Prophets Life and
Mission as a Messenger
Mission as a Messenger
Some non-Muslims, in particular the Christian missionaries or critics quote Al Quran 10:94 and claim that Allah ﷻ has commanded Muslims to confirm Prophet Muhammad's claim from Jews and Christians, as though his claim is only contingent on their confirmation, meaning if they reject him then Muslims should also not accept him. Unfortunately, this is a misinterpretation of the ayah:
(Al Quran 10:94) So if you are in doubt about what We have revealed to you, ask those who have been reading the scriptures before you. The Truth has come to you from your Lord, so be in no doubt and do not deny God’s signs-
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent to the people of Makkah, the main recipients of his revelation were mainly non-Jewish and non-Christian people. These people had never received a revelation like Gospel or Torah before the Quran and neither had they experienced a long succession of Prophets to guide them such as the case of Children of Israel. Therefore when verses similar to Al Quran 10:94 were revealed, the first addressees were advised to seek confirmation of his prophethood from those who were revealed scriptures before the Quran. Such people, closest to them were naturally those in the surrounding region, namely Jews & Christians. This advise was actually given to make the conviction stronger in Islam of its followers after its acceptance, not that they were doubtful.
Having said that there is much historical evidence that several Jews & Christians, even the prominent ones among them who lived during Prophet’s time, confirmed that there were references in their holy books about him. In fact even those who did not accept Islam found it hard to deny this claim. Following is a list of few prominent ones:
Heraclius - The Christian Byzantine Ruler (610 CE to 641 CE)
Heraclius the Byzantine ruler at that time who ruled the regions of Greater Syria (Shaam) when heard about Abu Sufyan trading in his lands, who was the chief of Quraish and an opponent of Muslims at that time, invited him for questioning about the claims of Prophet. After hearing the qualities described he had no doubt about these claims. The below excerpt of this question answer session is recorded in the most authentic book on traditions, Sahih Al Bukhari:
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas (r.a) who learned this from Abu Sufyan who told him that after getting all answers Heraclius said the following:
…..I asked you about his family and your reply was that he belonged to a very noble family. In fact all the Apostles come from noble families amongst their respective peoples. I questioned you whether anybody else amongst you claimed such a thing (prophethood), your reply was in the negative. If the answer had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man was following the previous man's statement. Then I asked you whether anyone of his ancestors was a king. Your reply was in the negative, and if it had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man wanted to take back his ancestral kingdom. I further asked whether he was ever accused of telling lies before he said what he said, and your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah. I, then asked you whether the rich people followed him or the poor. You replied that it was the poor who followed him. And in fact all the Apostle have been followed by this very class of people. Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing, and in fact this is the way of true faith, till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his religion, became displeased and discarded his religion. Your reply was in the negative, and in fact this is (the sign of) true faith, when its delight enters the hearts and mixes with them completely. I asked you whether he had ever betrayed. You replied in the negative and likewise the Apostles never betray. Then I asked you what he ordered you to do. You replied that he ordered you to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship any thing along with Him and forbade you to worship idols and ordered you to pray, to speak the truth and to be chaste. If what you have said is true, he will very soon occupy this place underneath my feet and I knew it (from the scriptures i.e. Bible) that he was going to appear but I did not know that he would be from you (i.e. Arabs of Makkah)…..” (Source: Sahih Al Bukhari - Book of Revelations - Hadith 7 - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم))
Al-Muqawqis - Chief of the Christian Copts, Governor of Egypt (Misr)
Since Prophet ﷺ was entrusted to invite all people towards Islam and not only the people of Makkah, he had sent his letters of invitation to all regional rulers. A letter was also sent to Al-Muqawqis, the Byzantine governor of Egypt through one of his companions named Hatib ibn Balta. After reading the invitation to Islam Al-Muqawqis put the Prophet’s letter in a box made of ivory and sealed it. He called in someone who could write Arabic from among his people and wrote this reply:
“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent. To Muhammad ibn Abdullah from Al-Muqawqis. Peace, I have read your letter and understood its contents and what you have called on me to do. I certainly know that one more Prophet is to be sent, but I thought that he would appear in Syria. I have extended my hospitality to your messenger and I am sending you two maids who enjoy great respect among the Copts, and I am presenting you with clothes and a mule for you to ride. Peace be to you.” (Source A gift from the ruler of Egypt - Adil Salahi | Arab News)
Though Al-Muqawqis did not accept Islam, he described to Hatib certain features which he knew to be applicable to the last Prophet and which Hatib confirmed were true of Muhammad ﷺ.
