THE EXPECTED CHIEF CORNERSTONE: AHMAD
In Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, as well as in other religions, people tend to believe that a savior will come when the end of the world approaches. This belief originates from the responsibility of “belief in the final prophet of God”. He is expected to arrive after Jesus but every religious community interprets it in a different way.
The Bible includes many clues about the attributes of the expected prophet.
THE EMPHASIZED CHARACTERISTIC OF THE EXPECTED PROPHET ACCORDING TO THE QURAN:
According to the Quran, the characteristics of the expected prophet is already described in the Torah and the Gospel, and he will be Ummi :
“They (those who trust God’s verses) are the ones who follow this Ummi Prophet Messenger whose description they find in the Torah and the Gospel with them” (The Quran 7:157 / al-A’raf 157).
In this study, we will talk about the biblical equivalent of this verse.
According to this verse, it is stated in both the Torah and the Gospel that the final prophet that is expected to come will be “Ummi”.
Who is an “Ummi”?
The word “Ummi” is used in the Quran in contrast to the people who were granted divine Books, that is, the People of the Book. Therefore, the people who were not granted any divine Scripture are “Ummi” according to the Quran:
“If they argue with you, say (to them): ‘I have completely submitted myself to God and so have those who follow me.’ Ask those who were granted the Book and the Ummi: ‘Have you also submitted yourselves (to God)?’ If they submit themselves (to God), they have the right guidance; but if they turn away, (know that) you are only responsible for communicating the verses. God sees His servants” (The Quran 3:20 / Al-e Imran 20).
Another Quranic verse elaborates on this description:
“Among them are the “Ummi”. They do not know the Book, but the fictions about It, and they only make assumptions” (The Quran 2:78 / al-Baqarah 78).
That means not only those who were not granted a divine Book but also those who are unaware of the contents of the Book granted to them are called “Ummi” in the Quran.
According to the Quran, Muhammad (PBUH) was certainly one of the people who had never read or learned about a divine Scripture. God had deliberately made him so:
“You did not read any Scripture before this, nor wrote one with your hand, or else these dissemblers would have found a cause to doubt” (The Quran 29:48 / al-Ankabut 48).
Until he had the first revelation from God, Muhammad (PBUH) did not know anything about previous divine Scriptures:
“(O Muhammad) We have thus (by sending a messenger) revealed to you the spirit (the Book) which is Our command. You knew neither the Scripture nor the faith, but We made it a light, guiding with it whoever We prefer of Our servants. You guide to the straight path” (The Quran 42:52 / ash-Shura 52).
So, Muhammad (PBUH) was obviously “Ummi”, just as the Meccan people of that era.
Ummi According to the Israelite
The Israelites call “the Ummi” as “the Gentile” or -as the transliteration of the Hebrew word- “Goy”.
Let the reader keep this information in mind until the end of the article.
CRITIQUE OF THE PARACLITUS PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE
The Quran includes the following verse regarding the glad tidings that Jesus (PBUH) brought about the Prophet who would succeed him:
Jesus, son of Mary said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God sent to you to confirm the Torah that is before me and to give glad tidings of a messenger who will come after me, whose name (distinctive attribute) will be Ahmad (the Most Praised)”. When Jesus came to them with clear documents (of this claim), they said: “This is obvious magic” (The Quran 61:6 /as-Saff 6).
Muslim scholars generally could not go beyond mentioning the “Paraclite” passages in the Gospel of John regarding the issue of the glad tidings of Prophet Muhammad in the Bible. In Tafsir of Muqatil b. Sulayman, which is accepted as the oldest tafsir that was codified, Surah Saff contains a single sentence as the explanation of the phrase “His name is Ahmad (ismuhu Ahmad)” in verse 6: “It is Faraklita in Syriac.”
This view is extremely problematic. First of all, there is no data to support the claim that the word Paraclitos is in Syriac. The general acceptance is that this word is Greek. On the other hand, there is no information that it could have any semantic relation with the word “Ahmad”. The commentators were unable to put forward any clues regarding Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the Gospels other than the word “Paraclitus”. This is a painful indicator of how indifferent most Muslims are in that regard.
