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REPLY TO THE REVEREND BARAKATULLAH

7 REPLY TO THE REVEREND BARAKATULLAH (The following appeared in the 1988 May issue of the Ansarullah Magazine and is a translation from the original Urdu). The Rev. Barakatullah, M.A., wrote a book titled ‘Torah of Moses and Muhammad-e-Arabi’. It is a debatable book in which very insolent language has been used against the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam and its Holy founder – Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He categorically denies that the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18: 18 which speaks of a prophet to come like unto Moses refers to some specific prophet. He says that the word prophet used in the Torah (Book of Moses) is a common noun and that God will continue to raise prophets from among the Israelites like unto Moses. Hence, he says, the prophecy does not refer to any particular prophet so there is no need to look out for anyone in particular. According to him it is incorrect to translate the word nabi as ‘a prophet’. It should be just ‘prophet’. Similarly it is incorrect to translate the word yakim as ‘will raise’. It should be ‘will continue to raise’. This is the evasive way adopted by Or. Moffat in his translation of the Bible. In Deuteronomy 18: 15 he has translated nabi as meaning ‘prophet after prophet’ and in 18: 18 has translated nabi as meaning ‘a prophet’. Again yakim as ‘raised’. However the Rev. Barakatullah has surpassed him in twisting the text by insisting that the word means ‘will continue to raise’. This is a wrong translation. In no translation of the Bible has anybody written ‘will continue to raise’. None of the translations rendered into Greek two thousand three hundred years ago, nor the Latin and Syrian translations made in the early centuries, nor do any of the modern translations endorse the translation put forth by the Rev. Barakatullah. In 1978 more than a hundred scholars of the world prepared a new translation of the Bible keeping in view the Hebrew, Syrian and Greek translations. They named it ‘The New International Version’. It is an accurate translation of the Old Testament. In it: 1. Nabi is translated as ‘a prophet’. 2. Yakim is translated as ‘will raise’. 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS In view of the foregoing translation by more than a hundred scholars, what value can be given to the claims of the Rev. Barakatullah? After this brief introduction, we would like to answer other points of criticism raised by the Rev. Barakatullah. OBJECTION Deuteronomy 18: 18 does not refer to the Ishmaelites because nowhere have they been mentioned as being the brethren of the Israelites. ANSWER The Torah confirms in two places that the Ishmaelites have been called the brethren of the Israelites but this fact remained hidden due to the Hebrew text being difficult to understand. It is written: “Having settled to the east of his brothers.” (Genesis 25: 18) It means that the Ishmaelites settled to the east of their brethren. The Arabian desert is to the east of Israel. That is why in the Torah the Arabs have been called Banu Qidm meaning the people of the east. Hence they are the brethren of the Israelites. Similarly in the New English Bible a marginal note beside Genesis 16: 12 states that Ishmael will dwell to the east of his brethren (Israelites) and this is also confirmed in the marginal notes of the New International Version of the Bible. These versions clear all doubts and confirm that the Ishmaelitesare the brethren of the Israelites. OBJECTION Ishmael was the step uncle of Isaac and not his brother. ANSWER Ishmael and Isaac were the progeny of Abraham and were, therefore, brothers. They were brothers from different mothers. Their offspring are brothers. A real uncle cannot be regarded as a step uncle when the Ishmaelites have been called the brethren of the Israelites in the Torah. In the Catholic Bible (1958)the commentary on Matthew 12:46 states that according to Hebrew and most oriental languages not only the children from the same parents but also those of paternal and maternal uncles are regarded as brothers. Hence Ishmael and Isaac were brothers. Moreover the offspring of Jesse the elder son of Jacob REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 9 have been called brothers of Isaac in the Old Testament. Also in Jeremiah 49: 11 there is mention of Jesse’s brothers where the Ishmaelites are alluded to as brothers and not the Israelites because Ishmael’s daughter was given in marriage to Jesse who, as a result, became the son in law of Ishmael. Since the house of Ishmael and the house of Jesse were relatives, they were regarded as brothers. OBJECTION Muhammad was not from the progeny of Ishmael. There exists no contiuous chain of genealogy. Also the Prophet said: ‘Those who describe my genealogy beyond Adnan are liars.’ ANSWER According to reliable Arab traditions Adnan was from the offspring of Ishmael.The availability of continuous genealogy is not essential. Waqidi writes that he never came across any difference of opinion about the fact that Ma’ad, the father of Adnan, was not the progeny of Qaidar bin Ishmael (Khutbat Ahmadiyya p.624). In the same book Sir Sayyed writes on page 628 that all historians, the Jews and nations dwelling nearby to Arabia, Arabs and Muslims of other countries confirm that Muhammad (peace be on him) was from the progeny of the family of Hashim which originated from Ishmael, son of Abraham. When addressing the Arabian tribe of Quresh, Muhammad (peace be on him) told them ‘Your father was Abraham’. This fact was accepted by all and sundry. Who, therefore, can dare deny it? He also quotes the testimony of the reputed historian, Gibbon, who has written that it is the foolishness of the Christians to say that the Prophet was from a low and mean progeny because it is a nationally accepted and proved fact that he was from the progeny of Ishmael. We invite the Rev. Barakatullah to take a look at his own scriptures and pay particular attention to the following points: (l) Are there not genealogies in the New Testament which are at variance with one another? (2) Was Jesus the son of Joseph? In the New Testament his genealogy states that he was the son of Mary and not the son of Joseph. (3) Where is the genealogy of Jesus on his mother’s side? OBJECTION If the verse under discussion (Deuteronomy 18: 18) foretold the advent of Muhammad, then the Quran would have said so. IO REVIEW OF RELIGIONS ANSWER The Holy Quran says: “Say, ‘Tell me, if this Quran is from Allah, and you disbelieve therein, and a witness from among the Children of Israel bears witness to the advent of one like him, and he believed, but you are too proud to believe, how should you fare?’ Verily, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” (46: 11) This verse sheds sufficient light to remove whatever objection there may be. The Holy Quran says: “Verily, We sent to you a Messenger, who is a witness over you, even as we sent a Messenger to Pharaoh.” (73:16) Here mention has been made that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was like unto Moses who was also a law-bearing Prophet. OBJECTION It appears from the Torah that prophethood is restricted to the house of Israel. This point was also proclaimed by Jesus and his disciples. ANSWER Jesus understood the Old Testament. In his view the brethren referred to in Deuteronomy 18: 18 were not the Israelites but another nation: “Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21 :43) The Rev. Barakatullah interprets this saying of Jesus to mean that other nations will accept Christianity wich contradicts what Jesus meant who elsewhere said: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6) “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) According to Jesus ‘other nations’ does not refer to or mean REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 11 Christians of other nations. The Jews believed in the advent of two Messiahs (John 1:27). One would bring together the tribes of Israel and the other will be the son of David. They called the awaited and promised one Messiah. It is written in the Talmud, the name of the fundamental code of the Jewish and canonical law, that all the prophets had given news about the appearance of a Messiah and the world had come into existence only for him. (Sanm 98-99) Jesus put forward an argument from Psalm 110 saying that the Messiah is not the son of David because David called him ‘Lord’ and not son (Matthew 23:45). In the Psalm the Messiah has been likened to Me1chizedek – the high priest – who was a non-Hebrew Semitic King. According to the Psalm the expected one for the world will be of permanent status similar in ways to King Melchizedek. According to Jesus, therefore the promised Prophet was not to appear from among the Israelites but from another nation. OBJECTION The prophecy in Deuteronomy 18: 18 foretelling the advent of a prophet like unto Moses simply means that as God sent Moses so will He continue to send prophets in the future. It does not refer to a specific prophet. ANSWER It has already been stated that the word used in the text of the Hebrew Torah is yakim which means ‘will raise’. Nobody has ever translated it to mean ‘will continue to raise’. This is a novel concoction on the part of the Rev. Barakatullah. God clearly says that a prophet like unto Moses will be raised from the brethren of the Israelites and I will put my words into his mouth as contained in the prophecy. It is clear that the main resemblance is that of a law-bearing prophet like Moses who was given a law and a book. A prophet was to be raised who would bring a law and a book like Moses. Wherever in the Holy Quran a prophecy of the coming of a prophet like Moses is mentioned, mention is made of the Torah and Quran. This is the major point of resemblance. We read in the Holy Quran: “Say, ‘Tell me, if this Quran· is from Allah and you disbelieve therein, and a witness from among the Children of Israel bears witness to the advent of one like him and he believed, but you are too proud to believe, how soulrl you fareT Verily Allah guides 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS not the wrongdoing people.” (46: 11) “And before it there was the book of Moses, a guide and a mercy; and this (Quran) is a book in Arabic language, fulfilling previous prophecies that it may warn those who do wrong, and give glad tidings to those who do good.” (46: 13) Waraqa bin Naufal said “This is the same bearer of revelation that God sent to Moses.” which again proves that the revelation of a law is the greatest point of resemblance. OBJECTION It is absolutely wrong on the part of Muslim scholars to conclude from the words of Peter that a prophet like Moses would come after the Messiah (Acts 3:21,22). Whatever Peter said applied to Jesus. ANSWER The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985 edition, has given a different translation. The words ‘Moses for example’ need attention and the ‘universal restoration’ is linked with the prophecies of the prophets as Moses said a prophet like himself would be raised from amongst the brethren of the Israelites. It is written in the passage from Acts: “It is necessary that he (Jesus) should remain in Heaven until the reformation and correction of the world .. ” All these things must happen, therefore before the second advent of Jesus. Peter also said ‘For the same reason He sent Jesus to you beforehand’. These words are quite clear. The Messiah would first come to be followed later by the promised prophet (Deuteronomy 18: 18) and after him would take place the second coming of the Messiah – Jesus. Thus the covenant made with Abraham would be fulfilled. It is evident that the mission of the expected prophet would be for all mankind and a universal spiritual revolution is linked with him. All nations will benefit from his blessings and he will not come only for the Israelites. OBJECTION Peter was only glVlng a reminder about Abraham’s covenant recorded in the Old Testament: “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I shall establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:19). God excluded Ishmael from His covenant. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 13 ANSWER This is the height of prejudice to say that all the homes of the Israelites shared God’s blessings while the descendants of Ishmael were deprived of them. It is written in the Torah: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and 1 will make him a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20) The Rev. Barakatullah responds by saying that Ishmael was promised only material blessings and not the blessings of prophethood. Why? Because the textual changes in the Torah do not allow for it. For instance Ishmael was the first born of Abraham and God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son. As Isaac was never the only son, an alteration was made by inserting ‘only son’ before Isaac: ‘Take now thy son, thy only son Isaac’ (Genesis 22:2). How could he be called the only son in the presence of his brother? This contradiction proves that the Bible has suffered textual interpolation. The Jews prepared an alternative Torah from some sub-scrolls and called it Jubilee. In it is written that Abraham should sacrifice his first born son Isaac. How can Isaac be called his first born? Also the words ‘I will make My covenant with Isaac’ have been changed. A universal covenant is mentioned including the whole of Abraham’s progeny. This was revealed to Abraham even before the birth of Isaac (Genesis ch 17). On the one hand Ishmael is included in the covenant before the birth of Isaac and on the other hand the covenant is made with lsaac at the exclusion of the other. This open contradiction shows there has been an alteration in the text. The following words are attributed to God in the Torah ‘But My covenant will I establish with Isaac’ (Genesis 17:21). It is an admitted fact that the Torah was collected through different means. Some chapters have been extracted from the Torah of the Deacons. In one place the Deacons inserted the word ‘but’ instead of ‘also’, i.e. ‘I will make My covenant with Isaac also’has had its meaning changed by inserting ‘but’ instead of ‘also’. The Gospel of Barnabas is a mutilated document in its present form but original material of the Bible is found in some places. It is written that since Ishmael was Abraham’s first born, he was offered for sacrifice. The scribes made an alteration and inserted the name of lsaac in the text while Ishmael was the confirmed son of the Cbvenant. 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS OBJECTION According to the covenant of Abraham the blessing of prophethood was restricted to the twelve tribes of Israel. All the prophets appeared among them. Ishmael was deprived of this greatest blessing and had no share in it. ANSWER This is the second limit of prejudice. Jacob was definitely not an Israelite but an Arab prophet. (Bible and Arabia p.l72 by James Montgomery) Renowned scholars are of the opinion that the original language of Jacob’s scrolls was Arabic and was later translated into its present form. Phillip Hitti writes: “Jacob was not a Jew. he was an Arab as is apparent from his name and the place of his scrolls was Northern Arabia.” He writes further: “There is mention made of Qidm and Bani Qidm in the Torah which alludes to the people of Arabia. One of the chiefs of this Bani Qidm was Jacob.”(Ayyub 11.3) “His scribe was regarded as a masterpiece in wisdom and poetry.” “Moses married the daughter of a chief of Midian who was an Arab.” “In the Book of Proverbs the wise sayings of two kings of an Ishmaelite tribe Masa are also recorded.” (Tarikh-e-Millat Arabi Urdu p.69,70) The Bible has not restricted prophethood to the twelve tribes of Israel. This is the wrong idea of Rev. Barakatullah who has limited the covenant of Abraham only with the Israelites. It is his narrow-minded deduction. OBJECTION According to the Torah Ishmael lived in the desert of Paran. The link between Mecca and Paran is just like that between Srinagar and Benares. Throughout his life Ishmael never visited the vicinity of Mecca. He spent the whole of his life in the desert of Paran where he died. His progeny occupied the region between Havilah and Shur, and this territory is many hundred REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 15 kilometres away from Arabia. ANSWER The Rev. Barakatullah is deceived by the Biblical geography prepared by the clergy. He is absolutely unaware of recent research. According to the Dictionary of the Bible by John D. Davis, the original Havilah is in Yemen and Shur refers to the southern boundaries of Canaan which means that the Ishmaelites dwelt in the land of Yemen to the south of Palestine. Havilah is not many hundred miles from Arabia. It is the name of the southern part of Arabia. This may be verified in the forementioned dictionary. The research of scholars about Paran is that it is the name of the desert in which the Israelites stayed during the period of their migration. They w·andered for thirty eight years (Aid to the Bible Understanding ‘Paran’ 1270). Phillip Hitti says that the Israelites spent their days of migration in the central Arabian desert and Sinai (Tarikh-e-Millat Arabi p.65). It is evident that the old name of the greater part of the Arabian desert is Paran known as Faran. What is the meaning of Faran? It is an Arabic name. In Hebrew it means ‘uncertain’. The principle is that if there is confusion in the Hebrew then turn to the Arabic for the meaning. This principle has been accepted by all contemporary scholars. Faran has two meanings in Arabic (1) meaning to boil, to spring with force,i.e. boiling of water or springing of a fountain. (2) The second meaning is from the root i.e. to run. The two runners. The beautiful coincidence is that the two meanings are applicable here. In the uninhabited desert for the two exiled (Hagar and the infant son, Ishmael) a spring of water burst forth in abundance. This spring caused the country to become populated and also became the sole source of drinking water for pilgrims proceeding to the Ka’ba during pilgrimage. The Torah names it the wood of Bair-e-Shabi. According to Arab tradition, however, it is the uninhabited valley of Mecca in which the same spring of water called Zam Zam is situated and continuously provides water for the people. Leaving aside this difference in point of view, Faran, according to philology, is the point from where the spring flowed and where, for the sake of God, the two exiles stayed. This incident took place in the uninhabited valley according to ancient Arab traditions. Due to this startling and miraculous coincidence, the whole of the desert of Arabia began to be called Faran. It is written in the Torah: “He shined forth from Mount Paran” (Deuteronomy 33:2) 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The Prophet Habakkuk foretold the coming of: “The Holy One from Mount Paran.” (Habakkuk 3:3) Let us examine what is meant by Mount Paran. James A. Montgomery, a renowned contemporary scholar, has written an authentic book on this topic. He writes: “The chain of volcanic mountains spread from Mecca to Damascus. They are called Harrat in Arabic. In Hebrew the word used for them is Harr. Habakkuk the prophet mentioned the places of God’s appearances such as Teman, Paran, Kushaw and Medina. They are all the Harrat of the North West.” (Arabic and the Bible p.83, 84) This research shows that the mounts of Paran are situated in Hijaz because Faran is the ancient name of Arabia. The basic mistakes of Papal geography is that the territories of Yemen and Hijaz are shown in the Syrian desert or to the south of Canaan. Due to the influx of population the Arab tribes migrated from Yemen and Hijaz and started to inhabit northern Arabia and the Syrian desert. The immigrants gave the same name to the new cities and countries from where they had come. Very little has been made of the permanent residing place of the Ishmaelites. People took the northern territories as real places. They put the Ishmaelites in northern Arabia and the Syrian desert instead of Hijaz. Gradually this confusion is being cleared and the truth is being revealed. Havilah is the Yemen but due to the exodus of the population this name also appeared in northern Arabia. John Davis detected the probable reason of the double name and confirmed that original Havilah was in Yemen. Similarly Faran is the name of the uninhabited valley of Mecca. The mountains of this place were called Jibal-e~Faran. There are resembling places in the north that become the basis of misunderstanding. Due to double names some of the territories of Yemen and Hijaz have been shown in the north. This has been unfair treatment with Arabian geography. It is essential at the end to have a view of the prophecies of the Old Testament which have been applied to the Messiah by the writers of the Bible. The Rev. Barakatullah has served our purpose by publicly proclaiming that there are no particular prophecies about the Promised Messiah in the Old Testament. On the other hand those that had come true in the near REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 17 future have been applied to Jesus. This is a startling confession stated by him: “Therefore the statements of the past prophets mentioned in the Bible were not the particular prophecies about the advent of a Messiah after many centuries but they only related to the period of the prophets of that time or to some historical event of the near future. For example Isaiah stated: “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, 0 house of David: Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat butter and honey that he may know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.” (Isaiah 7: 10-16) It is clear that this prophethood is linked with the near future but the words of verse 14 have a very significant meaning for the writers of the Bible and they viewed it exactly like the manner of the birth of Jesus as written in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7-14) In an earlier statement the Rev. Barakatullah writes clearly that when the past prophets prophesied these things they never meant that the~ were referring to a particular prophet or Messiah. One should remove the beam from one’s own eye before looking for the mote in another’s eye. *************