The main proof of Muhammad’s Prophethood, peace be upon him, is and forever will be the Glorious Qur’an which was revealed by God to him through the angel Gabriel. God Almighty, out of His mercy for the Jews and Christians (respectfully referred to in the Qur’an as the People of the Book) also provided an additional proof to mankind of his Prophethood. This can be found in their very own scriptures, the Torah and Gospel.
The 42nd chapter of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah clearly foretells the coming of an Arabian Prophet, specifically Prophet Muhammad. We will go through Isaiah 42 line by line and analyse the verses to see how they relate to Muhammad. Please note that all translations have been taken from the New International Version of the Bible:
1- Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
Isaiah starts the chapter by drawing our attention to a very special person that He will send. He describes this person as:
“my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight”
At least three of the names of Prophet Muhammad are mentioned – “servant”, “chosen one” and “in whom I delight”. Prophet Muhammad is known as God’s Servant, in Arabic “abd – ullah”. This is mentioned in narrations of his, as recorded by his companions, known as hadith:
“Chosen one” is “Mustafa” in Arabic. This is another of the names of Prophet Muhammad.
The one in whom God ‘delights in’ shows that this person is beloved to God. ‘Habibullah’ in Arabic, which means “Beloved of God”, also happens to be one of Prophet Muhammad’s names.
“I will put my Spirit on him…”
Here the “Spirit” is angel Gabriel who brings inspiration and guidance. The Qur’an confirms that the Spirit of God was sent down to Muhammad:
“…and he will bring justice to the nations”
The word translated as “justice” in Isaiah is the Hebrew ‘mishpat’, which also means judgement according to Biblical Hebrew dictionaries. Hebrew commentators of the Old Testament interpret this judgement to be comprehensive in the sense of a complete way of life, which is what Islam represents. Professor of Hebrew Christopher North comments:
Prophet Muhammad survived several attempts at his life, until he completed his mission and established justice by judging people according to the laws of God. Indeed the message of Islam was completed:
2- He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
Here the phrase “not cry” is meant as “not complain about the duty that God gave him”. Throughout his life Prophet Muhammad never once cried out in complaint at the mission that was given to him by God Almighty, in spite of its immense difficulty and hardship. Also it’s interesting to note that the personality and character of Prophet Muhammad is exactly as this verse describes, his companions bore witness to the fact that he was soft in speech and did not raise his voice in markets .
The same cannot be said of Jesus, as he complained and literally cried out directly to God, according to the Bible, at many points in his ministry:
3- A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.
This description is very characteristic of Prophet Muhammad’s gentle nature which the Qur’an bears testament to:
4- He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.
“He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth…”
Prophet Muhammad survived several attempts at his life, until he completed his mission and established justice by judging people according to the laws of God. Indeed the message of Islam was completed:
When Prophet Muhammad commenced his mission of reforming society based on the message of monotheism, he faced stiff opposition from the pagans. When all the lucrative offers made to him to abandon his preaching did not work, the pagans of Mecca resorted to torture and severe persecution. In the face of this stiff opposition many of his companions were discouraged, but he held steadfast to his mission and struggled on:
“…In his teaching the islands will put their hope”
Isaiah informs us that this special person will bring forth a new law. The word translated as “teaching” is the Hebrew “Torah” which means instruction or law. Here Isaiah must be referring to a new book of revelation that this special person will be given. Notice that Isaiah states that the islands will put their hope in his law, implying he will bring forth something new, something different, as the Law of Moses already existed at the time Isaiah made this prophecy. Another point is that the islands are said to put their hope in his new Torah in the future tense, again implying it is a new law and therefore can’t be a reference to the Torah of Moses which already existed at the time that Isaiah made this prophecy. The Qur’an given to Prophet Muhammad fits this description perfectly as it was a new book revealed after the time of Isaiah:
The new law cannot refer to Jesus, because he obeyed and followed the Law of Moses throughout his life. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught adherence to the law of Moses, not a new law:
Moreover the disciples of Jesus also followed the Law of Moses, even after Jesus departed. For example in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts, the earliest followers of Jesus used the Torah of Moses to judge whether all Christians need to be circumcised.
