This short essay will outline several reasons as to why I cannot accept the Prophet Muhammad as God’s messenger, and as God’s communicator to humankind.
1. Muhammad’s Alleged That Reveals Allah’s Morally Flawed Nature.
When Muhammad began receiving his alleged divine revelations he himself didn’t believe they were actually from God. Why? Because his alleged revelation seemed to be far more like that of torture than God’s reaching down to reveal himself. From historian Ibn Ishaq we read of Muhammad’s first meeting with the angel Gabriel:
“When it was the night on which God honoured him with his mission and showed mercy on His servants thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. “He came to me,” said the apostle of God, “while I was asleep, with a coverlet of brocade whereon was some writing, and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘What shall I read?’ He pressed me with it so tightly that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘What shall I read?’ He pressed me with it again so that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said ‘Read!’ I said, ‘What shall I read?’ He pressed me with it the third time so that I thought it was death and said ‘Read!’ I said, ‘What then shall I read?’—and this I said only to deliver myself from him, lest he should do the same to me again.”
There are a number of details here that are concerning. Firstly, Muhammad recounts this experience as being analogues to death, and an experience that is suggestive of torture, after all, it occurred no less than three times. In other words, Allah’s angel, Gabriel, forced Muhammad by threat and pain to accomplish his intent. It is natural then to wonder if this was a legitimate experience with God. Why? Because torture is a moral evil. And for Allah to be God he would conceptually have to be the greatest conceivable being. One property that the greatest conceivable being must possess is that of moral perfection. However, this would seem to present a difficulty for Allah given that for a being to torture another is to be suggestive of a grave moral imperfection. Thus, given that Allah forcing of Muhammad to do his bidding via torture, it would suggest that Allah cannot be God. A deity that tortures his subjects would not be the greatest conceivable being in the moral sense, and therefore cannot rightly be called God.
2. Muhammad’s Sin.
Muhammad wasn’t morally pure either as many Muslims claim that he was. In Mecca, for example, Muhammad received a command about his sin,
“Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours.”(Surah 40:55). Surah 48 also lends credence to the fact that Muhammad was a sinner, “That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future and complete His Favour on you, and guide you on the Straight Path…”
Thus, according to the Koran itself, the book that Muslims see as the inerrant word of God, Muhammad was a sinner. In other words, Muhammad was very much like ordinary people as all humans are sinners. Sin signifies crime, offense, and any act having an evil result or intent. This raises a significant doubt: if Muhammad was just an ordinary man in this regard then why believe that he was God’s messenger?
3. Muhammad Tries To Kill Himself.
According to the Koran, Muhammad is taken to be the leading example of how Muslims are to conduct themselves (Surah 33:21). However, a closer examination reveals a person who, when he became upset, attempted to kill himself. According to historian Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad was on his way to kill himself,
“I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest. So I went forth to do so and then when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying, “O Muhammad! thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel.”
We similarly read in the Hadith that Muhammad,
“became so sad as we have heard that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains and everytime he went up to the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Jibril would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth”, whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and would return home. And whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but when he used to reach the top of a mountain, Jibril would appear before him and say to him what he had said before” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6982).
Now, how can I put my trust of salvation in someone, said to be the greatest prophet and an individual of unparalleled moral perfection, if that person repeatedly attempted to commit suicide? What Islam would have one do is to put one’s faith and trust into the hands of an individual who was so doubtful about his revelations to such an extend that he repeatedly tried to kill himself.
4. Muhammad was Victimized by Magic.
According to the Hadith, Muhammad was a victim of a magic spell (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3175) which was alleged to have given him delusional thoughts and false beliefs. According to Sahih Al-Bukhari, Aisha said that “Once the Prophet was bewitched so that he began to imagine that he had done a thing which in fact, he had not done.” Sahih Al-Bukhari 5765 informs us that,
“Magic was worked on Allah’s Apostle so that he used to think that he had had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not. Then one day he said, “O Aisha, do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter I asked Him about? Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. The one near my head asked the other: ‘What is wrong with this man?’ The latter replied, ‘He is under the effect of magic.’ The first one asked, ‘Who has worked magic on him?’ The other replied, ‘Labid bin Al-Asam, a man from Bani Zuraiq who was an ally of the Jews and was a hypocrite.’ The first one asked, ‘What material did he use?’ The other replied, ‘A comb and the hair stuck to it.’”
According to Islamic commentator Abdul-Rahman, the Hadith in no uncertain terms present the prophet in this way, “As far as the historical aspect is concerned, the incident of the Holy Prophet’s being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed” (1).
This produces a host of problems on its own. One issue is whether or not we are warranted in trusting an individual who was controlled by a magic spell. I don’t see how I can. This problem becomes more pronounced, moreover, on the basis of Surah 2:102 which says that magic comes from demons because demons teach people magic. Would this then suggest that Muhammad was susceptible to demonic influences?
5. Muhammad’s Abominable Acts.
There are numerous moral abominations that Muhammad committed.
In his fight against those in Mecca, Muhammad gained an advantage through hijacking Meccan caravans that were transported to the city through the desert. In one case some Muslim invaders killed a man during the Nakhla Raid even while there existed a truce between Muslims and non-Muslims. However, Muhammad’s strategy proved to be very harmful for those Meccans who relied on the goods being transported in the caravans. For example, Meccan families would have invested much, if not all, of their income into resources being brought in through these caravans. However, that Muhammad attacked them which would seem to result in these families facing starvation and desperation. In war this would be a useful strategy for conquering one’s enemy, the problem is that Muhammad carried the status of being God’s messenger and most important prophet. And though many of Muhammad’s raids failed miserably he eventually succeeded and conquered Mecca by force.
Another moral atrocity on Muhammad’s behalf was in his commanding of his followers to kill critics of Islam. In one case, a defenseless old man by the name of Abu Afak penned a poem about Muhammad because he believed that Muhammad was dividing people and causing them to kill one another. Muhammad learned of this and, as we learn from Ibn Ishaq, wanted Afak dead,
“Who will deal with this rascal for me?” Whereupon Salim b. Umayr, brother of B. Amr b. Auf, one of the “weepers”, went forth and killed him.”
Muhammad’s message was clear, namely, that those who criticized him or Islam were to be executed. In fact, many early Muslims killed those who defiled the name of Muhammad. According to Sunan Abu Dawud 4348, there was a blind man who had a slave-mother “who used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him.” Though the blind man forbade her to criticize Muhammad she did not listen and one night “he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her.” Sunan Abu Dawud 4349 further recounts an incident where a Jewish woman who had disparaged Muhammad was strangled to death by a Muslim.
6. Muhammad’s Other Crimes & Evils.
As we’ve seen Muhammad was incredibly violent and committed numerous bloody acts of violence against his enemies, opponents (many of whom were harmless), women, entire towns, and those who did not accept Islam. However, there are acts he committed that didn’t always involve blood and slaughter, but are often equally as morally repulsive. For example, Muhammad permitted lying (Sahih Muslim 6303, Bukhari 49:85), slavery and the trading of human beings (Sahih Muslim 3901), sex slaves (Bukhari 5:268, Koran 33:50), and even had sex with a nine year old girl (Bukhari 5:268, Surah 33:50). Islamic texts also instruct husbands to beat their disobedient wives (Surah 4:34, Sahih Muslim 2127).
7. Muhammad’s Double Standard.
Muhammad also employed a double standard, and this, in my mind, renders serious doubt over the alleged revelation of the Koran. Surah 4:3 says that Muslim men are allowed to have up to four wives at one time, however, we find that Muhammad was married to eleven wives at one time. According to Sahih al-Bukhari 268,
“Anas bin Malik said, ‘The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.’ I asked Anas, ‘Had the Prophet the strength for it?’ Anas replied, ‘We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).’ And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).”
One would be fully in his or her right to question as to why Muslim men could marry no more than four wives whereas Muhammad could marry more. The answer to this is that Muhammad simply exempted himself of having to adhere to the same standards that he enforced on his followers. In other words, Allah’s revealed revelation, the Koran, makes exceptions for Muhammad which would seem to satisfy his desires. One wonders if this is Muhammad speaking, not God.
Putting this Together.
The problems here are significant. When we examine Muhammad I see someone who was power hungry, incredibly ruthless and violent, and exceptionally intolerant of his enemies as well as his opponents, many of whom presented him no threat. We also find a man that was susceptible to the influences of magic, someone who attempted to commit suicide by hurling himself off of a cliff, had sexual relations with many women (wives), had sex with a nine year old girl, and who consented to slavery and sex slaves. He even exempted himself of having to adhere to the same standards as he instructed his followers to.
I therefore strongly fail to see how God would choose to reveal himself in such a man, and therefore it impossible to accept that Muhammad was God’s messenger.
1. Abdul-Rahman, M. 2009. The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an (Vol 10). p. 630.