This is the 33rd in a series of posts dealing with the history of what I call “the God Lie”. Most of the first 29 posts in this series dealt with how the mountainous lie known as Judaism developed (predominantly from earlier Mesopotamian myths and Zoroastrianism). The previous three posts dealt with how the mountainous lie called Christianity was created (predominantly from Judaism and from ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Indian metaphysics and polytheism). My goal for this and the next two posts is to outline a few features of the mountainous lie known as Islam, which basically is another version of Judaism [i.e., the theocracy foisted on the Hebrews by Ezra and co-conspirators (Ezra & C-C)], with the addition of more Zoroastrianism (especially its speculations about heaven and hell), some Christianity, and assorted Arab myths and polytheistic practices (e.g., the pilgrimage to Mecca to kiss a small, black stone, possibly a meteorite).
The alleged founder of Islam was Muhammad (c.570–632 CE). In contrast to the cases for Moses and Jesus, there’s not much doubt that Muhammad existed, but similar to the cases for those alleged “founders” of Judaism and Christianity, existing stories about Muhammad are of questionable reliability. His “official biographies” (called sira or spelled sirah), allegedly containing the traditions and sayings of Muhammad (called the hadith) and allegedly containing accounts of his daily practices (called the sunnah), were written 120 to 300 years after his death and can therefore be expected to have been at least amplified in their retelling – if not completely fabricated.
An illustration is the story about Muhammad’s nighttime ride to Jerusalem on a magical horse (“with the head of a woman, wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching the horizon”), there to ascend “to the seventh heaven with the angel Gabriel”, along the way having nice little chats with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus, et al., who “accepted him as their master.” Eventually, so the story goes (which is essentially identical to a much earlier Zoroastrian story, save for the names of the cast of characters), Muhammad met God/Allah – and if anyone believes that, then I have some great oceanfront property in North Dakota that I’m willing to almost give away.
More generally and since many of the major stories about Muhammad are so similar to the stories about the mythical monster Moses, it’s appropriate to be skeptical about the veracity of all existing stories about Muhammad. For example, the stories about Muhammad climbing a mountain to receive “revelations” from “the creator of the universe” (e.g., that the creator demands worship from his ant-like creations, that Muhammad was to be recognized as the creator’s spokesman, and that Muhammad was to establish a theocracy), his having such “laws” recorded in a “holy book” (called the Koran or spelled Qur’an), his “exodus” from Mecca to Medina, his ordering the slaughter of “unbelievers” (with the plunder of villages, the murder or enslavement of captured males, and the rape of captured females) are so similar to Ezra & C-C’s fictitious stories about Moses that an appropriate response would be: “Gimme a break.”
But regardless of the veracity of such stories, since believing in their “truth” is the foundation of Islam, then to investigate Islam (as I plan to do in the next two posts), it’s necessary to consider the stories. In what follows, I’ll consider a few of them, in each case as if they actually occurred and as if Muhammad actually existed. In each consideration, however, it’s to be understood that I intend that caveats be added, such as “assuming it actually occurred”, “assuming that Muhammad actually existed”, and similar. And I should add that, in view of recent studies by competent historians, I include such caveats with more than normal emphasis.
Illustrative of such studies in the following quotation from Sharon Morad’s summary of Ibn Warraq’s Introduction to the 1988 book The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book (where the original references are listed).
Skepticism of the Sources (pp. 18-34)The possibility should therefore be entertained that essentially all orthodox Muslim stories about Muhammad were fabricated. Yet, until more historical and archeological evidence has been accumulated (comparable to the evidence, reviewed in earlier posts, that the stories about Moses were fabricated), then for this and the next post, I’ll proceed with the tentative hypothesis that the orthodox Muslim stories are reliable.
Muhammad died in 632. The earliest written material of his life is the sira of Ibn Ishaq (750), but Ibn Ishaq’s work was lost. We only have parts of it, available in quotation by Ibn Hisham (834). The hadith are even later. There are six authoritative collections of hadith: Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Maja, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, and al-Nisai. All are dated between 200 and 300 years after Muhammad.
Scholars have attempted to distinguish which hadith contain real information from those containing legendary, theological or political embellishment. Wellhausen insists that the 8th century version (i.e., Ibn Ishaq) was accurate, and later versions were deliberate fictions designed to alter the 8th century story. Caetani and Cammens suggest that most sira were invented to construct an ‘ideal’ past and a justification for contemporary exaggerated exegesis of the Koran.
Most scholars conclude that the stories about Muhammad prior to becoming a prophet are fictitious. In his important critique of the hadith Goldhizer argues that many hadith accepted even by the most rigorous collectors were 8th and 9th century forgeries with fictitious isnads [i.e., “information about the route by which information has been obtained”]. These hadith arose out of quarrels between the ‘Umayyads [i.e., “members of Muslim dynasties that claimed descent from ‘Umayya (a distant relative of Muhammad) and that ruled the Islamic world from 660 (or 661) to 750 and Moorish Spain from 756 to 1031”] and their opponents – both sides freely inventing hadith to support their respective positions. The manufacture of hadith sped up under the ‘Abbasids who were vying with the ‘Alids for primacy. Even Muslims acknowledged a vast number of forgeries [~90% of hadith were discarded], but even so, the collectors were not so rigorous as could be hoped. Even in the 10th century over 200 forgeries were identified in Bukhari. At one point 12 different versions of his work existed.
In his study of the hadith Schacht concludes:
• Isnads only began to be widely used after the ‘Abbasid revolution, and then they were formulated carelessly,
• The better an isnad looks the more likely it was to be spurious,
• No existing hadith can reliably be ascribed to Muhammad, and
• Most of the classical corpus was widely disseminated after Shafi’i (820) and most of the legal tradition was formulated in the 9th century.
His methodology includes looking at legal decisions – if they didn’t refer to a crucial tradition, it’s because the tradition wasn’t there. He argues that traditions were created in response to 9th century conditions and then redacted back several centuries. Islam cannot be traced accurately back before the 8th century.
Wansbrough argues that the Koran and the hadith developed out of sectarian controversies and were projected back to the time of Muhammad. Islamic law developed after contact with Rabbinic Judaism outside the Hijaz [“a coastal region in western Saudi Arabia that borders the Red Sea”]. Muhammad is portrayed as a Mosaic-type prophet, but the religion was Arabized – Arabic prophet, Arabic Holy language, Arabic scripture. At the same time as the formation of this Arabic religion, we see the beginning of interest in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, further suggestive of a rise in Arab nationalism. Negative evidence further supports a late date for the creation of the Koran. There is no record of the Koran being used in legal decisions before the 9th century, and the Fiqh Akbar I (a sort of Muslim creed drafted in the mid-8th century to represent orthodox views) contains no reference to the Koran.
Cook, Crone, and Hinds argue that Islam developed as an attempt to find a common identity among peoples united in conquests that began when the Arabs joined Messianic Judaism in an attempt to retake the Promised Land. Looking at non-Muslim [sources] all we can say is that Muhammad lived, was a merchant and taught about Abraham. But other than that, non-Muslim sources do not confirm the traditional Islamic account. We have no reason to think that he lived in central Arabia (much less Mecca) or that he taught about the Koran. The Koran first appears late in the 7th century, and the first inscriptions with Koranic material (e.g. on coins and the Dome of the Rock) show trivial divergence from the canonical text. The earliest Greek sources say that Muhammad was alive in 634 (Muslim sources say he died in 632). In the 660s [an] Armenian chronicler describes the community of Jews and Arabs, but Muslims say that the Arabs split with the Jews during Muhammad’s lifetime. The Armenian also describes Palestine as the focal point of the Ishmaelite (i.e. Arab) activity, though Muslims say this focus switched to Mecca in AH 2 [the second year after the Hijra, i.e., after Muhammad’s alleged “exodus” from Mecca to Medina in 622].
The result of their research is described in Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (1977). The major thesis of this work is that Muhammad preached a message of Jewish Messianism and became involved in a joint attempt by Jews and Arabs, citing common Abrahamic decent, to reconquer Palestine. Therefore, the earliest non-Muslim sources report strong anti-Christian sentiment. But, eventually the Arabs quarreled with the Jews in Palestine and needed to establish a separate religious identity. They were inhibited by lack of an indigenous religious structure; so, they borrowed heavily from the Samaritans: note the similar emphasis on the unity of God, the fatiha [the short, first chapter of the Koran, “used as an essential element of ritual prayer”] resembles a Samaritan prayer, the Koran only seems to know of the Torah or the Psalms (the Samaritans do not recognize the rest of the Hebrew scriptures), the importance of Moses, and the similarities between the Samaritan view of the Messiah and the Muslim concept of the Mahdi.
Related to the orthodox Muslim stories, an enormous amount of written material is already available, as the reader can easily confirm (e.g., start here). In fact, even I have contributed to the literature, although by training and experience, I’m a physical scientist, not a historian. For example, in my on-line book, starting here, I devoted five of the “Qx chapters” to some of the horrible personal and public policies promoted in the Koran. In addition, in many of the “X-chapters” of the book (e.g., start here), I suggest ways that secular and scientific humanists might be able to thwart the Muslim supremacists from forcing such horrible policies on the rest of the world. And I’d agree that, as well as not being a historian, I’m obviously not impartial.
As for this and the next two posts (after several failed attempts to start them and after spending far more time than I ever wanted to waste reading about Muhammad and Islam), I finally decided on an approach that might be of some value toward the goal of helping to eradicate the mental plague known as Islam, especially from the minds of the poor Muslim people who had the misfortune to be indoctrinated in Islam when they were children. They deserve our sympathy, and I think that all of us should do what we can to help them recover their humanity. Toward that end, I thought it might useful if I at least mentioned some of Muhammad’s major mistakes and some of Islam’s significant errors and evils. In this post I’ll list and outline some of Muhammad’s mistakes, failures, apparent mental problems, etc., and in the next two posts, I’ll outline some of Islam’s resulting errors and evils.
1. Muhammad’s major failure to hold his beliefs only as strongly as relevant and reliable evidence warranted
Essentially all human progress has been built on the bedrock principle of holding beliefs only as strongly as relevant evidence warrants. Thereby, humans decided which berries were safe to eat, learned how to construct shelters and control fires, domesticated animals, planted and irrigated crops, and so on, out to an including creating the internet. It’s the essence of the scientific method: guess, test, and reassess. Muhammad, on the other, not only failed to hold his beliefs only as strongly as evidence warranted, he preached a policy exactly opposite to what he practiced!
To see what I mean, consider the following five translations of Koran 17, 36:
You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I [Allah] have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them. [Translation from submission.org]Yet in contrast (as will be illustrated below) and similar to all religious people to this day, Muhammad hypocritically held tenaciously to a bunch of beliefs that had zero supporting evidence, e.g., for the existence of (first) multi-gods, and then (later in his life) the single god Allah.
And do not uphold what you have no knowledge of. For the hearing, eyesight, and mind, all these you are responsible for. [free-minds.org]
And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). [Yusufali]
(O man), follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge. Lo! the hearing and the sight and the heart – of each of these it will be asked. [Pickthal]
And follow not that of which you have not the knowledge; surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that. [Shakir]
2. Muhammad’s major failure to appreciate what qualifies as ‘evidence’
Of course, Muhammad would have objected (as do all religious people to this day) to the assessment that he held (and they hold) beliefs that have no supporting evidence. He (and they) would claim that abundant evidence supports the belief that, for example, God (or Allah) exists. Such objections, however, are derived from failure to appreciate what qualifies as ‘evidence’. For example, that the universe and people seem to exist is evidence not for the existence of some creator god but evidence only that the universe and people exist.
Not only is there zero evidence to support the claim that God (or Allah) created the universe, the claim is both incoherent and unnecessary. The claim that God/Allah created the universe is incoherent, because it leads to the obvious question: “Then, who created God?” If the response is either that “God always existed” or “God was self created”, then one could equally well conclude either that the universe always existed or that the universe created itself (for example, by a symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation in a total void). Thereby, not only is the claim that God/Allah created the universe incoherent, it’s unnecessary.
Evidence suggests that we exist. The probability that the evidence is misleading is about 1 part in 10^24 (which is roughly the chance that, for example, we’re all just simulations in some humongous computer game). By the same reasoning and based on the total lack of any relevant evidence, the probability that any god exists (or has ever existed) is much less than 1 part in 10^500. Therefore, since all knowledge claimed about any god is completely unreliable, then as the above quote from the Koran (17, 36) advises, Muhammad should have taken his own advice to “follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge.” Instead, Muhammad’s message was the hypocrite’s: “Do as I say; not as I do.”
