This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.One of the things that makes the Koran interesting is the number of time that, in prophesying, it prophesies of the prophet himself.
"We have sent among you, of [from among] yourselves, a Messenger [apostle], to recite Our signs to you and to purify you, and to teach you the Book and the Wisdom, and to teach you that you knew not." (Koran 2:146)
"Say: 'God is witness between me and you, and this Koran has been revealed to me that I may warn you thereby, and whomsoever it may reach.'" (Koran 6:19)Repeatedly, throughout the Koran, you will find the command, "Say!" This is the angel Gabriel commanding Muhammad to repeat word-for-word the message he is being taught. Here the angel is commanding him to prophesy of himself; to prophesy his own testimony and witness from heaven. Here, Muhammad says we can believe in him because God has sent him. How do we know God has sent him? Because God told Muhammad that He sent him. This sounds like circular reasoning to me.
No where else that I know of, in any of the prophesies of the Jewish or Christian scriptures, did someone prophesy of themselves. Even Jesus did not testify, or prophesy, of himself. He said, "If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true." (John 5:31-32) If the only testimony we have of Muhammad's genuineness as a prophet comes from Muhammad, then that testimony is suspect at best.
However, what is equally as interesting is the mode of those visions from which he prophesied.
"This [Koran] is naught but a revelation revealed [to him], taught him by one terrible in power, very strong [endued with wisdom]; he stood poised [with even balance], being on the higher [highest part of the] horizon, then drew near [nearer] and suspended hung [approached], two bows'-length away, or nearer, then revealed to his servant that he revealed. His heart lies [falsifies] not of what he saw; what, will you dispute with him what he sees [saw]? Indeed, he saw him another time by the Lote-Tree [Sidrah-tree] of [which marks] the Boundary nigh which is the Garden of the Refuge [repose], when there covered the Lote-Tree [Sidrah-tree] that which covered; his eye swerved not [turned not aside]; nor swept astray [wandered]. Indeed, he saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord." (Koran 53:4-18)Certainly, prophets of old had fantastic visions; both in day visions and in dreams at night. Here Muhammad claims to have seen Gabriel multiple times; one time even by the Lote-Tree. J.M. Rodwell says that the Lote-tree is the boundary beyond which man and angel cannot pass into heaven. It is "the loftiest spot in Paradise, in the seventh heaven, on the right hand of the thrown of God." (Rodwell, Koran end notes) Moreover, Muhammad claims to have been carried away in a night flight from Mecca to Jerusalem and back.
"Glory be to Him, who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque [sacred temple of Mecca] to the Further [more remote] Mosque the precincts of which We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing." (Koran 17:1)Some traditions claim that this flight to Jerusalem and through the seven heavens was on the backs of the mystical beast Borak, while others claim it only to be a dream or vision. Either way, it is quite fantastical. Muhammad claims that these visions are real and are from God and not some other spirit.
"Your companion [compatriot] is not possessed [by djinn]; he truly saw him on the clear horizon; he is not niggardly of the Unseen [nor doth he grappel with heaven's secrets]. And it is not the word of an accursed Satan; where then are you going?" (Koran 81:21-26)However, it is up for each one of us to decide for ourselves. For me, I find it quite hard to believe his own testimonies and his stories of his revelations and I often find them inconsistent with the ancient prophesies and prophetic experiences as recorded in the scriptures..
More to come...