The Prophet Of Islam
Arabia was thinly populated as it is largely desert land. The people who lived there (1400 years ago) were:
- Pagans who worshipped idols.
- Some Jewish clans who settled there after they were expelled from Israel.
- Some Arabs who had become adherents to the Jewish faith.
- Christians - mainly Orthodox and Coptic Monophysites and Nestorians (Sectarian Christians).
It seems that those Christians used apocryphal Scripture (legendary tales about Jesus which were not included into the New Testament because they were not apostolic, i.e. not written by the inspired apostles). The Jews used the Talmud (a rabbinical commentary on the Old Testament).
We also know of 'Hanifs' (six are mentioned by name), men who rejected the idol worship around them and claimed to believe in 'the God of Abraham'. We know that Abraham's son Ishmael was the forefather of the Arabs. But it seems that his descendants had lost all knowledge of the God of Abraham (God = Allah in Arabic. This word was used for idols as well). This knowledge of the 'God of Abraham' is likely to have come back to Arabia via the Jews and the Christians.
Nomadic Bedouin tribes moved from place to place to find grazing for their camels, cattle and goats. But in the towns, namely Mecca and Medina, the Arabs mainly occupied with trading. Mecca appears to have been an important link from Ethiopia to the Middle East and from there to China, India and Europe.
In a number of places the Arabs had built so-called Ka'bas. These were temples which had the form of a cube built of stones. The pagans believed that one or more of their deities (gods) lived in those shrines.
It is generally believed that in pre-Islamic Mecca some 360 deities were worshipped. This is based on Vaqqidi's biography of Muhammad. But Waqqidi was born 120 years after Muhammad's death! Earlier biographies or reports made no mention of that number. The "Kitab al-Asnam" ("The Book of Idols") by ibn al-Kalbi mentions only 27 by name, and these were by no means all from Mecca.
It might be good to know that, according to the Qur'an and early Islamic source materials, we only know of three actual idols 'sanam'. All other deities were not depicted, but were assumed to live in stones 'watham'. The best known idol was Hubal, the other two were Isaf and Na'ilah. The latter two were believed to have been lovers, who committed fornication in the Ka'ba and as a result were turned into stone. They were placed on two little hills near the Ka'ba (Safa and Marwa), while Hubal was actually in the Ka'ba of Mecca (Siratu'l Rasul p. 97), and most probably the only image there.
According to Islamic tradition this idol was brought from Moab (Siratu'l Rasul pp. 50-51) by Amir b. Lahaiy. "Hubal undoubtedly was a newcomer (to Arabia), but his image was used to represent the older al-Liah, 'the one worshipped', the male supreme god of the Ka'ba" ("Arabia before Muhammad" by O'Leary referring to the "Siratu'l Rasul").
Muhammad - The Prophet of Islam
The word 'Prophet' in Arabic is based on two concepts:
Rasul: (pl. Rusul) meaning a messenger who received a Book, someone with a special mission [Surah 7:158; 48:8-9]. Islam acknowledges 315 rusul. Nabi: (pl. Ambiya) is one who received direct inspiration (wahi). Islam speaks of as many as 124.000 ambiya, most of these are not known by name.
Muhammad is called both Rasul and Nabi in Surah 33:40.
Let us understand some other words:
MUHAMMAD (like Ahmad) = The Praised One ISLAM = Submission (to Allah) MUSLIM = Someone who submits to Allah
Most Arabic words can be related to a root word, which consists of three letters. Original Arabic script does not show vowels, but only consonants. To show this we write the vowels in small letters and the consonants in capitals.
Note the root letters for Islam in Arabic: S L M
Life Dates of Muhammad
570 Birth of Muhammad
576 Death of his mother; brought up by his grandfather and later by his uncle
595 Marriage to Khadija, a wealthy widow, 15 years older than M.; Fatima, wife of the fourth Khalif Ali, came from this marriage
610 Muhammad's first revelation at Mount Hira; Surah 96:1-5.
620 Death of Khadija and Abu Talib; leads to increasing pressure
622 Flight to Yathrib/Medina; start of the Islamic Calendar
630 Conquest of Mecca; Arabian peninsula surrenders to Islam
632 Death of Muhammad
Muhammad in Mecca
Muhammad was the son of Abdullah and Amina. He was born 570 AD in Mecca. His father died before his birth, his mother when he was 6. After that he was brought up by his grandfather Abdu'l Muttalib and after his death by his uncle Abu Talib. He belonged to the clan of Hashim, which was part of the Quraish tribe of which Abdu'l Muttalib was the chief.
In his youth Muhammad travelled widely with camel trading caravans. He is reported to have been a quiet, amiable and pleasant boy. In his childhood he had some occult exposure.
At the age of 25 he married Khadijah, by whom he was employed and who was 15 years his senior. The marriage was a happy one, and 2 boys and 4 girls were born to them. Muhammad was widowed after 25 years of marriage.
He surely knew some biblical stories which were related to him by some Jews and Christians, whom he met on his travels. (Surahs 14+15).
Waraqa ibn Naufal, a cousin of Muhammad's wife Khadijah, was a Christian and had translated (part of?) the Gospel into Arabic (DICTIONARY OF ISLAM by T.P. Hughes, al'Bukhari I, 3 and 'Siratu'l Rasul' by ibn Ishaq vss. 143-145). He must, no doubt, have given considerable information about the Bible to Muhammad.
After times of seclusion at Mt. Hira near Mecca, where he went to meditate, he had his first revelation in a cave of this mountain, when he was about 40 years old (610 AD):
"Ayesha reported: The first revelation which began to be revealed to the Apostle of Allah was correct dream in sleep [sic]. He did not see a dream but it came like the morning dawn. Thereafter loneliness became dear to him and he used to seclude himself to the cave of Hira and engaged therein in deep devotion (and it is divine service) for many nights before he went to his house and provided himself with food therefor. Then he would return to Khadija and take provision for the like of them (nights) until the truth came unto him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel appeared before him and said "Read". He said: I cannot read. He narrated: Then he took me and pressed me hard till there came great exhaustion on me; thereafter he let me off and said: Read. I replied: I cannot read. Then he took me and pressed me hard for the second time until there appeared a great exhaustion on me; thereafter he let me off. He said: Read. I said: I cannot read. Then he took me and pressed me a third time till there appeared a great exhaustion on me; thereafter he let me off. He said: Read in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is the most Generous, Who taught with the pen, taught man what he knew not (56:1Q). Then the Prophet returned therewith, his heart was trembling and he went to Khadijah and said: Wrap me up, wrap me up. Then they wrapped him until the dread went away from him".
Mishkat IV, pp. 356-357
We have no reason to question the above as having been a revelation. However, since the Qur'an strongly contradicts the Bible, we may assume that this revelation came not from the same source as the Bible.
The best and oldest biographer of Muhammad, ibn Ishaq, in his 'Siratu'l Rasul' (vs. 152) reports:
"When it was the night on which God honored him with his mission and showed mercy on His servants thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. "He came to me", said the apostle of God, 'while I was asleep, with a coverlet of brocade whereon was some writing, and said, "Read!".
His first revelations turned against poly-theism (= many gods) and idolatry. The Surahs (= chapters) on judgment and condemnation were received - and proclaimed. The earlier revelations in Mecca were written in a superior style to those received in Medina. Most Meccan Surahs are in beautiful poetry. Even so, Muhammad was rejected by the majority of the Meccans. Their religion was a goodly form of income from nomadic tribes who came to Mecca during the religious festivities there. The Meccans themselves were seemingly not very pious. Enduring sarcasm and spite, Muhammad gathered a number of converts, despite being often painfully rejected and ridiculed. It speaks for Muhammad's initial sincerity that his first convert was his wife.
Pressure from the Meccans made some of the early converts emigrate and settle in Abyssinia.
Muhammad - The Warner to Arabia
Muhammad understood himself at first to be a warner to Arabia only in the succession of the Bible prophets. He was, no doubt, assuming to bring the same message (as the Bible) in Arabic.
Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur'an; that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her.
And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy; and this Book confirms (it) in the Arabic tongue; to admonish the unjust, and as Glad Tidings to those who do right.
We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom)
We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them.
"Verily, We have sent thee in truth as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner".
Only later in time this message was changed within the Qur'an.
We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things.
Muhammad - The "Unlettered Prophet"
Muslims believe Muhammad to have been illiterate. They reason: 'how can an illiterate man compose a book like the Qur'an?' By this they like to refer to the authorship of Allah. This assumption is based on the Qur'an:
Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, Whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures); in the law and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good.
If we want to understand what the words 'unlettered' really mean, we have to look at the Arabic text. There it says: 'an-nabiyyal-ummi'. 'Nabi' clearly means prophet; 'ummi' is best explained by another verse:
It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered an apostle from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom.
Who are the 'unlettered' in this text? The following commentary (see Qur'an, Yusuf Ali, footnote 5451) makes it quite clear:
"The Unlettered: as applied to a people, it refers to the Arabs, in comparison with the People of the Book, who had a longer tradition of learning, but whose failure is referred to in verse 5 below. As applied to individuals, it means that Allah's Revelation is for the benefit of all men, whether they have worldly learning or not".
The word used here is 'ummiyyun', clearly the same as in Surah 7:157.
What we are trying to say is that the word 'ummi' was used of people who did not have the Scriptures, as the Jews and Christians did. They were 'unscriptured', so to speak. Muhammad understood himself, as he was also understood by his companions, to be the prophet to those who had no Book, no revelation, i.e. the Arabs.
Actually one should read: 'The prophet of ignorance'. The 'people of ignorance' were those who had not accepted Islam as yet. The time of ignorance is clearly the time before Muhammad. So it is likely that Muhammad saw himself as a prophet to the 'people of ignorance', rather than that he actually was completely illiterate, which is difficult to imagine, for a merchant of his stature anyway.
That Muhammad was able to write may be deducted from the following Tradition (Hadith):
"The Prophet, may Allah bless him, fell ill on Thursday. Thereupon he, i.e. Ibn 'Abbas began to weep and say: Woe be to this Thursday! What a Thursday. The illness of the Prophet, may Allah bless him, became severe; he said: Bring an ink-pot and something to write on. I shall have a document written and you will never be misguided".
Ibn Sa'd's biography, Vol. II, p. 302
The Miraj or Night Journey to Heaven
Two years after the death of Khadijah, in the twelfth year of his "calling", Muhammad is reported to have gone on a mysterious night journey (Miraj).
The angel Gabriel cut open Muhammad in his sleep, washed him inside with Zimzim water and filled his heart with science and faith. An animal by the name of Buraq, apparently horse-like and white, and with a human face, was provided for a ride from the mosque in Mecca to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, from where he ascended supposedly on a ladder of light to the heavens.
Islamic sources state that this happened "in the spirit", his body remaining behind. But the mosque al-Aqsa was not yet in existence at that time. Maybe the Jewish temple was meant, although it had been completely destroyed 550 years previously.
Islam teaches the existence of seven heavens. In the first heaven Muhammad supposedly met Adam; in the second, John the Baptist and Jesus; in the third, Joseph; in the fourth, Enoch; in the fifth, Aaron; in the sixth, Moses; and in the seventh, Abraham (who welcomed him as "Good son and good prophet"). Fifty prayers were ordained by Allah to be said by all believers daily. On the journey back, Moses, in the sixth heaven, encouraged Muhammad to go back to the seventh heaven and request a smaller quota, since this large number would be rather impractical to execute. Ten daily prayers were deducted. Again Moses encouraged Muhammad to go back and ask for still fewer prayers, which was repeated three times, until five daily were set for observance. This Muhammad did not dare query. (According to "Siratu'l Rasul" vs. 270-271)
Pressure on Muhammad and the Muslims in Mecca increased when his uncle and protector Abu Talib died. Soon afterwards a secret delegation of Muslim believers from Yathrib (a town appr. 350 km north of Mecca) invited him to settle in their town, offering their allegiance and protection to him. He thus encouraged his followers (between 100-200) to emigrate to Yathrib (later known as Medina). Muhammad and his close companion Abu Bakr left as the last. This flight or emigration (arab. hijra) happened in 622 AD. This date became the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Islamic publications will usually prefer to date history according to their own calendar referring to AH = After the Hijrah, as against the Christian calendar AD = Anno Domini (in the year of the Lord).
Muhammad in Medina
MUHAMMAD AND THE JEWS
The Day of Atonement
Arriving in Medina, Muhammad and his companions were economically dependent on the Muslims in that city, which proved to be unsatisfactory. In addition the hoped for support of the Jewish community failed to materialize. Muhammad still believed to be a prophet in succession to these mentioned in the Bible. Subsequently he also participated in Jewish religious feasts. We have this report about it:
"A few months after his arrival in Medina, Muhammad saw the Jews keeping the great Fast of the Atonement; and he readily adopted it for his own people.
Ashor, or the 'Fast of the Tenth', i.e. tenth day of the seventh month - Lev. 23,27. It was a day of affliction and atonement; but popular tradition at Medina assigned to it another origin. 'When Muhammad asked the Jews what was the origin of the fast, they said that it was in memory of the delivery of Moses out of the hands of Pharaoh, and the destruction of the tyrant in the Red Sea: "We have a greater right in Moses than they", said Muhammad; so he fasted like the Jews, and commanded his people to fast also.
At the annual pilgrimage of Mecca victims (slaughter animals) have from time immemorial been slain at the close of the ceremonies in the vale of Mina. For the first year at Medina the occasion passed unnoticed. But, Jewish rites being still in favour, Muhammad kept the great Day of Atonement with its sacrifice of victims in its stead; and had he continued on a friendly footing with the Jews, he would, no doubt, have maintained the practice. In the following year, however, it was in keeping with his altered relations to abandon altogether the Jewish ritual of sacrifice, and to substitute for it another somewhat similar in character, but grounded on the ceremonies of the Ka'ba and held simultaneously with them. It was after having waged war against one of the Jewish tribes settled in the suburbs of Medina, and having expatriated them from the country, that Muhammad resolved upon the change. Accordingly at the moment while the votaries of the Ka'ba were engaged in the closing ceremonies of the pilgrimage at Mina, Muhammad, preceded by Bilal carrying the Abyssinian staff, and followed by the people, went forth to the place of prayer without the city. After a service resembling that of the breaking of the Fast, two fatted sucking kids, with budding horns, were placed before him. Seizing a knife, he sacrificed the first, saying: 'O Lord! I offer this for my people, those that bear testimony to thy Unity and to my Mission'. Then he called for the other, and, slaying it likewise, said: 'O Lord! this is for Muhammad, and for the family of Muhammad'. Of the latter kid both he and his family partook, and that which was over he gave to the poor. the double sacrifice seems in its main feature to have been founded on the practice of the Jewish high-priest at the Day of the Atonement, when he sacrificed first for his own sins, and then for the people's. The ceremony was repeated by Muhammad every year when present at Medina, and it is still observed throughout the Muslim world at the time when the sacrificial rite is being performed at Mina which closes the Greater pilgrimage.
"The Life of Muhammad" by W.Muir, pp. 191, 194, 195
This accounts for the fact that even until today the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) almost coincides with the Muslim Eid-u'l Adha, at which sacrifices are being slaughtered, although the biblical meaning and purpose have been totally alienated:
"... their [the Muslims] place of sacrifice is near the ancient House [i.e. the Ka'ba] ...the sacrificial camels We [i.e. Allah] made for you as among the symbols from Allah ... It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him...".
Compare what the Bible says:
Where I see the blood, I will pass over you!
The Life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it for you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement for ones life.
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
The reasons why the Jews did not accept Muhammad as their prophet:
They say: 'Why is not a Sign sent down to him from his Lord?' Say: 'Allah hath certainly Power to send down a Sign: but most of them understand not'.
They [i.e. the Jews] say: 'We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth or (until) thou ... cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water ... or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies' ... Say: 'Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man - an apostle?'.
We can easily detect the basis for this: Unless you have divine credentials, we cannot accept you as a prophet from God! Moses caused water to gush forth (out of the rock), Solomon lived in a house adorned with gold and Jacob had a dream about the ladder reaching to heaven.
We would do better to base our assessment of a prophet on Deut. 18:21-22 and many similar texts. We will deal with this later.
They (also) said: 'Allah took our promise not to believe in an apostle unless he showed us a sacrifice consumed by fire (from heaven)'. Say: 'There came to you Apostles before me, with clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?'. Then if they reject thee, so were rejected Apostles before thee, who came with clear Sings, Books of dark prophecies, and the Book of Enlightenment'.
These verses reflect on Elijah on Mt. Carmel. The apology: Yes, there were Apostles who performed miracles, and yet the Jews did not listen to them.
The 'signs' of Muhammad's prophethood:
These are the Signs of Allah: We rehearse them to thee in truth: verily thou art one of the Apostles.
Muhammad lets Allah say that the qualifying signs (aya) are the revealed verses (= aya) of the Qur'an! Even so one can sense the frustration of Muhammad; but also his reaction: defense ("I am only a warner") and threat (severe punishment):
And the Unbelievers say: 'Why is not a Sign sent down to him from his Lord?' But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide.
When there comes to them a Sign (from Allah), they say: 'We shall not believe until we receive one (exactly) like those received by Allah's apostles'. Allah knoweth best where (and how) to carry out his mission. Soon will the wicked be overtaken by humiliation before Allah, and a severe punishment for all their plots.
The Jews, after rejecting Muhammad's prophethood, are persecuted:
An unequivocal threat to the Jews (the clans [arab.'Banu'] Quraiza, Nadir and Qainuqa) is evident in the following tradition:
"It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira who said: We were (sitting) in the mosque when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) came to us and said: (Let us) go to the Jews. We went out with him until we came to them. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) stood up and called out to them (saying): O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will be safe. They said: Abu'l-Qasim, you have communicated (God's Message to us). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I want this (i.e. you should admit that God's Message has been communicated to you), accept Islam and you would be safe. They said: Abu'l-Qasim, you have communicated (Allah's Message). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I want this ... He said to them (the same words) the third time (and on getting the same reply) he added: You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land. Those of you who have any property with them should sell it, otherwise they should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (and they may have to go away leaving everything behind)".
Sahih Muslim vol 3, p.963, or chapter DCCXXIII and vers 4363.
It is surely understandable by biblical standards that the Jews intended not to give in. This, however, produced severe consequences for them:
"It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar that the Jews of Banu Nadir and Banu Quraiza fought against the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) who expelled Banu Nadir, and allowed Quraiza to stay on, and granted favour to them until they too fought against him. Then he killed their men and distributed their women, children and properties among the Muslims, except that some of them had turned to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) who granted them security. They embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) turned out all the Jews of Medina, Banu Qainuqa (the tribe of Abdullah b.Salam) and the Jews of Banu Haritha and every other Jew who was in Medina".
Sahih Muslim Vol. III, pp. 963-965, vss. 4363-4364 and 4366
"Then the apostle divided the property, wives, and children of B.Qurayza among the Muslims. The apostle had chosen one of their women for himself, Rayhana d.Amr b.Khunafa, one of the women of B.Amr b.Qurayza, and she remained with him until she died, in his power. The apostle had proposed to marry her and put the veil on her, but she said: 'Nay, leave me in your power, for that will be easier for me and for you'. So he left her".
Siratu'l Rasul vss. 690, 691 and 693
"Then God revealed the verse: 'It is not befitting for a prophet that he should take prisoners until the force of the disbelievers has been crushed ...' to the end of the verse: 'so eat ye the spoils of war, (it is) lawful and pure. So Allah made booty lawful for them".
Sahih Muslim, p. 962
Thus practically all Jews of Arabia were either killed or were chased from their homes and country. The common accusation that the Banu Qurayza were treacherous is false. The Quraysh (tribe that lived in and around Mecca) tried to win them for their cause, but the Qurayza remained neutral. This was apparently their crime!
MUHAMMAD'S PERCEPTION AND ASSESSMENT OF CHRISTIANS
Initially Muhammad had a high regard for the Christians. However, when most of them did not respond to his call to Islam, he changed his mind about them and shortly before his death he even cursed them.
Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, 'We are Christians': Because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.
Both Jews and Christians were only acceptable to Muhammad once they had acknowledged him as prophet.
Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: 'The guidance of Allah - that is the (only) guidance'. Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither protector nor Helper against Allah.
O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
"Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than Believers; if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah".
The Jews call Uzair [Ezra?] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them! How they are deluded away from the Truth!
Reasons For the Holy War
After having settled in Medina and after a Charter had been written to regulate life between the various differing tribes in the town, a means of livelihood had to be found. This led Muhammad to undertake "expeditions". He sent groups of his soldiers to raid Meccan trading caravans in order to find booty. Against the rule not to fight in the 'holy months', a contingent of troops raided a trading caravan. This caused havoc in his own camp because a Meccan had been killed in the month in which bloodshed was forbidden. Promptly a "revelation" came:
They ask thee concerning fighting in the prohibited month. Say: 'Fighting therein is a grave (offence): but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah to deny Him; to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members'. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.
When later on a large caravan was to pass Badr in the South-West of Medina on its way to Mecca from Palestine, the Meccans anticipated an attack and got supporting forces from the city, this led to the Battle of Badr (2 years after the Hijrah) With only 300 men but in a superior strategic position, Muhammad defeated the close to 1 000 Meccans. This victory gained him a tremendous status and his army grew rapidly. Many see the Battle of Badr as a real turning point for Muhammad.
Two major battles were still fought, besides a number of smaller skirmishes: The Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Ditch (Trench). At Uhud Muhammad lost. He was wounded in the fighting. But the Meccans did not take advantage of their victory - a most fortunate situation for the Muslims.
When the Meccans came again to deal the final blow to Muhammad, they brought all their allies along, but Muhammad had trenches dug at strategic places around Medina to prevent the enemy cavalry from using its advantages. Subsequently the Meccans withdrew after a couple of skirmishes - never to recover from this loss of face. In the year 9AH Muhammad took Mecca without a fight with 10 000 soldiers.
THE INCENTIVES FOR HOLY WAR
Muslims emphatically insist that the Jihad, or Holy War, was only a means of defense, and was never used as an offensive act. This is underlined in the explanatory notes of a collection of the Traditions:
"Thus Jihad in Islam is not an act of violence directed indiscriminately against the non-Muslims; it is the name given to an all-round struggle which a Muslim should launch against evil in whatever form or shape it appears. Quital fi sabilillah (fighting in the way of Allah) is only one aspect of Jihad. Even this qilal in Islam is not an act of mad brutality. It has its material and moral functions, i.e. self-preservation and the preservation of the moral order in the world".
Sahih Muslim III, p. 938
"... the sword has not been used recklessly by the Muslims; it has been wielded purely with humane feelings in the wider interest of humanity".
ibid, p. 941
Let us investigate how this claim is supported in other Islamic sources and by the actual facts of history.
"Jihad is one of the chief meritorious acts in the eye of Islam and it is the best source of earnings but it shall be undertaken with the intention of self-defense".
Mishkat II, p. 340 - explanatory note
"This is the best method of earning both spiritual and temporal. If victory is won, there is enormous booty and conquest of a country which cannot be equalled to any other source of earning. If there is defeat or death, there is ever-lasting Paradise and a great spiritual benefit. This sort of Jihad is conditional upon pure motive i.e. for establishing the kingdom of Allah on earth".
Mishkat II, p. 253
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them and seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war).
Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them); thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens. thus (are ye commanded): but if it has been Allah's will he could certainly have exacted retribution from them (himself). But (He lets you fight) in order to test you.
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day. Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book. Until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere.
All of the above texts are contradicted by:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error.
Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine.
We learn with regard to the Jihad, that:
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: To whichever village you go and settle therein, there is your share therein, and whichever village disobeys Allah and His Messenger, its one-fifth is for Allah and His Messenger, and the remainder is for you".
Mishkat II, p. 412
Does this sound of 'swords being wielded purely with humane feelings in the interest of humanity'?
This income, no doubt, was at the expense of someone else's livelihood. Let us look at Muslim warfare in practice.
These are the choices of the defeated (According to DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, p. 243):
- The acceptance of Islam, in which case the conquered became enfranchised citizens of the Muslim state.
- The payment of poll-tax (Jizya) by which people of the book, i.e. Jews and Christians obtained "protection", becoming 'Zimmis'.
- Death by the sword to those who would not either accept Islam nor pay the poll-tax.
"The Jews were allowed to stay at Khaibar on condition that they would pay half the produce of their lands to the Holy Prophet and in addition Jizya tax".
Mishkat II, p. 455 - footnote
"After the battle of Badr, the verse dealing with the booties was first revealed. The verse introduced the rule for the first time that the spoils of war would be the property of the soldiers who actually take part in the battle. Previously it went either to the coffers of the victorious king or commander even though he did not join in the actual fight. That is one of the reasons why the soldiers of Islam fought tooth and nail. They would get Paradise in case of death in a holy war, and booties in case of conquest, Jihad is therefore the best source of all acquisitions".
Mishkat II, p. 406
Booty included women:
"In the actual war-field in the midst of hostilities, according to some jurists, some concessions were sometimes given to soldiers for recreation. Captive virgin girls in war were once made lawful for the soldiers for copulation"
Mishkat II, p. 440
"Abdullah (b.Masud) reported: We were on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and we had no women with us. We said: Should we not have ourselves castrated? He (the Holy Prophet) forbade us to do so. He then granted us permission that we should contract temporary marriage for a stipulated period giving her a garment, and Abdullah then recited this verse: 'Those who believe do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Allah does not like transgressors".
Sahih Muslim II, p. 705
This practice is called 'mut'ah'. It is still practiced among Shiá Muslims and was indeed recommended, even for school children, by the 'Ayatollah Khomeini'.
This was not only in a war situation:
"Ibn Juraij reported: Ata reported that Jabir b.Abdullah came to perform Umra, and we came to his abode, and the people asked him about different things, and then they made a mention of temporary marriage, whereupon he said: Yes, we had been benefiting ourselves by this temporary marriage during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) and during the time of Abu Bakr and Umar.
Jabir b.Abdullah reported: We contracted temporary marriage giving a handful of dates or flour as a dower during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and during the time of Abu Bakr until Umar forbade it in the case of Amr b. Hurith.
Sabra Juhanni reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) permitted temporary marriage for us. So I and another person went out and saw a woman of Banu Amir, who was like a young long-necked she-camel. We presented ourselves to her (for contracting temporary marriage), whereupon she said: What dower would you give me? I said: My cloak. And my companions also said: My cloak. And the cloak of my companion was superior to my cloak, but I was younger than he. So when she looked at the cloak of my companion she liked it, and when she cast a glance at me I looked more attractive to her. She then said: Well, you and your cloak are sufficient for me. I remained with her for three nights, and then Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said he who has any such woman with whom he had contracted temporary marriage, he should let her off".
Sahih Muslim II, p. 706
There is little wonder that a poem ascribed to Ali ibn Abi Talib, reads thus:
"Our flowers are the sword and the dagger;
Narcissus and myrtle are nought.
Our drink is the blood of our foeman;
Our goblet his skull, when we've fought".
The claim that Muslims acted only in defense is simply not true. What were the Muslims defending in Spain, France, India, Persia or at the very gates of Vienna?
To an objective observer the following picture emerges: interest in material gain and political power were in fact more important than the making of converts. One can hardly help feeling that the Holy War was a pretence to make booty and receive continuing taxes. Many a man was persuaded to join the 'Holy war' and thus became a mercenary.
This interest no doubt gave enormous political and military momentum to the cause of Islam. Each warrior had a right to the belongings of the man he had slain, and could sell for ransom any prisoner he had made. Women and children were also reckoned as booty. A Muslim saw no moral irregularity in taking married women prisoners as concubines, as long as they were not pregnant.
This was an economic proposition. Soldiers whose only income is booty must keep on fighting to secure their livelihood. Booty lured many men to the army, which naturally kept growing.
THE OPPOSING CONCEPT OF JESUS
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one kilometer, go with him two kilometers. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. you have heard that it was said: 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
His Attitude Towards His Enemies
We are aware that at the time of Muhammad there was no Geneva Convention regulating international relations even in war times, or particularly, the treatment of prisoners. But there have always been ethics. While punishment must be meted out, both the Old and the New Testament demand fairness while dealing with lawbreakers or criminals.
THE SLAUGHTER OF OCBA
"On tomorrow, the prisoners were brought up before him. As he scrutinized each, his eye fell fiercely on Nadhr, son of Harish. 'There was death in that glance', whispered Nadhr, trembling to a bystander. 'Not so', replied the other, 'it is but thine own imagination'. The unfortunate prisoner thought otherwise and besought Musab to intercede for him. Musab reminded him that he had denied the faith and persecuted Believers. Ah, said Nadhr, had the Coreish be made the prisoners. they would never have met the death! 'Even were it so' Mohammad scornfully replied 'I am not as thou and Islam hath rent all bounds asunder. Micda, the captor, fearing lest the prisoner, and with him the chance of a rich ransom, was about to slip from his hands, cried out, 'The prisoner is mine'. But at this moment the command to strike off his head! was interposed by Mohammad, who has been watching what passed. 'And, O Lord' he added, 'do thou of thy bounty grant unto Micdad a better prey than this'. Nadhr was forthwith beheaded by Ali.
Two days afterwards, about half-way to Medina, Ocba, another prisoner, was ordered out for execution. He ventured to expostulate and demand why he should be treated more rigorously than the other captives. 'Because of thy enmity to God and to His Prophet', replied Mohammad. 'And my little girl' cried Ocba, in the bitterness of his soul, 'who will take care of her?' 'Hell-fire!' exclaimed the heartless conqueror, and on the instant his victim was hewn to the ground".
"Dictionary of Islam", p. 380
THE MURDER OF MARWAN'S DAUGHTER
"When the apostle heard what she had said he said, 'Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter? Umayr B.Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, 'You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!'. When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, 'Two goats won't butt their heads about her', so Umayr went back to his people".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 996
THE MURDER OF KA'B IBN ASHRAF
Muhammad had called for a volunteer to carry out the assassination of one of his personal enemies. Muhammad b. Maslama offered his services with these words:
"He said, 'O Apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies'. He answered, 'Say what you like, for you are free in the matter'".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 151
"It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Who will kill Ka'b b.Ashraf? He has maligned Allah, the Exalted, and His Messenger, Muhammad b. Maslama said: Messenger of Allah, do you wish that I should kill him? He said: Yes. He said: Permit me to talk (to him in the way I deem fit). He said: Talk (as you like). So Muhammad b.Maslama came to Ka'b and talked to him, referred to the old friendship between them and said: This man (i.e. the Holy Prophet) has made up his mind to collect charity (from us) and this has put us to a great hardship. When he heard this, Ka'b said: By God, you will be put to more trouble by him. Muhammad b.Maslama said: No doubt, now we have become his followers and we do not like to forsake him until we see what turn his affairs will take. I want that you should give me a loan. He said: What will you mortgage? He said: What do you want? He said: Pledge me your women. He said: You are the most handsome of the Arabs; should we pledge our women to you? He said: pledge me your children. He said: the son of one of us may abuse us saying that he was pledged for two wasqs of dates, but we can pledge you (our) weapons. He said: All right. Then Muhammad b.Maslama promised that he would come to him with Hartih, Au Abs b.Jabr and Abbad b.Bishr. So they came and called upon him at night. He came down to them. Sufyan says that all the narrators except Amr have stated that his wife said: I hear a voice which sounds like the voice of murder. He said: it is only Muhammad b.Maslama and his foster-brother, Abu Na'ila. When a gentleman is called at night even if to be pierced with a spear, he should respond to the call. Muhammad said to his companions: As he comes down, I will extend my hands towards his head and when I hold him fast, you should do your job. So when he came down and he was holding his cloak under his arm, they said to him: We sense from you a very fine smell. He said: Yes, I have with me a mistress who is the most scented of the women of Arabia. He said: Allow me to smell (the scent on your head). He said: Yes, you may smell. So he caught it and smelt. Then he said: Allow me to do so (once again). He then held his head fast and said to his companions: do you job. And they killed him".
Sahih Muslim III, p. 990-991
The Siratu'l Rasul continues the same story:
"They walked on farther ... Ka'b suspected no evil. Then he cried, 'Smite the enemy of God!' So they smote him, and their swords clashed over him with no effect. Muhammad b.Maslama said, 'I remembered my dagger when I saw that our swords were useless, and I seized it. Meanwhile the enemy of God had made such a noise that every fort around us was showing a light. I thrust it into the lower part of his body, then I bore down upon it until I reached his genitals, and the enemy of God fell to the ground. Al-Harith had been hurt, being wounded either in his head or in his foot, one of our swords having struck him.
We carried him and brought him to the apostle at the end of the night. We saluted him as he stood praying, and he came out to us, and we told him that we had killed God's enemy. He spat upon our comrade's wounds, and both he and we returned to our families. Our attack upon God's enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life. The apostle said, 'Kill any Jew that falls into your power'".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 552-554
THE MURDER OF SALLAM
"When Aus had killed Ka'b for his enmity towards the apostle, Khazraj used these words and asked themselves what man was as hostile to the apostle as Ka'b? And then they remembered Sallam, who was in Khaybar and asked and obtained the apostle's permission to kill him.
Five men of B.Salima of Khazraj went to him: 'Abdullah b.Atik; Mas'ud b.Sinan; Abdullah b.Unays; Abu Qatada al-Harith b.Rib'i; and Khuza'i b.Aswad, an ally from Aslam. As they left, the apostle appointed Abdullah b.Atik as their leader, and he forbade them to kill women or children. When they got to Khaybar they went to Sallam's house by night, having locked every door in the settlement on the inhabitants. Now he was in an upper chamber of his to which a ladder led up. They mounted this until they came to the door and asked to be allowed to come in. His wife came out and asked who they were and they told her that they were Arabs in search of supplies. She told them that their man was here and that they could come in. When we entered we bolted the door of the room on her and ourselves fearing lest something should come between us and him. His wife shrieked and warned him of us, so we ran at him with our swords as he was on his bed. The only thing that guided us in the darkness of the night was his whiteness like an Egyptian blanket. When his wife shrieked one of our number would lift his sword against her; then he would remember the apostle's ban on killing women and withdraw his hand; but for that we would have made an end of her that night. When we had smitten him with our swords Abdullah B.Unays bore down with his sword into his belly until it went right through him, as he was saying Qatni, qatni, i.e. it's enough.
We went out. Now Abdullah b.Atik had poor sight, and fell from the ladder and sprained his arm (729) severely, so we carried him until we brought him to one of their water channels and went into it. The people lit lamps and went in search of us in all directions until, despairing of finding us, they returned to their master and gathered round him as he was dying. We asked each other how we could know that the enemy of God was dead, and one of us volunteered to go and see; so off he went and mingled with the people. He said, 'I found his wife and some Jews gathered round him. She had a lamp in her hand and was peering into his face and saying to them 'By God, I certainly heard the voice of Abdullah B.Atik. Then I decided I must be wrong and thought, 'How can Ibn Atik be in this country?' Then she turned towards him, looking into his face, and said, 'By the God of the Jews he is dead!' Never have I heard sweeter words than those.
Then he came to us and told us the news, and we picked up our companion and took him to the apostle and told him that we had killed God's enemy. We disputed before him as to who had killed him, each of us laying claim to the deed. The apostle demanded to see our swords and when he looked at them he said, 'It is the sword of Abdullah b.Unays that killed him; I can see traces of food on it'".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 714-715
THE MURDER OF ABU RAFE
"Bara's reported: The Holy prophet sent a party to Abu Rafe. Abdullah b.Atik entered his house at night while he was asleep and killed him. Abdullah b.Atik said afterwards: I fixed my sword over his belly till it went out by his back. Then I could recognize that I had killed him".
Mishkat IV, p. 404
While this is fitting political hit-squad intrigue and faction hatred, we deem it not fitting for a man of God to act like this - particularly so after the Lord Jesus Christ has opened our understanding to Christian ethics. While Church history has a lot to say about all kinds of enmity, intrigue and even murder, this cannot be traced back to the teaching or actions of Jesus Christ. What a contrast we find in Muhammad:
"The apostle said, 'Kill any Jew that falls into your power'. Thereupon Muhayyisa b.Mas'lud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed him Huwalyyisa began to beat him, saying, 'You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?' Muhayyisa answered, 'Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off'".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 554
During the latter part of his life Muhammad initiated at least 27 murders, or 'executions', as Muslims might say today.
The Wives and Concubines of Muhammad
We have to realize that Muhammad lived ± 600 years after Jesus revealed to us God and his plans and purposes for our lives. A comparison with the Old Testament, in which polygamy (to be married to more than one wife) or divorce was tolerated by God, is therefore not justified.
A Muslim man is allowed to marry up to four wives (excluding concubines).
Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four. But if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
Muhammad had lived 25 years in marriage with his first wife Khadija. After her death, which roughly coincided with the Hijra to Medina, he married about thirteen wives. All except Ayesha were widows or divorcees. (See list in the appendix).
Strangely this lead Muslims to glorify Muhammad's behaviour. He is viewed as a man full of compassion who salvaged these women from an unprotected way of life and cared for them. We do not want to dispute this in some cases, but would like to reveal the other side as well:
Some of the widows he married became widows through him and his Muslim soldiers! We like to state again that all our information on early Islam derives from Islamic sources.
MUHAMMAD'S AFFAIR WITH MARY THE COPT
"Mary (the Copt) was a Christian slave given to Muhammad 7 AH (628 AD) by the Governor of Egypt, Elmokaukas. Her sister, Shereena, was also given at the same time. Muhammad became intimate with Mary and she bore him Ebrahim, who died in 10 AD. Intimacy took place in the home and bed of his wife Hafsah (daughter of Umar) who was absent at that moment and on the day which was either her or Aysha's turn. When Hafsah found this out and questioned him he promised (on oath) not to touch Mary again if she would keep this a secret, and promised that Umar and Abu Bakr should be his successors. Hafsah, however, did not keep quiet and told Aysha about this event. As a result Muhammad had no dealings with any of his wives for a full month, living with Mary alone".
"Der Koran" translated by Ludwig Ullmann, Footnote 2 of Surah 66:1-2, p. 456
(The complete story is told in the Rauzatu'r Safa, Vol. II, p. 188).
At this appropriate time Muhammad was given a suitable "revelation":
O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which ;Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you (O men) the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases)[this insert is not part of the text] and Allah is your Protector, and He is full of knowledge and wisdom. When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another), and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part ... It may be, if he divorced you (all) that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you - who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for faith) and fast - previously married or virgins.
Al-Baizawi, (Commentary Vol. II, pp. 340-341), the Qur'anic commentator, gives an explanation of this passage:
"It is related that Mohammed was alone in company with Mary in Ayesha's or Hafsah's turn. Hafsah became aware of that and therefore scolded him about it. He declared he had taken an oath, but admitted his unlawful behaviour, therefore these verses descended".
Mizanu'l Haqq, p. 330; (The "Mishkat" names Zainab instead of Hafsah); Mishkat II, p. 680-681
We ought to be aware that many a Muslim takes grave offense at the above recorded event. To illustrate this, and extract from the book "Namoose Rasool" by Hafiz Muhammad Sawar Qureshi is added:
"In Defense of the Honor of Muhammad
Peace and blessing of Allah be on him
One day in April 1978, I was studying Maudoodi's famous commentary on the Qur'an, Tafhimul Qur'an, volume 4. I had to look up something concerning the wives of the Prophet. Suddenly I read this about Mary the Copt (may Allah be pleased with her): '(The Prophet of God) took Mary Qabtia, who had been sent by the Maqauqus (ruler of Egypt) especially for himself. The first three mentioned he freed and married but with Mary he had intercourse on the basis of his having her in his power. It is not proven about her that he freed her and married her' (Tafhimul Qur'an, Vol. 4, commentary on sura al-Ahzab, verse 50, note number 88, pages 113-114).
Such was the effect of this reading on my mind and soul that, without exaggeration, for three straight days I could no longer believe even in the prophethood and messengership of Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Again and again I said to my friends: See and check. Has Maudoodi actually written that about Mary the Copt which I have understood? At my insistence, my friends again and again read the relevant passage and said to me: Surely this writings means what you have understood it to mean.
I cannot explain fully what was the condition of my mind at that time. Strange doubts and fears of a nature that would put me outside the limits of Islam arose in my mind about the mission of the leader and seal of the prophet. I was so disturbed because the ugly act which Maudoodi was attributing to the messenger of God was so hideous that even a sinful person like myself could not have committed it or thought of committing it. How could a great messenger of God, walking on the path of Truth, have done such a thing? Whatever else such a person might be, he certainly would not be the messenger of God. Consider what would happen when this extemely misleading commentary would be translated into the English language and other international languages and would reach the nations of the world! What opinion would they form of the best men, Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) after reading Maudoodi's commentary when they (especially the Europeans) are already very much prejudiced against the Prophet owing to other misleading and distorted versions of Islam which have reached them! Alas, would there be such a true believer who, out of sheer love of the truthful Prophet, make sure that this misleading commentary would not be able to do the harm it is capable of doing? Perhaps such a believer could use my book 'Namoose Rasool' (The Honor of the Prophet's Household) to prove to the non-Muslim peoples that the ugly tradition of slavery and concubining was not invented by the Messenger of God.
Some people may object to the weakness of my faith; however it is not a question of the weakness of my faith but of the credibility of my appropriate witnessing. We know from the Qur'an that it is correct to assume that faith can increase and also become weaker on the basis of reason and reliable evidence. My faith is based on the truthfulness and justice of the holy Qur'an and the highest moral and ethical example of the messenger of God referred to in the Qur'an as 'the pattern of excellence'. Hence imagine my mental condition when the greatest scholar and thinker of Islam in these times comes forward as a witness and testifies that whatever the enemies of Islam had been saying in their malice and hate about the messenger was partially, if not entirely true. The stories that the Prophet was a lustful person and used women as concubines (O Allah forgive us) and that Muslims could take men as slaves, even without war, and take women from decent households and use them as concubines and 'keeps' without benefit of marriage, was being given the seal of authenticity by a scholar of Islam.
It is clear that Mary the Copt was not taken prisoner in a war. And according to Maudoodi, the messenger of Islam took her as his concubine without any fault of hers and entirely according to the tradition of the unbelievers. This would go even against what the generality of Islamic scholars say and agree upon, that Islam did put an end to slavery that was rampant among the unbelievers and the associates, and that whatever slavery Islam did 'permit', had to do only with the prisoner of war. Even if this viewpoint is true, how would it be proper to justify the enslavement of Mary the Copt by the great moral messenger? Was she being treated as a prisoner of war? Or had she been taken and enslaved merely on the basis of the established tradition of slavery among the associates and unbelievers?
Thus when we get this witness from the greatest scholar of Islam in our time, that 'in fact' the messenger of Islam had not even been forced by the conditions of war but had merely, according to unislamic culture then prevalent, taken Mary as a slave girl, and that too without marriage, and forced her entry into his household, then who would conscientiously believe in the messengership of such a person? Surely this was a deed which went against the very Qur'an which the messenger had been sent to teach and publicize. It is of course true that some other Muslim commentators and historians have also written that Mary was the slave girl of the Prophet. This took the meaning in my mind that originally she was a slave girl but the Messenger of God must have married her. This did not leave a bad impression. But the words Maudoodi used, that it had not been proven that the Prophet ever married her, were shattering. Such misleading words I had not come across from a scholar of Islam".
The sad fact is that Mary the Copt was a concubine of Muhammad. The conclusion that 'what must not be cannot be' is as false as the supposition that Islam put an end to slavery.
We can clearly see that the longing of genuine people for purity is indeed a tool in evangelism we should not fail to use.
MUHAMMAD'S AFFAIR WITH ZAINAB
Muhammad took the wife of his adopted son Zaid:
"Muhammad beheld her after he had wedded her to him (Zaid), and she fell into his soul: therefore he said, 'Praise to God who turneth hearts upside down'. And Zainab heard the ascription of praise, and mentioned it to Zaid. He was quick to understand that, and there occurred to his soul an aversion from her society. Therefore he came to the Prophet and said, 'I desire to put away my consort' (Muhammad) said, 'What is the matter with thee? Has anything made thee doubtful of her?'. (Zaid) said, 'No, by God, I have seen nothing (done) by her but what is good; but truly her dignity is too exalted for me'. Accordingly he said to him, 'Keep thy wife to thyself' ... 'Therefore when Zaid satisfied a requirement from her', i.e. a need; since he wearied of her, and he divorced her, and her time was completed ...'We wedded her to thee': ... the meaning is that He commanded him to wed her, or He made her his (Muhammad's) wife without the interposition of a marriage-contract. And what confirms it (this explanation) is that she used to say to the rest of the Prophet's wives, 'Verily God acted the part of a relative in my being given in marriage, and, as for you, your relatives gave you in marriage'. And it is said that Zaid was the go-between in her betrothal, and that was a real trial, and an evident witness to the strength of his faith".
Commentary of Al Baizawi, Vol. PP, p. 129; Mizanu'l Haqq, pp. 331-332
"Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to Zaid to make a mention to her about him. Zaid went on until he came to her and she was fermenting her flour. He (Zaid) said: As I saw her I felt in my heart an idea of her greatness so much so that I could not see towards her (simply for a fact) and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had made a mention of her. So I turned my back towards her, and I turned upon my heels and said: Zainab, Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) has sent (me) with a message to you. She said: I do not do anything until I consult the will of my Lord. So she stood at her place of worship and the (verses of) the Qur'an (pertaining to her marriage) were revealed, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to her without permission".
Sahih Muslim II, p. 724
And this is the "revelation" which was then given:
It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle, to have any option about their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.
Behold! though didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: 'Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah'. But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), we joined her in marriage to thee; in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality)(Their marriage) with them: and Allah's command must be fulfilled.
There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty.
MUHAMMAD'S MARRIAGE TO AISHA
"Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old".
Sahih Muslim p. 716
We remember that a Muslim may not marry more than one wife unless he treats them all alike. This is humanly speaking impossible. One cannot love several wives equally. This applies likewise to Muhammad as we already realized. Elsewhere we read of scenes of jealousy:
"Ayesha reported: I used to backbite those (females) who offered themselves for [sic] the Messenger of Allah. So I asked: Does a woman offer herself? Then the Almighty Allah revealed: You may put off whom you please of them, you may take to you whom you wish, and if you desire any whom you have separated, no blame attaches to you (33:5IQ). I said: It seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire".
Mishkat I, p. 210
"Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sought our permission when he had a (turn to spend) a day with (one of his wives) amongst us (whereas he wanted to visit his other wives too). It was after this that this was revealed: 'Thou mayest put off whom thou pleasest of them, and take for thee whom thou pleasest".
Sahih Muslim, p. 762
This is the full text:
"O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possess out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Mecca) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her - this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large). We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess; - in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest; and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside".
We cannot see that Muhammad's marriages were primarily acts of compassion as Islam maintains.
We believe this to be a cover-up:
"Narrated Qatada: Anas ibn Malik said: 'The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number'. I asked Anas: 'Had the Prophet the strength for it?' Anas replied, 'We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)'. And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven)".
Al-Bukhari I, p. 165
"Ubayd Allah Ibn Musa ... said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: Gabriel brought a kettle from which I ate and I was given the power of sexual intercourse equal to forty men".
Ibn Sa'd, p. 438
We are reminded of the words of Jesus:
"He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery"
Because polygamy excludes devoted love, for love between the sexes is exclusive, it is degraded in essence to mere sexual fulfillment. No woman who loves her husband and wishes to be fully loved in return, wants to tolerate a rival. One may loose sight of this fact in a polygamous society, but even Ayesha, the favourite wife of Muhammad, confesses to having been jealous. How much more would the other wives have been!
His Use Of Personal Advantages
Looking at the 'revelations' of the Qur'an and the Hadith, we cannot fail to see that a number of statements deal with personal advantages for Muhammad. These boosted his power and influence as much as privileges concerning the other sex. Again we are tempted to compare with Christ, of whom is said:
Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven as on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The following commentary to a Hadith (Tradition) speaks for itself:
All the utterances and deeds of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) are thus divinely inspired, and in them alone can one find the true meaning and the real significance of the Will of Allah ... It is indeed a boundless favour of Allah to humanity that, along with His message, He also sent to us His Messenger to elaborate and elucidate it, and then transmute it into practical reality under His direct guidance.
'And We have sent unto thee the Admonition that thou mayest expound unto mankind that which hath been revealed towards them'.
As a final dispenser of the Message of Allah, the Prophet alone is best fitted and, therefore, divinely authorized to determine the meanings of the Holy Qur'an, to unfold before humanity the deep wisdom contained in it, and then, on the basis of his wisdom, to purify the souls of the people and elevate them to the highest pinnacle of morality and God-consciousness.
'Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: for Allah is Forgiving, a Dispenser of Mercy'
It is by following Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that we can achieve the cherished goal of winning Allah's favour.
The question arises: Did the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) utter not a word besides what was revealed to him by the Lord in the form of the Qur'an? The answer obviously is: No. He did also explain the contents of the Divine revelations. He gave practical demonstration of their significance by leading his life according to them, and was thus instrumental in moulding the lives of his Companions after his own pattern of life. He did all this, of course, under Divine inspiration".
Sahih Muslim I, pp. i-ii - Commentary
MUHAMMAD INDEED EXPECTED PEOPLE TO FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE
"Malek-b-Anas reported a defective tradition that the Holy Prophet said: I leave with you two things; as long as you hold fast by them both, you will never be misguided - the Book of Allah and Sunnat of His Messenger.
al-Bukhari chapt. 2, vs. 3-4, Vol. IX, p. 284; Mishkat I, p. 159
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Every one of my followers will enter Paradise except he who refused. He was questioned: And who has refused (truth)? He said: Whoever obeys me shall enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me has refused".
Mishkat I, p. 173
The Qur'an also teaches this:
"Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of (conduct). For anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.
O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses until leave [= permission] is given you - for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter. And when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth.
And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs.
Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Apostle, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time.
Those who annoy Allah and His Apostle - Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment.
It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle, to have any option about their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
We have made lawful to thee any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her - this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large). We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess - in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hast set aside".
Surah 33:21, 53, 57, 36, 50-51
This, of course, is a personal extension of Surah 4:3, by which a Muslim is allowed no more than 4 wives.
The Final Part Of Muhammad's Life
The life of Muhammad can distinctly be divided into three parts:
- His childhood, youth and early married life up to his calling (570-609 AD)
- His prophethood and witness during the time in Mecca (610-622 AD)
- His life in Medina until his death (623-633 AD)
Even if we question his divine calling, we find the first two sections of his life acceptable. His humility and seeming sincerity, his marriage with Khadija and his devotion to Allah, all leave a favourable impression.
However, the last part of his life seems to be in stark contrast to the time before the 'hijrah'. Although loved by his immediate followers, he became a dictator who found much resistance and found means to break it. The 'ridda', the rebellion and apostasy of many after Muhammad's death, is a strong witness to that. The man of peace became a man of war. The man devoted to one wife became a polygamist. The man who humbly endured persecution, became the persecutor.
When scrutinizing the part of the Qur'an, which was 'received' before the 'hijrah' in Mecca, we find a lot of the message Psalm-like and beautiful in diction and style. The part added in Medina lacks these qualities. They are rather like a string of commands and rules, and often threats, lacking the poetic charm.
Religion and lust for booty (see 'Jihaad') filled the ranks of his army, which increased during this time from 100 to 10,000!!!
Towards the end of Muhammad's life his religion was claimed to be 'perfected'. His power and authority had little opposition.
In the 6th year after the Hijrah, Muhammad and his followers attempted to go to hostile Mecca to perform the Hajj (pilgrimage). Meccans rejected this, but entered into a treaty with the Muslims to allow them in the following year. This was the famous 'Treaty of al-Hudaibiyah'. This is still acclaimed to have been a victory, though it was not, for Muhammad had to retreat until the next year.
In the 7th year AH the Umrah was performed. This led to a friendlier relationship with Mecca.
The following years were filled with diplomatic activities. Letters demanding submission to Allah were sent to all rulers far and wide, including the Emperor of Byzanz.
In the 9th year AH Muhammad approached Mecca with an army of 10 000. The gates opened and Mecca was taken. Islam was enforced and stayed from that time on (January 630 AD).
Two months later Muhammad performed what is called his "Farewell Pilgrimage". In his famous speech he said:
"And I have left among you a thing which if you adhere to, you will never be misguided after this - the Book of Allah and what you get from me by questions (Hadith)".
Mishkat I, p. 172
The Jewish settlement of Khaibar was attacked unexpectantly and taken. One of the Jewish widows served Muhammad a poisoned, cooked kid goat. Her treachery was noticed, but somewhat late, for Muhammad suffered from the consequences of this poisoning until his death.
In 632 AD Muhammad died quite unexpectedly in Ayesha's arms after a short sickness.
Only one daughter, Fatima, survived him. His son Ibrahim had died shortly before him at the tender age of fifteen months.
Muhammad was well-loved and respected by his friends and followers. He seems to have been convinced of his calling as a Messenger of Allah.
A Fair Evaluation?
If it is demanded of a person that he follow and obey a certain leader, he will have to weigh the pros and cons in order to reach a decision whether he should or should not obey. When truth and eternal life are involved, this is all the more important, for each person is personally responsible for his decision. When we are told to follow the footsteps and guidance of a "spiritual leader", our confidence must not solely be based on emotions, but also on sound evidences.
That presupposes a scrutiny of the quality of the life of a leader. One should not give a deaf ear to negative reports, provided they are substantiated. Also one should not explain away possible flaws. But most of all one must have a fixed standard by which to measure right and wrong, good and evil. As Christians we use the standard that is found in the Bible. Ultimately, our concept of what is moral and what is immoral will find its root there.
In the light of what we studied now - even if the presentation is slanted and the good sides of Muhammad have been omitted - we find it very hard, indeed impossible - to accept Muhammad as the final prophet of God.
What are the Islamic claims for his prophethood and how should we evaluate it?
ALLEGED "PROOFS" OF HIS PROPHETHOOD
- Muhammad was illiterate
- Muhammad prophesied events
- Muhammad performed miracles
- Muhammad's coming was prophesied in the Bible
Christians reply to:
1. MUHAMMAD'S ALLEGED ILLITERACY
Since we have already dealt with this (see p. *) we need not expand on it further.
2. PROPHECIES ATTRIBUTED TO MUHAMMAD
"The greatest thing in miracles is a prophecy i.e. a forecast of future events. This is not a political forecast but a forecast of future secrets derived from Divine Knowledge. Prophecy is greatest for the following reasons. It can be historically proved but a miracle cannot. Prophecy manifests God's fore-knowledge, while a miracle God's power. As a knowledge is greater than power, prophecy is greater than a miracle".
Mishkat IV, p. 396 - Commentary
The only 'real' prophecy recorded is:
The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by; but they (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the future; on that Day shall the Believers rejoice.
This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis (615-616 AD, this was years before the Hijrah). The defeat of the Persians should take place soon - "in a small number of years". In the light of this prediction, Abu Bakr undertook a bet with Abai-ibn-Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Muhammad, who stated that the "small number" is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). Muslims tell us that the Byzantines overcame their enemies within seven years. However, the fact is that the Byzantines defeated Persia in 628 AD (Al-Baizawi commentary). That was twelve years after the prediction of Muhammad. Consequently this passage does not qualify as a prophecy, particularly as the time between prophecy and fulfilment was far too short, and the event was easily predictable.
The other 'prophecies' refer to Muhammad's victories and those relating to the Qur'an itself. It is nearly impossible to establish whether these prophecies were said before their fulfilment, besides - they were either predictable, or just war-propaganda. In this event Churchill might be called a prophet too, for he predicted that the Allies would win the war.
Applying Biblical standards, we find it difficult to reach the conclusion that Muhammad was a prophet of God.
"How may we know the Word which the Lord has not spoken?"
When a prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken, the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.
Set forth your case, says the Lord, bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them and tell us what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome, or declare us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.
Read also: Isa. 44:7,26; Isa. 48:3,5; Deut. 13:1-4; Jer. 28:9; Ps. 105:17-19; Amos 3:7 and Zech. 4:9.
3. ALLEGED MIRACLES DONE BY MUHAMMAD
Please Note: Most Muslims believe that Muhammad performed miracles. Yet, the Qur'an denies that Muhammad did perform miracles. But the Hadith report a number of miracles.
They say: 'We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water. Or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen) against us, or thou bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face. Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we could read'. Say: 'Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man - an apostle?'.
In other words : "Am I more than a man, a messenger?"
And we refrain from sending the sign, only because the men of former generations treated them as false: We sent the She-camel; to the Thamud to open their eyes, but they treated her wrongfully; We only sent the signs by way of terror (and warning from evil).
And the Unbelievers say! 'Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?' But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide.
They say: 'Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?' Say: 'Allah hath certainly power to send down a sign: But most of them understand not'.
Say those without knowledge: 'Why speaketh not Allah unto us? Or why cometh not unto us a sign?'. So said the people before them words of similar import. Their hearts are alike. We have indeed made clear the signs unto any people who hold firmly to Faith (in their hearts). Verily, we have sent thee in truth as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner.
The only 'sign' (= aya; also verse) Muhammad said had been given to him was the Qur'an.
"The Prophet was looking while riding upon his mule like one eagerly longing to kill them. He said: This was when the blood boiled in veins. Thereafter he took some pebbles and threw them at the faces of the infidels and then said: Be routed, by the Lord of Muhammad".
Mishkat IV, p. 411
This was supposed to have decided the battle in Muhammad's favour.
"Anas reported: A man wrote to the Prophet and he turned an apostate from Islam and joined the infidels. The Prophet said: Verily the earth will not accept him. Abu Talbah informed me that he had come to the land wherein he died. He found him thrown outside. He said: What is the matter with him? They said: They buried him several times but the earth did not accept him".
Mishkat IV, p. 419-420
"He said: And who is to attest what you say? He said: This tree. The Apostle of Allah then called it while he was by the side of a valley, and so it came tearing the ground till it stood in his presence. He wanted it to recite three attestations. So it attested thrice as he had said and then it returned to its root".
Mishkat IV, p. 447
"There is no water with us to make therewith ablution and to drink except what is in your jug. Then the Prophet placed his hand unto the jug and water began to gush forth between his gingers like springs. Thereupon we took drink and made ablution. Jaber was asked: How many were you? He said: Had we been one hundred thousands, it would have surely sufficed us. We were fifteen hundreds".
Mishkat IV, p. 407
"Bara'a-b-A'jeb reported: We were 1400 on the Day of Hudaibiyyah with the Apostle of Allah, and in Hudaibiyyah was a well. We exhausted it and left not a drop therein. It reached the Prophet who came to it, sat down on its edge and then called for a pot of water. He made ablution and then gurgled and invoked. Thereafter he poured it therein and said: Leave it for an hour. Then they allowed satisfaction to themselves and to their riding animals by water till they departed".
Mishkat IV, p. 408
"This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abdullah b.Masud (who said): We were along with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) at Mina that moon was split up into two. One of its parts was behind the mountain and the other one was on this side of the mountain. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to us: Bear witness to this".
Sahih Muslim IV, p. 1467
The last passage even more than the others shows the latent desire of the people to have some supernatural proof for their faith. We are told that "at Mina the moon was split up into (sic) two". This links up with Surah 54. It is called "The Moon", and begins: "The hour (of judgement) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder ...". The context shows this was meant to be a sign, but people rejected it.
Have we ever seen a halfmoon in the night sky? Of course we have. We did not assume, however, that the other half 'was behind the mountain'. It could well have been, according to another writer, that 'the mountain covered one of its parts'.
Eager Muslims come up with similar stories. When one of the first men stopped on the moon, he heard the Kalima being recited: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger". He also discovered the crack in the moon which remained after the splitting of the moon. How far can human imagination go?!
To the Christian reader many of these reports sound very much like the legendary stories of the New Testament Apocrypha. These are well-meaning "reports", often very fanciful in character. They lack just one thing: authenticity. The Apocrypha dates mainly from the second century AD, i.e. 70-170 years after the death of Jesus. The Hadith was compiled approximately 250-300 years after the Hijra. This being the case, we have to take both the Apocrypha and the Hadith with a pinch of salt.
4. ALLEGED PROPHECIES ABOUT MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE
And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: 'O children of Israel! I am the apostle of Allah (sent) to you confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.
Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) - in the Law and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good.
These verses prompted many a Muslim to search both the oral and the Gospel for such prophecies. In John 14:16 they read about the "Comforter" (Paracletos). They reasoned that it should read 'Periclytos', which would be 'the praised one', the same as Ahmad or Muhammad. This led Muslims to the assumption that Muhammad is foretold in the Bible.
(We will not consider this argument any further here, but rather refer the trainer to Volume II of our Textbooks. Under Chapter 2: "Islamic Allegations of the Corruption of the Bible" this argument will be dealt with in more detail.)
PROPHETHOOD ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
While we respect Muhammad for his statesmanship and bravery and commend him for his care for his people, especially widows and orphans, we cannot accept him as a prophet of God! There are three reasons:
- Muhammad did not have the divine credentials as required by Scripture (see next page).
- We have to strongly suspect his message to have come from occult sources.
- His personal life style, particularly with regard to his excessive involvement with the opposite sex, his moral ethics regarding his enemies and the fact that personal advantages were "revealed" to him and are contained in the Qur'an.
When we evaluate Muhammad's life, we should do it in the light of Scripture:
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man but honours those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts.
THE BIBLICAL MARK OF A PROPHET
This is what the Lord says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no god. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one".
"I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretches out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfil the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited' of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built'.
Isa. 44:6-8, 24-26
'Present your case', says the Lord. 'Set forth your arguments', says Jacob's King. Bring in (your idols) to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds so that we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable.
The prophet who prophesies ... will be recognized as one truly sent by God only if his prediction comes true.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. You may say to yourselves: 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
Deut. 18:18, 21-22
Recommended Literature for Chapter 2
Christians ask Muslims, Gerhard Nehls, LCA 1992, 140 pages.
Holy War in Islam, Abd Al-Masih, Light of Life, 71 pages.
Ishmael, my Brother, compiled by Anne Cooper, MARC, Evangelical Missionary Alliance, 1993, pp. 98-112.
Muhammad, The Prophet of Islam, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1994, 142 pages.
- endeavours to evaluate Muhammad objectively with the purpose of getting as close to the original as possible. In addition to a biographical record there are chapters analysing his personality, his prophetic experience and his image in popular Islam.
Textbook of Islam I+II, M.A. Quraishy, 1989, The Islamic Foundation, Kenya.
- this widely accepted Islamic textbook presents Islam in a rather idealistic manner. Students are tought about early Islam, teachings and practices, Islamic theology and philosophy and some famous Muslims. Even though we may not buy everything presented here we recommend it to discover the Muslim perception about their religion. (Textbook I, pp. 1-82)
The Great Deception, How Muhammad tried to win the Christians for Islam, Abd Al-Masih, Light of Life, 1995, 179 pages.
- this exegesis of Sura 3:33-66 documents Muhammad's encounter with a Christian delegation and how he argued to win them for Islam without compromising his authority. Muslim attitudes towards Christians are still affected by this approach.
Free handout: A Comparison between Muhammad and Jesus, LCA.