Do the Old Testament Prophets Pray Like Muslims?

In his recent debate with Dr. James White on the topic “Who Resembles Jesus; Muslims or Christians?” Adnan Rashid made a claim that the Islamic prayer mode which is bowing down was the practice of the prophets and that of the patriarchs in the Bible including Jesus. This argument is not new, many Muslims have claim that the Muslim mode of prayer is in the Bible and they quote Bible references to support this claim.

This claim of Adnan is false for obvious reasons. The Prophets in the Bible did indeed fell on their faces to the ground when either praying or worshiping, but that wasn’t the only form they assumed when engaging in this act, and in this article, we shall show forth an evidence for that.

I will also show that Jesus and his disciples did contrary to the claim of Adnan Rashid as well, but before doing that, let us take a look at the verses cited by Adnan for this claim;

“And he (Jesus) went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed…” (Matthew 26:39)

“And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship…” (Joshua 5:14)

“And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces…” (Numbers 20:6)

“And Abraham fell on his face…” (Genesis 17:3)

“…and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.” (Revelation 7:11)

“…then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6)

“…Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.” (1 Chronicles 21:16)

There is something worthy of note here, it seems to me that Adnan Rashid did not study this text carefully and just lifted it up from an Islamic website as seen here, be that as it may, I will proceed to show that the Old Testament prophet indeed worshipped and prayed in another form that is different from what Adnan claimed to be the standard.

We need to understand that Christians do not have issues with the mode of worship of the patriarchs, either by bowing down, kneeling or even standing, we accept them all so far they are doing this in reference to the one true God. With that said, we are absolutely fine with the verses Adnan brought forth above, but to claim that this is the standard is false and should be refuted.

We read in 2 Chronicles 6:13 how Solomon prayed during the temple dedication, clearly kneeling and spreading his hands towards heaven;

For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.

Now, does the fact that Solomon kneel down to pray here spreading his hands suggest that all other form of prayer expression is invalid? And if Muslims are saying that bowing down is the standard, what about this expression of Solomon as well?

Solomon was not the only one expressing a different form when praying, Daniel did the same as well, we read in Daniel 6:10

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Again, we see Daniel also assuming the form of kneeling down here and praying, the very same thing Solomon had done, and so we see that it is completely wrong, therefore the assertion of Adnan is nothing more than misleading.

Adnan quoted Genesis 17:3, where Abraham was said to have bow down and God talked to him, yet, I find it interesting that Adnan did not quote verse 17 of the same chapter, where Abraham was said to be bow down and laughed. We read;

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear

Do Muslims laugh when they bow down in prayer to Allah? Obviously not, this is a weak arguement for the Islamic form of prayer at the least. The Scriptures also records how that Hezekiah who was sick and dying faced his wall and prayed to God for mercy as documented in 2 King 20 v 1;

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

These examples above have practically shown that the prophets have assumed different form at will both in prayer and worship because it was not an issue and there wasn’t a “standard” as such as Adnan suggested, meaning they could at a point kneel down to pray and at other times decides to bow down to do the same. Having taken care of that, now, I will proceed to show how Jesus and his disciples also demonstrated the same.

We read in Luke 22:41 how Jesus went to a place to pray and instead of the bowing down that Adnan lay claim to, Jesus was said to have kneel down when praying, we read;

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

This does not only refute Adnan’s claim, it also shows that Adnan presented a false view of the biblical prophets and personage. In fact, many Muslims have only been told that the only form Jesus assumed was bowing down and they have not been shown verses like these for obvious reasons. Aside Jesus kneeling to pray, according to John 17:1, we are told that Jesus was standing and looking up into heaven while praying, which in itself is problematic to the Islamic practice of the form of prayer to be assumed.

While Christians could pray standing, sitting, bowing and even looking up to heavens, the Muslims have been forbidden to look up to heaven during prayers and their eyes could be snatched away!

We read this in the Hadith literature,, for instance, we read in Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 1044;

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) led his Companions in prayer one day. When he had finished prayer he turned to face the people and said: ‘What is wrong with some people that they lift their gaze to the heavens?’ He spoke severely concerning that: ‘They should certainly abstain from that or Allah will snatch away their sight.’”
We also read of the same narration of the danger of looking at the heavens while praying was repeated in Sunan Abi Dawud Book 2, Hadith 913, something Jesus did with no issue;
Anas b. Malik reported the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) assaying : What is the matter that people raise their (Upwards) in prayer. He then said sternly: They should stop doing that, otherwise their sight will be snatched away.

How about the followers of Jesus, did they also assume a different form of prayer as against what Adnan presented? Well, we found out that they did. For instance, the Apostle Peter was shown to have knelt down while praying, we read in Acts 9:40;

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Well, someone might ask, was Peter the only in this? Not really, Stephen, when dying did the same, we read in Acts 7 vs 60;

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Paul also serve as a reference here as well, we read in Acts 20:36;

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all

We read further in Acts 21:5;

And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

As we have seen so far, the prophets in the Old Testament did not just assume form to pray or worship, but used several as they deem fit, therefore, the case Adnan made that mode of prayer of the OT Prophets is Islam is false. I have also addressed the use of the Muslim of Nehemiah 8 to support the Islamic mode of Islam in one of my articles, you may wish to check it out here.