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Jews had prophets and received Scriptures from those prophets. Later, came Christians who had apostles and through them received Scriptures. Still later, Muslims come along and they have one prophet Muhammad and through him they received Quran. Muhammad claimed that he belongs to the prophetic line of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Quran, the book Muhammad gave as the Scriptures, he quotes many familiar names and stories from the Bible.

Why don't Christians, mainly Protestant Christians, accept the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a true prophet of God? If they don't, why?

An already discussed question in this forum has been offered as an answer to this question. Here it is: What is an overview of criteria used by different denominations to identify authentic prophets?

However, the above question and the responses it gathered do not answer my question as I explain below.

My above questions in the OP do not seek general reasons to test all those who claim to be the prophets of God, rather they focus only on the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his claims.

Furthermore, none of the answers given in the above link examine Muhammad's teachings in the light of the Biblical teachings.

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5 Answers 5

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I would like to take a more conciliatory approach to answer this question by starting with some common grounds that Islam has with Christianity about Jesus:

  1. That Jesus historically existed
  2. That Jesus was a true prophet sent by God, the God of Abraham
  3. That Jesus had the title "the anointed one" although understood differently in Islam as al-Masīḥ
  4. That Jesus has the title the Word (Logos) although understood differently in Islam as kalimat Allāh
  5. That Jesus was born without sin and remained without sin
  6. That Jesus was born to Mary as a result of virginal conception
  7. That Jesus performed miracles including raising people from the dead
  8. That Jesus had foreknowledge of what was hidden to others
  9. That Jesus is an important religious model, possessing the highest knowledge and intimacy with God
  10. That Jesus was raised up to heaven (although this is not unanimous among Islam scholars)
  11. That on the Day of Judgment (Yawm al-qiyāmah) Jesus will be witness against the wicked and destroy the anti-Christ (al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl)

But Islam denies the following Christian teachings about Jesus:

  1. That the 4 canonical gospels faithfully recorded the teaching of Jesus and about Jesus. Instead, Muslim scholars consider the true gospel, Injīl, to be lost or hopelessly corrupted in the form of the NT gospels we have today, thus consider information about Jesus in the Quran as more authoritative.
  2. That Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, with the full implications of what Jesus said to be understood in Christianity as,
  3. That Jesus was crucified until he was truly dead on the cross (see journal articles on medical evidence and a 2021 review of medical views). Instead, Muslim scholars's view is more similar to Gnosticism or Docetism (see the 2009 School of Oriental and African Studies journal article The Muslim Jesus: Dead or alive?).
  4. That having truly died on the cross and buried in a cave tomb Jesus was raised from the dead on Resurrection Sunday. Muslim scholars believe that he was taken down from the cross alive (though unconscious) and later recuperated from his wounds.
  5. That the Counselor/Advocate whom Jesus sent in John 14 and John 16 is the Holy Spirit. Instead Muslim scholars understand Jesus to mean Muhammad (pbuh) (see here, refuted here).
  6. That Jesus is present in Spirit in the world today (see What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today?). Instead Muslim scholars understand Quran references to "Holy Spirit" (Rūḥ al-qudus) to refer to the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) (pbuh). The Quraanic Exegesis article Who Is the Holy Spirit? concludes:

    So it is clear that Ruh al-Qudus here refers to Jibril… No one suggests that Ruh al-Qudus means the life of Allah ; nor is this indicated by the wording and this phrase is never used in that sense.” (Daqaiq al-Tafsir, part 2, p. 92)

Although Islamic prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke highly of Jesus as possibly greater than the OT prophets before him, and spoke highly of his mother Mary as well, all branches of Christianity cannot accept Muhammad (pbuh) on the same level as all canonized OT prophets and as the prophet Jesus himself because Muhammad (pbuh) denied that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Instead, Muhammad (pbuh) believed that Jesus, as a holy prophet sent by the true God, would never have "blasphemed" God by claiming to be God himself.

It's a pity that he probably got the wrong idea of the Trinity, thinking that Christians taught what we now call Tritheism (see Islamic view of the Trinity). Naturally, as Christians today ALSO denounce Tritheism as a denial of monotheism, this distorted view of the Trinity led him to exhort Christians to repent, such as in Quran Surah 5:116-118:

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me - to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. If You should punish them - indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them - indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

CONCLUSION: Since Jesus's being the Son of God whose true death on the cross and who is present in spirit in our lives today are both so central to salvation, and since true faith has to be based on agreeing with this, there is no way that any Christian can accept Muhammad (pbuh) as a true prophet despite many things he taught in common.

Christians trust that the 4 canonized gospels are the only authentic ones, that the other NT letters and books give us trustworthy accounts of what Jesus taught, trustworthy understanding of who Jesus is, and trustworthy interpretation of the OT. No true prophet would teach truths contrary to the truths presented in the Christian Bible.

Sources

  1. University of Alberta Muslim Students' Association pamphlet Jesus: a Prophet of Islam
  2. Vox 2019 article Muslims love Jesus, too: 6 things you didn't know about Jesus in Islam
  3. U.S. Catholic magazine 2016 article What do Muslims think of Jesus?
  4. Christianity Today 2002 article Is the God of Muhammad the Father of Jesus
  5. Wikipedia article Jesus in Islam
  6. Wikipedia article Names and titles of Jesus in the Quran
  7. Wikipedia article Islamic views on Jesus' death
  8. Wikipedia article Second Coming - Islam
  9. Wikipedia article Messiah - Islam
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    @OneGodtheFather I hope my edit is sufficient, especially how Muhammad (pbuh)'s mistaken understanding of the Trinity. Jan 18 at 23:59
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    Shouldn't you be adding 'pbuh' after all mentions of Jesus as well? Jan 19 at 1:03
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    @OneGodtheFather I thought about that :-). But I decided that while I use pbuh to show respect to potential Muslim readers, this is also a Christian site where we cite Jesus as we normally would. It's a give and take. Jan 19 at 1:18
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    'whose presence is as the Holy Spirit'. Again, you depersonalise that Blessed Person, the Holy Spirit of God.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 19 at 13:26
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    . . . . . who is present in Spirit, is in accord with scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 19 at 15:43
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Protestants don't believe anything except what's in the Bible. One of the tenets most Protestants accept is Sola Scriptura, one point of which states that:

the Word God spoke through apostles and prophets and intended for the direction of his church is now found only in sacred Scripture,

http://www.reformedreader.org/ssss.htm

so there is a long list of people that they wouldn't believe is a true prophet.

  • Me
  • You
  • Mary Baker Eddy
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • Joseph Smith

are also not prophets.

Now, I don't know how this jibes with what St. Paul wrote in his Epistles about some believers being particularly good at prophecy. But what's clear is that, if there were people getting messages from God in St. Paul's time (i.e. directly after the Resurrection), those prophecies didn't make it into the Bible, with the exception of the revelation of St. John, which is the last book in the Bible.

That book says at the very end:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and the holy city, which are described in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB)

which some would interpret to mean that there's no more scriptures after this. And if it's not in scripture, it's not true and if it's not true, it's not worth bothering about.


You're right, though, St. Paul also wrote "Test everything, keep what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), there just is nothing in Islam that was found lacking in Christ.

Muhammad (pbuh) himself may have found something lacking in Christianity, but that's probably because he only half heard about it from Arian missionaries, who weren't terribly good representatives of Christianity at the time to begin with.

One Christian who came under the early dominion of the Islamic Caliphate was John of Damascus (c. 676–749 AD), who was familiar with Islam and Arabic. The second chapter of his book, The Fount of Wisdom, titled "Concerning Heresies", presents a series of discussions between Christians and Muslims. John claimed that an Arian monk (whom he did not know was Bahira) influenced Muhammad and the writer viewed the Islamic doctrines as nothing more than a hodgepodge culled from the Bible

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Muhammad

I can't comment on that, but it's a common criticism of Islam from Christian circles, that Islam is yet another heresy (read: offshoot that emphasizes one doctrine at the expense of all the rest, in this case I think it would be "submission"?) in a long line of heresies dating back to the 1st century.

