Many times when a Prophet arises, there are questions regarding the Prophet’s “pedigree” and from who or what school the Prophet obtained his learning. However, Allah doesn’t choose the person who has studied at the feet of the best teacher, or attended the best school to raise up into Prophethood. For His strength and glory are shown most by those who give Him all the glory, and don’t attribute their spiritual wisdom to their own scholarly pursuits (which is much more limited than the wisdom that comes down from Allah).
There is an incredible story in the New Testament in Luke 2:41–52 about Jesus at the age of twelve already showing advanced spiritual wisdom. Jesus and his parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover and when on the return journey after traveling for about one day, Jesus was discovered missing from the caravan of relatives and friends. Subsequently, they frantically returned to Jerusalem to look for Jesus and did not find him for three days. Biblical Archaeologists have estimated the population of Jerusalem during this time period to be at least 40,000 which would increase significantly during Festivals. So, it is understandable it took his parents, friends and relatives, three days to find the lost Jesus. Imagine their amazement when they find him in the temple courts, sitting among teachers, listening to them and asking questions. Scripture reports that “everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Jesus’ parents were greatly perplexed that he would so easily disregard his duty towards his parents by not caring if they knew his whereabouts or not. His mother asks him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” He cryptically responds, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” At this time, his parents didn’t understand his response, but scripture states, “his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Imagine Jesus wandering over to the temple courts, and was so entranced with the scholarly debates going on he lost all track of time. In fact, he stayed at the temple courts for three days, most likely sleeping on the courtyard rough stones. His desire for spiritual learning was so strong, he couldn’t tear himself away. His intellect was lighting up, and he fully understands for the first time in his young life that he was home in the temple, he was meant to be a Rabbi, and Allah’s purpose was beginning to rise like a burning flame in his heart. A young 12 year old boy from Nazareth revealing himself to be spiritually gifted — that is a young boy who has not studied under any famous Rabbis, or attended any prestigious schools. Where did his wisdom and knowledge come from? Let’s look at Psalms for the answer: Psalm 139 is attributed to David, who initially was the shepherd of his father, Jesse, and the youngest of Jesse’s seven sons. David was later anointed by the Prophet Samuel as Allah’s chosen to become King. A prophecy concerning the coming Messiah by Isaiah (11:1-3):
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
David exclaims that God created him and his purpose was ordained before he was even a fetus in his mother’s womb. In Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Jesus, we see that the Messiah’s wisdom, understanding, counsel,and knowledge all come from the Spirit of God. From these two scriptures, we can determine that God’s purpose for Jesus was determined before he was born such that Jesus ability to discern spiritual truth was God creating his intellect and blessing Jesus later with His Holy Spirit.
When Jesus began his ministry, many questioned his background (John 1):
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe[b] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”
And in John 7:52: “They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”
Obviously, members of the Judean elite were not impressed with Jesus’ humble origins. How could a Prophet come from such a backward rural place?
Did Jesus attribute his impressive spiritual knowledge and wisdom to himself? Not at any point in the gospels does he attribute any knowledge or wisdom to himself. In fact, in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus tells her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” And, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again [the water in the well]; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Jesus is referring to the spiritual wisdom and knowledge that comes from the Spirit of God.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), before be given revelations from the Archangel Gabriel, would frequently leave his community to stay in a wilderness cave for several days at a time to reflect and meditate. What was he thinking? I’m guessing Allah had created an intellect prone to understanding spiritual truths within Muhammad, which is why Muhammad went to a cave away from the busyness of his life to think and reflect. Understanding spiritual truths requires a readied intellect (which is a brain that has advanced frontal lobe development and heightened intuition) which has the Allah given ability to make connections for discernment of spiritual truths.
Additionally, Muhammad couldn’t read, but the very first thing Gabriel commands Muhammad to do is “read.” Gabriel then helps Muhammad to understand that he is to recite the revelations being given to him so others may write down his recitations. Muhammad was not a learned scholar, but was given great spiritual knowledge directly from Allah via the Archangel Gabriel. Much has been written (especially in hadiths), regarding the Prophet’s wisdom, good character and ability to handle people with kindness and love. These are traits that were innately created by Allah within the Prophet, and were obviously not learned through scholarly study. However, just like almost every prophet before him, Muhammad was questioned, mocked and disbelieved regarding the spiritual knowledge he imparted in the Qur’an.
The Apostle Paul provides a deeper understanding to the wisdom and knowledge that comes from God in his Epistle (letter) to the church in Corinth:
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teach of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom…”
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him….Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:20–22, 26–29, 31)
Think not that any person can deny spiritual wisdom from a person Allah has called because they didn’t attend the right school, have the right teachers, or come from wealth or status. Those who Allah calls are created and blessed with his spiritual knowledge and wisdom which is not human understanding, but heavenly understanding. Allah wills, what He wills, and doesn’t choose a person based on our limited human understanding.
Allah creates a bridge between heaven and earth via his messengers. John 1:51:
“He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open,and the angels of God ascending and descending on’the Son of Man.”