Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - May 1, 2003 

Special Historical Report on Islam

by Ernest L. Martin, October 1993
Edited by David Sielaff, May 2003

Read the accompanying Newsletter for May 2003

 

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Because of the recent signing of a peace accord between Israel and the PLO, 1 I thought it would be worthwhile to the readers of A.S.K. if I gave you a Special Report on some factors about Islam, the development of the Islamic religion, and what the prospects of this peace accord might hold for the world. We who hold to the teachings of the Gospel of Christ Jesus should be aware of some of the historical, psychological, philosophical and prophetical factors of Islam that may impinge upon our understanding of prophetical events in the Middle East and the world in the next few years ahead of us. In this report I quote noted authorities (both past and present) on many of these subjects and I have taken liberty to give comments of my own often within the texts of what others have stated. My comments will always be separated from the scholars by brackets. Some of these historical indications may help us in understanding the coming alliance between Israel and the Muslim peoples of the Middle East. An interesting historical scene is about to emerge. We of the Western World should be aware of its consequences.

My first reference regarding the rise of Islam is from a historical work published in 1901. 1 have deliberately chosen this historical appraisal from such an early date because it provides fewer emotionally based accounts of the situation in Middle East history since the Balfour Declaration in 1917 allowing Jews to settle in Palestine. The historical evaluations, in my view, were more balanced in those days but sufficiently full to give the reader an adequate narrative of the historical factors leading up to the rise and development of Islam. The main reference is Sixty Centuries of Human Progress published in New York and Chicago. The frontispiece states the contents were reviewed, verified, and endorsed by the professors of history in five American universities by Moses Coit Tyler, A.M., L.H.D., professor of American History in Cornell University. Some top writers contributed to the series of 12 volumes including President Theodore Roosevelt. It provides an interesting view of the subject.

[Volume 5, pages 1352 to 1356]:

"The Arabs believe that Mecca was founded by Adam, and that its temple, the Kaaba, was built by Abraham. They ascribe the early prosperity of the city to Ishmael, who established his residence there, because, as the Arabian traditions assert, the brackish well of Zemzem was the one to which the angel directed Hagar. Mecca must have been a very ancient city, if, as the commentators believe, it was the Mesha mentioned by Moses as inhabited by Joktan’s posterity. Medina — called Yatreb before the appearance of Mohammed — possesses more natural advantages than Mecca; but it is not situated so conveniently for traffic. The people of Medina seem always to have been jealous of the supremacy claimed by the Meccans, and this was probably the reason why they espoused the cause of Mohammed when he was banished by their rivals."

[Comment: The number of Jews and Samaritans (who had the same basic religious beliefs of the Jews in their conservative wing) were numerous on the Red Sea side of the Arabian Peninsula. Mohammed came in contact with them all the time. The book Islam by Alfred Guillaume (London, 1963) states,]

"There was a large Jewish colony in the Yemen in pre-Islam times, and they maintained an organized communal existence for centuries until they were brought to Palestine a few years ago. These Yemenite Jews certainly go back to the fourth century A.D., and at one time the ruling king had become a Jew. Two (Jewish) descendants of these people exercised a profound influence on Muslim tradition. At the dawn of Islam the Jews dominated the economic life (of the region) They held all the best land in the oases of Taima, Fadak, and Wadi-l-Qura; at Medina they must have formed at least half the population."

It is important to realize that Mohammed was very familiar with Jewish and (consequently) Samaritan religious beliefs and practices. But this was not all. The new (1991) Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (page 280) states:

"The Meccans were for the most part idolaters worshiping a miscellany of gods and goddesses, and propitiating them with sacrifices. But among the idolatrous Meccans there lived also a certain number of Christians from the oasis of Najran in the south of Arabia, which was an important Christian center whose bishops came to the great Arab fairs to preach. Jewish tribes lived in and near Medina; and some Arabs were hunafa (‘upright ones’), still practicing, as individuals, the monotheism which was the legacy of Abraham. Mohammed had been a hanif, and had sought in his retreats to bring himself closer to the one God, the God of Abraham. Now, through the Prophet, began the restoration or renewal of the primordial religion of Abraham, and of Adam, in which man faced God as the Absolute with the same immediacy and simplicity as he did on the first day of creation."

The real mission of Mohammed according to his own words was to restore the religion of Abraham to the world. This was a religion without priests and without sacraments with a simple worship of the One true God whom the Arabs called Allah (akin to the Hebrew Eloah perhaps the singular of Elohim). 2 In creating his "simple" religion, there were "Five Pillars" that Mohammed said all Muslims must do, though the first of the five (called the shahadah) is fundamental and no one can be a Muslim without stating and believing it (while the other four, though important, are looked on as lesser in importance by some who practice Islam).

Recall, only the observance of the first is absolutely essential to be a Muslim in the view of many who advocate Islam, but many also include the second. Back to Sixty Centuries of Progress.

"The Arabs have a sense of spiritual things, and this sense seems to have a root in their organization. The ancient religion of Arabia was the Sabean idolatry, consisting in the worship of the Sun, the Moon and the stars; but long before Mohammed’s time the Arabs were distracted by a great variety of beliefs. Some of the tribes adhered to their ancestral creeds. Others embraced the Persian Magism; others Judaism; while several tribes became Christian. When Christianity was introduced into Arabia it was unfortunately deeply tinged with men’s devices. The various Christian Arab tribes were animated by a fierce sectarian spirit, and hated each other more bitterly than Jews or pagans. The vivid imaginations of the Arabs caused them to investigate subjects beyond the powers of human comprehension; and the result was such a multitude of new doctrines that one of the early Christian fathers described Arabia as the country most prolific in heresies.

"Thus when Mohammed appeared, the Arabian religion was a jumble of monotheism and polytheism — Judaism, Christianity, Magism and idolatry. There had been at one time a powerful and intolerant Jewish kingdom in Arabia Petrae. At another period the Negus of Abyssinia had established Christianity in Yemen, or Arabia Felix (southern Arabia). But neither Judaism nor Christianity had ever been able to conquer the whole Arabian nation; and at the end of the sixth century — when Mohammed made his appearance — Sabeism, or the worship of the heavenly bodies, was the prevailing religion of Arabia. Mohammed appeared about the end of the sixth century of the Christian era; and in a few years he united all the warring Arab tribes in one religious faith and consolidated them into one nation. His successors wielded their mighty and enthusiastic forces against the neighboring countries — Syria, Persia, Egypt and North Africa — and triumphed wherever they moved.

"Mohammed, or Mahomet — the great lawgiver of the Arabs, and the founder of a religion which has prevailed over large portions of Asia and Africa for the last twelve centuries — was born at Mecca in A.D. 569. He belonged to one of the most illustrious families of Arabia. This family was of the priestly tribe of the Koreish and of the particular branch of Hussein, to which belonged the guardianship of the Kaaba, or temple of Mecca, which contained the Black Stone, believed by the Arabs to have covered Abraham’s tomb. The branch of Hussein also held the office of chief magistrate of Mecca.

[Comment: The original Black Stone, a meteorite, was taken away by raiders. The present one is a duplicate. We should pay close attention to the origin of the Koreish tribe to which Mohammed belonged. That priestly Koreish tribe of Mecca, to which all the Arabs of the peninsula gave honor and respect, has a very interesting traditional history associated with it. Its ancient origination was from one of the most famous cities and regions of Mesopotamia. They were known to have come from Cutha. 3

Cutha was a city located before the days of Alexander the Great a few miles northeast of Babylon. It was one of the earliest priest cities of the world. It was formerly the capital of the ancient kingdom of Sumer which came into being right after the Flood. It was first built by Cush the son of Ham (from whom it was named) and it was a city associated in power and influence with Babylon itself. The fact that Mohammed had his origin from a priestly tribe that came from the famous Cutha in Mesopotamia is a most significant bit of information. At the time of Mohammed, the city of Cutha had long ago disappeared (it came to an end just after the time of Alexander the Great) but for the Koreish tribe to remember their prestigious priestly origin for the centuries that followed shows that they held their Cutha ancestry in esteem.

