Noah Webster's original 1828 dictionary defines a prophet as:

  1. future eyeOne that fortells future events; a predicter; a foreteller
  2. In Scripture, a person illuminated, inspired or instructed by God to announce future events
  3. One who pretends to foretell; an imposter; as a false prophet

Muslims claim Muhammad was the last and final prophet, the final messenger of God declaring the same message to mankind as all the previous prophets. This bold claim contains assumptions that must be answered if we are going to accept as true the claim at face value.

  1. How do we know Muhammad was a prophet outside his own claim to be so? By what criteria is a prophet measured, and does Muhammad measure up?
  2. How do we know Muhammad brought the same message as the prior prophets? How can an accurate assessment of this claim be made?

Criteria of a Prophet

True prophets must provide evidence of such to back up the claim; otherwise anyone can claim to be a prophet and how are we to know?

handwritingMuslims claim that because Muhammad was illiterate, he could not have written the Qur’an, and thus the Qur'an is a miracle, Muhammad's primary miracle. This idea of illiteracy is supported in the Qur’an:

Sura 7:157: "Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), - in the law and the Gospel...

Sura 7:158 –  Say: "O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Apostle of God, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in God and His Apostle, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in God and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided."

Thus, the Qur’an’s very existence is testimony to Muhammad’s status as a prophet. There are a couple of problems with this position.

Salman Rushdie wrote a book called The Satanic Verses in 1989. Immediately a fatwa, or religious ruling, was issued calling for the death of Rushdie, and a bounty of $2.5 million was placed on his head by the Ayatollah Khomeini, which satanic faceremains in effect to this day. What exactly are the Satanic Verses?

Islam strongly opposes idolatry, polytheism, associating anything or anyone with God. In fact, Islam's creed in Arabic begins with a negative: Not is there a god except God. It contrasts sharply with the contention of Muhammad's Arab contemporaries that God had associates. Some of these associates are even mentioned in the Qur'an, among them three female deities: al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat. Each had a shrine in separate places not far from Mecca in Arabia, where Muhammad was born and began his mission.

The Qur'an, as it now reads, obviously rejects these deities. But—and here comes the issue—did the Qur'an and Muhammad always reject them?

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