Muhammad and the Arab Criteria of Demon Possession

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi wrote a paper addressing my article regarding Muhammad demonstrating the conditions and symptoms which the pagan Arabs associated with demon possession. We recommend that the readers first carefully go over my paper and also Zawadi’s response before reading this rebuttal.

Here is how he responds to the hadith I cited where the wife of Muhammad’s uncle claimed that Muhammad’s Satan had forsaken him:

My Response:

Presenting this hadith means absolutely nothing. Abu Lahab and his wife were known to be one of the greatest enemies of the Prophet Muhammad. It even says in the Quran that these two individuals will go to tell. (Surah 111).

Just because someone merely accuses someone else of being possessed by Satan proves absolutely nothing. If Shamoun wants to insist, then I would have to insist that Jesus is also possessed by Satan since he is accused of being so in Mark 3:22.

Mark 3:22

22And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub[a]! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."

So this argument holds no value.


Several corrections and responses to Zawadi’s comments are necessary. First of all, the quote from Abu Lahab’s wife was made in conjunction to several other sources to establish the point that Muhammad’s contemporaries believed he was demon possessed. Had she been the only person that we presented then Zawadi’s point would carry some credibility, since she was obviously a hostile witness who could have simply sought to slander Muhammad. But when her testimony is combined with the witness of several other individuals then her opinion isn’t as one-sided or biased as Zawadi would want his readers to believe. After all, her position agrees with that of Muhammad’s foster parents:

"Some months after our return he and his brother were with our lambs behind the tents when his brother came running and said to us, ‘Two men clothed in white have seized that Qurayshi brother of mine and thrown him down and opened up his belly, and are stirring him up.’ We ran towards him and found him standing up with a livid face. We took hold of him and asked him what was the matter. He said, ‘Two men with white raiment came and threw me down and opened up my belly and searched therein for I know not what,’ so we took him back to our tent.

His father said to me, ‘I am afraid that this child has had a stroke, so take him back to his family before the result appears.’ So we picked him up and took him to his mother who asked why we had brought him when I had been anxious for his welfare and desirous of keeping him with me. I said to her, ‘God has let my son live so far and I have done my duty. I am afraid that ill will befall him, so I have brought him back to you as you wished.’ She asked me what happened and gave me no peace until I told her. When she asked if I feared a demon possessed him, I replied THAT I DID. She answered that no demon had any power over her son who had a great future before him, and then she told me how when she was pregnant with him a light went out from her which illumined the castles of Busra and Syria, …" (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995], pp. 71-72; bold and capital emphasis ours)

It even agrees with Muhammad himself since he initially believed that he might have been possessed:

… I recited it, and then he desisted and departed I woke up, and it was as though these words had been written on my heart. There was no one of God’s creation more hateful to me than a poet or a madman; I could not bear to look at either of them. I said to myself, "Your humble servant (meaning himself) is either a poet or a madman, but Quraysh shall never say this of me. I shall take myself to a mountain crag, hurl myself down from it, kill myself, and find relief in that way." (The History of al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt and M.V. McDonald [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988], Volume VI, p. 71; bold emphasis ours)


Then he went to Khadijah and said, "Khadijah, I think that I have gone mad." "No, by God," she said, "Your Lord would never do that to you. You have never committed a wicked act." Khadijah went to Waraqa b. Nawful and told him what had happened. He said, "If what you say is true, your husband is a prophet. He will meet adversity from his people. If I live long enough, I shall believe in him."

After this, Gabriel did not come to him for a while, and Khadijah said to him, "I think that your Lord MUST HAVE COME TO HATE YOU." Then God revealed to him:

By the forenoon, and by the night, when it is still, your Lord has not forsaken you, nor does he hate you. (The History of al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt and M.V. McDonald [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988], Volume VI, p. 70; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

As a side note, notice how similar the reaction of Muhammad’s first wife was with that of Abu Lahab’s wife when Muhammad’s spirit did not show up for awhile:

Narrated Jundub bin Sufyan:
Once Allah's Apostle became sick and could not offer his night prayer (Tahajjud) for two or three nights. Then a lady (the wife of Abu Lahab) came and said, "O Muhammad! I think that your Satan has forsaken you, for I have not seen him with you for two or three nights!" On that Allah revealed: 'By the fore-noon, and by the night when it darkens, your Lord (O Muhammad) has neither forsaken you, nor hated you.' (93.1-3) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 475)

Both these women knew that there was something wrong with Muhammad being abandoned by his spirit for a period of time.

Returning to Muhammad’s analysis of his first encounter with the spirit, it is interesting to read that he believed that satan actually lived inside of him and had to be removed:

Anas b. Malik reported that Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) while he was playing with his playmates. He took hold of him and lay him prostrate on the ground and tore open his breast and took out the heart from it and then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: That was THE PART OF SATAN IN THEE. And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a golden basin and then it was joined together and restored to its place. The boys came running to his mother, i. e. his nurse, and said: Verily Muhammad has been murdered. They all rushed toward him (and found him all right). His color was changed, Anas said. I myself saw the marks of a needle on his breast. (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 311)

Yet other narrations report that Muhammad still had a satan circulating in him, even though Allah supposedly protected Muhammad from the evil spirit’s mischief!

Narrated Aisha:
Aisha said: One day Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) went out of her (Aisha's apartment) during the night and she felt jealous. Then he came and he saw me (in what agitated state of mind) I was. He said: Aisha, what has happened to you? Do you feel jealous? Thereupon she said: How can it be (that a woman like me) should not feel jealous in regard to a husband like you? Thereupon Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said: It was your devil who had come to you, and she said: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) is there along with me a devil? He said: Yes. I said: Is devil attached to everyone? He said: Yes. I (Aisha) again said: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) is it with you also? He said: Yes, but my Lord has helped me against him as such I am absolutely safe from his mischief. (Sahih Muslim, Book 039, Number 6759)

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Do not visit women whose husbands are away from home, for the Devil circulates in you like your blood." He was asked if this applied to him also and said, "To me also, but Allah has helped me against him so that I may be safe."
Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 931; Alim CD-Rom Version)

Yet Allah didn’t prevent others from being harmed by these evil spirits, it seems. After all, Muhammad wasn’t the only one who was possessed by a satan, as the above narrations plainly indicate, and one of his close companions and the first caliph, Abu Bakr, even warned the Muslims to avoid him whenever his satan would come to possess him:

The Apostle of God died with no one of this community having a claim against him concerning anything wrongfully taken [for which the punishment would be] one lash of the whip or [even] less. I have a Satan who takes possession of me; so when he comes to me, avoid me so that I may have no [evil] effect [even] on your hair and your skins. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Conquest of Arabia, translated by Fred M. Donner [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1993], Volume IX, pp. 11-12; bold emphasis ours)

This is in stark contrast to the Lord Jesus who expressly stated that Satan had absolutely no hold on him:

"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. HE HAS NO POWER OVER ME;" John 14:30

In fact, Christ went so far as to insure believers that they would be given his sovereign authority to overcome and trample Satan and his demons:

"The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us IN YOUR NAME!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I HAVE GIVEN YOU AUTHORITY to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’" Luke 10:17-20

Furthermore, Waraqa bin Naufal, the Christian monk whom Khadijah took Muhammad to see after his encounter with the spirit, suspected that Satan might have deceived Muhammad:

"Waraqa was dumbfounded at this, and said, ‘If Gabriel has actually placed his feet upon the earth, he has done so for the best of people thereupon. And he never came down for anyone except a prophet. For he is the companion of all the prophets and messengers, the one whom God sends down to them. I believe what you tell me of him. Send for ‘Abd Allah’s son, so that I may question him, hear what he says and talk to him. I am afraid it may be someone other than Gabriel, for certain devils imitate him and by so doing can mislead and corrupt some men. This can result in a man becoming confused and even crazy whereas before he had been of sound mind.’" (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998], pp. 296-297; bold and underline emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing, the testimony of Abu Lahab’s wife holds a lot of weight since it agrees with the belief of Muhammad’s foster parents as well as his own initial assessment of the situation.

Now is this at all similar to the accusations which were leveled against Jesus in Mark 3:22? Not even close as the context itself shows:

"And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ And he strictly ordered them not to make him known… And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Be-el'zebul, and by the prince of demons HE CASTS OUT DEMONS.’ And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. ‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’ -- for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’" Mark 3:9-12, 22-30

Notice that the reason why the scribes accused Jesus of being possessed WAS DUE TO HIS HAVING THE POWER TO CAST OUT DEMONS! Unlike Muhammad, they didn’t accuse Jesus of demon possession because the Spirit had left him or had delayed in returning to him, or because Christ had contemplated suicide as a result of thinking that he may have been possessed. Zawadi’s appeal to Mark 3:22 is nothing more than the fallacy of false analogy since he is comparing apples and oranges at this point.

Now Zawadi may try to use Jesus’ statements in Mark regarding Satan dividing against himself to prove that the Quran is true since it attacks Satan as an enemy of God. Why would Satan attack himself in the Quran if the latter were his work since he would be divided against himself and could therefore not stand?

This position betrays a certain naiveté on how Satan actually works, at least according to the Holy Bible. The Scriptures plainly teach that Satan will and does masquerade his lies in the guise of religious truth:

"I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough." 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

Paul warned believers from Satan’s cunning in preaching another Jesus and a different Gospel in order to mislead them from the truth. Satan even appears as an angel and raises ministers who practice righteousness to deceive people!

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds." 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

What the foregoing shows is that Satan doesn’t mind producing a religion which attacks him since he realizes that any religion which doesn’t originate from the true God cannot affect him. A religion that does not originate from God and which does not have the authority of the risen and exalted Christ can do nothing to stop the Adversary or undermine his cause to destroy the souls of men.

In other words, just because a religion happens to mention Satan this doesn’t make it correct, nor does it mean that it has the right Satan or the real Adversary in mind. The religion can quite possibly be a satanic counterfeit aimed at deceiving people into thinking that they are truly opposing God’s spiritual enemy by following it.

And this is precisely the position that Muslims are in since they erroneously assume that the figure that the Quran calls Satan is actually the Devil. In reality, the Satan of Islam is not the same one mentioned in the Holy Bible - just as the Jesus of Islam is not the real Jesus of history, the Christ of faith.

Besides, if this Muslim claim is correct then this means any religion which warns against Satan must also be true and could not originate from the Devil. Therefore, Mormonism, Bahaism, Ahmadiyyism, etc. could not be satanic in origin since they all have negative things to say about the Adversary. Yet all these religions have conflicting views of God, Christ, Satan, man and the nature of salvation. Unless we assume that God inspires chaos and confusion it is evident that not all of these religions can be from the same divine source. They can all be false, but they can’t all be true.

This leads us to Zawadi’s next point where he tries to tackle my citation of 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 where the beloved Apostle spoke of Satan appearing as an angel to deceive people:

My Response:

Shamoun erroneously assumes that just because his bible talks about the possibility of Satan appearing as an angel to deceive someone then that would necessarily imply that every time an angel appears to someone, that angel is Satan.

Well let us turn the tables around. How does Sam Shamoun know that Paul was not deceived by Satan? Paul did not know Jesus well enough to identify him. How do you know that Satan did not deceive him and make him think that he is Jesus? Maybe, Satan made Paul say that statement (Corinthians 11:13-15) in order to trick people like you so that you can doubt when the true angel comes to a Prophet. Isn't that possible?

Either way, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) does not fit the criteria that the Bible gives to identify false prophets, Paul actually fits it perfectly well. Read about it here


It seems to be the consistent habit of Zawadi to distort what we say and to attack straw man. For instance, there isn’t a single place in my paper where I said that every time an angel appeared to someone that was Satan. What I did say was that Satan could appear to individuals as an angel in order to deceive them into thinking that they have been chosen by God. The way we can know whether one has been deceived or not is by testing their message in light of the established revelation of God, a criterion with which the Quran agrees:

And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets: Certainly what I have given you of Book and wisdom -- then an apostle comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must aid him. He said: Do you affirm and accept My compact in this (matter)? They said: We do affirm. He said: Then bear witness, and I (too) am of the bearers of witness with you. S. 3:81 Shakir

God’s messengers must confirm and be in full agreement with the previous revelations.

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers. S. 10:94 Shakir

A person is to test the Quran in light of the Holy Bible, which is the Book that has been in the hands of those before Muhammad.

As far as Paul is concerned, there is ample evidence supporting his conversion and encounter with the risen Lord. For instance, Jesus didn’t simply appear to Paul but also to a disciple named Ananias whom he sent to baptize Paul:

"As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.' The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, 'Ananias!' 'Yes, Lord,' he answered. The Lord told him, 'Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. IN A VISION HE HAS SEEN A MAN NAMED ANANIAS COME AND PLACE HIS HANDS ON HIM TO RESTORE HIS SIGHT.' 'Lord,' Ananias answered, 'I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.' But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.' Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God." Acts 9:3-20

The reason why Jesus appeared to Ananias should be obvious. By appearing and sending Ananias to Paul, Jesus was giving confirmation that what Saul had seen wasn't a deception or the figment of his overactive imagination. After all, individuals normally do not have the same dream or vision where they receive messages independently from one another so as to verify each others' experiences.

Furthermore, the other Apostles such as Peter confirmed Paul’s Apostleship and gave him the right hand of fellowship:

"And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him." Acts 9:26-29

"For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cili'cia. And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, ‘He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they glorified God because of me." Galatians 1:11-24

"Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage -- to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) -- those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do." Galatians 2:1-10

Peter even classified Paul’s writings as Holy Scripture:

"And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures." 2 Peter 3:15-16

Thus, if Paul was deceived into deceiving others, so were the rest of the disciples and eyewitnesses of Christ.

Moreover, even the earliest Muslim sources agree that Paul was a legitimate spokesperson of Christ:

This means that these early Muslim writers were deceived as well! Now this last argument carries no evidential value for either Christians or the serious historian. It only carries weight for those Muslims who believe in the veracity of the Quran and Islamic literature like Zawadi.

Finally, what makes Zawadi’s argument regarding Paul not knowing Jesus well enough to identify him truly amazing is just how inconsistent this position is. After all, Muhammad was born roughly five hundred and seventy years after the birth of Christ and could not have seen or known Jesus enough to identify him either. Yet this still doesn’t prevent Zawadi from believing that Muhammad could give a description of Christ as reported in the hadith literature:

Narrated Ibn Umar:
The Prophet said, "I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Az-Zutt." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 648)

Narrated Salim from his father:
No, By Allah, the Prophet did not tell that Jesus was of red complexion but said, "While I was asleep circumambulating the Ka'ba (in my dream), suddenly I saw a man of brown complexion and lank hair walking between two men, and water was dropping from his head. I asked, 'Who is this?' The people said, 'He is the son of Mary.' Then I looked behind and I saw a red-complexioned, fat, curly-haired man, blind in the right eye which looked like a bulging out grape. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'He is Ad-Dajjal.' The one who resembled to him among the people, was Ibn Qatar." (Az-Zuhri said, "He (i.e. Ibn Qatan) was a man from the tribe Khuza'a who died in the pre-Islamic period.") (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 650)

The reason? Because Zawadi erroneously assumes that what Muhammad saw was a vision from God. Yet the problem with believing that Muhammad saw Jesus in a vision is that, unlike the blessed Paul, he had none of the eyewitnesses of Christ to confirm his experience. In fact, Muhammad contradicts the writings of those who had seen Christ or had seen the eyewitnesses of Jesus, proving that he was not receiving genuine revelation from the true God.

Zawadi now proceeds to address the specific examples I gave which showed how Muhammad fulfilled the criteria given by the pagans that he was indeed possessed:

My Response:

This would have to be the weakest argument yet. Sam said that the following are signs of one who is possessed:

Choking, gasping, spasmodic movements, delirium, and whisperings.

Shamoun presents no hadith regarding the Prophet choking.


The reason why I didn’t produce a text where Muhammad was choked should have been obvious by what I did present. Choking implies a violent encounter with the spirit, that the entity that comes to possess the individual inflicts some physical harm upon the recipient. This is precisely what happened to Muhammad:

The Prophet added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) AND PRESSED ME SO HARD that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again AND PRESSED ME A SECOND TIME till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time AND PRESSED ME, and then released me and said, 'Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, "I fear that something may happen to me." Khadija replied, "Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3)

Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Abi al-Shawarib – ‘Abd al-Wahid b. Ziyad – Sulayman al-Shaybani – ‘Abd Allah b. Shaddad: Gabriel came to Muhammad and said, "O Muhammad recite!" He said, "I cannot recite." GABRIEL WAS VIOLENT TOWARDS HIM and then said again, "O Muhammad recite!" He said, "I cannot recite," AND GABRIEL AGAIN WAS VIOLENT TOWARDS HIM… (The History of al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca, Volume VI, p. 69; capital emphasis ours)

This experience never happened to any of the true biblical prophets, and so our challenge to Zawadi is very simple:


He resumes:

As for Surah 2:97, it does not necessarily imply that Gabriel whispered the revelations to the Prophet. We do not know exactly how the Prophet received his revelations all the time. In Tafsir of Qurtubi, he said that when the word "heart" is mentioned, it basically means that Prophet Muhammad had the Quran memorized. (Source:

Either way, so what if Gabriel whispered revelation into Prophet Muhammad. What does this prove?


When the Prophet would receive revelation, he would get scared. Why? Who knows? Maybe he saw Gabriel and got scared. How would you feel if you saw a supernatural being in front of you? You would get shocked.


First, we didn’t say that Gabriel whispered the "revelation" to Muhammad "all the time." Second, the word "heart" isn’t a reference to memorization but to Muhammad’s mind, that the "revelation" entered his mind similar to the way ideas form within a person’s mind.

Third, the texts I cited imply that after the "revelation" descended upon his heart Muhammad would then move his lips to recite it. What this means is that Muhammad was hearing something internally which he would verbalize just as the following narration implies:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

(as regards) Allah's Statement:

"Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran) to make haste therewith." (75.16)

When Gabriel revealed the Divine Inspiration in Allah's Apostle, he (Allah's Apostle) moved his tongue and lips, and that state used to be very hard for him, and that movement indicated that revelation was taking place. So Allah revealed in Surat Al-Qiyama which begins:

"I do swear by the Day of Resurrection…" (75) the Verses:--

"Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it (Quran) IN YOUR MIND, and give you the ability to recite it by heart." (75.16-17) Ibn Abbas added: "‘It is for Us to collect it (Qur'an) (in your mind), and give you the ability to recite it by heart’ means, ‘When We reveal it, listen.’ ‘Then it is for Us to explain it,’ means, 'It is for us to explain it through your tongue.' So whenever Gabriel came to Allah's Apostle he would keep quiet (and listen), and when the Angel left, the Prophet would recite that revelation as Allah promised him." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 451)

According to this report, when the "revelation" came down from "Gabriel" Muhammad would move his lips which served as an indication that he was in a state of inspiration. This presupposes that "Gabriel" didn’t visibly come down with the "revelation" in these instances, nor was the "inspiration" given in a manner which others could hear audibly. Rather, Muhammad heard the "revelation" internally, in his own mind. If this doesn’t classify as whispering then we don’t know what does! And what this proves is that Muhammad manifested one of the symptoms which the pagans claimed was proof of possession.

Moreover, the problem is not with Muhammad getting scared. Rather, the problem is with the reason why Muhammad got scared, i.e. the spirit physically tortured him in their first encounter.

There is not a single example in the Holy Bible where God’s envoys physically tortured the prophets or apostles when conveying the revelation to them. In fact, these spirit messengers would actually alleviate the fears that God’s human representatives experienced during these encounters:

"And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, ‘Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.’ As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. ‘Son of man,’ he said to me, ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.’ While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.’" Daniel 8:16-18

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill-- while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.’" Daniel 9:20-22

"But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard… Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’ The angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.’" Luke 1:13, 18-19

"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The Angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.’" Luke 1:26-30

We see that in the three incidents that Angel Gabriel first appeared, he sought to allay the fears of those seeing him. He must have been an awesome sight to behold. He touched Daniel and raised him to his feet, and told Zechariah and Mary not to be afraid. The angel Gabriel does not leave his recipients in total disarray and confusion. He does not physically torture or abuse them. Compare this with the reaction of Muhammad when the spirit appeared to him in the cave. Muhammad was so totally confused and was so fearful that he sought comfort from his wife and even wanted to commit suicide:

… He would then return to Khadija and take provisions for a like period, till Truth came upon him while he was in the cave of Hira'. There came to him the angel and said: Recite, to which he replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me [the Apostle said] and pressed me, till I was hard pressed; thereafter he let me off and said: Recite. I said: I am not lettered. He then again took hold of me and pressed me for the second time till I was hard pressed and then let me off and said: Recite, to which I replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me and pressed me for the third time, till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite. And your most bountiful Lord is He Who taught the use of pen, taught man what he knew not (al-Qur'an, xcvi. 1-4). Then the Prophet returned therewith, HIS HEART WAS TREMBLING, and he went to Khadija and said: WRAP ME UP, WRAP ME UP! So they wrapped him TILL THE FEAR HAD LEFT HIM. He then said to Khadija: O Khadija! What has happened to me? And he informed her of the happening, saying: I FEAR FOR MYSELF. She replied: It can't be. Be happy. I swear by Allah that He shall never humiliate you. By Allah, you join ties of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people's burden, you help the destitute, you entertain guests, and you help against the vicissitudes which affect people… (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0301)

What a total contrast! Instead of the angel or spirit comforting him, Muhammad’s wife has to convince him and calm him down! In light of the foregoing, we issue a slightly different challenge to Zawadi:


Zawadi says of Muhammad’s abnormal breathing patterns during the state of "revelation":

So what if the Prophet had difficulty breathing? Maybe when the Prophet was receiving revelation he stopped breathing because he had to pay extra attention or was not even thinking of breathing. So after the revelation was over, he gasped for air. People with asthma have difficulty breathing at times. Are they possessed by Satan?

Is delirium supposed to prove the Prophet was possessed? Obviously the Prophet was not in his usual state of mind because he was receiving revelation. He could not be fully conscious with those around him and be receiving revelation from God at the same time.

Isn't it all possible that the Prophet endured all this while he was receiving revelation from God through an angel?


The problem is not with abnormal breathing patterns, but with the manner in which Muhammad received his "revelations." People suffering with asthma do not usually claim (at least we are not aware of anyone that does) that their condition is the result of being inspired by a spirit or angel. So this is nothing more than a false analogy.

Furthermore, what Muhammad’s delirium proves is that he manifested another sign which the pagans associated with possession.

Moreover, these symptoms are not those which the biblical prophets experienced during their inspired states, i.e. none of them breathed heavily or snored like a camel when revelation came to them:

Narrated Safwan bin Yala bin Umaiya from his father who said:
A man came to the Prophet while he was at Ja'rana. The man was wearing a cloak which had traces of Khaluq or Sufra (a kind of perfume). The man asked (the Prophet), "What do you order me to perform in my 'Umra?" So, Allah inspired the Prophet divinely and he was screened by a place of cloth. I wished to see the Prophet being divinely inspired. 'Umar said to me, "Come! Will you be pleased to look at the Prophet while Allah is inspiring him?" I replied in the affirmative. 'Umar lifted one corner of the cloth and I looked at the Prophet who was snoring. (The sub-narrator thought that he said: The snoring was like that of a camel). When that state was over, the Prophet asked, "Where is the questioner who asked about 'Umra? Put off your cloak and wash away the traces of Khaluq from your body and clean the Sufra (yellow color) and perform in your Umra what you perform in your Hajj (i.e. the Tawaf round the Ka'ba and the Sa'i between Safa and Marwa)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 27, Number 17)

So we issue another challenge:


He says:

Just because these are the symptoms of one who usually gets possessed by Satan that does not mean that anyone who has these symptoms is possessed by Satan.

Its like me saying, "The usual features of a criminal is one who was abused as a child." Does that necessarily imply that everyone who was a victim of child abuse is a criminal?

Sam Shamoun has only provided circumstantial evidence. Pretty weak evidence.

Imam Nawawi says in his commentary on the hadith of (Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 2656) that the Prophet's face turned red because the revelation that was being sent down to him was really powerful. (Source:

This is because God says in the Quran:

Surah 73:5

Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty Message.

In the commentary of this verse, that the Message (revelation) when sent down was weighty because of its greatness.


So that explains why the Prophet acted the way he did.


The problem with Zawadi’s false analogy regarding criminals is that Muhammad exhibited the symptoms of one who was possessed by an evil spirit, not one who was inspired by God’s Spirit like the biblical prophets. Hence, even though it is true that not every criminal was abused as a child, Zawadi has failed to prove that Muhammad’s experiences were the exception to the norm, that "his criminal activities weren’t the result of child abuse."

In fact, we want to thank Zawadi for having to candidly admit that:

Just because THESE ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ONE WHO USUALLY GETS POSSESSED BY SATAN that does not mean that anyone who has these symptoms is possessed by Satan.

We are really glad that Zawadi realizes that Muhammad did display the symptoms normally associated with demon possession, despite his rather desperate attempt of trying to explain these away.

Imam an-Nawawi’s comments are non sequitur. Turning red in the face or snoring like a camel has no connection with the burden of the revelation since if it did then we would expect to find God’s true prophets exhibiting these same conditions. Don’t forget what the Quran claims about Muhammad’s experiences:

We have revealed to thee as We revealed to Noah, and the Prophets after him, and We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave to David Psalms, and Messengers We have already told thee of before, and Messengers We have not told thee of; and unto Moses God spoke directly -- S. 4:163-164 Arberry

Muhammad was supposedly inspired like the biblical prophets were, and yet none of them exhibited the symptoms which Muhammad endured.

Zawadi’s comments at this point really do not refute anything I presented. He simply tries to brush my arguments aside by positing possibilities, i.e. maybe this or maybe that, or by claiming that they are weak and desperate. In reality, we must say that Zawadi’s rebuttal is desperate and very weak.

Let us now see how he deals with Muhammad spitting and blowing knots:

My Response:

Like I said before, just because someone spits or blows that does not mean that the person is possessed by Satan. Sam thinks that just because the devil does something and whoever does it should be possessed by Satan. For God sake, there are hadith that state that the devil eats! Does that mean we are possessed because we eat as well?


When you can’t refute an argument then simply attack a straw man and bring up false analogies. Eating isn’t a characteristic that is associated with Satan alone, but this isn’t at all analogous to what I have presented in my paper. The issues that I raised showed that Muhammad’s experiences were virtually identical to those possessed by evil spirits, not with the manner in which the prophets of the Bible received revelation.

Zawadi now thinks that I shot myself in the foot:

What is Shamoun really trying to prove? He is just shooting him self in the foot.

If Shamoun wants to insist, then I am going to insist that Jesus is possessed by Satan.

Mark 8:22-26

The Healing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"

24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."

25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village.[a]"


It seems we need to remind Zawadi what the subject of our paper was. Our article discussed the criteria which the Meccans, the pagan Arabs, and Muhammad used in assessing whether a person was possessed. We did not raise the biblical criteria in our analysis, but simply mentioned it in passing and then provided links which discussed in detail Muhammad’s experiences in light of the Bible’s teaching. It is Zawadi who brought up the Bible in his rebuttal, which necessitated that we respond by using it so as to show that Muhammad’s experiences are not at all similar to the way in which the biblical prophets received revelation. Thus, both the Holy Bible’s teachings and the criteria presented by the pagans conclusively prove that Muhammad was demon possessed.

Furthermore, if the only argument we used to prove that Muhammad was possessed were that he spat then Zawadi would have a case against us. But this is not what we said since spitting was just one of the many symptoms of demon possession which we listed, so it is obvious that Zawadi is attacking a straw man.

Moreover, to expose why Zawadi’s appeal to Mark 8:22-25 is nothing more than a false analogy and a sheer act of desperation note the following key differences between Christ and Muhammad:

  1. Did Jesus ever get choked or physically harmed by the Spirit? No.
  2. Did Jesus’ revelations come to him in terrifying dreams which horrified him? No.
  3. Did Jesus ever contemplate suicide after encountering the Spirit? No.
  4. Did Jesus ever snore like a camel when receiving revelations? No.
  5. Did Jesus breathe heavily when he was inspired? No.
  6. Did Jesus ever gasp when he was inspired? No.
  7. Did Jesus hear the revelation come to him as the ringing of a bell? No.
  8. Did Jesus ever sweat profusely when he was inspired? No.
  9. Did Jesus hear the revelation as the sound of a bee humming? No.
  10. Did Jesus experience delirium when he was inspired? No.
  11. Did Muhammad experience the above conditions? Yes.

The readers should be able to see from the foregoing that Zawadi is comparing apples and oranges at this point. Now what does Zawadi say about Muhammad and eloquence?

My Response:

Again there is no evidence. Clearly from the hadith shown, not all eloquent speech is magic. Some eloquent speech is magic. Just like how some poetry has wisdom, but not all of it. Read

Not everyone who has been gifted with eloquent speech casts magic on people.

I heard Sam Shamoun in a couple of debates, his speech is very eloquent. However, I don't think he is possessed by Satan.

Same thing with Prophet Muhammad.

These are very weak and desperate arguments.


First, I want to thank Zawadi for his kind words regarding my eloquence, which is totally and completely due to the grace of the risen and immortal Lord Jesus Christ, praise be his glorious name.

Second, I did not say that every eloquent speech is magic or from Satan but that, much like the issue with spitting, this is one of the many signs of possession which Muhammad exhibited. In other words, eloquence by itself doesn’t prove that Muhammad was possessed. Rather, it is when this quality is combined with all the other symptoms that one can safely conclude that Muhammad was possessed.

Here is his assessment on Muhammad’s bad dreams:

My Response:

Taken from

Ibn Hajar said: the fact that bad dreams are mentioned in conjunction with the Shaytaan means that they share his characteristics of lying and exaggeration, etc., unlike true dreams which are mentioned in conjunction with the name of Allaah by way of honour, even though all of them are created and decreed by Allaah. Fath al-Baari, 12/393.

So that does not mean if someone had a bad dream then he is possessed by the devil. Shamoun needs to understand and read the commentary of hadith before he uses them. He cannot take everything literally.


First, it seems we need to repeat this point over and over again: We didn’t say that a person who has a bad dream is necessarily possessed by the devil. We mentioned bad dreams as one of the many factors which, when taken collectively, determine possession.

Second, even by Ibn Hajar’s own explanation we are left with the conclusion that Muhammad’s dreams were satanic in origin. After all, these visions and dreams were full of lies and exaggerations, contradicting the message of the true prophets of the Holy Bible, i.e., a denial of the crucifixion, of vicarious blood atonement, the Deity of Christ etc.

Zawadi responds to Muhammad hearing the so-called revelations like the sound of a bell with:

My Response:

The exact meaning behind those hadith are not known. However, commentator's best guess is that the Prophet did not like bells to accompany them when they were traveling because he always liked to sneak up on his enemy and not let them know he is approaching. Other commentaries just simply say that the sound is very disturbing. You can see the commentaries by visiting the links below.

But again Sam does not prove anything. Because first of all we do not know the exact meaning of the Prophet's sayings that a devil is with each bell. Secondly, it does not necessarily imply that everything that sounds like a bell also has Satan accompanying it.

If your read the commentary of the hadith (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 2), scholars address the difference between the bell that Satan accompanies himself with and the bell sounds that the Prophet heard.


So Muhammad didn’t like bells because he wanted to sneak up on his enemies? And this somehow is supposed to vindicate Muhammad? Furthermore, the commentators’ confusion regarding why Muhammad disliked bells does absolutely nothing to refute Muhammad’s plain words that this is an instrument of Satan. Thus, if bells are Satan’s instruments and shouldn’t be used then Muhammad’s revelations (some of them at least) must have come from the Devil since they came as the sound of bells ringing. Hence, if we were to apply Muhammad’s own words consistently then Muhammad manifested another sign of demon possession. To again show how dissimilar Muhammad’s experiences were with the genuine prophets of God we present another challenge to Zawadi:



Bassam Zawadi has offered nothing concrete to refute the rather strong evidence we presented to prove that Satan deceived Muhammad. Such evidence can and would be held in a respectable court of law, and would easily incriminate Muhammad as a man possessed. I await to see any strong proof rebutting the overwhelming data proving that Muhammad was possessed by Satan, not like the pretty weak and desperate arguments presented by Zawadi.

The discussion continues ...

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