Muhammad {muh-ham'-uhd}

Compiled by Kurt Dahlin November 12, 1998

The place of the Prophet Muhammad in world history is directly related to the formation of ISLAM as a religious community founded on the message of the KORAN, which Muslims believe to be the words of God revealed to the Prophet.


Muhammad's Life and Work


Muhammad was born about AD 570 in the city of MECCA, an important trading center in western Arabia. He was a member of the Hashim clan of the powerful Quraysh tribe. Because Muhammad's father, Abd Allah, died before he was born and his mother, Amina, when he was 6 years old, he was placed in the care of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib and, after 578, of his uncle Abu Talib, who succeeded as head of the Hashim clan. At the age of about 25, Muhammad entered the employ of a rich widow, Khadijah, in her commercial enterprise. They were married soon after. Two sons, both of whom died young, and four daughters were born. One of the daughters, FATIMA, acquired special prominence in later Islamic history because of her marriage to Muhammad's cousin ALI.

About 610, Muhammad, while in a cave on Mount Hira outside Mecca, had a vision in which he was called on to preach the message entrusted to him by God. Further revelations came to him intermittently over the remaining years of his life, and these revelations constitute the text of the Koran. The opening verses of chapters 96 and 74 are generally recognized as the oldest revelations; Muhammad's vision is mentioned in 53:1-18 and 81:19-25, and the night of the first revelation in 97:1-5 and 44:3. At first in private and then publicly, Muhammad began to proclaim his message: that there is but one God and that Muhammad is his messenger sent to warn people of the Judgment Day and to remind them of God's goodness.


The Meccans responded with hostility to Muhammad's monotheism and iconoclasm. As long as Abu Talib was alive Muhammad was protected by the Hashim, even though that clan was the object of a boycott by other Quraysh after 616. About 619, however, Abu Talib died, and the new clan leader was unwilling to continue the protective arrangement. At about the same time Muhammad lost another staunch supporter, his wife Khadijah. In the face of persecution and curtailed freedom to preach, Muhammad and about 70 followers reached the decision to sever their ties of blood kinship in Mecca and to move to MEDINA, a city about 400 km (250 mi) to the north. This move, called the hegira, or hijra (an Arabic word meaning "emigration"), took place in 622, the first year of the Muslim calendar. (Muslim dates are usually preceded by AH, "Anno Hegirae," the year of the hegira.)


In Medina an organized Muslim community gradually came into existence under Muhammad's leadership. Attacks on caravans from Mecca led to war with the Meccans. Muhammad's followers obtained (624) victory at Badr but were defeated at Uhud a year later. In 627, however, they successfully defended Medina against a siege by 10,000 Meccans. Clashes with three Jewish clans in Medina occurred in this same period. One of these clans, the Banu Qurayza, was accused of plotting against Muhammad during the siege of Medina; in retaliation all of the clan's men were killed and the women and children sold into slavery. Two years later, in the oasis of Khaybar, a different fate befell another Jewish group. After defeat they were allowed to remain there for the price of half their annual harvest of dates.


Since AD 624 (AH 2) the Muslims of Medina had been facing Mecca during worship (earlier, they had apparently turned toward Jerusalem). Mecca was considered of primary importance to the Muslim community because of the presence there of the KAABA. This sanctuary was then a pagan shrine, but according to the Koran (2:124-29), it had been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael and had therefore to be reintegrated in Muslim society. An attempt to go on pilgrimage to Mecca in 628 was unsuccessful, but at that time an arrangement was made allowing the Muslims to make the pilgrimage the next year, on condition that all parties cease armed hostilities. Incidents in 629 ended the armistice, and in January 630, Muhammad and his men marched on Mecca. The Quraysh offer to surrender was accepted with a promise of general amnesty, and hardly any fighting occurred. Muhammad's generosity to a city that had forced him out 8 years earlier is often quoted as an example of remarkable magnanimity.


In his final years Muhammad continued his political and military involvements, making arrangements with nomadic tribes ready to accept Islam and sending expeditions against hostile groups. A few months after a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca in March 632 he fell ill. Muhammad died on June 8, 632, in the presence of his favorite wife, AISHA, whose father, ABU BAKR, became the first caliph (see CALIPHATE).


God's Messenger


According to Muslim belief, God sent Muhammad as a messenger (rasul, or "apostle") from among the Arabs, bringing a revelation in "clear Arabic" (Koran 26:192-95); thus, as other peoples had received their messengers, so the Arabs received theirs. As one who had lived "a lifetime" among them before his calling (10:16), however, Muhammad was rejected by many because he was simply a man among men and not an angelic being (6:50; 18:110). As Moses had brought the Law and Jesus had received the Gospel, the Prophet (al-nabi) Muhammad was the recipient of the Koran. He is "the Seal of the Prophets" (33:40), and the Koran is the perfection of all previous revelations.


