Many people may not be aware of the fact that the term Muhammad appears only four times in the Quran, with the name Ahmad appearing only once. Muslims have assumed that these all refer to their prophet Muhammad.
However, not all are convinced that this is the case since there are those who actually believe that in the case of the word Muhammad, these may be referring to Jesus. They base this on the assumption that the Muslim scripture may have initially been a heretical Christian text that promoted a heterodox view of Christ.(1)
According to this view, Muhammad wouldn’t be a proper name but a descriptive noun referring to the One who is to be praised most often since the word can be translated as “the Oft-Praised One.”
This would comport with the biblical revelation which proclaims that all creation is to praise and worship the Messianic King, whom the inspired NT writings identify as Jesus:
“To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘The Lilies.’ A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love. My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer… Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions… So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him… I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.” Psalm 45:1, 6-7, 11, 17
“A Psalm of Solomon. Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king’s Son. He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice… He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, And His enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles Will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba Will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him… His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed.” Psalm 72:1-2, 8-11, 17
3.Your beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than the sons of men; the spirit of prophecy has been placed on your lips; because of this the Lord has blessed you forever…
7. The throne of your glory, O Lord,lasts forever and ever; the scepter of your kingdom is an upright scepter…
1. Composed by Solomon, uttered in prophecy. O God, give your just rulings to the King Messiah, and your righteousness to the son of King David…
17. May his name be invoked for ever; and before the sun came to be his name was determined; so all the peoples will be blessed by his merit, and they shall speak well of him. (The Psalms Targum, translated Edward M. Cook, 2001 http://www.targum.info/pss/ps2.htm)
“But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’… But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’” Hebrews 1:6, 8-9
““I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened… I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
until thrones were set up: Thrones were set up and established to sit in judgment, one for judgment for the nations of the world and one for charity for Israel.
and the Ancient of Days sat: The Holy One, blessed be He, was sitting in judgment on this kingdom and on those before it, who provoked Him and oppressed His children.
as white as snow: to whiten the iniquities of His people.
and the hair of His head was like clean wool: He cleanses Himself of the merits that the nations have before Him, and He pays them all their reward in this world. In Lev. Rabbah. of fire: [as translated,] of fire.
a burning fire: [as translated,] a burning fire. (The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490/showrashi/true#v9)
one like a man was coming: That is THE KING MESSIAH.
and… up to the Ancient of Days: Who was sitting in judgment and judging the nations.
came: arrived, reached. (Ibid. https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490/showrashi/true#v13; capital emphasis mine)
“But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61-62
“But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” Acts 7:55-56
“who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom… Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing… And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” 2 Timothy 4:18
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11
“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Revelation 1:5-6
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ Then the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” Revelation 5:8-14
With the foregoing in view, I am going to look at the four cases where Muhammad is used and render it as “the oft-Praised One,” to see if the texts are better explained as references to Christ, as opposed to the so-called prophet of Islam.
Not is the Oft-Praised One (muhammadun) (the) father (of) anyone of your men but (he is the) Messenger (of) Allah and Seal (of) the Prophets. And Allah is of every thing All-Knower. S. 33:40
According to the NT writings, it is Jesus who is the seal of the prophets since he perfectly fulfills the prophecies and commandments of God:
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” John 6:27
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18
“For I tell you, what is written must yet be accomplished in Me, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ Indeed, what is written concerning Me has a fulfillment.” Luke 22:37 MEV
“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself… Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,’” Luke 24:25-27, 44-46
“And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’ Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” Acts 13:22-33
And Jesus truly wasn’t the father of any man since he never got married and therefore never sired any children.
And those who believe and do righteous deeds, and believe in what is revealed to the Oft-Praised One (muhammadin), and it (is) the truth from their Lord, He will remove from them their misdeeds, and improve their condition. S. 47:2
Once again, the God-breathed Scriptures testify that it is the revelation brought by Jesus Christ that brings about the forgiveness of sins and a transformed life:
“and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’” Luke 24:47-49
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38
“To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:26
“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—… And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:36, 42-43
“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39
“And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” Acts 16:30-31
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been reed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:3-23
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
The Oft-Praised One (muhammadun) (is the) Messenger (of) Allah, and those who (are) with him (are) firm against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating, seeking Bounty from Allah and pleasure. Their mark (is) on their faces from (the) trace (of) the prostration. That (is) their similitude in the torah And their similitude in the injeel (is) like a seed (which) sends forth its shoot then strengthens it, then it becomes thick and it stands upon its stem delighting the sowers that He (may) enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them, forgiveness and a reward great. S. 48:29
Amazingly, the Quran cites the following Markan parable as the Gospel!
“And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” Mark 4:26-29
The following Muslim translators had no problem admitting that the aforementioned Quranic text is actually referring to Mark’s parable:
The similitude in the Gospel is about how the good seed is sown and grown gradually, even beyond the expectation of the sower: “the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the earth”; MARK, iv 27-28 … (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an – Meaning and Translation, p. 1400, n. 4917; bold and capital emphasis mine)
This parable is found in a sermon of the Prophet Jesus that has been reported in the New Testament, thus:
“And he said, So is the kingdom of God as if a man should east [sic] seed into the ground: And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come [Cf. Mark 4:26-29]. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it [Cf. Mark 4:30-32].” The last portion of this sermon is also found in Matthew, 13:31-32. (S. Abul A’la Maududi, Meaning of the Qur’an, Volume V, English rendering by A.A. Kamal, M.A. [Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Limited, 13-E, Shahalam Market, Lahore-8 Pakistan], p. 67, fn. 56; underlined emphasis and comments within brackets mine)
We, thus, have additional confirmation that the Quran does in fact acknowledge the canonical Gospels as the inscripturation of the very Gospel that God revealed through the Lord Jesus!
In light of this, it is hard to argue that Muhammad here does not refer to Christ himself as the Oft-Praised One.
And not (is) the Oft-Praised One (muhammadun) – except a Messenger, certainly had passed away before him the Messengers (qad khalat min qablihi alrrusulu). So if he died or is slain will you turn back on your heels? And whoever turns back on his heels then never will he harm Allah (in) anything. And Allah will reward the grateful ones. S. 3:144
Interestingly, the only other time that the Quran mentions the messengers of the past that have died is in direct reference to Jesus!
Not (is) the Messiah, son (of) Maryam but a Messenger, certainly had passed away before him the Messengers (qad khalat min qablihi alrrusulu). And his mother (was) truthful. They both used to eat [the] food. See how We make clear to them the Signs, then see how they are deluded. S. 5:75
Once again, it seems hard to deny that Muhammad is not a proper name for the Islamic prophet of later tradition. Rather, it is a title or descriptive noun referring to Jesus Christ who is the One who is worthy of being praised forever and ever.
In the next segment, I will discuss whether Ahmad refers to the Islamic prophet or the Holy Spirit (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/ahmad-or-the-holy-spirit/).
(1) The Quran presents a rather confused and contradictory picture of Christ. In certain places, Jesus is said to be no more than a servant, whereas in other texts he is clearly portrayed as a preexistent divine Being who became flesh and performs specific functions normally attributed to God. For more on this issue I recommend the following articles and rebuttals: