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The Quran suggests Muhammad is written about in what we have of the Torah and the Injeel in Quran 7:157 and other verses and hadiths.

Quran 7:157 "Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel..."

One of the prooftexts often provided is Deuteronomy 18:15-20.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 [Moses speaking to the Israelites]15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your midst, from your brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”

17 The Lord said to me [Moses]: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

What is the Islamic basis for understanding that a prophet "among your midst, among your brothers" could include the Ishmaelites as a possibility that would fulfill these verses?

An answer much more thorough than "because it doesn't exclude them explicitly" would be appreciated, as this is counter-intuitive. Additionally, the following data should be taken into consideration:

In the same speech of Moses speaking to the Israelites, "brothers" seems to be more definitely restricted to Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:1-2), as the "brothers" have an inheritance, yet the Ishmaelites have no mention of an "inheritance" in Scripture. Again, in Deuteronomy 17:14-15, "brothers" are only part of those entering the Promised Land, the "land that God is giving you," which the Ishmaelites had no place in. The Ishmaelites were geographically quite separated from the Israelite location, so "among your midst" additionally appears to, on the surface, restrict this prophet to be an Israelite. Finally, "brothers" as a familial term seems to also restrict the prophet to be an Israelite. The Israelites and Ishmaelites, at this point, had already been separated in geography and genealogy for over 400 years; while it may seem reasonable to apply the phrase to relatively close genealogical members (though this distance isn't applied in chapters 17-18 mentioned previously), it seems highly unusual to use this term for those separated by such a great blood-relationship distance, many generations ago.

So, really, to answer the main question as well as to address the all the data necessary, sub-questions would have to be answered (or counter-examples given):

  • What good reason do Muslims propose is there to change the scope of the phrase "brothers" to include the Ishmaelites when it is previously restricted to Israelites in 17:14-15 and 18:1-2?

  • What good reason do Muslims propose is there for "among your midst" to apply to a people group that seems to be not "among your midst"? (e.g. are there counter-examples in the Tanakh where "among your midst" also applies to two things geographically separated by many miles?)

I would really appreciate direction toward any Muslim scholarly literature that exists on the subject as well as any Muslim scholars familiar with Biblical Hebrew. A discussion of the use of the term "brothers" and "among your midst" specifically in the Tanakh seems warranted. I recall "brothers" is used at some point in Scripture, though not in the same context, of Esau's descendants, which would still be Isaac's descendant. I welcome answers that dispute with any of the claims throughout this question. Let's leave the proposed corruption of the Bible out of the scope of this question.

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    The Islamic basis is the Qur'an and there in Muslims are informed that the Torah and Bible are corrupt. There are even works that show changes in these scripture after the time of Muhammad. So based on that "among your midst" can be a change in scripture! – Medi1Saif Dec 11 '18 at 8:19
  • @Medi1Saif Can you provide references for these works? Additionally, are you aware of any works to show the change of "among your midst" in Scripture? (I still don't understand how that's reconciled with how Allah's words/revelation can't be changed in Q 6:34, 6:115, 10:64, 18:27, but that's a separate question that I'm sure has been addressed). – Alex Strasser Dec 11 '18 at 16:50
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The word "brothers" is used for relatives, for example Lot is called Abraham's brother in Genesis 14:14-16, although he was his nephew. Edomites are refered to brothers of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:7 and Numbers 20:14, although they are the children of Esau and not Jacob. Canaanites have been called brothers of the Israelites in Genesis 9:25, although their relationship goes back to Shem and Ham. Israelites are referred to as the brothers of the Ishmaelites in Genesis 25:18 and Genesis 16:12.

Brothers can also be used for fellow Israelites as demonstrated in your example, however just because it has been used for Israelites somewhere does not mean that it is restricted to them. The examples you have given are explicit, Deuteronomy 18:1 explicitly says Israel and is talking about a specific tribe, the Levites. Deuteronomy 17:15 explicitly excludes foreigners, whereas Deuteronomy 18:15,18 has no explicit restriction so the same can not be applied to it.

"among your midst" has been omitted from the repetition in 18:18 which quotes God's direct words. When Muhammad was sent, Israel was living in the Diaspora, with a number of tribes living in Medina where the Prophet migrated to and lived and preached among them with no geographical barrier.

Arguments may be made in favor of Ishmaelites:

  • In Deuteronomy 18:18 God is addressing Israelites and saying that He will raise a Prophet from "their brothers" ( אחיהם \ إخوانهم - ’ă·ḥê·hem ), using the third person plural pronoun. If this is addressed to all Israel, it excludes the Israelites themselves from it, as 'brothers of X' =\= X.

    It is different from "your brothers" ( אחיך / إخوتك - ’ā·ḥî·ḵā ) used in Deuteronomy 18:15, 17:15 and similar verses because there the second-person singular pronoun is used and is addressed to individual Israelites, so his brothers includes other Israelites.

  • Deuteronomy 18:18 describes the Prophet as similar to Moses

    I will set up a prophet for them from among their brothers, like you, and I will put My words into his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him.

    But Deuteronomy 34:10 excludes any Prophet similar to Moses from the Israelites:

    And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses

    On the other hand, Muhammad is not from the Israelites, and he is similar to Moses in many ways: He spoke with Allah directly during the Mi‘raj, he performed exodus\migration with his followers, he was given a book like the Torah and was given laws to follow, he led wars and overcame his adversaries, he rebuild the House of Allah - the Tabernacle etc.

  • Prophet Muhammad fits the description of the rest of the prophecy:

    1:1 In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

    96:1 Recite in the name of your Lord who created

    53:3-4 Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed,

    44:58 And indeed, We have eased the Qur'an in your tongue that they might be reminded.

    75:16-18 Move not your tongue with it, [O Muhammad], to hasten with recitation of the Qur'an. Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation.

  • Thanks for your detailed answer! One comment is that your first argument isn't correct: the Lord is not speaking to the Israelites, but to Moses. Verse 17 starts "The Lord said to me" not to "them" or "to Israel/Israelites." If God was speaking to the Israelites in verse 17, then that would directly contradict verse 15, where the second person pronoun is used in speaking to the Israelites. – Alex Strasser Dec 12 '18 at 1:15
  • Secondly, if Deuteronomy 34:10 excludes the prophet being among the Israelites, as you propose, then that would eliminate many prophets we both agree on as prophets, such as David, Solomon, Ezekiel, Isaiah, John, Jesus, and more. However, this verse doesn't eliminate them, because the verse says says there "has not" and "since that time", which means at the time of writing of Deuteronomy 34 there has not been another prophet in Israel since Moses. So, Deuteronomy 34 does not exclude prophets among the Israelites afterward. – Alex Strasser Dec 12 '18 at 1:19
  • @AlexStrasser Maybe I don't understand you fully, but this seems moot and the point still holds, Moses's brothers includes the Israelites, but "their brothers" excludes them as they = Israelites. Is "they" in Deut 18:18 limited to any particular sub-set of Israel? Deut 34:10 does not exclude any and all Prophets from Israel, just a Prophet like Moses. Otherwise Yusha bin Nun (Joshua) who (it is claimed) wrote 34:10 was also a Prophet, but he was not equal to Moses ... – Ryan Dec 12 '18 at 12:11
  • If the statement is only true until the time of writing then it is rather insignificant and even pointless, as it is part of the Torah, and no Prophet came between Moses and Joshua and no significant amount of time had passed. If it is valid until the advent of the Messiah (as is sometimes claimed), then this is an assertion that is not apparent from the text itself. On the other hand, the text itself specifies "in Israel", which leaves open for a Prophet to arise outside of Israel, makes it valid in its apparent words without external assertions. – Ryan Dec 12 '18 at 12:11
  • 18:15-16 is Moses addressing the Israelites, "from your brothers", and 18:17-20 is God speaking to Moses, not the Israelites, "among their brothers." "Your" and "their" would both be referring to the same people, the Israelites. You said, "In Deut 18:18 God is addressing Israelites" to say that "they" excludes Israelites. Does that make sense how that's not an accurate statement or conclusion? It says "The Lord said to me." – Alex Strasser Dec 12 '18 at 17:20

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