Hans Kung On "Is Muhammad A Prophet"?

Published on: Friday 23 Dec, 2005

By: administrator
Hans Kung
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt taken from “Christianity and World Religions: Dialogue with Islam”, in Leonard Swidler (ed.), Muslims in Dialogue: The Evolution of A Dialogue, vol. 3 (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992) by the Christian philosopher Hans Kung who conveys a Christian opinion on Prophet Muhammad (P). We do not neccessarily agree with everything that has been said here.

Of course many religions do not have prophets in the strictest sense. Hindus have their gurus and sadhus, the Chinese their sages, Buddhists their masters — but they do not have prophets, as do Jews, Christians, and Muslims. There is no doubt that if anyone in the whole of religious history is termed the prophet, because he claimed to be just that, but in no way more than that, it was Muhammad. But may a Christian assert that Muhammad was a prophet? Christians, if they pause to survey the situation, must admit the following (especially in light of the Hebrew Bible):

  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad did not function by reason of an office assigned to him by the community (or its authorities), but by reason of a special personal relationship with God.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad was a person of strong will who felt himself fully imbued with a godly calling, fully consumed, exclusively appointed to his task.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad spoke to the heart of a religious and social crisis, and with his passionate piety and revolutionary proclamation he opposed the wealthy ruling class and the tradition it was trying to preserve.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad, who mostly called himself the “Warner”, sought to be nothing but the verbal instrument of God and to proclaim not his own, but God’s word.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad untiringly proclaimed the one God who tolerates no other gods and who is at the same time the good Creator and merciful Judge.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad required, as a response to this one God, unconditional obedience, devotion, submission, which is the literal meaning of word Islam: everything that includes gratitude to God and generosity toward fellow human beings.
  • Like the prophets of Israel, Muhammad combined monotheism with humanism or human values, belief in the one God and God’s judgment with a call to social justice, and a threat to the unjust, who go to hell, with promises to the just, who are gathered into God’s paradise.

Whoever reads the Bible — at least the Hebrew Bible — together with the Qur’an will be led to ponder whether the three Semitic religions of revelation-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-and especially the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, could have the same foundation. Is it not one and the same God who speaks so clearly in both? Does not the “Thus says the Lord” of the Hebrew Bible correspond to the “Speak” of the Qur’an, and the “Go and proclaim” of the Hebrew Bible to the “Stand up and warn” of the Qur’an? In truth, even the millions of Arab-speaking Christians have no other word for God than “Allah”.

Might it not therefore be purely dogmatic prejudice that recognizes Amos and Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah, as prophets, but not Muhammad? Whatever one may have against Muhammad from the standpoint of Western Christian morality (armed violence, polygamy, a sensual lifestyle for males), the following facts are indisputable:

  • Today there are almost eight hundred million persons in the huge area between Morocco to the west and Bangladesh to the east, between the steppes of central Asia to the North and the Island world of Indonesia to the south, who are stamped with the compelling power of a faith that, like virtually no other faith, has molded into a universal type those who confess it.
  • All those persons are linked by a simple confession of faith (There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet), linked by five basic obligations, and linked by thorough submission to the will of God, whose unchangeable decision, even when it brings suffering, is to be accepted.
  • Among all the Islamic peoples there has remained a sense of fundamental equality before God of an international solidarity that is basically capable of overcoming race (Arabs and non-Arabs) and even the castes of India.

I am convinced that, despite all the renewed fears of Islam, there is a growing conviction among Christians that, in the light of Muhammad’s place in world history, we must correct our attitude toward Islam. The “scourge of exclusiveness”, arising from Christian dogmatic impatience and intolerance, condemned by the British historian Arnold Toynbee, must be abandoned. Regarding the figure of the prophet, I believe the following must be admitted:

  • Arabians in the seventh century rightly listened to and followed the voice of Muhammad.
  • In comparison to the very worldly polytheism of the old Arabian tribal religions before Muhammad, the religion of the people was raised to a completely new level, that of a purified monotheism.
  • The first Muslims received from Muhammad — or, better still, from the Qur’an — endless inspiration, courage, and strength for a new religious start: a start toward greater truth and deeper understanding, toward a breakthrough in the revitalizing and renewal of traditional religion.

In truth, Muhammad was and is for persons in the Arabian world, and for many others, the religious reformer, lawgiver, and leader; the prophet per se. Basically Muhammad, who never claimed to be anything more than a human being, is more to those who follow him than a prophet is to us: he is a model for the mode of life that Islam strives to be. If the Catholic Church, according to the Vatican II “Declaration on Non-Christian Religions”, “regards with esteem the Muslims”, then the same church must also respect the one whose name is embarrassingly absent from the same declaration, although he and he alone led the Muslims to pray to this one God, for through him this God “has spoken to humanity”: Muhammad the prophet. But does not such an acknowledgment have very grave consequences, especially for the message he proclaimed, the teachings set down in the Qur’an?

I think for the peoples of Arabia Muhammad’s prophecy led to tremendous progress. Whatever we Christians do with this fact, we must affirm that he acted as a prophet and that he was a prophet. I do not see how we can avoid the conclusion that on their way of salvation, Muslims follow a prophet who is decisive for them.

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Category: Islam ,Muhammad


  1. bruce786 says:

    SCREW BIN LADEN, AL-QAEDA & SADDAM HUSSIAN all trained by that humanitarian organization called the CIA.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

    The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to islam/chritianity/judaism.

    Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish?mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish?mael to Abram.
    GENESIS 21:5
    Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

    BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 years old ? 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC?S WEANING

    THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14-21
    BUT IT IS A DESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

    Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void.

    GENESIS:21:14 – 21
    So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ?Let me not look upon the death of the child.? And as she sat over against him, the child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ?What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast 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. And God was with the lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14-21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS IN A TWIST.

    For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:

    http://www.al-sunnah.com/muhammad_in_the_bible.htm (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)
    http://www.witness-pioneer.org.....efault.htm (Quran and Science)
    http://www.harunyahya.com/
    http://www.barnabas.net/
    http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm
    http://www.islamicity.com/
    http://www.islamonline.net/english/index.shtml

    HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 – 122

    101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

    102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!”

    103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

    104. We called out to him “O Abraham!

    105. “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” – thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    106. For this was obviously a trial-

    107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

    108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

    109. “Peace and salutation to Abraham!”

    110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

    112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

    113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

    114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

    115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

    116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

    117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

    118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

    119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

    120. “Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!”

    121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

    ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????

    Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD,s.

  2. shadowofears says:

    I was getting shock when I read that “Paraklytos” is actually “Muhammad” in Aramaic – the mother tongue’ of Prophet Jesus (p.b.u.h).
    Follow me as we trace the Biblical history of this Greek word “Paraclete”. Startling as it may seem, at one time the word read “Periklytos” and “Paraklytos”, which is the name for “Muhammad” in Greek. Surprising? It should not be because both words mean “Praised” or “Celebrate,” the meaning and character of the man “Muhammad.” (1 Jesus in The Qur’an, One World Publications, (c) Geoffrey Parrinder 1965, 1995, ISBN 1-85168-094-2. Knowing this, there is a need for us to study the life of Prophet Muhammad in depth to see if it all stands up. Surprisingly it does.
    Allahu Akbar (GOD is Great)!, for the complete explanation by Aramaic Bible Society please visit:

    http://www.aramaic.org/PARAVLETE.html

    This proved what has been said by Qur’an:

    Those who follow the apostle the unlettered prophet (prophet Muhammad – p.b.u.h) whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures); in the law (Torah) and the Gospel” (Qur’an 7:157)
    According to Holy Qur’an the name of prophet Muhammad or Ahmad (p.b.u.h) is mention by name in the Gospel (Injeel):

    “And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is Ahmad (the Praised One).” (Qur’an 61:6)
    If you refer to Song of Solomon in Hebrew scripture, the name ‘Muhammad’ also mention there, please read Song of Solomon 5:16, it looks like this:
    “Hikow mamtaqiym wkulow mahamadiym zeh dowdiy wzeh ree`iy bnowt yruushaalaaim.”

    He doesnot acted like prophet but he is the last prophet.

  3. nehpets nazrep says:

    I am a Catholic Christian and I feel and believe very much in what Has Kung is saying in this article. I am currently reading his book, ISLAM. I believe in the goodness of Muhammad and the people who turely follow what is the truth of the Quran, and that what he said must in “someway”, in the “someway” as the scriptures for Hebrews and Christians, be from God.