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Joseph A Islam
Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)
IS THE NAME 'AHMAD' FOUND IN THE BIBLE?
Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 21st January
A BRIEF BACKGROUND
in the entire scripture (3:144,
33:40, 47:2, 48:29).
However, in verse 61:6, the reader notes a narrative captured where Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
speaks of a messenger to come
after him by the name 'Ahmad'.
The Quran makes use of the
name 'Muhammad' only
Muslim theologians throughout history have
understood this to be a reference to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
drawing on the
similarity of the root word and looking for support from the Bible.
As there is
no mention of this name in the Bible, critics uphold the claim that the Quranic
verse is incorrect. In more extreme cases, the whole veracity of the Quran
is challenged on the basis that there is an absence of any such reference in
Extreme challenges often require extreme measures and one notes many different theories
that have been advanced by Muslims to explain the absence of a suitable
reference. Some of these explanations
include the charge of possible corruption of Biblical terms or of deliberate
obfuscation by the Biblical writers. This assertion
in this context
is somewhat compromised when there exists complete Bible manuscripts which
predate Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh)
ministry by many centuries which do not seem to support
such a hypothesis.
Equally, it is intellectually
preposterous to suggest from a critical perspective that the source of the
Quran (which the Muslim's believe to be God), could have made such a fundamental mistake
with respect to the previous scriptures by including a reference to the name
'Ahmad' which did not exist in the scriptures being read at the time of the
Such a Quranic statement could have easily been
referenced by the followers of the previous scriptures and if found
wanting, would have been blatantly refuted with a charge of false prophethood against
the Arabian Prophet.
We note no such charge captured by the Quran with respect to this statement
where many other charges have been duly rebutted by the Quran. It is to be
further noted, that neither do we find any clarification to this verse in
the Quran nor was this verse ever culled from the Quran for deletion
which leads one to the possible conclusion
that the veracity of the verse was acceptable to its audience.
Such a fundamental theological clarification based on a contention could
have easily been cited by the Quran, especially when we note other
clarifications in the Scripture.
See verse 4:127 where
a clarification on a practical matter is given - "And
they seek your ruling concerning women. Say: God gives you the ruling about
and what is recited to you in the Book concerning
In other verses, one notes many instances where the Quran addresses direct
questions and charges put forward by the contemporaries of the Prophet.
Therefore, the audience of the
Quran clearly understood the verse without any need to raise an
objection which could have possibly necessitated a Quranic
A SUPERFICIAL ASSOCIATION
The two verses at the core of
the matter under discussion are verses 61:6 and 7:157 which Muslim theologians have long
assumed to be interrelated.
when, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the
messenger of God (sent) to you, confirming the Law before me, and giving
Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me (Arabic: min
ba'di), whose name shall be Ahmad."
But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident
who follow the Messenger , the gentile
Umiyya) Prophet whom they
find written down with them (Arabic:
maktuban indahum) in the Torah and
Gospels (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful
to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and
removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so
(as for) those who believe in him and honour him and help him, and
follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are
Many Muslim theologians
unnecessarily attempt to
reconcile verse 61:6 with 7:157 and expect the name 'Ahmad' mentioned in 61:6
to be written in the Gospels on the strength of verse 7:157.
There is no conclusive warrant for
this interpretation other than by way of a superficial association. The
mention of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
in the previous scriptures (7:157) is of a descriptive nature as both the Torah and Injeel are referenced. There is no mention in
verse 7:157 of a messenger called 'Ahmad'. Conversely, all the other descriptive
details present in verse 7:157 are absent from verse 61:6.
There is no
mention of a name or a name that is captured by the Bible
Mentions a gentile (ummi)
prophet that is mentioned in the previous scriptures who enjoins
good, forbids evil, makes lawful good things and provides a light of
guidance which should be followed.
Therefore, to dovetail both
verses into one conglomerate whole and to expect a name 'Ahmad' in the Bible
is unwarranted from a Quranic perspective. The two verses are advancing two
very different points in two very different contexts. On the strength of
verse 7:157 alone, what the Quran is likely referencing viz a viz the Bible
are clear indications of the nature of a true Prophet that should be followed
and not a name.
For example, we note in the Old
"And he said, Hear now my words: If
there be a prophet (Hebrew: Nabi)
among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a
vision, and will speak unto him in a dream
Please note the capacity of the
verse dealing with future prophets and not Prophet Moses (pbuh)
who God spoke with directly (Numbers 12:7-8).
From the Quran, there is
considerable support that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
was inspired by God's
words in his dreams.
"Nay," they say, "(These
Muddled dreams (Arabic: ahlam)!
Nay, He has invented it! forged it! Nay, He is a poet!
The above is merely
quoted as a possible example and is not intended to provide an exhaustive
analysis of all the Biblical possibilities. However, the point of
verse7:157's expectation from the Bible should be clear which is not a
reference to a particular name.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF AHMAD?
'Ahmad' simply means to praise one, to possess a praiseworthy quality, a quality
for which one is praised. It also means to speak well of one, to commend one or
to speak of one with official sanction.
Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon
Given that Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
would have expressed the narrative captured in
verse 61:6 in his own vernacular (Aramaic or possibly Hebrew), the original
name would not have been the Arabic 'Ahmad'. As the Quran merely
communicates past dialogues and translates it into the language of the
Arabs, the term 'Ahmad' would have been represented in Prophet Jesus's (pbuh)
It is also possible that the
original equivalent of the name 'Ahmad' was a description as opposed to a real name.
This point finds some credence if one considers the suggestion that if
'Ahmad' were to represent a proper name of another Prophet to come after
one would undoubtedly have
expected a plethora of recorded literature to the effect. It is not
implausible to expect many followers of Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
to have adopted the name for their male offspring. Many would have attempted
to fulfil this prophecy and there would have been an account of false
prophecies. We have not a hint that anything of the sort occurred in
Christian history. However, the absence of historical sources does not
automatically constitute unequivocal proof of absence.
of the preceding Arabic term 'us'muhu' (whose name will be) does
nevertheless strongly imply that 'Ahmad' (or its Hebrew / Aramaic
equivalent) was a proper noun.
THE TORAH ASIDE, WHY IS THE NAME 'AHMAD' NOT CAPTURED BY THE NEW TESTAMENT TODAY
IF IT WAS MENTIONED BY PROPHET JESUS?
7th century Arabia.
The 'Torah' and 'Injeel' that are
referenced by the Quran are primarily those scriptures that were being read by
the People of the Book in the Arabian Hijaz contemporaneous and
related article  below.
For example, it is well
certain Biblical scriptures were given more emphasis and remained more prevalent in certain
locales than in
"By the middle of the fourth century there was wide but not complete agreement
on which books should be considered authoritative for Christian communities.
Codex Sinaiticus, one of the two earliest collections of such books, is
essential for an understanding of the content and the arrangement of the Bible,
as well as the uses made of it"
Similarly, Uzair as the son of God
(9:30) was not (nor has ever been) a universal Jewish belief. However, the Quran
often merely addressed the immediate beliefs of Jews that were encountered by the
Moreover, the mention of giving
life to clay
birds, Prophet Jesus's (pbuh) speech
as a child are only captured by the Biblical Apocrypha and
not the canon Gospels or New Testament. However, the Quran
recognises that such knowledge may have been prevalent amongst the Christians of
the Arabian Hijaz contemporaneous with the Prophet and seeks to confirm it when
Therefore, it stands to reason
that there is no need
that the mention of 'Ahmad' was ever captured by the Canon Gospels or wider New
Testament literature. This may well have been a
that was prevalent by a certain contingent of the People of the Book or
present in an
which is now not extant. The Quran could also be providing new information
which may have not been known before as there is no reason to assume that
every conversation of Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
was captured by the New Testament writers.
There also remains the possibility
that due to Christian theology asserting Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
as the final saviour to mankind, that any further reference of a law bearing
Prophet or messenger to the gentiles was not deemed appropriate and
therefore not captured by the Christian New Testament writers.
ANALYSING THE DISPUTE
Studying both verse 61:5-6, it is
not clear what disputes arose which prompted the response by Prophet Jesus. (pbuh) That
his response was advanced as part of a dispute or being vexed is highly likely
given the previous verse with regards Prophet Moses (pbuh) and the overall context.
It is quite possible to argue that a dispute with his own ministry arose whereby
Prophet Jesus (pbuh) attempted to authenticate his ministry by way of the Torah as left
by Prophet Moses. (pbuh) In much the same way he could have well advanced the 'glad
tidings' of a future messenger to come after him (Ahmad) just as Prophet Moses (pbuh)
had done before by way of the Torah. The Quran captures key points and seems
less inclined to capture each and every discussion in a comprehensive form.
Equally, it is implausible to assume that the Bible writers captured every
single conversation that Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
was ever part of.
In this manner, the debate
could well have been with regards messengership in general. This would
explain the possible theological question as to why Prophet Jesus (pbuh)
deemed it necessary to mention another messenger after him while the same
audience was not prepared to instil faith in his own messengership.
IS 'PARAKLETOS' A CORRUPTED FORM OF 'PERIKLYTOS'
(MUCH PRAISED - AHMAD)?
There is no documented proof from Biblical sources that the Biblical
term 'Parakletos' (comforter) was ever a misrepresentation of the Greek
'Periklytos' (the much praised). All manuscripts predating the
revelation of the Quran only refer to the term 'Parakletos' (comforter).
Therefore, to assert such a corruption of the term is untenable based on
Please see related article 
below where this assertion is disputed.
SONG OF SONGS - MACHMAD
[Also known as Song of Songs of
Solomon or Song of Solomon]
Many Muslims, particularly over
the past few decades have made reference to the Hebrew Bible and in
particular, Song of Songs verse 5:16, to support the notion that 'Muhammad'
is mentioned in the Torah.
"His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem"
Quite apart from the
contentions against this hypothesis and what the Hebrew "Machmad" actually
refers to given the context and the somewhat romantic content, it is to be
noted that on the strength of verse 61:6, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was not referring to the
Old Testament with regards the mention of a
Prophet named 'Ahmad'.
Song of Songs is
not considered part
of the Torah proper, which from a Quranic perspective, is a reference to those
books that were revealed to Prophet Moses. (pbuh)
The Song of Songs is part of the wider
and in particular, the
(Writings) and not the 'Torah'.
Furthermore as already
noted, the term used in Song of Solomons is 'Machmad' and not 'Ahmad'.
If 'Muhammad' (as some Muslims
assert) was a
reference to what Prophet Jesus (pbuh) referred to,
then there is no reason why the name 'Muhammad' would have been not captured by
verse 61:6 when the name 'Muhammad' is well known to the Quran.
It is academically
unacceptable to transport a similar sounding text from one ancient scripture
into another language and then to assert that they are the same term.
'Machmad' in Hebrew means a
desirable or pleasant thing. We note its usage in verse 1 Kings 20:6.
1 Kings 20:6
I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they
shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall
be, that whatsoever is pleasant
in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it
In this context, substituting
Machmad with 'Muhammad' would make absolutely no sense.
It is also to be noted that the
Hebrew letter used in 'MaCHmad' is
(Chet - Guttural Ch)
The text does not say 'MaHmad' as is sometimes incorrectly vocalised by
those that propound this hypothesis.
What often compounds the problem is the often incorrect transliteration of
the Hebrew word which does not capture the 'Chet' in Hebrew.
There is no conclusive warrant from
the Quran that the name 'Ahmad' is to be found written in the Bible.
contention based on such an expectation with the charge that an absence of the name 'Ahmad' in
the Bible is proof of the Quran's false authorship is academically unacceptable.
Verse 61:6 and 7:157 do not
dovetail and should be understood separately given their individual contexts.
On the strength of verse 7:157
alone, what the Quran is likely referencing viz a viz the Bible are clear
indications of the nature of a true Prophet such as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
that should be followed and not a
Prophet of a particular name.
There is not one verse in the Quran
which categorically states that the name 'Ahmad' is written in the Bible.
'Between his Hands' or 'Before It' (Ma Bayna Yadayhi)
Do Not Make Any Distinctions Between the Messengers of God
End of Prophethood - Continuation of Messengers?
Is Verse 3:81 a Reference to any Particular Messenger?
 LANE. E.W,
Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban
Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 2, Page 638
in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the
original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These
are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and
Codex Sinaiticus, About Codex Sinaiticus, Significance, [online]
http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/codex/significance.aspx [Accessed 27th
The Bible - The King James Version
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