An “Illiterate Prophet” in Isaiah 29:11-13?
Zakir Naik likes to quote, in his words, “the book of Isaiah, chapter number 12, verse number 29”1 (actually, it is chapter 29, verse 12! ) as a prophecy of Muhammad in the Bible. As Dr Naik quotes it, it seems an impressive prophecy:
“the book is given to a prophet who is not learned”2
However if we actually open any Bible and look at this verse ourselves, we see first of all that Naik has deceptively inserted the word “prophet” which doesn’t appear in the original Hebrew text:
“…give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, ‘I cannot read'” (Isaiah 29:12)
Now if we look at the wider context, this verse is speaking of how the Israelites make lame excuses for ignoring Isaiah’s revelation. Here is the immediate context:
And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to the one who can read , saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read , saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Isaiah 29:11-13)
If this were a prophecy (which the wider context precludes), it could be fulfilled by every literate person (verse 11) and illiterate person (verse 12) on the planet throughout history! This passage is actually speaking about people who make lame excuses for not accepting `Īsāiah’s prophecies. It reflects rather poorly on Naik’s integrity that he would deliberately deceive his audience in this way.
- Dr Zakir Naik, Similarities between Islam and Christianity, Video recording.
- Dr Zakir Naik, Is Qur’an Gods Word? (a href=”www.irf.net/is_quran_gods_word_II.doc”> www.irf.net/is_quran_gods_word_II.doc), p.3.