The Witnesses of the Early Jews to the Prophethood of Muhammad
The Holy Book contains many prophecies about the prophet Muhammad; the Testament of Moses, a book which is not considered canonical, determines his birth year. Psalm" 84" determines the place of the Muslims Hajj, the Book of Deuteronomy (3:23) determines the place on which the first revelation of the Holy Quran would shine.
Isaiah (21:13) determines the place to which he would migrate; it even refers to one of the important military confrontation between the expected prophet and his enemies. For all of these reasons the Jews are reported in the Islamic literature to have known the period in which the prophet Muhammad would be born, the place where he would be born, the place to which he would migrate to and many other events in the life of the prophet Muhammad. In this short article, we will choose some of these events that show that they knew the Prophet Muhammad.
God says in the Holy Quran what means:
Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons. But indeed, a party of them conceal the truth while they know [it].(2-146)
Bahira, the Monk:
When the Messenger of Allâh was twelve years old, he went with his uncle Abu Talib on a business journey to Syria. When they reached Busra (which was a part of Syria, in the vicinity of Howran under the Roman domain) they met a monk called Bahira (his real name was Georges), who showed great kindness, and entertained them lavishly. He had never been in the habit of receiving or entertaining them before. He readily enough recognized the Prophet and said while taking his hand: "This is the master of all humans. Allâh will send him with a Message which will be a mercy to all beings." Abu Talib asked: "How do you know that?" He replied: "When you appeared from the direction of ‘Aqabah, all stones and trees prostrated themselves, which they never do except for a Prophet. I can recognize him also by the seal of Prophethood which is below his shoulder, like an apple. We have got to learn this from our books." He also asked Abu Talib to send the boy back to Makkah and not to take him to Syria for fear of the Jews. Abu Talib obeyed and sent him back to Makkah with some of his men servants.
The Madinese always heard the Jews say that a Prophet was about to rise, for the time for a new dispensation had arrived. Him they would follow and then smite their enemies as the children of ‘Ad and Iram had been smitten.
Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain his real Prophethood. No sooner did he hear the Prophet’s answers than he embraced Islam, but added that if his people knew of his Islamization they would advance false arguments against me. The Prophet sent for some Jews and asked them about ‘Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. Here it was divulged to them that he had embraced Islam and on the spot, they imparted categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration ‘Abdullah bin Salam said, "O Jews! Be Allâh fearing. By Allâh, the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allâh sent to people with the Truth." They replied, "You are lying." ... That was the Prophet’s first experience with the Jews.
On the authority of the Mother of believers Safiyah - may Allah be pleased with her - narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyayi bin Akhtab said: I was the closest child to my and my uncle Abi Yasir’s heart. Whenever they saw me with a child of theirs, they should pamper me so tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the advent of the Messenger of Allâh and setting in Quba’ with Bani ‘Amr bin ‘Awf, my , Huyayi bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking lazily and fully dejected. I, as usually, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyayi: "Is it really he (i.e. Muhammad)?" The former said: "It is he, I swear by Allâh!" "Did you really recognize him?" they asked. He answered: "Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him"
Salama ibn Slama Albadry
Narrated Salama ibn Salama Albadry "while I was young, there used to be a Jewish neighbor living next door to us. Once he came to the place where our tribesmen used to sit and began to talk to us about resurrection, the Judgment day, reckoning, the measure, hell and paradise. I was the youngest of them at that time. He was talking to idolaters who do never believe that there will be resurrection, so they asked" damn! is that possible that people will be resurrected again and they will either go to hell or paradise and that they will be rewarded according to their deeds?"
"I swear in the name of God, this will happen." He said
"How can we be sure of that you are talking about?" They said.
"A prophet will be sent soon, his locus will be there." Pointing by his finger between Mekka and Yemen." He said
"When can we see him?" They asked
"Looking at me, he said "If this boy became a young man, he will see him." He said
Salam said" Not many years didn't pass until the prophet was sent and this Jew was still alive among us, we believed in him but he didn't out of envy and rancor.|
"We asked him" damn ! Aren't you the one who told us about him?"
"Yes, I did. But he is not a prophet."
In fact, the Jews, though many of them believed in Muhammad, refused to believe because they wanted this prophet to be from them.The Holy Quran commented on such approach of the Jews in the following verse:
And when the Book was sent to them by God verifying what had been revealed to them already even though before it they used to pray for victory over the unbelievers and even though they recognised it when it came to them, they renounced it. The curse of God be on those who deny! (2:89)
Also the Holy Quran comments on the attitude of the Jews in the following verse:
They disbelieved in him though they knew him exactly they recognized their children, The Holy Quran says commenting on their situation saying "The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know. (2:146)
Prior to the advent of prophet Mohammed, the Jews emigrated to Madina and Tema because they understood the prophecies in their Holy Book especially those which refer to the locus of the Message and also the place of his determination.
Ibn Isaq,a well-known reliable biographer, says he was told by some of Madina dwellers, known as the supporters, that the reason behind their converting to Islam was that they used to hear from the Jews, we were idolaters and they had a Holy Book, they had knowledge that we did not have, there used to be skirmishes between us, if we defeated them, they would threaten us saying' the advent of a new prophet is approximating and we will kill you the same way the nation of Aad and Aram was killed ( in large numbers), this threats were repeated several times in different occasions. When this prophet was sent, we believed in him when he called us to God but they disbelieved." And for this reason the following verse was revealed:
And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith. (2:89)
Khatada, one of the early scientists, says they Jews used to pray for victory in the name of Mohammed, and when Moahhamed was sent they disbelieved though the prophet was prophesied in their Holy Book because they thought he would be from among them.
The Rabbi ibn Al-Hayban
Short before the Islamic call dawned on the Arab Peninsula, a versatile pious rabbi by the name Ibn Alhyban came from Sham to the city of Madina, the city to which the prophet was destined to emigrate to; he read in the Holy Book that the city of Madina will be the place to which the prophet would emigrate, so he came to dwell in Madina to be among those who would follow and support.
Ibn Ishaq narrates that the leader of Bani Quriza, a chief tribe at that time, said that a rabbi from Sham came to live among us, his name was ibn Al-Hayban, I have never seen a man who perfect his prayer like him, he came to us two years before the advent of the prophet. When there is draught, we used to go to ask him to pray for rain, he would say' I swear I won't do unless you give some alms before you go, we would ask' how much', he says' a measure of dry dates or barley. So we did what he asked. He would take us to the back of the mountain and there we ask for rain under his leadership, no sooner he left his place than rain fell down superfluously, he did twice or thrice.
When he was dying, we gathered around him, he said" O' Jews, do you know what reason made me leave the land of Sham(Sham), the land of welfare to the land of hunger and hardships( Madina).
They said' you know best."
"I emigrated because I expected a prophet to appear and this is his time to appear, this town is the place where he will emigrate to. Believe in him, let nobody else precede you." He died shortly after his words.
When it was the night on which Bani Quryza, a major Jewish tribe at that time, was defeated, three Jews left their fortresses and called the others" O' Jews, we assure you that he is the prophet whom ibn Al- Hyban told you about."
They said" what are your proofs?"
"We swear he is as was described"
And they all embraced Islam
By Magdy Abdalshafy