Islam claims that Muhammad and Jesus Christ of Nazareth were both Muslims and both prophets sent by Allah. If this were true then it is obvious that these two men, who their adherents claim to be mighty prophets, must coincide in every point of doctrine and message and never contradict each other. Just as Moses affirmed the commandments of God and emphasised the practical out-workings of the laws which resulted from these commandments, so Jesus re-affirmed these, stating clearly: 'Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill it' (Matthew 5:17). If the same 'Allah' supposedly sent these prophets it is only logical to assume that their ministries and messages cannot in principle contradict each other - otherwise, Allah would be contradicting himself! This is claimed to be a tenet of faith by orthodox Muslims and is not open to question. But what do we find to be the truth when we compare the ministries and messages of these men to see if, in fact, they are in complete accord?
Can we compare Muhammad and Jesus Christ?
The life and teaching of Muhammad can be reconstructed from the Quran and the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth is clearly to be found in the Bible alone. However, some Muslims attempt to prevent us comparing the Biblical Jesus to the Quranic Muhammad by claiming that the Bible is so corrupted that the Jesus of the New Testament is not the true Jesus. On another page we deal with the question of Biblical accuracy and will not repeat the evidence here (although much more could be added to the immense weight of argument in favour of Biblical authority over all other books claiming 'divine inspiration'). However, the attitude of Muslims also causes them other problems, for the Quran uses the New Testament Gospels for information on Jesus (such as His virgin birth) so, logically, if they believe the Gospels are corrupt, then it would follow that the Quran must also be corrupt (however, we can prove the Quran is corrupt by other means - as we will do thoroughly in a later article).Prophecy
But if we were to simply ignore such facts and compare the Bible and the Quran as two literary documents in order to compare the life of Jesus and the life of Muhammad - what do we find? Just as we reject later inventions of men, such as the supposed 'Book of Barnabas', we will not utilize any of the later Muslim legends - such as the hadith - which seek to elevate Muhammad's life above that described in the Quran by adding elements of the miraculous (Islam has also done this with the life of Christ by adding miracles not described in the New Testament). We will reject all such additions in order to arrive at opinions based on the facts from the single books of Christianity and Islam which are recognised as holy and inspired by their respective adherents.
First, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were clearly prophesied in the Old Testament according to the New Testament and we will give a few examples:
Micah 5:2 gives us the very name of the town in which the Messiah would be born. On the day Christ died, no less than 33 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. The coming of Christ was preceded by the preaching of John the Baptist, in the spirit and power of Elijah, according to the prophecy in Isaiah 40 and Malachi 4.
The coming of Muhammad was not predicted by pagan soothsayers, Old Testament prophets, or New Testament apostles. This is true despite the extreme lengths some Muslims will go to in trying to construct some biblical prophecies for the coming of Muhammad. A common example is the Muslim attempt to claim that Jesus' prediction of the coming of a 'Comforter' in John chapters 14, 15, and 16, was a reference to Muhammad. However, if you read John 14:26 you find that the Comforter is specifically identified as the Holy Spirit (cf. John 16:13) whom the Father will send in the name of Jesus Christ. Other claims from Biblical passages are equally easily rebutted. Muhammad himself certainly never claimed to be the Holy Spirit who had come in the name of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion? While the coming of Christ was preceded by numerous prophecies the coming of Muhammad was not predicted by anyone.
Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. The Quran and orthodox Islam fully accept the virgin birth of Jesus.
It is only in modern times that some heretical Muslim groups deny and ridicule the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus out of a reaction to the fact that there was nothing miraculous or supernatural about the birth of Muhammad. Muhammad was the natural product of the sexual union of his father and mother.
The New Testament is clear - Jesus Christ lived a perfect and sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21). When His enemies came to accuse Jesus before Pilate and Herod, they had to invent charges because no one could find anything against Him.
When we examine the life of Muhammad, we find that the Quran never describes him as anything but a normal human being engaged in the same sins which afflict all of us. When we examine the Quran further we find that he lied, cheated, lusted, failed to keep his word - and was neither perfect nor sinless.
In Sura 18:110, and elsewhere, Muhammad is commanded by Allah:
Say, I am but a man like yourselves.
The Quran never describes Muhammad as sinless but, instead, Allah tells Muhammad that he is no different than any other man for, in Sura 40:55, Allah told Muhammad to repent of his sins (Mohammed Pickthal translation):
Ask forgiveness of thy sin.
