His name is Ahmad

One of the troubling things for Islam hating writers is the preservation of the Qur’an[1] as it is the only primary religious book that is preserved in its original form. It is the same now as it was recited by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). However, Geoffrey Parrinder, in his book ‘Jesus in the Qur’an’, makes a claim otherwise and presents some theories of which one indicates that the following verse was later added to the Book:

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ إِنِّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَىَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّراً بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِى مِن بَعْدِى اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ قَالُواْ هَـذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ

And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.” [Qur’an 61:6]

Some of the criticisms against this verse are as follows:

Ahmad is missing from other ‘versions’

The version from Ubay b. Ka’b has the same verse in a different variant, without the name ‘Ahmad’, and is alleged to be as follows:

O children of Israel, I am God’s messenger to you, and I announce to you a prophet whose community will be the last community and by which God will put the seal on the prophets and messengers.

The matter is needlessly made overcomplicated as Muhammad ‘Abdul-Azim az-Zurqani eloquently summarizes:

“Some of the Companions, who used to write Qur’an in one or more personal copies, at times wrote therein what was not from the Qur’an. It included the interpretation of what was difficult to them from the meaning of the Qur’an or the [words that formed the] supplications similar to the supplications in the Qur’an, that could be recited in the prayers at the time of qunoot or the like of it. And they knew such was not [itself] the Qur’an. But for the dearth of the writing tools and [the fact that] they used to write Qur’an for themselves alone, keeping from others, it was easy for them because they were themselves free of the danger of mixing and confusing the Qur’an with other than it. Then some people with little insight imagined that whatever was written in those copies was written as Qur’an. But this is not the reality, but the reality is what you have just learnt.”[2]

We know of no disputes of Ubay b. Ka’b with other Muslims about the content of the Qur’an and to assume that he kept quiet and accepted a different Qur’an being circulated around is simply absurd.

Ibn Ishaq is silent on 61:6

Ibn Ishaq quotes John 15:23 and links the comforter to ‘Muhammad’ and not ‘Ahmad’. It is therefore argued that they did not know of ‘Ahmad’ at all. The footnote to the passage quoted states: It is interesting to note that the citation comes from the Palestinian Syriac Lectionary and not from the ordinary Bible of the Syriac speaking Churches. The Palestinian Syriac Lectionary’s comforter (Munahhemana) sounds closer to Muhammad but there is no mention of ‘Ahmad’ in it. This footnote itself clarifies that the passage from John was from Palestinian Syriac Lectionary where the word used was different to the one used by Christians elsewhere. Ibn Ishaq had access to this one and hence, he found resemblance to ‘Muhammad’. If he had access to the other one mentioning Paraclete (Comforter/Ahmad), he would have linked it to Q.61:6.

Ibn Ishaq is very clear on the corruption of the Bible and hence, for him to find every prophecy is highly unlikely. The Qur’an repeatedly states that the Prophet (ﷺ) is mentioned in the sacred books of Jews and Christians and yet Ibn Ishaq does not quote each and every such verse and does not find their exact reference in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. He did so for John 15:23 as he found the word ‘Munahhemana’ to be close in resemblance to ‘Muhammad’. Taking it more than the apparent and needlessly reading things into it that are not there is not the correct approach.

Furthermore, Ibn Ishaq did not ignore the verse of ‘Ahmad’ at all. He discussed it and stated:

فإن آية ذلك أن يخرج معه نور يملأ قصور بصرى من أرض الشام، فإذا وقع فسميه محمداً، فإن اسمه في التوراة أحمد، يحمده أهل السماء وأهل الأرض

What is mentioned about the light filling up the palaces of Basra from the land of the Levant; when that happened, his name was Muhammad (at birth) and his name in the Torah is Ahmad. He is the praised and praiseworthy among the inhabitants of heavens and the earth. [Sirah Ibn Ishaq pg. 45]

Ibn Ishaq also writes that when the Prophet (ﷺ) was born, his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, carried him in his hands and read these lines of poetry:

السعد لله الذي أعطاني … هذا الغلام الطيب الأردان
قد ساد في المهد على الغلمان … أعيذه بالله ذي الأركان
حتى يكون بلغة الفتيان … حتى أراه بالغ البنان
أعيذه من كل ذي شنئان … من حاسد مضطرب العنان
ذي همة ليس له عينان … حتى أراه رافع اللسان
أنت الذي سميت في الفرقان … في كتب ثابتة المثاني
أحمد مكتوباً على اللسان

Glory be to God who gave me… this good boy

Ahmad written upon the tongue.

The Hadith of ‘Ahmad’

The Prophet (ﷺ) stated:

أَنَا مُحَمَّدٌ وَأَنَا أَحْمَدُ وَأَنَا الْمَاحِي الَّذِي يُمْحَى بِيَ الْكُفْرُ وَأَنَا الْحَاشِرُ الَّذِي يُحْشَرُ النَّاسُ عَلَى عَقِبِي وَأَنَا الْعَاقِبُ

I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad, and I am al-Mahi (the obliterator) by whom unbelief would be obliterated, and I am Hashir (the gatherer) at whose feet mankind will be gathered, and I am ‘Aqib (the last to come) after whom there will be no Prophet.

The above Hadith is found in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim 2354 i, Muwatta of Imam Malik as well as Al-Jami of Ma’mar b. Rashid who was a contemporary of Ibn Ishaq. What is further interesting is that this is also mentioned by Ibn Ishaq himself.

Muslim children were practically never called ‘Ahmad’ before the year 125 AH

This claim is not just erroneous but full of blunders as well and to refute it does not require an extensive research. Below are some of the instances of prominent Muslim men named ‘Ahmad’ after the time of the Prophet (ﷺ):

Ibn Abi Ahmad – His freed slave/client narrated Hadiths from some of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) including Abu Hurayrah and Abu Sa’id al-Khudri.[3] Abu Hurayrah passed away in 59 AH while Abu Sa’id al-Khudri passed away somewhere between 63 AH and 74 AH. Therefore, we learn that Ibn Abi Ahmad was born much before 59 AH.

Al-Khalil b. Ahmad al-Farahidi: The very famous al-Farahidi, scholar of Arabic grammar, was born in 100 AH and for that, his father Ahmad had to be born before that.

Ahmad b. Hafs al-Jazri al-Shaami: He was from the students of the companions and narrated from Waathilah b. al-Asqa’ who passed away in 110 AH. Therefore, he had to be born before that.

Ahmad b. Rooh b. al-Qaasim: He narrated from Yahya b. Abi Katheer who died in the year 129 AH and therefore, had to be born before that.

Ahmad b. Khaazim al-Madeeni al-Misri: He narrated from Saalih b. Abi Saalih (d. 125 AH), Muhammad b. al-Munkadir (d. 130 AH).

Ahmad b. al-Hasan b. Muhammad al-Makki: He narrated from Zayd b. Abi Unaysah who died in either 119 AH or 124 AH.

Abu Ahmad b: Jahsh al-A’mi: He was among the first few people to accept Islam and he also witnessed the battle of Uhud. This is even earlier than Khaleel b. Ahmad. He was the brother of Zaynab bint Jahsh the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ).

Al-Jamdi Abu Ahmad: He narrated from Bara b. Azib (d. 71 AH), Abdullah b. Qays (d. 50 AH) and others. Therefore, he had to be born before 50 AH at least.

Abu Ahmad Mawla al-Ansaar: He was the student of Ibn Abbas, the companion of the Prophet (ﷺ).

Abdullah b. Abi Ahmad b. Jahsh al-Qurashi: He was from the senior students of the companions and had also seen the Prophet (ﷺ). Ahmad was his elder brother. His father was born during the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ).

The Muhaqqiq of Ali b. Hibatallah b. Makula’s ‘al-Ikmal fi Raf’ al-Irtiyab an al-Mutalif wa al-Mukhtalif min al-asma wa al-kuna wa al-ansab’ (DKI ed.) in his note on vol.1, p.17 writes about the name “Ahmad”:

أولهم في الإسلام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ثم الصحابي زوج فاطمة بنت قيس على القول بأن اسمه أحمد، ثم ما نقل عن الواقدي أن لجعفر بن أبي طالب ابنا اسمه أحمد، ثم ما ذكره الترمذي أنه قيل في اسم والد أبي السفر أحمد، وإن المشهور يحمد، ثم والد الخليل، ومولد الخليل سنة مائة. لخصت هذا من التبصير. وفي جمهرة ابن حزم ص276 “بنو أحمد بن الحارث بن ثمامة بن مالك بن جدعاء حي من طيئ بالموصل وهو أول من سمي أحمد في الجاهلية. وفي الاشتقاق ص9-10 “سمت العرب في الجاهلية أحمد منهم أحمد بن ثمامة بن جدعاء بطن من طيئ. وأحمد بن دومان من بكيل بطن من همدان “وانظر الإكليل 10/ 120” وأحمد بن زيد بن خداش بطن من السكاسك وبنو أحمد من طيئ.

The first of them (Ahmad) in Islam is the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and the husband of Fatima bint Qais (a companion of the Prophet (ﷺ)). Then, as quoted by Waqidi, Ja’far b. Abi Talib (cousin of the Prophet (ﷺ)) had a son named Ahmad. Tirmizi said that the name of the father of Abi al-Safar was Ahmad, then the father of Khalil (was Ahmad) while Khalil was born in 100 AH and this is a summary of the whole affair (about the name ‘Ahmad’).

Ibn Hazm, in his work ‘Jamhara’ p. 276, speaking about the descendants of Ahmad b. al-Harith b. Thamma b. Malik b. Jida’ah from the area of Mosul, mentions that the first to be named Ahmad in the Jahiliyah (pre-Islamic days of ignorance) was him (i.e. Ahmad b. al-Harith). In ‘al-Ishtiqaq’, pg. 9-10, it is stated that from the Arabs in the Jahiliyah was a certain Ahmad named Ahmad b. Thumamah b. Jud’ah from Ta’i and another Ahmad b. Duman b. Bakeel from Hamdan. See also ‘al-Ikleel’ (120/10) for Ahmad b. Zayd b. Khadaash from al-Sikasik and descendants of Ahmad b. Ta’i.

The above instances are the result of a quick glance and if one goes into an extensive study, many more people by the name ‘Ahmad’ can be found.

Encouragement to keep names

The Prophet (ﷺ) encouraged the people to keep the names of prophets and mentioned that the names Abdullah and Abdul Rahman are beloved to Allah (Sunan Abi Dawud 4950) and he discouraged the people to keep the same kunya as himself (Sahih al-Bukhari 3539) i.e. Abul Qasim. We therefore see that many of the companions named their sons Abdullah with Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar being two famous ones. Not many instances are found where the companions named their sons ‘Muhammad’ even though it was the undisputed name of the Prophet (ﷺ) and also mentioned in the Qur’an.

If one makes a comparison of the names of the sons of the companions and does not find ‘Muhammad’ to be on the top of the list, then would it be used to claim that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) did not exist? If we use the same logic, we would need to find many people named Eisa (Jesus) and many people named Musa (Moses) and so on among the second generation of the prophets. However, this is not a criteria.

Moreover, even if we compare the names of Muslim children now, we do not find ‘Ahmad’ to be used as much as ‘Muhammad’ even though the verse about ‘Ahmad’ exists in the Qur’an. Furthermore, the Prophet (ﷺ) named his son Qasim while we do not find the majority of Muslims doing that for their sons nor did the Prophet (ﷺ) recommend to do so.

Ahmad is an adjective and not a noun

One theory presented by Parrinder is that Ahmad is not a noun but an adjective, i.e. ‘a messenger will come after me whose name is worthy of more praise (Ahmadu)’. Qur’an is a recited book and was revealed by God to the Prophet (ﷺ) through the angel Gabriel. It is easy to confuse a written word or a sentence but to confuse a recitation, and that too recited by hundreds and thousands within the life of the Prophet (ﷺ), is not a simple task. To assume so would require massive conspiracy theories. Furthermore, this theory is a new invention and not found among the early Islamic scholars.

Parrin argues that if this theory is correct, then it refers to the Gospel as Jesus is claimed to have promised just that i.e. something worthy of more praise. This is different from the usual Christian claim that the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit. However, even with this claim, the bottom line is misunderstood. The Comforter was to come after Jesus whereas the Holy Spirit and the Gospel were there even in his times.

نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنزَلَ ٱلتَّوْرَٮٰةَ وَٱلْإِنجِيلَ

He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. [Q.3:3]

The Qur’an is clear that the Injeel (translated as Gospel) was sent down by God completely and directly upon the Prophet Eisa (عليه السلام). In Mark 8:35 Jesus said: “…but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.” It is very clear that there was some Gospel that was with Jesus, the one that Jesus followed and called it worth giving one’s life for. It is important to note here that Jesus is not talking about the future but is speaking of a Gospel already available. The tenses used are present and the person to whom he is talking to also does not wonder as to what he is talking about.

The Qur’an is a preserved book without a single letter being amended, added, or removed and this is a fact no matter how much anyone dislikes it. The repeated failed attempts to prove some sort of alteration fall flat on their faces.

Indeed, Allah knows best.

References and footnotes:

[1] Qur’an Preservation & Compilation

[2] Al-Zurqani, Muhammad ‘Abdul-Azim, Manahil al-‘Irfan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, 1415 A.H.) 222

[3] Muwatta Malik

7 thoughts on “His name is Ahmad

  1. Assalamualaikum what is the authenticity of Ubayy ibn Ka’b’s variant reading? If it is authentic then does this mean that Prophet Isa AS spoke two different statements in his prophecy of Prophet Muhammad SAW and both readings were divinely revealed by Allah SWT?

  2. Assalamualaikum, is there a source (such as hadith or scholarly citation) for the alleged reading of Ubbay Bin Kab on this verse?

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