So . . . Was he or wasn’t he?

So . . . Was he or wasn’t he? November 22, 2017


Arabian Deseret Sands
A sand dune in Arabia     (Wikimedia Commons public domain)


Some additional notes:


So, the impatient reader is asking by now, just what are we to think of Muhammad? Was he a genuine prophet, or was he not? My answer to that is a clear and resolute “I don’t know.” Or perhaps a decisive “Yes and no.” Parley P. Pratt, who was enthusiastic in his praise of Muhammad and Islam, observed that the blessings of the priesthood were not intended to flow through the line of Ishmael, but rather through that of Isaac.

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac.[1]

Elder Pratt seems to have believed, therefore, that Muhammad was not, in the fullest sense of the word, a prophet of the living God.[2] Nevertheless, he felt, as I do, that Muhammad was absolutely sincere, and that he appears to have been an inspired instrument in the hands of God. This seems also to have been the position taken by the First Presidency, in a statement issued on 15 February 1978. That statement reads, in part, as follows:

The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Con­fucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.[3]

This is my view as well. (I’m always pleased when the First Presi­dency agrees with me.) If we can say that Martin Luther was inspired—and we do—I certainly believe that we can make the same statement about Muhammad. Whether we can consider him a full prophet is more doubtful. In the next chapter, I shall present clear rea­son to believe that, if the text of the Qur’an as we now have it actually goes back to Muhammad, which is likely, he was mistaken on certain issues too central to the gospel as it has been revealed to the Latter- day Saints for us to be able to endorse or accept him as a prophet in the fullest sense. But I would be quite willing to be shown otherwise.


[1] Genesis 17:19-21. The twelve princes are listed at Genesis 25:13-16.

[2] Journal of Discourses 3:40.

[3] A more complete text of this statement is printed as the frontispiece to Spencer J. Palmer, The Expanding Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978).



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