5- This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
This is a general statement about God.
6- I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
“I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you…”
The righteous mission of establishing justice on earth will require special help from God, which is conveyed by the figurative words “And will hold Your hand”. Once “God holds the hand of anyone”, it is impossible to defeat that person. God uses that person as an instrument to wipe out evil and manifest His judgement on evil doers. Let us see how the Qur’an confirms this in the battle of Badr when around 300 ill-armed Muslims faced a thousand strong army of the pagans. The Qur’an says:
“…make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles”
Gentiles means non Jews. Here Isaiah emphasises the universal mission of the coming person. The Qur’an confirms that Prophet Muhammad was sent to the whole of mankind, Jews and Gentiles alike. In the Qur’an God tells us:
It’s also interesting to note that the Qur’an addresses Prophet Muhammad as a light:
The verse in Isaiah cannot apply to Jesus because in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said he was sent exclusively to the Israelites and not the Gentiles:
7- to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
This describes the state of the people that this special person will be sent to. They will be spiritually blind, trapped in the darkness of idol worship (as the next verse of Isaiah clarifies). It’s interesting that the Qur’an also describes the state of those before the advent of Islam as being trapped in darkness:
This cannot refer to Jesus as his people, the Israelites, couldn’t be said to be sitting in darkness because they had already been given the light of the Torah which God had revealed as a guide for them:
8- I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.
This is a general statement about God.
9- See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.
This makes it clear that Isaiah 42 is a prophecy about the future.
10- Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.
Isaiah informs us that this special person will bring something new. The statement “a new song” means a new way of worship. This is exactly what Islam represents. The emphasis on the new song here is singing the praise of God all over the earth. The Qur’an opens with the statement “Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds” and is recited by Muslims all over the world during prayers every day.
11- Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops.
The two key words used are ‘Kedar’ and ‘Sela’ which together pinpoint an exact location for this special person. Out of all the places on earth that Isaiah could have mentioned, He chose to highlight Kedar and Sela’s location so we should pay special attention.
“let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice…”
Who is Kedar, and where did he settle? The Old Testament tells us that Kedar was one of the sons of Ishmael:
The Old Testament tells us that Ishmael dwelt in a place called Paran:
Many Christian interpretors of the Bible hold that Paran is in Arabia. From Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible:
Strong’s Bible Dictionary also tells us:
Sebeos, a 7th century Armenian bishop and historian, when describing the Arab conquest of his time, wrote that the Arabs “assembled and came out from Paran” 
Professor Haseeb Shehada, an Israeli scholar and professor, in his translation of the Samaritan Torah suggested an identification of the wilderness of Paran with the desert of Western Arabia which is known today as Hijaz. 
Some Christians claim that Paran is not in Arabia but rather in the desert of Sinai in Egypt but this can’t be the case as the Old Testament clearly distinguishes between Sinai and Paran as two separate places:
We can also place the location of the descendants of Ishmael, known as Ishmaelites, to Arabia. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are dated to the 2nd century BCE and represent the oldest surviving manuscript evidence for the Old Testament along with other apocryphal books, link Ishmael and his descendants to Arabia:
The Old Testament also tells us that the sons of Ishmael settled throughout Arabia (“East of Egypt toward Asshur”):
Kedar and his own sons are also specifically linked to Arabia:
The oracle about Arabia. In the thickets of Arabia you must spend the night, O caravans of Dedanites. … all the splendor of Kedar will terminate. [Isaiah 21:13-16]
Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your favored dealers in lambs, rams, and goats; in these they did business with you. [Ezekiel 27:21]
These two ancient Assyrian inscriptions, dating to the seventh century BCE, associate the king of the Arabs with the land of “Qedar”:
Hazael, king of Arabs, with a sumptuous gift, Iauta son of Hazael
came over to Nineveh, city of my sovereignty,
he kissed my feet
and begged me for his gods. And I had pity. [King Esarhaddon, Prism A IV, lines 6 – 9]
king of the land of Qedar paid homage to me.
