A CHRISTIAN CRITIQUE
• 1,548 biographies have been listed (Hamadeh 1965:112-283; taken from Royster 1972:49)
• Karen Armstrong: Muhammad was the man “who gave birth
to a literary masterpiece, created a major religion and founded
a world power, whose descendants are viewed as a profound
threat to Western civilization” (Armstrong 1992:back cover)
• W.Montgomery Watt: Muhammad was a “seer..a statesman,
and an administrator” (Watt 1961:237)
• Maxine Rodinson: Muhammad was an ideal, “the utopia that
has never been achieved [which] is always before us”
• Michael Cook: Muhammad was a historical figure whose
historicity yet leaves us much in doubt (Cook 1983:61)
• Alfred Guillaume: Gives us the closest and best translation of
Ibn Hisham’s biography.
I The Classical Account
• 570 Muhammad was born
• 610 Met ‘Jibril’ in the Hira Cave
• 610-622 Received ‘Meccan Revelations’
• 622 ‘Hijra’ from Mecca to Medina
• 622-632 Received ‘Medinan Revelations’
• 624 ‘Mi’raj’ to the 7 heavens (5 prayers)
• 630 Conquered Mecca peacefully
• 632 Died (poisoning?)…no written Qur’an
20th-21st Century Revisionists
• The Revisionist’s Prime Concern:
• To Reassess the Classical Model
• Their principle Conclusions:
• Islam, as we know it, did not exist in the 7th century,
but evolved over a period of 200-300 years.
• The Qur’an probably was not revealed to one man in 22
years, but likely evolved over a period of 100-200 years
(Rippin 1985:155;1990:3,25,60; Lester 99:44-45;
• The Prophet Muhammad’s Life as we know it is was probably
created two centuries later...
• How do we know? Consider:
Problem with His biography
• The Late Dates:
Nothing before 800 AD:
• Sira (Hisham=833AD),
• Hadith (Bukhari=870AD, Mishkat al-Masabih
• Tafsir, Tarikh
• Thus, not Primary but Secondary revelation
Problem with the Late Dates:
• Since almost all the material available to
us concerning the life of Muhammad, and
the emergence of Islam from the 7th c.
(i.e. that of the Sira, Hadith, Tafsir,
Ta’rikh), is not compiled until the 9th -
10th c., Orientalists (from the
Revisionist’s School) believe it cannot be
Thus, “if knowledge of the life of Muhammad was
transmitted orally for a century before it was reduced
to writing, then the chances are that the material will
have undergone considerable alteration in the process”
So, Cook & Cröne went to Greek, Syriac, and Armenian
sources from the 7th-8th c. & found a contrasting picture
to the later Islamic Traditions.
They sought to step outside the Islamic Traditions and
start again, piecing together an original account from
non-Islamic sources of Muhammad’s time. The two
together wrote “Hagarism”…a sort of “What if” in 26
pages, supported by 226 notes in a further 27 pages
Conclusion: They suggested that the history of Islam,
including the life of Muhammad, upto at least the time
of the caliph Abd al-Malik is fraudulent!!!!
Further Problems ↓
• Rubin examines how the image of the Prophet was
perceived by believers throughout the various evolving versions
of his life. The contents of the texts are a reflection of the
state of mind of the believers among whom the texts
were created, preserved, and circulated over the ages.
• Medieval Islam was preoccupied with portraying its
prophet in a manner comparable to the biblical
prophets. Biblical themes were adopted from the stories of the
prophets, adapted to fit an Arabian situation, and applied
to the biography of Muhammad.
• Take the example of the battle of Badr: Al-Miqdad provides
the same response regarding the Children of Israel,
contrasting their inferiority against the superiority of
the Arabs. “The entire Arabian umma as one collective group
constitutes here the new chosen community that replaces
the Children of Israel.”
• John Wansbrough (1977-1978):
(Qur’anic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation 1977)
(The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History
• The compilers took their material from collections
compiled within the decades around 800 A.D., and not
from any documents which were written in the seventh
century, and certainly not from the person of
Muhammad or his companions (Humphreys 1991:73, 83; Schacht
1949:143 1949:143-145; 145; Goldziher Goldziher 1889 1889-90:72).
• The Maghazi, which are stories of the prophet's battles
and campaigns, are the earliest Muslim documents
which we possess. They should have given us the best
snapshot of that time, yet they tell us little concerning
the prophet's life or teachings. In fact, oddly enough
nowhere in these documents is there a veneration of
Muhammad as a prophet!
Yehuda D. Nevo (1994)
“Towards a Prehistory of Islam,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic
and Islam, vol.17, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1994
• Arabic Inscriptions found in the Arabian Desert
form the mid to late 7th century, say nothing about a
people called ‘Muslim’, nor a religion known as ‘Islam’,
nor of a revelation called the ‘Qur’an’, yet they should!
• Caliphal Protocals (Sufyani and earlyMarwanid
Periods, upto ‘Abd al-Malik – 691) = no reference
to ‘Muhammad as a prophet’, or a reference to the
• ”Muhammad Formula” is created ‘almost overnight’
Al-Tabari’s conflicting accounts - i.e.15 different accounts of
child Muhammad meeting a religious man (Crone 1987:219-
• during his infancy (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:107)
• when he was 9 (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:107)
• or 12 years old (Ibn Sa’d 1960:120)
• Or when he was 25 (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:119)
• seen by Ethiopian Christians (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:107)
• or by Jews (‘Abd al-Razzaq 1972: 318)
• Or by a seer (‘Abd al-Razzaq 1972: 318)
• or a Kahin (Ibn Sa’d 1960:166)
• at either Mecca, (‘Abd al-Razzaq 1972:317)
• or Ukaz (Abu Nu’aym 1950:116f).
• or Dhu’l-Majaz (Abu Nu’aym 1950:95).
Cröne concludes that what we have here is nothing more than
“fifteen equally fictitious versions of an event that never
took place.” (Crone 1987:220)
• Ishaq (765 AD): ‘Abdallah had died early
enough to leave Muhammad an orphan; but as
to the specific details of his death, “God knew
best” (Cook 1983:63).
• Waqidi: (50 yrs. Later) when ‘Abdallah died,
how he died, where he died, what his age was,
and the exact place of his burial.
• According to Michael Cook, “this evolution in the
course of half a century from uncertainty to a
profusion of precise detail suggests that a fair
amount of what Waqidi knew was not knowledge.”
• Bukhari: from 600,000 down to 7,397 =1.2% (or
2,762 non-repetitive Hadith)
• Names of transmitters
• No documentation before 9th century
• Prophetic authority begins with Sha’fi (820AD)
• Based on Oral Tradition…
-No need for Oral Tradition after 4th c.
-Conquest of Literate metropolises
• Kussas: “As storyteller followed upon storyteller, the
recollection of the past was reduced to a common
stock of stories, themes, and motifs that could be
combined and recombined in a profusion of
apparently factual accounts. Each combination and
recombination would generate new details, and as
spurious information accumulated, genuine
information would be lost. In the absence of an
alternative tradition, early scholars were forced to rely
on the tales of storytellers, as did Ibn Ishaq,
Waqidi, and other historians. It is because they
relied on the same repertoire of tales that they all
said such similar things”. (Crone 1987:225)
1) i.e. Mecca
-“Mecca is the center of Islam, and the center of
-“The first sanctuary appointed for mankind was that
at Bakkah (Mecca)” Sura 3:96
-Mecca is the “mother of all settlements.” Sura 6:92 &
-Mecca is where Muhammad was born and lived until
-Mecca became the centre for the Qibla in 624 (Sura
• Earliest reference to Mecca’s existence:
Apocalypse of pseudo-Methodius
Continuatio Byzantia Arabica
Early reign of caliph Hisham (724-743 AD)
• Cröne in her work points out that the Greek
trading documents refer to the towns of Ta’if
(which is close to present-day Mecca), and to
Yathrib (later Medina), as well as Kaybar in the
north, but no mention of Mecca!
2) Qibla (Archaeological Evidence)
• Creswell & Fehervari on ancient mosques
in the Middle East
Umayyad mosques in Iraq (670- early 8th c.)
vFustat (outside Cairo)
(Creswell 1969:37,137ff,150 & 1989:40;
Fehervari 1961:89; Crone-Cook 1977:23,173;
al-Baladhuri's Futuh, ed. by de Goeje 1866:276;
Asia Minor Middle East
• Qibla (Documentary Evidence)
Christian writer: Jacob of Edessa (705 AD)
He refers to the ‘Mahgraye,’ saying, “So from all
this it is clear that it is not to the south that the
Jews and the Mahgraye here in the regions of
Syria pray, but towards Jerusalem or the Ka’ba,
the patriarchal places of their races.”
Dome of the Rock
• Built by ‘Abd al-Malik in 691 AD, and rebuilt by al Zaher Li-
L’zaz in 1022 after an earthquake
• Third most holy site after Mecca & Medina
• Built to commemorate the night when Muhammad went up to
heaven to speak with Moses and Allah concerning the number of
prayers required of the believers (known as the Mi’raj)
•But, no Qibla (Suras 17:1 & 2:145-149)
•Inner Ambulatories have Qur’anic
inscriptions which do not parallel the Qur’an
Islam, and the prophet’s life, as we know
it, was not derived from the 7th century,
but evolved over a period of 200-300
years, and then redacted back on to the
prophets life, and compiled in the 9th
century (Humphreys 1991:71,83-89)
• Joseph Schacht
“Every legal tradition from the Prophet, until
the contrary is proved, must be taken not as an
authentic or essentially authentic, even if
slightly obscured, statement valid for his time
or the time of the Companions, but as the
fictitious expression of a legal document
formulated at a later date”
(Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, 149)
Crone and Cook:
• Patricia Crone & Michael Cook in
“The [earliest] ‘maghazi-sira’ works should be
treated as sources for religious ideas current in
the 8th century, when they were circulated, not
for the life of Muhammad”
II CHRISTIAN ASSESSMENT
• Christians (and Jews) have a separate
responsibility from that of the historians.
They have to make an assessment
concerning the validity of any prophet.
The Bible has clear conditions of who can
carry the ‘office’ of prophethood.
• Did Muhammad fulfil those conditions?
The Muslim Position:
• Supernatural witness points to Muhammad's
Prophethood (angels & heart, protective cloud)
• Prophesying points to his Prophethood (Sura
30:1-4 ‘defeat in a few years’…615 vs. 628).
• Miracles point to his Prophethood (Challenge
in Sura 17:90-93; Response in Suras 2:118-
119; 6:37, 124; 13:7; 17:59 = warner; & Sura
54:1 = Splitting of the moon).
• Illiterate Creator of the Qur'an points to his
Prophethood (Sura 7:157 & 62:2 =
The Christian Position:
1. Who Qualifies as a true Prophet of God?
u A Prophet must be born in the Prophetic
Race (Genesis 17 & 22)
u A Prophet's Message must Conform to
u A Prophet's Predictions must be Verifiable,
or he must perform a miracle to
verify his authority
u A Prophet must Speak in the Name of God
(=YAHWEH or JEHOVAH)
Questions Concerning Muhammad’s
• Was Muhammad a Specific Prophet to the
Arabs? (Sura 2:119, Sura 14:4, Sura 17:93, Sura 26:195,196,
Sura 27:91, Sura 42:7, Sura 43:3, Sura 46:12)
• Or a Universal Prophet? (Sura 33:40, Sura 34:28)
• Was Muhammad a prophet of the Jews? (i.e.
the 3 Jewish tribes in Medina = Banu Qaynuka,
Banu al-Nadir, Banu Quraiza)
• Was Muhammad a prophet to the Christians?
Sura 2:120, Sura 3:28, Sura 5:54= "O ye who believe!
Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and
protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other.
And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of
them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.“
Was Muhammad the Seal of the Prophets?
• What about Jesus
(Jesus Superiority = Suras 19:19-20; 3:46-49)
• What about the Other Prophets?
• What about Muhammad’s:
-Concessions to People (Ibn Abbas, Mutah
marriages, Satanic verses S.53:19-20)
-Sexuality (Zainab, Mary, Aisha)
-Elevation (Sura 33:21, 36)
-Sin (Suras 40:55; 47:19; 48:2; 94:1-3)
Were there Prophecies
• Sura 7:157: “Those who can follow the
Messenger, the Prophet who can neither
read nor write whom they find written
with them in the Taurut and the Injeel…”
• 61:6: “And when ‘Isa son of Maryam said
‘O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger
of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat
[Torah] before me, and giving glad
tidings of a Messenger to come after me,
whose name shall be Ahmad…”
Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-20
1. Comparison: Who is the prophet like
Moses? Is it his life or mission?
2. Contrast: This prophet cannot be
Muhammad (“brothers”=Israelite 17:15).
3. Condemnation: See the punishment for a
‘false prophet’…’Must be put to death!’
4. Consideration: This prophet must be
Jesus (John 1:45; John 5:46; John 6:14; Acts 3:22).
5. Conclusion: Without a prediction where is
Other Predictions in the Old Testament?
• sword (Psalm 45:2-5; 149; Isaiah 63).
• geographical location (Deuteronomy
33:2; Isaiah 21 & 42 (kedar), 63;
• Name: (Genesis 49:8-10=Judah; Haggai
Song of Solomon 5:16
Song of Solomon 5:16 = "His mouth is sweetness
itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover,
this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
‘Machmad’ (Ahmad) vs. Hemdan
Adjectival phrase vs. Proper Noun
1 Kings 20:6 = "Yet I will send my servants to thee
tomorrow about this time, and they shall search thy
house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be,
[that] whatever is Muhammad in thy eyes, they shall
take [it] in their hand, and carry [it] away”
(see also: 2 Chronicles 36:19; Isaiah 64:11;
Lamentations 1:10, 11; 2:4; Ezekiel 24:16, 21, 25;
Hosea 9:6, 16; Joel 3:5)
Muhammad in the Injil?
Parakletos or Periklytos (John 14:16 &
• Greek language confirms parakletos.
• Greek manuscripts confirm parakletos
• Therefore Muhammad could not be the
So who is the Parakletos?
• 14:16="he will be with you for ever"
• 14:17="he will be the spirit of truth"
• 14:17="the world neither sees him..."
• 14:17="...nor knows him"
• 14:17="and he will be in you"
i.e. = Holy Spirit, who arrived 50 days later
THE DANISH CARTOON CONTROVERSY
The original 12
printed in Jyllands
Denmark, in Sept.
Danish Cartoon reprinted in the Egyptian Al-Fajr
Newspaper, on Oct. 17, 2005, yet, resulting in no
protests! So why such a contrast?
Imam Ahmad Abu Laban (leader of the Islamic
Society of Denmark) & his campaign to anger the
Imam Ahmad Abu Laban
Aug. 15 photo of Jacques Barrot
competing at the annual French
Why is he significant to Muslims?
• His role in history
• His role as intercessor
What are the claims they are making today?
• Their relationship with him
How can We use this in Evangelism?
• The need for a personal relationship with
• This is a great bridge to introduce Jesus
• We have what they all want!!!!
• All we know of Muhammad comes from the 8th-9th centuries
• Much of his biography is suspect
• Muhammad does not fulfil any of the four criteria required for
prophet-hood in the Bible.
• He is not a prophet for the Jews
• He is not a prophet for the Christians
• He seems only to be a prophet for the Arabs
• He is not even the best prophet!
• He wasn’t prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:18
• He wasn’t prophesied in Song of Solomon 5:16
• He wasn’t prophesied in John 14 or John 16
• He cannot be critiqued by Muslims…or others
• He cannot give what Jesus can…
– Salvation from sin and an eternal life!!!