The word "Koreish" means the same as "Cyrus" in Hebrew and they may have adopted the name in honor of the Persian king because he restored the priesthoods in Mesopotamia to their former prestige and let peoples raise up temples and priesthoods in other areas of the Persian Empire. The Koreish knew they came from the priestly center of Cutha. This means that at sometime in the past (probably a few centuries before Christ when Cutha was still thriving as a city) some of the priests from that region of Mesopotamia moved into western Arabia and joined forces with the people of Ishmael by marrying into their stock and becoming their priests.

Who were the Cuthians? This was a very common name among the Jews. With so many Jews in Arabia at the time of Mohammed there would have been no doubt in identifying the origin of the Koreish priestly tribe to which Mohammed belonged. In Jewish parlance a secondary name for the Babylonian people of Samaria that the Assyrians had brought into Palestine in the 7th century B.C.E. was the Cuthians. Throughout the Talmud (written in the two to three hundred year period before Mohammed) the name Cuthians for Samaritans was a common one in regular use among the Jews. what this indication shows is that Mohammed was no doubt a descendant of the Samaritans (or the original Cuthians from near Babylon) who had become the priests of the Arabs at Mecca. This means, though separated by five hundred years, Mohammed was a Cuthite like Simon Magus who was the first heretic mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 8:5–23). This fact is not often realized by people, but it is an important one to consider because Simon Magus and his successors can be shown to be the ones who corrupted early Christianity and now the same stock of people was about to give rise to another world religion by one of their descendants born in Arabia. It is significant that Mohammed, who was of Cuthite origin (though geographically and politically the Koreish had long been separated from the Samaritan stock of people in Palestine), was to become the originator of the chief religion that would be the major rival to Judaism and to Christianity. Indeed, there is some evidence that Mohammed’s mother may well have been Jewish (or even of Samaritan Christian leanings). We will see this in a moment. Let us continue with Sixty Centuries of Progress.]

"Mohammed’s grandfather, Abd al Motalleb, had held three high dignities; but he, as well as his son Abdallah, Mohammed’s father, died before Mohammed grew to manhood. The chief magistery of Mecca passed to Mohammed’s uncle, Abu Taleb, and the only patrimony inherited by the lawgiver of Arabia and founder of Islam was reduced to five camels and a slave. Mohammed’s father, Abdallah, was an idolater; but his mother, Emina, was a Jewess [emphasis is mine], who had been converted to Christianity, and from whose early instructions the great Arabian prophet probably derived the religious impressions for which he was distinguished even in boyhood. …

[The point that Mohammed’s mother was called Jewish is an educated guess of scholars, and it has good credentials circumstantially as being true.]

"Both his parents died while he was still a child [he was in his seventh year when his mother died], he was cared for by Abd al Motalleb and Abu Taleb, the latter became a tender guardian of the orphan boy.

"Mohammed’s youth had been unstained by vice, and his honorable character early obtained for him the title of Al Amin, ‘the Faithful,’ a title given him by common consent. At one time he tended sheep and goats on the hills in the vicinity of Mecca. At Medina, after he acquired celebrity, he referred to this, saying: ‘Pick me the blackest of those berries; they are such as I used to gather when I fed the flocks at Mecca. Verily, no prophet has been raised up who has not performed the work of a shepherd.’"

"The believers in the divinity of Mohammed’s mission have thrown a halo of wonders around his infancy."

[This is true, but what is significant is the fact that during the adult life of Mohammed and while he was being given the revelations which were written down to become the Koran, there were no extraordinary miracles that all the public recognized. Recall, on the other hand, that Christ Jesus had many outstanding miracles associated with his ministry in Galilee and Judea.]

"Though their Apostle [Mohammed] was destitute of worldly wealth, their accounts represent his birth as rich in prodigies. Like that of other great men who have astonished the world, it was accompanied by sign’s in the heavens and miracles on earth. It was believed that the ‘prophetic light’ which surrounded him was so intense that it served his mother for a lamp and shone with a brilliancy that illuminated the country as far as Syria. It was also believed that the sacred fire of the Persians, which had burned without interruption for a thousand years, was forever extinguished, and that the palace of Khosrou Parviz was rent by an earthquake, which leveled fourteen of its towers to the ground.

