The High Rabbi represented the Jewish sect in the session which al-Ma'mūn prepared for testing the Imām.
The Imām asked him: "Shall you question me or shall I question you?"
"Rather I shall question you," replied the Rabbi, " and I shall not accept any proof from you except from the Torah, the Bible, Dāwud's Zabūr (David's Psalms), the scriptures of Ibrāhim and Mūsā."
The Imām agreed to this condition, saying: "Do not accept any proof from me except what the Torah says by the tongue of Mūsā, the Bible by the tongue of 'Īsā b. Maryam, and the Zabūr by the tongue of Dāwud, peace be on them."
Q1: "How can you prove the Prophethood of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family?"
Ans. 1: "He bore witness to the Prophethood of Mūsā b. 'Umrān, ' Īsa b. Maryam, and Dāwud, the vicegerent of Allah on earth."
The Rabbi asked the Imām to prove that, saying: "Provide evidence of the speech of Mūsā b. 'Umrān."
The Imām said: "Did you, Jew, know that Mūsā said to the children of Isrā'il: 'A prophet will come to you concerning him. Believe in him and hear from him?' Did you know that the prophet Isrā'il had brothers other than the sons of Ismā'il? Did you know the kinship between Isrā'il and Ismā'il and the lineage between them through Ibrāhim?"
The Rabbi admitted that, saying: "This is the speech of Mūsā, and we do not deny it."
"Did one of the brothers of the children of Isrā'il other than Mohammed come to you?"
"No," was the answer.
"Is this not correct in your view?"
"Yes," replied the Rabbi, "but I want you to make it correct from the Torah."
The Imām recited to him a verse from the Torah, saying: "Do you deny that the Torah says to you: 'The light came from Mount Sinā', shone for the people from Mount Sa'ir, and became public for us from Mount Fārān."
The Rabbi admitted these words (of the Imām), but he asked him to explain them to him, and he, peace be on him, said: "I will tell you bout them. As for his statement: 'The light came from Mount Sinā', it is the revelation of Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, which He sent down to Mūsā on Mount Sinā'. As for his statement: 'Shone for the people from Mount Sa'ir,' it is the mountain where Allah, the Great and Almighty, revealed to 'Īsā b. Maryam. As for his statement: ,Became public for us from Mount Fārān,' it is one of the mountains of Mecca, between which and us is a day or two-day-(journey).
"Sha'yā, the Prophet, said in the Torah concerning what you and your companions say: 'I have seen two riders to whom (He) illuminated earth. One of them was on (the back of) a donkey and the other was on (the back of) a camel.' Who is the Rider of the Donkey, and who is the Rider of the Camel?"
The Rabbi did not know that though it was in the Torah, so he asked the Imām to explain it to him, and he, peace be on him, said: "As for the Rider of the Donkey, he is 'Īsā; and as for the Rider of the Camel, he is Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family. Do you deny that this (statement) is not in the Torah?"
"No, I do not deny it," came the answer.
"Did you know Habqūq, the Prophet?" asked the Imām.
"Yes, I know him," was the answer.
The Imām, peace be on him, recited to him what was narrated on his authority, saying: "He said, and your Book says it: 'Allah, the Most High, brought the Bayān from Mount Fārān; the earth was full of the glorification of Ahmed and his community. He will carry his horses in the sea just as he will carry (them) on the land. He will brought us a new Book (i.e. the Qur'ān) after the destruction of Jerusalem. Did you know this (statement) and believe in it?"
The Rabbi admitted that. Then the Imām turned to him and gave to him another proof of the good news which had been mentioned in the Zabūr about the greatest Messenger, Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, saying: "Dāwud said in his Zabūr, and you read it: 'O Allah, send him who will establish the Sunna (practice) after the cessation (of the prophets).' Did you know that a prophet other than Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, established the Sunna after the cessation (of the prophets)?"
The High Rabbi dodged and denied the truth, saying: "This is the speech of Dāwud. We know it and do not deny it. However, he meant 'Īsā by that, and the cessation was before him!"
The Imām asked him: "Did you not know that 'Īsā endorsed the Sunna (practices) of the Torah until Allah lift him up to Himself. And in the Bible it has been written that Ibn al-Bārra (the son of the pious woman, i.e. 'Īsā) will go, and the Paraclete will come after him. It is he who will preserve the bonds, explain everything to you, and testify to my truth just as I testified for him. I have brought you the examples, and he will brought you the interpretations. Do you believe that this (statement) is in the Bible?"
"Yes," replied the Rabbi, "I do not deny it."
"I want to question you about your prophet Mūsā," demanded the Imām.
"Question," was the answer.
"What is the evidence for the Prophethood of Mūsā?" asked the Imām.
The Rabbi began producing evidence in support of the Prophethood of Mūsā, saying: "He brought what the prophets before him had not brought."
"Could you give me an example of what he brought?" asked the Imām.
The Rabbi replied: "He split the sea, turned the cane into a snake running, cleaved the stones so that springs gushed forth from them, took out his hand shinning white for the onlookers, and other signs the like of which the creature are unable to bring."
The Imām confirmed his statement, saying: "You are right; they are proof of his Prophethood. He brought the like of which the creatures were unable to bring. Is it obligatory on you to believe him who claims Prophethood and performs something which all creatures are unable to perform?"
The Jew denied the Imām's statement, saying: "No, because there is none like Mūsā, because of his position with his Lord and his nearness to Him. It is not incumbent on us to profess the Prophethood of him who claims it unless he brings us knowledge similar to that brought by Mūsā."
The Imām disproved the Jew's statement, saying: "Then how come you admit the prophet of the other prophets who preceded Mūsā who did not split the sea; nor did they cleave the stone so that twelve springs would gush forth from them; nor did they take their hands out shining white as Mūsā did; nor did they turn the rod into a snake running."
The Jew replied: "I told you that if they performed signs as evidence for their Prophethood all other creation were unable to perform, if they brought something the like of which Mūsā had brought or they followed what Mūsā had brought, then it is incumbent on us to believe them."
The Imām, peace be on him, disproved his argument, saying: "High Rabbi, what has prevented you from professing (the Prophethood of) 'Īsā b. Maryam who brought the dead to life, healed the blind and the leprous, determined out of dust like the form of a bird, then he breathed into it and it became bird with Allah's permission?"
The Jew dodged and said: "It is said that he did that, but we did not see it."
The Imām answered him with a conclusive argument, saying: "Did you see the signs which Mūsā performed? Weren't Mūsā's trustworthy companions who gave an account of that?"
"Yes," came the answer.
The Imām forced him (to admit that) through a decisive argument, and then he said: "In this manner the successive accounts about what 'Īsā b. Maryam had done also came to you. So why do you believe in Mūsā and do not believe in 'Īsā?"
The High Rabbi kept silent, and feebleness appeared on his face, for the Imām had closed before him all avenues of argument and established a decisive proof against him. The Imām, peace be on him, added: "Such is the matter of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, what he brought, and every prophet whom Allah sent. Among his (Mohammed's) signs are: He was a poor orphan and wage shepherd. He did not learn (reading and writing); nor did he studied under a teacher. Then he brought the Qur'ān in which are the stories of the prophets, peace be on them, and their accounts letter for letter, and which reports about the bygone (communities) and those who will remain until the Day of Resurrection. Then it gives accounts of their secrets and what they did in their houses; therein are many verses (in this connection)."
The Rabbi interrupted the Imām's speech, saying: "Neither the account about 'Īsā nor the one about Mohammed is correct with us, and it is not permissible to admit (their Prophethood) through what is not correct (with us)."
The Imām, peace be on him, confuted the Jew's speech, saying: "Is the witness who testified 'Īsā and Mohammed false?"
The High Rabbi kept silent and looked for a vague error in order to back his groundless viewpoints.