While investigating certain modern Muslims claims about science in the Qur’an, I came across a lecture of Adnan Rashid, in which he asserts a particular prediction of Muhammad in the book of Isaiah, chapter 29: 11-13.
I felt it would be appropriate to share my thoughts on his interpretation of the passage.
I must say I was slightly puzzled by Adnan’s constant flaws in Biblical interpretation, his historical inaccuracies and his hermeneuctical methods.
As to the presumed prediction of Muhammad, he completely, either fails to grasp the context of the passage or deliberately distorts its meaning.
Hence I encourage everyone, first, to read the passage, then read the full chapter, and finally ask yourself whether, the passage in the context or even separately predicts the coming of distant future, Arabic, illiterate prophet?
Let's elaborate on the chapter and assess this claim of Adnan and numerous other Muslim exponents.
Firstly, the passage concerns the City of David several centuries prior to the birth of Jesus and more than a thousand years prior to Islam (see verses 1: 1-4).
Secondly, the passage describes God blinding the people of Israel, in this case those living and abiding in the City of David (it’s people, the prophets and the seers) for imminent judgement.
Hence neither time nor circumstances fit the description or interpretation of Adnan!
Verses 10-11a reads:
‘The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep, he has sealed your eyes (the prophets) and covered your heads (seers). For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll ’.
Here God clarifies in his revelation to Isaiah the prophet, that his words to this particular community at this particular time cannot be perceived by the particular community.
Consequently then, if the passage concerned the revelation of the Qur’an, the Qur’an would then be unreadable and impossible to perceive particularly by its earliest recipients such as Muhammad and his close followers, and therefore modern attempts by Muslim apologists to utilize this passage to confirm the prediction of the Qur’an will simply backlash.
The revelation to Isaiah continues (verses 11b-12):
‘...And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed”. Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”
Hence someone, not God, nor Gabriel, but either the prophet of this revelation who is Isaiah, or the ruling body of the city, is informed that the people living in the City of David sometimes between 800-700 BC will be blinded from perceiving the future calamity.
They will be so blinded, that if Isaiah or the ruling body hands a scroll of warning to a reader within the community, he would be unable to read the message therein due to its divine sealing, and if Isaiah would hand the scroll to an illiterate, the person would simply admit his inability to read.
Notice the wording, ‘if’, if Isaiah gives the scroll to a reader or an illiterate.
The passage is not claiming that God will convey his scroll or reveal his word to an illiterate who miraculously will be able to recite. Quite the opposite, that (not God but) Isaiah or another agent is the provider of the word, yet there is no definite command or statement that the scroll was necessarily ever given, but rather ‘if’ you give.
Moreover, the recipients of the scroll (if they were ever handed a scroll) are not one, but two. Therefore, if Muhammad is the illiterate whose divine destruction is imminent, then who is the literate?
Furthermore, both the literate and the illiterate are blinded and singled out with the rest of the community for destruction, not in 570 AD or a little later but in 700 BC, not in Arabia but in the City of David in Israel. If the passage predicted Muhammad's arrival and the rise of the Muslim community, Islam would be wiped by God himself within Muhammad’s era. That is if Adnan and other Muslims are accurate about their hermenuetical skills of the text.
So is this illiterate individual a prophet?
Far from it, every indication to such an interpretation is completely wanted.
This illiterate is not an Arab, he does not abide in Arabia, neither was not alive in Muhammad's era; in fact he is not even a prophet but someone close to the wrath of God.
The only mention of a prophet is possibly to Isaiah himself who probably never handed a scroll to this poor individual, but if he did, this individual would gain absolutely nothing from this encounter with the Word of God.
I am virtually astonished that Muslims resort to such speculative and distortive approaches of interpretation to boost their desperate ideas.
Adnan Rashid, committed in fact a number of errors, e.g. stating that the Isaiah scroll was written five centuries prior to Muhammad, while in fact, the two Isaiah scrolls were written approximately 150 and 100 BC. Furthermore, his claim that the Isaiah scroll is the oldest manuscript of Jewish scripture. There are in fact a number of written Scriptures in our possession that precede the scroll of Isaiah.