"These omens were designed to prefigure the failure of the royal line of the Sassanids and the conquest of the New Persian Empire by the Arabs after the reign of fourteen kings. Mohammed’s biographers mentioned a vast number of other supernatural prognostications, equally marvelous. Mohammed’s devout followers would have been ready to attest on oath to the reality of these wonders.

"At the age of thirteen he accompanied Abu Taleb in a caravan journey to Syria. Tradition has made this mercantile journey remarkable by several wonderful indications of his subsequent greatness. At the fair of Bosrah he is said to have met the famous Nestorian monk, Felix, or Sergius, surnamed Bahira, whom Christian writers accused of having afterwards assisted the founder of Islam in preparing the Koran. …

[Mohammed could neither read nor write and later when the revelations began to come to him, he had to have the 114 Suras (chapters) that make up the Koran written out by a secretary.]

"Thenceforth Mohammed seems to have actively engaged in trade. At the age of twenty-five he engaged in the service of a rich and noble widow named Khadijah, for whose commercial interests he made another caravan journey to Syria, to sell her merchandise at Damascus. When the caravan returned to Mecca, and his adventure had proven successful, Khadijah, then forty years old, became interested in the young camel-driver. She was wise, virtuous and attractive, and was so pleased with the young man’s industry, zeal and intelligence that she soon gave him her hand in marriage, and made him master of her splendid fortune. Mohammed, who had the reputation of being the handsomest man of the tribe of Koreish, and who had a passion for women which the Arab morality does not condemn, and which legalized polygamy has sanctioned, was a kind, affectionate and faithful husband to Khadijah during their union of twenty-five years. As long as she lived, he did not take to himself another wife.

"After his marriage with Khadijah, Mohammed ranked with the chief citizens of Mecca, but he was not corrupted by prosperity. The first use which he made of his good fortune was to relieve his kind uncle and guardian, Abu Taleb, who had fallen into distress. He placed Abu Taleb above want, and undertook the education of a part of his family.

"Little is known of Mohammed’s history for the next fifteen years. Khadijah sympathized with her husband in his religious tendencies, and was his first convert. His character was marked by thoughtfulness and austerity. He had an ardent imagination; and his extreme sobriety in most things surpassed that of an Anchorite, and inclined him to religious meditation and lofty reveries. Externally he displayed that serious demeanor which distinguishes the better portion of an Oriental people — dignified manner, and a pleasing and commanding expression of countenance.

"Mohammed seems to have begun his extraordinary religious reformation by endeavoring to fix his own belief and to free it from the gross superstitions of his countrymen. Being the grandson and the nephew of the high-priest of an idol, and powerful and revered for his connection with the temple of the Kaaba, Mohammed had too strong an understanding to discover a divinity in this rude emblem, or in the idols surrounding it. His love of solitude and retirement aided him in his speculations upon the great mystery of the nature of the Deity.

"Every year, for a month at a time, Mohammed retired to a cave in Mount Hira, three miles from Mecca, where he devoted himself to prayer, fasting and meditation. In the solemn obscurity of this retirement he laid the foundation of his future greatness. There he meditated the scheme of his religion. Sadness came over him in view of the evils of this world. He beheld with sorrow the calamities of Arabia, the abandonment of its ancient manners and the introduction of foreign customs. His Christianized Jewish mother had taught him that the Jews were still looking for the champion of Israel, and that Jesus had promised to those who loved him the Comforter, who should lead them all to the truth.

[Comment: Mohammed came to believe that Jesus was one of the most powerful prophets next to him, but that he (Mohammed) was the last to give God’s final message to the world and to restore the Abrahamic faith. Islam teaches that Jesus did not actually die at the crucifixion but that another died in his place to deceive the people into thinking that he died. Jesus, however, in their view, is destined to come again from heaven and put down the Antichrist who will come to deceive the world at the end the age. Continuing on with Sixty Centuries of Progress.]

"By communing with his own soul, Mohammed recognized the existence of the divinity as an eternal Spirit, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient — a beneficent Being, incapable of being represented by any corporeal image. For fifteen years he brooded in silence over this sublime idea, developed it by meditation, and exalted his imagination by reveries.

