Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) Foretold in the Bible
Abdus Sattar Ghauri
There are so many predictions in the Bible regarding the Prophet of Islām that refer to him in unequivocal terms. It is not a common practice to predict about some future prophet by name. There are only some very exceptional places where some coming prophet has been foretold in the Bible by name. One of these rare predictions is King Solomon’s (sws) “Song of Songs” in the OT of the Bible regarding the Prophet of Islām (sws).
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(10) My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
(11) His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
(12) His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
(13) His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
(14) His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
(15) His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
(16) His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.1
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As to the authorship of this lyric idyll2, there are different opinions. However, some authorities categorically ascribe it to King Solomon.
Some of the Christian commentators of the Bible apply this prophecy to Jesus Christ (sws); but the contents of the passage do not endorse it.
To ascertain the real significance of the prediction, one is to trace the exact Hebrew words uttered by King Solomon and to explore their meanings.
After the preliminary discourse in the chapter I and II, the main discussion has been resumed in chapter III of the book. The first phrase “my beloved” of the passage has been dealt with in this chapter. This phrase clearly settles the intent and relevance of the prophecy. The actual Hebrew word for “beloved” is “dod”, which means “friend, esp. an uncle, father’s brother; lover, beloved (son of father’s brother as customary husband)”. It signifies that the “beloved” relates to the lineage of paternal uncle of the writer. There being no father of Jesus, the question of paternal uncle does not arise in his case. If some uncle may be ascribed to him, it can only be his uncle from maternal side, whereas it is lexicographically out of question. In this way Jesus can by no means be considered to be the “dod” of this verse. Isaac is King Solomon’s forefather in his direct lineage. Ishmael is the brother of his forefather Isaac. As such ammad (sws),Ishmael is the “uncle” of the King, and the Prophet Solomon and Muh ammad (sws) is the “dod” of the,is from the offspring of Ishmael. As such Muh King and the Prophet Solomon.
After explaining the first phrase of the first clause “My beloved is white and ruddy”, the last two words “white” and “ruddy” have been explored in detail in chapter IV. Its salient points have been afforded here.
The word “white/radiant” does not signify some spiritless, morbid, or deadly whitish colour. It rather stands for brightness, brilliance, and beauty of the countenance and sound health. The word “ruddy” means “to show blood (in the face), i.e. flush or turn rosy: be red”. The combination of both these words, i.e. “white and ruddy” depicts a comely figure of healthiness, strength, beauty and brightness. It reflects the exact features of the Prophet of Islām. They cannot be physically applied to Jesus Christ by any stretch of sense. He was literally neither “radiant” nor “ruddy”. They apply to the Prophet of Islam in true sense of the word. It is a historical fact that he was perfectly “radiant and ruddy”. The Christian scholars have vainly attempted to relate these words to Jesus Christ.
