By Sam Shamoun
This is the culmination of a series of responses I wrote concerning the identity of Yahweh’s Servant mentioned in the 42nd chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah:
We highly encourage the readers to first read these particular rebuttals before reading this article.
In their zeal to find Muhammad in the Holy Bible some Muslims go as far as to take passages, which speak of Yahweh, and attribute them to their prophet. Note, for instance, what the following polemicist writes in respect to the prophecy of Isaiah 42, which speaks of the Servant whom Yahweh will raise up to bring God’s salvation to all the inhabitants of the earth:
Muhammad was “never discouraged” (verse 4) even when his wife, sons, uncles, daughters, and beloved companions passed away within his very sight, yet God guaranteed his safety from his enemies: “And Allah will guard you against men” (Qur’an 5:67). Although the Meccan period of his life was littered with persecutions, tortures, martyrdoms, and sanctions, God rewarded His Beloved with a sovereign post in Medina where he executed “justice unto truth” (verse 3). Again, that true covenant that God had made with Abraham and Ishmael was finally vindicated in the form of this champion Prophet, Muhammad al-Mustafa (verse 6). The “new song” (verse 10) of the Qur’an filled the hearts of the believers with such a firm faith in the absolute Oneness of the Almighty that they carried this message into the majestic isles (verse 4) and into the four corners of the globe. This “mighty man of war” (verse 13) stirred up such a reaction of absolute jealousy in his enemies that they sought to kill him simply because of his Arab ancestry! Yet when they traveled within a month’s journey of his holy person, God would strike their hearts with such terror the likes of which no man has ever known. The Torah tells us: “I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21). (Ataie, In Defense of Islam: Confronting the Christian with their own Scriptures, p. 170; bold and underline emphasis ours)
“… This Chosen One of Isaiah will be glorified by the Gentiles (non-Jews), the inhabitants of the islands, and in Kedar (Arabia). Only one person has achieved this in the history of the world, and that man is the Prophet Muhammad.” (Ibid., p. 208; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Ataie isn’t the only Muslim who has taken verses from Isaiah 42 and applied them to Muhammad:
7 – A Warrior who will fight God’s Enemies
Isaiah states that this special person will be a warrior and will:
...go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. [Isaiah 42:13]
Throughout history God has dealt sternly with those who are sent guidance and persist in disbelief. Prophet Muhammad had to engage in many battles with the idol worshipping enemies of God and ultimately prevailed against them.
By comparison, Jesus did not triumph over his enemies, according to Christians he was crucified by them. Moreover Jesus wasn’t interested in fighting, he was not a man of war, he was a pacifist according to the New Testament. He said such things as:
“for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” [Matthew 26:52]
“My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…” [John 18:36]. (Muhammad in the Bible; underline emphasis ours)
Here is another:
13- "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies."
14- "I have long time holding my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing women; I will destroy and devour at once."