"About this time Mohammed began to have visions of angels, especially of Gabriel. He saw a light and heard a voice, and had sentences put into his mind. These communications were accompanied by strong convulsions, during which Mohammed would fall to the ground, foaming at the mouth. Professor Weil considers these convulsions epilepsy, …

[Many modern scholars are now discounting this belief that he had epilepsy because Mohammed until his death appears in all other circumstances to have been of robust health and was always mentally alert and agile.]

while Sprenger regards them to have been a form of hysteria accompanied with catalepsy. Mohammed himself declared: ‘Inspiration descends on me in two ways. Sometimes Gabriel comes and communicates the revelation, as one man to another. This is easy. But sometimes it is as the ringing of a bell, which rends me in pieces, and grievously afflicts me.’"

[Comment: Mohammed stated that at no time did he ever talk with God personally. It was always through angelic beings that he was given his messages, and mainly from the Angel he called Gabriel. In these instances the angels were those with long hair and the pictures of them in Islamic literature show them as such. The New Testament, however, states that God does not have long hair like that of women (1 Corinthians 11:3–15). On the other hand, the Book of Revelation describes evil angelic spirits as appearing with hair like that of women (Revelation 9:8). And note this, most visionaries who have seen angels (or some who say they have seen God the Father and Christ and talked to them) almost always say the beings have long hair down to the shoulders like women. This was the case with Joseph Smith who produced the Book of Mormon and Ellen G. white who got revelations for the Seventh Day Adventists. Mohammed also saw and heeded angels with long hair. This is a clear sign that these angelic creatures WERE NOT those who look like the real Father and Christ, because they groom themselves with short hair as did the true priests of God in the Temple. The long Haired "Jesus" in the churches today is an image of Zeus (Sarapis). See my book 101 Bible Secrets that Christians Do Not Know for more details. Now back to Sixty Centuries of Progress.]

"At this time Mohammed’s visions and revelations possessed him. He did not possess nor control them. In after years the Prophet’s spirit was more subject to the Prophet."

[Comment: There is one thing that the apostle Paul made clear in his inspired teaching. He said in 1 Corinthians 14:32: "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." This was just the opposite with Mohammed. He entered into convulsions and into trance-like states that would last for some time. Modern "tongues" speakers often do the same thing when they are completely out of control of their normal senses. Ellen G. white of the Seventh Day Adventists was very similar to Mohammed and in her later years she was more in control of her spirit visitations. Back to Sixty Centuries of Human Progress.]

"The Koran is an unintelligible book if unconnected with its author’s biography. All the incidents of his life assumed shape in some revelation. A separate revelation was given to encourage or to reprove him. In his later years the subservient revelation came to appease the jealousy of his wives whenever he took to himself a new one. Nevertheless, in the beginning he was as much surprised at his visions as were others. A systematic arrangement of the Suras would make the Koran the best biography of the founder of Islam. As may be said of David and his Psalms, so of Mohammed, that his life hangs suspended in his hymns, the Suras each being an account of some grave experience.

"It is impossible to read the detailed accounts of this part of Mohammed’s life and have any doubts of his sincerity. His first converts were his bosom-friends and the people of his household, who were intimately acquainted with his private life. A man does not easily commence all ambitious course of deception at the age of forty. As Mohammed had lived until that time as a quiet, peaceful and unobtrusive citizen, he would have gained nothing by such a career. Long years passed before he was able to make but a few converts. During these weary years he was the object of contempt and hatred to the Koreish, then the leading tribe of Mecca. His life was in constant danger from that tribe, and nothing could be more hopeless than his position during the first twelve years of his public preaching. Nothing but a strong conviction of the reality of his mission could have sustained him through this long period of failure, loneliness and contempt. During all these long years the wildest imagination could not have pictured the wonderful success which the future was to bring forth. The following is a Sura in which Mohammed found comfort in God and His promises:

"By the rising sunshine!
By the night when it darkeneth!
Thy Lord had not removed from thee,
Neither hath he been displeased.
And verily the future shall be better than the past.
What! did he not find thee an orphan,
And give thee a home?
And found thee astray, and directed thee?"

