Prophet Muhammad Fulfilled The Abrahamic Covenant

In my earlier article titled “Thirteen Reasons Why Israel is Illegal”, it was underscored that the divine promise concerning the Promised Land (the Abrahamic Covenant) is partly misunderstood and partly distorted, and that in the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) the Covenant has been fulfilled.

The Prophet was the savior (messiah) of the whole world, including the Jews as well as Christians. Only because of, and for, Prophet Muhammad will Jesus (Prophet ‘Isa) be able to return, affirming and following him, and, at the same time, correcting the many falsehoods both the Jews and Christians invented and associated not only with Jesus, but also with Prophet Muhammad. This article will delve into the significance of Prophet Muhammad as the executor of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Israelites as a rebellious and so, cursed nation

Despite being obliged to do so, the Israelites continuously failed to live up to their end of the Covenants that had been instituted between them and God and His prophets. For that reason were they regularly cursed by God, prophets, the Bible and the Qur’an, and they were given to other nations which served as a medium for the execution of divine retribution upon the Israelites.

For example, highlighting that because they disobeyed and habitually transgressed, and did not forbid one another the iniquities which they committed, the Qur’an says that the disbelieving sections of the Israelites were cursed “by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary” (al-Ma’idah 78-79). The Qur’an also exposes that for their breaking of the Covenant and for inventing lies against Allah, the Israelites were cursed by Allah and their hearts were made hard (al-Ma’idah 13, 64).

Similarly, Jesus took it upon himself to admonish his fellow Israelites, recognizing them as hardcore hypocrites and renegades, yet at one point declaring that they belonged neither to Abraham nor God. In the realm of the Almighty, those people were seen as nothing more than outcasts (John 8: 31-47).

As a rebellious, cursed and abandoned nation, what happened to the Israelites through history should not be a surprise, nor should be a surprise whatever astonishing may come their way in the future. Each and every cause has been accounted for and set into motion, and the conditions are perfectly aligned for the expected outcomes.

It is not without reason that Prophet Muhammad occasionally associated the end of the world with the persistently disobedient actions of the Jews. As much as this assessment sounds politically incorrect, the evidence of history and the current disastrous developments in Gaza, Palestine, speak for themselves. It stands to reason that the current Gaza tragedy may well signify a step closer to the apocalypse. The relationship between the Israelites and the Abrahamic Covenant was conditional

At any rate, though the Israelites were targeted by the Abrahamic Covenant, the design was neither absolute nor indefinite. Since the Israelites were not the end in themselves and were only part of a historical process and of an overarching ontological narrative, the Covenant, rather, was conditional and even provisional. It and its relationship with the Israelites denoted no more than a component within a larger context.

Hence, the Israelites were not supposed to ultimately fulfil the Abrahamic Covenant. Thiers exclusively were the other Covenants undertaken between them and God through a plethora of their prophets, the last being Jesus. It is the latter set of covenants that the Qur’an reminds the Israelites of and holds them accountable for betraying them.

Their remarkable place and role in history notwithstanding, the case of the Israelites functioned as a mere fragment - albeit a substantial one - in the grand scheme of things. The Abrahamic Covenant was supposed to be fulfilled and was indeed fulfilled by the final messenger of God, Muhammad, through whom not only the Abrahamic Covenant, but also all other covenants and prophecies of God, have been fulfilled. What follows is the elaboration of how Prophet Muhammad fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant.

Prophet Muhammad as one of Prophet Ibrahim’s descendants, yet his best “son”

When God said to Abraham that He was going to grant him a land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18), posterity, legacy, universal blessing and salvation (Genesis 12:1-4; 17: 1-14), and that He will make Abraham a great nation, God meant all of Abraham’s descendants: “The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

This was a general promise given to Abraham and all his posterity. Later the same Covenant was specified in the context of the Israelites, bringing to light their portion of, and role in, it.

Abraham had two children as inheritors of their father’s prophetic inheritance: Isaac (Prophet Ishaq) and Ishmael (Prophet Isma’il). The former’s descendants were the Israelites and the latter’s Arabs, including Prophet Muhammad. Accordingly, Abraham was Prophet Muhammad’s “father” as well, and the entire line of the Israelites was his kinship.

The Qur’anic term “aal Ibrahim” (the prophetic family of Ibrahim) implies directly Prophets Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and the descending prophets, and indirectly Prophet Muhammad (Al ‘Imran 33).

In truth, the best “son” of Prophet Ibrahim – the best of his posterity - was Prophet Muhammad. That is why during the mi’raj (the ascension of Prophet Muhammad into heaven), Muhammad was greeted by Prophets Yahya, ‘Isa, Yusuf, Idris, Harun and Musa as “an excellent brother and Prophet”, but by Prophets Adam and Ibrahim he was greeted as “an excellent son and Prophet” (Sunan al-Nasa’i).

While it was expected from Adam, in his capacity as the father of mankind, to greet Muhammad as his son, correspondingly, in his capacity as “the father of prophets” and “the father of the Abrahamic Covenant”, it was also expected from Ibrahim to greet Muhammad as his “final” son, i.e. the savior of the world and the fulfiller of all heavenly and earthly Covenants. It was also appropriate that Muhammad met Adam in the first heaven and Ibrahim in the last.

This is because with Adam the earthly purpose had commenced, whose most consequential segment was connected with Ibrahim, and through Muhammad and his mission both the earthly purpose and its Abrahamic segment were realized.

The convergence of both Prophet Ishaq’s and Prophet Isma’il’s Lineages

Therefore, the Abrahamic Covenant entailed the line of Prophet Isma’il too, at the end of which stood Prophet Muhammad. A clue for this is given in the Bible when Ishmael, in addition to his brother Ishaq, was also assured of divine blessing, and that he will be fruitful, will be greatly increased in numbers, will be the father of twelve rulers, and will be made into a great nation (Genesis 17: 20).

So, what happened is that both Isma’il’s and Ishaq’s lines were immediately activated: Ishaq’s by an unbroken chain of Israelite prophets, ending with Jesus (‘Isa), and Isma’il’s by Ibrahim’s building, together with Isma’il, of the Ka’bah in Makkah, the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, as the symbol and epicenter of Muhammad’s prophetic mission, in the process even foretelling Muhammad’s arrival in a distant future: “Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise” (al-Baqarah 129).

Henceforth, while the line of Ishaq was lively and dynamic, Isma’il’s was dormant, letting the former discharge its duties and, at the same time, pave the way for the latter’s activation and dramatic ascent. This is the reason why, when Prophet Ishaq’s Israelite chapter was about to be concluded at the hands of Prophet ‘Isa, the latter himself felt obliged to do so by declaring that a prophet (that is, Prophet Muhammad) will come after him to bring to a close not just the purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant, but as well the final bits of the existential purpose.

Prophet Muhammad as “Ahmad” in the Qur’an and “Parakletos” in the Bible

Prophet ‘Isa did not explicitly mention Muhammad, nor did he imply that the new prophet will be from a lineage other than the Israelite one, but said that the new prophet’s name will be Ahmad “the most praised one.”

According to the Bible, that person will be “Parakletos”, meaning “Intercessor, Consoler, Comforter and Helper.” The Qur’an reveals: “And (mention) when Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.’ But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said: ‘This is obvious magic’” (al-Saff, 6).

There is a somewhat similar account in the Bible: “Do not think that I (Jesus) have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (the Torah); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Also: “I (Jesus) have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth (Parakletos), comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:12-13).

There are people who believe that by the word “Ahmad”, as per the above verse of the Qur’an, is meant one of Prophet Muhammad’s names (Sahih al-Bukhari), but there are also those who believe that, though “Ahmad” is truly one of Muhammad’s names, the word “Ahmad” in this particular context is to be understood literally, in which case the relevant part of the verse would mean “his (the coming prophet’s) name will be praised the most.”

Prophet Muhammad will be “Ahmad” because he will be the world’s deliverer, guiding people into all the truth. As such, he will also be the “consoler, comforter and helper” (Parakletos). He will validate the teachings of the preceding prophets and shall not only divulge what is to come to the world, but also impart guidance on how to ready oneself for the impending events.

