Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Was Muhammad the Prophet like unto Moses?

By Cornelius

Dear Muslim Friends,

Muslim apologists claim that Muhammad was the prophet like unto Moses who is mentioned in Deuteronomy. This handout will mention some of the similarities and differences between Muhammad and Moses, and why Christians do not believe Muhammad was the prophet like unto Moses.  First, let us look at the passage of interest:

Deuteronomy 18:18-22 (KJV) “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.  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. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Typical similarities between Moses and Muhammad claimed by Muslim apologists:

1) Both had normal births. 2) Both had normal deaths. 3) Both led armies. 4) Both were political leaders. 5) Both were rejected by their people but later became their accepted leaders. 6) Both brought new laws to their people. 7) Both emigrated before ultimately obtaining power. 8) Both had successors that conquered Palestine.

Comments on similarities

Points 1-7 are superficial similarities having nothing to do with being a prophet. In fact, these points are true of a vast number of rebels who overthrew their governments. A Biblical example is Jeroboam (1 Kings 11-15). Modern day examples include: Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung, and Fidel Castro. All of these men had natural births and deaths, were married, were parents, emigrated before assuming power, at first were not recognized as the leaders of their people, they all led armies, and ultimately established themselves as political leaders who brought new laws to their people, and were statesmen. Castro and Mao Tse-tung have more in common with Moses, since they had surviving descendants from their male line. Jeroboam1, and Muhammad had male descendants but no descendants from their male line survived.  I believe, Pol Pot has a daughter but no sons.  The 8th point is irrelevant because it is a similarity between their successors and not between Moses and Muhammad.  Even if their successors were identical, that would not make Muhammad like Moses.

Muhammad not like Moses

1)     Moses performed miraculous signs, Muhammad didn’t: “Why are not (signs) sent to him, like those which were sent to Moses?” (Surah 28:48)

2)     Moses spoke directly with God, Muhammad didn’t: a) "And to Moses Allah spoke directly" (Surah 4:164).  b) "it is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger" (Surah 42:51).  c) The Hadith makes clear that Muhammad never saw his Lord. Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, No. 457:  Narrated Aisha: “Whoever claimed that (the Prophet) Muhammad saw his Lord, is committing a great fault, for he only saw Gabriel in his genuine shape in which he was created covering the whole horizon.”  Also in Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 60, No. 378: “Narrated Masruq: I said to 'Aisha, "O Mother! Did Prophet Muhammad see his Lord?" Aisha said, "What you have said makes my hair stand on end! Know that if somebody tells you one of the following three things, he is a liar: Whoever tells you that Muhammad saw his Lord, is a liar."  Then Aisha recited the Verse: 'No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is the Most Courteous Well-Acquainted with all things.' (6.103) 'It is not fitting for a human being that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration or from behind a veil.' (42.51) 'Aisha further said, "And whoever tells you that the Prophet knows what is going to happen tomorrow, is a liar." She then recited: 'No soul can know what it will earn tomorrow.' (31.34) She added: "And whoever tell you that he concealed (some of Allah's orders), is a liar." Then she recited: 'O Apostle! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord...' (5.67) 'Aisha added. "But the Prophet saw Gabriel in his true form twice."”

3)     Moses never thought he was demon-possessed, Muhammad did. Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasul Allah,” The Life of Muhammad translated by A. Guillaume, p. 106: (Muhammad Speaking) “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 the 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.” 

4)     Moses never tried to commit suicide, Muhammad did.  See point 3 and the History of Tabari [1155], vol. 6, p. 76

5)     Moses was clear-minded to the end, but Muhammad became delirious and mentally confused: Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 471: “Narrated 'Aisha:  During his sickness, Allah's Apostle was asking repeatedly, "Where am I today? Where will I be tomorrow?" And I was waiting for the day of my turn (impatiently). Then, when my turn came, Allah took his soul away (in my lap) between my chest and arms and he was buried in my house.”

6)     Moses never uttered verses from Satan but Muhammad had the Satanic Verses. (History of Tabari [1192-1193], vol. 6, p. 111) “Al-Qasim b. al-Hasan—al-Husayn b. Daud—Hajja—Abu Mashar—Muhammad b. Ka’b al-Qurazi and Muhammad b. Qays: The Messenger of God was sitting in a large gathering of Quraysh, wishing that day that no revelation would come to him from God which would cause them to turn away from him. Then God revealed:

By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived …

and the Messenger of God recited it until he came to:

Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?

when Satan cast on his tongue two phrases:

These are the high flying cranes; verily their intercession is to be desired.

He uttered them and went on to complete the surah.  When he prostrated himself at the end of the surah, the whole company prostrated themselves with him.  Al-Walid b. al-Mughirah raised some dust to his forehead and bowed over that, since he was a very old man and could not prostrate himself.  They were satisfied with what Muhammad had uttered and said, “We recognize that it is God who gives life and death, who creates and who provides sustenance, but if these gods of ours intercede for us with him, and if you give them a share, we are with you.”