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Chapter V deals with the phrase “the chiefest among ten thousand”. The original Hebrew word for the first English word of the phrase “The chiefest”, (or choicest) is “דגל” (dagal). Strong’s Heb. BD explains it as: “a prim root; to flaunt, i.e. raise a flag; figuratively to be conspicuous: (set up with) banners, chiefest.” Matthew Henry has explained it as “the chiefest among ten thousand”, “fairest of ten thousand”, “a standard bearer among ten thousand”, “He is higher than the kings of the earth and has obtained a more excellent name than any of the principalities and the powers of upper or lower world.” At the same time it may also be noted that this commentator had previously stated that Christ was not exceedingly beautiful or attractive in the words: “It was never said of the child Jesus, as of the child Moses, when he was born, that he was exceedingly fair [Acts vii.20]; nay, he had no form nor comeliness, Isa. liii.2);”3 It can thus be appreciated that (i) the Christian commentators of the Bible take these lines as a prophecy; (ii) they apply it to Jesus Christ; and (iii) they do not stick to its literal, natural, and obviously direct meanings. They rather interpret it in accordance with their predetermined and desired aims quite arbitrarily. Whereas it is an historical fact that these words cannot aptly be applied to any man on earth except the Prophet of Islam, who was the Leader of the “Conquest of Makkah” at the head of an army of ten thousand. Michael Hart has rightly ranked him as number one of all the human history observing, “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history [stress added] who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. (…). Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as a religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential political leader of all time [stress added]. (…). Nothing similar had occurred before Muhammad, and there is no reason to believe that the conquest would have been achieved without him. (…). We see, then, that the Arab conquests of the seventh century have continued to play an important role in human history, down to the present day. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history [stress added].”4
Chapter VI of the book is “His Head and Hair”. It deals with verse 11 of the “Song of Solomon”, which is: “His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” The first clause of the verse is “His head is as the most fine [NKJV: “finest”; NIV: “purest”] gold.” Matthew Henry has defined the “head” as “sovereignty”. Strong’s “The Hebrew Bible Dictionary” also endorses it. The Hebrew word for the “head” is “ראש” (Ra’sh) which means “The head, captain, chief, principal, ruler, top”. The second important word in the clause is “gold” for which the Hebrew word is “פז” (paz). Strong’s Heb. BD explains it as: “pure (gold); hence gold itself (as refined): fine pure gold”. Keeping in view the above meanings of the original Hebrew words of the Bible, the sentence would mean: “His excellent rule and authority and sovereignty is flawless, pure and refined, beautiful and powerful,” as the monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar has been analogized with the head of gold in the book of Daniel. The commentator’s remarks: “Christ’s head bespeaks his sovereign dominion over all (…). Christ’s sovereignty is both beautiful and powerful,” need no comments. Everyone who has studied the biography of Jesus Christ knows it of certain that he never achieved any sovereignty anywhere. According to the gospels he was humiliatingly taken to the place of crucifixion. On the other hand this sentence presents a literal fulfilment in the person of the “Conqueror of Makkah.”
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Jesus (sws) never achieved power and authority (sovereignty) in his life whereas the Prophet of Islam enjoyed full power and authority of the state of Madinah and consequently the whole of the Arabian Peninsula (and full respect and love of the believers) and his decisions and commands in that position had always been pure, beautiful, and flawless. Now it is unto the reader to decide in whose person the words of the Bible find their exact and literal fulfilment.
The next sentence of the verse is: “His locks are bushy [or wavy], and black as a raven” (KJV). The original Hebrew word for this “wavy” is “תלתל” (taltal), which, according to the Strong’s Dictionary of the Heb B., means: “A trailing bough (as pendulous); bushy”. It means that his hair was like a drooping (hanging or bending down) bough of a tree.
The second clause of the sentence is “and black as a raven.” The Original Hebrew for its first main word “black” is “sahar (shachar)” ( שחר ). Strong’s Heb. BD has explained it as: “[identical with 7836 through the idea of the duskiness of early dawn]; to be dim or dark (in colour): be black”. 7836 is: “to dawn” i.e. (fig) be (up) early at any task (with the implication. of earnestness); seek (diligently) early, in the morning.). The second main word of this clause is “raven”. The word used for it in the Hebrew Bible is “ערב” (‘arab/‘areb etc). Strong’s Heb. BD explains it under entry No. 6158 as: “A raven (from its dusky hue)”.
It may be noted here that “raven” is not the literal meaning of the Hebrew word “ערב”. It is its figurative meaning in view of its “dusky hue”. It may also be noted here that Arabic and Hebrew are similar and sister languages of Semitic family of languages and have lot of commonalities. Their basic alphabet consists of twenty-two letters ( א, ב, ג, ד, ה, ו, ז, ח, ט, י, ךor כ, ל, ם or מ, ן or נ, ס, ע, ף or פ, ץ or צ, ק, ר, ש, ת ); In addition to these 22 letters the Arabs framed six more letters (th, kh, dh, d, z, gh) to accommodate their additional sounds, which do not exist in the Hebrew alphabet. The Arabic letter “ghayn” (gh) is one of those six letters which do not exist in the Hebrew language. Now, there are two words ‘orab/arab and ghurab in Arabic; the former for an Arabian person and the latter for a raven or crow. The Hebrew alphabet, having no letter for “gh” sound, has only one word for both: “Arabian” and “crow”. It has no separate and independent word for a “raven” and uses the same word for an Arabian and a raven or crow. As such they cannot ascertain for which sense the Hebrew word “orab/arab” stands here. The translators of the Bible take it in the sense of a raven in view of dark colour of the hair, whereas actually it stands for an Arabian. Here is a study of some more meanings of the word. According to entry No. 6150 the word “ערב” (‘arab) means: “[identical with 6148 through the idea of covering with a texture]; to grow dusky at sun down:- be darkened, (toward) evening”. The same word, “ערב” (‘arab), has been explained under entry No. 6152 as: “In the fig. sense of sterility; Arab (i.e. Arabia), a country E. of Palestine”. It can also be “ערבי” (‘arabiy), which, according to the same Dictionary, means: “An Arabian or inhabitant of Arab (i.e. Arabia)”.
A lexical study of the sentence “His locks are bushy, and black as a raven” has been undertaken in the above lines. The results of the study and some further relevant information is being presented hereunder:
1. Basically the word “ערב” (‘arab) means: “to grow dusky at sun down: be darkened, (toward) evening, an Arab, an Arabian, or an inhabitant of Arabia”, and not a crow.
2. It also bears the sense of “sterility”. “Arabia” was given this name because of being basically a barren, sterile, and inarable land. It also implies “an Arabian or an Arab”.
3. Being void of the Arabic sound “gh”, the Hebrew language has only one word for both “a raven” and “an Arab”.
4. As to the word bushy/wavy the Hebrew word is “תלתל” (taltal), which, according to the Strong’s Dictionary of the Heb. B., means: “a trailing bough (as pendulous)”. “Bushy” or “wavy” is not its proper translation. “A trailing bough” is not bushy or wavy. It rather has a curl only at its end.
5. The hair of the Prophet of Islam have been depicted by different authorities as: The hair of his head and beard was thick: neither intertwistingly curly like those of Negroes nor quite straight. It had rather a light touch of curl. Even in his last years hardly twenty hairs had grown white, and they too were visible only when he had not anointed (applied oil to) them, which was a very rare phenomenon. Sometimes the locks of his hair went to the middle of his ears, sometimes to their end and at times even longer.
6. The hair of the Prophet of Islam was extremely black and remained as such till the end of his life. In the hair of both his head and beard there were not more than twenty white hairs. Even those were visible only when he had not anointed them. On the other hand the head and hairs of Jesus were extremely white, as can be appreciated from: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.5” So this part of the prophecy cannot be applied to Jesus whereas it exactly applies to the Prophet of Islam.
7. The proper translation of “His locks are bushy, and black as a raven” is: “There is a slight bend in his locks and they are extremely black. He is an inhabitant of Arabia”.
It is, therefore, not difficult to ascertain whom do these words indicate: the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad of Arabia (sws) or Jesus Christ (sws)? But it is surprising to note how the Christian scholars interpret or, rather, manipulate this statement in favour of Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry asserts:
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(…) black as raven, whose blackness is his beauty. Sometimes Christ’s hair is represented as white (Rev. i:14), denoting his eternity, that he is the ancient of days; but here as black and bushy, denoting that he is ever young and that there is in him no decay, nothing that waxes. Everything that belongs to Christ is amiable in the eyes of a believer, even his hair is so; (…).6
The reader can easily appreciate the trickery of translation and interpretation in the above passage. How adroitly “white” has been proven to be “black”! Objective study is considered basic precondition for a just and impartial research. It demands that some theme should be presented faithfully in its actual form, and it should be interpreted according to the requirement of the context and the intent of the writer without twisting or manipulating it to one’s own intent and purpose. But in the above passage the skill of interpreting a theme quite contrary to its actual sense, has been exercised freely and unhesitatingly. It is by no means a faithful interpretation. It is obviously an example of misinterpretation and corruption.
