Did Muhammad Exist? Yes He Did

life of muhammadThe following is a chapter from my upcoming book The Life of Muhammad.  In this book I show how the western Islamisists of the 19th, 20th and even 21st century have failed to truely understand this man.  Some, like Watt and Goldziher have praised him and some deny his existence.  This chapter dispels the myths of the latter and shows the source of their confusion.

In recent decades quite a few scholars of Islam have raised the doubt that Muhammad may have not been a historic figure.  As Ahmad Fareed, points out, “This critical approach to Islamic historiography emerged gradually in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was, understandably, only a matter of time before Albert Schweitzer’s “quest of the historical Christ” would be appropriated by scholars of Islamic history in their search of the demythologized Muhammad; after all, this kind of appropriation of the analytical tools indigenous to studies of Christianity for the unraveling of the Islamic historical experience has become almost a convention in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Yet the entire process is, I believe, fraught with questionable hypotheses, broad generalizations and a certain disregard for the spatio-temporal factors that shape ostensibly similar events. The application of New Testament heuristic tools such as Form and Redaction criticism to the corpus of information pertaining to the sira seems to betray a casual disregard for the Sitz im Leben of that very corpus. The life and work of Jesus is clearly different from that of Muhammad; the former’s mission — if it can be described as such — is, for example, singularly devoid of the political and socio-economic objectives that informed that of the latter. It is, therefore, hardly surprising, as F. E. Peters in his recent article “The Quest of the Historical Muhammad” points out, that “Even though a great deal of effort has been invested in research into the life and times of Muhammad, the results do not seem at comparable to those achieved in research on Jesus, and the reasons are not at all clear.”[1]

The reasoning for the argument for the non-existence of Muhammad revolves around the fact that the earliest biographies that have survived of him were written more than a century after his death in 632 A.D. and that no other source outside Islamic sources mention the existence of an Arabian prophet in the seventh century. A question that has been raised, notably by Yehuda D. Nevo and Judith Koren, is why the name of Muhammad has not been found on Arabic coins and inscriptions and in papyri and other documentary evidence prior to 680s.

Patricia Crone writes. “There is no doubt that Muhammad existed, occasional attempts to deny it notwithstanding. His neighbors in Byzantine Syria got to hear of him within two years of his death at the latest; a Greek text written during the Arab invasion of Syria between 632 and 634 mentions that “a false prophet has appeared among the Saracens” and dismisses him as an impostor on the ground that prophets do not come “with sword and chariot.” It thus conveys the impression that he was actually leading the invasions. If such a revised date is accurate, the evidence of the Greek text would mean that Muhammad is the only founder of a world religion who is attested in a contemporary source. But in any case, this source gives us pretty irrefutable evidence that he was an historical figure. Moreover, an Armenian document probably written shortly after 661 identifies him by name and gives a recognizable account of his monotheist preaching.”[2]

Crone does not believe in the history of Muhammad as reported by Ibn Ishaq. She believes Islam did not originate in Mecca, but somewhere in Southern Syria, because, as she says, “the Quran twice describes its opponents as living in the site of a vanished nation, that is to say a town destroyed by God for its sins. There were many such ruined sites in northwest Arabia. The prophet frequently tells his opponents to consider their significance and on one occasion remarks, with reference to the remains of Lot’s people, that ‘you pass by them in the morning and in the evening.’ This takes us to somewhere in the Dead Sea region. …  The only way in which one can pass by a place in the morning and the evening is evidently by living somewhere in the vicinity.”[3]

This is not enough evidence to re-write the history of Islam. The explanation to what Muhammad said in Quran (37: 136-137) can be much simpler than the drastic conclusion that Crone arrives at.   “You pass by them in the morning and in the evening” is a figurative way of speech. It means “frequently.”  Misunderstandings like this can arise when we study cultures and languages that are alien to us. Figurative speech exists in all languages. If I say, “don’t shout; the entire world is hearing you,” I don’t mean all the seven billion people on the planet.

Assuming Muhammad was speaking in a literal sense and he was alluding to some ruins that were on the way of his audience to the market, (that is the only way they could pass by it every morning and evening) — let us say he thought those ruins belong to Lot’s people.  Isn’t it more logical to attribute this error to his ignorance?

Muhammad also thought Moses was the maternal uncle of Jesus. When a group of Christians from Najran came to Medina to visit him, he told them that they should convert. Then, to impress them with his knowledge of Christianity, Ibn Ishaq says, “he mentioned the affair of ‘Imran’s wife and how she said: ‘My Lord, I vow to Thee what is in my womb as a consecrated offering,’ i.e. I have vowed him and made him entirely devoted to God’s service subservient to no worldly interest. ‘Accept (him) from me. And when she was delivered of him she said: O my Lord, I have given birth to a female— and Allah knew best of what she was delivered—and the male is not as the female,’ i.e. the two were not the same when I vowed her to thee as a consecrated offering. ‘I have called her Mary and I put her in Thy keeping and her offspring from Satan the damned.’ God said: ‘And her Lord accepted her with kindly acceptance and made her grow up to a goodly growth and made Zachariah her guardian’ after her father and mother were dead.’(3:35-37)

Imran is the father of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. According to the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions the father of Mary is Joachim. There is a gap of 1500 years between these two biblical figures. Muhammad confused Mary with Miriam because both names in Arabic are pronounced Maryam. He repeats this mistake in two more places in the Quran. In 66:12 “And Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran” and in 19:28 “O sister of Aaron.” Shall we rewrite the history of Judaism and Christianity to justify Muhammad errors?

Muslim scholars were aware of this error and did their best to whitewash it. The commentator of the Quran, ibn Kathir, in his Tafsir says, “O sister of Harun”, means “O one resembling Harun (Aaron) in worship.”

However, sura Imran has a lot more details about Mary that not even Ibn Kathir, with his absurd explanation can resolve. In this sura Muhammad says that when Imran, the alleged father of Mary died, Zachariah, father of (Yahya) John became her guardian, by throwing arrows (a sort of divination, like throwing coins). But because of a draught and famine that stoked the land, Zachariah could no longer keep Mary, and Jurayj the ascetic was her guardian, also through divination. It is possible that Muhammad was mixing the story of Mary with another story.  In any case this is not the story of Mary.

Muhammad claimed that the Ka’ba was built by Abraham. Is there any truth to this claim? He was wrong on many accounts. We can’t rewrite the history to make it coincide with Muhammad’s errors.

Crone rejects the Sira in its entirety. She asserts, “One can either take the Sira or leave it, but one cannot work with it.”[4] The problem is that if we leave the Sira, we are left with nothing, but conjectures and speculation, which leads to absurd conclusions such as those arrived by her.

The tribe of Quraysh is mentioned in the Quran and there is even a sura named after it. We know the Quraysh lived in Mecca. Crone ignores this obvious evidence and arrives at strange conclusions because she wants to interpret a figurative speech literally.

Crone argues that Mecca was not on the incense route from Syria to Yemen and therefor not an important commercial hub, as Muslim historians have reported. “It is obvious that if the Meccans had been middlemen in a long-distance trade of the kind described in (traditional Islamic) literature,” she says, “there ought to have been some mention of it in the writings of their customers… who wrote extensively about the south Arabians who supplied them with aromatics. Despite the considerable attention paid to Arabian affairs there is no mention at all of Quraysh (the tribe of Mohammed) and their trading center (Mecca), be it in the Greek, Latin, Syraic, Aramaic, Coptic, or other literature composed outside Arabia .”[5]

Let us agree with Crone for the sake of argument. Why should such a minor discovery lead to the assumption that everything the Sira says about Muhammad is false? Let us assume that Muslim historians have exaggerated the greatness of Mecca. This does not justify rejecting the entire history of Islam.

Mecca was not on the rout from Syria to Yemen and not of much importance to non-Arabs, but it was an important religious center for Arabs. Anywhere there is a religious center of this importance, commerce follows. Today, people embellish their towns to attract tourists. In the past they built temples to attract pilgrims.

Most Arabs led nomadic life. Each tribe had their patron god, an intercessor between them and the crator of the universe.  Despite Muslims propaganda, Arabs prior to Islam were not polytheist. They believed in Oneness of God and the minor deities were no more than intercessors between them and Him, much like saints in Catholicism.  In the words of Ibn Hisham, “Thus, Kinana and Quraysh used the pilgrim cry: ‘At Thy service, O Allah, at Thy service! At Thy service, Thou without an associate! But the associate Thou hast, Thou ownest him and what he owns.’ They used to acknowledge his unity in their cry and then include their idols with Allah, putting the ownership of them in His hand.”[6]

Muhammad did not do away with intercession. He claimed that position for himself and other chosen ones among believers.  In other words he occupied the thrones of the deities that he dethroned. [7]

These intercessors had their own temples, often a cubic building, scattered all over the country. The temple of Manat was on the seashore, between Medina and Mecca.  Arabs used to venerate her and sacrifice before her, in particular the inhabitants of Medina and Mecca and their vicinities.  Lat’s temple stood in Taif. She was a cubic rock and her custodians had built an edifice over her. All the Arabs were wont to venerate Lat. In Nakhlat Sha’miyah, to the right of the road from Mecca to Iraq there was a rock personifying the spirit of Uzza, the goddess of fertility. A house was built over her and people used to receive oracular communications. The Quraysh used to circumambulate the Ka’ba and say:

  • By Allat and al-‘Uzza,
  • And Manah, the third idol besides.
  • Verily they are the most exalted females,
  • Whose intercession is to be sought.[8]

There were many other temples. They attracted pilgrims and wealth. Mecca housed the biggest God Hubal, whom Arabs believed to be the maker of the universe and called him by his title al Lah (the God).  Jews and Christians also called their God by His title al Lah. This contributed to the confusion that they worshipped the same God. This is like confusing the president of USA and the president of Mexico because they are both called president.

Anyway, Mecca was an important city, even if it was not on the incense rout. As pilgrims came, they conducted commerce there. The tribal clans around Mecca also came to the town regularly to trade their leather and other pastoral products and buy goods that the Meccans imported from other countries. Mecca was unimpressive compared to cities outside Hijaz but it was the holy city and the most important commercial hub for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Bedouins.

“Mecca had,” says Aloys Sprenger, “at the time of Mohammad, about 12000 inhabitants.”[9] Sir William Muir says, “The trade of Mecca was large and profitable. From thence and from its sister city Taif, caravans proceeded in the autumn to the Yemen and Abyssinia and in spring to Syria. Leather, gums, frankincense, the precious metals, and other products of Arabia, formed the stables of export. The leather of Mecca, Taif and Yemen was in much demand both in Syria and Persia, and fetched a high price. Precious-goods, silk and articles of luxury were received in exchange at Gaza and other Syrian marts, and carried back to Mecca.” At least six such expeditions were sent to Syria each year. Sprenger calculated some of these caravans consisted of 2,000 camels, whose freight was valued at 50,000 dinars. Sprenger estimated that the annual export trade of Mecca was not less than 250,000 dinars and the return merchandise at the same amount. The dinar was a golden coin worth about two-third of a pound sterling.  (250,000 dinars is about 167,000 pounds of silver.) According to Muir, “Considering the high value in that age of the precious metals, the caravans at the figures mentioned in the text must have been rich indeed.”[10]

Apart from the tribes of Quraysh and Thaqif (inhabitants of Taif), several large tribes surrounding Mecca, such as the Hawazin, the Khuza’a, the Bani Sulaym, the Kinana and the Bani Kilab, came to Mecca for their commerce.

John Gilchrist writes, “In the sixth century after Christ, Mecca (pronounced Makkah in Arabic) was hardly known to the outside world but it was the commercial and religious centre of Arabia. Although the Arabs were a divided people, broken up into various tribes who were constantly at war with each other, the fairs at the city served to attract many of them and whatever unity existed among them was generated and expressed through these annual get-togethers. The focal point of attention was the Ka’ba (Arabic for “cube”), a shrine in the centre of the city containing over three hundred idols, chief of whom was the god Hubal (a probable derivation from the ancient high-god Baal, so often spoken of as the chief object of worship of the pagan nations around Israel in the Bible). The various tribes came to Mecca to worship their gods and take part in the various poetical contests that were arranged at the fairs. The composition of poetry was a favourite literary pastime of the Arabs and many shu’ara (poets, singular: sha’ir) competed at these contests” [11]

The arguments presented by the revisionists of Islamic history are weak at best. To answer them all, one has to write a dedicated book. This book is a biography of Muhammad. But it is worthwhile to debunk some of those claims briefly.

Al-Rawandi goes even one step further and denies the very existence of Muhammad. He believes Arabs began raiding and conquering first and later, decided to give their rule some divine legitimacy and hence invented Islam. He writes, “Once the Arabs had acquired an empire, a coherent religion was required in order to hold that empire together and legitimize their rule. In a process that involved a massive backreading of history, and in conformity to the available Jewish and Christian models, this meant they needed a revelation and a revealer — a Prophet — whose life could serve at once as a model for moral conduct and as a framework for the appearance of the revelation. Hence (Abu’l Kassim was selected to be the Prophet), the Koran, the Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet), and the Sira were contrived and conjoined over a period of a couple of centuries. Topographically, after a century or so of Judaeo-Moslem monotheism centered on Jerusalem, in order to make Islam distinctively Arab… an inner Arabian biography of Mecca, Medina, the Quraysh, the Prophet and his Hegira (flight from Mecca to Medina alleged in 622, Year One in the Islamic calendar) was created as a purely literary artifact. An artifact, moreover, based not on faithful memories of real events, but on the fertile imaginations of Arab storytellers elaborating from allusive references in Koranic texts, the canonical text of the Koran was not fixed for nearly two centuries.”[12]

Al-Rawandi concludes that Mohammed is a myth, a “baseless fiction.” Where is the basis of his “fact?” He bases his thesis on a very false assumption that rulers require a coherent religion to hold to power. Religion is often used as a means to come to power, but if these rulers had come to power by the sword, why would they need a religion that limited their own authority? Why would they want to submit themselves to the decrees of a bunch of clerics?  Once in power, the only thing that can help the ruler hold on to power is power itself.

One thing is to reject the authenticity of the stories reported in the Sira, on the ground that they are not fully documented or not reasonable. Another thing is to make up a fantastic fable as a substitute of what is being rejected.

Surprisingly, Crone and Al Rawandi are not alone. Several Islamicists reject the historicity of Muhammad. There is no doubt that the Sira contains many false stories, but to conclude that Muhammad did not exist or the truth about his life is  very different from what his biographers have recorded, is far less defensible than what the revisionists castoff. We should not expect objectivity from believers. Belief precludes objectivity. I fret when non-believers lose theirs.

Some of the arguments presented by the revisionists lack any credibility. Take the example of Christoph Luxenberg’s claim that the houris promised to the martyrs in the Quran are not virgins, but raisins.

Let us see what the Quran says.

  • Thus (shall it be), and We will wed them with houris pure, beautiful ones. (44:54)
  • Reclining on couches ranged in rows, we shall mate them with houris, most beautiful of eye. (52:20)
  • Houris guarded in pavilions. (55: 72)
  • And (there are) houris with wide, lovely eyes. (56: 22)
  • And with them shall be those (houris) who restrain the eyes.( 37:48)

If we accept Luxenberg’s translation of the word houri, these verses assure the martyrs that in paradise they will be wed to bashful and beautiful eyed raisins. Can anyone other than Luxenberg make sense of that?

Why was such a nonsensical argument taken seriously? All one has to do to see that this is an absurd argument is to read the verses.

Other arguments presented by the revisionists are not any stronger.

coins
These coins, for example, are used as evidence that Muhammad was unknown in the first century.  On them, there is a depiction of a sovereign holding a cross and an inscription in Arabic that reads Muhammad. The revisionists argue that since Muslims don’t believe Jesus was crucified, “They did not slay him, neither crucified him(4:157) why would a caliph allow a cross to be embossed on a coin? The well-known scholar Robert Spencer dismisses the possibility that perhaps this was a gesture of Islam’s tolerance, given that Christians overwhelmingly populated the domains of the new Arabian Empire.

He argues, “The most obvious explanation is that the ‘Muhammad’, to whom the coin refers is not the prophet of Islam. Alternatively, the figure on the coin could have evolved into the Muhammad of Islam but was not much like him at the time the coin was issued. Or it may be that the word muhammad is not a name at all but a title, meaning the ‘praised one’ or the ‘chosen one.’”

Spencer shows another coin, also from the time of Mu’awiya, in which the emperor (possibly Mu’awiya) is holding a cross with a crescent at the top of its vertical bar.

coins 1

Spencer asks, “Could this unusual design be a remnant of a long-forgotten synthesis? Or was it struck at a time when the distinction between Christianity and Arabic/Islamic monotheism was not as sharp as it eventually became? Whatever the case may be, it is hard to imagine that such a coin would have been minted at all had the dogmatic Islamic abhorrence of the cross been in place at the time, as one would expect if Islam had really burst from Arabia fully formed.” [13]

Another exhibit presented by Spencer is an inscription on a bath house in Gadara in Palestine, where Mua’wiyah is identified as “the servant of God, the leader of the protectors,” preceded by a cross. Spencer believes that it is not likely that a Muslim caliph would allow such a thing.

“Still more striking”, says Spencer, “is the identification on the bathhouse inscription of the year as “following the Arabs”—that is, the “era of the Arabs,” rather than the more expected “era of Islam” or “era after the Hijra.”[14]

He quotes Luxemburg who points out that the inscriptions inside the Dome of the Rock, completed in 691 is a mixture of Quranic verses and other writings. According to these scholars no true Muslim would commit such a sacrilege, and they even go as far as to suggest that the Dome of the Rock may have predated the Quran.

Spencer concludes that it is possible that the Dome of the Rock inscription may actually be a “surviving expression of the theology of a heretical Christian group that viewed Jesus solely as a divine messenger, not as the Son of God or Savior of the world.”[15] Such a heretical group is of course hypothetical. There is no record of any Christian sect with such views.

Other arguments presented raise similar questions. They all point to the fact that the first four Umayyad caliphs did not take Islam seriously.

These coins were minted during the caliphates of Mu’awiya and Yazid of the Umayyad dynasty. The Umayyad caliphs were not believers. Their religiosity was for show in order to hold to power. Abu Sufyan, Mu’awiya’s father, whose many relatives were killed by Muhammad, was a staunch enemy of Islam until he was forced to surrender and convert when Muhammad ambushed Mecca. It was either Islam or death. Did Abu Sufyan’s become a sincere believer under threat? He was an uncle of Uthman, and his sons came to power when Uthman became the caliph. They used Islam to cling to power, not because they believed in it.

Mu’awiya, who was appointed as the governor of Damascus by Uthman, after his death, waged a bloody war against Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, for the position of caliphate. His first wife, Maysum (Yazid’s mother) was a Christian and he was so tolerant towards the Christians that many Muslims thought his taxation of them was “unfair.” Arabs loathed agriculture and depended entirely on loot and jizyah for their sustenance. Under Mu’awiya, the non-Muslim population was given autonomy. Their judicial matters were dealt with in accordance with their own laws and by their own religious heads or their appointees.[16]

This was perhaps the only time that under a Muslim ruler the relations between the Muslims and the Christians were equitable. This was not because Mu’awiya believed that Islam is tolerant. He just did not believe in Islam. Ali Aldosari writes, “The Umayyads were involved in frequent battles with the Christian Byzantines without being concerned with protecting their rear in Syria, which had remained largely Christian like many other parts of the empire.  Prominent positions were held by Christians, some of whom belonged to families that had served in Byzantine governments. The employment of Christians was part of a broader policy of religious tolerance that was necessitated by the presence of large Christian populations in the conquered provinces, especially in Syria. This policy also boosted his popularity and solidified Syria as his power base.”[17]

Ibn Rushd, the great Muslim philosopher believed that Mu’awiya changed the caliphate into a kingdom. He wrote, “The conditions of Arabs during the time of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa Rashideen) was to the side of correctness just as Plato has described his government in his book, The Republic — a democratic government, to be a model for all governments. However, Mu’awiya demolished its great foundations. He turned it into a kingdom of Bani Umayyah and the power of their cruelty. In this way he opened avenues of mischiefs which continue to this day in our land of Andalusia.”[18]

Ibn Rushed shows his ignorance of democracy, a concept that was not yet developed at his time. Muslims have no understanding of democracy even now. In democracy, the power is vested on the people. People make the law and execute them, all citizens have equal rights irrespective of their belief or gender, and elections are secret. In Islam the law is given by Allah, elections are open, and the ruler is not accountable to people. And as long as he observes the sharia, he must be obeyed, even if he is unjust. In democracy elections are periodical. In Islam the tenure of the caliph is for life and only a Muslim can be the ruler in an Islamic majority country. Just because the caliphate is not hereditary, it does not mean it is democracy. However, Ibn Rushed was right in regards to Mu’awiya in converting the caliphate into monarchy.

With what we know about Mu’awiya and Yazid, the questions raised by the revisionists can be easily answered.  Mu’awiya’s primary concern was to build his empire, where most of his subjects were non-Muslims. By entrusting the administration of his domain to the Christians, it is clear that he trusted them more than he trusted Muslims, whose allegiance could shift to Ali and other contenders of the Caliphate. He however needed the Muslims for the expansion of his empire.

It is a mistake to assume that the early Muslims were motivated by faith. Apart from the companions of Muhammad, who attended his sermons in Medina, other Muslims had converted by force. They had no clue about Islam nor were they forced to observe it. It was enough for them to say the shahada (Islamic confession of faith, i.e. I testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger). This nominal conversion, made them exempt from paying the jizyah. However, they had to join the army or pay zakat to finance it. Many chose the former, as it was a quick way to get rich. The Christians and the Zoroastrians opted to pay the Jizyah. This was not an oppressive tax under Mu’awiya. Muhammad charged half of the income of the Jews of Khaybar and Fadak when he conquered these towns, but Mu’awiya knew that an oppressive tax will turn his subjects against him.

A hadith says that when Umar sent a Muslim army to Persia, “the representative of Khosrau came out with 40,000 warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, “Let one of you talk to me!” Al-Mughira replied, “Ask whatever you wish.” The other asked, “Who are you?” Al-Mughira replied, “We are some people from the Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous life. We used to suck the hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of fur of camels and hair of goats, and to worship trees and stones. While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says:– “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.”[19]

Arabs were warriors. They knew how to kill, plunder and rape. But they had no skills in administration. Michael Haag writes, “In the years following their conquests the Arabs could not have administered Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia or Egypt, and most importantly could not have collected taxes, without the services of experienced officials drawn from the local populations, which meant leaving Christian officials at their posts, just as Zoroastrians were left in place in Persia.”[20]

The second ruler of the Umayyad, Yazid, grew up in the desert among his Christian maternal uncles from Bani Kilab. Alaili says: “It is likely or almost certain that Yazid’s training was not purely Islamic; it was in other words, purely Christian because there is no doubt that his crimes, shamelessness and disregard for morals is seen to be absolutely un-Islamic and no one considered them to be having any connection with Islamic values or beliefs. Nothing else could be imagined.”[21]

For example, it is reported that he had dogs and loved to play with them. No real Muslim would do such thing. Yazid also loved drinking.  Among his poetic collections regarding wine is the following couplet:

  • I say to friends that have come together to drink and the singers and musicians are busy singing.
  • Take your shame from these bounties and enjoy yourself as howsoever anything may prolong it, it would come to an end at last.[22]

 

Independent Muslim poets have composed poetry ridiculing Yazid’s love of wine. Bolus Salamah says,

  • Be kind to this king as he has become attached to beautiful maids rather than Allah.
  • A thousand “Allaho Akbars” in the view of Yazid are not better than a single draught of wine.
  • Fresh grape juice boils in wine while no hand has touched it or pure water is mixed in it.”[23]

 

As for Yazid’s devotion to Muhammad, it is said that after he heard that his governor Ibn Ziyad had killed Hussein ibn Ali, Muhammad’s grandson in Karbila, he rejoiced and recited the following couplet.

  • “If only my ancestors who died in Badr, had been alive and seen how their opponents (Muhammad’s family) were suppressed, they would have screamed in joy: O Yazid! May your hands never tire!
  • We have killed their leader and in this way took revenge of Badr. And I won’t be eligible to be called the descendant of the fighters of the Ditch (Khandaq) if I had failed to take revenge from Muhammad and his relatives.”[24]

 

Yazid also ordered his supporters to slaughter as many of the companions of Muhammad in Medina as they could, for three consecutive days.

The coins in the pictures above, display a man holding a cross, the word Muhammad in Arabic, and ankh,  ankh the Egyptian symbol of life. There should be no surprise that Mu’awiya and Yazid were still using coins with cross and even ankh on them. The majority of their subjects were Christian, and obviously there were still some who believed in the ancient Egyptian religion. Mu’awiya’s intent was to portray himself as the emperor of all his subjects.

It was Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, the fifth Umayyad caliph, who changed the official language of Egypt into Arabic, and for the first time the coinages which had continued to bear Christian and Zoroastrian symbols were replaced by redesigned pieces, inscribed in Arabic with the profession of Faith.

Was Abdul Malik a devout Muslim? Not necessarily. His rule was challenged by Abdullah ibn Zubayr, a son of Muhammad’s cousin and a grandson of Abu Bakr, certainly of a more respectable lineage than that of Abd al Malik, who accused the Umayyads of not being true Muslims. Ibn Zubayr had gained the allegiance of the Muslims in controlled Arabia, Iraq, and Iran and thus posed a threat to the Umayyad.  Abdul Malik had to restore the image of his family as devout Muslims or lose the caliphate. The historian Robert G. Hoyland believes that it was pressure from rebel factions that induced Abdul Malik and his successors to proclaim Islam publicly as the ideological basis of the Arab state. [25]

Hoyland remarks that this “would mean that the earliest attested Islamic profession comes from an opposition party. This is not implausible. That the revolt of Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr had religious implications is confirmed by a contemporary Christian source, which says of him that ‘he had come out of zeal for the house of God and he was full of threats against the Westerners, claiming that they were transgressors of the law.’”[26]

Islam has always been used as a tool to garner political support. In every conflict between Muslims, the leaders accuse their rivals as heretics and portray themselves as the defenders of Islam. All wars are jihad, even when waged against other Muslims.

Imam Suyuti’s hadith reporting Abdul Malik claims, “I have collected the Quran (jama’tul-Quran),” should therefore be seen as his boast to establish himself as a devout Muslim and legitimize his position. There is more evidence that suggests the Quran was collected during the caliphate of Uthman.

The Umayyad rulers were disinterested in Islam, until their rule was challenged. Then they became champions of defending Islam. The first caliph to mint coins bearing the inscription of “Muhammad is the messenger of God” was Ibn Zubayr. Abdul Malik could not be outperformed in his devotion to Islam, lest like his predecessors, he would be accused of not being a Muslim.

Uthman also appointed Abdullah ibn Sa‘d ibn Abi Sarḥ as the governor of Egypt. He was a scribe of Muhammad in Medina. Being more educated than his prophet, he often suggested a better way to compose the Quranic verses, and the prophet would gladly accept his suggestions. Realizing that Muhammad was making the whole thing up, Abdullah escaped to Mecca and told everyone about it.  When Muhammad raided Mecca, he promised general amnesty, if the city surrendered with no fight. Abu Sufyan, who was the leader of the town at that time, accepted the deal. But once in the city, Muhammad broke his promise and ordered ten persons to be put to death. Among them were two singing girls who used to sing satirical songs about him, and this Abdullah. Uthman who was Abdullah‘s foster brother, interceded and Abdullah escaped death.

With everything we know about Abdullah, I think it is fair to assume that he was not a sincere believer. Yet, once Uthman appointed him as the governor of Egypt, he attacked Tripoli and annexed it to the Islamic empire. Was this out of faith and love for Islam, or out of greed and lust for booty?

The Coptic historian and Bishop Severus of El Ashmunein (d. 987) wrote, Abdullah son of Sa’d brought over a large foreign entourage “and, as he was a lover of money, he collected wealth for himself in Egypt; and he was the first who built the Divan at Misr, and commanded that all the taxes of the country should be regulated there.”[27]

Abdullah ibn Sa’d was a real historic figure. He was a Meccan and related to the Umayyads, and he is mentioned in the Quran 6:93. “Who is more wicked than the man who invents a falsehood about God, or says: This was revealed to me’, when nothing was revealed to him? Or the man who says, ‘I can reveal the like of what God has revealed’?  If the Quran was composed during the caliphate of Abd al Malik, what was the point of this verse? Not even Uthman, who compiled the Quran and was Abdullah’s foster brother and very close to him, was able to get rid of this derogatory verse about him.

It is clear that it was not faith that motivated the early Muslim leaders and marauders, but the lust for power and the booty. The reason there was little mention of Muhammad during those early years of Islamic conquests, is because the rulers did not care about him. The desert dwelling Arabs had finally found a way to build an empire and to gain wealth. Islam was the means to power, not the goal.

The Umayyad caliphs could not care less about Islam, except for the fact that it gave them a pretext and zealot soldiers to build their empire. Even the Muslim raiders did not care about Islam. They too were motivated by the loot. Islam was a lucrative business for everyone. The early Muslims had been forced into accepting Islam. Their options were to die or join the bandits and enrich themselves — not a difficult choice, especially if you are a Pagan Arab.

“Flushed with success and delighted with the bounty spread around,” writes Muir, in regards to the conquest of the Persian army, “Khalid called his troops together and addressed them in these stirring words: ‘Ye see the riches of the land. Its paths drop fatness and plenty, so that food is scattered about, even as stones are in Arabia. “Were it but as a provision for this present life, and no holy war to wage, it were worth our while to fight for these fair fields and banish care and penury forever.’” Muir says, “Khalid here struck a chord at which every Bedouin heart leapt for joy. Now, also, the cunning device of the Quran, with respect to the other sex, began to tell. Persian ladies, both maids and matrons, ‘taken captive by the right hand,’ were forthwith, without stint of number, lawful to the conquerors’ embrace; and, in the enjoyment of this privilege, they were nothing loth to execute upon the heathen ‘the judgment written.’ Thus religious fanaticism was kindled by martial ardour, and both riveted by incentives irresistible to the Arab—fight and foray, the spoil of war, and captive charms.”[28]

As we can see the new converts were motivated by loot and not by religion. Only their subsequent generations were indoctrinated into Islam. This too was done so that the rulers cling to power.

Therefore, Muhammad existed and the main facts about his biography are true. He was just not that relevant. Muslims did not wage those wars for the love of Islam, but for the love of money and sex. The revisionists read the history correctly, but they interpret it incorrectly. It is true that the rulers used Islam for their political gain, but it is utterly untenable to say they invented it.

Spencer reasons, “If Abdul Malik built up the Islamic religion for political purposes, then the earlier silence from all quarters about Muhammad, Islam, and the Quran can be explained very simply: There was no reference to these things because Muhammad, Islam, and the Quran did not exist yet, or did so only in an inchoate state.”

If Abdul Malik built Islam up for political purposes, why would he cast his own ancestors in such a poor light as the arch-enemies of his made up prophet? This claim makes no sense. Just as we can debunk many of the claims made in the Sira about Muhammad, we can also debunk the claims of the revisionists under the light of reason.  The Umayyad used Islam to consolidate their power, just as all Muslim rulers do when their position is weakened. According to Quran 3:28, Muslims must not obey non-Muslim rulers. Muslim rulers will go through hoops to prove that they are Muslims in good standing and promoters of Islam. This however is for show.  A perfect example, are the Saudi rulers who openly toast Champain in International gatherings with their peers, while at the same time spend billions to build mosques and spread Islam throughout the world.

The Qibla of Umayyad Mosques

PetraAgreeing with Patricia Crone, Canadian historian Dan Gibson notes that prior to the coming to power of the Abbasid rulers who endorsed Mecca as the focal point of qibla, mosques faced Petra. So he concludes that Islam must have originated in Petra.

Petra lies in Jordan about 80 kilometers south of the Dead Sea. It came into prominence in the late first century BC through the success of the spice trade.  It flourished under Roman rule and by the mid-first century had witnessed rapid urbanization and became the seat of a Byzantine bishopric.  The newly excavated Petra church with its papyrus scrolls document this period, especially in the sixth century.

Among the rock-cut monuments is the great tomb or the Ad-Dayr (known also as ‘The Monastery’), which was modified into a church.

With the change of trade route, Petra however experienced decline and a devastating earthquake in 551 AD had a severe impact on the city. With the rise of Islam, Petra became a backwater community.

Gibson is surprised that Mecca is named only once in the Quran. Yet he is not surprised that Petra is not named at all. There is also a sura named after Quraish the tribe residing in Mecca.

So why many mosques build during the Umayyad rulers did not face Mecca? The reason is because the Umayyad had little control over that town.  First there was the rivalry and a war between Ali and Mu’awiya that ended with Ali’s assassination.

After the death of Mu’awiya, Abudullah Hussein ibn Ali and hen ibn Zubayr, both with strong supporters in Mecca challenged the rule of Mu’awiya’s son Yazid.  Yazid managed to kill Hussein and raided Medina. His army of 12000 Syrians massacred the men of that town, many of them companions of Muhammad, and raped their women. It is said that more than 800 babies were born as the result of that mass rape who did not know their father.

He then ordered the siege of Mecca and set Ka’ba on fire.  The siege lasted for a month and ended when the news of his death reached his army.

Yazid’s son was a minor and hence Zubayr claimed the caliphate for himself.  Meanwhile the leadership of the Umayyad clan shifted from the Sufyanid branch of the family to the Marwanid branch.

In 692, nine years after the death of Yazid Ibn Zubayr’s rise to power, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan laid a second siege on Mecca, killed his rival and asserted his rule throughout the Islamic world.  Being cut off from Mecca and Medina, for most of their rule, the Umayyads did their best to reduce the importance of these two towns.

The historian Ahmad ibn Abi Yaqub (Yaqubi d. 897 AD) in his Tarikh said that the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik built Dome of the Rock to divert the Hajj from Mecca to Jerusalem to outdo his rival Abdullah ibn Zubayr. He wrote:  “Abd al-Malik prevented the people of Sham (Syria) from the hajj and this is because Ibn Zubayr was taking the pledge of allegiance from the pilgrims. When Abd al-Malik had found out about this, he prevented them from setting out to Makkah. But the people protested and said: “Do you prevent us from doing the pilgrimage to the Sacred House of Allah while it is a duty from Allah upon us ?” He said: “Here is Ibn Shihabuddin al-Zuhri narrating to you that the Messenger of Allah said: “The caravans should not be set out except for three mosques, the Sacred Mosque, my present Mosque and the Mosque of Jerusalem” [which] stands for the Sacred Mosque for you. And here is the Rock on [which] it is narrated that the Prophet set his foot before ascending to the heavens, it stands for the Ka`bah. Then he built a Dome on the Rock, suspended silk curtains on it and appointed servants for it. And told the people to revolve around it like they revolve around the Ka`bah and so it was during the rule of Bani Umayyah.[[29]]

According to Goldziher, Abd al-Malik, by erecting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, intended to outsmart his rival Abdallah ibn Zubayr, who exploited the holiness of Mecca for his own political ends. Relying on al-Ya`qubi’s material Goldziher wrote, “When the Umayyad Caliph `Abd al-Malik wished the stop the pilgrimages to Mecca because he was worried lest his rival `Abd Allah ibn Zubayr should force the Syrians journeying to the holy places in Hijaz to pay him homage, he had to recourse to the expedient of the doctrine of the vicarious hajj to the Qubbat al-Sakhra in Jerusalem. He decreed that the obligatory circumambulation (tawaf) could take place at the sacred place in Jerusalem with the same validity as that around the Ka`ba ordained in Islamic Law. The pious theologian al-Zuhri was given the task of justifying this politically motivated reform of religious life by making up and spreading a saying traced back to the Prophet, according to which there are three mosques to which people may make pilgrimages: those in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.[[30]]

This claim is supported by the architecture of the Dome of the Rock. Mosques have typically rectangular plan, with a niche pointing to the Qibla, mimicking the first mosque built by Muhammad in Medina.  They are clearly designed for the assemblage of the worshippers. The plan of the mosque in Jerusalem has no apparent utilitarian purpose. It is octagonal, which suggests that the focal point of the prayer is the rock in the center of the building.

Dome_of_the_Rock_Floor_planThe Dome of the Rock borrows the architecture of funerary structures of the late Roman Empire such as the tomb of Diocletian in Spalato and the Santa Constanza in Rome, which became a common form for baptisteries all over the Christian world. The shape uses as template many existing buildings that already existed in Jerusalem, namely, the rotunda around the Holy Sepulchre, the octagonal Church of Ascension on the Mount of Olives and the Tomb of the Virgin in the Kedron Valley. Similar structures were scattered across Palestine, such as the archbishop’s palace in Bosra, the Church of the Virgin on Mount Geirizim and a recently discovered octagonal church in Caesarea.

According to Julian Raby, the Dome of the Rock embodies the dual principles of stasis and dynamis: the obvious uniformity of its structure presents stability while the octagonal ambulatories suggest a radiating movement; coupled with this duality of fixity and dynamism, the dome and the rock over which it sits, anchor the building thus creating a vertical axis.[31]

Another early historian, Eutychius, an orthodox patriarch of Alexandria (877- 940 AD) said the plan of the temple in Jerusalem with the two ambulatories around the rock itself, originated with the liturgical requirements of tawaf (circumambulation).[32]

In his 2003 article “Archaeology and the history of Early Islam,” Jeremy Johns presents evidence for Mu‘awiya’s goal to establish of a monarchy with its administrative capital in Damascus and its spiritual capital in Jerusalem.  Mu‘awiya  was the first ruler who introduced his name and the title amir al-mu’minin on coins, official documents and monumental architectural inscriptions.

A passage in The Maronite Chronicles written by Syrian Christian Maronites in the middle of the 7th century clarifies the reason why Mu’awiya felt compelled to engrave the cross on his coins as well as his disregard for Islam.

“AG 971 [660] many Arabs gathered at Jerusalem and made Mu’awiya king and he went up and sat down on Golgotha; he prayed there and went to Gethsemane and went down to the tomb of the blessed Mary to pray in it. In July of the same year the emirs and many Arabs gathered and gave their allegiance to Mu’awiya. Then an order went out that he should be proclaimed king in all the villages and cities of his dominion and that they should make acclamations and invocations to him. Mu’awiya also minted gold and silver, but it was not accepted because there was no cross on it. Furthermore Mu’awiya did not wear a crown like other kings in the world. He placed his throne in Damascus and refused to go to Muhammad’s throne.”

Despite his disregard for Islam, Mu’awiya adopted Islamic ethos whenever it suited him.  The same chronicler says, AG 972 [661] … “When Mu’awiya had acquired the power to which he had aimed and was at peace from the wars of his people, he broke the pact with the Romans and refused to accept peace from them any longer. Rather he said, “If the Romans want peace, let them surrender their weapons and pay jizya”.

By early 7th century, when Islam originated, Petra had become an abandoned town.  Petra did not have any significance for Muslims while Jerusalem had been recognized as a sacred place. In all likelihood, the mosques that don’t face Mecca were built to face the Temple of Rock in Jerusalem.

 

Evidence of Existence of Muhammad in Islamic Texts

We don’t need more than the Islamic texts to know that Muhammad existed. The following are some of the reasons we find from these texts.

 

  • Muhammad’s Character

The biography of Muhammad is intricate. It contains many details, some of them embarrassing to Muslims. Attempts have been made to hide them, deny them, justify and rationalize them. Take the examples of the massacre of the Bani Qurayza, the episode of the Satanic verses, the story of Muhammad’s sexual vagary with his maid Mariyah, the quarrels between his wives and their rebellion against him, the accusations of adultery against Aisha and Mariyah, the story of him being under the influence of magic, and hallucinating of having sex with his wives, and countless stories that depict him as a crazy, ruthless, rapist, genocidal torturer. Why would anyone want to fabricate stories so demeaning to their prophet and embarrassing to them?

I already mentioned Ibn Hisham’s tampering the Sira. Guillaum, after comparing the various early biographies of Muhammad noted, “We cannot but suspect that I.H. has tampered with the evidence.”[33] Ibn Hisham makes no secret of the fact that he omitted some of the material Ibn Ishaq included that reflected negatively upon Muhammad’s character. Why was this flip-flopping necessary?

The original book written by Ibn Ishaq came in three large volumes. The first part, Mubtada or Mabda’ (the Beginning) began with the creation. It covered the stories of Adam and Eve and biblical prophets until Jesus. The second part was called Mab’ath and it covered the life of Muhammad from birth to the time he migrated to Medina.  The third part was known as Maghazi (raids) and it gave the details of Muhammad’s raids.

Ibn Hisham took pain in shrinking the size of Ibn Ishaq’s massive volumes in one volume just over 420,000 words, perhaps reducing it to half of its original size. If one wants to invent a religion why would he need to go through that much trouble and write such a massive book when one can easily write a small book the size of one of the Gospels?

 

2-  Diversity of Sources

The history of Islam is based on hundreds of thousands of short stories, narrated by early believers and transmitted through subsequent generations until they were collected and compiled by several collectors of hadiths (muhadith) in large volumes.  Ibn Ishaq was the first to put these hadiths in a chronological order to compile a coherent biography.  This precludes the possibility of Muhammad being a fictitious character or drastically different from how he is portrayed.  A fictitious character can only be made by one person.  The hadiths come from thousands of narrators and while they vary in details, which is evidence of their authenticity, they are consistent.

For example, there are several hadiths reporting the massacre of Bani Qurayza, some put the number of men Muhammad beheaded at 600, others say they were 700, 800 and 900. While we may never know the exact number we can know for certainty that the story is true and he massacred hundreds of unarmed men.  Details change when stories pass from one person to another orally.

Because the history of Islam is based on the reports of thousands of narrators it is not logical to assume that all of these people confabulated to invent a fictitious character.  Who were these conspirators who invented Islam and how could they convince everyone to abandon their religion and believe in a prophet of whom they had never heard before?  Why did no one object to this history’s big fraud? Were all the scholars and historians part of this conspiracy?

 

Where these narrators also fictitious?  In that case why would the forger of Islam would invent contradictory hadiths?  This claim is beyond the pale of belief.

  • Out of Thin Air

We can question the validity of some of the stories and words attributed to Jesus, but can we deny his existence? The stories of religious figures can grow out of proportion. Believers are wont to fabricate miracles and ascribe supernatural attributes to a charismatic leader that they believe to be a prophet. However, a religion cannot be made out of nothing. There is always some truth even in the most fabulous myths. The 15th century Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia is the historic character behind the fable of Dracula, and the 4th century Saint Nicholas of Myra is the person who inspired the myth of Santa Clause. Did the conspirators invent the character of Muhammad out of nothing?

If it is hard to imagine that 12 men would conspire to fabricate a fictitious figure, and claim him to be the Messiah and then accept martyrdom for what they knew is a lie, it is even harder to believe that thousands of people conspired to fabricate Muhammad. Theories must make sense or they are absurdities. The theory that Jesus never existed doesn’t. The theory that Muhammad didn’t exist makes even less sense. Jesus was survived by 12 disciples; Muhammad was survived by thousands. Their names, their genealogy and their relationship with each other and with their descendants who were actual historic figures are recorded.

The major books on the life of Muhammad were compiled over a century after his death. However, the people mentioned in the biographies of Muhammad were not unknown to those who read about them. A large number of the believers were second and third generation descendants of the companions of Muhammad and each had heard several stories about him from their fathers and grandfathers. Ibn Ishaq compiled those stories in his trilogy. It is impossible for someone to make up a story of this magnitude and manage to fool millions without anyone raising an eyebrow and objecting to it.  Were there no historians in the 8th century Arabia to call this bluff? And did everyone abandon their ancestral religion peacefully and accepted a fake one just because their ruler said so?

 

4 –  The Earliest Sources About Muhammad

Robert Spencer argues, “No biographical sketches of Muhammad exist that do not depend on Ibn Ishaq. If an analysis of Ibn Ishaq’s book establishes that for whatever reason it cannot be seen as a historical source, all knowledge we possess about Muhammad evaporates.”[34]

It is not true that the entire history of Islam rests on the Sira of Ibn Ishaq. The following are the most prominent collectors of hadith that predate him and bits and pieces of their texts have survived. The books of hadith are based on these sources and not on the Sira of Ibn Ishaq.

Sahl ibn Abī Ḥathma (d. in Mu’awiya’s reign, 41-60 AH), was a young companion of Muhammad. Parts of his writings on Maghazi are preserved in the Ansāb of al-Baladhuri, the abaqāt of Ibn Sa’d, and the works of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari and al-Waqidi.

Abdullah ibn Abbas (d. 78 AH), a cousin and a companion of Muhammad, his traditions are found in various works of Hadith and Sira.

Saīd ibn Sa’d ibn Ubada al-Khazraji, another young companion, his writings have survived in the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal and Abī ʿIwāna, and the Tarikh of al-Tabari.

Saīd ibn al-Masib al-Makhzumi (d. 94 AH), a famous Tabi’i and one of the teachers of al-Zuhri. His traditions are quoted in the Six Major Hadith Collections, and in the Sīra works of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, and others.

Abu Fiḍala Abdullah ibn Ka’b ibn Malik al-Ansari (d. 97 AH), his traditions were mentioned in Ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari.

Abban ibn Uthman ibn Affan (d. 101-105 AH). His traditions are transmitted through Malik ibn Anas in his Muwattaʾ, the abaqat of Ibn Sa’d, and in the histories of al-Tabari and al-Yaqubi.

Amir ibn Sharaḥil al-Sha’bi, (d. 103 AH). His traditions were transmitted through Abu Isḥāq al-Subai’i, Sa’id ibn Masruq al-Thawri, al-Amash, Qatada, Mujalid ibn Sa’id, and others.

These documents, although incomplete, are enough evidence that Muhammad was not invented in the second century AH.

Wahb ibn Munabbih’s collection of maghazi has also survived. Although it has nothing new that has not been reported by other traditionists, it proves that at the end of the first century, or some years before 100 AH, the main facts about Muhammad’s life were written down much as we have them in the later works.[35]

Another early traditionist whose partial work has survived is Musa ibn Uqba (55/675 -141/758). “This fragment consists of twenty extracts complete with their isnads, some being the sayings of the prophet on a given occasion, others being stories from his life. The collector expressly asserts that the original work existed in ten parts, so that the inference that the book once contained a complete account of the Sira seems fairly safe.”[36]

Ibn Ishaq’s great contribution was to collect the thousands of short stories and compile them in a chronological order.

 

  • The Quran Derives From the Bible

Another argument raised by the claimants of Muhammad’s non historicity, is that the Quran is constructed from already existing material mostly from Jewish and Christian traditions. Although this is to a great extent true, especially in the case of the Meccan verses, the Medinan verses are almost entirely about incidents that happened in the life of Muhammad. One cannot even make sense of them unless one is familiar with the stories behind them. Robert Spencer compares it to walking into a conversation between two people one doesn’t know, who are talking about incidents in which one was not involved, and they aren’t bothering to explain matters.

Doesn’t this prove that Muhammad existed and the main facts reported about him are true? The Quran is a conversation between Muhammad and his companions. If this book were written for a different people wouldn’t it include a context? Imagine a screenplay with only the dialogues. Without the actions you won’t be able to make sense of it. That is the feeling you get when you read the Quran. Why would anyone write such a book?  Only when the readers can watch the action being played, then the dialogues will make sense. The recipients of the Quran were themselves the players. They did not need to be told about context of the verses.

 

6-   The poor quality of the Quran

The Quran appears to be a collection of the utterances of someone unlettered. It is poorly written, extremely tedious and boring, and with no order. The pronouns are often not identified. The reader has to guess who is talking to whom. It contains all sorts of grammatical, logical, historical and mathematical errors. If Islam were invented to give someone’s rule legitimacy, as it is claimed, wouldn’t it be more rational to commission a learned person to write a more sensible and coherent holy book?

The Quran is full of contradictions and abrogated verses. Why was this necessary? What was the point of the story of satanic verses that only casts doubt on the Prophet’s truthfulness and sanity? Why is he portrayed as a rogue and mentally sick man and not as a holy man? If he is a fictitious person, why not give him the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Samson, the patience of Job, or the nobility of Jesus? Muhammad is bereft of any virtue to such extent that modern Muslims have to fabricate some stories to make him look good.

 

7-    Why A Villain Prophet? 

Despite so many claims of Muhammad’s greatness what is missing in the Sira are tales of his kindness and humanity. There is a story going on the Internet that says a Jew used to throw garbage at Muhammad when he passed in front of his home. For a few days there was no sign of him. Upon enquiring, the prophet was told that the Jew is sick. Thereupon he paid him a visit and showed him kindness.

No Jew lived in Mecca and with the terror that Muhammad had cast in Medina, such thing would have been impossible. Muhammad had no business to pass in front of the house of any Jew every day since he lived in his mosque and the Jews lived in their fortresses. The origin of this brand new hadith is in the stories attributed to Abdul Baha, the Center of the Covenant of the Bahai faith. It is said that while in exile in Akka, Abdul Baha had to pass in front of the house of an Arab who was wont of throwing garbage at him, and the rest of the story. The life of Muhammad is so devoid of goodness that Muslims resort to plagiarism to make him look good. Why invent a prophet and make him look like a villain?

The canonical books of Islam present Muhammad as a coward who instead of leading his followers in his battles he would stay behind, asking them to protect him like they would protect their women and children.

Despite so many miracles attributed to him in the Sira, according to the Quran, Muhammad could not perform any. He is extolled and panegyrized, eulogized and exalted, and yet, the stories about him betray him as a thug, a ruthless torturer, a violator of his words, a sexual pervert, and a violent man unable to control his rage and passion.  It makes no sense to fabricate a prophet and make him look so evil to such an extent that some historians felt the need to tamper with the history and hide the ugliest details of his life.

 

8-   The Enormous List of Protagonists

The biographies of Muhammad, generally give a long list of the first, second and third generation of believers, non-believers, friends and foes that played a role in the history of Islam. There are thousands of names with their short genealogy and they are all related to each other. In his Book of Grand Classifications (Kitab Tabaqat Al-Kobra) Ibn Sa’d has compiled short biographies of thousands of early believers, both men and women. What was the point of going through that much pain?

The story of Jesus in the Gospels is succinct and to the point. The central figure is flawless. The reader is not confused with contradictory stories such as those in the Quran, much of which don’t add any value to the claim that Muhammad was a prophet, and in fact disqualify him. Why the alleged forgers of Islam would make things so hard on themselves?

The biggest challenge that early Muslim historians were facing was to explain their prophet’s deviousness and find justification for his crimes. If he were a fictitious character why would they make up so many embarrassing stories about him and then try to whitewash them?

 

9-  Why Someone Else?

As per one hadith Muslims must obey their rulers even if they are unjust. No rebellion is allowed except in the case that the ruler is not a proper Muslim, in which case it becomes incumbent on the Muslims to remove him from the power. Why would a ruler invent a religion and give himself such a big Achilles’ heel?  Muslim rulers were constantly challenged on the account that they were not true Muslims.

The stories of Muhammad sometimes make sense and sometimes they don’t. The theories of those who deny his existence make absolutely no sense.

 

The Birmingham Quran: The Case Closed

Birmingham_Quran_manuscript

I wrote this chapter before the discovery of Birmingham Quran. This discovery makes this chapter redundant.

In 2015, Alba Fedeli, who was studying items in the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts for her PhD thesis on Early Quranic manuscripts, held in the Department of Special Collections of the University of Birmingham, found two leaves misidentified and bound with those of another seventh century Quranic manuscript. The Cadbury Research Library arranged for the manuscript to be radiocarbon dated, which showed the parchment dated to between AD 568 and 645, within a 95.4% confidence.

Now catalogued as Mingana 1572a, the folio size leaves are written on both sides using a monumental Arabic Hijazi script generously-scaled and legible. One two-page leaf contains verses 23–31 of Surah 18 (Al-Kahf) while the other leaf the final eight verses 91–98 of Surah 19 (Maryam) and the first 12 verses of Surah 20 (Ta-Ha), all in their present day sequence and conforming very closely to the standard text. The text is laid out in the format that was to become standard for complete Quran manuscripts, with chapter divisions indicated by a decorated line, and verse endings by intertextual clustered dots.

Muhammad lived from 570 to 632 AD and according to traditions it was during the caliphate of Uthman (644-656)   that the scattered verses of the Quran were compiled and canonized in the present version.

The carbo dating of the parchment folios strongly suggests that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of Muhammad or shortly afterwards. This means that the parts of the Qur’an that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death. They also reveal the text of the Quran has undergone little or no alteration since it was compiled by Uthman.

The discovery of that the Quranic text confirmed by radiocarbon dating suggesting that it has been written in the first decades of Islam and the fact that its text is substantially in conformity with the present day Quran should put an end to all revisionist theories about the origin of Islam and the historicity of its founder.

It should, but it doesn’t.   On 31 August 2015 OnlineMail.com published an article reflecting the views of several historians who said that since carbon dating establishes that the parchment of the Birmingham leaves can be dated between two years before the birth of Muhammad and 13 years after his death, it leaves the possibility that it predates the Prophet and therefore it “could even rewrite the early history of Islam.”

Robert Spencer wrote that the scholars are catching up to him who had already made such claim earlier.

He wrote, “Muhammad is supposed to have lived between 570 and 632, and as the Times says, to have received the Qur’anic “revelations” between 610 and 632. So if this fragment dates from between 568 and 645, it could just as easily be part of a pre-Islamic source of the Qur’an as of the Qur’an itself — particularly because suras 18-20, the portion covered in this fragment, contain a great deal of material derived from the Jewish and Christian traditions, and from other sources as well. This is an extraordinarily intriguing and important possibility, but the Times gives no hint of it whatsoever.”

Of course the Times does not have to make any mention of controversial and unproven theories. It is up to those who make such claims to prove their case. Raising the possibility that this parchment may predate Muhammad is not the same as proving it.

Spencer believes that the only thing it this discovery establishes “is that this portion of suras 18-20 existed near or during the time Muhammad is supposed to have lived.”  He argues that since manuscript skins were sometimes washed clean and reused later the parchment could have been reused, so that it dates from between 568 and 645 but the writing on it doesn’t.

So he makes two mutually exclusive theories. Either the suras 18-20 written on this parchment predate Muhammad or they were written after him. Only one of these theories can be true.

We can however discard the latter.  After Muhammad’s death, Muslims conquered and pillaged several wealthy nations and had built the most powerful and the riches empire of the seventh century.  For them, the Quran is the holiest book. They write it with the exquisite calligraphy and decorate it with gold. Most certainly they could afford using a new parchment for their most sacred book.

Also, parchments are made of skin and ink enters inside the cells. No amount of washing can remove the ink completely.  Try this at home.  The Birmingham Quran has no trace of a prior writing on it. And it also does not make sense that they would use a parchment that is decades old.

Spencer is however right in believing that the Quran contains a great deal of material derived from the Jewish and Christian traditions, and from other sources as well.  This does not prove that the Quarn predates Muhammad. It only proves that Muhammad quoted Biblical stories. We will discuss the influence of Christianity, Judaism and the religion of the Quraysh on Islam in the next chapter.

 

[1] Introduction to ibn Kathir’s Sirat al Nabawiyya, by Ahmad Fareed, v. 1, p. xix

[2] What do we actually know about Muhammad? By Patricia Crone, Article 10 June 2008

[3] Ibid

[4] 109 Ibn Rawandi. “Origins of Islam: A Critical Look at the Sources.” In The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited by Ibn Warraq, 89-126. New York: Prometheus Book, 2000, 92.

[5] Crone, P.M. Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Oxford, 1987. P. 134

[6] Ibn Hisham p. 30

[7] Quran 20:109, 9:85-87, 10:3, 2:255, 21:25-29, 34:23, 43:86 and 53:26, Bukhari,  2: 24: 553

[8] The Book of Idols (Kitab Al-Asnam) by Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi

[9] Aloys Sprenger, The Life of Muhammad from Original Sources p. 44

[10] Sir William Muir, The Life of Muhammad, p. 204

[11] John Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, p. 11; online edition

[12] Al-Rawandi, I.M. Origins of Islam: A Critical Look at the Sources. Prometheus, 2000 p. 104

[13] Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist? P. 46

[14] Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist? P. 47

[15] Ibid p. 56

[16] A Chronology Of Islamic History 570-1000 CE, By H.U. Rahman 1999 Page 128

[17] Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa By Ali Aldosari Page 185

[18] Faraj Antun, Ibne Rushd wa Falsafatihi, Pg. 60

[19] Bukhari 4: 53: 386

[20] The Tragedy of the Templars: The Rise and Fall of the Crusader States By Michael Haag Chapter 3 Palestine under the Umayyads and the Arab Tribe

[21] Sammawal Maani fi Samma waz Zaat, Pg. 60

[22] Tarikh-e Muzaffari, Pg. 215

[23] Mulhamatul Ghadeer, P. 237

[24] Tabaqat ash-Shura, P. 320 but he has quoted only two lines and Iqdul Farid 5/321

[25] Robert Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw it, p. 553.

[26]  Ibid p. 552

[27] History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria  (1904) Part 2: Peter I – Benjamin I (661 AD). Patrologia Orientalis 1 p. 501

[28] Annals of the Early Caliphs, Sir William Muir, p. 75

[29] Ahmad b. Abu Ya`qub Ibn Wadih al-Ya`qubi Persian V.2 p. 204-205. English: (Ed. M. T. Houtsma), Tarikh, 1883, Volume II, Leiden, p. 311.

[30] I. Goldziher (Ed. S. M. Stern), Muslim Studies (Muhammedanische Studien), 1971, Volume II, Atherton: New York and Aldine: Chicago, pp. 44-45

[31] Julian Raby, “Forward,” Bayt al-Maqdis: Abd al-Malik’s Jerusalem, Part One Ed. J. Raby and J. Johns

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), VII.)

[32]  K. A. C. Creswell, A Short Account Of Early Muslim Architecture, 1968, Librairie Du Liban, Beirut, pp. 17-18.

[32] A. Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs And Practices, 1990, Volume I (The Formative Period), Routledge: London & New York, pp. 53-54.

[32] J. van Ess, “`Abd al-Malik And The Dome Of The Rock: An Analysis Of Some Texts”, in J. Raby & J. Johns (Ed.), Bayt Al-Maqdis: `Abd al-Malik’s Jerusalem, 1992, Part 1, Oxford University Press: Oxford (UK), pp. 89-104.

[32] A. Elad, Medieval Jerusalem And Islamic Worship, 1995, E. J. Brill, Leiden, pp. 158-163.

[32] A. Elad, “Why Did `Abd al-Malik Build The Dome Of The Rock? A Re-Examination of Muslim Sources”, in J. Raby & J. Johns (Ed.), Bayt Al-Maqdis: `Abd al-Malik’s Jerusalem, 1992, Part 1, Oxford University Press: Oxford (UK), pp. 33-58.

 

[33] Ibn Ishaq. xlii

[34] Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist p. x

[35] Ibn Ishaq xv

[36] Guillaum, Ibn Ishaq. xliii

Ali Sina

Ali Sina is the author of Understanding Muhammad and Muslims.

41 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    The more interesting point about the debate raised by this article is this.
    The allegedly “moderate” Muslims are between a rock and a hard place.

    The rock is the theory that Muhammad didn’t exist. In that case their faith is founded on a complete fiction. In that case they have no rational reason to continue in it.

    The hard place is the alternative that he did. If he did then one has to accept the Islamic sources that describe his life. At best they describe a man who was mentally sick and deluded.

    There simply is no viable history that allows a rational moderate islam. If you disbelieve the information that tells you that he was a genocidal warlord then you are also forced to disbelieve the information that tells you he existed.

    In a sense it really doesn’t matter whether he existed. If he did then his character and actions tell you his revelations cannot be from God (by their fruits shall you know them). If he didn’t then the supposed revelations are invented by later authors – and therefore cannot be from God.

    Islam is false either way.

    Personally I tend to agree with Ali Sina that he did exist – but I do sometimes wonder if he was actually a single person. The Meccan and Medinan Koran are so different that it is hard to believe that they were written by the same hand.

  2. Richard says:

    @MES

    Sorry – I didn’t read the first bit of your comment properly – after that you did such a good job I thought it was for real!

    Well done!

  3. MES says:

    @Richard, I told it sarcastically. The point I wanted to make is muslims always blame their victims and justify their actions. Those who misbehave with women blame their dressing style isn’it? They -muslims are blinded by faith

  4. Richard says:

    @MES
    . Do you know the people of your Persia, Byzantine empire and parts of my India were oppressed by tyrannical rulers who taxed heavily?
    Who told you that?

    The main problem with the Persians and Byzantines was that they fought each other. In other ways they were the most advanced and civilised empires that had ever existed up to that time (perhaps along with the Chinese).

    Let me remind you of what patriarch Sophronius of Jerusasem said when the Muslim mob arrived there:

    “Why are the troops of the Saracens attacking us? Why has there been so much destruction and plunder? Why are there incessant outpourings of human blood? Why are the birds of the sky devouring human bodies?
    … the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets, overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn the sacred monasteries, ”

    Doesn’t sound much like “liberation” to me!

    Face it. Your prophet was a pirate. His followers were a bunch of brigands and everything they owned was stolen!

  5. MES says:

    @Ali Sina,
    Let me empathize with muslims and see things in their eyes. You know something, no matter how hard you criticize islam no problem because muslims will learn more and iman will get stronger. . Do you know the people of your Persia, Byzantine empire and parts of my India were oppressed by tyrannical rulers who taxed heavily? islam is a system of liberation. I will tell you an analogy for you to understand it better. I went to a house and it’s owner’s wife and children told me that this impotent man is oppressing them and even physically torturing his wife & children. They asked me to kill the owner of the house and liberate them. By Allah’s will I was able to kill him and then I took his wife and children home so that I can take good care of them just like I treat my other wives and children back home. verily Allah is most merciful and all knowing

    As a side note that disbelieving man will be sent to hell on day of judgment to rot eternally in hell fire

  6. Phoenix says:

    @Adapter Mangos(@TamIMisledUs)

    To be fair, you have not provided us with any counter factual arguments against the article. A refutation entails presenting evidence to disprove the oppositions arguments. You have not done this, you merely denigrate the article and the writer.

  7. Someone tweeted

    Jorge smith
    [email protected]

    @AliSinaOrg @TamIMisledUs @elmer_clark7 @BasimaFaysal @NavedAliOrg lol seriously do you understand what slavery and brainwashing is? Evolve.

    To which I replied ” Do you know me at all? Search my name.”

    This was not to brag about my importance as you imply but to show this person’s error.

    Anyway. I am done with you as I don’t like your tone. You accused me of self importance and that alone is enough for me to see you are not an honest person and are not after truth. I m not going to waste my time with people like you. Also all your so called arguments are no argument at all. You are merely an angry person with little knowledge and a gigantic ego which you project on others. Good bye.

  8. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    Never in my statements here have I been rude to you.

    I have been scathing about the lack of rigour which can be seen in your own statements. But that is criticism of your statements, not rudeness. In view of those unreliable statements, I have determined to treat you as an unreliable witness. That is not being rude either. That is just common sense.

    I did advise you to withdraw this book not to embarrass yourself. That could lead to undoing much of the good work you have done so far – so how could that be rude?

  9. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    “and that is why I ignore you.”

    Which provides a very good pretext for not having to deal with my criticism.

  10. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    “There is no arrogance in me while there is plenty in you…”

    By that, you mean that I have the temerity to call into question your dogmatic incoherent argument that mohammad did exist. Whether this is arrogance or not is irrelevant. What matters is not what/who I am. What matters is the strength of my arguments. Those arguments which you will seem willing try any ploy in order to mask your failure to address.

  11. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    “Obviously you thought I am a Muslim.”

    I don’t know how you came to that conclusion. There is not a shred of evidence to show it.
    But, that would seem to be “obviously” in the same way as in –
    “Obviously mohammad (the mohammad to be found in the muslim myths) existed”, when there is not a shred of evidence to prove that conclusion.

  12. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    “I asked you do you know who I am in response to you saying I have blind faith in Islam.”

    I have never once said you have blind faith in islam. My tweets imply the contrary. But then would be for you to take notice of the evidence, wouldn’t it?

  13. I asked you do you know who I am in response to you saying I have blind faith in Islam. Obviously you thought I am a Muslim. There is no arrogance in me while there is plenty in you and that is why I ignore you. It is my tradition to ignore arrogant rude people and have been doing so for the last 18-19 years.

  14. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    @AliSina
    The argument you present here for the existence of muhammad is deeply flawed.
    As you fail to answer any of my fundamental criticisms (yet one more sign of your arrogance?), there is no point in continuing here with yet more detailed criticisms.
    So I shall now be exposing the flaws in this article to a much wider audience.
    You should consider getting your publisher to pulp any copies of this book in order to avoid serious embarrassment to you, although this pre-release document may have let the djinn out of the bottle.

  15. Adapter Mangos (@TamIMisledUs) says:

    @AliSina
    As you created this mess of a chapter, it is not surprising that you fail to see its flaws, of which there are many.
    As I mentioned on twitter, in response to your arrogant authority ploy (“you know who I am?”), up until now I have name checked you as a brave ex-muslim with exceptional insight into the evil of islam,

    No more.

    This chapter of your book shows you to be an extremely unreliable witness. If there is some aspect where I find you to provide proper evidence of some key point, I will reference that. But before that I will make absolutely sure that I do not associate my good name with the kind of sloppy reasoning which you present here.

  16. Ali Sina says:

    @Guest

    The Quran 30:2-3 says “The Romans are vanquished, in a near land, and they, after being vanquished, shall overcome.” As it happened, in a war that took place between the Persians and the Romans, the latter had been defeated. A few years later (627 A.D), after Muhammad’s death, in another war, the Romans became victorious. As far as Muslims are concerned this is a clear case of prophecy that had come true.

    The Quran was compiled during the caliphate of Uthman (644-656), while the outcome of the wars between the Persians and the Romans had been decided a quarter of century earlier. Would Uthman or the editors of the Quran allow an incorrect statement in their holy book? What are the chances that Muhammad made no such prediction or what he said was wrong and his words were adjusted to reflect what had occurred? To allow a verse that would prove the Quran wrong meant the end of Islam. And knowing about Muslims proclivity to attribute miracles to their prophet it is almost certain that they would have not left Muhammad’s false predictions unchanged.

  17. guest says:

    @Ali, There is a Muslim who pretends that verse 30 :2 to 4 shows that Allah predicted that the Romans will defeat the Persians with few years. Thus The quoran is miraculous.
    Do you know of any concrete proof that these 3 verses are not miraculous? I could not find anything on the web yet.

    Thank you

  18. Muhamad Azizi says:

    Something miss in this article and it is the most thing which all the Muslims in the world ignore. I would like to mention it shortly to Muslims. All Muslims should know that during Muhammad time Arabia was getting two prophets : Muhammad with his Islam one side and prophet Musaylimah from Banu Hanifah other side; calling each other liar. Both claim having scripture. Situation push to the single bloody battle call Yamama battle. The winner will eliminate the loser. That day it was not forgiveness, no tolerance, no peace, no compassion, no humanism, no multicultural, no leave it to Allah do his work, no you with your own and me with mine own(Q:109). NO, NO, NO. It was just a bloody, ungodly, anti-believe, intolerant, anti-multicultural battle in all of his form and the group of Muhammad under Kalifa Abu- bakar won. This is the way brought Muhammad to you as prophet and Musaylimah was eliminated. An other way around Muhammad could be eliminated and Musaylimah could be your prophet today. Please Dr. Sina tell us more about prophet Musaylimah, he was getting his scripture with lot of followers, his biography please. He was calling Muhammad a liar.

  19. Steve says:

    @Phoenix “Also, why do you keep referring to Steve as Achmed? Do you guys know each other personally?” I guess this guy thinks that anybody who believes muhammed was a historical person and who does not buy into his conspiracy theory must be a Muslim.

  20. Steve says:

    tamimisledus

    “The hadith are rife with contradictions. There is a whole branch of islamic “study” which claims to sift out the “false” hadith from the “true” hadith. Not that, in any case, can any of them be independently proved to be true.” You obviously don’t know anything about how Muslim scholars collected Hadith and classified them. Read this article http://lostislamichistory.com/imam-al-bukhari-and-the-science-of-hadith/

    A few quotes “What makes Sahih al-Bukhari so unique was Imam al-Bukhari’s meticulous attention to detail when it came to the compilation of hadiths. He had far stricter rules than other hadith scholars for accepting a hadith as authentic. The chain of narrators for a particular hadith had to be verified as authentic and reliable before Imam al-Bukhari would include that hadith in his compilation. For example, the first hadith in the book begins:
    “We have heard from al-Humaydi Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr who said that he heard from Sufyan, who said he heard from Yahya ibn Sa’eed al-Ansari who said he was informed by Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Taymi that he heard ‘Alqama ibn Waqqas al-Laythi say that he heard ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab say on the sermon pulpit that he heard the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ say: ‘Actions are only by intentions…’”
    This chain of six narrators was meticulously inspected by Imam al-Bukhari. In order for him to consider the hadith authentic, he had to study the lives of all the people in the chain in depth. He studied where and when the narrators lived, in order to make sure that if someone narrates from someone else, they must both have been in the same place at the same time and have actually met and discussed hadith. Other hadith scholars did not all require evidence that two consecutive narrators met personally, but Imam al-Bukhari’s strict requirements is what makes his compilation unique.

    Imam al-Bukhari also studied the lives of narrators, to make sure they were trustworthy and would not fabricate, or change the wording of a hadith. If he discovered that someone in a chain openly sinned or was not considered trustworthy, that hadith was immediately discarded and not included in his book unless a stronger chain for it existed.

    Using his strict guidelines for hadith acceptance, Imam al-Bukhari was the first to make a systematic approach to classifying hadith. Each hadith he analyzed was labelled as either sahih (authentic), hasan (good), mutawatir (recurrent in many chains), ahad (solitary), da’eef (weak), or mawdu’ (fabricated). This system for hadith then became the standard by which all hadiths were classified by other hadith scholars.”

    “One of the common accusations made by non-Muslims against Islamic sciences and the study of hadith is that there is no way of verifying the hadith and that they should not be used as a source of belief or law. This argument is based on a very rudimentary and flawed understanding of how the hadith were collected and the incredible amount of effort scholars such as al-Bukhari put into verifying their authenticity. With the monumental work of al-Bukhari and other scholars of hadith, we have been able to know what words and actions can truly be attributed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ even 1400 years after his life.”

    These people devoted years of there lives studying this and going through thousands of Hadith are you expecting us to believe some rulers got together and fabricated every single one of these stories and all the narrators and all the sources listed? And managed to fool all these scholars and nobody suspected anything? This is one of the most wildest conspiracy theories I have ever heard.

  21. Ali Sina says:

    @Phoenix

    I have already made everything clear. Unless my arguments are refuted I see no reason to rehash them. Steve already summarized the main points for those who did not have time to read the entire article.

  22. Phoenix says:

    @tamimisledus

    Steve has provided some good rebuttals aginst your objections. Why not refute that while you wait for Ali Sina’s response.

    And don’t worry, he will respond. He’s not an elitist who believe blog commenters are beneath him and not worth his time and effort.

    Also, why do you keep referring to Steve as Achmed? Do you guys know each other personally?

  23. tamimisledus says:

    Achmed:

    Are you so ignorant, or are you just an out and out liar?

    The hadith are rife with contradictions. There is a whole branch of islamic “study” which claims to sift out the “false” hadith from the “true” hadith. Not that, in any case, can any of them be independently proved to be true.

    Dealing with you is just a waste of my time. You have absolutely nothing of value to add to this debate.

  24. Steve says:

    tamimisledus

    “Still wrong” That’s why you can’t show me one thing I was wrong about? It’s seems your main argument is this “As I have previously pointed out, in seeking to prove that muhammad existed, you cannot rely on the islamic texts which tell the supposed stories of muhammad.
    That is the equivalent of claiming that the content of the koran where *allah* “reveals” himself proves that *allah* made those “revelations” This argument might hold weight if these stories including claims of performing great miracles and such things. But they don’t “The biography of Muhammad is intricate. It contains many details, some of them embarrassing to Muslims. Attempts have been made to hide them, deny them, justify and rationalize them. Take the examples of the massacre of the Bani Qurayza, the episode of the Satanic verses, the story of Muhammad’s sexual vagary with his maid Mariyah, the quarrels between his wives and their rebellion against him, the accusations of adultery against Aisha and Mariyah, the story of him being under the influence of magic, and hallucinating of having sex with his wives, and countless stories that depict him as a crazy, ruthless, rapist, genocidal torturer. Why would anyone want to fabricate stories so demeaning to their prophet and embarrassing to them?” To add why are rulers going to bother making up stories like that and not instead claim he had the power to perform miracles and was full of humane qualities like mercy and compassion?

    Also note unlike the stories in the Christian bible which contradict each other and do not reference a single source the hadiths are consistent, attested to by multiple people and all list the source.

    It’s beyond me why people put so much energy into theories (conspiracy theory really) like this which most probably are not true anyway and would not make any practical difference even in the unlikely event that they are true.

  25. tamimisledus says:

    “We don’t need more than the Islamic texts to know that Muhammad existed.”
    Ali, how brazen can you get?
    We need a lot other than the islamic texts to know that muhammad existed.
    As I have previously pointed out, in seeking to prove that muhammad existed, you cannot rely on the islamic texts which tell the supposed stories of muhammad.
    That is the equivalent of claiming that the content of the koran where *allah* “reveals” himself proves that *allah* made those “revelations”.

  26. tamimisledus says:

    Achmed (Steve):

    Still wrong.
    You are making many of the same errors as Ali Sina. I will be dealing as I see fit with the errors made by Ali Sina.
    If after that I think it appropriate, I will deal with anything worthwhile you may have added to the debate.
    But I will not be doing that if you do not significantly improve the presentation of your arguments over your latest stream of consciousness.
    As part of that presentation, if you think that Ali Sina’s arguments need support, please present them to Ali Sina, not to me.

  27. Steve says:

    @tamimisledus
    “Steve: Reference my General observation regarding the use of the histories of muhammad.
    You are wrong.” You said “References to unproven texts (hadith, etc) do not count as proof.It is not enough to show that he could have existed.” I did not claim these *prove* his existence I said the data is best explained by the hypothesis that Muhammad was a historical person and not a myth made up by Arab imperialists.

    “Ali Sina cannot in any case use the history of muhammad to prove that muhummad existed.
    If we draw comparisons with science, it would be like assuming that the Ptolemaic system was true and use that to prove it was true.” I am not assuming he existed I am saying the data best fits with the hypothesis he existed.

    “What little “evidence” Sina has provided is insubstantial and is consistent with a whole series of equally viable hypotheses” Okay what other hypothesis do these facts fit 1) Muhammad’s character and embarrassing episodes in his life recorded. Why would a person inventing a perfect prophet invent these stories? 2- Out of thin air “Muhammad was survived by thousands. Their names, their genealogy and their relationship with each other and with their descendants who were actual historic figures are recorded.” Presumably all these people – his family members, his companions and there descendants was also made up as well? And then based on that Arab rulers fooled millions based on completely made up data? 4 – The Earliest Sources About Muhammad. 5 -The Quran Derives From the Bible “Although this is to a great extent true, especially in the case of the Meccan verses, the Medinan verses are almost entirely about incidents that happened in the life of Muhammad. One cannot even make sense of them unless one is familiar with the stories behind them.” 6- The poor quality of the Quran “If Islam were invented to give someone’s rule legitimacy, as it is claimed, wouldn’t it be more rational to commission a learned person to write a more sensible and coherent holy book?” 7- Why A Villain Prophet? “Despite so many claims of Muhammad’s greatness what is missing in the Sira are tales of his kindness and humanity” “Despite so many miracles attributed to him in the Sira, according to the Quran, Muhammad could not perform any. He is extolled and panegyrized, eulogized and exalted, and yet, the stories about him betray him as a thug, a ruthless torturer, a violator of his words, a sexual pervert, and a violent man unable to control his rage and passion. It makes no sense to fabricate a prophet and make him look so evil to such an extent that some historians felt the need to tamper with the history and hide the ugliest details of his life.” 8- The Enormous List of Protagonists “The biographies of Muhammad, generally give a long list of the first, second and third generation of believers, non-believers, friends and foes that played a role in the history of Islam. There are thousands of names with their short genealogy and they are all related to each other. In his Book of Grand Classifications (Kitab Tabaqat Al-Kobra) Ibn Sa’d has compiled short biographies of thousands of early believers, both men and women. What was the point of going through that much pain?” 9- Why Someone Else? “If a religion was needed to provide legitimacy for a ruler, and such thing could be done, wouldn’t it be more logical that he claim the divine right for himself and declare himself the prophet king? Why build the personality cult around someone else?” 10 The Birmingham Quran: The Case Closed “The carbo dating of the parchment folios strongly suggests that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of Muhammad or shortly afterwards. This means that the parts of the Qur’an that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death. They also reveal the text of the Quran has undergone little or no alteration since it was compiled by Uthman.”

