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The authorship of the Qur'an

Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami
7/24/2011
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Those who claim that the Qur’an was written by Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) have given him a different motive for doing so and can basically be divided into the following groups:

 

- For Material Gain/ Power and Glory

- To Unite the Arabs or to morally reform them

- Epileptic Seizures or Self-Delusions

 

With Muhammad being perhaps the most well documented man in human history, we can easily examine these claims and compare them to his life.

 

Firstly, the claim that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) wrote the Qur’an is not new. His own people made this claim. In response, to this claim, God revealed the following: Say: "It is not for me to change it on my own accord; I only follow that which is revealed unto me. Verily, I fear if I were to disobey my Lord, the torment of the Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)."  Say: "If Allah had so willed, I should not have recited it to you nor would He have made it known to you. Verily, I have stayed amongst you a life time before this. Have you then no sense?" [Qur’an 10:15-16]

 

This verse is telling his critics to reflect on the fact that Muhammad (Peace and

Blessings be upon him) lived amongst them from forty (40) years before reciting the Qur’an to them while never showing any signs of inclination to poetry and themselves knowing that he was illiterate. If he could no t read or write, then where did these magnificent verses come from?

 

Also reflect on the fact that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) is commanded in the verses above to “Say” twice. This is a command to make a certain statement to the people. One can find this command “Say” 332 times throughout the Qur’an. In other places in the Qur’an he is ordered to “proclaim”, “Glorify Your Lord”, “Prostrate Yourself” etc. So we ask is this how a man talks to himself or writes a book?

 

Also one must consider the fact that even before his Prophethood Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was known amongst his people as “Al-Amin”, the trustworthy and the truthful. No one ever recorded a lie against him.

 

Many Western historians agree with this analysis:"If a man like Muhammad were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness." George Bernard Shaw

 

"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful o n both the religious and secular level." --Michael H. Hart, THE 100: A RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS IN HISTORY, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc ., 1978, p. 33

 

"Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forg otten by those around him." --Diwan Chand Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta 1935, p. l 22.

 

"He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports." --Bosworth Smith, Mohammad and Mohammadanism, London, 1874, p. 92.

 

"Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?" Lamartine, HISTOIRE DE LA TURQUIE, Paris, 1854, Vol. II, pp. 276 -277

 

"It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher."

Annie Besant, THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD, Madras,1932, p. 4.

 

"His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad." W. Montgomery Watt, MOHAMMAD AT MECCA, Oxford, 1953, p. 52.

 

So, we ask the reader to reflect on the following: Is it logical to believe that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) who, until the age of forty and, as we mentioned earlier, was known to his people as al-Amin (The Trustworthy) and who is still admired even by Western scholars for his honesty and integrity, all of a sudden began to write a book that is unmatched in literary merit and that has not be matched by legions of the Arab poets and orators of the highest caliber throughout history?

 

Is it reasonable to say that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him), made a false claim and on that very falsehood trained thousands of individuals of outstanding character, integrity, and honesty who were able to establish the best human society that the world has ever known?

 

Material Gain? Power and Glory?

 

Some claim that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) wrote the Qur’an for some type of material gain or for power and glory. However, this claim is at odds with the historical evidence.

 

In fact, when one studies the history of Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) life, we find that he was actually materially more well off BEFORE claiming Prophethood than afterwards.

 

At twenty-five years old, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was married to the wealthy widow named Khadijah and lived a life of relative comfort. However, after his call to Prophethood, his standard of living declined dramatically, sometimes going two months without cooking anything, surviving only on dates and

water, because of the extreme hardships that he and his family endured after

proclaiming God’s message.

 

This would not be a temporary sacrifice, but a way of life for him until he died. At no time in his Prophethood did he ever live in a fancy palace, wear the finest clothes or enjoy the luxuries of this world. Even after the early Muslims became successful and started to make financial gains, Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) wives complained about their living conditions and wondered why they had to continue to live so poorly when there was (seemingly) no need.

 

A revelation then came from God stating: O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, Then come! I will make a provision for you and set you free (i.e., divorce) in a handsome manner But if you desire Allah and His Messenger, and the home of the Hereafter, then verily, Allah has prepared for the good doers amongst you an enormous reward. (i.e., Heaven)

[Qur’an 33:28-29]

 

One of Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) companions, describing his room said: “I noticed that the contents of his room comprised of only three pieces of tanned skin and a handful of barley in a corner. I looked but failed to find anything else. I began to cry. He (Muhammad, Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said: “Why are you weeping”? I replied, ‘O’ Prophet of Allah! Why should I not cry? I can see the patterns of the mat imprinted on your body and I am also beholding all that you have in this room. O’ Prophet of Allah! Pray that Allah may grant ample provisions for us. The Persians and the Romans, who have no true faith and who do not worship Allah but they worship their Kings, live in gardens with streams flowing in their midst. But the chosen Prophet and accepted slave of Allah should live in such dire poverty?!” The Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was resting against his pillow, but when he heard me talk like this, he sat up and said, ‘O’ Umar! Are you still in doubt about this matter? Ease and comfort in the hereafter are much better than ease and comfort in this world. The disbelievers are enjoying their share of the good things in this world, whereas the Believers have all such things in store for them in the next’ “ (Muslim)

 

Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) died poor and his deprivation of this world was self-imposed.

 

The most significant refutation to this claim that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was seeking wealth and power is the following story when the Chiefs of Makkah came to him trying to get him to stop preaching his message: “O’ Muhammad, You are, as you know a noble from your tribe and your lineage assures you a place of honor. And now you have brought to your people a matter of grave concern, whereby you have split their community, declared their way of life to be foolish, spoken shamefully of their gods and religion and called their forefathers disbelievers.

 

Listen to what I propose and see if any of it is acceptable to you. If it is wealth that you seek, we will gather our wealth and make you the richest amongst us. If you seek honor, we will make you our overlord and we will make no decision without your consent. If you seek Kingship, then we will make you our King. And if you cannot get rid of this demon that appears to you, we will find you a physician and spend all our money until you are cured.” (Life of the Prophet Muhammad, Ibn Hishaam)

 

When he finished, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) had received

revelation which stated: Haa Meem. A revelation from Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail; A Qur'an in Arabic for people who know. Giving glad tidings and warning, but most of them turn away, so they don’t listen. And they say: "Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a screen, so work you (on your way); verily, we are working (on our way). Say: "I am only a human being like you. It is inspired in me that your God is One, therefore take Straight Path to Him and obedience to Him, and seek forgiveness of Him. And woe to the polytheists. Those who give not the Zakât and they are disbelievers in the Hereafter. Truly, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them will be an endless reward that will never end [Qur’an 41:1-8]

 

So had his aim been wealth and power, then he could have easily achieved his goal without going through the hardship and poverty he went through up until his death.

 

To Unite The Arabs?

 

The claim that Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) goal was to unite the Arabs is also difficult to defend when one looks into the life of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and his own statements against nationalism, tribalism etc.

 

Firstly, again, had this been his goal, he could have archived it when the Chiefs of Makkah offered him wealth and riches in exc hange for him agreeing to stop preaching. Secondly, the concept of nationalism does not exist in Islam. Islam made the bond of faith and truth and falsehood the most important basis for binding people together and not nationalism, tribe affiliation, race, or ethnicity.

 

Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) himself spoke out on numerous

occasions against this type of ideology stating: "Let people stop boasting about their forefathers who have died, who are merely fuel for the Hell Fire; or they will certainly be more insignificant with Allah than the beetle which rolls dung with its nose. Allah has removed from you the partisanship of the days of jaahiliyyah (refers to the Pre-Islamic days) and the boasting about one's forefathers.

 

Indeed a person is either a pious Believer or a wretched sinner. All of mankind are the children of Adam, and Adam was created from clay. [Related by Abu Dawood and at-Tirmithi]

 

Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) also said: "Indeed there is no excellence for an Arab over a Non-Arab, nor a Non-Arab over an Arab, nor a white person over a black one, nor a black person over a white one, except through piety.” [Related by Ahmad]

 

The Qur’an is filled with the same message. One example of this is in the following verse: "O’ mankind, we have created you from male and female and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Indeed the most noblest of you with Allah is the one who has the most piety." [Surah al-Hujuraat 49:13]

 

The examples from both the Qur’an and the statements of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) are too numerous to mention them all but this should suffice to make the point.

 

Regardless of one’s color, nationality, or tribe, anyone who believes in the Islamic message is part of the brotherhood.

 

With the above being the case, the logical question beckons that had this been written by Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) as these people allege for the purpose of uniting the Arabs, then why would he have put the exact opposite message in this book? Indeed, from the story we quoted above, we can see that this Islamic message actually divided the Arabs into two distinct groups: Muslims and non-Muslim.

 

Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) also had companions that were from different tribes and were other than Arab.

 

He had Epilepsy?

 

Other people who reject the Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) agree because of the historical evidence of Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) impeccable charac ter and truthfulness that he would not have deliberately fabricated the Qur’an and his Prophethood, so they allege for some reason that he either had epilepsy or was delusional and actually believed that he was a Prophet.

 

Firstly, again keeping in mind that Muhammad is perhaps history’s most well documented man, there is absolutely no evidence from his life to support this claim, and all evidence suggests that Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) lived a normal and sane life all the way up to his death at the age of sixty (60). However in spite of that, we will nonetheless prove that this claim is false and malicious.

 

Secondly, even some Orientalists (non-Muslims who have achieved considerable status as authorities on Islam) themselves have rejected these claims of epilepsy as false and ridiculous. Daniel commenting on the claim of epilepsy said: “…epilepsy as applied to the Prophet was the explanation of those who sought to

amuse rather than to instruct” Khalifa, Mohammad The Sublime Qu’ran and Orientalism p. 13

 

John Davenport said, "This remark that Muhammad has suffered the attacks of epilepsy is one of the false, awkward sayings of the Greeks by which they meant to stain the prestige of the propagator of a new religion, and turn the world of Christianity against his moral behavior and qualities." Udhri Taqsir, p.20

 

There are various types of epilepsy, the main ones being grand mal, petit mal and psychomotor.

 

Grand Mal includes generalized convulsions in which there is sudden unconsciousness with falling and shaking of the limbs. Sometimes the person screams just before the seizure and it is followed by stiffening and halted respiration. Next come jerky moves and one can bite one’s tongue and the person experiences a headache. Afterwards, the y have no recollection of what happened.

 

When Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) received revelation, it was described like the ringing of a bell, while other times the Angel Gabriel came to him in the form of a man and delivered the message directly. When one compares grand mal to the description of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) receiving revelation, it is obvious that he did not suffer from grand mal.

 

Petit Mal involves momentary lapses of awareness and more than seventy percent (70%) of patients have their first attack before the age of twenty. It involves no involuntary movements and can happen several times in a day without interruption of consciousness. This too, is in opposition to the description of Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings be upon him) receiving revelation.

 

Firstly, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was forty (40) years old when he began to receive revelation. And each time he received revelation, it was for several minutes – not moments.

 

Psychomotor seizures involve convulsions. They last only a few seconds are accompanied with screams and mumbles which do not make words and sentences, much less entire chapters of a book which are not only completely understandable, but of the highest eloquence.

 

Epilepsy takes control of one’s thoughts during seizures, yet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was in complete control during the revelation and was able to recall the event in detail, unlike one who would have an epileptic seizure.

 

Beyond the above facts, one must ask how could Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) unconsciously know about previous nations? How could he unconsciously answer questions people asked him and be so correct? No one ever stood up to claim that they too are familiar with these stories.

 

How could he know about future events which would later come to pass? How could he have known that the Persians and Romans would go to war and who would win the war years in advance?

 

Therefore when the facts are examined, the epileptic seizure s theories can not only be easily ruled out as absurd but we can only conclude that this claim is made out of outright maliciousness because the evidence is overwhelmingly against them.

 

Norman Daniel commenting on the slanders made against Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: "All writers (referring to Western Writers) tended - more or less - to cling to fantastic tales about Islam and its Prophet... The use of false evidence to attack Islam was all but universal." Norman Daniel, Islam and the West, One world Publications 1993, p.267

 

Daniel also goes on to explain: "At the worst there was the assertion of the fantastic, and its repetition without discrimination; at the best there was the selection of only those facts that served the purpose of controversy." ibid, p.268

 

Nonetheless, material gain; desire for power; desire to unify the Arabs and ever having had epilepsy are all easily ruled out when any unbiased reader one looks into the life of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him).






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