A Prophet Like Moses

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

‎اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ

18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Deuteronomy 18

Thus God spoke unto the Prophet Moses (؏), promising to send a prophet similar to Moses himself from the Israelites' "brethren". It was not until the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), however, that this prophecy would be fulfilled.

Was Joshua (؏) the Prophet like Moses?

It has been claimed by the Jews that this prophecy was fulfilled by Moses's (؏) successor Joshua (؏). However, such a claim is directly contradicted by the Torah itself:

10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face...

Deuteronomy 34

We find that the Bible explicitly states that no prophet has since arisen among the Jews like Moses (؏), and it even tells us what this similarity entails: knowing the Lord "face to face." Only one other prophet can be said to have communicated with God in such a way, and that is the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) on his Mi’raj, the night journey on which he ascended to the heavens, until he was "at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer" (Qur'an 53:9) to his Lord. In addition, the Jews themselves did not understand this prophecy to be referring to Joshua (؏), as is evidenced by texts such as those found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and even the Gospels, which will be discussed later in this article.

Must the Prophet like Moses be an Israelite?

Some argue that this prophecy can only be referring to another prophet from among the Israelites, as the verse says "from among their brethren" (in Hebrew: מֵאַחֶיךָ). However, such an interpretation is not consistent with the Torah's own usage of the word brethren. In Deuteronomy 2, we see that the children of Esau are referred to as the brethren of the Israelites, being descended from Esau the brother of the prophet and patriarch Jacob (؏):

4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau...

Deuteronomy 2

The word used here for brethren in Hebrew is אֲחֵיכֶם. Both come from the etymological root אַחֶ (akh), meaning brother, a word familiar to Arabic speakers as part of a shared Semitic heritage. If the Edomites, descendants of Esau the brother of Jacob (؏), can be referred to as the brethren of the Israelites, why then is it farfetched to say that the descendants of Ishmael (؏), the brother of the patriarch Isaac (؏) and paternal uncle to Jacob (؏), are the brethren of the Israelites?

With that in mind, we can find that the notion that the prophethood would be taken away from the Children of Israel and given to another people was already predicted by the Prophet Jesus (؏), who is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew as having said:

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

Matthew 21:43

Traces of this can also be found in the Old Testament, such as these verses from Isaiah 42:

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen one in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will bring justice to the nations.

2 He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the streets.

3 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

4 he will not falter or be discouraged

till he establishes justice on earth.

In his teaching the coastlands will put their hope...”

10 Sing to the Lord a new song,

his praise from the ends of the earth,

you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,

you islands, and all who live in them.

11 Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices;

let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.

Let the people of Sela sing for joy;

let them shout from the mountaintops.

Isaiah 42

Note that Kedar was the son of Ishmael, and the forefather of the Adnanite Arab tribes from which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his tribe, the Quraysh, were descended. Now, what does Sela refer to? Sela is the name of a mountain in Medina, the city to which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) migrated with his followers to escape persecution. Upon his entrance into the city, the Medinians sang in celebration what would come to be known as the first nasheed, or Islamic devotional music, Tala' al-Badru 'Alayna. There is another place by the name of Sela referenced in the Second Book of Kings, located in the land of Edom. However, this cannot possibly by the Sela referenced in the verse in Isaiah, as it says that Sela would rejoice when this promised servant would come. However, the prophet Obadiah is recorded in the Old Testament as having prophesied that Sela would be ruined, and we see today that it remains barren. The only Sela that rejoiced at the arrival of a person was Medina. That is also the only Sela associated with the people of Kedar, as the other Sela we know of is in the land of the Edomites.