Chapter VII relates to verse 12 of the “Song of Solomon” which deals with the eyes of Solomon’s beloved. The verse 12 reads as: “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set”.
The Pulpit Commentary has explained the verse as: “The eyes are not only pure and clear, but with a glancing moistness in them which expresses feeling and devotion. (….). The pureness of the white of the eye is represented in the bathing or washing in milk. They are full and large, “fine in their setting,” (…).” Matthew Henry explains this verse as: “His eyes are as the eyes of doves, fair and clear, and chaste and kind, (…). They are washed, to make them clean, washed with milk, to make them white, and fitly set, neither starting out nor sunk in.”.
Jesus Christ’s detailed features of the countenance are available neither in the Bible nor in any other book. There are only some brief, casual, and partial glimpses of his features scattered here and there, which are quite useless and irrelevant to the qualities stated in this stanza of the “Songs”. The Christian scholars attach the qualities, which Solomon is describing about his “Praised One”, to Jesus Christ without any proof or relevance.7
It would be quite pertinent to explore the meanings of the word “fitly” of this verse in the first place. The original Hebrew word for it is “םלאת” (millayth). The Strong’s Heb. BD explains it as: “From 4390; fullness, i.e. (concretely) a plump [fat in a pleasant looking way] socket (of the eye)= X fitly.” The Hebrew word under entry No. 4390 is “םלא”, (mala). It means: “To fill or be full of; consecrate”. As such, the words for the beloved’s eyes, “fitly set”, would mean: “The eyes have been set in the face and forehead of the beloved of King Solomon in such a proportionate manner that they look to be beautiful, big, well-filled up, plump, risen up, and attractive.”
The other important word in this verse is “dove”, for which the original Hebrew word is “יונה”, i.e. “yownah”. Strong’s Heb. BD explains it as: “Probably from the same as 3196; a dove”. The Hebrew word under entry No. 3196 is “יין”, i.e. “yayin”. It has been explained as: “From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication.”
Keeping in view various meanings and implications of all the significant words of the above verse, it can be explained as follows: “The eyes have been set in the face and forehead of the beloved of King Solomon in such a proportionate manner that they look to be beautiful, big, well-filled up, plump, risen up, and attractive. His eyes exhibit the warmth of love and happiness. There are light red filaments in his eyes as if from intoxication. The eyes are not only pure and clear, but with a glancing moistness in them which expresses feeling and devotion. They are full and large. His eyes are as the eyes of doves, fair and clear, and chaste and kind.”
The worthy commentators of the Bible have arbitrarily attributed these details and qualities to Jesus Christ, but they do not afford any grounds for their claim. What has allegorically been stated is only out of their wishful thinking and designed purpose. There is no substantial proof or objective relevance in favour of their assertion. As already stated, the details of the figures of Jesus Christ have nowhere been given in the Bible. On the other hand, the details of the figures and features of the Prophet of Islam have so meticulously been recorded in authentic traditions that we feel as if he himself is present among us. The features of king Solomon’s beloved related in the Bible apply to the prophet of Islam so exactly and accurately that there remains no doubt in their relevance.
The details of the eyes of the Prophet of Islam have been recorded by the eyewitnesses through reliable chain of narrators in the books of the traditions and the biography of the Prophet. A brief sketch is given below:
His eyes were intensely black. Eyelashes were long. (…). The pupils of the eyes were extremely black. Eyeballs were extremely white [washed with milk]. (…). His eyes were large and very beautiful. Even without antimony it seemed as if he had applied antimony to his eyes. There were light red threads in his eyes (which depict the intoxication of his eyes as stated by the Heb. B. Dictionary). Eyelashes were thick and long.