He approached me concerning his gods (and)
begged my kingship. [King Assurbanipal, Prism B VII, lines 93 – 96]
Hazael, king of Arabs, with a sumptuous gift,
Iauta son of Hazael
Compare the above description of King Hazael, described as “king of the Arabs”, with that of his son King Iauta, who is described as “king of the land of Qedar”. This shows us that the land of the Arabs was associated with Kedar even in ancient times which pre-date Islam and Christianity.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines Kedar as:
The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament discusses Isaiah’s use of Kedar: “The name Kedar is here the collective name of the Arabic tribes generally” 
In summary, we’ve established that Ishmael and his descendants, including Kedar, dwelt in Arabia. In fact, we can narrow this location down further to a particular part of Arabia:
According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary  the term ‘Ishmaelites’ is used synonymously with the term ‘Midianites’. We can see this from the story of Joseph in Genesis:
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. [Genesis 37:36]
Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. [Genesis 39:1]
So these two groups, the Midianites and Ishmaelites, are used interchangeably. We know that geographically, Biblical Midian is located in modern day Western Saudi Arabia (click on picture to enlarge):
The Old Testament scholar Charles Foster also identifies Kedar with ‘Hedjaz’ which is Western Saudi Arabia:
In summary we have established that Ishmael and his descendants, specifically Kedar, settled in modern day Western Saudi Arabia.
Recall that Isaiah mentions Kedar in conjunction with a ‘Sela’:
“Let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy…“
Whilst it’s true that Saudi Arabia represents a wide geographic region, the use of the word ‘Sela’ pinpoints an exact location. The place being spoken of is actually the city of Madinah because ‘Sela’ is the name of a famous mountain in Madinah. Madinah was the city of Prophet Muhammad. The following hadith narrations are a few examples that mention this mountain:
…while I was sitting in the condition which Allah described (in the Quran) i.e. my very soul seemed straitened to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness, there I heard the voice of one who had ascended the mountain of Sala’ calling with his loudest voice, ‘O Ka’b bin Malik! Be happy (by receiving good tidings).’ I fell down in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief has come…  …by Allah, we did not see any cloud or any patch of it, and there was neither any house or building standing between us and Sala’… 
…while I was sitting in the condition which Allah described (in the Quran) i.e. my very soul seemed straitened to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness, there I heard the voice of one who had ascended the mountain of Sala’ calling with his loudest voice, ‘O Ka’b bin Malik! Be happy (by receiving good tidings).’ I fell down in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief has come… 
…by Allah, we did not see any cloud or any patch of it, and there was neither any house or building standing between us and Sala’… 
The famous Arab geographer and historian Al-Hamdani, who lived 150 years after Prophet Muhammad, mentioned in his book “Geography of Arabian Peninsula” that the mountain Sela was part of Madinah city.
If you Google “Sela mountain” you can see the Wikipedia entry (please click on picture to enlarge):
Here is a map of the city of Madinah obtained by searching Google Maps for “Sela mountain medina” , you can see Sela mountain in the middle of the city (please click on picture to enlarge):
Here is a picture of Sela mountain. In the picture you can see Masjid Nabawi, Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in modern day Medina. The foot of Sela mountain can be seen to the right of the mosque (please click on picture to enlarge):
As well as being linked to Kedar and Sela geographically, Prophet Muhammad’s genealogy is also linked. His lineage can be traced back to Ishmael directly through Kedar:
One of the earliest biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d (d. 845 CE), documents one of the chains of genealogy, which confirms that the Prophet was a direct descendant of Ishmael through his second son Kedar. Hayden’s Bible dictionary states: “Mohammad is said to have been of the Bene-Kedar [sons of Kedar]” .
Isaiah not only tells us the location, but also describes how the people will react when the special person arrives:
“…Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops…”
We are told that the people of Sela will be so overjoyed that they will sing with joy. This is exactly what happened when Prophet Muhammad arrived in Madinah, its inhabitants were overjoyed and cried out in happiness:
I never saw the people of Madinah so happy with anything as they were with his arrival. I even saw the little boys and girls saying, “Here is the Messenger of God; he has come!”  The people hurried quickly to meet the Messenger of God when he arrived in Madinah. They cried, ‘The Messenger of God has arrived! The Messenger of God has arrived!’  Then men and women climbed upon house-tops; the boys and servants scattered in the way, and they were all calling out: ‘Muhammad! Messenger of God! Muhammad! Messenger of God!’ 
I never saw the people of Madinah so happy with anything as they were with his arrival. I even saw the little boys and girls saying, “Here is the Messenger of God; he has come!” 
The people hurried quickly to meet the Messenger of God when he arrived in Madinah. They cried, ‘The Messenger of God has arrived! The Messenger of God has arrived!’ 
Then men and women climbed upon house-tops; the boys and servants scattered in the way, and they were all calling out: ‘Muhammad! Messenger of God! Muhammad! Messenger of God!’ 
An important point worth mentioning is the presence of various Jewish tribes in Madinah before the advent of Muhammad. Jewish historians, secular historians and Islamic history records this fact:
Alexander Marx, an American historian, and Max Margolis, an American philologist, wrote the following in their book “A History of the Jewish People”:
The American historian Salo Baron, the most noted historian of the Jews of his generation, recorded the following in his book “Social and Religious History of the Jews”:
According to Watt, a Scottish historian and Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies, the Jewish tribes had previously dominated the political, economic and intellectual life of Madinah. 
Islamic history records that some Jews in Madinah converted to Islam. One famous example is the Jewish rabbi Abdullah bin Salam who converted to Islam upon the Prophet Muhammad’s arrival in Madinah. 
The question then arises, why were there numerous Jewish tribes within Madinah? The answer is that the learned Jews were aware of this prophecy in Isaiah and were anxiously awaiting the coming of a new prophet. Islamic history records this fact:
The Qur’an also affirms this:
Now, if this prophecy in Isaiah is related to Jesus and the Christians, then it would not have mentioned the Arabs but instead would have mentioned the Greeks and Romans. The vast majority of Arabia today is Muslim, Christians account for only a small percentage. Moreover, the New Testament is originally written in Greek, and Christianity only became a major world religion nearly 300 years after Jesus when the Roman Empire embraced it.
In summary, this verse pinpointed the exact location of Prophet Muhammad, the city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
12- Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim his praise in the islands.
This seems to indicate that this special person’s impact will be far reaching. Islam spread rapidly throughout the Arabian peninsula, even reaching as far as Spain in just over a hundred years after Prophet Muhammad. Today there are over 2 billion Muslims in the world, that’s 1 in 4 people on earth (please click on picture to enlarge):
13- The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.
God states that this special person will be a warrior. Throughout history God has dealt sternly with those who are sent guidance and persist in disbelief. Prophet Muhammad had to engage in many battles with the idol worshipping enemies of God and ultimately prevailed against them. The Qur’an proclaims it loud and clear as follows:
By comparison, Jesus did not triumph over his enemies, according to Christians he was crucified by them. Moreover Jesus wasn’t interested in fighting; he was not a man of war, as he was a pacifist according to the Bible. He said such things as:
for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. [Matthew 26:52]
My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight… [John 18:36].
14- For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.
There was a long period of inactivity for Prophethood between Jesus and Muhammad, over 600 years. During this time the Arab pagans were indulging in idolatry and revelling in evil practices. No more would God tolerate this evil, the time was right for this special person to emerge and bring monotheism to Arabia. The Qur’an informs us:
15- I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools.
Here, Isaiah is conveying God’s plan in figurative language. By “laying waste of mountains and hills” and “drying up all their vegetation”, the reference is probably to the great changes which God would make in the pagan world. All that flourished on Pagan ground; all that was nurtured by idolatry; all their temples, altars, shrines, should be overturned and demolished; and in all these things great and permanent changes would be produced.
16- I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them…”
The pagan Arabs at the time of Prophet Muhammad fit this description perfectly because they had not been sent a messenger prior to Muhammad. The Qur’an bears witness to this, God states that Muhammad was sent to:
“I will turn the darkness into light before them…”
Darkness is the emblem of ignorance and sin. All this would be turned upside down – sin will be replaced by virtue and ignorance by knowledge. Darkness was turned into light as the Qur’an states:
The verse in Isaiah cannot apply to Jesus because his people, the Israelites, had already received the Torah and a multitude of Prophets from God. Here are just some of the Prophets that the Israelites were sent, up to and including Jesus:
17- But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.