If one considers the historical, socio-political and religious backgrounds of Prophet ‘Isa’s mission and, by extension, of his above statement, one can easily deduce how significant and appropriate the latter is. During ‘Isa’s time, and for a long time before him, no Israelite prophet was safe from his compatriots’ mistreatment and various types of abuse, including conspiracies and murder, let alone being meticulously followed, honored and loved. Instead of getting better by sending more prophets, the situation was getting ever worse, mirroring the decline in both religious fervor and moral character among the Israelites. The state of affairs appeared bleak in the extreme with no prospects of improvement on the horizon.

Thus, if ‘Isa had in mind another Israelite prophet, that would have been unrealistic, rendering his words incomprehensible. Indeed, such would have been more unworkable and more unacceptable - as far as the Israelites were concerned - than all of ‘Isa’s mind-blowing miracles. If the latter were entirely dismissed and disregarded, the former would not even be given a thought.

Which goes to say that ‘Isa had a distinct objective in mind, one that would not involve the Israelites and their stubborn resistance. The linchpin of the new option was Prophet Muhammad from the lineage of Prophet Isma’il, with whom the office of the Abrahamic patriarchate and the cycle of the Abrahamic Covenant were to be duly completed.

The Israelites remained an essential aspect in the equation

This by no means suggests that the Israelites were excluded completely from the picture. Having failed for ages to rise to the occasion and live up to the standards of the Covenants, the center of gravity in the Abrahamic universe was about to shift, from Ishaq’s ancestry to that of Isma’il. The roles were swapped and a new hierarchy established: the leaders became followers and the followers leaders, and who resided at the periphery was moved to the center, and vice versa.

Still though, nobody was to be favored on the basis of origin, heritage, or history, but rather on the basis of faith and good deeds. The transcendent truth was to become the only yardstick. All shall be given a fair chance, and if truly willing and possessing the needed spiritual credentials, no person or group shall be overlooked or excluded. The pure monotheistic teachings and magnanimous values of Prophet Ibrahim – and all the other Israelite Prophets – will be revived, actualized and celebrated ad infinitum.

The Israelites never captured nor controlled the Promised Land, but Muslims did This certainly is the meaning of the Abrahamic Covenant, which the Israelites failed to fulfil, but which Prophet Muhammad and his followers (his “descendants” and the “descendants” of Ibrahim) did. Even in terms of the Promised Land, the Israelites were never able to conquer and control it within the prescribed borders (from the Nile to Euphrates). Barring the heyday of David’s and Solomon’s reigns, the Israelites were rarely “at home” in whatever sector of the Promised Land they were able to control.

In the wake of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE – that is, after the second and final expulsion of the Israelites from the Promised Land – and subsequent to the obliteration of all hopes and dreams, the Israelites were without the possibility of recovery. There was only a sense of doom and gloom afterwards.

However, it was during the era of Prophet Muhammad’s second successor, Caliph ‘Umar bin al-Khattab – barely seven years following the death of Muhammad - that the entire Promised Land, from Egypt to Iraq, was integrated into the vast and ever-expanding territories liberated and illuminated by the monotheistic faith and its latest – and final – agents, Muslims.

Like so, the Promised Land of Palestine and the conferred (promised) Land of Makkah were merged into a cohesive geographical zone, just as the lineage of Ishaq and that of Isma’il had merged in the prophetic mission of Muhammad, settling the most befuddling conundrum in history.

True to the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant, Prophet Ibrahim’s descendants (Arabs and the rest of Muslims) were finally in control of the Promised Land. As the upholders of the truth, they were thus blessed and were designated as the greatest and best nation ever to be evolved for mankind.

In addition, they created the most robust and most virtuous civilization ever to be witnessed on earth. In keeping with the ethos of the universal and all-encompassing Abrahamic faith, Muslims likewise have offered invaluable guidance to the entirety of humanity, functioning simultaneously as the antithesis of falsehood and its instant antidote until the Day of Judgment.
Justifications based on the Qur'an and Sunnah

The Qur’an as well as the Prophet’s Sunnah provide copious references in connection with the aforementioned pronouncements. To begin with, Almighty God declares that Prophet Ibrahim was an ummah (a nation, an exemplar, a leader) “devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah” (al-Nahl 120).

Ibrahim was the father (patriarch) of prophets and nations, and was the wellspring of all goodness. Who follows him stays on the right path, and who strays away from his pattern strays away from the path of the truth. The Qur’an thus tells Muslims that Ibrahim’s religion is their religion, and that he was their ideological “father” (al-Hajj 78).

After God had tried Ibrahim “with commands and he fulfilled them”, God said: "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people (an imam to the nations)." Ibrahim then asked if that would be applicable to all his descendants, concerning which he was informed: "My (Allah’s) covenant does not include the wrongdoers" (al-Baqarah, 124). As the unwavering wrongdoers, it follows, the execution of the Abrahamic Covenant proved beyond the qualifications of the Israelites.

The Covenant of Ibrahim encompassed both of his sons, Isma’il and Ishaq: “When his (Ibrahim’s) Lord said to him: ‘Submit’, he said: ‘I have submitted (in Islam) to the Lord of the worlds.’ And Abraham instructed his sons (to do the same) and (so did) Jacob, (saying): ‘O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims’” (al-Baqarah 131-132).

The Qur’an never separates between Ibrahim’s two sons and their relationship with Ibrahim’s descendants. They were but “a nation which has passed on”, setting the stage for the emergence of the prophethood and legacy of the seal of prophets, Muhammad: “Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons: ‘What will you worship after me?’ They said: ‘We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac -one God. And we are Muslims (in submission) to Him’” (al-Baqarah 133).

“They say: ‘Be Jews or Christians (so) you will be guided.’ Say: ‘Rather, (we follow) the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth, and he was not of the polytheists.’ Say: (O believers), ‘We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him’” (al-Baqarah135-136).

Categorically declaring that Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, such being the posterior fabrication of the deviated Jews and Christians, the Qur’an underlines that Prophet Muhammad and Muslims are of those who are the nearest, and had the best claim, to Ibrahim: “Indeed, the most worthy of Abraham among the people are those who followed him (in submission to Allah) and this prophet (i.e. Muhammad), and those who believe (in his message). And Allah is the ally of the believers” (al-Baqarah 68). To put it another way, Ibrahim belongs to Muhammad and Muslims, and they belong to him.

The focus of the Qur’anic discourses about Prophets Ibrahim and Ishaq is the latter’s son Ya’qub and his descendants, whereas the focus of the discourses about Ibrahim and Isma’il is generally all people. Hence, for instance, the Ka’bah was built by Ibrahim and Isma’il as the global house of worship and the qiblah (direction) for all people of the truth. The Qur’an says: “And (mention) when We made the House (the Ka’bah) a place of return for mankind and (a place of) security” (al-Baqarah, 125); “Indeed, the first House (of worship) established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds” (Al ‘Imran 96).

When God instructed Ibrahim to sacrifice Isma’il, thereby testing his faith and bolstering his already unparalleled status, the directive portended that, in the end, the successors of Isma’il will inherit the religious legacy of their father, Ibrahim, and that they will be those who shall bear the greatest and most just burdens in order to uphold their father's Covenant. It seems that the Israelites were cognizant of this particular point and expeditiously sought to distort the facts, claiming that it was Ishaq (Isaac), rather than Isma’il, who was commanded to be offered as a sacrifice.

Finally, that until approximately the middle of the second year of Muslims’ stay in Madinah the first qiblah (direction of prayer) was towards Jerusalem and its al-Masjid al-Aqsa, after which it was changed to Makkah and its al-Masjid al-Haram; that Prophet Muhammad was taken on a journey by night from Makkah and its holy mosque to Jerusalem and its holy mosque.

Hence the Prophet ascended into heaven, after which together with the rest of prophets he returned to Jerusalem where in its mosque he led them all in prayer; that when Muslims beseech Almighty God to sanctify and send His blessings upon Muhammad and his family, they make a reference to Prophet Ibrahim and his family, essentially implying that the two families share equal importance and genealogy – all this demonstrates that Islam places great emphasis on the Abrahamic Covenant and acknowledges its vibrant implementational Ishaq-Isma’il and Jerusalem-Makkah axis.

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