That evening Gabriel came to him and reviewed the surah with him, and when he reached the two phrases which Satan had cast upon his tongue he said, “I did not bring you these two.”  Then the Messenger of God said, “I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken.”  Then God revealed to him:

‘And they indeed strove hard to beguile you away from what we have revealed to you, that you should invent other than it against us…’” (Surah 17:73)

7)     Muhammad admitted speaking presumptuously in the name of Allah, Al-at, Al-Uzza, and Manat, failing to meet the criteria given in Deut. 18:20: “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.”

8)     Moses was never bewitched, but Muhammad was (Al-Bukhari, vol. VII, no. 658). "Narrated Aisha: A man called Labid bin al-A’sam from the tribe of Bani Zaraiq worked magic on Allah’s Apostle until Allah’s Apostle started imagining that the had done a thing that he had not really done. One day or one night he was with us, he invoked Allah and invoked for a long period, and then said, ‘O Aisha! Do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter I have asked him about? Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other replied, ‘He is under the effect of magic.’ The first one asked, ‘Who has worked the magic on him?’ The other replied, ‘Labid bin Al-Asam’ …" (see also no. 660)

9)     Moses believed he was a prophet before his wife did, Muhammad’s wife was the first to believe he was a prophet. The History of Tabari [1151], translated by W. Montgomery Watt, vol. 6, p. 72: “When I came to Khadijah, I sat down with my thigh next to hers, and she said to me, “Abu al-Qasim, where have you been?  I sent messengers to look for you all the way to Mecca and back.” I said to her, “I am either a poet or a madman,” but she answered, “May God save you from that, Abu al-Qasim! God would not do that to you, considering what I know of your thruthfulness, your great trustworthiness, your good character, and your good treatment of your kinfolk. It is not that, cousin. Perhaps you did see something.” “Yes,” I said, and then told her what I had seen. “Rejoice, cousin, and stand firm,” she said. “By Him is whose hand is Khadijah’s soul, I hope that you may be the prophet of this community.”

10)     God persuaded Moses that he was a prophet by miraculous signs of a burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:2) and other miraculous signs (Exodus 4), Muhammad was persuaded by his wife Khadija taking off her clothes. Ibn Ishaq’s "Sirat Rasul Allah", The Life of Muhammad, translated by A. Guillaume, p. 107: “Isma'il b. Abu Hakim, a freedman of the family of al-Zubayr, told me on Khadija's authority that she said to the apostle of God, 'O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you ?' He replied that he could, and she asked him to tell her when he came. So when Gabriel came to him, as he was wont, the apostle said to Khadija, 'This is Gabriel who has just come to me.' 'Get up, O son of my uncle,' she said, 'and sit by my left thigh'. The apostle did so, and she said, 'Can you see him?' 'Yes,' he said. She said, 'Then turn round and sit on my right thigh.' He did so, and she said, 'Can you see him?' When he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap. When he had done this she again asked if he could see him, and when he said yes, she dis­closed her form and cast aside her veil while the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, 'Can you see him?' And he replied, 'No.' She said, 'O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by God he is an angel and not a satan.'”

11)     Muhammad said he was different from all other prophets, that would include Moses: Bukhari Volume 1, Book 7, Number 331: Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "I have been given five things which were not given to any one else before me.  1. Allah made me victorious by awe, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month's journey. 2. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due. 3. The booty has been made Halal (lawful) for me yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me. 4. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection). 5. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind."

12)     Muhammad’s god is not like Moses’ God: Allah is called the greatest of all deceivers (Surah 3:54) Makareen, translated plotter or schemer, means deceivers, double crossers. Moses’ God does not lie or go back on his word.  "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19) For more on this, see Allah: Truthful or Deceiver? In our next passage we find that, unlike YHWH, Allah doesn’t make good on all that he has spoken but abrogates much of it.

13)     Moses didn’t abrogate his own revelations, Muhammad did. Surah 2:106 (Pickthall) “Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things?”

We could list many other things such as Moses never married the wife of his adopted son, Moses was a Jew, Moses was literate (Mark 12:19, John 5:46) Muhammad was not, the manner of Moses’ revelations were quite different from that of Muhammad, etc.  Yet there is something more fundamental:

Muslims need to prove that Muhammad was a prophet

Before discussing whether Muhammad was “the prophet like unto Moses” mentioned in Deuteronomy, Muslims must first prove that Muhammad was a prophet.   Statements in the Quran, Hadith, and Sirat make it very difficult for Christians to believe Muhammad was a prophet.   Muhammad & Allah said the sun set in a muddy pool (Surah 18:86; cf. this article); Samaritans built the golden calf at the time of Moses (Surah 20:85-95), (the Samaritans didn’t exist until after the Assyrian captivity many hundreds of years after Moses).  Muhammad & Allah were ignorant of the Christian religion, claiming we worship the father the mother and the son (Surah 5:73-75,116; cf. this article), and ignorant of the Jews religion, claiming they believed Ezra was the son of God (Surah 9:30)   Worse yet, Muhammad failed the Quran’s own test.


1 This was a judgment of God against Jeroboam prophesied in I Kings 14:10; the fulfillment is recorded in I Kings 15:27-30.

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