It is also noteworthy that God refers to this servant as "my chosen one..." while we know that one of the titles by which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was known was al-Mustafa, meaning "the chosen one." The word translated as "his teaching" here is תוֹרָתוֹ in Hebrew, which is phonetically: lə-ṯō-w-rā-ṯōw - his Torah, or his Law. So what he is coming with is a new Law, a new Torah. This also refutes the claims of the Christians, who claim that this prophecy is about Jesus Christ (؏). Jesus did not bring about an entirely new Law, or a "new song" as it is referred to in this passage, but rather he came to "fulfill the law" of Moses (Matthew 5:17). In addition, the people of Kedar never widely became Christian, so this again disproves the Christian claim. That this is a "new song" also refutes the Jewish interpretation that the Servant referred to in this passage is Israel as a collective, as the Jews believe that the Mosaic covenant still stands and will continue to stand until the end of time. Therefore, if this passage were referring to Israel in the end times bringing justice to the nations, what is the new song referencing?

These are not the only references to the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in the Old Testament, however:

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Genesis 49:10

Here, the patriarch and Prophet Jacob (؏) prophecies that the kingship will continue in the lineage of his son Judah (from whose descendants would come the House of David) until the coming of a figure called Shiloh. The term 'Shiloh' itself has been the subject of much study, and is often understood to mean "He to whom it belongs." Christians understand this to be a reference to Jesus (؏), but this again does not make any sense as Jesus (؏) himself was a descendant of Judah and of the House of David. In fact, it is upon this very basis that the Christians identify him as the Davidic Messiah. How, then, can Shiloh be a reference to him when it clearly says it will be a man from outside of Judah? The only prophet who can be identified with this verse, as one who ruled and received the obedience of the nations, is the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

An Eschatological Prophet?

That the Prophet like Moses was understood to be a figure distinct from the Messiah is indicated in the following verses in the Gospel of John, regarding John the Baptist (؏):

20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

John 1

Here, John the Baptist (؏) is asked if he is the Messiah, which he denies. He is then asked if he is the Prophet Elijah (؏), whose reappearance is associated with the end of days in Jewish eschatology. Lastly, they ask him if he is "the Prophet." The importance of this statement cannot be understated, as it demonstrates clearly that there was an expectation among the Jews that a prophet would come in the end of days, hence the association with the other two eschatological figures. In fact, not just any prophet, but the Prophet. This same eschatology is reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran, which date from approximately 150 BCE to 68 CE:

They shall depart from none of the counsels of the Law to walk in all the stubbornness of their hearts, but shall be ruled by the primitive precepts in which the men of the Community were first instructed until there shall come the Prophet, and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel.

Community Rule (1QS)

This above text, also known as The Manual of Discipline, describes three eschatological figures: the Prophet, the Messiah of Israel, and the priestly Messiah like unto Aaron.

The Testimonia (4Q175), another text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and dated to the early first century BCE, contains five Biblical quotations arranged into four sections concerning God's activities during the end of days. The text is notable for its poly-messianic eschatology, something shared throughout a number of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as other early Jewish texts. The first section quotes two passages from Deuteronomy, referring to the prophet similar to Moses who was to come. It reads:

I will raise up a prophet for them from among their own kindred like you and I will put my words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him. If there is someone who does not heed my words which the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.

The second section contains an extract from a prophecy of Balaam in the book of Numbers about the Davidic Messiah. This prophecy predicts:

A star shall come out of Jacob and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel; he shall crush the temples of Moab and destroy all the children of Sheth.

The third section is a blessing of the Levites, and implicitly of the Priest-Messiah.

The Messiah and the Priest

These other two messianic figures are elaborated on in other texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls:

[As it is written in the book of] Isaiah the Prophet, [The thickets of the forest] will be cut [down with an axe and Lebanon by a majestic one will f] all. And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [...] the Branch of David and they will enter into judgement with [...] and the Prince of the Congregation, the Br[anch of David] will kill him [ ... by strok]es and by wounds. And a Priest [of renown(?)] will command [ ... the s]lai[n] of the Kitti[m ... ]

Book of War (4Q285)

Here again we see mention of the Branch of David paired with the Priest commanding the armies during the eschatological great war between the forces of good and evil. The Biblical prophet Isaiah is quoted, but my intention in quoting the Scroll rather than the original book of the Bible is to highlight how Jewish communities saw these texts as eschatological in nature. The Davidic Messiah is believed by both Christians and Muslims to refer to Jesus the son of Mary (؏), and the following text from the Dead Sea Scrolls bears striking similarity to both Christian and Muslim depictions of Jesus:

[The hea]vens and the earth will listen to His Messiah ["anointed one"], and none therein will stray from the commandments of the holy ones.