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  • +1 "that Islam is yet another heresy" Would be nice to have a bit more detail on this. What exactly is the heresy or heresies, that lead Christians to rule out Muhammad as a genuine prophet? Jan 18 at 23:54
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    @one there would be a lot to summarize Hillare Belloc wrote a whole chapter about it in The Great Heresies
    – Peter Turner
    Jan 19 at 0:03
  • "there is a long list of people that they wouldn't believe is a true prophet. Me You" Many Pentecostals would disagree about that, since they believe that the Gift of Prophecy is still handed out. It's entirely possible that you or I might be a prophet, in their understanding.
    – nick012000
    Jan 22 at 8:42
  • @nick yeah, I was just reading that in Corinthians.
    – Peter Turner
    Jan 22 at 19:00
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Muslim here, I can say that Christians do not accept Muhammad for similar reasons why Jews also do not consider him as a prophet.

Mainly, you can see how different the doctrine between the most two populous world religions, since Muslims [like Jews] do not accept the trinity to be a representation of the God of Abraham.

The main conflict between the Judo-Christian faith and Muslims is this line in Torah:

Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Abraham had 2 sons, his older son Ishmael, son of Hagar, who happens to be the grandfather of Makkah's Arabs [i.e. العرب المستعربة], and his younger son Isaac, son of Sarah, the grandfather of the Israelites.

The reason Jews refuse Muhammad is because they don't accept that God's covenant with Isaac has ended, hence continuous till the Hour comes, and Christians agree on that notion. While Muslims believe that Muhammad is the son of Ishmael whom God sent to be the Prophet of the Hour, that's the main difference between the two Abrahamic groups, which is why Jews don't accept him.

In fact, Muhammad didn't forget his bloodline from Ishmael, so there's no possibilty he was not from the Ishmaelite Arabs: https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi:3606

Christians also have other reasons to reject Muhammad, for example that Jesus made warnings about false prophets/teachers, and this was literally a response from one of my Oriental Orthodox Christian colleagues who said why he doesn't accept that someone will follow up after Christ, because Christ gave the warning.

I also know that my colleague is under the influence of the denomination he follows; that I felt his negativity when I asked him about Catholic tradition difference, let the possibility to accept Muhammad as prophet. This defines how a denomination can affect the understanding of the word "Prophet", i.e. the link in the post.

It's also notable that "Prophet" itself is differently understood between Christians and Muslims, because Christians also hold the notion that Christ is a Prophet, but not in the same doctrinal understanding of how Jews and Muslims view the prophets in the Tanakh/Qur'an.

I also read the answers here and you can easily predict that I don't fully agree with them, because our main difference is how we view people like Muhammad and Jesus, and what we do understand about them from the Scriptures we have at hand, and how do we interpret their teachings and their way of life, and only debates can resolve these point of differences, which is against the point of SE.

Yet I come here to learn about the Bible in the first place, not to debate people or criticize their doctrine, God left us the freedom to believe and give trust to whom we want, but the wisdom behind the choice judges, that's the point of our existence.

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Excellent points have been put forwarded to tell why Christians do not accept Muhammad as the prophet of God in the above answers given so far. Here I am adding few more to the above list of the reasons.

Since Muslims claim that Muhammad is the "last and the greatest" prophets of all it is but natural that we expect the best teachings that the world has ever seen and the highest moral standards of a living human being from Muhammad. Honest examinations reveals that Muhammad lacks both!

Jesus not only claimed authenticity from the previous Jewish books but also showed which scriptures actually foretold about him.

16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Him. And He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” 20 And He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all the people in the synagogue were intently directed at Him. 21 Now He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your [e]hearing.” (Luke.4:16-21)

This type of clear-cut Scriptural quoting is missing from Muhammad's claims.

Although he repeatedly claims that the Quran is given to confirm, not to correct or restore as some might wrongly assume, the previous Scriptures i.e. Torah, Psalms, prophets, and the Gospels, a close examination reveals his teachings are diametrically opposite to the previous Scriptures.

There were both Jews and Christians who had the previous Scriptures in their possession in the the same place where Muhammad lived and ruled. In fact, traditions [hadeeth literature] gave clear testimony that Muhammad did come in contact with the previous books, yet he never pointed to any particular parts in the previous scriptures [the Bible] in support of his so-called 'prophethood.'

Example#1

Previous books talk about divorce, reason, and remarriage...

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens, if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, that he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and [a]sends her away from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter husband [b]turns against her, writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand, and [c]sends her away from his house, or if the latter husband who took her to be his wife dies, 4 then her former husband who [d]sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, after [e]she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy.24:1-4)

"God [a]says, “If a husband divorces his wife And she leaves him And becomes another man’s wife, Will he return to her again? Would that land not be completely defiled? But you are a prostitute with many [b]lovers; Yet you turn to Me,” declares the Lord." (Jeremiah.3:1)

Muhammad gave a book that goes diametrically opposite to the above Scriptural teachings...

“So if he divorces her she shall not be lawful to him afterwards until she marries another husband; then if he divorces her there is no blame on them both if they return to each other (by marriage), if they think that they can keep within the limits of Allah, and these are the limits of Allah which He makes clear for a people who knowe.”(Quran-Surah 2:230)

Example#2

Previous books lay out clear punishment for the murder...

"30 ‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the [o]testimony of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 31 Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is [p]condemned to death, but he must be put to death." (Numbers.35:30-31)

But the book that Muhammad gave teaches the opposite and outrageous...

"O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty." (Quran-Surah.2:178)

Example#3

True prophets referred to the Creator as the Father...

"Is this what you do to the Lord, You foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father who has purchased you? He has made you and established you." (Deuteronomy.32:6)

"He will call to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’" (Psalms.89:26)

"“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, [d]Hallowed be Your name." (Matthew.6:9) " I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." (Psalm.2:7)

But Muhammad's books teaches otherwise...

"He begets not, nor was He begotten." (Quran-Surah.112:3)

Example#4

Prophets of the previous books never told that the eternal life will consist of pleasures related to the biological needs such as marriage. On the contrary they proclaimed that the redeemed/believers will not marry in world to come...

"29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, since you do not [s]understand the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." (Matthews.22:29-30)

Whereas Muhammad taught in his book...

"“Indeed, the people of Paradise will be happily occupied. They and their wives shall be in shades, reclining on raised couches. There are for them fruits and there is for them all that they ask for...”(Quran-Surah 36: 55-57)" "so it will be. We shall wed them to maidens with large, dark eyes" (Quran-Surah.44:54)

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There's a fundamental difference in the relationships between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

There is an asymmetry between Judaism and Christianity:

  • Christians believe things that Jews know are untrue (e.g. Jesus was the promised Messiah).
  • Jews fail to believe things that Christians know are true.

Thus Christians accept that Jewish beliefs are true, but incomplete.
There is a one-way compatibility between the two faiths.

On the other hand:

  • Christians believe things that Muslims know are untrue (Jesus was the literal son of God).
  • Muslims believe things that Christians know are untrue (e.g. Jesus was saved from crucifixion).

Each faith has truths that the other can never accept or compromise on. Christianity and Islam are intrinsically incompatible.


From a Christian perspective Islam is a false religion, and even though parts of it might be shared, there is no reason to accept any Islamic belief that isn't already a Christian belief.


In the secular world, if I told you ten facts and you know with certainty that 6 of them are true and 2 of them are false, would you have any reason to accept the other 2 statements?

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  • What do you mean by "Jesus was the literal son of God" and how do Muslims know that it is untrue? Jan 27 at 5:40
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    @TeluguBeliever. Quran 5:75 says "The Messiah … was only a messenger, … note how deluded they are.". Quran 6:101: "Originator of the heavens … how can He have a son …". Quran 9:30: "… the Christians said, “The Messiah is the son of God.” … May God assail them! How deceived they are!". Quran 17:111: And say, "Praise be to Allah, who has not begotten a son …*". Quran 19:92: "It is not fitting for the Most Merciful to have a son". Quran 23:91: "Allah has never begotten a son, …". Also: 2:116, 10:68, 18:4, 19:91, 21:26, 25:2, 39:4, 43:81. Jan 27 at 14:38
  • @TeluguBeliever, By "literal son" I mean the expression "Son of God" is not meant in the sense of the common Hebrew idiom ("son of X" means something that has many common characteristics of X). Jan 27 at 14:41

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