sources that augments the Christian claim that the servant is the Messiah. Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
One last dilemma for the Muslim that we would like to discuss comes from the following passage:
"Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.'" (Matthew 12:15-21)
This provides New Testament (Injil) corroboration that Jesus is the servant spoken of in Isaiah 42. Of course, Muslims in response will make their usual charge in response that this was a later corruption. However, as can be shown here, the Qur'anic position on the Bible is that it was NOT corrupted. We know that it has not been corrupted since the Qur'an was written because our Bibles today are essentially the same as the Biblical manuscripts that predate Islam. Thus, the Qur'an confirms that this verse was written under inspiration from God and therefore must refer to Jesus.
The authors conclude by….
23- Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? Who will become Muslim?
Not us, since it has yet to be amply demonstrated that Mohammad can be found in the Bible. In light of the evidence from history, the New Testament, and antiquated Jewish sources (again, please visit the link to the other article provided just above) that Jesus is the servant, who will become Christian?
Conclusion: Isaiah 42 describes Prophet Muhammad.
Conclusion: Isaiah 42 actually describes Jesus. Mohammad is nowhere in sight. For more information, please also see this piece.