Ibn Suriya - Jewish Scholar of Madinah
It is recorded in another authentic tradition that a case of adultery was referred by the Jews to the Prophet ﷺ when in Madinah to which he was informed through revelation that punishment for the crime is stoning. He himself could not read nor write. When he told the Jews, they denied and ibn Suriya, one of them confirmed it by reading Torah:
Narrated Ikrimah (r.a) The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said to Ibn Suriya: “I remind you by Allah Who saved you from the people of Pharaoh, made you cover the sea, gave you the shade of clouds, sent down to you manna and quails, sent down you Torah to Moses, do you find stoning (for adultery) in your Book?” He said “You have reminded me by the Great. It is not possible for me to belie you.” He then transmitted the rest of the tradition. (Source: Sunan Abu Dawud - Kitab Al Aqdiya - Hadith 3626 - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم))
Huyayy ibn Akhtab - Chief of Banu Nadir, a Jewish tribe of Madinah
Safiyyah bint Huyayy, was the daughter of ibn Akhtab, a Jewish chief learned in the scriptures. After Safiyya’s conversion to Islam and becoming wife of the Prophet ﷺ she narrated an incident from her father’s lifetime where he and her brother recognized him as the Prophet ﷺ but decided to oppose:
I heard Abu Yasir ask my father, “Is it him?” He replied: “Yes, it is.” Abu Yasir asked: “Do you recognize him? Can you confirm it?” He answered: “Yes, I recognize him only too well.” Abu Yasir asked: “What do you feel towards him?” He replied: “Enmity, enmity as long as I live.” (Source: Huyayy ibn Akhtab - Wikipedia)
Abdullah ibn Salaam - Jewish scholar of Madinah and prominent Companion of the Prophet ﷺ
Abdullah ibn Salaam (r.a) used to read Judaic scriptures, taught the Jews in Madinah. He gave details of his journey to Islam:
"When I heard of the appearance of the Messenger of God, peace be on him, I began to make enquiries about his name, his genealogy, his characteristics, his time and place and I began to compare this information with what is contained in our books (i.e. Bible). From these enquiries, I became convinced about the authenticity of his prophethood and I affirmed the truth of his mission. However, I concealed my conclusions from the Jews. I held my tongue...” Source: MSA West
Mukhayriq - Jewish Rabbi of Madinah
One of the top three Rabbis of Madinah. Ibn Ishaq one of the earliest biographers of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ mentions that Mukhayriq recognized the Prophet ﷺ by his description and by what he found in his scholarship. However, he was accustomed to his own religion, and this held him back, until the Battle of Uhud (625 CE) which fell upon the Sabbath. Its recorded that this Rabbi, though did not accept Islam, was martyred in the Battle of Uhud fighting on the Muslim side.
Ka’ab Al-Ahbar - A learned Yemeni Jew
The term ahbar relates to the meaning of ink, writing and learning. It indicates learning and Ka’ab Al-Ahbar was an expert in Torah and Judaic scriptures. He was very learned and after hearing the Quran while visiting Madinah accepted Islam and confirmed that it was the word of Allah ﷻ and that Jewish scriptures confirm it.
Thalaba ibn Saya, Usaid ibn Saya and Asad ibn Ubaid - Jews of Madinah
Sheikh Al Nursi Bediuzzaman relates an incident about Ibn Hayaban who once visited the Banu Nadir, Jewish tribe of Madinah before Prophet’s proclamation, and predicted the arrival of the final Prophet as per their scriptures and that he would come to Madinah. When Banu Nadir fought the Muslims three Jews, Thalaba ibn Saya, Usaid ibn Saya and Asad ibn Ubaid, reminded them about Ibn Hayaban’s news and accepted Islam.
Such confirmations for Muslims from those who were ‘reading scriptures before’ were source of strength in their conviction of Islamic faith.
A gift from the ruler of Egypt
Huyayy ibn Akhtab
Abdullah ibn Salam