Q & A
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was a direct descendant of Ishmael through his second son, Kedar. Muhammad received revelations from an angel whom he believed to be Gabriel. These revelations later became the book of the Muslims, known as the Qur'an. Muslims believe that Abraham took his firstborn, Ishmael, to the altar of sacrifice on the mount instead of Isaac to substantiate Ishmael as the seed through which the whole earth would be blessed. The Muslims also believe that Muhammad was the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham and that Muhammad was the prophet like unto Moses. They consider the Christian Bible to be changed and not entirely authentic. The nation of Islam comes forth from Ishmael's descendant, Muhammad. So Islam's roots trace back to Ishmael, Abraham's first son.
Later Ishmael married an Egyptian and his family vastly expanded through 12 sons, leading to a multitude of people. The Muslim people existed long before they embraced Islam.
—Faisal Malick, The Destiny of Islam in the Endtimes, pages 22, 23
God spoke to Hagar and gave her prophecies on two occasions. She was a very spiritual, remarkable woman. When our father Abraham visited Egypt, Pharaoh gave him many gifts and slaves. One of the Egyptian slave girls had such special qualities that she was chosen to serve as handmaid to Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Later Abraham and his tribe had to flee Egypt quickly. In memory of this, they renamed the young woman Hagar, which means “flight” in Hebrew. (This is similar to the Arabic word, hegira.) Hagar is called Hajar in Arabic.
Abraham and Sarah had been married for many years, but still had no children. Abraham expressed his concern to God: “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” But God promised to Abraham that “a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir” (Genesis 15:3–4 NIV). Abraham waited many years for the promise to be fulfilled, but finally Sarah became too old to have a child. So seeking to fulfill God’s promise in her own way, she gave her handmaid to Abraham to bear a child for her. This was the custom in those days: since the slave belonged to her, the child that Hagar conceived by Sarah’s husband could be considered hers.
Hagar did become pregnant, but unfortunately this caused her to look down on Abraham’s wife. Sarah therefore became angry with her slave and mistreated her. Hagar fled into the desert and stopped to rest by the spring of water. Then the Angel of the Lord—who was no ordinary angel, but the very Presence of God—appeared to Hagar and told her to return and to submit to Sarah.
Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction” (Genesis 16:10–11 NKJV).
This was the first prophecy God gave to Hagar. And the amazing thing is, Ishmael was the first person in all the earth to be named by God before birth. In the Scriptures, only four people were named by God before they were born through a divinely-granted appearance of an angel or of God Himself. God prophesied about others, but only four were named in this remarkable manner. The first was Ishmael, second was Isaac, third was John the Baptist, and the last was Jesus. (See Genesis 16:11; 17:19; Luke 1:13, 31.) And Hagar was the first person to whom God appeared and gave a child’s name.
Some years later, Sarah herself became pregnant by a miracle of God and gave birth to a son named Isaac. When Ishmael was about fifteen or sixteen, Abraham made a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned, but during the feast, Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of her son, so she insisted that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was grieved like any father would be, but when he asked the Lord, God told him to do what Sarah had said. God Himself promised to protect and bless Ishmael.
Sent out into the desert, Hagar and Ishmael soon ran out of water and were dying of thirst. Hagar, unable to bear watching her son die, left him in the shade of a bush then sat down some distance away to cry out to God. And the Lord spoke to her again.
Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink (Genesis 21:17–19 NKJV).
This was the second time that God in His great love and concern for Hagar and Ishmael, spoke to her and gave her a prophecy. This time He promised Hagar that He would make Ishmael into a great nation. This prophecy was fulfilled many years in the future.
Muslims should trust what the Bible says because the Qur’an commands them to say to Jews and Christians, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you...” (Sura 29:46). And what are the revelations that came down to the People of the Book? Sura 3:3 states that God Himself sent down the Law to Moses and the Gospel to Jesus. Suras 5:44, 46 state that both Books are filled with “guidance and light.” In addition, Sura 17:55 says that God gave the Psalms to David.
For these reasons, Muslims around the world believe that four books came from Heaven, that God gave four books to mankind. They believe that first book was the Tawrat (the Torah), the Law given to Moses. The second book, the Zabur (Psalms) was given to David. The third book, the Injil (Gospel) was given to Jesus. And they believe that the final book that came from Heaven was the Qur’an.
Now, the Qur’an states that it’s the responsibility of Muslims to have equal faith in all four books. Sura 3:84 declares, “We believe in ... the Books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them...” You are to have faith in the other three books as well and believe in them equally. What does this mean? It means that it is therefore the responsibility of every Muslim to check out these books. Don’t let anyone discourage you from reading them. It’s your right to know what’s written in these three books; you need to know what they say.
Do you wonder where you can get a copy of them? The good news is that they can all be found together in the Bible. The name “Bible” comes from the Greek word biblia, which means “the books.” That is because the Bible is a collection of many inspired and prophetic books.
No, it wasn’t. And God used a Muslim shepherd boy, Muhammed edh-Dhib, to prove beyond all doubt that He had preserved His word accurately. It so happened that in the winter of 1946-47 Muhammed and his cousin, Jum’a, were herding goats near the Dead Sea in Palestine, when, by the will of God, Muhammed discovered a cave full of ancient scrolls. Over the next eight years, ten more caves were found containing jars filled with ancient Scriptures that dated back 2,000 years from 150 bc to 70 ad.
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many people argued that there had likely been so many changes in the Hebrew text that there was no way of knowing if what we have today is the same as the original Scriptures. But then Muhammed found the scrolls, and the Dead Sea Scrolls have confirmed the remarkable accuracy of the Hebrew text that we have today.
We also know that the text of the New Testament manuscripts was preserved accurately because early copies have survived to this very day. We have twelve copies written in the original Greek that date back to the 100s AD, not many years after they were first written. Also, another 64 copies from the 200s AD, and 48 Greek manuscripts made in the 300s AD, still exist today. These early manuscripts contain the complete Gospel and other New Testament Scriptures many times over. Also, we have over 5,350 more Greek manuscripts from later centuries.
When we compare all these copies—from the very earliest to the most recent—we see at once that the Gospel of Jesus has remained the same over the entire period of time. Its message hasn’t changed since the beginning. There are some minor scribal errors in various manuscripts, introduced by scribes as they copied the text by hand, but the vast majority of these are obvious spelling errors. None of these affect any important Christian teaching.
In conclusion: the Bible that existed in Muhammad’s day (570–632 AD) is the same Bible that we have today. Muslims back then could confidently say, “We believe in ... the Books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets” (Sura 3:84), and Muslims today can say the same thing.
God has put a hunger for Himself in every human heart to cause us to seek Him. Many Muslims think, however, that this hunger for God somehow is proof that people are basically good and pure. Instead, like a man starving for physical bread, all it shows is that we’re destitute and needy and spiritually empty. It shows that we’re not sufficient of ourselves and we recognize our own desperate inadequacy.
But the problem is that many people attempt to satisfy this spiritual hunger with other things—worldly success, materialism, the approval of society, or even their own attempts to know God. Some people even deny that such a hunger exists. Yet their spiritual hunger remains, because it can only be filled by finding Him. God is real, and deep inside our spirits we instinctively sense this. But this hunger for God, this desire to know Him, cannot by itself save us. Even believing that there is one God is not enough to save us. After all, even the demons know this to be true (James 2:19).
So yes, to answer the question, all people on earth are sinners. And this is not just a Christian teaching. Nearly 3,000 years ago, wise King Solomon observed:
For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV).
It’s important to be able to honestly look at the world around you then look at yourself, and to admit that we are all selfish, imperfect beings. Yes, we all have a God-created desire to know Him, but at the same time, we also all have a tendency to go astray and to follow our own selfish will and inclinations. The Qur’an states that “the human soul is certainly prone to evil” (Sura 12:53), and the prophet Isaiah declares:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way... (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV, emphasis added).
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).
Now, you may have very few obvious faults. You may be scrupulously honest and sincerely seek to do what is right most of the time, but let’s be clear: only God is perfectly good. All glory to Him! As the Bible says:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).
Does your righteousness fall short of glorious standard of God? Of course! So can you admit that you’ve sinned at some points in your life—perhaps repeatedly in the same areas of weakness? If so, then you’re a sinner. You don’t need to be the worst person in the world to qualify as a sinner. You don’t need to be involved in blatant immorality and serious crimes. You just need to be an imperfect human being who goes astray from God’s commandments—even in your thoughts. As Jesus tells us:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28 NIV).
We can do public acts of righteousness that can convince others that we’re good, but remember, “the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). He knows all about our secret sins that we try so hard to keep others from knowing about. He even sees the sins that we’re not willing to admit to ourselves. There is no thought in our heart or unspoken word on our tongue that God is not aware of (Psalm 139:1–4). We can fool others and we can even fool ourselves, but we can’t conceal any sin from God.