Muhammad in Song of Solomon 5:16?

The Qur’an puts Muslim apologists in a difficult position by claiming that the Bible contains clear prophecies about Muhammad (see Qur’an 7:157 and 61:6). Muslim writers, speakers, and debaters have had nearly fourteen centuries to find these prophecies, so if they can’t show us where the Bible talks about Muhammad, we can only conclude that the Qur’an is wrong when it appeals to the Bible for support.

Some of the arguments our Muslim friends use seem to be based on sheer desperation. For instance, popular Muslim apologists like Zakir Naik and Shabir Ally claim that Muhammad is mentioned by name in Song of Solomon 5:16. Zakir Naik writes:

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon chapter 5 verse 16:

“Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem.”

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

In the Hebrew language -im is added for respect. Similarly -im is added after the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to make it Muhammadim. In English translation they have even translated the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as “altogether lovely”, but in the Old Testament in Hebrew, the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is yet present.

Shabir Ally adds:

Now what remains is for us to specify where in the Bible to find mention of our prophet. In the Old Testament there are many references. The most significant is Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 16. This verse mentions our prophet by name. It says in the Hebrew language Bibles “He is Muhammad.” But English translations have “He is altogether lovely” instead of the real truth. You need to insist that, since it says our prophet’s name in the Hebrew, the “altogether lovely” translation is nothing more than a camouflage hiding our prophet’s name. Tell every Bible reader whether Jew or Christian to ask any Hebrew scholar to read the Hebrew word which appears as “altogether lovely” in the translation. You will hear that word pronounced “Muhammad.” Why then hide what you should believe?

For anyone who has read Song of Solomon, this is an amazing verse to cite as evidence for Islam! Song of Solomon is a short poetic book about a loving, physical relationship between Solomon and his bride (there are a variety of interpretations, but none will help turn this into a prophecy about Muhammad). Some Muslims claim that this book can’t be the Word of God, because of the way Solomon and his bride talk about each other’s bodies. For example, in chapter 7, verses 1-3, Solomon says to his bride:

How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter! 
Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands. Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle.

Solomon continues praising her body. And yet Muslims go to this book to find a prophecy about Muhammad!

Let’s turn to chapter 5, which supposedly mentions Muhammad by name. In the first verse of the chapter, Solomon says:

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Solomon talks about drinking wine. But again, Muslims go to this chapter to find a prophecy about Muhammad!

Let’s read the so-called prophecy of Muhammad in context. In verse 8, Solomon’s bride says to her friends, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love.”

Her friends respond in verse 9 by asking her, “How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women?”

She answers them in verses 10 through 16. Let’s read the passage and see if we can spot the prophecy about Muhammad.

Solomon’s bride says:

My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.

His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.

His eyes are like doves by the water streams, 
washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.

His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli.

His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.
 His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem.

This last verse, according to our Muslim friends, is somehow about Muhammad. Why should we interpret this verse as a prophecy about Muhammad? Muslims reason that, since the Hebrew for “altogether lovely” is machmadim, and machmadim sounds somewhat similar to the name “Muhammad,” the verse is actually referring to Muhammad by name. (Note: Zakir Naik claims that the suffix -im is “added for respect” in Hebrew, but this is sheer nonsense. The suffix -im is added to form the plural, which may be a plural of intensity, i.e., “altogether.” But let’s forgive this blunder and pretend that the word used is the singular “machmad,” which is closer to “Muhammad.”) So Song of Solomon 5:16 should be translated:

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is Muhammad. This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem.

Notice a couple of points here. First, this is Solomon’s bride talking. So if Solomon’s bride is delivering a prophecy about Muhammad, then she is a prophetess, according to our Muslim friends (unless the author of Song of Solomon is merely portraying her as a prophetess).

Second, the bride is praising a man’s body. This makes perfect sense if she’s talking about her husband. But if our Muslim friends insist that she’s talking about Muhammad, they’re accusing Solomon’s bride of lusting after another man (Muhammad) in a vision given to her by God.

Third, if 5:16 is about Muhammad, then Solomon’s wife calls Muhammad her “beloved.” But in chapter 7, verse 10, she says, “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Since Muhammad is her beloved (according to the Islamic interpretation), she declares in 7:10 that she belongs to Muhammad and that Muhammad desires her. How did Solomon’s bride belong to Muhammad? Why would Muhammad desire a woman who had been dead for more than fifteen centuries?

Either Song of Solomon is an extremely troubling story about a time-traveling adulterous love affair between Solomon’s bride and Muhammad, or the book simply has nothing to do with Muhammad.

But things get worse for our Muslim friends. The word machmad is used in many places in the Old Testament. It refers to something pleasing, treasured, or lovely. So if machmad is actually Muhammad’s name, we need to be consistent and say that wherever the word machmad is used, it’s referring to Muhammad. Let’s consider two passages that use the word machmad and see what happens if we translate the word as “Muhammad.”

In Ezekiel 24:16, Ezekiel’s wife is called “machmad,” because she’s treasured by Ezekiel. So if machmad means “Muhammad,” Muhammad must have been Ezekiel’s wife! Is that what any Muslim believes? Of course not. So why do Muslims keep telling us that machmad means “Muhammad”?

Just five verses later in Ezekiel, God tells the children of Israel that Jerusalem will be conquered and that the temple will be destroyed. He says, “I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes” (Ezekiel 24:21). The word “delight” here is machmad. So if machmad is the name “Muhammad,” God is promising to desecrate Muhammad! Is that what Shabir Ally and Zakir Naik want us to believe God is saying? (For further uses of machmad, see 1 Kings 20:6; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 1:10-11; 2:4; Isaiah 64:11; Ezekiel 24:25; Hosea 9:6; and Joel 3:5.)

This is what happens when Muslim apologists try to force Muhammad into the Bible. They go to a passage in which Solomon’s bride is praising her husband’s body, and they expect us to believe that she’s actually having adulterous thoughts about a future prophet. Shabir Ally and Zakir Naik take a perfectly normal Hebrew word and try to transform it into a prophecy of Muhammad, but in doing so they end up claiming that Muhammad was Ezekiel’s wife and that God promises to desecrate him!

Since Shabir calls Song of Solomon 5:16 the “most significant” reference to Muhammad in the entire Old Testament, we can only wonder how persuasive the rest are!

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