The Prophet Of Arabia As Spoken Of In The Bible "The Burden Upon Arabia" - Isaiah xxi. 13.
The present barren period of classical scholarship, together with the increasing paucity of our knowledge of ancient languages, has crippled modern taste in its efforts to appreciate any such attempts as I intend to make in that direction. The following pages have produced a series of most able articles from the Rev. Professor 'Abdu 'l-Ahad Dawud, but I wonder if there are many, even among the hierarchy of the Christian Church, who could follow the erudite exposition of the learned Professor. All the more do I wonder when he seeks to carry his readers into a labyrinth of languages, dead and done with thousands of years ago. What about Aramaic, when very few even among the Clergy are able to understand the Vulgate and the original Greek version of the New Testament? More especially when our researches are based simply upon Greek and Latin etymology! Whatever may be the value of such dissertations in the eye's of others we, nowadays, are absolutely incapable of appreciating them from the angle of erudition; for the oracular ambiguity attached to the prophetic utter- ances to which I allude makes them elastic enough to cover any case. The "least" in the prophecy of St. John the Baptist may not be the son of Mary, though he was looked upon as such contemptuously by his own tribe. The Holy Carpenter came from humble parentage. He was shouted down, mocked and discredited; he was belittled and made to appear the "least" in the public estimation by the Scribes and Pharisees. The excess of zeal displayed by his followers in the second and third centuries A.D., which was ever prone to jump at anything in the form of a prophecy in the Bible, would naturally induce them to believe that their Lord was the person alluded to by the Baptist.
However, there is another difficulty in the way. How can a person rely on the testimony of a book admittedly filled with folk-lore? The genuineness of the Bible has univer- sally been questioned. Without going into the question of its genuineness, we may at least say that we cannot depend on its statements concerning Jesus and his miracles. Some even go so far as to assert that his existence as an historical person is questionable, and that on the authority of the Gospels it would be dangerous to arrive at any apparently safe conclusion in this matter. A Christian of the Funda- mentalist type cannot well say anything against my statement of the case. If "stray sentences" and detached words in the Old Testament can be singled out by synoptic writers as applicable to Jesus, the comments of the learned writer of these erudite and absorbing articles must command every respect and appreciation even from the Clergy. I write in the same strain, but I have tried to base my arguments on portions of the Bible which hardly allow of any linguistic dispute. I would not go to Latin, Greek, or Aramaic, for that would be useless: I just give the following quotation in the very words of the Revised Version as published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
We read the following words in the Book of Deuteronomy chapter xviii. verse 18: "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth." If these words do not apply to Prophet Muhammad, they still remain unfulfilled. Prophet Jesus himself never claimed to be the Prophet alluded to. Even his disciples were of the same opinion: they looked to the second coming of Jesus for the fulfillment of the prophecy. So far it is undisputed that the first coming of Jesus was not the advent of the "prophet like unto thee," and his second advent can hardly fulfill the words. Jesus, as is believed by his Church, will appear as a Judge and not as a law-giver; but the promised one has to come with a "fiery law" in "his right hand."
In ascertaining the personality of the promised prophet the other prophecy of Moses is, however, very helpful where it speaks of the shining forth of God from Paran, the mountain of Mecca. The words in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter xxxiii. verse 2, run as follows: "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them."
In these words the Lord has been compared with the sun. He comes from Sinai, he rises from Seir, but he shines in his full glory from Paran, where he had to appear with ten thousands of saints with a fiery law in his right hand. None of the Israelites, including Jesus, had anything to do with Paran. Hagar, with her son Ishmael, wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba, who afterwards dwelt in the wilder- ness of Paran (Gen. xxi. 21). He married an Egyptian woman, and through his first-born, Kedar, gave descent to the Arabs who from that time till now are the dwellers of the wilderness of Paran. And if Prophet Muhammad admittedly on all hands traces his descent to Ishmael through Kedar and he appeared as a prophet in the wilderness of Paran and re- entered Mecca with ten thousand saints and gave a fiery law to his people, is not the prophecy above-mentioned fulfilled to its very letter?
The words of the prophecy in Habakkuk are especially noteworthy. His (the Holy One from Paran) glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of his praise. The word "praise" is very significant, as the very name Muhammad literally means "the praised one." Besides the Arabs, the inhabitants of the wilderness of Paran had also been promised a Revelation: "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. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands. 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" (Isaiah).
In connection with it there are two other prophecies worthy of note where references have been made to Kedar. The one runs thus in chapter 1x. of Isaiah: "Arise, shine for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee ... The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come.. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory" (1-7). The other prophecy is again in Isaiah "The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the swords and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished" Read these prophecies in Isaiah in the light of one in Deutero- nomy which speaks of the shining forth of God from Paran. If Ishmael inhabited the wilderness of Paran, where he gave birth to Kedar, who is the ancestor of the Arabs; and if the sons of Kedar had to receive revelation from God; if the flocks of Kedar had to come up with acceptance to a Divine altar to glorify "the house of my glory" where the darkness had to cover the earth for some centuries, and then that very land had to receive light from God; and if all the glory of Kedar had to fail and the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, had to diminish within a year after the one fled from the swords and from the bent bows - the Holy One from Paran (Habakkuk iii 3 ) is no one else than Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad is the holy offspring of Ishmael through Kedar, who settled in the wilderness of Paran. Muhammad is the only Prophet through whom the Arabs received revelation at the time when the darkness had covered the earth. Through him God shone from Paran, and Mecca is the only place where the House of God is glorified and the flocks of Kedar come with acceptance on its altar. Prophet Muhammad was persecuted by his people and had to leave Mecca. He was thirsty and fled from the drawn sword and the bent bow, and within a year after his flight the descen- dants of Kedar meet him at Badr, the place of the first battle between the Meccans and the Prophet, the children of Kedar and their number of archers diminish and all the glory of Kedar fails. If the Holy Prophet is not to be accepted as the fulfillment of all these prophecies they will still remain unfulfilled. "The house of my glory" referred to in Isaiah lX is the house of God in Mecca and not the Church of Christ as thought by Christian commentators. The flocks of Kedar, as mentioned in verse 7, have never come to the Church of Christ; and it is a fact that the villages of Kedar and their inhabitants are the only people in the whole world who have remained impenetrable to any influence of the Church of Christ. Again, the mention of 10,000 saints in Deutero- nomy xxx 3 is very significant. He (God) shined forth from Paran, and he came with 10,000 of saints. Read the whole history of the wilderness of Paran and you will find no other event but when Mecca was conquered by the Prophet. He comes with 10,000 followers from Medina and re-enters "the house of my glory." He gives the fiery law to the world, which reduced to ashes all other laws. The Comforter - the Spirit of Truth - spoken of by Prophet Jesus was no other than Prophet Muhammad himself. It cannot be taken as the Holy Ghost, as the Church theology says. "It is expedient for you that I go away," says Jesus, "for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send him unto you." The words clearly show that the Comforter had to come after the departure of Jesus, and was not with him when he uttered these words. Are we to pre- sume that Jesus was devoid of the Holy Ghost if his coming was conditional on the going of Jesus: besides, the way in which Jesus describes him makes him a human being, not a ghost. "He shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that he shall speak." Should we presume that the Holy Ghost and God are two distinct entities and that the Holy Ghost speaks of himself and also what he hears from God? The words of Jesus clearly refer to some messenger from God. He calls him the Spirit of Truth, and so the Qur'an speaks of Prophet Muhammad, "No, indeed, he has brought the truth, and confirmed the Messengers." Ch.37:37