    So then what other hypothesis are equally valid based on this data? What other hypothesis explains the Birmingham Quran? Please enlighten us.

    “The whole of science of the last two centuries (and before) is littered with “best” hypotheses which have later been shown to be false in one or more key aspects.” Right now the best hypothesis is that Muhammed existed if in the future data comes in which indicates he was made up then you will have something until then you haven’t got anything.
    “5)
    Science is only viable in limited scenarios. Science does not form a reliable method at arriving at all truths. The scientific method can help shed some light on this topic. It cannot be used as a means of determining the truth of this matter.” Whats your method for determining the truth of this matter then?

  28. tamimisledus says:

    Ali Sina.

    Understandably, having written several books on muhammad, you have a vested interest* in his existence.
    But you should try not to let your decisions be influenced by that. (Though I guess you will come forward to deny such bias, conscious or not).
    But muhammad’s non-existence does not undermine the fundamentals of your criticisms of muhammad.
    If he did not exist (as I and others contend), then your criticisms are equally valid of the evil fictional character that muslims, over time, created. In fact if muslims created the fiction of muhammad, this reflects very badly directly onto those muslims,
    Of course, this latter point alone does not mean that you should change your view. But I hope that it will help you to stand back a little and judge the case against muhammad’s existence with more objectivity

    * Let us be clear, I am the last person to claim that because you have a vested interest, you must be wrong.

  29. tamimisledus says:

    Phoenix:

    Like you I am keen to hear Ali Sina’s response. (to my so far incomplete criticism of his arguments).
    However, I fear that he is hoping that others (such as Steve below) will step into the breach on his behalf and save him the bother.
    Even though I have not completed my criticisms, I don’t see that he, or any of those who might rush to his aid, has much of a leg to stand on. Certainly not on the case he has presented here.
    I didn’t enter into this exchange with one of the greatest non-muslim authorities, without having the utmost confidence in my position on this.

  30. tamimisledus says:

    Steve: Reference my General observation regarding the use of the histories of muhammad.
    You are wrong.

    Below I break down my argument into simple steps to make it easier for you to follow. Additionally I have pointed out the flaws in your attempted refutation of my criticisms.

    1)
    If Ali Sina wants to prove that muhammad existed, he has to provide the evidence (data) that he existed. It is not enough to prove that it is possible that he existed.
    2)
    Ali Sina cannot in any case use the history of muhammad to prove that muhummad existed.
    If we draw comparisons with science, it would be like assuming that the Ptolemaic system was true and use that to prove it was true.
    3)
    What little “evidence” Sina has provided is insubstantial and is consistent with a whole series of equally viable hypotheses.
    4)
    The best scientific (most probable) hypothesis is not necessarily the correct hypothesis.
    For example, the Ptolemaic system was the best scientific hypothesis for over two millennia until it was replaced by the heliocentric model.
    The whole of science of the last two centuries (and before) is littered with “best” hypotheses which have later been shown to be false in one or more key aspects.
    5)
    Science is only viable in limited scenarios. Science does not form a reliable method at arriving at all truths. The scientific method can help shed some light on this topic. It cannot be used as a means of determining the truth of this matter.

  31. Phoenix says:

    Ali Sina,

    We are looking forward to your response to tamimisledus.

  32. Steve says:

    tamimisledus
    “Major observation:
    If you want to prove that muhammad existed, you have to give concrete evidence that he actually existed. References to unproven texts (hadith, etc) do not count as proof.
    It is not enough to show that he could have existed.
    You have not provided evidence here which counts as proof that he did exist.” No all he has to do is show that the data best fits the hypothesis that Muhammad was an historical person and not an invention of Arab imperialists. This is like how biologist show that different species share DNA sequences this is best explained by the hypothesis of common descent and not creationism.

  33. tamimisledus says:

    Major observation.
    Because you may have succeeded in demonstrating, if you have, that one of your opponent’s arguments is incorrect, that does not prove that all his/her arguments are incorrect. This is an implied ad hominem, a major flaw in arguing a case. It is also arguing from the particular to the general, another serious failure in reasoning.
    Each argument must be examined in its own right, without reference to any other on which the argument does not depend, or to the person presenting the argument.
    To use one failure, or for that matter multiple failures, would be similar to arguing that (say) Newton’s scientific theories were wrong because he believed in alchemy. His belief in alchemy has no bearing on the truth of his scientific theories.

  34. tamimisledus says:

    Major observation:
    It is not enough to prove that your opponents are wrong. You have to prove that you are right.

  35. tamimisledus says:

    Over and over again, in your argument you assume the existence of muhammad. In this context, that is just circular reasoning; assuming the truth of the topic which is being examined.
    It is the very similar to the argument presented by many muslims that the koran is the revelation of *allah*’s will because it says it is the revelation of *allah*’s will. [I realise that I am over simplifying, but even you must understand the broad analogy]

  36. tamimisledus says:

    Major observation:
    If you want to prove that muhammad existed, you have to give concrete evidence that he actually existed. References to unproven texts (hadith, etc) do not count as proof.
    It is not enough to show that he could have existed.

    You have not provided evidence here which counts as proof that he did exist.

  37. tamimisledus says:

    “Some of the arguments presented by the revisionists lack any credibility. Take the example of Christoph Luxenberg’s claim
    …..

    Why was such a nonsensical argument taken seriously? All one has to do to see that this is an absurd argument is to read the verses.”

    Second observation.
    Proving that your opponent is wrong cannot be taken as proof that you are right.

  38. tamimisledus says:

    “Some of the arguments presented by the revisionists lack any credibility. Take the example of Christoph Luxenberg’s claim
    …..

    Why was such a nonsensical argument taken seriously? All one has to do to see that this is an absurd argument is to read the verses.”

    First observation.
    When presenting an argument, you need to give reference to that argument. Your rewording of that argument without giving the opportunity to examine it in detail is not sufficient for a rigorous examination.
    This applies whether or not your argument is correct.

  39. tamimisledus says:

    The purpose of this question is to determine whether or not it is reasonable to believe that muhammad existed. As a corollary of that, we have to determine whether the “histories” of muhammad are true. If the histories are not true, then the muhammad contained in them did not exist.
    When attempting to prove that muhammad existed, you just cannot use the “histories” as evidence. Equally, if you wish to use any part of the koran, you must prove that the koran is true before you can use it as evidence.
    Therefore the greater part of this excerpt which assumes the truth of the “histories” is just excess irrelevant verbiage. It offers no evidence for the existence of muhammad.

  40. tamimisledus says:

    There are multiple failures to apply rational analysis here. Some are addressed in my comments below. Some I hope to address later in a wider forum. Beware that because I do not address a particular point does not mean I agree with any of the points you raise.

  41. Walter Sieruk says:

    There can be little doubt , if any at all that, Muhammad, the founder and prophet of Islam is exist. He really lived and did and a powerful impact on history and carries through to modern times. Nevertheless, there is some debate if the claim of Muhammad of being a prophet is true. Some informed people say the Muhammad was a “prophet pretender.” There is some merit to such a statement. Still, there is Christian Bible- based view that Muhammad might had been a prophet but the important thing for Christians to understand and know that Muhammad was not a prophet send by God .Instead Muhammad was a deceitful lying false prophet send by Satan to start a false religion which leads many people astray and straight into hell. In fact, Jesus had predicted and warned about the coming of such men as Muhammad. For Jesus warned “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Mathew 7:15. The Bible further warns that “many false prophets are gone out into the world.” First John 4:1. [K.J. V.] To further explain this in some detail the following is reiterated. With Islam so much in the news and in such great power in some countries, as Saudi Arabia and Iran, it’s a good thing to define what Islam really is .Of the many ways Islam may be described, one of them is that a religion of denial. Meaning that Islam denies that Jesus is the Son of God. As in the Son of God Who is God the Father. Furthermore, Islam denies the Jesus is God the Son. In addition, Islam denies that Jesus is God. Before going over these three denials of Islam it first should the stated the Bible instructs the way to tell if a prophet or religious teacher is really from and of God or not is do the teachings and doctrines of that prophet of teacher really fit in accord what is found in the Bible ? For if that prophet or teachers and teachers doctrines that are in contradiction to the Bible then that prophet is a false prophet and that religious teacher is a false teacher and thus in doctrinal error and darkness. Likewise if a religion had teachings and doctrines that are in contradiction that is religion is in error also part of the world of darkness and is therefore a false religion. As the Bible instructs in Isaiah 8:20. “To the law of the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” [K.J.V.] With this clearly stated, three things should be known. First, that Islam denial that Jesus is the Son of God is in great contradiction to the teaching of the Bible . Which reveals the Jesus is the Son of God? As seen in ,for example Matthew 3:16,17. 16:15,16. Luke 1:35. John 3:16, 17, 36. First John 2:22,23. 4:14,15. 5:12,13. Second, that Islam denies that Jesus is God the Son is in strong contradiction to the Bible. As found in Hebrews 1:6-8. With emphasis on verse 8. Third, Islam’s denial that Jesus is God is in great contrast to the doctrine and teaching of the Bible. That Jesus is God may be found in ,for example, John 1:1;3. Colossians 1:15-17. 2:9. Romans 9:5 Second Peter 1:1. Titus 2:13. First John 5:20. Moreover, to further discover that the Bible teachings that Jesus is God all a person has to do is to compare the Old Testament with New Testament to see that Jesus is God. As in comparing Isaiah 45:22,23. with Philippians 2:5-11. Also by comparing Psalm 89:8,9. with Mathew 8:23-27. will reveal that Jesus is God. Likewise , by comparing Psalm 62:5-7 . with First Corinthians 10:4. shows the Deity of Jesus. Even by comparing the News Testament books together will show that Jesus is God. As in comparing Romans 14:12. with John 5:22. will show Jesus to be God. The list can go on but this should be enough, for all who are willing to see the truth , that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God. That Jesus is God the Son and that Jesus is God. The imams and mullahs as well as the other apologists for Islam will try to “explain’ this all away by making the claim that the Bible had been corrupted by Christians ,through time, and that’s way the Bible reads as it does. This claim, very much, underestimate the Power of God to protect and preserve His Word ,through time , and to keep in intact and away from the corruption of men. In conclusion, in light and information of the Bible in can be seen Muhammad was a false prophet and that Islam is a awful and terrible doctrinal error concerning it teaching about the Nature of Jesus and therefore Islam is part of the world of darkness. So Islam with its strong contradictions to the Bible is a false religion, Proverbs 14:12. So all dear Muslims are thus invited to leave the false religion of Islam and come the and receive the Jesus of the Bible who is the only way to heaven ,John 14:6. and the True Light of the world. John 8:12.
    For additional Bible based information there is the Christian internet site which replies to the many claims made by the imams and mullahs and the other apologists for Islam. It’s answering-islam.org

%d bloggers like this: