Allen S. Maller
Allen S. Maller

Ramadan is the springtime of the three Abrahamic Monotheistic Religions

According to a Hadith cited by ibn Kathir in elucidating Qur’an 2:185; Ramadan is a very special month because this one month in the Islamic lunar calendar was the same month when four of God’s books of revelations were sent down to four special Prophets: Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

Ibn Kathir states: Imam Ahmad reported Wathilah bin Al-Asqa` said that Allah’s Messenger said: “The Suhuf (Pages) of Ibrahim were revealed during the first night of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of Ramadan. The Injil was revealed during the thirteenth night of Ramadan and Allah revealed the Qur’an on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.” (Ahmad 4:107 and Musnad 177025).

I do not know how Christians would understand the revelation of the Injil on the thirteenth day of Ramadan, but the Jewish holy day of Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses and Banu Israel, falls on the sixth day of the Jewish month of Sivan, which in that year must have coincided with the month of Ramadan.

Christians use the solar calendar of the Roman Empire to calculate the birthday of Jesus, but they do use a lunar date for Good Friday and Easter. Jews, who do use the lunar calendar for all their religious dates, modify the length of the year with a leap month seven times in every nineteen year cycle, so as to always keep the harvest pilgrimage festival of Hajj Sukkot in the fall harvest season.

Thus, it is not obvious that these four revelations, which happened so many centuries apart, actually occurred in the same lunar month, and thus Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share a sacred month of revelation. “He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein…” (Qur’an 42:13)

The statement ‘not to be divided therein’ applies both to internal division within each religion and also to external division between the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

I have been studying Islam off and on for over 60 years, but only recently have I understood why Prophet Muhammad could be called the ‘Last Prophet’ by someone who was not a part of the Muslim Ummah. All of the thousands of God’s prophets are Muslims because they have all submitted to God’s will that they take on the responsibility, the burden, and even the danger of being a prophet.

But why should prophethood, which started in prehistoric times with Prophet Adam, suddenly end 1400 years ago, when we still desperately need God’s public guidance? Certainly today’s political leaders are not substitutes for God’s prophets.

Clearly there is no substitute for prophets. Even today with the advancement of science, the only authentic source of information about the supernatural world is revelation. Guidance can be obtained neither from science nor from mystic experience. The first is too materialistic and too limited; the second is too subjective and frequently too misleading.

The Qur’an [33:40] refers to Prophet Muhammad as Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets. Just as a government official stamps a seal on a document to show it is authentic; so too did Prophet Muhammad authenticate God’s prophets and the sacred scriptures that had preceded him.

As the Qur’an states: “Indeed, We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the[12 tribes of Israel] Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms].” (4:163)

And: “Say, [O believers], “We 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 [12 tribes of Israel] Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the [other] prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims to Him.” (2:136)

What I used to understood Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets to mean, was the uniqueness of Prophet Muhammad as the one Prophet whose one book of revelation was fully revealed in one lifetime. But there is much more to Prophet Muhammad uniqueness.

Since the Qur’an there have been other local prophets with their own sacred scriptures; but none of these scriptures has achieved anything close to the impact of the Qur’an. So all must admit that the Qur’an is the last of the major long lasting, independent, trans-cultural revelations. But recently I have been thinking about ‘last prophets’ of monotheistic religions.

Some rabbis did teach that before Abraham, there were many non-Jewish prophets for the many non-Jewish nations. And many rabbis compared Noah to Prophet Abraham as if they were both God’s prophets.

Numbers Rabbah 20:1 states: “In the same way as He [God] raised up kings, sages and prophets for the Jewish people, so he raised them up for the idolators” and Rabbi Isaac [c.100-170 CE] taught: “Before the Tent of Meeting was set up [for Israel] prophecy was current among the heathen nations of the world; after the Tent of Meeting was set up [for Israel] prophecy departed from them [the non-Jews]” (Leviicus Rabbah 1:12)

There are no clear Biblical references to any non-Jewish prophet after the time of Balaam, who was hired by a Pagan King to curse the Jewish People and destroy all of them including Prophet Moses. God stops Balaam from cursing Israel and makes Balaam bless Israel instead. (Torah Numbers 22-24).

Levitious Rabbah 1:13 says”The Holy One then removed the Holy Spirit [spoken by God’s prophets] from among the idolaters.” Thus according to many rabbis Balaam was the last of the non-Jewish prophets.

According to the Quran, the last three of the Jewish Prophets were Prophets Zechariah, John and Jesus. The Quran is clear that the birth of Jesus without a father does not make him the son of God; and mentions in this respect Adam who was created by God without a father or a mother: “Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness; He created him [Adam] of dust, then said to him, ‘Be’, and he was.” (3:59)

Like other prophets, Jesus performed miracles. For example, Prophet Jesus raised the dead and cured the blind and lepers, but Prophet Jesus always made it clear that all his miracles were from God. The term for Prophet Jesus “al-Masih” [the Messiah in Hebrew] is used eleven times in the Qur’an in verses: 3:45, 4:157, 4:171, 4:172, 5:17 (twice), 5:72 (twice), 5:75, 9:30, and 9:31. This shows that Prophet Jesus al-Masih was the last of the Jewish Prophets.

Prophet Muhammad was not one of the many Jewish Prophets, nor was he simply one of the many non-Jewish prophets, because he was a direct descendant of Prophet Abraham and his son Prophet Ishmael. “And mention in the Book Ishmael: Surely he was true to the promise, and he was a messenger, a prophet. He commanded his people with prayer and alms, and he was pleasing before his Lord.” (Qur’an 19:54-55) Prophet Muhammad as the last prophet was the validator prophet, the Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets.

Most important of all, the Last Prophet not only authenticates all the previous Biblical prophets; but also teaches that all monotheistic people; if they live up to their own sacred scriptures’ teachings; have no reason to worry about their reward in the world to come.

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Qur’an is that it is the only book of revelation that states within itself, a theory of prophethood which includes the validity of other religions and other prophets. “Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and The [12] Tribes, and in [the Books] given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to [the One] God do we [monotheists] bend our will.” (Qur’an 3:84)

Thus the Qur’an states that there have always been (since the days of Adam) people inspired by Allah who urged their community to avoid destruction by turning away from their corrupt and unjust ways and turning to the One God who created all humans.

But of the 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an, only four (Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad) revealed books of sacred scripture that are the bases for three major religions that still flourish today, more than 1000 years after their revelation. This combination of creating a very long lasting religious community plus validating previous messengers and their sacred scriptures; is unique to Prophet Muhammad as the Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets.

“Indeed, the believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabians—whoever truly believes in God and the Last Day and does good [deeds] will have their reward with their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 2:62)

And “Indeed, the believers, Jews, Sabians and Christians—whoever truly believes in God and the Last Day and does good [deeds], there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 5:69)

The first ayah lists the three communities in terms of distance from basic Islam; and the second ayah lists them in chronological order.

Just as all God’s Prophets are Muslims in faith because they have all submitted to God’s will [although only Prophet Muhammad was a member of the Islamic Ummah]; so too are everyone muslims, who truly believe in God and the Last Day and do righteousness and goodness.

They all will have their reward with their Lord because: “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but righteousness is [within] one who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, the prophets; and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah [charity]; fulfilling their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (Quran 2:177)

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 450 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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