Until Islam, God had never ordered any prophets to fight against unbelievers to destroy them. Believer [sic] were fighting only to defense [sic] themselves. But Allah ordered Muhammad to fight against unbelievers, and slay them if they don’t accept Allah. And if you study the life of Muhammad you will see that he was the commander of the army and he fought with his sword and he lost one of his teeth during the war. And God destroyed unbelievers at once (with only during of one prophet). (Isaiah 42 describes Muhammad; bold and italicized emphasis ours)
The problem that these Muslims face is that the specific verses they have cited do not speak of Yahweh appointing a human messenger as his agent of salvation or wrath, nor do they speak of the nations praising and glorifying a mere man that Yahweh has raised up to represent him. Rather, these texts speak of Yahweh himself being glorified and praised as he goes forth like a warrior to destroy his enemies:
“‘I am Yahweh. THAT IS MY NAME. I will not give MY GLORY to another, nor MY PRAISE to engraved images. Behold, the former things have happened, and I declare new things. I tell you about them before they come up.’ Sing to Yahweh a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the islands and their inhabitants. Let the wilderness and its cities raise their voices, with the villages that Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of Sela sing. Let them shout from the top of the mountains! Let them GIVE GLORY TO YAHWEH, and declare HIS PRAISE in the islands. YAHWEH WILL GO OUT LIKE A MIGHTY MAN (kaggibor). HE will stir up zeal LIKE A MAN OF WAR (ka'ish milchamot). HE will raise a war cry. Yes, HE will shout aloud. HE will triumph over HIS enemies.” Isaiah 42:8-13
This isn’t the only time that Yahweh is likened to a man of war:
“Yahweh is a man of war (ish milchamah). Yahweh is his name.” Exodus 15:3
Pay close attention to the context of the foregoing verse:
“Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, ‘I will sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise him; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name. He has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea. His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea. The deeps cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Yahweh, is glorious in power. Your right hand, Yahweh, dashes the enemy in pieces. In the greatness of your excellency, you overthrow those who rise up against you. You send out your wrath. It consumes them as stubble. With the blast of your nostrils, the waters were piled up. The floods stood upright as a heap. The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, “I will pursue. I will overtake. I will divide the plunder. My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” You blew with your wind. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand. The earth swallowed them. You, in your loving kindness, have led the people that you have redeemed. You have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation. The peoples have heard. They tremble. Pangs have taken hold on the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed. Trembling takes hold of the mighty men of Moab. All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread falls on them. By the greatness of your arm they are as still as a stone—until your people pass over, Yahweh, until the people pass over who you have purchased. You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place, Yahweh, which you have made for yourself to dwell in; the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have established. Yahweh shall reign forever and ever.’ For the horses of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and Yahweh brought back the waters of the sea on them; but the children of Israel walked on dry land in the middle of the sea. Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances. Miriam answered them, ‘Sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.’” Exodus 15:1-21
Here we have Moses and the Israelites singing a song of praise to Yahweh in celebration of their deliverance from the tyranny of Pharaoh.
What makes this all the more relevant to our discussion of Isaiah 42 is that, according to the book of Exodus, Yahweh himself came down in visible form for the express purpose of saving his people from their oppression:
“Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.” Exodus 13:21-22
“Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which he will work for you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall never see them again. Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still. Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward. Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go into the middle of the sea on dry ground. Behold, I myself will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them: and I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen. The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have gotten myself honor over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen.’ The angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them, and stood behind them. It came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness, yet gave it light by night: and one didn’t come near the other all night. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the middle of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the middle of the sea: all of Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. In the morning watch, Yahweh looked out on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and confused the Egyptian army. He took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily; so that the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians!’ Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.’ Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it. Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even all Pharaoh’s army that went in after them into the sea. There remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the middle of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did to the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh; and they believed in Yahweh, and in his servant Moses.” Exodus 14:13-31
Yahweh continued appearing to his people in visible form all throughout their stay in the wilderness right up until he planted them securely in the Promised Land:
“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Behold, I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.’ Moses told the words of the people to Yahweh. Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready against the third day; for on the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. You shall set bounds to the people all around, saying, “Be careful that you don’t go up onto the mountain, or touch its border. Whoever touches the mountain shall be surely put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether it is animal or man, he shall not live.” When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mountain.’ Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. He said to the people, ‘Be ready by the third day. Don’t have sexual relations with a woman.’ On the third day, when it was morning, there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to Yahweh to gaze, and many of them perish. Let the priests also, who come near to Yahweh, sanctify themselves, lest Yahweh break out on them.’ Moses said to Yahweh, ‘The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying, “Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.”’ Yahweh said to him, ‘Go down! You shall bring Aaron up with you, but don’t let the priests and the people break through to come up to Yahweh, lest he break out against them.’ So Moses went down to the people, and told them.” Exodus 19:9-25
“Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp, and he called it ‘The Tent of Meeting.’ Everyone who sought Yahweh went out to the Tent of Meeting, which was outside the camp. When Moses went out to the Tent, that all the people rose up, and stood, everyone at their tent door, and watched Moses, until he had gone into the Tent. When Moses entered into the Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, stood at the door of the Tent, and spoke with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the door of the Tent, and all the people rose up and worshiped, everyone at their tent door. Yahweh spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. He turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, didn’t depart from the Tent.” Exodus 33:7-11
“Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and Yahweh’s glory filled the tabernacle. Moses wasn’t able to enter into the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud stayed on it, and Yahweh’s glory filled the tabernacle. When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward, throughout all their journeys; but if the cloud wasn’t taken up, then they didn’t travel until the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Exodus 40:34-38
We are even told in one place that Moses, Aaron, his two sons and the seventy elders of Israel actually saw Yahweh’s feet on top of what looked like sapphire stone, and that they even ate in his very own presence:
“Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. They saw the God of Israel. Under HIS FEET was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness. He didn’t lay his hand on the nobles of the children of Israel. They saw God, and ate and drank. Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them.’ Moses rose up with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up onto God’s Mountain. He said to the elders, ‘Wait here for us, until we come again to you. Behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever is involved in a dispute can go to them.’ Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. Yahweh’s glory settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day HE CALLED to Moses OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF THE CLOUD. The appearance of Yahweh’s glory was like devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. Moses entered into the middle of the cloud, and went up on the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:9-18
In light of this it should therefore come as no surprise that Isaiah would speak of a time when Yahweh would again appear visibly to his people for the purpose of bringing healing and salvation to them:
“The wilderness and the dry land will be glad. The desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It will blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. Lebanon’s glory will be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They will see Yahweh’s glory, the excellence of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Tell those who have a fearful heart, ‘Be strong. Don’t be afraid. Behold, your God will come with vengeance, God’s retribution. He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing; for waters will break out in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. Grass with reeds and rushes will be in the habitation of jackals, where they lay. A highway will be there, a road, and it will be called The Holy Way. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it will be for those who walk in the Way. Wicked fools will not go there. No lion will be there, nor will any ravenous animal go up on it. They will not be found there; but the redeemed will walk there. The Yahweh’s ransomed ones will return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:1-10
“The voice of one who calls out, ‘Prepare the way of Yahweh in the wilderness! Make a level highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain. Yahweh’s glory shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.’… You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength. Lift it up. Don’t be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold, your God!’ Behold, the Lord Yahweh will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He will gently lead those who have their young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11
Isaiah also envisioned a time when Yahweh would be born as a Child in order to reign over David’s throne forever and ever:
“… For to us a child IS BORN. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on David’s throne, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7
That this Child is none other than the incarnation of Yahweh God himself is further confirmed by the fact that the name “Mighty God” is used of Yahweh in the very next chapter of Isaiah:
“It will come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and those who have escaped from the house of Jacob will no more again lean on him who struck them, but shall lean on Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, even the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21
This is a title that is always and only used of the true God:
“For Yahweh your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty (ha’El … haggibbor), and the awesome, who doesn’t respect persons, nor takes reward.” Deuteronomy 10:17
“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God (ha’El … haggibbor), who keeps covenant and loving kindness, don’t let all the travail seem little before you, that has come on us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.” Nehemiah 9:32
“Who is the King of glory? Yahweh strong and mighty (waggibbor), Yahweh mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:8
“who show loving kindness to thousands, and recompense the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them; the great, the mighty God (ha’El … haggibbor), Yahweh of Armies is his name;” Jeremiah 32:18
As such, Isaiah 42:12-13 is not speaking of God sending a human agent to speak and act on his behalf. Rather, this passage refers to Yahweh himself coming to save his people and punish the wicked that refuse to believe in him. This will then evoke worship from all the nations that turn to Yahweh in faith, as they glorify the Lord with songs of praise.
With the foregoing in perspective let us quote the passage once again in order to show how these Muslims have basically committed idolatry for applying these verses to their prophet:
“I am Jehovah, THAT IS MY NAME; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing unto Jehovah a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of Sela sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto Jehovah, and declare HIS praise in the islands. Jehovah will go forth as a mighty man; HE will stir up HIS zeal like a man of war: HE will cry, yea, HE will shout aloud; HE will do mightily against HIS enemies.” Isaiah 42:8-13 American Standard Version (ASV)
The prophet explicitly affirms that Yahweh will not give his glory or praise to any other, which is why he goes on to say that all the nations must ascribe glory and praise to Yahweh.
Thus, in attributing this passage to their prophet these Muslims have ascribed the very unique name and worship of Yahweh to an imperfect, fallible man, which is precisely how the Muslim sources describe Muhammad:
God pardon thee! Why gavest thou them leave, till it was clear to thee which of them spoke the truth, and thou knewest the liars? S. 9:43 Arberry
Indeed they were near to seducing thee from that We revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another, and then they would surely have taken thee as a friend; and had We not confirmed thee, surely thou wert near to inclining unto them a very little; then would We have let thee taste the double of life and the double of death; and then thou wouldst have found none to help thee against Us. S. 17:73-75 Arberry
"Or you have a house of adornable materials (like silver and pure gold, etc.), or you ascend up into the sky, and even then we will put no faith in your ascension until you bring down for us a Book that we would read." Say (O Muhammad): "Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?" S. 17:93 Hilali-Khan
So be thou patient; surely God's promise is true. And ask forgiveness for thy sin, and proclaim the praise of thy Lord at evening and dawn. S. 40:55 Arberry
Say: 'I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.' S. 46:9 Arberry
Had he invented against Us any sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand, then We would surely have cut his life-vein and not one of you could have defended him. S. 69:44-47 Arberry
Say: 'I call only upon my Lord, and I do not associate with Him anyone. Say: 'Surely I possess no power over you, either for hurt or for rectitude.' Say: 'From God shall protect me not anyone, and I shall find, apart from Him, no refuge, excepting a Deliverance from God and His Messages. And whoso rebels against God and His messenger, for him there awaits the Fire of Gehenna; therein they shall dwell forever.' Until, when they see that which they are promised, then they will know who is weaker in helpers and fewer in numbers. Say: 'I do not know whether that which you are promised is nigh, or whether my Lord will appoint for it a space; S. 72:20-25 Arberry
They have therefore violated Tauhid al-Ibadah/Uluhiyah (the oneness or exclusivity of Allah’s service/worship), as well as Tauhid al-Asma wa’Sifat (the oneness or exclusivity of Allah’s names and attributes). According to these branches of Islamic monotheism, a Muslim is absolutely prohibited from assigning any of the unique names of Allah to a creature, and is also forbidden from granting any mere mortal the very praise and glory that Allah alone is to receive.
They have also gone against the express order of their own prophet who warned against over-praising him, especially in the same way that Christians praise the Lord Jesus:
I heard the Prophet saying, "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 654)
These Muslims have basically committed the unpardonable sin of shirk, since they have turned a sinful human being into a partner with God in his exclusive names and worship:
WHO made the earth a bed for you, and the heaven a roof, and caused water to come down from the clouds and therewith brought forth fruits for your sustenance; so do not set up equals to ALLAH, while you know. S. 2:22 Sher Ali
Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin. S. 4:48 Hilali-Khan – cf. v. 116; 39:65
This should serve a lesson for these Islamic apologists to never dare twist and pervert God’s inspired revelation in this manner, since the true God will shame them by exposing them as liars for doing so:
“Every word of God is flawless. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Don’t you add to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6
“Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you; as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness.” 2 Peter 3:15-17
In a forthcoming article we will show how Isaiah identifies Yahweh’s Servant as being both personally distinct from and identical to Yahweh himself.
All biblical references taken from the World English Bible (WEB).