Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

How Isaiah 53 Proves That Muhammad Was A False Prophet Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Noted Muslim dawagandist Paul Williams posted a short clip from another renowned taqiyyist Shabir Ally who claimed that Isaiah 53 is really about Israel, not about a single individual. Ally further contended that the Gospel writers took this prophecy and wrote a narrative around it in order to make it seem that Jesus fulfilled this prediction of the Servant who suffers vicariously for the sins of others in order to make atonement for them (Is Isaiah 53 ‘The Suffering Servant’ a prophecy about Jesus? Dr Shabir answers).

Ally isn’t saying anything new here, but is simply repeating and rehashing the same worn out objections and criticisms of liberal critics of the Holy Bible, as well as Jewish anti-missionaries whose entire mission in life is to convince their fellow Jews that they must reject Jesus as a false Messiah.

Now before we delve into our response it is vitally important that we actually quote the entire context of this amazing and supernatural prediction of the vicarious sufferings and exaltation of the Messiah, starting with Isaiah 52:

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors

Tragically, in their zeal to attack the Christian faith and the inspired Scriptures of God, these taqiyyists fail to see how the arguments and presuppositions of the Jewish anti-missionaries and liberal scholars end up proving that Muhammad was a false prophet (which he was for a variety of reasons) and that the Quran is a book of deception (which it actually is). It further illustrates their inability to critically analyze arguments and shows that they lack the prowess to reason and think logically. This explains why these dawagandists are constantly raising objections which can and have been used against them to prove that their own religious sources fail the very tests and objections leveled against the Holy Bible and the Christian faith.

Take, for instance, the claim that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is actually about the nation of Israel or, as some would argue, the righteous remnant of Israel who suffer vicariously for the sins of their countrymen, as well as the Gentiles, in order to bring about the salvation of all the nations. Don’t these taqiyyists see that this particular interpretation is at odds with their religious beliefs, since even this view basically affirms that the Hebrew Bible actually teaches that God accepts the sufferings of the righteous as atonement for the sins committed by others?

Don’t they also realize that this proves that tauhid or Islamic monotheism is wrong when it says that Allah will not share his exalted status and rule over creation with anyone?

Do you not know that Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and that besides Allah you have no guardian or helper? S. 2:107 Shakir

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah has power over all things. S. 3:189 Hilali-Khan

And say: (All) praise is due to Allah, Who has not taken a son and Who has not a partner in the kingdom, and Who has not a helper to save Him from disgrace; and proclaim His greatness magnifying (Him). S. 17:111 Shakir

However, in clear contradiction of these statements, Isaiah prophesied that God would raise up his Servant to share in his exalted reign and glory:

“Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted (yarum wa'nissa wa'gabah).” Isaiah 52:13

Here, Isaiah uses the same words which he employs elsewhere in reference to Yahweh’s exalted position and throne from which he reigns over the nations:

But the Lord of hosts will be exalted (wayyigbah) in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.” Isaiah 5:16

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted (ram wa'nissa), with the train of His robe filling the temple.” Isaiah 6:1

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high (marom); He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness… ‘Now I will arise,’ says the Lord, ‘Now I will be exalted (‘eromam), now I will be lifted up (‘ennase).’” Isaiah 33:5, 10

“For thus says the high and exalted One (ram wa’nissa) Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high (marom) and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15

Isaiah even says that Yahweh will humble all those who exalt themselves since he alone is to be exalted:

“The proud look of man will be abased And the loftiness (rum) of man will be humbled, And the Lord ALONE will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty (wa’ram) And against everyone who is lifted up (nissa), That he may be abased. And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up (ha'ramim wa'hannissa'im), Against all the oaks of Bashan, Against all the lofty (ha'ramim) mountains, Against all the hills that are lifted up (hannissa'ot), Against every high (gaboha) tower, Against every fortified wall, Against all the ships of Tarshish And against all the beautiful craft. The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness (rum) of men will be abased; And the Lord ALONE will be exalted in that day,” Isaiah 2:11-17

Thus, according to Isaiah’s prophecy the Servant, which taqiyyists like Ally and Williams want us to believe is Israel, reigns with Yahweh on Yahweh’s glorious throne, thereby sharing in his sovereignty over creation, something which Islam classifies as the unpardonable sin of shirk (cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116; 6:83-88; 39:65).

And can’t these dawagandists see that even this interpretation necessarily includes Jesus? After all, isn’t Jesus an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, a physical descendant of Abraham and David?

“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:” Matthew 1:1

“Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Mark 10:46-48

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’” Luke 1:26-33

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” Acts 2:29-33

“concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 1:3-4

who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,” 2 Timothy 2:8

“For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.” Hebrews 7:14

“and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:5

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

And don’t both the Holy Bible and the Quran testify that Christ is absolutely righteous and pure?

“And he was preaching, and saying, ‘After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’… Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’” Mark 1:7-11, 23-24

“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” John 7:18

“And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to HimWhich one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” John 8:29, 46

“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:14-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

“Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;” Acts 7:52

“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.” Acts 22:14

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

“The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:23-28

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;” 1 John 3:3-7

If thou fearest God ... He said, 'I am but a messenger come from thy Lord, to give thee a boy most pure. S. 19:19 Arberry

As such, wouldn’t this mean that Isaiah’s prophecy includes Jesus as well, seeing that he is an Israelite who is absolutely sinless?

To put this another way, if Isaiah 53 is a prophecy concerning the entire nation of Israel (as Ally and Williams claim), or a righteous remnant within it, suffering for the sins of others, then Christ must be included as part of Isaiah’s prediction seeing that he is the ideal Israelite, being the only One from among his countrymen to have ever lived a morally perfect life.

Since these gentlemen have demonstrated that they lack the capacity to think logically, I will try to help them to see how even their preferred interpretation actually ends up confirming the Christian understanding and explanation of Isaiah 53.

  1. Isaiah 53 announces that Israel, or a righteous remnant within it, will suffer vicariously and bear the sins of all the nations in order to procure their redemption and forgiveness.
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ was/is a righteous Israelite who is absolutely holy and morally perfect.
  3. Jesus is, therefore, necessarily included within Isaiah’s prophecy since he is an Israelite who offered his life as a vicarious sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

No wonder the NT writers – in fact, even Jesus himself – alluded to,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 – cf. Matthew 20:28

“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him… For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” Acts 3:13, 26

God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31 HCSB

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25

Or directly quoted from this great prophecy to describe Christ’s atoning death:

“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.’” Matthew 8:16-17

“For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”” Luke 22:37

"Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: and to whom has 'Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn-and I would heal them.' Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." John 12:37-41 NIV

“Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. In humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.’ The eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts 8:30-38

"But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?' Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." Romans 10:16-17 NIV

Unlike Ally and Williams, these inspired spokespersons of the living God seem to have realized that if the Lord Jesus doesn’t qualify to fulfill Isaiah 53, then there can be no fulfillment of this majestic prophecy since no other Israelite has ever been, nor can ever be, as righteous and holy as Christ was (and still is).

Hence, what started out as a refutation of the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53 ended up supporting the Christian view that this glorious prophecy necessarily includes, and was perfectly fulfilled in, the eternal Person of our blessed Lord and risen Savior, Jesus Christ since he is the Israelite par excellence, the true Israel that God intended the nation of Israel to be but never became.

So much for the deceptive and desperate polemics of Ally and his band of dawagandists.

We are not quite through yet, since the worst is still to come for these expert taqiyyists.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural references taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).