Was Allah wrong to ask Muhammad to ask for forgiveness because he had nothing to forgive?
Similarly, Pickthal's translation of Sura 48:1,2 states:
Lo! We have given thee, (O Muhammad) signal victory, that Allah may forgive thee of thy sin, that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favour unto thee, and guide thee on a right path.
Muhammad was clearly commanded to repent of his sins and to seek forgiveness, and also reminded of his past sins that Allah had already forgiven and of future sins which would need future forgiveness! Clearly Muhammad was not sinless according to the Quran and was just one more poor sinner in need of forgiveness and redemption.
The Love of God
During his lifetime, Jesus performed many miracles which witnesses attributed to power that only God wields. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and even ruled the wind and the waves.
But the Quran makes it clear in dozens of places (e.g. Sura 17:91-95) that Muhammad never performed a single miracle and the only sign he could point to was the existence of his revelations, the Suras, that made up the Quran (Sura 29:47-51).
Alfred Guillaume points out:
Controversy with Christians on the rival merits of Jesus and Muhammad may fairly be regarded as the origin of the pretended miracles, flatly contradicting the plain statement of the great Arabian and those of many of his immediate followers that he was not sent with power to work miracles. Whether the object of the inventors was to elevate their prophet to a position equal to that held by Jesus in the estimation of His servants, or whether it was to furnish themselves and their pupils with a messenger of God who satisfied a natural craving of the human heart for a visible manifestation of divine power it is not our purpose to determine. There are good reasons for believing that deliberate imitation was resorted to for the reasons already given, and because the ashabu-l-hadith did not stop at ascribing the works of Christ to their prophet. His words and those of his apostles are freely drawn on and put into the mouth of Muhammad. (The Traditions of Islam, London, Clarendon Press, 1924, p.138)
Muhammad performed no miracles - he did not heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, or rule the wind and the waves - and had no more power than any normal man.
Ali Dashti comments:
Moslems, as well as others, have disregarded the historical facts. They have continually striven to turn this man [Muhammad] into an imaginary superhuman being, a sort of God in human clothes, and have generally ignored the ample evidence of his humanity. They have been ready ... to present these fantasies as miracles.
Many Iranians have been raised on a diet of myth and are ready to believe that any emamzada, of however ancestry, can at any moment perform a miracle. But if they were to read the Qor'an, they would be surprised to find no report of a miracle in it at all. They would learn from twenty or more Qor'anic passages that whenever the Prophet Mohammad was asked by doubters to perform a miracle, he either stayed silent or said that he would not do so because he was a human being like any other, with no function except to communicate, to be a "bringer of good news and a warner." (Ali Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, London, George Allen and Unwin, 1985, p.33-38)
The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus preached the love of God and was the greatest example of that love (John 3:16):
'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life'.
In contrast, we do not have any record in the Quran of Muhammad ever preaching the love of God and it is clear that neither God's love for man nor man's love for God plays any significant role in the preaching of Muhammad, the Quran, or the religion of Islam. Whereas Christianity can point to the coming of Christ as the greatest proof and example that God loves mankind, Islam cannot point to anything that reveals the love of God. Further, the continuous acts of terrorism committed by Muslims have been based on the teachings of the Quran (e.g. Sura 9:5; 5:33), and have been inflicted on non-Muslims since the inception of Muhammad's religion - proving that Allah is not the God of the Bible and Islam is not the same religion as that of Jesus.
Human and Divine Nature
The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ was unique in that He was divine as well as human and is clearly called God in many verses: e.g. John 1:1,18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 10; 2 Peter 1:1, etc.
The Quran makes it clear that Muhammad was only a man.
On Beauty of Speech
When you study the speeches of Jesus recorded in the Gospels (e.g. the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5) you find the reason for His recognition by so many as the greatest speaker who ever lived. Even His enemies had to confess that no man ever spoke as He spoke.
By contrast, the ecstatic, confused speeches of Muhammad in the Quran are in no way outstanding. There is nothing which matches the beauty, substance, or style of the way that Jesus preached the gospel during His lifetime.
A High Moral Example
Jesus' life proved that He held the highest moral principles and was full of love and compassion for His fellow man so that, ultimately, He went to an agonising death on a cross to atone for the sins of mankind.
When you turn to the example of Muhammad we find, instead of a high moral example, that he was involved in many acts which can only be deemed as immoral and unjust.