It is clear that the special person that God is talking about will be sent to a people who worship idols. This perfectly describes the pre-Islamic Arabs, as the whole of Arabia at the start of Muhammad’s Prophethood consisted of idol worshippers.
This cannot be a reference to Jesus because his people, the Israelites, were monotheists and not idol worshippers. Moreover, Jesus explicitly told his disciples to stay away from the idol worshipping Gentiles, the exact opposite of what Isaiah prophesied. The Gospel of Matthew says:
How beautifully does this verse in Isaiah summarise the conclusion of Prophet Muhammad’s mission in the Arabian Peninsula. Not only did Prophet Muhammad conquer Mecca, the Pagan capital of Arabia, but by the end of his life, in just 23 short years of Prophethood, Arabia had shunned idol worship and now worshipped the One true God of Abraham. The Qur’an mentions this conquest:
This cannot apply to Jesus as it was Christians themselves who were humiliated and shamed for hundreds of years after Jesus. They were persecuted at the hands of the Roman Empire who were idol worshippers. They executed some of the apostles of Jesus such as Peter and Paul. Christians were tortured and even fed to lions.
18 – 23 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 in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen. 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?
“Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see… You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen… Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come?”
Finally, Isaiah closes with an admonishment. It seems clear that the “deaf and blind” Isaiah is talking about in this verse are those who reject Prophet Muhammad. Who among you will heed God by acknowledging him, who will “listen” and “pay close attention in time to come”.
24 – 25 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.
These are general statements about Israel.
SUMMARY OF ISAIAH 42
Here is a table which summarises all of the analysis from the previous section (please click on picture to enlarge and then zoom in):
The burden of evidence is clearly heavily in favour of Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, numerous verses in Isaiah rule out Jesus from being a candidate for the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
HOW THE EARLY MUSLIMS VIEWED ISAIAH 42
Both the Qur’an and hadith make mention of details about Prophet Muhammad that can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures:
When we compare the Qur’an and hadith to Isaiah 42, you cannot help but notice the remarkable resemblance between them (please click on picture to enlarge):
It seems that even the early Muslims were aware of this prophecy, at least in its overall meaning, if not verbatim. How early Muslims could have come to know of this prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures is an interesting question. The most probable answer is that they came to know of this prophecy from the Jewish converts to Islam, especially Rabbis such as Abdullah ibn Salaam and Ka’ab Al Ahbar who were leading scholars of the Torah  .
COMMON CHRISTIAN OBJECTIONS ANSWERED
Objection 1 – Muhammad is not mentioned by name in Isaiah so the prophecy can’t be about him.
The writers of the New Testament claim that prophecies about Jesus can be found throughout the Old Testament, and yet in none of these prophecies is Jesus mentioned explicitly by name. Here is one example:
So according to the Gospel of Matthew, there’s a prophecy in the Old Testament that was fulfilled by Jesus. But when one goes back to the book of Hosea in the Old Testament where the statement is referenced from, you will find that Matthew quoted only half the passage:
As you can see, when read in full, rather than being a prophecy about Jesus, this verse was in fact speaking of a past event, the exodus at the time of Moses. If Christians have no issue accepting this standard of prophecy for Jesus, then in the name of fairness and consistency they should adopt at least a similar standard for Muhammad. As we have seen, however, the evidence for Muhammad in Isaiah 42 is clear and unambiguous by comparison. Christians should adopt a methodology that is fair and consistent when it comes to finding prophecies of Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them both) in the Old Testament. We can’t have one set of standards for Muhammad, and another for Jesus.
Objection 2 – The Qur’an mentions that Muhammad can be found in the Torah, but Isaiah 42 is not part of the Torah.