In fact, without giving the Paraclitus passages, the information in the present canonical Gospels very well heralded Prophet Muhammad in detail. We need neither the Gospel of John nor the word Paraclitus in search of that news. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the “Paraclite” passages are also related to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Yet, these passages are insufficient in two aspects to establish the truth that the expected Prophet is Muhammad:
First: In the “Paraclitus” passages, there is no reference to the fact that the announced person will be Ummi, that is, unaware of previous divine Scriptures. However, according to the Quran, this information should be clearly expressed in the existing Gospels.
Latter: Jesus, spoke the word of “Paraclitus” to a small number of his disciples in a secret meeting. However, according to verse 6 of the Surah Saff, Jesus had been clearly communicating this information to all Israelites.
This situation forced us to investigate whether there was further information -apart from the “Paraclitic” passages- that give the glad tidings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the existing canonical Gospels. We had no doubt that this study would bear fruits as we fully trust God’s word in verse 157 of Surah al-A’raf.
THE SERMON OF JESUS MENTIONED IN THE QURAN
First of all, according to verse 6 of Surah Saff, it is obvious that such important information about the next prophet cannot have been communicated to the Jewish community in a remote corner of the country since the expression “O Children of Israel …” in the verse shows that this speech addressed a wide audience.
When we roughly examine the life and messages of Jesus, we can see that the number of occasions where a speech that may include the expressions in verse 6 of Surah Saff can be delivered is limited. Jesus (PBUH) started his duty of prophethood in the region of Galilee but did not end there. He traveled to Jerusalem. His ultimate goal was to go to Bayt al-Maqdis and deliver his message to all Israelites there. As a matter of fact, he achieved this goal. One of the most important events of Jesus’ life was the “Sermon at the Temple (Beit HaMikdash / Bayt al-Maqdis) “. On that occasion, tens of thousands of people and the most prominent Jewish scholars were present to listen to him. Knowing this led us to investigate the spotlighted sermon given by Prophet Jesus to the Jews and the clergy in Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. We have seen that Jesus indeed conveyed the information about his soon-to-be successor to the prominent Jewish scholars and the people in Jerusalem. We could discover this through the guidance of the Quran.
Understanding how Muslims previously overlooked such an important fact is still beyond our ken. Undoubtedly, the most important reason for this is that Muslims have strayed too far from the Quran or ignored -even distorted- the truth of confirmation /tasdeeq relation between divine books whose importance is emphasized in dozens of verses in the Quran. Unfortunately, Muslims persistently put effort into trying to prove that the Quran refuted previous divine books, rather than working on the fact that the Quran confirms the Books sent down before It (Al-e Imran 3:3, Maedah 5:48, Fatir 35:31, Ahqaf 46:30 ).
THE PREACHING STYLE OF JESUS
Before moving on to passages about Prophet Muhammad, another issue that ought to be emphasized is that Jesus’ preaching style was always allegorical. He used to use parables to tell people what he intends to mean. This is one of his prominent attributes which is heralded in the Gospel:
“Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables. He did not tell them anything without using a parable. This was to fulfill what was declared by the prophet when he said,
‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables.
I will declare what has been hidden
since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 13: 34.35).
We think that this narrative style of Jesus’ may be the reason for the information in the Gospels about the tidings of the next prophet to go unnoticed. Indeed, seeing the relation between Prophet Muhammad and the upcoming prophet mentioned in Jesus’ parable at first glance is not so easy.
THE PARABLE OF THE TENANTS
When Jesus (PBUH) entered Bayt al-Maqdis, he addressed the Jewish community and the clergy by using the following parable:
33 “Listen to this story: There was a man who owned [landowner who planted] a vineyard. He put a wall around it and dug a hole for a winepress and built a tower [to protect against thieves]. Then he leased the land to some [tenant] farmers and left for a trip. 34 When it was time for the grapes to be picked, he sent his servants [slaves] to the farmers to get his share of the grapes. 35 But the farmers grabbed the servants [slaves], beat one, killed another, and then killed a third servant with stones. 36 So the man sent some other servants [slaves] to the farmers, even more than he sent the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to them that they had done before. 37 So the man sent his son to the farmers. He said, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This son will inherit the vineyard. Let’s kill him, and we will get his inheritance!’ 39 Then the farmers grabbed the son, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 So what will the owner [Lord] of the vineyard do to these farmers when he comes?”
41 The priests and leaders said, “He will surely kill those evil men. Then he will lease the vineyard to some other farmers who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.
42 Jesus said to them, “Surely you have read this in the Scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s work, A wonderful work in our eyes!‘.
43 “So, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to people [a nation] who do the things God wants in his kingdom. 44 The person who falls on [stumbles over] this stone will be broken [shattered], and on whoever that stone falls, that person will be crushed.”
45 When the leading priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they knew Jesus was talking about them. 46 They were seeking to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds because the people believed that Jesus was a prophet” (Matthew 21:33-46).
Let’s take a closer look at the characters in the parable:
Owner of the vineyard: God the Almighty
Vineyard: The Book, the Wisdom, and prophethood.
Vineyard tenants – farmers: The Israelite
The vineyard owner’s slaves: Prophets
Son of the vineyard owner: Jesus (pbuh)
The other farmers: The Gentiles, in other words, anyone apart from the Israelite.
The situation narrated by Jesus (PBUH) at the beginning of the parable is as below:
The Book and the wisdom had been bestowed upon the Israelites in return for their promise that they would duly obey the orders and prohibitions of God. When the Israelites did not fulfill their responsibilities, God sent prophets to warn them over and over again. However, the Israelites mistreated the prophets. Finally, God sent the good news of Jesus (PBUH), which he foretold in the Torah. Thereupon, the Israelites denied him too.
Upon this, Jesus asks the clergy who are present at the sermon:
“What will the owner of the vineyard do to these men to whom he leased his vineyard?”
The Israelites confess in their own words: “The vineyard owner will lease it to other winegrowers who will give its product to him on time.”
Since the Israelites knew that it was a due prescription from God, they gave this answer unwillingly because they knew the unchanging law of God. It is also repeated in the Quran :
“O those who believe and trust! Whoever of you turns away from His religion, God will bring a community He loves in their place, and they will love Him. They will be respectful to those who believe and trust, and their heads will be uncompromising against those who ignore the revelations. This is the grace of God, He gives it to those who make the right choice. God’s possibilities are vast, He knows everything” (The Quran 5:54 / al-Maedah 54).
This parable concludes that the Israelites were then deprived of the blessing of prophethood, which means, the next prophet will be from among other people who are not Israelite. We had mentioned that the Israelites call such people “the Gentile” or “Goy”.
The Chief Cornerstone in the Parable
When the Israelites made the confession that the tenants will be changed, Jesus said: “Surely you have read this in the Scriptures” by pointing out the very same passages that also existed in the Psalms. He thus heralded the upcoming prophet:
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s work, a wonderful work in our eyes!” (Psalms 118:22-23).
Jesus expresses much more clearly what he meant by making the following quote:
“Therefore, I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation that grows its products.”
This statement also confirms that the next prophet to come would not be from among the Israelites.
FROM WHICH NATION WILL BE THE EXPECTED PROPHET?
So from where will this prophet be? To where does this chief cornerstone belong?
Whom or which region this stone represents is explained in another chapter in the Torah:
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a firm foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place…” (Isaiah 28:16-17).
The passage says this stone, which will be a cornerstone, was laid in Zion.
So where is Zion?
We can learn this again from the Torah:
The House Of God In Zion In the Valley Of Baca
“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, they forever praise you. Selah. Blessed is the man who finds refuge in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; even the autumn rain covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion.” (Psalms 84:4-7).
In the above passage, the phrases “Your house” which means “the House of God”, “Valley of Baca”, and “Zion” are mentioned. Those who pass through the Baca Valley appear before God in Zion.
Let’s further examine these words:
“God’s House” is an expression that is often mentioned in the Torah and the Gospels. When we consider that this phrase is mentioned in the Psalms (52:8, 135:2) which goes back to David (PBUH)- and that the Temple of Solomon did not exist at his time, we see that the House of God mentioned in these passages- cannot be the Temple of Solomon. Where could “the House of God” be then?
Indeed, when we translate the expression “the House of God” into Arabic, we get the exact phrase “Baytullah”, which is the Arabic name that is used to refer to the Kaaba in Mecca. Mecca is in a narrow valley in Saudi Arabia, and at the end of the valley resides “Baytullah / Kaaba / The House of God”.
The name “Baca” is used in the Quran to refer to Mecca. Heed also the word “House (in Arabic and Hebrew: Bayt)” in the verse:
“Behold, the first House ever set up for mankind is indeed the one in Baca: blessed, and a guidance unto all the worlds” (The Quran 3:96 /Al-e Imran 96).
“When the people pass through the Valley of Baca, they appear before God in Zion”. Then, Zion must be the area of Masjid al-Haram where Baytullah / Kaaba is located, and the people who appear before God in Zion must be the people who dwell in Mecca where Kaaba is located.
JESUS’ FINAL WORDS TO THE CONGREGATION
Jesus says something very important at the end of his sermon in Bayt al-Maqdis:
“O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem! Jerusalem, who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to him! How many times I have wanted to gather your children like the chicken gathered his chicks under his wings, but you did not want it. Look, your house (your Bayt) will be desolate! Let me tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:37-39).
Jesus gives four important pieces of information in these words:
a- The House of the Israelites Will Be Desolate:
By saying “your house (Bayt in Arabic) will be desolate” Jesus informs us that, not only prophethood will be taken away from the Israelites, but also Bayt al-Maqdis will lose its status of being qibla (the direction toward which believers turn each day when performing daily ritual prayer) because the word “Bayt” does not only mean “house” but also “temple”. So, the sacred temple to head towards during prayers ceases to be Bayt al-Maqdis. That has occurred through the revelation of verse 144 of Surah al-Baqara in the Quran in which God commands believers to head towards Masjid al-Haraam where Kaaba, Baytullah, is located.
b- The One Will Come “In the Name of the Lord”:
It is not arbitrary that Jesus talks about a person who “comes in the name of the Lord” for this is something that Jews had already been aware of. A person who “comes in the name of the Lord” is also mentioned in the Torah, as well as the “cornerstone” passages in the Bible: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord, we bless you.” (Psalms 118:26).
A person who comes in the name of the Lord is a person who is in the “House of the Lord”, that is, “Baytullah”, which is the name of “Kaaba” in Meccah. Yet, the most significant evidence of “coming in the name of Lord” is in the Quran:
The very first verse sent down during the revelation of the Qur’an in Meccah is:
“Read in the name of your Lord who created!” (The Quran 96:1 / al-Alaq 1).
This information is extremely important because the Israelites were waiting for a prophet who would come “in the name of the Lord”. Not only Israelites but anyone who reads and believes in the Gospel or the Torah can understand that Ahmad is the person who “comes in the name of the Lord” after reading this verse of the Quran.
c- The One Will Be “Blessed”:
Jesus informs that the person “who comes in the name of the Lord” will be the person that people will “bless”. This matches the adjective “Ahmad”, which means “praised”.
d- People Will Not See Jesus Until “The One” Comes:
Jesus says, “You will not see me again until then”. That means, the Jews will not mention Jesus until the next prophet comes. Indeed, until the Qur’an was revealed, the Israelites thought they had gotten rid of Jesus. Jesus, however, started to be a matter of concern for Jews by means of the revelation of the Quranic verses which manifest the facts about Jesus and the attitude of Jews toward him.
Further Detail About the Expected Prophet
God decrees in the Torah:
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not listen to My words which He speaks in My name, I will call him to account” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
a- A Prophet Like Moses:
The attributes that make Muhammad “a prophet like Moses” are explained in another piece of research by our foundation:
b- From Among the Brothers of the Israelites:
We know that the Meccan people are from the lineage of Prophet Ishmael (PBUH) and Ishmael is the brother of Ishaaq. So, “brothers of the Israelite” are “the Ishmaelite” on the contrary to common thought that brothers of the Israelites are Israelites again. That has to be the case because this brother was “rejected by the builders” according to Psalms 118:22-23.
c – The Rejected Brother
The “brother” of the Israelites who was “rejected by the builders” can only be the Ishmaelite because the Israelites do not recognize Ishamel neither as a prophet, nor as a good person. Yet, in the Quran, he is called “true to his word”, “chosen”, “granted revelation”, “steadfast”, and “good”.
When all the above information is taken into account, it is confirmed that “the stone that the builders rejected” is the lineage of Ishmael to which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also belongs.
References in Islamic Resources
Some commentators of the Qur’an ignore the truth of verse 157 in Surah A’raf which says: “… this Ummi Prophet Messenger whose description they find written in the Torah and the Gospel with them”. They also say “There are so many Gospels, in which one shall we find it?”, along with the other derogatory words about the Bible. However, this important announcement of Jesus to prominent Jewish scholars in Bayt al-Maqdis is unanimously included in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, the expression “they find it written in the Torah and the Gospel with them” in the Quran is very much the truth itself.
The following words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) summarizes what we have told so far:
“The simile of the prophets before me and me is the likeness of a man who built a very beautiful building. Only one of the corners of the building is empty. As people walk around this house with admiration, they see the deficiency and say, ‘Will not this missing piece be completed? Here is that piece that is missing; I am the last of the prophets. ” (Bukhari, Manakib, 18; Muslim, Fadail, 20 et al.) .
As we can conclude from the facts above, it is clear that the prophet to come, as prescribed in the Torah, will emerge from among the Arabs, that is, the Ummi, who are from the lineage of Ishmael.
Since the Israelites understood this information given by Jesus very well, they wanted to arrest him immediately there. However, they could not do anything, fearing the public reaction.
The Chief Corner Stone
The quality of being “the chief cornerstone” corresponds exactly to the concept of “Ahmad (the most praised)” in the Quran. Every prophet is equal in terms of being “praised” because they are those whom God chooses from among people. This attribute, however, is used in the Quran for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the superlative form as, “Ahmad (the most praised”). Although every prophet is praised, the quality of being “the most praised” belongs only to one of them. Every stone in a building is important, but only one has the honor of being “the chief cornerstone”.
When we examine the Torah, and the canonical Gospels from the point of confirmation relationship between the Quran and the previous divine Scriptures, we obtain significant information about the next -and the last- prophet of God:
– He will be the Chief Corner Stone
– He will be a prophet like Moses
– He will be from the rejected lineage, the Ishmaelite
– He will come “in the Name of the Lord”
With no doubt, “The Expected One” has already come, and he was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
 According to this verse, the “ummi = أُمّيّ ” are people who were not granted a divine scripture. The Meccan people were called “ummi = illiterate” at the time when the Qur’an was sent down. This was not due to their inability to read or write, but because they did not have a divine book with them. Those who were granted a book but are unaware of Its content are also called “ummi = illiterate” in the Qur’an: “Among them (the Experts in the Book) are illiterate ones. They do not know the Book but the fictions about It, and they only make assumptions” (al-Baqarah 2:78).
 The word “ummi = أُمِّي” is of the root “umm” which means “mother”. An ummi is a person who remained as if just born from his mother (in the respect of knowledge), who is not learned (Lisan al-Arab, art.أم). Accordingly, it means, “who has not learned what is in God’s Book” in this verse.
 John 14:15-26, 16:5-16.
 Muqatil B. Süleyman, Tafsir al-Kebir, v.4, p.214, Sign Pub. 2009.
 Canonical (official) texts in the hands of Christians are of priority for us because the expression “… they find it written in the Torah and the Gospel …” is mentioned in Surah A’raf verse 157.
 The Quran 19:54
 The Quran 6:86
 The Quran 2:136, 6:86, 19:54
 The Quran 21:85
 The Quran 38:48
 Matthew 21: 33-41; Mark 12: 1-9; Luke 20: 9-16.
Research by Vedat YILMAZ
Translation by Ismail YETISIR
Reviewed by A. Zeynep DÖNMEZ