"In this Sura Mohammed referred to the death of his mother, Emina, in his seventh year; his father having died but a few months previously. Many years afterward he visited her tomb, and raised his voice and shed bitter tears. Replying to the questions of his companions, he said: ‘This is the grave of my mother; the Lord hath permitted me to visit it, and I asked leave to pray for her, and it was not granted. So I called my mother to remembrance, and the tender memory of her overcame me, and I wept.’

"Mohammed did not pretend to found a new religion, as that would have alarmed the jealousies of all parties among his countrymen and united their discordant views into a general opposition. His professed object was simply to restore the only true and primitive faith, such as had existed in the days of the patriarchs and the prophets, from Adam to Jesus. The fundamental doctrine of this ancient worship, which Mohammed sought to purify from the corruption which had infected it among a frail and degenerate race of men, was the unity of God. A principle so simple and obvious, which had never been denied by any sect, and which presented nothing difficult to comprehend, was a broad foundation for a popular and universal religion, and this was an advantage fully appreciated by Mohammed."

[Comment: It is interesting that the later commentators regarding the character and attitude of Mohammed take pride in the fact that he was purely a human being and had the good and bad points of all humans. The up-to-date (1991) Concise Encyclopedia of Islam has the following comments about Mohammed to show that he was very human as are all of us.

"People used to ask Aisha [his favorite wife after the death of his first wife Khadijah] how the Prophet lived at home. ‘Like an ordinary man,’ she answered. ‘He would sweep the house, stitch his own clothes, mend his own sandals; water the camels, milk the goats, help the servants at their work, and eat his meals with them; and he would go to fetch a thing we needed from the market.’"

[(page 281). And once when asked what were the dearest things to him in life, Mohammed answered:] "prayer, perfumes and women" (page 281).]

"With the Jews, who adhered to their ancient ceremonial, he maintained the authority of the Pentateuch and the inspiration of the Hebrew prophets. With the Christians, he admitted the divinity of Christ’s mission and the truth of the Gospel, making the revelations of the Old and New Testaments the basis of his own preaching. But he took especial care to conciliate the Arabs, who were the more immediate objects of his endeavors. He manifested an extreme indulgence to their prejudices, while lamenting the madness and folly of their idolatrous worship. He spared their popular traditions and ceremonies, at least such of them as suited his views, and he even made them more attractive by giving the Divine sanction to customs already hallowed by immemorial usage."

[Christians had earlier done the same thing, though from the time of Constantine the Christian authorities brought pagan ideas and practices almost wholesale into the bosom of the church, including idolatry. Mohammed, on the other hand, repudiated idolatrous image making.]

"In A.D. 609, when Mohammed was forty years of age, and after he had matured his plans and acquired a reputation for sanctity corresponding in some degree with the exalted and venerable office which he was about to assume, he announced his mission, proclaiming the cardinal principle of his creed: ‘There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his Apostle.’ His faithful wife, Khadijah, was the first person to whom he made this revelation, and she became his first convert, as already noticed. His next two proselytes were his two adopted children, Ali and Zeid."

[End of references in Sixty Centuries of Human Progress.]

[Comment: It is not wise for anyone to deny the sincerity of Mohammed. Indeed, many people who have started religious movements when they were urged to do so by angelic spirits were in most cases truly sincere in what they believed. The Bible says that Satan deceives the whole world, and deceived people do not believe they are deceived. They think they are right. Mohammed was quite a sincere person in what he considered his mission to bring people back to the Abrahamic faith that he thought the Jews and Christians had abandoned. Mohammed simply thought he was restoring the faith of Abraham to the world. And, indeed, some of Mohammed’s essential teachings resemble Abraham’s.]

Other Important Points About Islam and its Divisions

Modern Islam is divided into two main divisions with hundreds of sects and schisms (which is similar to our modern churchianity today that is known as "Christianity"). The main bulk of Muslims are of the Sunni division which represent the so-called traditionalists of the religion while a large segment (notably in Iran and other areas) is known as the Shiite (pronounced "Shee-ite"), which is the more emotional and miracle-minded sect. The two have certain common beliefs, but they differ also in many points. It might be said (with a great deal of latitude) that the Sunni are like the Catholic Church in Christendom retaining lots of traditional beliefs (but without all the ritualism and idolatry of Catholicism) and the Shiites are like the Protestants, especially those of an emotional bent like the Pentecostals. The Shiites are more prone to accept Messianic figures in their midst and to look for them, but the Sunnis also hold to certain beliefs about the end-time which are basically common to all Islamic sects.

