Did Muhammad Exist?

Jan 2011
372
Indiana, USA
#1
On the radio while driving home from work, I heard an interview with an author a book called [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Did-Muhammad-Exist-Inquiry-Obscure/dp/161017061X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top/192-4842101-9406807"]Amazon.com: Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins (9781610170611): Robert Spencer: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51F07-PuU1L.@@AMEPARAM@@51F07-PuU1L[/ame]In a nutshell, he claims that there are no contemporary references to Muhammad or Islam amongst the conquerors or conquered during the early years of expansion.

Although an agnostic, I also had this question and after a brief time at Wikipedia came to the conclusion that he was probably real. Based on what, I'm not sure. (I also think a historical Jesus probably existed based on Josephus and Tacitus.)

So what do you think? Can anyone skewer this premise with contemporary references?

Looking at the reviews on Amazon, it's obviously a controversial subject. 10 - 5 star reviews and 7 - 1 star reviews - with only a single 4 star review in the middle. Unfortunately the negative reviews (that I've read so far) seem to be personal attacks without any direct refutation (although the author may have a history that might invite such reactions).
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
#2
His immediate legacy - the unification of the Arab tribes, positioning them directly to conquer an empire as impressive as Rome - speaks for itself.
 
Likes: arkteia
Jan 2011
372
Indiana, USA
#3
His immediate legacy - the unification of the Arab tribes, positioning them directly to conquer an empire as impressive as Rome - speaks for itself.
'Immediate' goes to the heart of the issue. Are there contemporary references to Muhammed and/or Islam in the 60 years following the beginning of the expansion?
 

bunyip

Ad Honorem
Sep 2010
2,960
#5
I actually have a gard time believing that any prophets, from any religion, actually existed.

Oh I don't. I think the arguments for the historical existence of say Zoroaster, the Buddha,Jesus and Muhhamud are plausible enough to conclude such people MAY have existed.

What is far less credible [to me] is that the persons described in the relevant holy books bear more than a passing resemblance to any real person.IE they are most likely myth,possibly containing the odd kernel of truth.
 
Likes: bodhi

scholar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
3,553
In the Western Hemisphere
#7
When you get down to it, it is impossible to prove that anything really happened in history because there is always a way to find fault or find a problem in the record. Even clearly defined moments, with multiple witness accounts and later historical compilations, can be reduced to nothing when asking for proof that comes from an unbias and uninterested party and can dismiss accounts taken into place because of some minor contradictions and overall potential for hidden political agendas. It is pointless to argue from such a viewpoint, because no matter how possible it could be it reduces the possibility of "knowing" history to nothing.

Like Jesus, Muhammad is not a character that is easily verified. Nor is he someone that you can immediate evidence of. Most of the interactions between early Muslims and the outside world comes after his death. Even the vast multitudes of people who directly followed under him and were relatives to him, could easily be swept aside as "fabricated" or unprovable in their relationship. Even so, I find it impossible to believe that we can seriously entertain the notion that he did not exist and remain honest to ourselves and believe in other historical events from similar eras. If one can believe accounts of Julius Caesar's death, or even his life, then one can believe in Muhammad's existence.
 
Likes: bodhi
Jun 2009
1,608
Slovakia
#8
Instead of general ideas on what can or can't be done in history, I suggest to actually collect and present earliest historical evidence for existence of Muhammad. It shouldn't be too hard. In area of doubting existence of Jesus, all evidence is commonly known and often collected in same place - I would expect something similar for this topic too.
 
#9
Very interesting posts by bunyip and scholar that pretty much sum up my view as well. While the main accounts for the existence of Jesus or Mohamad are ahistorical, full of fantastical elements and what is more written with a clear agenda similar can be said of many other figures from the far past that we accept as historical (Socrates anyone?)

At the same time as bunyip said the fact that there is a kernel of truth in these accounts should not distract us from seeing that they are mostly fabrications and furthermore that any historical figure behind them would be vastly different to what they describe.

Historians have long debated the nature of the so-called "Historical Jesus" that is the person behind the Jesus myth. It is high time the same was done for "Historical Muhammad".
 

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