It’s true that in its most limited sense, the Torah refers to the five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). However in a broader sense, Torah actually includes all Jewish law and tradition. The Hebrew word “torah” just means instruction or law, and so in Judaism it is also used in a general sense to refer to the entire Old Testament which includes Isaiah. Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch informs us:
It’s important to note that in the New Testament Paul quotes Isaiah and refers to it as ‘law’:
Here Paul has directly quoted from Isaiah 28:11-12:
Jesus also quotes directly from the Psalms and refers to it as ‘law’:
Here Jesus has quoted Psalm 82:6 from the Old Testament:
Clearly, Paul and Jesus refer to Isaiah and the Psalms as Torah (‘law’) even though technically they are not part of Torah. In the same way, when the Qur’an refers to the Torah in verses such as 7:157 it could just be a reference to the complete collection of scriptures that the Jews had at the time of Muhammad, which included the Book of Isaiah. So for the sake of convenience it is referred to as Torah collectively. Even if we accept the technical, narrow definition of Torah, then this does not refute that the Qur’an could be referring to Isaiah, because the Qur’an doesn’t state that he can only be found in the Torah.
Objection 3 – Muslims claim that the Torah we have today is corrupted, so you can’t use Isaiah 42 to prove the Prophethood of Muhammad.
It is true that much of the original Torah revealed to Moses has been corrupted (see this article for further information). However that does not mean that all of the Torah has become corrupted. It turns out that the Book of Isaiah is perhaps the most reliable book (in terms of textual preservation) in the entire Old Testament. We know this thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These are a collection of texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 inside caves near the Dead Sea. The texts are of great religious significance because they include the earliest known surviving manuscripts of the Old Testament, dated from approximately 150 BCE – 70 CE. Many manuscripts are fragmentary, however the Book of Isaiah can be found in its entirety and is virtually identical to what we have of the Book of Isaiah today . So in summary, the Torah that we have today is unreliable as a whole, but the Book of Isaiah in particular is reliable. Readers are encouraged to reflect on why out of all the books of the Old Testament it is the Book of Isaiah, containing a very clear prophecy about Muhammad – that has been preserved. Perhaps God intended for this to be a sign to Jews and Christians.
Finally, the authors of the Bible also quote from books that are considered forgeries. For example, the New Testament book of Jude contains the following prophecy:
Such a prophecy is nowehere to be found in the entire Bible. One of the startling discoveries among the Dead Sea Scrolls were the presence of apocryphal texts not found in the modern Old Testament. During the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a book called “1 Enoch” (also known as The Book of Enoch) was discovered. Enoch 1:9 says this:
You can see that this quote is virtually identical to the quotation in Jude. Now, Enoch is deemed to be a forgery by the vast majority of Christians, hence its designation as Apocrypha. So if Muslims cannot quote from the Bible because we believe some of it is corrupted, then the author of the New Testament book of Jude is also wrong in doing so when he quotes prophecies in Enoch.
Objection 4 – Isaiah 42 does refer to Jesus! Some of the verses apply to his first coming, and some verses apply to his second coming.
As the article has shown, when you take the apparent meaning of the verses in Isaiah 42 and apply them to the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, it comprehensively rules out Jesus as a candidate. So what Christians have to do instead is divide the life of Jesus into two periods, the first and second coming. This approach allows one to get around the problematic verses by arbitrarily picking and choosing which coming they apply to. So if a particular verse of Isaiah 42 rules out Jesus when we analyse his life in the Gospels, then they will interpret it as a reference to his second coming in the end times. Not a methodical approach by any means.
In fact it’s very contrived, and in spite of best efforts it still doesn’t work when we take the whole of Isaiah 42 in context. The context is the coming of a special person who will be sent to battle idol worshippers, defeat them and turn their darkness into light – the worship of God:
Those involved in the darkness of idolatry, called the “blind” by Isaiah, will be battled and ultimately “guided” and “not forsaken”.
