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Muhammed - a messenger of God?

Sacrificer           unknown
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 and hallucinations.

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 idols".

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 town.

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 that."

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 it up."

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 of Islam."

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 influence.


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