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Being a Muslim and a student of comparative religion, I am interested to know what is the Jewish notion of prophethood particularly pertaining to gentiles. I have come to know that Job and Bilaam were among the gentiles but are still recognized as prophets.

What really made the Jews of Arabia reject Muhammad's prophethood as he was also among the gentiles just like Job and Bilaam?

May peace and blessings be upon all the prophets of God (amen).

As Torah testifies that: "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him." (Deuteronomy 18:18), therefore a prophet can also be raised among other nations associated fraternally("among their brothers") to the Children of Israel.

So why not him? None of his teachings are contrary to the teachings of Abraham, Moses and the prophets came after them (may peace and blessings be upon all of them)?

Looking forward to authentic, logical and unbiased replies. Thanks

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Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/30121/… –  Isaac Moses Nov 21 '13 at 23:12
There have been billions of gentiles (and Jews, for that matter) whom the Jews have not identified as prophets. There is no reason, a priori to expect Judaism to identify this particular person as one. –  Isaac Moses Nov 21 '13 at 23:14
Job and Bilaam are Mentioned in the bible. Bilaam explicitly received prophecy. This is far different than someone coming much later, claiming to be a prophet, and founding a competing religion. –  josh waxman Nov 22 '13 at 1:30
@msh210, maybe. The question is: Does this question have the same off-topic problem (comparative religion) that that one does? If so, yes, dupe it. If not, leave it open. –  Isaac Moses Nov 22 '13 at 15:23
Did he teach that camel is kosher? –  Double AA Jul 8 at 18:24

4 Answers 4

Maimonides describes the qualifications of a Jewish prophet. He also describes how to discern a prophet who appears to meet the qualifications, but still is shown to not be an authentic prophet. Among them:

Therefore, if a prophet arises and attempts to dispute Moses' prophecy by performing great signs and wonders, we should not listen to him. We know with certainty that he performed those signs through magic or sorcery. [This conclusion is reached] because the prophecy of Moses, our teacher, is not dependent on wonders, so that we could compare these wonders, one against the other. Rather we saw and heard with our own eyes and ears as he did.

He goes on in the next chapter to describe something specific that would dispute Moses' prophecy:

Similarly, if [a "prophet"] nullifies a concept which was transmitted by the oral tradition, or states with regard to one of the Torah's laws that God commanded him to render such and such a judgment, or that such and such is the law regarding a particular instance and the decision follows a certain opinion, he is a false prophet and should be [executed by] strangulation. [This applies] even if he performs a wonder, for he is coming to deny the Torah, which states: "It is not in the heavens."

As far as I know, one of the claims of the Muslim religion (or perhaps the Koran itself?) is that the correctness of the texts of the Jewish Bible is disputed. This contradicts the idea of what is "transmitted by the oral tradition" at the most fundamental level.

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What about Bilam? –  Shmuel Brin Nov 21 '13 at 23:34
@ShmuelBrin, Bilam was a personally very flawed person, but what prophecy did he give that contradicts this? –  Yishai Nov 21 '13 at 23:40
@Yishai original muslims didnt say that tthe Torah text was changed. so to make your answer better, you should say that when mohammmed came and gave the quran he nullified many Torah commandments since the quran doesnt have certain commandments which the Torah has. –  MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Nov 22 '13 at 4:40
@MoriDoweedhYa3gob, I don't really know much about the contents of the Koran, or really all that much about the religion in general. Perhaps make your own answer? Or if you have other facts which contradict the Torah oral tradition, perhaps replace them in my answer. –  Yishai Nov 22 '13 at 14:31
It's not only oral tradition it's clear written Torah which is being nullified. Also I don't have time or the will do this. I've been in many of these discussions before and I'm tired of them. –  MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Nov 22 '13 at 16:33

There's a huge difference. Job and Bilaam are described as prophets by the Torah.

We don't accept Muhammad as a prophet because we have no mesorah (tradition) from our sages that he was a prophet, and because his teachings do not necessarily sync with Jewish views.

According to our tradition, one does not have to be Jewish per se to serve God, he just has to fulfill the 7 commandments given to Noach.

So technically, a Muslim who fulfills these seven commandments along with his own commandments merits the distinction of a 'righteous gentile'.

In fact, we have a tradition from the Zohar, written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai 500 years before Muhammad, detailing the rise of Islam.

There is also a tradition from the days of the Exilarch in Arabia stating similar views. Rabbi Chofni, who was the greatest rabbi in the time of Muhammad, was of the opinion that Islam was introduced to the world to prepare it for the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

I think that the reason we do not accept Muhammad as a prophet is that some years after the rise of Islam, when Muhammad started to persecute Jews, the Exilarch-to-be concocted a plan to speak with Muhammad, involving Muhammad's Jewish wife having a 'dream' in which Gabriel told her that a son of David would honor him with a visit. Muhammad believed this, and in fact, when the Exilarch did come, Muhammad told him about Gabriel telling him that the son of David would come.

Maybe Muhammad did have a lower version of prophecy. We are told that dreams are 1/60 of prophecy. Since Muhammad was epileptic, and epileptic seizures are like sleep, a vision seen could be counted as a dream.

However, anyone can have dreams. If we were to count Muhammad as a true prophet, we would have to say that everyone alive is a prophet.

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The sentence "There is also a tradition of the Exilarch in Arabia stating similar views" which appears to reference someone's views cited earlier, but it is not clear what those views were or who cited them. Please edit this to make that clear. –  Bruce James Jul 7 at 20:15

Anyone whose "prophesy" contradicts the prophecy of Moses even if they are able to perform wonders and miracles is automatically known to be false as the Torah is not a historical document nor bound to any specific time period but is applicable for all times and generations. One easy source to look up fundamental Jewish beliefs are the 13 principles of faith (Maimonides)

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Seems very similar to Yishai's answer (just without sources) –  Shmuel Brin Nov 25 '13 at 23:02
How does explaining the status of one who contradicts the prophecy of Moses tell us what the status of Mohammod is without any assertions about whether or not Mohammod contradicts the prophecy of Moses? Your "answer" doesn't even say the word Mohammod. –  Double AA Nov 25 '13 at 23:31
Comments removed: Please keep it civil. –  Monica Cellio Nov 26 '13 at 0:11

I have been wrestling with this question for a while now. The question seems valid as worded "Why don't Jews accept that Mohammed was a prophet?"

Job is not considered a prophet and Bil'am was a prophet in that he had to carry a message from god, but not as a prophet giving prophecy to the Jewish people. Bil'am was speaking about the Jews but was telling Balak (a non-Jew) that the Jews would survive and be blessed. So since the text attests to his being a prophet and he wasn't giving any prophecy binding to the Jewish people, we accept them as such.

The textual definitions of prophet (requiring that he arise from among the Jews and that his words to the Jews are consistent with earlier prophesies or pronouncements) and the talmudic discussion of prophecy (that it was removed "from Israel" with the deaths of Chagai, Malachi and Zechariah) wouldn't seem to apply to the notion of whether anyone else might also be a prophet, but there would be the proviso "as long as the outsider receiving prophecy doesn't say anything which contradicts the validity of what the Jewish prophets said or expect any acceptance for anything said to or about Jews." The initial Jewish rejection of Mohammed stems from the era of prophecy having been closed and the content of the prophecy and the prophet not conforming to textual standards.

So was Mohammed a recipient of prophecy from god to deliver to people who weren't Jews and which had nothing to do with Jews? This I don't know but it stops being relevant within Judaism.

Just my humble opinion. Feel free to downvote.

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Job was not to go to Nineveh. You are thinking of jonah –  josh waxman Jul 7 at 18:01
dangit. this is why I shouldn't write off the cuff. Job isn't listed as a prophet in the list I use and Yonah was a prophet TO the non-Jews. I conflated the two. And poorly. Edited. –  Danno Jul 7 at 18:11
@Danno Nothing to do with Jews???? Sorry brother.... "O Children of Israel! call to mind the special favour which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all others (for My Message)." Quran(Chapter 2: Verse 122) :) –  Maxood Jul 8 at 17:56
@Maxood nope, nothing to do with Jews. If I told you I was a prophet to Muslims and printed up a document to support that, but it wasn't a document which had any authority in Islam, would you say I was a valid prophet to Islam? You can't wonder why Jews didn't accept Mohammed and support your contention through a text Jews also don't accept. –  Danno Jul 8 at 21:42
@Danno The universality and authenticity of the Quran is far higher and acceptable among historians, anthropologists and scientists around the world. Tell me one verse from the Quran that is not genuine and true about the history of Jews!!! Again I am not being biased here. I just like to seek and spread the truth. –  Maxood Jul 13 at 21:43

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