Since Jesus never fought anyone during his first coming, he was a pacifist according to the Gospels, Christians are forced to interpret this verse in light of his second coming in the end times – the Jesus that brings fire and brimstone:
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. [1 Thessalonians 5:1-3]
and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. [2 Thessalonians 1:7-10]
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. [Matthew 24:30]
Now Isaiah 42 simply cannot apply to the second coming of Jesus. In the first two verses above, Paul claims that when Jesus returns, those who “do not know God” – the blind – will be “punished with everlasting destruction”. This is a destruction that is “sudden”, like “a thief in the night”. When someone is destroyed suddenly by God, they have lost all chance of being guided, they have been eternally forsaken by God and condemned to hell – the exact opposite of Isaiah 42 which talks of the idol worshippers being “guided” and “not forsaken”! Moreover Matthew states that when Jesus returns “all the peoples of the earth will mourn”. Yet the general theme that runs throughout Isaiah 42 is the rejoicing and singing of God’s praises by the people of earth because they have been guided away from the darkness of idolatry into the light of the worship of God:
…In his teaching the islands will put their hope. [42:4]
…open eyes that are blind …release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. [42:7]
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth… [42:10]
Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices… rejoice… sing for joy… let them shout from the mountaintops. [42:11]
Any sincere person that interprets Isaiah 42 consistently will see that it simply cannot apply to Jesus, regardless of whether one takes it as a reference to his first or second coming. The fact is that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the only person in history that has fulfilled all of the criteria set out in Isaiah 42.
Objection 5 – Sela is located in Jordan, not Saudi Arabia!
The argument here is that the “Sela” referenced in Isaiah 42:11 is actually Sela in the city of Petra (Jordan) and not the Sela in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. For example the following verse may be cited to support of this argument:
The Edomites were a people that inhabited the land of Edom, the Biblical name for modern day Jordan. Let’s consider the entirety of the verse of Isaiah in question:
Now, if Isaiah had intended to identify the Sela of Edom, then he would have mentioned the rejoicing of the Edomites, not Kedar. The Edomites and Kedarites were two different groups that inhabited entirely different lands:
The fact is that Isaiah mentions Sela in conjunction with Kedar’s location, and as has already been demonstrated, Kedar dwelt in the desert of Western Saudi Arabia. So this should lead us to conclude that Sela is in the city of Madinah, because Sela is the name of a famous mountain in Madinah. Recall that Madinah, a city located in Western Saudi Arabia, is Muhammad’s city. Moreover the Sela of Edom does not fit the context of the chapter of Isaiah, which talks of the coming of God’s special person. Which Prophet or Messenger of God ever travelled to Edom and was received by overjoyed people? The Bible mentions no such incident. We can see that the only Sela that fulfils the prophecy in full is Madinah.
Another way that we can come to a resolution on the identity of Sela is to consider the nature and purpose of prophecy. Prophecies allow those who receive them to be aware of things that are going to happen in the future. If a prophecy causes confusion, or raises more questions in the minds of its recipients, then that defeats the purpose of prophecy. Now if Kedar has no significance in the verse, then there is no certainty as to which site is being mentioned. Given that there were multiple Selas at the time Isaiah was writing, how would his audience be able to determine which Sela is being spoken of? It’s only expected for Isaiah to actually specify which one he’s talking about. That must be why Isaiah spoke about Kedar, as it allows us to pinpoint a specific Sela, that of Prophet Muhammad.
Objection 6 – Isaiah is speaking of the servant Israel, not an individual!
This is not a contention raised by Christians, as they (like Muslims) agree that Isaiah is talking about a special person who will transform the world. This contention is typically raised by Jewish people. They reject the understanding that Isaiah is talking about an individual such as Muhammad or Jesus, peace be upon them both, but rather it is talking about the nation of Israel. They will cite the preceding chapter of Isaiah which calls Israel God’s servant:
Their reasoning is that since Isaiah 41 identifies Israel as God’s servant, then Isaiah 42 must also be talking about Israel when it mentions the word “servant”:
Isaiah 42 actually speaks of two different servants. Isaiah 42:6-7 describes an individual who will be a “light for the Gentiles” and who will “open eyes that are blind” (42:6-7). Meanwhile Isaiah 42:18-20 describes a blinded servant who sees many things yet does not understand. Here is the contrast between the two servants:
The servant who gives light:
The servant who is blind:
These two passages cannot possibly refer to the same servant. After all, how can a blinded servant who does not understand, be a light? Notice that Isaiah explicitly identifies Israel as the blind servant in 42:19:
The blind servant being described here is clearly Israel, since they were in a covenant with God at that time. Isaiah goes on to condemn the blind servant Israel:
By contrast, the other servant being spoken of is highly praised by Isaiah. This servant is said to be one whom God delights in (42:1), one who will establish God’s justice on earth (42:4) and one who will be a light for non-Jews (42:6).
Moreover, Isaiah describes the servant Israel as being trapped in a prison:
By contrast, the other servant is said to free others from prisons:
So when we consider the context of Isaiah 42 as a whole, we can see that it’s impossible that the two servants being spoken of are the same, because their descriptions are mutually exclusive.
The only possible conclusion that can be made by viewing these verses is the following: Isaiah refers to two servants, a Prophet of God and Israel. Isaiah prophesies of a time when the Prophet, a servant who has wisdom, understanding and knowledge, will open the eyes and ears of God’s blinded and deaf servant Israel.
The 42nd chapter of Isaiah in the Old Testament clearly foretells the coming of a Prophet with the following qualities: he will be God’s servant, he will bring a new law, he will bring light to the Gentiles, he will arise from the city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia, he will be a warrior and crush the enemies of God, those who worship idols. These are a people that had not received any revelation before this. Moreover it has been shown that it is impossible for Isaiah 42 to refer to Jesus. If the reader is still not convinced in spite of all the evidence that the Prophet can be none other than Muhammad, peace be upon him, then perhaps they should reflect on this prophecy that has remained unfulfilled for thousands of years.
You can view a summarised version of this article in the following video:
1 – Bukhari Kitab Ahadees al-Ambiyaa (Prophets) 60, Chapter 48, Hadith 654.
2 – Christopher North, The Second Isaiah: Introduction, Translation and Commentary To Chapters XL-LV, p. 108.
3 – Bukhari Kitaab al-Buyu’ (Book of Sales and Trade) Chapter 50 (The dislike of raising voices in the market).
4 – Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib al-Ansar (Merits of the Helpers in Madinah) 63, Chapter 29, Hadith 191.
5 – Sebeos (1999). The Armenian History of Sebeosi, pp. 95–97.
6 – Professor. Haseeb Shehada (1989). Translation of the Samaritan Torah, p.90. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
7 – Dead Sea Scrolls, Book of Jubilees, p.118, verses 12-13.
8 – Smith’s Bible Dictionary, 1884, p 370.
9 – Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 1991, p. 253.
10 – Achtemeier, Paul J., Harper’s Bible Dictionary, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985.
11 – Charles Foster, The historical geography of Arabia, P. 130.
12 – Bukhari Kitab al-Maghazi (Book of Expeditions led by the Prophet) Chapter 80, Hadith 702.
13 – Muslim, Book 4, Chapter 169 (Supplication in prayer for rain), Hadith 1955.
14 – Click on this link to go to Google Maps.
15 – A Bible Dictionary, Hayden Series, edited by Rev. Charles Boutell, p. 386.
16 – Bukhari, Book of Prophetic Commentary, Hadith 4560.
17 – Tirmidhi, Book of the Description of the Day of Resurrection, Softening of Hearts, and Piety, Hadith 2409.
18 – Muslim, The Account of the Prophet’s Emigration, Hadith 7150.
19 – Max L. Margolis and Alexander Marx, A History of the Jewish People, NY. 1927, 248.
20 – Salo Baron. Social and Religious History of the Jews. Chapter XVI The Pre-Islamic World. Selections.
21 – Watt, Montgomery, Muhammad in Medina, (OUP, 1988 impression), p. 192.
22 – The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 47 by Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah of Azhar University.
23 – Rodinson, Maxime, Mohammed, (Pelican, London, 1973), p.143, quoting the Sira of Ibn Hisham.
24 – Bukhari Kitab Manaqib al-Ansaar (Merits of the Helpers in Madinah), Chapter 45 (The emigration of the Prophet and his Companions to Al-Madina).
25 – Sunan Al Daarimi, Hadith no. 3193, Hadith scholar Hussain Salim Asad al-Darani in his book on the evaluation of Musnad al Daarimi declared this narration’s chain of transmission to be Hasan (good), see no. 3370, p. 2095.
26 – Alfred J. Kolatch, This is the Torah, 1988, p. 1.
27 – See “The Great Isaiah Scroll” online here: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah