Why do Jews not Believe
in the Prophet Muhammad?
Firstly, as explained HERE, it is important to understand that for Jews to “believe in a prophet” is directly connected to “following his message”. It is impossible to believe in a prophet and at the same time reject his words. So, if Jews would believe in the prophet Muhammad, they would need to practice the words of the Qur’an as well. Is that what God would want from them?
If we compare the Torah with the Qur’an, the Torah clearly addresses the Children of Israel specifically, as it says: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel, and command them…” Likewise it seems clear that the Qur’an is specifically meant for the Arabic people, the Children of Abraham’s son Ishmael, the cousins of the Jews, as it says: “We brought it down in an Arabic reading, so that you might understand” (Surah 12, vs. 2); “This [Qur’an] is in a clear, Arabic language” (Surah 16, 103). This means that it was meant for the Arabs, who were the only ones that understood it clearly.
According to the Torah, Jews are obligated to live by the laws of the Covenant of Sinai, which includes all commandments of the Torah (Shabbat, Kashrut, Jewish Holidays, etc.). But according to the Torah, the Children of Ishmael (the Arabic people) do not have to do all these things. They are bound only by the laws of Noah and additionally, as they are children of Abraham, also by the precept of circumcision, a commandment that God gave our father Abraham to be kept by all his descendants (Genesis 17, 10-13). Of course, Jews must fulfill these same laws as well, but in addition they are obligated to keep a large number of additional ones.
It has been acknowledged by many Jewish scholars and rabbis that through the mission of Muhammad, the Arabs, the sons of Abraham, who had fallen into the darkness of paganism and idol worship, were brought back to a pure belief in God, to monotheism, and to keeping the rules which God had given to the children of Noah and Abraham, as the Torah describes it, something that Judaism believes is very important.
However, Jews believe that a prophet who contradicts the Torah is not a true prophet. Does that apply to Mohammed? Even though it may seem that Mohammed’s prophecies contradict the Torah (for instance the Qur’an allows the consumption of camel meat), still, this does not need to be a contradiction if we accept that these verses are only meant for non-Jews. Furthermore, it is very meaningful that the Qur’an stresses the importance for Jews to keep Shabbat and acknowledges the relation between God and the Jewish people: “And We told them: Do not transgress the Shabbat, and We made with them a solid covenant”. Would the Quran command the Jews to leave the covenant that God made with them at Mount Sinai, that would absolutely disqualify the Quran and the prophethood of Muhammad.
However, there are ḥadîths which relay that a group of Jews had accepted Muhammad as a prophet and asked permission to continue their observance of the Shabbat. According to this report, Muhammad forbade them to keep observing the Shabbat. If this is true, then that seems to mean that Muhammad was a false prophet. However, there are two other ways to explain this conundrum.
The first is that, as not every ḥadîth is reliable, possibly this may be an unreliable ḥadîth. As a second explanation, even if Muhammad’s words spoken as a human and mortal statesman are wrong (or even bad), that does not necessarily dismiss his prophetic words, recorded in the Quran, as divinely inspired. However, in the light of the Torah, to command a Jew to stop observing Shabbat is a grave sin. As a result, accepting Muhammad as a true prophet who nonetheless commanded Jews to violate Shabbat, must necessarily imply a rejection of the notion of `iṣma (infallibility), a concept that Jews don’t have anyway.
In short: Does Judaism necessarily reject Muhammad? The guidelines that Jews were given to test if someone is a true prophet are only applicable for Jewish prophets. Therefore, Judaism cannot have an official position whether perhaps Mohammed was a true prophet, sent to other people. We cannot accept him as a prophet for us, but neither can we, with full certainty, condemn him as a false prophet sent to other nations.
For most Jews, the prospect of accepting Muhammad as a prophet for other nations while at the same time perceiving him as a grave sinner (telling Jews to abandon Shabbat) is not an attractive one and brings no benefits. Such a form of acceptance would certainly not bring closeness between Jews and Muslims. Therefore, most Jews have always kept silent on the question if Muhammad was a prophet. As they have their Torah and their prophets, and their divine covenant with God, it is not up to them to know and confess which prophets God sent to other nations. As far as the prophethood of Muhammad is concerned, God knows.
May our faith in God inspire us all towards mutual respect, brotherly love and cooperation towards world peace and justice, with God’s help, Amen.
 In a great many places. See e.g. Leviticus 18:2 and Numbers 15:38
 There are different opinions on what these laws exactly are, but the majority opinion is that they include: (1) not to worship idols, (2) not to murder, (3) not to steal, (4) not to commit sexual immorality, (5) not to curse or insult God Almighty, (6) not to torture animals, (7) to abide by the established laws of the country and to have a just court system. The Torah also mentions the prohibition to consume blood.
 Even though it is true that the Torah commands circumcision for the Children of Abraham on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, which is not generally done by Muslims. However circumcision at a later time is still considered valid.
 For this reason, many Jews conclude that Muhammad cannot be a true prophet.
 Surah 6, 144
 Surah 4, 154
 For instance, the non-Jewish prophet Balaam spoke words of God, while he is nonetheless known to have been an evil person (rasha`) largely because he vented his anger by hitting his donkey.
 For instance, the Torah teaches that a prophet sent to the Jews, would have to be Jewish himself.
 Only few Rabbis have believed this to be the case, such as the Yemenite rabbi Nathan’el al-Fayyumi (1090-1165), author of “Bustan al-Uqul".