Seekers of the Lord, strengthen yourselves in His service!

All you hopeful in (your) heart, will you not find the Lord in this?

For the Lord will consider the pious (hasidim) and call the righteous by name.

Over the poor His spirit will hover and will renew the faithful with His power.

And He will glorify the pious on the throne of the eternal Kingdom.

He who liberates the captives, restores sight to the blind, straightens the b[ent]

And f[or] ever I will cleav[ve to the h]opeful and in His mercy...

And the fr[uit...] will not be delayed for anyone.

And the Lord will accomplish glorious things which have never been as [He...]

For He will heal the wounded, and revive the dead and bring good news to the poor

...He will lead the uprooted and knowledge...and smoke (?)

Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521)

Compare this text to the Qur'anic description of Jesus (؏):

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead - by permission of Allah . And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.'

Qur'an 3:49

The very same miracles are described in the Gospels, in which he cures the blind and brings the dead back to life. Who, then, is the messianic Priest? This figure can be identified with the Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islamic eschatology who descends from the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and leads the believers in the final age. Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) indicate a hierarchy between the Mahdi and the Messiah, Jesus (؏):

Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims') commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah.

Sahih Muslim 156

Similar hadith are reported in Shi'a sources, indicating that the Mahdi (؏) would lead Jesus (؏) in prayer. Incredibly, this same hierarchy is established in the Dead Sea Scrolls, albeit with a different narrative:

And when they gather for the community table, or to drink wine, and arrange the community table and mix the wine to drink, let no man stretch out his hand over the first-fruits of bread and wine before the Priest. For it is he who shall bless the first-fruits of bread and wine, and shall first stretch out his hand over the bread. And afterwards, the Messiah of Israel shall stretch out his hands over the bread. And afterwards, all the congregation of the community shall bless, each according to his rank.

The Rule of the Congregation (1Q28a)

When we look at all of these texts together, we can establish that the Jews of antiquity were anticipating the arrival of three messianic figures: (1) the messianic prince (akin to David); (2) the messianic priest (identified with Elijah in some texts and as another individual, akin to Levi, in others); (3) and the messianic prophet (akin to Moses). The Prophet Like Moses (؏) appears to be a forerunner to the messianic age, acting as a lawgiver. He also appears to be a "final" prophet, due to his eschatological role. The Davidic Messiah and the Priest-Messiah act together to lead the believers in the final age, with the Priest-Messiah having a role above that of the Davidic Messiah. This narrative aligns perfectly with that of Islam, in which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is sent as the final prophet, ushering in the final age. This period ends with the climactic battle between the forces of good, led by the Mahdi and the returned Jesus (؏), and the forces of evil, led by the Antichrist (Dajjal), after which there is a period of justice and peace over the earth.

Was Jesus (؏) the Prophet Like Moses?

Is it possible that the prophet like Moses could have been Jesus Christ (؏), as is claimed by the Christians? This cannot be the case, as it is clear from the eschatological literature and even the Gospels themselves that the prophet like Moses and the Messiah were two distinct figures, as we have already established. Furthermore, such a claim was not advanced by Jesus (؏) himself, nor by any of the Gospel authors. In fact, the Gospels appear to offer an entirely different portrait, as the account of the Transfiguration of Christ demonstrates:

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Matthew 17

The Jews, as we have discussed previously, were anticipating three eschatological figures: the Messiah (akin to David), the Priest (identified as Elijah in some accounts and elsewhere appears to be a different person, akin to Levi), and the Prophet (akin to Moses). This account, related in each of the Synoptic Gospels, seems to portray Jesus (؏) as the Messiah alone, as he appears with Moses (؏) and Elijah (؏) separately. By depicting him appearing with the Prophet and the Priest, the narrative seems to be attempting to portray the messianic prophecy as having come true with these three figures. This cannot be the case, however, as the Prophet like Moses cannot literally be Moses himself, nor did Moses (؏) speak unto the people upon reappearing briefly on the mount. Therefore, the prophecy of the Prophet like Moses was not fulfilled yet as per the Gospels.

The claim that Christ (؏) himself was the Prophet like Moses is only found in Pauline literature, and is made with the assumption that Jesus (؏) is the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies (including the coming of another prophet like Moses) and that no one was to come after him. This claim is unfounded, as we see that Jesus (؏) himself gave us instructions on how to determine the truth of prophets after him, and even told of one who would come after him:

7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment...

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, 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

These verses are often understood by the Christians to be referring to the Holy Spirit. However, such a reading is not consistent with the text. The Holy Spirit is believed by the Christians to be God, so how can God not speak on behalf of Himself? Why does God need to hear from Himself what He needs to speak? Furthermore, the Holy Spirit was present before Jesus Christ (؏). In fact, the Spirit descends on Jesus (؏) during his baptism, so evidently it does not require Jesus (؏) to leave before he comes. One may question why the word "Spirit" is used. In fact, the same word is used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to human beings:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1

In fact, spirit is not just used here to describe human beings, but specifically claimants to prophethood. Therefore it is natural that the word Spirit would be used to describe the prophet coming after Jesus (؏). This "Spirit of truth" is contrasted with the false prophets who are tested and found to be lacking.

The word used for this coming guide in John 16:7, translated here as "Advocate", is Paraklētos (commonly rendered in English as Paraclete). This word is used in 1 John 2:1 to refer to Jesus Christ (؏) himself, again indicating that this can refer to a man. That the Paraclete was understood to be a man is further demonstrated by the fact that Mani, the founder of the religion of Manichaenism, claimed to be the Paraclete himself. It has even been suggested that Parakletos may be a corruption of Periklytos (meaning praiseworthy), which translates into Arabic as Ahmad, a name of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

Let us look at the speech of Jesus (؏) about the Spirit of truth, or the Paraclete, in further detail. His description parallels the text of Deuteronomy 18 quite closely:

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, 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)

18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. (Deuteronomy 18)

This indicates strongly that the guide Jesus (؏) is referring to is none other than the Prophet like Moses described in Deuteronomy. Note the verse of Qur'an:

Your companion (Muhammad) has not strayed, nor has he erred. Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. Rather, it is not but a revealed scripture." 

Qur'an 53:2-4

Moses (؏) & Muhammad (ﷺ)

Can we be sure, however, that the Prophet like Moses (؏) is truly the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)? Let us examine some similarities between the two figures:

  • Both were not raised by their biological parents

  • Both were commissioned by God at the age of 40

  • Both men received their first revelations alone atop a mountain

  • Both were forced to flee their home to escape persecution

  • Both led a migration of their followers to a new home

  • Both were lawgiving prophets, who brought a new and independent scripture

  • Both spoke to God "face to face"

  • Both were simultaneously religious/spiritual and political leaders

  • Both led and took part in armed conflicts against polytheists

  • Both were accepted by the majority of their people (the Israelites and the Arabs)

  • Both appointed 12 leaders among their people (12 leaders/spies in Numbers 13, 12 Imams)

In the following hadith, Abu Talib makes a direct reference to the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18:

It was said to him (Ja'far as-Sadiq): They allege that Abu Talib was a disbeliever! So he said: They have lied. How could he be a disbeliever when he said, “Do they not know that we found Muhammad as a prophet like Moses, mentioned in the first Books?”

al-Kafi, Volume 1

Aaron (؏) & 'Ali (؏)

The similarities do not end there, however. Just as Moses (؏) had Aaron (؏) as his brother, eloquent and patient vizier/vicegerent, and the father of his descendants (see Numbers 3, which opens with, “These are the descendants of Moses and Aaron…” but only lists Aaron’s four sons), Muhammad (ﷺ) had 'Ali (؏) as the very same. This comparison is explicitly made in the hadith literature of both the Sunnis and the Shi'a:

Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) left 'Ali b. Abi Talib behind him (as he proceeded) to the expedition of Tabuk, whereupon he ('Ali) said: Allah's Messenger, are you leaving me behind amongst women and children? Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Aren't you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there would be no prophet after me?

Sahih Muslim 2404b

The Messenger of Allah () said to 'Ali b. Abi Talib (؏): "O 'Ali! You are to me as Seth was to Adam, and as Shem was to Noah, and as Isaac was to Abraham, and as Aaron was to Moses, and as Simon was to Jesus, except that there is no prophet after me. O 'Ali! You are my deputy and my vicegerent, so whoever denies your deputyship and your vicegerency is not from me and I am not from him; and I will be his adversary on the Day of Resurrection. O 'Ali! You are the best of my Nation in virtue, the foremost of them in affability, the most knowledgeable of them, the most forbearing of them, the boldest of them in heart, and the most generous of them with your hands. O 'Ali! You are the Imam and the emir after me. You are the patron and the vizier after me..."

Al-Amali of Saduq

When Moses (؏) left his people to go to the mountain for 40 days, he appointed Aaron (؏) as his vicegerent:

And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron, "Take my place among my people, do right [by them], and do not follow the way of the corrupters."

Qur'an 7:142

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”

Exodus 24

Note that although Hur is mentioned here in conjunction with Aaron (؏), when Moses (؏) comes down the mountain in Exodus 32, it is only Aaron he blames for failing to keep the Israelites from sin, indicating that Aaron alone had ultimate authority.

Similarly, before the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) left his people in death, he appointed 'Ali (؏) as his vicegerent:

Narrated Abu Sarihah, or Zaid bin Arqam - Shu'bah had doubt: from the Prophet (ﷺ): "For whomever I am his Mawla (master) then 'Ali is his Mawla."

Jami' at-Tirmidhi 3713

Amazingly, the similarity between the situations upon the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the departure of Moses (؏) from his people for the mountain was even perceived by the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) during the chaos immediately after his death:

When the Messenger of God died, 'Umar b. al-Khattab stood up saying, "Some of the hypocrites allege that the Messenger of God is dead. By God, he is not dead, but has gone to his Lord as Moses b. 'Imran went and remained hidden from his people for forty days...By God, the Messenger of God will [also] return..." When Abu Bakr saw that he would not listen, he went forward to the people [speaking]..."O people, those who worshipped Muhammad, [must know that] Muhammad is dead; those who worshipped God, [must know that] God is alive [and] immortal."

The History of at-Tabari, Volume 9

The Golden Calf

After Moses (؏) went up to the mountain, his people turned away from his commands and began to worship the golden calf:

[Allāh] said, "But indeed, We have tried your people after you [departed], and the Sāmirī has led them astray."

So Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved. He said, "O my people, did your Lord not make you a good promise? Then, was the time [of its fulfillment] too long for you, or did you wish that wrath from your Lord descend upon you, so you broke your promise [of obedience] to me?"

They said, "We did not break our promise to you by our will, but we were made to carry burdens from the ornaments of the people [of Pharaoh], so we threw them [into the fire], and thus did the Sāmirī throw."

And he extracted for them [the statue of] a calf which had a lowing sound, and they said, "This is your god and the god of Moses, but he forgot."

Did they not see that it could not return to them any speech [i.e., response] and that it did not possess for them any harm or benefit?

And Aaron had already told them before [the return of Moses], "O my people, you are only being tested by it, and indeed, your Lord is the Most Merciful, so follow me and obey my order."

They said, "We will never cease being devoted to it [i.e., the calf] until Moses returns to us."

[Moses] said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray,

From following me? Then have you disobeyed my order?"

[Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, do not seize [me] by my beard or by my head. Indeed, I feared that you would say, 'You caused division among the Children of Israel, and you did not observe [or await] my word.'"

