Waraqah Ibn Naufal
According to Islamic scholars and documents, Waraqah Ibn Naufal was a Christian Ebionites priest. He was the Bishop of Mecca. It is very crucial here to point out the relevance of the Ebionites (Hanif in Arabic) to the whole story of Islam. Ebionites are a Jewish Christian sect that appeared around 70 CE and were mainly a group of Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah but rejected any divine qualities attached to him. The Ebionites followed the Gospel of Matthew only. Some scholars and church historians regard the Ebionites as a group of Judaized Christians. In other words, for the Ebionites, exactly like Muslims, Jesus is the Messiah but not the Son of God. Nevertheless, they followed the Law of Moses (many of those commandments had been incorporated as principal doctrines of Islam). To be more specific, the Ebionites are defined as a sect stressing the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus, exactly like Islam. However, the Ebionites were regarded by both the majority of conventional Jews and mainstream gentile Christians as a heretical sect.
Therefore, Ebionite Waraqah Ibn Naufal decided to shed off the negative image and rejection of the Ebionites sect by crafting a new religion that would encompass Judaism and Christianity and accommodate for every one if possible. No wonder then that Islam appears in many ways entirely Jewish: No pork, Law of Moses is observed, women cover their hair, emphasizing male circumcision, following the dietary and health practices of the Jews and placing much emphasis on rituals such as ablution and fasting, etc. (just to name a few common practices in both Judaism and Islam). On the other hand, the similarity between Islam and Christianity is huge; Islam reveres Mary and Jesus and accepts Christianity as a religion and Jesus as the Messiah and as a Prophet; moreover, the Gospel of Matthew (which was exclusively followed by the Ebionites) and many of its themes and ideas had been selectively incorporated into the Quran. Many of the early short verses “revealed” or rather written by Waraqah Ibn Naufal in Mecca bear a striking similarity to the spirit of the Gospel of Matthew. On the other hand, both Judaism and Christianity revere Jerusalem (exactly as Islam does), and in that way, Waraqah Ibn Naufal wanted a mega religion that would take in (all meanings of “take in” are intended) everybody. He wanted to unite the two major religions – Judaism and Christianity – into one under a new banner and a new name. Basically, he wanted the Ebionites’ beliefs and doctrines to become “Islam.” Unsurprisingly, things did not work out the way he planned. So what was Waraqah Ibn Naufal’s original plan? And how he proceeded to implement it?