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Aḥmad (Arabic: أحمد) is one of the best-known names of the Prophet Muhammad (s). It is mentioned in the Qur'an once as referring to the Prophet (s) in the Jesus's (a) words giving the glad tidings of a prophet appearing after him.


Under the Arabic grammar, "Ahmad" is a comparative or a superlative derived from the root, "h-m-d" (ح-م-د), which means "more praised" or "the most praised"[1] or from "hāmid" (حامد, a subject adjective) meaning "more admiring" or "the most admiring".

History of the Name, "Ahmad"

The word "Ahmad" is only used once in the Qur'an[2] to refer to the Prophet Muhammad (s), where the prophet Jesus (a) gives people the glad tidings of a prophet coming after him.

In some inscriptions found in Safa north of the Arabian Peninsula, names similar to "Ahmad" can be found. According to researchers, these are abbreviated forms of names combined with divine names.

It seems that since the middle of the 1st/7th century, it has been widely known that the Prophet (s) had more than one name, especially Ahmad. It is not improbable given the Quranic phrase, "his name is Ahmad".

Some scholars of the Islamic middle centuries had emphasized that nobody before the Prophet (s) was called "Ahmad". It was taken as a divine arrangement to prevent any confusion over the person whose prophethood was prognosticated by Jesus (a). There are people among pre-Islamic Arabs who were called "Ahmad". However, the name, "Ahmad", was not common among Muslims until the end of the 1st/7th century, unlike names with the same root such as "Muhammad", "Mahmud", and "Hamid".

Al-Waqidi has reported a case of naming as "Ahmad" in the middle of the 1st/7th century, which is highly doubtful. Among people who were born after Islam, Ahmad b. Amr b. Tamim, the father of Khalil b. Ahmad the well-known man of Arabic literature in the School of Basra (d. 170/786-7), is said to be the first person who was called "Ahmad".

Naming the Prophet (s) as "Ahmad"

Concerning the name, "Ahmad", being a proper name for the Prophet (s), there are hadiths according to which the Prophet (s) was named by a prominent member of his family. According to a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a), when the Prophet's (s) mother, Amina, was pregnant with him, a heavenly voice told her to call him "Ahmad".[3] According to a Shi'a hadith, the Prophet (s) was named "Ahmad" by his uncle, Abu Talib, nine days after his birth. He called him so because he was praised by residents of the sky and the Earth.[4]

With respect to whether or not "Ahmad" was temporally prior to "Muhammad", some biographers hold that the Prophet (s) was first named "Ahmad" and then "Muhammad". They believe that he was named "Ahmad" by Jesus (a) when he prognosticated his appearance.[5] However, others believe that the Prophet (s) was first named "Muhammad" in Torah and then "Ahmad" by Jesus and then "Muhammad" when he was born.[6]

Putting aside the historical approach and turning to the question of whether the properness of the Prophet's (s) names is relative given that some of them are descriptive, it should be noted that in some Islamic hadiths in which the two names, "Ahmad" and "Muhammad", are compared, it is emphasized that "Ahmad" is a comparative adjective. According to a hadith from the Prophet (s) himself, he was named "Muhammad" because he was praised on the Earth and he was named "Ahmad" because he was more praised in the heavens.[7]

Another comparative construal of the name, "Ahmad", is provided in a hadith from the Prophet (s) transmitted by 'Ali (a) and Ubayy b. Ka'b according to which one of the five privileges of the Prophet (s) over earlier prophets was that he was named "Ahmad".[8] There are similar hadiths transmitted by 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas, Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari, and Abu Hurayra in which the naming as "Ahmad" is replaced by another virtue.[9] Sometimes "Ahmad" and "Muhammad" are considered to be the only names of the Prophet (s). As an old example, one can refer to a hadith from 'Ali (a) according to which there were only five prophets with two names, the last of whom was our Prophet (s) who was named both "Muhammad" and "Ahmad".[10]

Referring to the Prophet (s) as "Ahmad" in Poems

In addition to hadiths, there are poems in the first decades of the 1st/7th century, such as Hassan b. Thabit,[11] Ibn Zab'ari,[12] Imri' al-Qays al-Kindi,[13] and Ka'b b. Malik,[14] in which the Prophet (s) is referred to as "Ahmad".[15]

Glad Tidings of the Appearance of Ahmad in Scriptures

The glad tidings of the appearance of Ahmad are cited, in addition to the Qur'an as quoting the prophet Jesus (a), in divine scriptures and the teachings of earlier prophets as well as many hadiths.

In the Qur'an

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ
وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ
فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
Qur'an 61:6

The only verse in which "Ahmad" is mentioned in the Qur'an is with regard to the glad tidings of his appearance given by Jesus (a). Jesus, the son of Mary, is quoted as saying "I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad."[16]

This glad tiding cited in the Qur'an has led many Muslim scholars, from the beginning of Islam, to find a trace of "Ahmad" in the New Testament. They said that there were passing mentions of "Ahmad" for the Prophet (s) in the Gospel.

In Hadiths

There are hadiths from the Prophet (s) transmitted by some of the Sahaba, such as 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas and Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari, according to which the Prophet (s) is referred to as "Muhammad" in the Qur'an, as "Ahmad" in the Gospel, and as "Ahbad" in the Torah.[17]

Sometimes it has been attempted to find the exact phrase of giving glad tidings of Ahmad (in Hebrew) in the New Testament. For example, in some long hadiths regarding Mubahala, phrases such as "giving glad tidings of Ahmad" have been transmitted from Najrani Christian scholars citing the fourth "miftah" (key), or as in some versions, "misbah" (light) of the Gospel (it might refer to the fourth text of the New Testament, the Gospel of John).[18] These hadiths might refer to the "glad tidings of "Paraclete" in the Gospel of John. However, the texts cited in these hadiths are not compatible with the one in the Gospel of John.

In the Torah

There was a well-known glad tiding among Muslims in the 1st/7th century attributed to the Torah which cannot be found in the known text of the Old Testament. In its Arabic phrase, it starts with what translates to "my selected servant who is not harsh and hard". In some hadiths, this "selected servant" is referred to as "Ahmad".[19]

In the Psalms of David and the Book of Isiah

There is a hadith from Wahab b. Muntabih, citing the glad tidings of the Prophet (s) as "Ahmad" from the prophet David's Zabur[20] (Zabur: Arabic name for the Psalms of David) and in other hadiths, from the Book of Isiah.[21]

In the Book of Habakkuk

The Book of Habakkuk is said to have given the glad tidings of Ahmad. There is a hadith transmitted by Nawfali from Imam al-Rida (a) in the 3rd/9th century which cites the Book of Habakkuk as saying: "God brought the guide from the Mount Paran and the heavens were filled with the praise of 'Ahmad' and his people".[22] There is a text in the Book of Habakkuk (3:3) which reads: "God came from Tayman and the Holy came from the Mount Paran, his glory covered the heavens and the Earth was filled with his praise". The word translated as "his glory" is an equivalent of the Hebrew word, "Huwu". The collection of numerous hadiths concerning the glad tidings of Ahmad in the writings and teachings of the People of the Book in Ibn Sa'd's al-Tabiqat[23] shows the significance of finding a trace of Ahmad in such writings for Muslim scholars in the 2nd/8th and perhaps 1st/7th centuries.

In the Gospel of John

The glad tidings in the Gospel of John about "Paraclete" being sent after Jesus is sometimes associated with the glad tidings of Ahmad. The word, "Paraclete", is a Greek word changed in Arabic as "Faraqlit" or "Baraqlit" meaning defender, deputy, or intercessor. In the Church culture, it is interpreted as "condoler" or "comforter".[24]

Muslim scholars in different centuries have sometimes pointed out that "Paraclete" is a distorted form of the Greek word, periklytos. However, their view lacks philological sophistication.[25] Periklytos literally means famed, great or prominent and was used in pre-Christian periods. It is held to be a translation of the Prophet's (s) name, "Muhammad" or "Ahamd".


  1. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Zād al-maʿād, vol. 1, p. 69, onward.
  2. Qur'an 61:6
  3. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kabīr, vol. 1, p. 61-64; Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 145.
  4. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 34.
  5. Suhaylī, al-Rawḍ al-anf, vol. 2, p. 153.
  6. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Jalāʾ al-ifḥām, p. 98 onward.
  7. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 2, p. 365; Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 34; Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ, vol. 1, p. 127-128; Ṣadūq, Maʿānī al-akhbār, p. 51-52; Mufīd, al-Ikhtiṣāṣ, p. 34.
  8. Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 1, 98, 158; Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 1, p. 70; Suyūṭī, al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 6, p. 214.
  9. Ṣadūq, al-Khiṣāl, vol. 1, p. 192; Muslim b. Ḥajjāj, al-Jāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ, p. 370-372.
  10. Bayhaqī, Dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, vol. 1, p. 159; Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 192.
  11. Ḥassān b. Thābit, Dīwān-i Ḥassān b. Thābit, vol. 1, p. 270.
  12. Ibn Ṭayfūr, Kitāb Baghdad, p. 53.
  13. Ibn Ḥabīb, Kitāb al-muḥabbar, p. 186.
  14. Ibn Ḥabīb, Kitāb al-muḥabbar, p. 272.
  15. Suhaylī, al-Rawḍ al-anf, vol. 2, p. 157.
  16. The Qur'an 61:6.
  17. Suyūṭī, al-Khaṣāʾiṣ al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 133; Ṣadūq, Maʿānī al-akhbār, p. 51.
  18. Mufīd, al-Ikhtiṣāṣ, p. 112-113; Ibn Ṭāwūs, Saʿd al-suʿūd, p. 91 onward; Ibn Ṭāwūs, Iqbāl al-aʿmāl, p. 509.
  19. Rāwandī, al-Kharāʾij wa l-jarāʾiḥ, vol. 1, p. 79-80; Ibn Shabbah, Tārīkh al-madīna, vol. 2, p. 634-635; Suhaylī, al-Rawḍ al-anf, vol. 2, p. 153; Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma, vol. 1, p. 7; Suyūṭī, al-Khaṣāʾiṣ al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 133.
  20. Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Dimashq, vol. 1, p. 503.
  21. Abū Ḥātam al-Rāzī, Aʿlām al-nubuwwa, p. 197.
  22. Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 134; Rāwandī, al-Kharāʾij wa l-jarāʾiḥ, vol. 1, p. 75; Abū Ḥātam al-Rāzī, Aʿlām al-nubuwwa, p. 197; Ibn Rabban al-Ṭabarī, al-Dīn wa al-dawla, p. 169; Karājakī, Kanz al-Fawāʾid, p. 91.
  23. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kabīr, vol. 1, p. 103-107.
  24. Ibn Qayyim, Hidāyat al-ḥayārī, p. 84.
  25. Montgomery Watt, His Name Is Ahmad, p. 113-114.


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