“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever (John 14:16).”
The Muslim Argument
Muslims argue that the above passage is a prophecy about Muhammad. They argue this from a verse in the Quran, “O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God . . . giving glad tidings of an Apostle to come after me. Whose name shall be Ahmad," (Surah 61:6, Yusuf Ali's translation, emphasis added).
The alleged equivalent for Ahmad (“praised one”) in Arabaic is periclytos ("praised one") in Greek. However, periclytos does not even occur in John 14:16. Instead, the Greek word paraclete ("helper") occurs. Therefore, in order to support their argument, Muslims have to argue that the text of John has been corrupted.1
The Christian Response
First, there is absolutely no ancient textual evidence among all of the over 5,600 Greek manuscripts to place the word periclytos (“praised one”) in place of paraclete (“helper”).2 For a Muslim to argue that the correct reading should be periclytos instead of paraclete, shows his lack of understanding of the actual Greek text and the reliability of the copying of the New Testament.
Second, in the same passage, Jesus explicitly identified the “Helper” as the Holy Spirit: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send, will teach you,” (John 14:26). Therefore, with all due respect, the Muslim argument is already defeated. Third, this “Helper” was given to Jesus’ apostles (the “you” in John 14:16) not to Arabs living over 550 years later! It was given to those who “have been with . . . [him] from the beginning” (John 15:27; cf. Acts 1:22; Luke 1:1-2). However, Muhammad was not one of Jesus’ apostles.
Fourth, this “Helper” was to abide with them “forever” (John 16), but Muhammad has been dead for over thirteen centuries! Fifth, Jesus told the disciples, “You know Him [the Helper]” (v. 17), but the apostles did not know Muhammad. He was not born until over 500 years later! Sixth, Jesus also told the disciples that the Helper would be “in you” (v. 17). How Muhammad could be “in” the disciples stretches all credibility. This reference of being "in" the disciples clearly is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s role of dwelling inside believers as the context of John (John 14:16-26) and the rest of the New Testament (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) indicates.
Seventh, Jesus said that the Helper would be sent “in My [Jesus’] name” (John 14:26). However, no Muslim believes that Muhammad was sent in Jesus’ name. Eighth, the Helper whom Jesus would send would not “speak on His own authority” (John 16:13). However, Muhammad constantly testifies of himself. For example, in Surah 33:40, Muhammad says of himself, “Muhammad is . . . The Apostle of God, And the Seal of the Prophets.” Ninth, the Helper would “glorify” Jesus (John 16:14). How would Muhammad actually be glorifying Jesus if Muhammad is the last (and the sealer) of the prophets? He really would not be “glorifying” an earlier, inferior prophet like Jesus.
Tenth, and finally, Jesus said that the Helper would come in “not many days” (Acts 1:5), but Muhammad did not come for almost 600 years! Since the Helper is the Holy Spirit, He did come merely 40 days later (Acts 1:5; 2:1ff).
Therefore, given the above evidence, the Holy Spirit clearly is the Helper in John 14:16, not Muhammad.
- 1. I obtained many of these ten arguments from: Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, pp. 157-59.
- 2. For reasons why we can trust the accuracy of the Bible, please see: Has the New Testament been corrupted? Interestingly, there are over 5,600 Greek New Testament manuscripts, but if you include all of the translations from Greek like Latin, Syriac, Coptic, etc., there are over 20,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts.