Is Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Song of Songs? – Responding to a Christian’s Objections
“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem.”
– Song of Songs, 5:16
The Holy Quran states that the coming of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was prophesied by previous prophets, such as Jesus (peace be upon him). As a result, Muslims have naturally been curious to see if the either the Tanakh or the New Testament contains any possible references to Muhammad (peace be upon him). One particular verse has been at the center of controversy between Muslims and Christians (and Jews), which is Song of Songs 5:16. In response to the Muslim appeal to this verse, the Catholic apologist Allan Ruhl has offered some critiques, which this article will now consider.
First, let us discuss the verse in question and why Muslims appeal to it as a prophecy about Muhammad (peace be upon him). As shown above, the verse in Song of Songs 5 refers to a person who is described as “altogether lovely”. As Ruhl explains, the Hebrew word which is usually translated as “altogether lovely” (or “altogether desirable”) is “Muhammadim”. Noting the obvious “phonetic parallel” to the name “Muhammad”, Ruhl makes the following claim:
“[t]he argument is based off of a phonetic parallel in a different language that probably didn’t exist at the time. Any reading of the Song of Solomon would show that this is a stretch.”
So, Ruhl’s first objection is that this parallel “probably didn’t exist at the time”. No evidence is presented but he obviously expects us to take him at his word. But for now, let us indeed take him at his word and move on to the main objections.
Ruhl argues that when read in context, Song of Songs 5:16 cannot be interpreted as referring to Muhammad (peace be upon him). He appeals to the “first four chapters” as well as the “preceding verses” of chapter 5 and then credulously asks:
“[s]ee how ridiculous it sounds when you try to shoehorn Muhammad into this passage?”
Anyone who is familiar with Christian apologists and their appeals to alleged prophecies about Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Tanakh will find Ruhl’s statement rather ironic. The reason for this is that when they appeal to the Tanakh to find prophecies about Jesus, the Christians typically ignore the context! For example, as discussed in the article “The Gospel of Matthew and the Tanakh: An Analysis of Alleged Prophecies About Jesus” (see note #7), Christians point to Hosea 11:1, which talks about God’s “son” coming out of Egypt, which is an obvious reference to the Israelites being led out of slavery in Egypt, but which the Gospel of Matthew turned into a prophecy about Jesus! But when skeptics point to the context of the verse, the Christians either brush it aside or make an appeal to “typology”. Thus, they claim that even though Hosea 11 is talking about the nation of Israel, God’s specific act of bringing Israel out of Egypt “foreshadows” His act of bringing Jesus out of Egypt as a young boy. In other words, even though the context of Hosea 11:1 rules out any appeal to the Messiah, the verse still provides a “parallel” to him.
This apologetic excuse for quoting the Tanakh out of context naturally raises a serious question: if it is okay for Christians to appeal to “typology” and quote a verse out of its proper context, then why can’t Muslims do the same? In doing so, most of Ruhl’s objections to the Muslim appeal to Song of Songs 5:16 are removed, since his main premise is that the context does not fit!
Apparently realizing this conundrum, Ruhl posed a challenge to identify any “parallel” between Solomon (peace be upon him), who is alleged to have been the author of the Song of Songs, and Muhammad (peace be upon him). He claimed the following:
“[i]n Classical Islamic literature there is no typologies between Solomon and Muhammad. You claim that they are both Prophets. Okay, but where in Classical Islamic literature is this rich parallel that you find with Jesus and Israel in the NT, especially Revelation. I don’t see it in the Quran, Hadith, Sira, early Tafsir, etc. However, if you provide me evidence to the contrary, I will concede the point.”
So, the challenge is to provide an example of a “parallel” between Solomon and Muhammad (peace be upon them) from Islamic sources. This is, in fact, very easy to do. First and foremost, as Ruhl conceded, both Solomon and Muhammad (peace be upon him) are prophets in Islamic belief. That is the first and most important parallel.
A second parallel can be seen regarding the holiest site in Islam, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and the “Farthest Mosque” (Masjid al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem (which is situated on the site of the “Temple” of Solomon). In fact, according to an authentic hadith, both the Kaaba and the Masjid Al-Aqsa (or the Temple of Solomon) were originally built within 40 years of each other:
“Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which mosque was set up first on the earth? He said: Al-Masjid al-Haram (the sacred). I (again) said: Then which next? He said: It was the Masjid Aqsa. I (again) said: How long the space of time (between their setting up)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: It was forty years.”
Not surprisingly, Ruhl responded to this parallel by moving the goalpost. Upon realizing that there are indeed “parallels” between Solomon and Muhammad (peace be upon them) in Islamic sources, and instead of conceding the point as he originally said he would do, Ruhl decided to pose another challenge:
“[i]nteresting parallel with Solomon. Is there a quote from Muhammad that says the location of where this mosque is to be built is to be the temple mount? It was built there but did Muhammad specifically say the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? After all, if Umar just built it there because he liked the location or some other reason, Muhammad has no connection to the parallel. Muhammad had to specify the location.”
So, when one challenge was met, Ruhl changed gears and posed another challenge! Instead of “conceding” the point as he originally claimed, he did the exact opposite, which just goes to show that Christian apologists are hardly ever objective.
But this challenge can also be met rather easily. As I pointed out in my comment to Ruhl on “BloggingTheology”:
“[t]he phrase “farthest mosque” refers to Masjid Al-Aqsa, which is in Jerusalem. Muslims even prayed in the direction of Jerusalem until the Qiblah was changed to face towards Mecca. So there is another parallel for you.”
In addition, I referred Ruhl to another hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) specifically mentioned being brought to the site of the temple in Jerusalem during his miraculous night journey:
“I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of version. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets.”
But Ruhl was still not willing to concede the point. In typical apologetic fashion, he stated the following in response to my request for a concession:
“[t]he answer is no because the hadith says he went to the Temple. It could not have been Solomons [sic] temple as that was destroyed over a millennia before.”
But this only shows Ruhl’s own ignorance, since as I had already made clear in a previous comment to him, it is the site that is holy. The physical building need not be there. In fact, the Arabic word “masjid” simply means a “place of prostration”, not a “building of prostration”. And this is where it gets even more interesting, for we find that the Holy Quran specifically referred to Solomon’s temple as a “masjid”! In Surah Al-Isra, which is incidentally named after the Prophet’s “night journey” (Isra) to the “Farthest Mosque” in Jerusalem (!), Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) tells us about the destruction of Solomon’s temple, but refers to it as a “masjid” (emphasis ours):
“فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ الْآخِرَةِ لِيَسُوءُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا الْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَلِيُتَبِّرُوا مَا عَلَوْا تَتْبِيرًا”
Hence, the temple itself was also a “masjid”, but more specifically, it was simply a “place of prostration”, even after the building itself was destroyed. How many more amazing parallels can Ruhl possibly ask for?
In this article, we have analyzed the objections of Catholic apologist Mr. Allan Ruhl to the Muslim use of Song of Songs 5:16 as a possible prophecy about Muhammad (peace be upon him). We have seen that his objections are based mostly on appealing to the context of the Song of Songs, an approach which we have criticized as a double standard. Even when appealing to “typology”, Ruhl seemed unable to offer any substantive rebuttal, especially with regard to the “parallels” between Solomon and Muhammad (peace be upon them) in Islamic sources. When his request for evidence of such “parallels” was answered, he simply changed gears and demanded other evidence. This is typical behavior of subjective and biased Christian apologists. As Ruhl himself would put it:
“[i]t’s just one more example to show the bankruptcy of modern [Christian] apologists.”
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 New International Version.
 For example, Surah As-Saff, 61:6 states:
“And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “This is evident sorcery!”” (Yusuf Ali Translation).
 It is certainly possible that, despite the clear evidence of textual corruption in both the Tanakh and the New Testament, both books can still provide clues to the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, this article is not concerned with this topic, but rather is a response to the objections of Mr. Allan Ruhl, a Catholic apologist who operates the following blog: http://allanruhl.com/. So, this article is not attempting to defend the Muslim argument, or even to respond to the typical Christian responses, but to offer a rebuttal to Ruhl’s specific objections to the Song of Songs controversy. The rebuttal will cover Ruhl’s claims from his blog as well as some comments he made on brother Paul Williams’ “BloggingTheology” website:
 There are other verses as well. The following video by prominent Muslim apologist brother Zakir Hussain discusses these verses:
 For a discussion of Christian appeals to alleged prophecies in the Tanakh, see our article here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-gospel-of-matthew-and-tanakhic-prophecies-of-the-messiah/
 “Typology” is essentially “symbolism” but more specifically, is defined by Christians as:
“…a person or thing in the Old Testament which foreshadows a person or thing in the New Testament” (https://www.gotquestions.org/typology-Biblical.html).
 This is the argument that Ruhl made in a discussion with me on “BloggingTheology”. He claimed:
“[r]egarding Hosea, Christians have always understood that the first few Chapters in Matthew are written to show how Jesus parallels Israel and it was Israel that came out in Hosea so this is consistent with what Matthew is saying” (https://bloggingtheology.net/2017/08/12/prophecies-of-muhammad-peace-be-upon-him-in-the-bible-%e2%94%82-zakir-hussain/#comment-54359).
Of course, this appeal to an alleged “parallel” has some obvious flaws. First of all, the nation of Israel was brought out of Egypt to escape slavery, whereas Jesus (peace be upon him) actually was brought into Egypt to save him from Herod’s murderous plot and was only brought back once Herod had died. Where is the parallel other than the physical act of coming out of Egypt for different reasons? Second, the same Israel which is referred to as God’s “son” in Hosea 11:1 is criticized in the same chapter for its worship of idols such as Baal (Hosea 11:2)! Does that mean that Jesus (peace be upon him) also worshiped idols? Of course, the answer is no. So, the alleged “parallel” is actually much weaker than Christians make it out to be.
 Sahih Muslim, 4:1056.
Some Christian apologists have claimed that this hadith makes a historical error by stating that the time period between the building of the Kaaba in Mecca and the building of the temple in Jerusalem was only 40 years. However, what these apologists do not realize is that the hadith is referring to the original buildings themselves, which according to Islamic scholars, were built by Adam (peace be upon him) (http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Contrad/External/aqsa.html). In fact, this is yet another parallel between the two mosques, and thus between Solomon and Muhammad (peace be upon them)!
 Sahih Muslim 1:309.
Indeed, as the above article on the “Islamic-Awareness” website explains, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated that the whole Earth was a “masjid” and could serve as a place of prayer. The only places on the entire Earth that could not serve as a “place of prostration” were graveyards and restrooms. The specific hadith states:
“Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri narrated that: Allah’s Messenger said: “All of the earth is a Masjid except for the graveyard and the washroom”” (Tirmidhi, 1:2:317).
 Surah Al-Isra, 17:7.
Yusuf Ali translated the verse as:
“So when the second of the warnings came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to disfigure your faces, and to enter your Temple as they had entered it before, and to visit with destruction all that fell into their power.”