According to Muslims, Isaiah 29:12 predicts the coming of an illiterate prophet. The verse reads:

Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, “Please read this.” And he will say, “I cannot read.”Isaiah 29:12

Muslims claim that this prophecy was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel commanded Muhammad to recite the Qur’an:

Sahih al-Bukhari 3—The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet added, “Then the angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.‘” …

So does Isaiah 29:12 contain prophecy about Muhammad? If so, then Muhammad stands condemned. For when we read the verse in context, we find that the entire passage is about judgment on people who are rebelling against God. I suggest reading all of Isaiah 29 to fully understand verse 12, but let’s read v. 9-14 to get the immediate context:

Be delayed and wait, blind yourselves and be blind; they become drunk, but not with wine, they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers. The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, “Please read this,” he will say, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, “Please read this.” And he will say, “I cannot read.”

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”

As we can see from the larger passage, Isaiah 29 is about God’s judgment on a rebellious nation. People stubbornly refuse to obey God, so He curses them by taking away their discernment. It talks about their heart being far from God, with worship that is not according to God’s will but according to what men have invented (v.13) and that his inability to read is part of God’s punishment. It is a sign of God putting a deep sleep on the people regarding spiritual matters, so that regardless how knowledgeable they are, they would nevertheless be unable to read (comprehend) what the word of God means.

Hence, if 29:12 is about Muhammad, then Muhammad couldn’t have been a prophet. Instead, he was a stubborn rebel against God who used his illiteracy as an excuse to ignore God’s revelations.

Be careful what passages you claim for him Muslims! Maybe this does indeed describe Muhammad? Judge for yourself!

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