After the time of Mohammed, an eschatological system of beliefs began to emerge (the word "eschatology" has to do with "end time" events or prophecies). There are many varieties of beliefs among the various Muslim sects, but basically they now believe that at the end of the age (the time that we who follow the Holy Scriptures realize we are now entering) there will arise a person called the Mahdi who will resemble Mohammed in his physical attributes. Mohammed had long shoulder length black hair that he braided and wound around his head with a turban on top. He had an unusual round birthmark below his neck and between his shoulders and the Arabs believed this was a Sign of a Prophet. The future Mahdi as understood in some circles will have this "mark" of Mohammed on him and other physical features of Mohammed such as a broad forehead and aquiline nose (see Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, page 107).

This Mahdi is to appear on earth and form an ideal rule of justice and harmony among nations. He will be followed by the Antichrist who will be "one eyed" and he will send the world into delusion and a deception that many in the world will adhere to. The "one eye" of the Antichrist has been interpreted differently by interpreters, but it could be understood to be like someone with one eye with a patch over the other. Many superstitious Muslims fear such "one eyed" people. The Antichrist will soon be followed by the Second Advent of our Lord. The Muslims believe that Christ will return from heaven and put down the Antichrist and after the defeat of Gog and Magog. Christ will establish his rule on earth and inaugurate the long awaited Day of Judgment for all people.

It is interesting that the Holy Scriptures do indeed reveal that there will be a glorious rule from Jerusalem when idolatry and the evil spirits are sent out of the region (Zechariah 12:10–14 through 13:1–6). This is when the Jews and Muslims will cooperate with one another in getting rid of idolatry in what they consider the Holy Land. That time is just on the horizon to us and it fits in with Muslim beliefs about the coming Mahdi as well as the account of spiritual renewal in Zechariah. A major change in attitude is prophesied to take place among the Jews and Muslims. A type of harmony will begin to emerge among them, Indeed, out of Iran will come a person who will be instrumental in helping the Jews to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:28 to 45:1–19). The majority of Muslims will even agree that the new Temple at Jerusalem should be rebuilt on Mount Moriah. 4 This will probably be considered the time of the one prophesied to come called the Mahdi who will then be in cooperation with the Jewish authorities. We should keep our eyes on the Middle East because some major changes in political and religious philosophies are just on the horizon. The new century (and millennium) will bring some surprising changes with affairs in the Middle East. The Bible shows this.

In closing, let me state that from my point of view, Islam is a legitimate teaching of a reformed type of "Abrahamic faith" but it is not a part of the advanced teaching of "the Mystery" which God gave to Paul and the apostles as found in the New Testament. Islam, however, is a step above the religions of this world such as Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism and other national religions which do not recognized Abraham as their progenitor. And though Islam is not the full truth of God the Father and Christ, it is a better belief than most of the world’s religions and it can be a stepping stone for some nations until true Christianity is established on earth at the Second Advent.

Ernest L. Martin, October 1993
Edited by David Sielaff, May 2003

1 Since this article originally appeared in print, three years before ASK began its internet presence, the context of the introductory paragraph has changed. The immediate situation of the article was the signing of ill-fated peace accords between Israel and the PLO. Many deaths and hardships have occurred since that time. DWS

2 This is reiterated in the "Biography of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)" by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, 1998 (www.cyberistan.org/islamic/muhammad.html). They agree that "‘Allah’ is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and Jews for the God (Eloh-im in Hebrew; ‘Allaha’ in Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Unlike the word "god," the word Allah does not have a plural or gender." This is generally the understanding of most Arab scholars." This short treatment of Muhammad’s life will give you additional understanding of Muhammad and Islam. DWS

3 See the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 17, p.399b.

4 Of course, since Dr. Martin began his research on the Temple Mount in 1995 which culminated in his book, The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot, his understanding of the location of Mount Moriah was changed that the site was above and west of the Gihon Spring. Whether the next Temple will be built at that location is still being considered. Dr. Martin intended to re-investigate that topic but was not able to do so before his death. DWS

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