The Similarity of Moses (sws) with Muhammad (sws)
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

The following verse is often used by us Muslims to claim that the Bible predicts the coming of Muhammad (sws):

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:18)

Muslims claim that since God is speaking to the Israelites who are the seed of Isaac (sws), He must be talking about the descendants of Ishmael (sws) who is Isaac’s brother. Therefore, they reason that the prophet like Moses (sws) must be Muhammad (sws) since he is the only prophet who comes from the lineage of Ismael (sws). However, a careful study of the usage of the phrase ‘from among their brothers’ in the Bible shows that this inference made by the Muslims may not be true. Consider the following verse where God instructs the Israelites about choosing their king:

When you say: ‘Let us set a king over us like the nations around us’, be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. (Deuteronomy 17:14-15)

It is evident from these verses that the word brother can be used in a different sense. My confusion is: Why can’t it be used in this same sense in Deuteronomy 18:18? Also, according to Deuteronomy 34:10-12, Moses (sws) cannot be compared to Muhammad (sws). These verses say that Moses (sws) cannot be compared to any of the Prophets. Please comment.


I think the matter stands resolved if the various connotations of the word ‘brother’ found in every language are taken into consideration. Every one knows that besides its literal meaning, the word brother may have two connotations,:

1. It is used for cousins.

2. It is used for people of the same community/brotherhood.

One must always deliberate on the context to determine and select the sense in which a word is used. Only a lack of this deliberation causes such problems.

The closing words of 17:15 clearly indicate that here the word brother is used in its second connotation described above. It is neither used in its literal sense nor in the sense of its above mentioned first connotation.

Similarly, in 18:18, it is used in its first connotation. The reason is found in the context. It is evident from the preceding verses that the progeny of Isaac (sws) are being addressed by Moses (sws). The underlined portion clearly indicates this:

The nation you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.’ (Deuteronomy 18:14-16)

Now if the progeny of Isaac (sws) is addressed and told: ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers’, then obviously here the word ‘brother’ cannot be used in its literal meaning. A little deliberation shows that here the word is clearly used in its second connotation. The brothers of the family of Isaac (sws) can only be the family of Ishmael (sws). This would mean that the prediction is about someone who must be among the progeny of Ishmael (sws).

As far as the likeness of the Prophet Moses (sws) with the Prophet Muhammad (sws) is concerned, verses 34:10-12 certainly do not contradict this in any way. They read:

Since then no Prophet has risen in Israel like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt…

Here the qualification of the word ‘Israel’ clearly suggests that here the comparison is between Moses (sws) and other Prophets of the Israelites. In other words, the verses say that Moses (sws) cannot be compared to any of the subsequent Prophets who came to the Israelites. Consequently, the comparison is not between Moses (sws) and Muhammad (sws), who we all know was not a Prophet of the Israelites. He was sent to the Ishmaelites.

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