The (Self-)Assessment of Prophets

Humility or Arrogance?

Muslims, in order to discredit the veracity of the Holy Bible (i.e. that the biblical documents are not the original pristine revelation given to God’s prophets), try to find passages to support this premise. They seek out passages that they feel could not have been written or revealed to God’s messengers, which they then take as establishing their case against the veracity of the Holy Bible. One such text that has been used is Numbers 12 which refers to Moses’ character:

"Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, ‘Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?’ And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, ‘Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.’ And the three of them came out. And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, ‘Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. ‘With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’ And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed." Numbers 12:1-9

The Muslims contend that since Jews and Christians believe that Moses authored the first five books, this means that Moses was the one who wrote Numbers 12 and boasted how humble he was. They use this as proof that Moses couldn’t have written this passage since instead of being a sign of humility this would be the height of arrogance! After all, we don’t consider it to be humility when a person boasts about how humble he or she truly is. And no true prophet would speak so arrogantly about himself, thus proving that Moses didn’t write these books, or at least not all of it. Someone else must have composed at least some, if not most, of it.

In response to this objection we need to remind our Muslim friends of the following fact. The historical Jewish and Christian position is that God inspired Moses to write down the revelation, which means that this is God's assessment of his servant’s character which the latter was commanded to record for all to read. This isn't the only time where God speaks glaringly of his servants:

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil... Then the LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'" Job 1:1, 8- cf. 2:3

"It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.’" 1 Kings 3:10-14

"So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart." 2 Chronicles 9:22-23

Furthermore, it is not always the case that a person is being arrogant if he/she speaks of having humility. For instance, if God were to say he was humble then this wouldn’t be viewed as pride or arrogance since God always speaks the truth and cannot lie about himself. Note for instance the following text:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Since the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God, and since God cannot lie about himself, Jesus was therefore not being arrogant when he truthfully mentioned that he was humble since this is what he really was and is.

Finally, should it really be considered a valid objection to its authenticity or credibility if a scripture speaks highly of the one whom the revelation was given to? If we should accept this, then would not Muhammad’s (self-)assessment be the height of arrogance? Have a look at these statements:

We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. S. 21:107 Y. Ali

Verily, you have in the Prophet of ALLAH an excellent model, for him who hopes to meet ALLAH and the Last Day and who remembers ALLAH much. S. 33:21

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah). (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5655)

Muhammad even demanded his followers to obey him as they obey God:

Say: "If ye do love God, Follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." S. 3:31 Y. Ali

But no, by thy Lord, they will not be true believers until they make thee judge in all that is in dispute between them and then find not in their hearts any demur concerning that which thou decidest and submit with full submission. S. 4:65 Sher Ali

Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah, and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them. S. 4:80 Shakir

The response of the believers, when they are invited to Allah and His Apostle that he may judge between them, is only to say: We hear and we obey; and these it is that are the successful. And he who obeys Allah and His Apostle, and fears Allah, and is careful of (his duty to) Him, these it is that are the achievers. S. 24:51-52 Shakir

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. S. 33:36 Y. Ali

If the Muslim "criterion" is assumed to be valid, and Muslims want to reject the Torah based on the statement about Moses in Numbers 12, then the Quran must equally be rejected based on the above verses. Using equal standards of evaluation leads to this conclusion.

Moreover, since Muhammad was not a true prophet of God, and the Quran is not God’s inspired word, these statements reflect a very large and inflated ego indeed, something that can be seen throughout at least the second half of the prophetic career of Muhammad, very much unlike what is reported about Moses and Job.

Sam Shamoun

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