Only one conspicuous feature is being elaborated here. As to the “light red threads in his eyes” and their largeness, Jabir reports:
(...)ßóÇäó ÑóÓõæáõ Çááøóåö Õóáøóì Çááøóåõ Úóáóíúåö æóÓóáøóãó (...) 8ÃóÔúßóáó ÇáúÚóíúäö 9
The Apostle of Allah (sws) was large-eyed having light red threads in them.
There is so conspicuous concordance in the statement of the verse of the “Song” and the features of the Prophet of Islam that the reader would easily appreciate that King Solomon is describing here the features of none other than the Prophet of Islam himself.
Chapter VIII of the book deals with the verse 13 of the “Song of Solomon” which is about “His Cheeks and Lips”. The wording of the verse is “His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.” Firstly, the study of its first half “His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers,” is being undertaken. The first main word of the verse is “cheeks”. The Hebrew word for this “cheek” is “לחי” (lehiy). Strong’s Heb. DB has recorded its meanings as: “From an unusual root meaning to be soft; the cheek (from its fleshiness)”. The next main word of the verse is “bed” for which the Hebrew word is “ערוגה” (“Aroojah). According to Strong’s Heb. BD it means: “Something piled up (as if [figuratively] raised by mental aspiration.), i.e. bed, furrow”. The third important word of the clause is “spices” for which the Hebrew word in the Bible is “בשם” (besem). Strong’s Heb. DB has recorded its meanings as: “Fragrance; by impl. spicery; also the balsam plant: smell, spice, sweet (odour)”. The fourth main word of the clause is “sweet”. The original Hebrew word for it is “םרקח”, i.e. “merqah”. Strong’s Heb. BD has recorded its meanings as: “From 7543; a spicy herb:- X sweet”. And the meanings of entry No. 7543 are: “A primary root; to perfume; make [ointment]”. The last main word of the clause is “flowers”. The Hebrew word for it is “םגדל”, (mijdal). Its meanings in Strong’s Heb. DB are: “From 1431; a tower (from its size or height); figuratively a (pyramidal) bed of flowers”.
Keeping in view the above lexical research, the correct translation of the original Hebrew clause, which has been rendered into English as: “His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers” will be as below:
His raised up fleshy and soft cheeks, and the thick beard thereupon, seem as if they are layers of perfumes or heaps of fragrances. They are like the beds of small fragrant herbs and the pyramids of sweet smelling flowers.
If someone tries to trace these qualities in the person of Jesus Christ, he is bound to face utter disappointment. On the other hand, if it be tried to trace these qualities in the life of the Prophet of Islam, the veracity of its application to the Prophet of Islam will be fully confirmed.
Matthew Henry has vainly applied this sentence of the “Song” to Jesus Christ. The worthy commentator is the king of the world of letters and the master of the realm of rhetoric. But the words of King Solomon cannot be applied to Christ through verbosity, eloquence, and credulity. It requires objective study and authentic references. Although the writer is an erudite scholar, it is impossible for him to afford some credible evidence in favour of his assertion; and how can he present it when there is none on the record whatsoever. He has adroitly endeavoured to cover the unavailability of the evidential data through his eloquence, but how can the lack of evidence be made up with the verbosity in the realm of historical presentations!
The second and the last clause of the verse is: “His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh”. The first important word in the clause is “lips”. The original Hebrew word for it is “שפה” (shaphah), which means: “The lip; by implication, language, speech, talk, words”. The next important word is “lilies”. The original word for it is “שושן”, (shoshan). It means: “a primary root; to be bright, i.e. cheerful: be glad, X greatly, joy, make mirth, rejoice”. The next main word of this part of the verse is “dropping”. The original word for it is “נטף” (nataph). It means: “a primary root; to ooze, i.e. distill gradually; by impl to fall in drops; figuratively to speak by inspiration, prophesy”. The last word of the verse is “myrrh”. Its original Hebrew is “מר” or “מור” (more). It means: “From 4843 [which is “to be or make bitter”]; myrrh (as distilling in drops, and also as bitter)”.