Exemplar and Guide


In his sermon during the farewell pilgrimage Muhammad testified that he had fulfilled his mission by leaving behind "God's Book and the sunna {custom} of the Prophet." Imitation of the Prophet--following the example of his life in all circumstances--is a prerequisite for every Muslim. Moreover, the "Blessing of the Prophet," based on a Koranic verse (33:56) and consisting of an invocation of God's blessing on the Prophet (and his family and companions) plays a major role in Muslim piety. In addition to the accomplishments of his lifetime and his significance for the present, most Muslims anticipate a future role for Muhammad--as intercessor, "with God's permission," on Judgment Day.


Willem A. Bijlefeld


Bibliography: Ali, Muhammad, The Living Thoughts of Muhammad (1950); Andrae, Tor, Muhammad: The Man and His Faith, trans. by Theophil Menzel (1936; repr. 1971); Azzam, Abd al-Rahman, The Eternal Message of Muhammad, trans. by C. E. Farah (1964); Cook, Michael, Muhammad (1983); Glubb, John, The Life and Times of Muhammad (1970); Guillaume, Alfred, ed. and trans., The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasaul Allah' (1955); Jeffrey, Arthur, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (1958); Newby, Gordon D., The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad (1989); Rodinson, Maxime, Mohammed, trans. by Anne Carter (1971); Schimmel, Annemarie, And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (1985); Watt, W. Montgomery, Muhammad: Prophet and Stateman (1961).


I. Islam's history: Beliefs and Practices


A. History

1. Islam began in Arabia-now Saudi Arabia.

2. A man named Muhammad believed he received revelation from God and felt obligated to preach that message. He gathered a large number of converts. At his death, 632 AD, a large portion of Arabia had embraced the Islam faith.

3. It spread rapidly in the first 100 years to: the Middle

East, N. Africa, Spain, Pakistan, and India.


B. It has it's own internal divisions.

1. Sunni-90% of the Muslims are of this division.

2. Shiites-10% of the Muslims are of this division. Shiites

are mostly in Iran.

3. Their differences are due to:

a. A question of who would succeeded Muhammad. The Sunni's

believe it would be a Muslim leader. The Shiite's

believe it would be a Muslim leader along with


b. The question of how to learn God's Word. The Sunni's

consult the writings of the Koran; which is a book of

writings accepted by Muslims as revelations made to

Muhammad by Allah. The Shiites also accept the Koran

but add the living voice of God. The leaders are in-

tuitively and spiritually in touch with God; guided

not only by what's written, but by direct revelation.


C. Islamic practices (among all)

1. Confession: no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger

of God.

2. Prayer: 5 times a day.

3. Giving of alms.

4. The keeping of the month long fast of the Ramadan.

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one's lifetime.


D. The core beliefs of Islam

1. God

2. Prophets and holy books

a. Moses, David, and Jesus

b. Law of Moses, Psalm, Gospel of Jesus, Koran

3. Angels

4. Judgment

5. God's decrees


II. Areas where Islam and Christianity agree and differ.

A. God

1. God is one: creator, different, separate, and apart.

2. God is revealed as holy and merciful. Ninety-nine

beautiful names of God are used.


B. Muslims do not believe:

1. Trinity

2. That God became incarnate

3. That God loves unconditionally

4. That God is personally knowable


C. Jesus

1. Muslims believe:

a. Jesus is the Messiah, Word of God, Spirit of God.

b. That He was born of a virgin.

c. That Jesus was the only sinless person that ever

lived and is now alive in Heaven. They believe He

will come again.

2. Muslims don't believe:

a. Jesus is divine.

b. That He was crucified.

c. That He is Lord and Savior.

d. In Jesus' death and resurrection.

* To say God became flesh would bring God below His



D. Human nature

1. Muslims believe:

a. God created people.

b. People are God's representatives on earth.

c. People are accountable to God.

2. Muslims do not believe that people are created in the

image of God. This would bring God down to an unholy level.


E. Sin and it's solution

1. Muslims believe that people have sinned.

a. Sin does not involve nature.

b. Not a moral issue.

c. Sins solution is guidance: the Koran.

2. Muslims do not believe in the necessity of:

a. Jesus' substitutionary death.

b. A personal relationship with God through Jesus.


III. The major Christian beliefs which perplex Muslims are:


A. Trinity: Muslims think we believe in 3 gods

1. Christians believe in the O.T. and N.T. God, which affirm

His oneness.

2. They need an understanding of the Trinity.

a. Analogies can help them.

b. The Trinity is a faith statement and experience as

well...Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

c. The Trinity keeps God from being remote.


B. Jesus' Deity

1. They understand begotten "Son of God" but their

definitions are different.

2. They have a concept of God being eternal, but they believe

it to be Koran.

3. The trustworthiness of the Bible.


IV. Some do's and don'ts when witnessing to Muslims


A. Don'ts

1. Don't forget to pray.

2. Don't assume you know what a Muslim believes...ask.

3. Don't attack Islam, the Koran or Muhammad.

4. Don't say that "Allah" is a false or pagan god.


B. Do's

1. Treat Muslims with respect.

2. Show genuine friendship.

3. Don't fail to witness for Christ.

4. Focus the conversation on Jesus.

5. Listen for basic needs.

V. Sharing the gospel with Muslims is one of the greatest challenges

of the church today.

1. Muslims can be brought to faith in Jesus Christ.

2. If God brings a Muslim across your path, remember to share



The Muslims refuse to call Jesus the Son of God because they know the title means equal to God, of the same nature or substance. Therefore Muslims deny the deity of Christ. The Muslims are of the same cultural environment as the Jews.


A quote from a Muslim tract reads: The Koran (Qur'an) does not acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God and that He suffered death upon the Cross. If Jesus were acknowledged the child of God, Muslims believe it would compromise God's oneness; the belief which is the cornerstone of Islam. It would, moreover, be difficult thereafter to contend that Muhammad was the bearer of the final perfect revelation, as Muslims do.

Listen to what the Koran says:

(5:70) Unbelievers are those that say: 'Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary.' He that worships other gods besides Allah shall be forbidden Paradise and shall be cast into the fire of Hell. None shall help the evil-doers.

Unbelievers are those that say: 'Allah is one of three.' There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished.

(5:75) The Messiah, the son of Mary, was no more than an apostle: other apostles passed away before him.

(2:115) "They say Allah has begotten a son." Allah forbid (344).

In other words if Jesus is the Son of God, the Muslim religion by their own reasoning is unnecessary. Muslims are of an Eastern culture and mind set. They refuse to call Jesus the Son of God because it means equal to God, of the same substance.


Muslims don't believe that Jesus is divine. They don't believe that He was crucified. They don't believe that He was the Savior and they don't believe in His resurrection. They have a holy book called the Koran.. In the Koran book II chapter 115 Muhammad wrote this, "They say [meaning Christians] Allah had begotten a son. Allah forbid." They say this, "You will please neither the Christians nor the Jews unless you follow their faith." The Koran addresses the Muslim person stating, you will please neither the Christians nor the Jews unless you follow their faith. The Koran continues,


The guidance of Allah is the only guidance and if after all the knowledge you have been given you yield to their desires there shall be no one to help or protect you from the wrath of Allah. Those that deny it will assuredly be lost


If after all the knowledge we've given you in the Koran and you convert to Christianity or Judaism you will incur the wrath of Allah. They say those who forsake Allah to follow Christ or Judaism are lost.


Therefore, according to the Koran, faith in Jesus as our sacrifice for sin does not save us. In fact you are lost and subject to all His wrath for believing in Jesus as the Son of God, as the Savior. Christians are lost for believing that Jesus was crucified and resurrected as the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world.

The Koran states in Book 4:154 concerning the resurrection,


They [meaning the Jews] denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared we have put to death the Messiah, Jesus the Son of Mary. The apostle of Allah. They did not kill Him nor did they crucify Him. But they thought they did or literally He was made to resemble another for them. So Jesus was not really crucified they only thought they crucified him.


Now these particular Muslims I spoke to, gave me a book called Jesus Lived In India by Holger Kersten. In this book the author stated,


The crucifixion did not bring about his death. Exact analysis of the shroud of Turin leads to scientific proof that Jesus survived the crucifixion and only appeared to be dead. After the resurrection Jesus lived at first in the near east and later returned to India where he finally died at an old age. His tomb exists to this day.

Now, I'm not trying to be funny when I read this because this is a very serious issue that people actually believe this. It helps us to know what other people think and it also helps us to present our faith in a more intelligent fashion with some one because we understand where they are coming from. So their basis for this impossible story was a vision that this guy Hans Nevor had in 1947. Here is the vision,


Jesus appeared and authorized him to testify before the world that the subject of the crucifixion had only appeared to be dead but was in fact a kind of coma from which he awoke after three days.


So again, he says, "The Koran confirms the truth that Jesus had been saved from death on the cross and a cursed death unworthy of him. The text of the gospels would also confirm Jesus' survival of the crucifixion." This guy stated that the gospels confirm that Jesus survived the crucifixion. Who's gospel? "Jesus' survival of the crucifixion fulfilled prophesies from the Old Testament." The truth is that His resurrection fulfilled OT prophecy. "Jesus did indeed live in Kashmir for a long period of time. I personally find in Jesus an idyllic example of Buddha. What is vital to constantly improve one's karma by appropriate action." Now this is interesting for some of you who are familiar with karma. But they say, "if one manages to acquaint themselves with the doctrine of reincarnation then relinquishing or giving up the belief in the ascension of the physical body of the crucified Jesus" -- so in other words, if you are going to believe in reincarnation you have to give up the belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and ascension. Reincarnation will lessen one's faith in the truth of Jesus' own teaching. I didn't realize the bodily resurrection and ascension was an argument against reincarnation.


So the Koran teaches that Jesus was not the Son of God, that He was not crucified, that He did not die at Calvary. Therefore, He did not shed His blood for our sins as the Passover Lamb. Therefore, He was not resurrected on the third day from the cold tomb in His own body. Therefore, Jesus could not have ascended to the Father and could not have sent the Holy Spirit on the Church on Pentecost and therefore we have no new covenant. Now that is quite a bit different from what we read in the gospels. Wouldn't you say it is the opposite? I know it is said, all religions are the same. Anybody ever hear that? How can something so totally opposite be the same?