Ramadan 1424 H
Volume 16-11 No : 203
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In the September issue, we analyzed and discussed the probability of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being the author of the Qur'an based on whether he claimed to be its author. Let us now analyze some more probabilities given by skeptics of why Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could have written such a Book without claiming its authorship.
By Dr. Zakir Naik
MATERIAL GAIN AS THE MOTIVE
Some may argue that Muhammad (pbuh) falsely attributed the Qur'an to God and called himself a Prophet for material gain. I do agree that there are several people who falsely claim to be prophets, saints and preachers for material benefits and thus become rich and lead luxurious lives.
Muhammad's (pbuh) financial position was better off before than after the announcement of his Prophethood. At the age of 25, he married Khadija (ra), who was a very rich and wealthy businesswoman, 15 years before he claimed Prophethood. His financial position and life standard after claiming Prophethood was unenviable.
a. One of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), Ayesha (R.A.) narrates that a month or two would go by without fire being lit in their house because there was nothing to cook. They survived on dates and water. Sometimes this diet was supplemented with goat's milk from the people of Madinah.
(According to Riyad-As-Saliheen by An-Nawawi, Hadith no. 492)
b. This was not just a temporary sacrifice, but a way of life. This was at a time when Muhammad (pbuh) could have lived like a king, if he so wanted. There was a sort of discontent and protest by those close to him as to why should they live in poor condition when they could avail of all the luxuries. The Prophet was disturbed with their discontent and a revelation came commending him to tell his wives:
'O Prophet! Say to your Consorts: "If it be that you desire the life of this world and its glitter then come, I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, verily Allah has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward."' (Al-Qur'an 33:28-29)
This evidence is also recorded in Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim.
c. Abu Zarr (ra) and Abu Hurairah (ra), the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) narrated that Muhammad (pbuh) never kept back any gifts and provisions secured for future use, but spent what he had on the poor and needy.
(According to Riyad-As-Saleheen, Hadith No. 465 and 466)
d. Inspite of the victories and achievements of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), at the time of his death, he was in debt, and his shield was in the hands of a Jewish citizen of Madinah as a co-lateral for his debt.
(According to Riyad-As-Saleheen, Hadith No. 504)
e. If Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would have actually been the author of the Qur'an and would have lied for material gains, that it is a book of God, he would have never mentioned in the same Qur'an:
"Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say:
'This is from Allah' to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby." (Al-Qur'an 2:79)
This verse rebukes those persons who changed the previous Revealed scriptures, or authored books with their own minds and said, "this is from God" for their personal material benefit. If Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had himself written the Qur'an, there were chances that at some point of time he would have been exposed, be considered the biggest hypocrite (God forbid), and would be cursing himself in his own book, which is illogical.
DESIRE FOR STATUS, POWER, GLORY AND LEADERSHIP
Is it possible that Muhammad (pbuh) might have claimed Prophethood in order to attain Status, Power, Glory, and Leadership?
a. Muhammad (pbuh) has universally been acknowledged as one of the most successful leaders in human history. A Christian scholar Michael H. Hart has given a list of what he considers the hundred most influential men in history, from Adam to the present time, along with a list of reasons for his ranking, in his book 'The 100 - a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History'. This unbiased Christian scholar placed Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on top of the list. He concluded the biography with the words, "It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad (pbuh) to be considered the most influential single figure in human history".
b. A man with his qualities could claim leadership and assume power even without claiming Prophethood. Moreover, his character suggests that he was neither a power monger, nor a glory seeker. The desire to enjoy status and power is usually associated with good food, fancy clothing, magnificent places, monumental palaces, colourful guards and indisputable authority. Despite his social standing as a Prophet and heavy responsibility as a statesman, Muhammad (pbuh) used to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes and help with the household work. His life was an amazing example of simplicity and humility. He sat on the floor. He went to the market to shop with no guards or provisions and accepted invitations to dine with the poor and ate graciously whatever was served.
c. He talked and listened patiently to anyone who approached him. So much so that the Qur'an says that his detractors complained saying:
"O! He listens to everyone." (Al-Qur'an 9:61)
d. Once a representative of pagans named Utbah came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said that if he gave up preaching the message of the Qur'an, they would make him the wealthiest man in the community and their leader with absolute power or even crown him as the king, if he wanted. The only concession they wanted from Muhammad (pbuh) in return was to give up the new claim that 'there is no god but one Universal God of all people'. If the Prophet (pbuh) was a seeker after power, glory and wealth, he would not have missed this golden opportunity. However he rejected the proposal using the verses that were revealed to him from Allah in Al-Qur'an 41:1-38.
e. Later another approach was made to the Prophet (pbuh) from a delegation of the pagan nobles. The Prophet (pbuh) refused to compromise on the divinely inspired message which he had been sent with to deliver saying: "I did not bring this message on my own, nor in pursuit of your money or respect or leadership. God has sent me as a messenger to you and has given me a book, the Qur'an...."
f. On another occasion, they tried to persuade him through his beloved uncle Abu Talib to accept worldly power and prestige in return for giving up his Prophetic Mission. He said, "Oh! My uncle, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, in order that I should give up this mission of mine, I will never do it until I die in defence of this truth, or God decides whatever He Pleases."
g. The death of Muhammad's (pbuh) most beloved son Ibrahim (ra) coincided with the eclipse of the sun and people regarded it as a miracle from God that the heaven and the earth were mourning at the death of Ibrahim. Muhammad (pbuh) was very angry with them and said:
"The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life of someone but they are two signs amongst the signs of Allah".
(Sahih Bukhari Vol. 2, Hadith No. 152)
h. Are these the characteristics of a power-hungry or a self-centered man? What could justify such a life of suffering and sacrifice, even after he was fully triumphant over his adversaries? What could explain the humbleness and nobility, which he demonstrated in his most glorious moments when he insisted that success is only due to God's help and not due to his own genius?
(To be continued)
(The author, Dr. Zakir Naik, is a world-renowned orator, analyst and scholar of Comparative Religion. He is the President of the Mumbai-based 'Islamic Research Foundation'. He may be reached at email@example.com)
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