Qur'an 20:85-94

And when Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said, "How wretched is that by which you have replaced me after [my departure]. Were you impatient over the matter of your Lord?" And he threw down the tablets and seized his brother by [the hair of] his head, pulling him toward him. [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, indeed the people overpowered me and were about to kill me, so let not the enemies rejoice over me1 and do not place me among the wrongdoing people."

Qur'an 7:150

19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil..."

Exodus 32

Just as Samiri misguided the Israelites into worshipping the calf and turning away from Aaron, Moses's vicegerent, so too did the same happen to the Muslim community upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). The caliphate was usurped from 'Ali (؏) by Abu Bakr and 'Umar b. al-Khattab, who upon the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) rushed to a place known as Saqifa in order to seize power for themselves. It was 'Umar who got people to give allegiance to Abu Bakr and therefore he was responsible for the misguidance of the Muslims, just as Samiri had done before him to the Jews and Paul had done to the Christians:

Abu al-Hasan (Imam Musa al-Kadhim) said: O Ishaq, the first (i.e. Abu Bakr) is like unto the calf and the second (i.e. 'Umar) is like unto Samiri...

Thawab al-A'maal

That his people would follow in the footsteps of the Israelites and the Christians in being deceived by an imposter and abandoning their prophet's vicegerent was predicted by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself, who said:

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah's Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words) "those before you"? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups)?

Sahih Muslim 2669a

Therefore, just as the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) resembles the Prophet Moses (؏), so too do the actions of his people resemble those of the Israelites.

'Ali (؏) and Joshua (؏)

Just as there are similarities between 'Ali (؏) and Aaron (؏) in their roles as vicegerents of Muhammad (ﷺ) and Moses (؏), respectively, there is also a remarkable similarity between 'Ali (؏) and Joshua (؏). Before his death, Moses (؏) is told by God that He has appointed Joshua the son of Nun (؏) as his successor as leader over the Israelites, and that Moses is to announce this before the people:

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Numbers 27

In a strikingly similar chain of events, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is ordered by God to announce before the people that he is going to pass away soon, and that he must declare before the people that his successor will be 'Ali (؏):

O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allāh will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allāh does not guide the disbelieving people.

Qur'an 5:67 (See a detailed analysis of this verse here)

It is then that he stops the Muslims at a place called Ghadir Khumm, gathering them before him in an assembly before declaring:

Narrated Abu Sarihah, or Zaid bin Arqam - Shu'bah had doubt: from the Prophet (ﷺ): "For whomever I am his Mawla (master) then 'Ali is his Mawla."

Jami' at-Tirmidhi 3713

[The Messenger of God] said: "Behold! To whomsoever I am a Mawla (master) then Ali is also his Mawla"...and he took Ali by the hand and raised it with his own hand until their armpits became visible, then he said: "O Allah – be a guardian to whomever takes him to be a guardian, and be an enemy to whomever takes him to be an enemy, aid the one who aids him and abandon the one who abandons him."


In both cases, Moses (؏) and Muhammad (ﷺ) respectively receive revelation that they are to die and must therefore announce their successor, whom God has chosen. Both prophets gather the people in an assembly before laying their hand on their heir and publicly appointing them.


In summary, we find that the promise of God to send to the Israelites a prophet like Moses from among their brethren was fulfilled in the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) among the Ishmaelites. Just as Moses (؏) was aided by his faithful brother and vizier Aaron (؏), so too was Muhammad (ﷺ) aided by 'Ali (؏). And, just as the Israelites were deceived by Samiri into turning away from Aaron (؏) and worshipping the golden calf when Moses (؏) left for the mountain, so too did the Muslim community turn away from 'Ali (؏) upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), being deceived by the Samiri and the calf of their time. In this manner, the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that his people would follow in the footsteps of the Jews and Christians who came before them was fulfilled.

The following thread was an invaluable resource for several parts of this article and is an excellent source of further information on this subject: