Book Review: Did Muhammad Really Exist?

Did Mohammed Exist?

The authenticity of Judaism and Christianity have been historically and academically scrutinized for centuries. This is not the same for Islam. It has not been given the thorough examination it deserves.

Is it “Islamaphobic” to question the historical authenticity of the story of Muhammad–the father of Islam? Robert Spencer has written a very interesting book that explores the origins of Islam and its early history–or lack thereof. “Did Muhammad really Exist?” asks some very poignant questions about the prophet Muhammad and the historical circumstances surrounding his life. The book is not very long and is an eye-opening, enjoyable read. It is somewhat difficult to keep up with all the various Arabic names, but do not be discouraged, just keep reading. If you watch the accompanying videos here, it will help you with some of the pronunciations and enhance your reading experience.

Let’s place things chronologically; Muhammad ibn Abdallah Abd al-Muttalib (570-632), is believed to to be the Prophet of Islam. He was a warrior and he instructed his followers to fight for Islam–his new religion. It was commanded by their God, Allah, that they should take up arms. Muhammad is key to understanding the turbulent history of the Middle East for the past 1,400 years. Yet, for some 60 years after he died, there is no mention of Muhammad, Islam or the Qur’an. Spencer explains in the first chapter of his book that in 639 AD the Monophysite Christian patriarch John I of Antioch arranged a colloquy with Arabian commander Amr ibn al-As and it is preserved in a manuscript that dates from 874 AD. He explains in this document that the author refers to the Arabians as “Hagarians,” not as Muslims. Spencer reports that in their dialog the Arabian commander denies Christ’s divinity in accordance with Muslim teaching, but neither party mentions Islam, Muhammad or the Qur’an. Spencer goes on to provide several more non-Muslim sources whose written accounts of interaction with Arabs also fail to mention Muhammad or Islam. He also illustrates that when Muhammad is mentioned in early accounts, such as the Doctrina jacobi, the story contradicts the standard Islamic record.

In addition to written accounts, another way to gain insight into the past is examine artifacts from that time such as bridges, dams and buildings. Again, Spencer reveals that there are often references that declare devotion to Allah (Arab word for God), but no mention of Islam or Muhammad. Another relevant artifact to examine would be coinage, and again, there are mostly slogans of devotion to Allah without and reference to Muhammad as his prophet. There is one ironic example of a coin struck by Arabian conquerors in Palestine approximately 650 AD that does bear the inscription Muhammad, yet it cannot be referenced as a product of a devoted Muslim society because the coin’s reverse side depicts a figure carrying a cross. The symbol of the cross is despised by Islam. Muhammad is supposed to be the prophet of Allah, the father of Islam, whose holy book derides Christians for their belief in Christ as the son of God and his crucifixion:

Qur’an 4:157 “They did not slay him, neither crucified him”

Why would the followers of Islam, who despised the symbol of the cross embellish it on their coinage? One theory is that “Muhammad” is a title that means “praised one” and in this instance it is probably referencing Jesus.

There is also a great deal of controversy in the writings of the Hadith; there were hundreds of thousands of them written and there is much of argument as to which were authentic – even among Muslim scholars. This brings about a process of interpretation called “abrogation,” where a verse written later, trumps a verse written earlier. As you might expect, this causes quite a bit of confusion for someone new to exploring the Qur’an.  Without a doubt, there is a great deal of obscurity surrounds the foundations of Islam. Why is this?

Is it possible that Islam was contrived?

What possible reasons could have led to the fabrication of an entire belief system? Robert Spencer’s contention is that the Arabs invented the religion of Islam for political reasons–to rival the Byzantines (Christian) and the Persians (Zoroastrian) who were also powerful theocratic governments at the time. The Saracens,  Ishmaelites, Hagarians, Muhajirun and more made up the various peoples of the Sinai. In order to preserve unity after conquering the Arabian peninsula, they “cobbled” together bits of Christianity and Judaism to create a unifying religion of their own. If you wanted to build a fierce, fanatical and loyal counter-balance to your rivals, this would be entirely plausible strategy for that time. Simply build a loyal following around a theocracy.

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“Did Mohammed Exist?” Scholar, Robert Spencer’s inquiry into Islam’s obscure origins

As you might imagine, Spencer’s conclusions have been met with contempt and anger by the proponents of Islam. Islam is intolerant of any criticism–especially those of nonbelievers. CAIR is pressuring the hosts who have invited Spencer to lecture about his book to cancel their commitments with Spencer. They are not happy with Spencer’s summary.

Islam is putting it all together now, aren’t they? With Europe’s negative population growth and gradual Muslim immigration of Europe they will soon be a politically viable force. Islam is a deeply political religion and making people aware of this is one of Spencer’s primary goals. Just look at the incremental implementation of Sharia our American judicial system, where activist judges now find it acceptable to make non-Muslims subject to the decrees of Sharia! Muslims justify Islam’s superiority by claiming that is currently the world’s fastest growing ideology. Just because it is the fastest growing ideology today doesn’t make it the foremost ideology of today. Its customs and traditions are as they were in the 8th Century. Yet many who have converted to Islam do not even speak Arabic; and it is a fervent contention of Islamists that “if you can’t speak Arabic, then you can’t drink of the Qur’an purely.”

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Robert Spencer speaks in Los Angeles on Did Muhammad Exist?

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Did Muhammad Exist? Robert Spencer & David Wood vs. Anjem Choudary & Omar Bakri
(Note: this program contains debate via satellite communication and there are some technical difficulties.)

Although not part of the book, this is a very enlightening exchange, if you will give it the time. It is real-time debate between Spencer, teamed with David Wood, against Anjem Choudary and Sheikh Omar Bakri. David Wood presses for archeological or literary proof of Muhammad’s existence. Sheikh Omar says the Qur’an is the “proof” of Muhammad’s existence because it is a “miracle” and is the origin of all things. Anjem Choudary claims the Qur’an is a scientific miracle, mathematical miracle, judicial miracle, historical miracle, and linguistic miracle.”  The main argument by Omar and Choudary is is that: It is because the Qur’an said it is. In the end, they offer no tangible historical evidence to substantiate Muhammad’s existence. This is “Circular reasoning” as pointed out by David Wood.

Islam seems to utterly ignore time before Muhammad and then write its own history after him. Judaism and Christianity out date Islam by at least a thousand years and there is solid archeological evidence to support this. Yet Islam claims that Judaism and Christianity adulterated Islam for the purposes of evil. But how could the two have stolen from and perverted Islam when Judaism and Christianity preceded it?

I think Spencer makes a very good case for his argument. Academia has scrutinized Christianity, Judaism and many other religions. I see no reason why Islam should be exempt from equal inspection. Robert Spencer thoroughly explores the multitude of possibilities surrounding this most significant of Islam’s mysteries. I could recite his conclusion in detail, but you should read it for yourself. I give him five stars for his outstanding presentation and I highly recommend reading his book: “Did Muhammad really Exist?


Related …

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Qur’an in Context 1: “Fight Those Who Do Not Believe” (9:29)

The Qur’an contains many violent passages. Yet Muslims try assure us that these entries, when read in “context”, are indeed peaceful. In this video, David Wood examines the  literary contexts of Surah 9:29, commanding Muslims to: “fight those who do not believe in Allah.”

Qur’an 9:29Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

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PA TV to kids: Christians and Jews are inferior, cowardly and despised

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

“Whoever changed his Islamic religion, the kill him.”
– Muhammad


“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.”
– Jesus Christ

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Israel map throughout history

(animated history map)


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