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Who Was Muhammad?
As pointed out by Ibn Warraq in his landmark work, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, the “Muhammad” of faith and religion is not the Muhammad of fact and history. Modern Muslims have a legendary and mythological view of the character and life of Muhammad that is in direct contradiction of all the historical accounts.
In my debate with the Muslim apologist, Shabir Ally, (to obtain a copy, call 1–800–41–TRUTH), he argued that Muhammad was a prophet because, on one occasion, he ordered his entire caravan to stop while a dog gave birth to a litter of puppies. He offered no historical evidence to back up this tender story.
I pointed out that the story, even if it were true, did not logically prove that Muhammad was a prophet. Lots of people are kind to animals. But, more to the point, the historical record is 100% clear that Muhammad ordered that all dogs be killed!
Umar: Allah’s Apostle ordered that the dogs should be killed.
Bukhari vol. IV, no. 540 Narrated Abdullah bib
The tender story of Muhammad holding up his caravan for a dog giving birth goes against his edict that all dogs should be killed. Even today, dogs as pets are forbidden by Islamic law. The first thing the Ayatollah did after taking over Iran was to kill all the dogs in the country!
The example above highlights the problem. The Muhammad of myth and legend has so ingrained itself into the mindset of modern Muslims that, even when you quote the Qur˒an or the Hadith, they will refuse to listen.
A Perfect and Sinless Muhammad
One classic example of this bias is the Muslim doctrine that Muhammad was both perfect and sinless. When I stated in my lecture at the University of Texas, that Muhammad was not sinless, the Muslims in the audience went crazy. (To obtain a copy of this video, call 1–800–41–TRUTH).
Can Muslims produce any passages from the Qur˒an or the Hadith that state that Muhammad was sinless? No. I have asked for such passages for over twenty years and no Muslim has been able to find one.
When I quoted passages from the Qur˒an (Surah 40:55; 48:1–2, etc.) that clearly state that Allah commanded Muhammad to repent of his sins or that Allah had forgiven him of his sins, they ignored them. When I quoted from the Hadith (Bukhari, vol. I., nos. 19, 711, 781) where Muhammad said that he asked for forgiveness for his sins many times a day, they still would not give up their belief that Muhammad was perfect. They believe it because, well, they just believe it! Even their own sacred books cannot open their minds to the real Muhammad.
The Burden of Proof
Muslim theologians begin by assuming that their beliefs are true. Thus they assume that they do not have to prove anything, but they have it backwards. They have the burden of proof to demonstrate that Muhammad was a true prophet and not just another false prophet.
There are only four logical possibilities.
1. He was who he claimed to be: a prophet and an apostle,
2. He was a liar: he knew he was not a prophet but for money, sex and power, he claimed to be one,
3. He was mentally ill: if he were alive today he would be institutionalized as criminally insane, or…
4. He was a mentally ill liar: he had delusions of grandeur and he lied when it suited his purposes.
Where’s The Beef
One obvious question that comes to mind about Islam is, “Why did the 7th century Arabs accept Muhammad as a prophet?” There were no biblical or pagan prophecies that foretold his coming. He was semi-illiterate and only of average intelligence. Why did they follow him?”
The natural blood lust of the 7th century Arab was no doubt stirred by Muhammad’s call to kill, rape and plunder in the name of Allah. Their quest for more slaves was no doubt satisfied by Muhammad’s proclaiming “open season” on all non-Muslims. But these things cannot explain everything.
The truth is found in pre-Islamic Arabia. The pagan Arabs, like many other barbaric peoples, believed in shamans (kahin) or what we call today “witch doctors” or “medicine men”. These “prophets” were revered as having magical powers over the forces of nature and over the spirits that inhabited trees, rocks, ponds and streams.
Muhammad presented himself to the pagan Arabs as a shaman. This is clear from both the Qur˒an and the Hadith. As documented in my book, Islamic Invasion, Muhammad claimed to control the jinn; i.e., the spirits who lived in the trees, rocks, ponds and streams. In the Hadith, Muhammad is pictured as being in control of the forces of nature, and he could supposedly make it rain or cause a drought by his prayers.
Proof#1—The Seal of Prophethood
The pagan Arabs looked for certain physical defects on the body as a sign of prophethood. They believed that a “seal” of prophethood would be found on the body of a shaman or prophet. This “seal” was a large hairy mole on the back of the shaman just below the neck.
Just like a lump of wax seals a letter, the gods would place a lump of flesh on the back of someone called to be a shaman. What the pagan Arabs wanted to know was whether or not Muhammad had a large hairy mole on his back. Did he have the “Seal” of prophethood?
In the Qur˒an we read these words in Surah 33:40:
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the apostle of Allah, and has the Seal of the prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”
What is the identity of this “Seal of the prophets” and what is its significance? There are two ways of answering these questions. If you ask a modern Muslim what this “Seal” was all about, the answer would depend on whether you were talking to a Sunni or a Shi˒ite Muslim.
Sunni Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last of the prophets; i.e., there will be no prophets after him. (See Yusuf Ali’s comment in his translation of the Qur˒an, n. 3731, pg. 1119, as an example of how the Sunnis interpret the significance of the “Seal”.)
The Shi˒ite believe in a succession of prophets. This is why the Ayatollahs have so much power in Iran. The Sunnis and Shi˒ite fight and kill each other over the issue of future prophets.
But we are not asking about future prophets. Instead, we are asking a historical question: “What did the early Muslims believe concerning the ‘Seal of the prophets?’” In fact, we are asking: “What did the most trusted and revered companions, historians, and theologians say about this ‘Seal’ of the prophets mentioned in the Qur˒an?”
The Hadith scholars were unanimous in their interpretation of the identity and significance of the “Seal of the prophets” found in Surah 33:40. The greatest of all Hadith scholars, al-Bukhari, tells us:
Narrated As-Sa˒ib bin Yazid: I stood behind him (i.e., Muhammad) and saw the seal of Prophethood between his shoulders, and it was like the “Zir-al-Hijla” (meaning the button of a small tent, but some say “egg of a partridge”) (vol. 1:189; 4:741).
The second greatest work on the Hadith is, without a doubt, the Sahih Muslim Hadith. It records the following:
THE FACT PERTAINING TO THE SEAL OF HIS PROPHETHOOD, ITS CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE, AND ITS LOCATION ON HIS BODY.
Jabir b. Sammura reported: I saw the seal on his back as it were a pigeon’s egg. This Hadith has been narrated on the authority of Simal with the same chain of transmitters. Abdullah b. Sarjis reported: I went in after him and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder having spots on it like moles (vol. IV, CMLXXIX, p. 1251).
The early Muslim scholars clearly held to the same view of the seal. It was a large hairy mole on Muhammad’s back which signified that he was a prophet.
A mole of an unusual size on the Prophet’s back which is said to have been the divine seal which, according to the predictions of the Scriptures, marked Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets” (Khatimu ˓n-Nabiyin).
It was the size of the knob of the bridal canopy. Others say it was even the size of a closed fist (Mishkatu ˓I-Masabih, book 3, ch. 7).
It was a piece of flesh, very brilliant in appearance, and according to some traditions it had secretly inscribed within it “Allah is one and has no associate” (Shaikh ˓Abdu ˓I-Haqq).
Muhammad said to Abu Ramsa, “Come hither and touch my back.” Which he did, drawing his fingers over the prophetical seal, and behold! There was a collection of hairs upon the spot. When Abu Ramsa offered to remove it, Muhammad said, “The Physician thereof is He who placed it where it is” (Muir, new edition, p. 542).
The Dictionary of Islam interprets the “Seal of Prophecy” as:
This, says one, was a protuberance on the Prophet’s back of the size and appearance of a pigeon’s egg. It is said to have been the divine seal which, according to the predictions of the Scriptures, marked Muhammad as the last of the Prophets.… From the traditions, it would seem to have been nothing more than a mole of unusual size (p. 389).
Ali Tabari, one of the most respected early apologists for Islam, interpreted the “seal of the Prophets” as a mole on Muhammad’s back. He desperately tried to find some biblical prophecy that would predict such a physical sign. He seized upon Isaiah 9:6 as a prophecy of Muhammad. He took the phrase “… and the government shall be upon his shoulders …” and interpreted it as a prophecy concerning moles! During the debate he claimed, “Unto us a child is born and unto us a child is given, whose government is on his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). He means by that, “His prophecy is on his shoulder.” In the Hebrew, it is said: “The sign of prophecy is on his shoulder.” This is what the Muslims call “the sign of prophecy.” This is therefore a clear allusion to the portraiture (i.e., physical characteristics) of the prophet – may Allah bless and save him – and a reference to his face and his moles.
(N. A. Newman, Early Christian- Muslim Dialogue, [I.B.R.I.: Hatfield, PA, 1994] p. 628)
We could go on with many more references from early Muslim theologians and historians, but these citations are sufficient to prove the “seal of prophecy” referred to in Surah 33:40 was a large hairy mole on Muhammad’s back. While such physical defects are often looked upon by pagans as a mystical sign, nowhere in the Bible are such things ever considered a sign of inspiration. Indeed, Lev. 21:16–24 excludes from holy service anyone who had a physical defect!
As to Isaiah 9:6, it refers to the Messiah whose title is “Mighty God”. Obviously, the word “government” does not mean a mole. I have not found a single Hebrew scholar who views the word “government” as meaning mole.
The pagan Arabs were looking for a prophet who had a physical deformity like a large mole or tumor on his back. Muhammad had such a mole. Thus he was a pagan shaman. That is why he won over so many pagan Arabs.
Another religious tradition among pagan Arabs was that someone who fell down and had a seizure was either possessed by the jinn (i.e., demons) or inspired by the gods or God. Once again, brain seizures, like physical deformities, are not a part of the biblical tradition.
Liberals view the medical diagnosis that Muhammad was an epileptic and that his seizures played a major role in pagan Arabs accepting him as a prophet, as “politically incorrect”. But the historical and medical evidence is drawn from authentic Muslim sacred writings. The Dictionary of Islam (p.393) explains,
He (i.e. Muhammad) suffered from hallucinations of his senses, and to finish his sufferings, he several times contemplated suicide by throwing himself down from a precipice. His friends were alarmed at his state of mind. Some considered it as eccentricities of a poetical genius; others thought that he was a kahin, or soothsayer; but the majority took a less charitable view (See Surah 69:40, 20:5), and declared that he was insane; and, as madness and melancholy are ascribed to supernatural influence in the East, they said that he was in the power of Satan and his agents, the jinn. They called in exorcists; and he himself doubted the soundness of his mind. “I hear a sound,” he said to his wife, “and I see a light. I am afraid there are jinn in me.”
And on another occasion he said, “I am afraid that I am a kahin.”
According to unimpeachably authentic hadiths found in Bukhari, Muhammad heard ringing in his ears; his heart beat rapidly; his face turned red; his breathing labored; he would fall to the ground or lie down; he would shake; his eyes would open wide; his lips tremble; spit drooled from the corners of his mouth; he would sweat profusely; he saw and heard things no one else ever saw or heard; he would sometimes make a snoring noise like that of a camel; and he would be covered with a sheet.
vol I, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4; vol. II, nos. chap. 16 (pg. 354), 544; vol. III, nos. 17, 829; vol. IV, nos. 95, 438, 458, 461; vol. V, nos. 170, 462, 618, 659; vol. Vl, nos. 447, 448, 468, 478, 481, 508.
In McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia (vol. 6, pg. 406), we read the following:
Muhammad was endowed with a nervous constitution and a lively imagination. It was not at all unnatural for him to come after a time to regard himself as actually called of God to build up his people in a new faith.
Muhammad, as we gather from the oldest and most trust-worthy narratives, was an epileptic, and as such, was considered to be possessed of evil spirits. At first, he believed the sayings, but gradually he came to the conclusion, confirmed by his friends, that demons had no power over so pure and pious a man as he was, and he conceived the idea that he was not controlled by evil spirits, but that he was visited by angels whom he, disposed to hallucinations, a vision, an audition, afflicted with the morbid state of the body and mind, saw in dreams. Or even while awake, he conceived he saw. What seemed to him good and true after such epileptic attacks, he esteemed revelation in which he, at least in the first stage of his pathetic course, firmly believed and which imparted to his pensive, variable character, the necessary courage and endurance to brave all mortifications and perils.
Whenever any scholar brings up the medical evidence that proves that Muhammad had the classic symptoms of epilepsy, the liberals object that to say this is insensitive. But the evidence, like a granite rock, is unmoved by crying and hand wringing.
This medical evidence has been gathered and explained by modern science and psychiatry. One recent example is the book, Life Alert (Winepress Pub. 2002), by Dr. Korkut, M.D. His analysis of the medical evidence cannot be overthrown simply because the feelings of Muslims are offended. He certifies that Muhammad suffered from two neurological deficiencies: hydrocephalus and epilepsy. If you wish to view his evidence, call 1–800–41–TRUTH and order it.
Proof#3—No Predictions of His Coming
Muslim theologians accept the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures predicted the coming of the Messiah and that Jesus was the one who fulfilled those prophecies. They are also keenly aware that the Qur˒an (in Surahs 7 and 61) claims that the Bible predicted the coming of Muhammad. Thus there has been a desperate attempt to find anything by any stretch of the imagination that could possibly be used as a prediction of the coming of Muhammad. This has driven the Muslims to the most absurd interpretation of biblical texts and words. So absurd that one wonders how any sane person would have the gall to give them.
The Muslim arguments fall into four groups. The first is an argument drawn from the erroneous idea that Ishmael was the father of the Arabs. The second argument is geographical. The third focuses on particular words and the fourth on specific biblical texts.
In order for these arguments to work, the text must have all the following elements:
If the passage does not refer to an Arab prophet named Muhammad, then it is useless.
1. The Ishmaelite Arguments
Moses, in Deut. 18:18, predicted that YHWH would send a prophet in the future who would be like Moses. The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus was this long awaited prophet. But most Muslim apologists have claimed that Muhammad was the one who fulfilled Deut. 18:18. Who is right?
The prophecy in Deut. 18 states that the coming prophet would come from Moses’ brethren; i.e., the Jews. Since the Arabs descend from Ham and the Jews from Shem, the Arabs are not Jews. How can a prophecy concerning a coming Jewish prophet be fulfilled by a gentile Arab called Muhammad?
This is why the myth that Ishmael was the father of the Arabs was created out of thin air. The Bible nowhere states that the Arabs are the children of Abraham through Ishmael. No pre-Islamic genealogy kept by Arab tribes mentions Ishmael as their father.
In a later chapter, we will demonstrate that Ishmael was not the father of the Arab people. Thus Muhammad cannot be the Jewish prophet predicted in Deut. 18 because he was not a Jew.
This immediately throws out all arguments based on references to Ishmael or his descendents. Badawi’s attempt to argue from such words as Paran, Ke˒dar, Sa˒ir, etc. falls to the ground.
2. The Geographical Arguments
Muslim apologists such a Deedat, Badawi and Shabir have assumed that if they can find in the Bible a passing reference to some place in Arabia, then this would automatically prove that Muhammad was in the Bible. Of course, this is logically absurd!
Since the Bible refers to many ancient cities and countries, even if there were a reference to Mecca or Arabia, this would not logically prove anything. Do the biblical references to Babylon prove that the coming prophet would be a Babylonian? Of course not!
The key is to interpret a passage in terms of its literary genre and its context. If the passage cited is a historical narrative with no apocalyptic elements, then it cannot be used to predict the coming of anyone.
In addition to being based on a logical fallacy, the geographical arguments are not factual. The words that are used to link the Bible to Mecca or to Arabia are erroneous.
The Bible refers to a place called “Baca” in Ps. 84:4–6. How do Muslims go from Baca to Mecca? They chant, “Baca, Maca, Mecca:” They replace the “B” with a “M” and the “a” with an “e” and move from Baca to Mecca.
There are several problems with this argument. First, there is no linguistic justification for arbitrarily switching Hebrew letters. Second, there is no Hebrew manuscript that changes the spelling. Third, simply chanting a phonic fallacy cannot change the manuscript evidence. Fourth, in Ps. 84, Baca was a valley in Northern Israel that was on the pilgrim pathway to Mt. Zion, a symbol for worship at the temple in Jerusalem.
3. Specific words
a. The attempt to twist the word, Teman, in Hab. 3:3 into a reference to Muhammad’s flight to Medina goes beyond belief. If you check all the other references to Teman, it is a place of ignorance and divine judgment (Ezk. 25:13; Jer. 49:7, 20; Amos 1:12, etc.).
b. Perhaps the silliest arguments revolve around the attempt to configure the name “Muhammad” from such words as Amen, Ahmed, etc. One of the weakest is from Song of Solomon 5:16 where they attempt to twist the Hebrew word for praise into the Arabic word, Muhammad. That they arbitrarily jump from one language to another language does not seem to dawn on them.
c. The same can be said of pointing to passages where the word “sword” appears (Ps. 45:2–5), or the person rode on a camel (Isa. 21:7). Since swords were popular in those days and everyone rode on camels, it is insane to think that such references have to do with a pagan Arab prophet of the moon-god Allah.
4. Specific Passages
a. In John 16, Jesus predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter who would indwell the people of God forever yet Muslims attempt to depict Muhammad as the divine Comforter predicted by Jesus.
The main problem with their argument is their ignorance of the Greek New Testament. They often misspell parakletos as perilytos. They have no right to alter the Greek text to suit their claim.
Also, the Holy Spirit came upon the Church at Pentecost and the claim that a pagan prophet by the name of Muhammad fulfilled the prophecy seven centuries later is without merit. Since Muhammad died, how, pray tell, does he indwell the hearts of the followers of Jesus forever?
b. The attempt of Muslim apologists to take passages that describe God coming in judgment with ten thousand angels (ex.: Deut. 33:1–3) and arbitrarily apply them to Muhammad going into battle with ten thousand thieves and murderers is blasphemous to say the least. Muhammad was not God and the raping, murdering, looting hordes who followed him were more like demons than angels.
The burden of proof is on the Muslims to demonstrate by valid arguments that Muhammad was not criminally insane, but a prophet. They have tried, but failed to fulfill their burden.
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