Critical Podium Dewanand Islam
Muhammed - a messenger of God?
Sacrifice code wfor0236
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Muhammed - a messenger of God?
I shall not address Muhammed as the Prophet or Apostle or Messenger,
because the purpose of this document is to prove, or at least question
those very beliefs of the followers of Islam that elevate him to that
exalted status. The article relies on the autobiogarphy of Muhammed by
Ibn Ishaq written in recension by Ibn Hashim.
Muhammed was born in 570 AD. His father died while Muhammed was sill in
his mother's womb. After birth, as per customs, questionable though they
were, Muhammed was given away to a professional surrogate for suckling.
We later see his mother allowing the surrogate to continue to keep Muhammed
even after the expiry of the normal two-year period prevalent at that
time. One is constrained to consider the possibility of psychological
developmental problems in an infant who does not stay with his real mother,
as has now been established by the knowledge gained by us, in this century,
in the field of developmental child psychology.
As per the autobiography, the surrogate mother went to return Muhammed
to his real mother when he was 2 years old but expressed her desire to
continue to keep him longer. Having got permission to retain Muhammed
she came back with the child. The autobiography mentions that "two
months after the return" one day her own child(foster brother of
Muhammed) came and reported about two men in white that had split Muhammed's
abdomen. When Muhammed was asked about it by his foster parents he confirmed
the story. This is an incident not possible in reality, and if truly narrated,
should be understood as early indications of Muhammed being prone to illusions
After this incident we see Muhammed start living with his real mother.
I would again like to mention the question of confusion and consequent
psychological impact on a child of two years who is made to change mothers.
Muhammed's mother died when he was six years of age. We then see Muhammed
living with his grandfather "in the shade of the Kabba". Apparently,
he was spending a lot of his time in childhood in very close physical
proximity to the Kabba. It is necessary to consider the effects an exposure
of this kind can have on a child that young, where he spends a substantial
part of his waking hours witnessing the rituals carried out by the pilgrims
and residents of Mecca at the site of the Kabba.
The autobiography mentions the grandfather of Muhammed, Abdul Muttalib
as "the acknowledged leader of the Quraysh tribe, guardians of the
holy city of Mecca". This proves wrong the idea suggested by many
that Muhammed was born in a poor family. An acknowledged leader of the
ruling tribe of a prosperous centre of business cannot be poor by any
means. As a consequence, it also becomes difficult to understand the constraints
on account of which Muhammed did not attend school and remained illiterate
as is claimed. It is confounding to imagine how in later life, with no
education and literacy, he is hired and successfully manages the active
and profitable mercantile business of his wealthy wife Khadija.
There is an incident described in which Muhammed travels as a young boy
with his uncle Abu Talib. The incident is when a monk Bahira, asks Muhammed
certain questions, but before that swears by the name of al-Lat and al-Uzza
the prevailing deities at that time for the Quresh. To this Muhammed responds
"Do not ask me by al-Lat and by al-Uzza; for, by Allah, I have never
hated anything more intensely than these two." This is an indication
of the intense hatred that Muhammed had, even as a boy, for the prevailing
deities of his tribe. It needs to be observed that this hatred at the
time had nothing to do whatsoever with any revelations from Allah, which
ocurred many many years later. But if one were to reflect on the early
childhood of Muhammed, the reasons for such hatred are relatively simple
to comprehend. We have already seen the unusual nature and sequence of
mental traumas and psychological anguish that Muhammed went through at
such a young age. To recount in brief, we see him as a child whose father
is dead before his birth, a child who spends the first 2 years of his
life with a foster mother although his real mother lives and well. At
two he is given up by his foster mother (who because she suckled him must
have led Muhammed to believe as his real mother).
The traumas continue as his real mother dies when he is just six. He
moves into the care of his grandfather and as if it was not enough, a
little later he loses this guardian too. Finally he is taken care of by
his uncle. It should not be difficult at all to imagine the mental condition
and the possible problems in the psychological development of a child
who has undergone such mental agony. The boy, unable to apply proper mature
reasoning, would indeed hold the existing gods responsible for all the
misery that he had to suffer. Of course he must be hating the two prevailing
deities, holding them responsible for all that went wrong with him. His
change in affiliations to Allah,who incidentally, and this should be noted,
was already another exisitng deity at the time, can thus be explained.
It is clear from the autobiography that the people of the Quraysh tribe
were already aware of Abraham, well before it was mentioned by Muhammed
in his revelations. To quote "We are the sons of Abraham, men of
honour, governors of the house of Allah, inhabitants of Mecca....".
So we can see that the concept of Allah as a deity, was in existence even
before Muhammed arrived on the scene. It also follows that Muhammed must
have been well aware of the religious affiliations of the Jews and the
Christians since they co- existed in the same area. Also, his travels
from Mecca to Syria on the trading route must have most certainly brought
him in close contact with the followers of the religions of Judaism and
Christianity, some of them quite likely well versed in the scriptures,
and from whom he would have possibly learnt of the contents of the scriptures,
the earlier case of the monk Bahira being an example in point. With this
knowledge, it is easy to see, that all Muhammed seems to have done was
to transfer the stories of the God of the Torah and the Bible, to the
Allah of the Quraysh, which is what if one reads the Koran, will by and
large find it be. Besides being interspersed with verses that are pertinent
to the society of that time and bear relevance to the time in history
of its occurrence, one will find in the Koran references and descriptions
of the very same stories myths of creation and of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
Moses, the Pharoahs and so on, as they appear in the Testaments.
We can see from the autobiography, that most of the current practices
of Islam were in existence, and in practice, well before Muhammed started
preaching the new religion. Examples are the annual pilgrimage to the
Kabba, the ritual of circling the shrine, the fasting during the holy
month, the rituals of shaving the head and changing into pilgrim clothes
on the pilgrimage, and many more. Essentially speaking therefore, there
is nothing Islamic in these practices and rituals since they were pracitsed
by the pagans and idolters even before Islam was established.
A perusal of the biography also brings home an important point, that
of the concept of monotheism. It becomes evident from the autobiography
that the concept of developing a monotheistic deity was not an original
idea of Muhammed. An incident is narrated about four Qurayshis deciding
to denounce their exisiting faith and wanting to search for the religion
of Abraham. Of the four it is said thus -
"And the four dispersed to various countries to seek the religion
of Abraham. Waraqa decided on Christianity and followed the books of its
teachers until he had obtained knowledge of the scripture. Ubaydullah
remained in doubt until, after the revelation, he made profession of Islam
and went to Abyssinia; but when he arrived there he became a Christian
and died thus, after having renounced Islam.
The third, Uthman, went to Byzantium, where he became a Christian and
attained high office.
The fourth man, Zayd, became neither Jew nor Christian, although he renounced
the religion of the Quraysh and abandoned idols, blood, and sacrifices
slain for idols, and condemned the burying alive of female infants."
As we can see, Zayd had, even before Muhammed, expressed his disenchantment
with some of the wrong pagan beliefs and made mention of the very same
issues that Muhammed claimed, came to him, as revelations of the Koran.
Thus the idea of the revelations possessing any unique and revolutionary
ideas do not seem true. Zayd appears to have a very similar socio-moral
outlook and inclinations as that of Muhammed. He could very well have
been the founder of Islam, but for the difference that he perhaps lacked
the other qualities possesed by Muhammed, especially that of political
leadership and guile! Perhaps he did not have the political skills to
generate a mass movement and the resilience of working against odds as
Muhammed did. Muhammed on the other hand had the required leadership qualities
and was an astute politician. But the question is, does that make him
a man of God?
There is another incident that is mentioned in reference to the time
when the Quresh decided on the rebuilding of the Kabba, and again, this
was well before Muhammed received any revelations. Quote-
"Abu Wahb excalimed:'O ye Quraysh people! In the building of the
Kaba, do not employ any of your goods unless they be of righteous origin;
do not use in it the profit of iniquity, nor of usurious sale, nor of
injustice towards any man." We see here a clear evidence of the attitudes
of morality, honesty and propriety in existence well before any of the
revelations. Karen Armstrong's assertion therefore, which is more an assumption
actually since it is not supported by any reliable evidence, that there
was a spiritual malaise in the Arabic society at that time, and this she
quotes as one of the reasons for the development of a new religious order,
is thus not correct.
For all that there is in the Koran, the admonitions, suggestions and
teachings found in it appear no different then those that could possibly
be made by any person in possession of good moral character and values
whether at that time or now.
As per Muhammed's account, meteors(shooting stars to the Arabs) were hurled
from the sky by Allah to kill the jinns. We can thus conclude that the
religious developments initiated by Muhammed were not attempts to eradicate
mythology and superstition either.
It is mentioned that at first when the revelations were made to Muhammed,
he kept them a secret for about three years, revealing them only to his
wife and close family members. It was only after he had gained a somewhat
larger following in terms of numbers, that Allah commanded him to go public
with the revelations. The question is why would Allah do something that
is so obviously a matter of political expediency! If Allah had made revelations
to Muhammed, and it was his will that Muhammed lead the idolaters from
ignorance to the path of knowledge, why did Muhammed have to remain quiet
for three long years? Why would Allah not help Muhammed in his work rightaway.
I do not think any of the other prophets before Muhammed had exhibited
such delays in asserting their divine allegiance. And Yahweh or God as
the case may be, had appeared to be much more forthcoming and more helpful
to those prophets than in the case of Muhammed.
>From the following passage it can be safely concluded that the persecution
of Muhammed in Mecca was not simply a result of a single cause - that
of spreading Islam. Read:
"When the apostle began to spread Islam among his people as Allah
had commanded him, they did not gainsay him until he began to abuse their
From this it is of significance to realize, that it was only after Muhammed
began abusing and reviling the idols of the Quresh that they retaliated
and it was only then that he was persecuted. It is a perfectly natural
reaction, and besides, something that Muhammed himself resorts to under
changed and favourable circumstances in the later period of his life,
when he is better off in Medina, and we see him persecuting and destroying
tribes critical of his religion of his preaching.
We also see later in the autobiography a situation where Muhammed is
authorized and given permission by Allah to wage war against the unbelievers.
The several coincidences of Allah's revelations coming at the very moment
when needed by Muhammed cannot be ignored. In this case too we can see
that this permission from Allah comes in the form of a revelation, as
soon as Muhammed's group of followers becomes large enough to be able
to make war on those who opposed him. Once Muhammed finds that he had
enough following and also realized, that in order to quickly expand his
control, fighting and bloodshed had become necessary, he got this revelation
from Allah giving him the permission. In fact, the importance of building
more fighting ranks had acquired such urgency that subsequent to this
Muhammed went a step further and immediately created a rule by which "the
promise to fight immediately became a condition of allegiance to Islam".
And the reward for the promise to fight was of course "paradise".
Later we see Medina where Islam spread rapidly in the
In Medina, Muhammed drew well defined lines differentiating the treatment
meted out to those who were of the common faith of Islam and those who
weren't as becomes apparent from this statement of Muhammed "....and
each must befriend other Believers above all men." Also, Muhammed
initially made a treaty with the Jews of not harming them, nor aiding
anyone who were enemies of the Jews. This is clear from the following
statement of his:
"Jews who follow us shall be given aid and equality; they shall not
be oppressed, nor shall aid be given to others against them".
We also see Muhammed as tolerating the religion of Jews although it is
different from Islam. Quote:
"The Jews will share the cost with the Believers as long as they
fight a common foe; the Jews are one community with the Believers (but
they have their own religion as the Believers have theirs)."
The question then is why was he so intolerant of the idolaters. Why couldn't
he treat the idolaters also with the same view, that idolaters have their
own religion as the Believers have theirs!?? The answer is obvious. Mecca
was the center of power, and it was Mecca that had to be brought under
his control to establish actual supremacy, and Mecca was under the control
of the as yet pagan Quresh. Also, as we see later, the tolerance for the
Jews at that time was an act of political adjustment, because for political
gains it was necessary to have their support at that time.
This act of his also gets justified as revelations in the Koran which
also serves as one of several examples of abrogation of verses.
It is confirmed in the autobiography that until the time Muhammed emigrated
to Medina, and even for 17 months after that, the direction of prayer
was the Qibla in Jerusalem. The direction of prayer suddenly gets changed
to Mecca and the Kaba by divine declaration of the Koran. When asked why,
again Allah defends the decision by way of revelations-
"Reply, "Allah's is the east and the west, He leads whom He
will to the straight path." ' And Allah said, 'Turn thy face to the
holy mosque, the Kaba at Mecca; and wherever you are, turn thy face to
As in many other places, the revelations appear to have an uncanny relationship
to whatever is happening in Muhammed's real life as if they are to help
him along in his purpose. As long as he is not entirely at loggerheads
with the Jews, the Qibla remains the direction of prayer, the justification
being that it is the Quibla of the religion of Abraham. When he is unsuccessful
at getting the Jews to align to his faith and to get them to accept him
as their prophet, the direction of prayer is made to change by a revelation.
Because the Jews refuse to accept him as a prophet, does the Quibla not
remain of the religion of Abraham?
It is evident that although there is no mention of it in the Koran itself,
the punishment by stoning to death for adultery was revived by Muhammed.
While at Muhammed is supposed to have quoted the Torah and decided the
punishment in a particular case.
Muhammad and his followers (and consequently his biographers) found the
doctrine of the Trinity far from clear and often referred to Mary, mother
of Jesus, as the third of the Trinity.
In the following we see in Muhammed an average person who threatens and
is inclined to kill and have war out of vengeance, now that he has gathered
the necessary power and strength.
We also see Allah making plunder and looting permissible. Revelations
were made soon after Muhammed's arrival at Medina, sanctioning the looting
of the Quresh's caravans to and from Mecca, and apportioning one fifth
of the spoils to Muhammed himself.
Muhammed lost the battle of Uhud to the Quresh, the same people that
he and his force of 300 believers had defeated at the battle of Badr.
Why did Allah forsake him this time? Where were the angels that had fought
with the believers in the battle of Badr? The revelations after the Battle
of Badr, where it was said that Allah's angels had fought alongside the
believers, seems more like Muhammed using the unexpected win at the battle
of Badr to further his cause in winning over more people to his new faith
by having them believe that the win was on account of divine help.
In the battle of Uhud, Muhammed and his companions lost many of their
favourites. Most significant amongst those who died at the hands of the
Quresh was Hamza, one of the closest allies and favourites of Muhammed.
Hamza had supported and defended Muhammed from the very early days. Since
Hamza was an emigrant to Medina, he did not have any family there with
him. Now we see this incident when Muhammed comes back to Medina after
losing the battle of Uhud in which Hamza is killed. In the town he hears
the wailing and weeping by the women for the folks and family members
they had lost in the battle. Muhammed is pained to see that there is no
one lamenting for Hamza. And so on that day he prohibited wailing and
lamentation on somebody's death, as a rule for all! We see here a person
given to extremes, possesing an irrational and almost fanatical nature.
How much of a justified act is that coming from a messenger of God??
The extremely lengthy Sura (Family of Imran) from Allah was very necessary
to restore the badly shaken faith of the Believers after the loss at Uhud.
The argument given for the loss and death, that Allah wished to discover
the Hypocrites among the warriors, lacks conviction in face of the fundamental
tenet of "Allah knows all".
It also appears that Muhammed was brutal, unforgiving
and merciless. Read:
"The apostle of Allah imprisoned the Qurayza(Jews) in Medina while
trenches were dug in the market place. Then he sent for the men and had
their heads struck off so that they fell in the trenches. They were brought
out in groups, and among them was Kab, the chief of the tribe. In number,
they amounted to six or seven hundred, although some state it to have
been eight or nine hundred. All were executed." The apostle's victory
of the Ditch(or Trench) was a vindication of Uhud. At Medina he was now
supreme, opposed only by a minority of Hypocrites. Two of the three Jewish
tribes had been exiled and the third virtually exterminated in a manner
which effectively discouraged any active challenge to his position. Every
dispute was now referred to him and his word was law.
The following occurs when Muhammed is camped outside Mecca insisting
on visiting the Kabba and the Quresh refusing to give permission. Negotiations
are taking place and this is described by one of the negotiators sent
by the Quresh to Muhammed.
Quote- "the apostle did not perform his ablutions without their(the
companions) hastening to preserve the water, nor spit without their running
to gather up the saliva, and no hair fell from his head but they snatched
The negotiator witnesses this dedication by Muhammed's companions. One
can understand the dedication of the companions, although it is difficult
to imagine something as gross as gathering saliva of the spit of someone,
but what is more difficult to understand is Muhammed's silence on this
base act and allowing his companions to gather his spit! This is nothing
but a symptom of a superinflated ego where the person considers even his
waste as worthy of worship!
We then see Muhammed going out on expeditions and subduing surrounding
tribes. This is the time when he appears to be pushing uncompromisingly
for conversion to Islam by force. Read:
"The apostle of Allah would not attack the Khaybar until next morning;
if he heard the call to prayers, he would not attack, but if he failed
to hear them, he would attack. 'We halted at Khaybar for the night, and
the apostle waited and heard no morning call to prayer, so he mounted
his horse and we mounted ours. I [the prophet's servant, Anas] rode behind
Abu Talha, so close that my foot touched that of the apostle of Allah.
We met a few labourers going forth early to their work, bearing spades
and baskets, and when they beheld the apostle with his army they cried
out and fled. The apostle said "Allahu Akbar! Khaybar will be destroyed."
He indulges in wanton slaying and like a plunderer is seen taking a woman
for himself. Read:
"The apostle occupied the Jewish forts one after the other, taking
prisoners as he went. Among these were Safiya, the wife of Kinana, the
Khaybar chief, and two female cousins; the apostle chose Safiya for himself.
The other prisoners were distributed among the Muslims. Bilal brought
Safiya to the apostle, and they passed the bodies of several Jews on the
way. Safiya's female companions lamented and strewed dust on their heads.
When the apostle of Allah observed this scene, he said, 'Remove these
she devils from me' But he ordered Safiya to remain, and threw his reda
[cloak] over her. So the Muslims knew he had reserved her for his own."
Is that an appropriate trait for a messenger of God?
After subduing the Jewish tribe at Khayber, we see Muhammed interested
in the hidden treasures of the tribe. We again see a personality that
carries out merciless and agonizing torture and an almost tyranical attitude
towards other's lives. Read:
"Kinana, the husband of Safiya, had been guardian of the tribe's
treasures, and he was brought before the apostle, who asked where they
were hidden. But Kinana refused to disclose the place. Then a Jew came
who said, 'I have seen Kinana walk around a certain ruin every morning.'
The apostle asked Kinana, 'Art thou prepared to die if we find thou knewest
where the treasure was?' And he replied, 'Yes.' So the apostle ordered
the ruin to be dug up, and some of the treasure was found. After that
Kinana was asked again about the remainder, but he still refused to tell.
The apostle of Allah handed him over to al Zubayr, saying, 'Torture him
until he tells what he knows', and al Zubayr kindled a fire on his chest
so that he almost expired; then the apostle gave him to Muhammad b. Maslama,
who struck off his head."
Later we again see the army of Muslims losing a war against the Byzantines
who were commanded by Herecles. Was Allah not with them again?
Below we see how Muhammed insist that he is not satisfied with someone
only believing that there was no god other than Allah. He is seen to insist
that he himself has to be accepted as the messenger of Allah. Why? What
was the purpose of Muhammed? To teach the faith of one God or to ensure
his own personal supremacy by making people accept his special relationship
with Allah, of which he never could provide sufficient proof or evidence
though. This excerpt is from the time just before Muhammed had decided
to attack Mecca the second time on the pretext that the Quraysh had broken
the treaty. Abu Sufyan until now was an unbeliever. We see Abu Sufyan
accepting in a way that it is clear to him that there is no god other
than Allah. But when he expresses doubt about accepting the exalted nature
of Muhammed he is threatened and coerced into accepting it and then also
accepting Islam. Read:
"At dawn we went to the apostle, who said to Abu Sufyan, "Is
it not yet clear to thee that there is no other god save Allah!"
He replied, "Had there been another god he should have proved himself
by now and aided me!" The apostle continued, "Is it not yet
clear to thee that I am the apostle of Allah?" Abu Sufyan replied,
"I still have doubts in my mind as to that." Then I said to
him, "Woe betide thee! Make profession of Islam and say, 'I testify
that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammed is the apostle of Allah,'
before he strikes off thy head!" So Abu Sufyan testified to the truth,
and made profession of Islam."
We see an astute political personality in Muhammed when he wins the support
of people by using several means including bribing. Read:
"The apostle made gifts to those whose hearts he desired to win,
nobles whom he wished to please. To Abu Sufyan he gave one hundred camels,
and to Malik, and to Safwan and others."
Malik was a disbeliever and had even started a war with Muhammed which
he did not win and had to flee. But since he was a powerful tribal chief,
Muhammed, instead of punishing or killing him, offered him his family
and property back plus an extra 100 camels if Malik agreed to adopt Islam.
To this Malik agreed(who wouldn't!) and then helped Muhammed in his ambition
of spreading the religion further.
The following statement of the people of the Hawazin tribe, who were
beseiged at the fort at al-Taif, makes obvious at least one of the important
reasons of the people accepting Islam - their inability to fight against
the military strength of Muhammed!
"After this, the people at al-Taif deliberated several months, and
arrived at the conclusion that they were not strong enough to fight all
the Arabs around them who had paid homage to Muhammad and made profession
We also see later that as time passed, Muhammed became less and less tolerant.
Until the ninth year of the Hijra, Muhammed had been at least tolerant
of those idolaters that he had not been able to subjugate into accepting
Islam. This was because of treaties that he had made with several tribes.
We have revelations in the Koran also that mention this tolerance as commanded
by Allah for those with whom the Muslims have made treaties. It is mentioned
that until that time, idolaters also used to make the annual pilgrimage
to the Kaba and carry out their rituals as before. In the ninth year however,
we see Muhammed voiding the treaties at will and rejecting the idolaters
altogether, as per the command of Allah(all he did was at the command
of Allah anyways!). He then prohibited the pilgrimage of the idolaters
to the Kabba altogether. As a result, the trade and business that the
pilgrims used to bring to Mecca also reduced. To handle the deficit, Muhammed
again revealed a command from Allah about distribution of the taxes from
the Jews and Christians to the people of Mecca.
We again see below that the massive conversion to Islam was by force and
not by voluntary acceptance of the faith. The Arabs had no choice but
to go along and do what the rest had done to avoid enemity of Muhammed
who had become powerful.
"But when Mecca was conquered and the Quraysh submitted to Islam,
the Arabs knew that they themselves were not strong enough to wage war
or to show enemity to the apostle of Allah. So they entered into the religion
of Allah in droves, arriving from all directions."
Below we see Allah accepting ,money and cloth, and in return providing
exemption to the Jews and Christians from following Islam. Read:
"Any Jew or Christian who persists in his religion is not to be
turned away from it, but must pay one golden dinar or its equivalent in
cloth. He who pays this will be protected by Allah and His prophet; he
who refuses is an enemy of Allah and His prophet...".
In conclusion, at most Muhammed qualifies as an excellent leader but
certainly not as the exalted messenger of divinity! The religion he initiated,
was only a means to serve his personal ends of increasing his power and
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