3. Muhammad’s major mistake of being so gullible, failing to be skeptical
Humanity has advanced by applying the scientific method and associated skepticism (e.g., of the reliability and relevance of the data and its interpretation). An example already reviewed in these posts (starting here) occurred in ancient Greece: Thales, Xenophanes, and Heraclitus opened the flood gates of skepticism with their criticisms of the ideas of Homer and Hesiod; their skepticism led to new ideas conceived by Anaximander, Democritus, Anaxagoras, Protagoras, Socrates, et al., which led to still more skepticism, more new ideas, and the resulting Golden Age of Ancient Greece. In contrast, humanity has stagnated whenever dogma dominated, i.e., whenever ideas (religious, political, or other ideas) have been adopted without criticism and correction. Thus, Christian dogma led to Europe’s Dark Ages, and Islamic dogma is the cause of the continuing stagnation of the Muslim world.
Fundamental to the Muslim world’s stagnation was Muhammad’s uncritical adoption of Zarathustra’s speculations that some god created the universe, that people were involved in a “cosmic battle” between good and evil, that people’s performance in this battle would be suitably rewarded or punished in some imagined afterlife, etc. Long before Muhammad’s time, the Jews and Christians had similarly adopted Zarathustra’s wild speculations, which is why in an earlier post I identified Hellenized Judaism as Zoroastrianism 4.0, Paul’s Christianity as Zoroastrianism 5.0, and Muhammad’s Islam as Zoroastrianism 6.0. All such dogma was (and continues to be), in Kurt Vonnegut’s words, “clearly invented balderdash.”
Meanwhile, Muslims defend Muhammad for being skeptical (e.g., of the Jewish idea that God needed to rest on the seventh day of creation and of the Christian idea that Jesus was God’s son), but even such alleged skepticism reveals Muhammad’s failure as a skeptic: he had bought the farm, but then wasted his time complaining about the presence of a few weeds. Thus, he uncritically adopted as reliable a huge number of totally bogus stories (about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.) that (as I’ve reviewed in earlier posts in this series) Ezra & C-C almost certainly concocted to try to convince the Jews to leave Babylon and return to their homeland. Thereby, far closer to reality than Muhammad’s claim (and Islam’s dogma) that the angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to Muhammad is to say that the racist, Persian-partisan Ezra, in effect, dictated most of the religious content of the Koran to Muhammad.
The consequences were and continue to be significant. For example, as a result of Muhammad’s failure to be skeptical, he incorporated Jewish dogma into the Koran. The Koran, therefore, is a concoction based on silly myths (slightly mangled from the Jewish versions, which in turn originated in ancient Mesopotamian) about Adam being the first man, Noah and his ark, Abraham fathering Ishmael, and all the fictitious stories about Moses (e.g., about his magical tricks at the Egyptian court, his parting the Reed Sea, and similar silliness). Worse, by far, was that Muhammad’s uncritical, gullible acceptance of Ezra & C-C’s bogus stories about Moses (and Joshua) killing unbelievers (of Zarathustra’s speculations) led to Muhammad’s horrible policy of killing “unbelievers” (of his own wild speculations).
Thus, Muhammad’s ordering the killing of thousands of Arabs, the subsequent killing of millions of people conquered by Muslim fanatics, and the killing of unbelievers by Islamic terrorists that continues to this day all followed from Muhammad’s gullible acceptance of, for example, the bogus story concocted by Ezra & C-C that Moses and Joshua did similar. As I’ve suggested in earlier posts in this series (e.g., here), Ezra & C-C may have concocted their fable about the “mythical Moses monster” by relying on historical examples set by megalomaniacs such as the Egyptian pharaoh Thothmes III (c. 1480–1425 BCE, “the Alexander the Great of Ancient Egypt”) and the hideous Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (who ruled from about 1115–1076 BCE). But whether or not those were the sources of Ezra & C-C concocted tales about Moses, it’s clear from the frequent references to Moses in the Koran (more than a hundred such references!) that the mythical Moses monster was Muhammad’s mentor, i.e., like a gullible child or someone with a child’s intelligence, Muhammad accepted the Moses stories as “true”.
4. Muhammad’s major failures to understand the meaning of ‘truth’ and to realize that he had fallen for the “feel-good fallacy”
Xenophanes (c.570 – c.480 BCE; a skeptic, a scientist, and one of the earliest and greatest of the Greek philosophers) saw the nature of ‘truth’ in the real world:
But as for certain truth, no man has known it, nor will he know it – neither of the gods nor yet of all the things of which I speak. And even if by chance he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it, for all is but a woven web of guesses.Contemporaneously in China, Lao Tzu (literally, “Lao the Master”) said something similar:
Not-knowing is true knowledge; presuming to know is a disease. First realize that you are sick; then you can move toward health.Expressed in modern terms, the wisdom of such assessments is that, for open systems (such as reality, in which we can never be certain what’s around the next bend in space-time), we can never be certain that what we’ve discovered is “true”. At best, using the scientific method, the most we can learn about reality is the probability that some claim is true. More than 1,000 years after Xenophanes and Lao Tzu, Muhammad (c.570 – 632 CE) apparently still didn’t understand their wisdom, just as the world’s religious mystics today apparently still don’t understand.
To make more progress towards peace and prosperity throughout the world, what desperately needs to be understood by everyone is that there are two types of “truth”: one type for what are called “open systems” (e.g., judicial systems and all systems that incorporate reality) and another type of truth for “closed systems” (e.g., pure mathematics and all games, such as all religions). In closed systems, various arbitrary rules can be specified; examples of resulting closed-system truths include: “1+1 = 2”, “in baseball, three strikes and you’re out”, “in poker, a flush always beats a straight”, and “in religion, God will punish you if you disobey the clerics”. Muhammad obviously made the mistake (and to this day, religious mystics continue to make the mistake) of adopting closed-system truths as truths in the open system known as reality.
As a result, Muhammad produced a book (the Koran) full of closed-system truths that have as little to do with reality as “1 + 1 = 2”. As Einstein said:
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.In particular, if numbers and the concept of equality are defined, then 1 + 1 = 2 is simply the definition of mathematical addition. In contrast, if one molecule of carbon dioxide reacts with one molecule of water, then the result is one molecule of carbonic acid, i.e., 1 + 1 = 1. That is, in the language of science and in reality, number needn’t be conserved in natural processes (nor need mass – but energy and electrical charge seem to be, although we can never be certain that those open-system claims are true).
The claims in the Koran (and in all “holy books”) are therefore just closed-system truths, as arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical as “three strikes and you’re out”, “a flush always beats a straight”, and “God will punish you if you disobey the clerics”. Such “truths” are relevant only in closed-system games. They’re important only if you’re interested in playing or watching the games – or (as clerical quacks of all religions have learned) if you’re interested in making money and gaining power by conning gullible people into believing that closed-system truths are reliable in reality.
For open systems, intelligent people test to see if truth is being approached by subjecting predictions of specific hypotheses to experimental tests (e.g., if it’s true that the Sun rises each morning, then it should rise tomorrow morning, which is a prediction that can be tested). Thus, for open systems, the best we can do is to be honest and to use the scientific method (in conjunction with Bayes’ method) to evaluate the probability for the validity of any proposition. On the other hand, for closed systems, intelligent people establish if some proposition is true by determining if the alleged truth and its deductions are consistent with whatever “rule book” is being used (e.g., by checking to see if, in the game of poker, a flush always beats a straight). But less than intelligent people (such as Muhammad) or people indoctrinated in religious balderdash commonly decide on the veracity of some proposed truth by succumbing to the “feel-good” or “proof-by-pleasure” logical fallacy, i.e., if it feels good, it must be true.
As a result, Muhammad adopted from Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity a host of “feel-good fallacies”, e.g., that some god created the universe, that when people die they don’t “really” die, that maniacal religious martyrs are rewarded in paradise, etc. Muhammad also added some “feel-good fallacies” of his own, e.g., that (as his grandfather had told him when he was a boy) he was destined to rule Arabia, that (as his first wife told him) he was in direct contact with the creator of the universe (for whom he just happened to be the spokesman), and that (as Allah’s spokesman and after his first wife had died) he was entitled to as many additional wives and 20% of as much booty as his henchmen could plunder.
Meanwhile, even a child should be able to see through such con games. In fact, after Muhammad’s first wife (Khadija) died, his child-bride Aisha (whom he married when she was six and with whom he had vaginal sex when she was nine) reportedly did see through Muhammad’s shenanigans. Thus, in al-Siyuti v.6, p.629, it’s reported that Aisha said to Muhammad:
Verily, your lord [Allah] is ever quick to fulfill your whims and desires.Surely it won’t be much longer before the majority of Muslims will see through Muhammad’s chicanery as clearly as Aisha did.
5. Muhammad’s Megalomania
It’s one level of degeneracy (common among religious people) to claim that some open-system proposition is true (when the most that can be known is an estimate for the probability that it's true). It’s an even lower level of degeneracy to demand that other people accept your propositions as true. If you gain sufficient power and then enforce your demand that other people accept and adopt your beliefs as true, you’re a despot: one who has degenerated to the depth of interpersonal immorality, refusing to acknowledge the equal right of others to claim their own existences – in particular, to hold their own opinions.
Such was Muhammad (and Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al.). As the reader can ascertain from a huge number of websites (and other sources), Muhammad first had critics of his speculations murdered. He then increased his military and financial powers by having his band of marauders raid and pillage caravans and villages. Later, Muhammad and subsequent Muslim rulers had their armies attack, ravage, and plunder cities and other nations. Thereby, Muhammad became (as did Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al.) what the fictitious Moses was depicted to have been: a murdering megalomaniac.
In his edifying 2010 on-line book Unmasking Muhammad – The Malignant Narcissist and His Grand Delusion Allah, Sujit Das provides further information about Muhammad’s megalomania:
[The] Following quotations from authentic Islamic sources prove that Muhammad lived in a grandiose fantasy world and was a denier of reality. Muhammad reinterpreted reality to fit his fantasies.And if the reader missed the joke, then reconsider the final quote from the Koran in the above: it states that Allah (Himself) prays for (to what or to whom?) and showers praises on Muhammad! Talk about a role reversal! Talk about megalomania: Muhammad claims that even God/Allah is subservient to Muhammad.
Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me will not enter it.” (Bukhari: 9.92.384)
Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me.” (Bukhari: 9.89.251)
Allah’s Apostle: the Lord of the Muslims, Leader of the Allah Fearing, Messenger of the Lord of the Worlds, the Peerless and Unequalled. (Ishaq: 233)
Allah addressed the believers and said, “In Allah’s Apostle you have a fine example for anyone who hopes to be in the place where Allah is.” (Ishaq: 467)
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “He who obeys me, obeys Allah, and he who disobeys me, disobeys Allah.” (Bukhari: 4.52.203)
Those who speak negatively of Allah and His Apostle shall be cursed. (Q: 33.57)
For he who insults you (Muhammad) will be cut off. (Q: 108.3)
Though Muhammad placed himself in the position of a humble servant of Allah, we cannot see any humbleness in the above words, and, surprisingly, his God tolerated his arrogance. After a certain period elapsed, Allah became less important than Muhammad, “The living God”. The person of Muhammad stood out above all in front rank, and Allah was given a secondary position in His capacity as the auxiliary of the Prophet. Allah is no longer the Supreme Being. We can [see it in] the following Qur’anic verse.
Lo! Allah and His angels pray peace to Prophet (Muhammad). O ye who believe also shower praises on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. (Q: 33.56)
The above Qur’anic verse alone is enough to prove that Allah is a myth and Muhammad was a vulgar imposter. Muhammad not only ridiculed and belittled his God, but at the same time also represented the entire Divine system as a big joke.
6. Muhammad’s Lies and Narcissism
Now, whereas I’m neither a historian nor a psychiatrist, it’s certainly appropriate for me to constrain my speculations about why Muhammad became such a megalomaniac. In fact, it’s essentially impossible for anyone to decipher someone else’s motives and therefore, for example, to determine if someone is lying or just mistaken. In some cases, however, not much interpretation is needed. In particular, we can be fairly confident that the Muhammad described in Muslim literature was a liar, because it reports that he promoted lying. Illustrative is the following quotation from the website with the sarcastic title The Religion of Peace.
Although Muslims are required to be truthful with each other, Muhammad did approve of lying in cases where doing so advanced the cause of Islam, either in war or peace. His famous statement that “War is deceit” is found in Bukhari 52:269 and elsewhere. It is perfectly acceptable for a Muslim to deceive an enemy in order to gain power.And then, of course there’s Muhammad’s “Big Lie” that he was in communication with (and acted on behalf of) no less than the creator of the universe. I don’t have the needed competence (either in history or psychiatry) to appropriately explore this Big Lie, but perhaps it would be useful if I provided at least rough estimates of the probabilities for the following four possibilities, along with sources of more information.
This applies not only in war, but also when it comes to assassinating enemies of Islam. Muhammad gave permission for Muslims to lie in order to draw out those who spoke against the “Religion of Peace” from their places of refuge so that they might be killed for expressing their discontent. This was the case with the murder of Ka’b al-Ashraf, who had composed derogatory poems about Muslim women:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” The Prophet said, “Yes.” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Ka’b).” The Prophet said, “You may say it.” (Bukhari 59:369)
Muhammad also sent his men to kill a Jew at Khaybar named Usayr ibn Zarim. In order to fool the man into dropping his guard and leaving his fortress, the Muslims pretended that Muhammad wanted to reconcile their differences and that they had nothing to fear:
When they came to him they spoke to him and made him promises, treating him well, saying that if he would come to the apostle, he would give him an appointment and honor him. They kept on at him until he went with them with a number of Jews… [Once the Jews were disarmed] all the apostles’ companions fell upon their Jewish companions and killed them except one man who escaped on his feet. (Ibn Ishaq 981).
Muhammad found lies to be useful not just in making it easier to kill his critics, but also to secure debt (Ibn Ishaq 770) and bring peace:
[Allah’s Apostle said] “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.” (Bukhari 49:857)
6.1 The possibility that the Muslim interpretation is true.
The Muslim interpretation is that Allah chose Muhammad as his prophet and so on. But given that the most certain knowledge that humans have been able to gain is that no god exists or has ever existed (with the estimated probability that such knowledge is wrong being much less than one part in about 10^500), it follows that any claim of Muhammad being a prophet of any god is ridiculous. Therefore, Muhammad’s claims should be dismissed as either delusions or lies.
6.2 The possibility that Muhammad believed that he was Allah’s prophet.
As readers can easily confirm (e.g., perhaps start with the Wikipedia article on Criticism of Muhammad), many people have suggested that Muhammad was mentally ill. There are reports of his having multiple and severe headaches and suggestions that he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy and/or was schizophrenic (complete with seeing visions and hearing voices). Even Muhammad apparently continued to be concerned that he was mentally ill, since in the Koran there are a number of suggestions that his contemporaries considered him to be “mad” or “possessed”, e.g.,
And they say: O thou unto whom the Reminder is revealed, lo! thou art indeed a madman. (Qu’ran 15, 6; Pickthal translation)Therefore, although it’s essentially impossible to know what Muhammad “truly believed”, there’s a chance (maybe with a probability of about one in four or ~25% that it’s true) that Muhammad “truly believed” that he was a prophet of Allah, i.e., that he was delusional. Similarly today, some people apparently “truly believe” that they were captured by extra-terrestrials.
What! shall we forsake our gods for a mad poet? (Q.37, 36)
Wherein [in Paradise] there is no headache nor are they made mad thereby. (Q.37, 47)
Even so, there came no messenger unto those before them but they said: a wizard or a madman! (Q.51, 52)
Though art not, for thy Lord’s favor, mad or possessed. (Q.68, 2)
And lo! those who disbelieve would fain disconcert thee with their eyes when they hear the Reminder, and they say: Lo! he is indeed mad… (Q.68, 51)
6.3 The possibility that Muhammad purposefully lied for political purposes.
Given the nonlinearity of interpersonal relations and therefore the impossibility of predicting consequences of what seem to be small perturbations (described by the familiar analogy of a pebble thrown into a quiet pond), there’s a possibility that what appears to be Muhammad’s madness was actually his method to respond to suggestions from his grandfather. His grandfather seems to have been the most important male in his early life (his father died before he was born). In turn, to try to understand Muhammad’s grandfather, it’s useful to a least glance back at another generation earlier.
Muhammad’s great grandfather lived in Mecca, which was an important trade and (polytheistic) religious center. According to Muslim tradition, he reportedly gained control of Mecca “through deception… he bought the keys of al-Ka’bah [or Kaaba, housing the black stone]… in exchange for a bottle of wine.”
Later, as a result, Muhammad’s grandfather controlled the Kaaba. As described in the important, on-line, 2006 book by A.A. Ahmed entitled The Hidden Life of the Prophet Muhammad, his grandfather perceived how a new religion (eventually called Islam) could be used to unify the Arab tribes:
In his book, Al-Hizb Al-Hashmi Wa Tasis Al-Dawla Al-Islamyia (The Hashmite Party and The Foundation of the Islamic State), Sayyid Mahamoud al-Qimni traces the origin of the Islamic religion to Abd Al-Mutalab, the grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad. “If God wants to establish a state, he creates men like these” said Abd Al- Mutalab while pointing his hand towards his sons” (al-Qimni 1996: 51) [one of whom would become Muhammad’s father]…How all the above might have influenced Muhammad is suggested by the following two reported incidents. For one, upon his being asked why he named the boy ‘Muhammad’ (which is derived from the Arabic word for ‘praise’), his grandfather allegedly responded:
According to al-Qimni the idea of creating an Islamic state and religion goes back to the grandfather of the Prophet. Abd Al-Mutalab understood that the Arab tribes were impossible to be united into one kingdom because of a lack of tribal cohesion. In a kingdom, the ruling tribe would dominate other tribes and no tribe would accept that. For that reason the only way to unite the Arab tribes together was to have a King-Prophet to rule over them. Such a unity could not be resisted, because it would be considered of divine origin. When he understood the problem, Abd Al-Mutalab borrowed the idea of the King-Prophet from the Jewish example of King David and his son, King Solomon. And so, he began his religion of Al-Hanafi ya, which he traced its origin to the ancestor of the Arabs, Ibrahim “or Abraham”…
After the death of [Muhammad’s great grandfather], the leadership of Mecca and the Ka’bah passed to [Muhammad’s grandfather]. As soon as he became a leader, [Muhammad’s grandfather] began “to lay the foundation for a new religion in which all hearts could be united in one God”… He called for the abolition of idols. God would not accept any supplication from a person except his good works. God was the God of Ibrahim, “or Abraham,” the father of all the Arab tribes and the Jewish tribes. [Muhammad’s grandfather] had a vision while he was sleeping in the courtyard of the Ka’bah that the God of Ibrahim had commanded him to dig the well of Zamzam… Then he renounced all pagan worship and practices and asked the people of Mecca to return to the religion of Ibrahim, which was the religion of Hanafi ya. When the month of Ramadan came he would go to the cave of Hirah [as Muhammad later did] and worship.
[Muhammad’s grandfather] began to invite the people of Makka [Mecca] to do good and refrain from evil because he believed in the resurrection of the souls and their judgment on the last day. In fact, [he] was not the first founder of the Hanafi ya, but according to al-Qimni, some people from Yemen founded the religion in the first century before the birth of Christ… [Muhammad’s grandfather] did not know the origin of the Hanafi ya and hence attributed it to the Hebrew prophet, Ibrahim… The Yemeni people used to worship one god whom they called Al-Rahman… [which is the name for his god that Muhammad originally used, before it seemed politically expedient to call him by the name more familiar to the Arab polytheists, i.e., Allah, the moon god].
I did so with the desire that my grandson would be praised by Allah in Heaven and by men on earth.As for the second incident, it’s reported that, after Muhammad’s mother also died (when he was six) and he went to live with his grandfather, his grandfather repeatedly said about the boy (“who he kept… by his side at all times”):
This boy will be important one day.I therefore think that the possibility should be considered (with the probability of it being correct perhaps again somewhere around 1 in 4 or 25%) that in later life, Muhammad purposefully fabricated his role as Allah’s prophet to achieve his grandfather’s expectations that “this boy will be important one day… praised by Allah” for uniting the Arab tribes.
6.4 The possibility that Muhammad was a pathological liar.
I’d assign another ~25% probability to the possibility that Muhammad was a pathological liar (leaving the remaining ~25% probability for other possibilities, such as the possibility that essentially the entire story about Muhammad was fabricated). With respect to the suggestion that Muhammad was a pathological liar, however, then given my lack of relevant training and experiences, I should leave to historians and psychologists the tasks of describing the details and possibly even identifying the cause(s) of Muhammad’s mental condition. Nonetheless, for the reader’s possible interest and convenience, I’ll add the following notes.
Even from what has been recorded about Muhammad, his childhood seems to have been terribly traumatic. First, he never knew his father (who died before Muhammad was born), and having no father was probably especially significant among the patriarchal Arabs. Then, when he was a baby, his mother gave him to a Bedouin nurse to live with her. When he was about two, the nurse became concerned that he was “possessed by an evil spirit” and sought to return him to his mother. His mother, however, basically refused to take him, and the nurse (or another nurse) kept him for two more years. After that, Muhammad finally lived with his mother – for two years, until she died, whereupon he lived with his grandfather for two years, until his grandfather also died.
After all that, after the death of his father, the rejection by his mother, his unknown but likely traumatic experiences when under the care of the Bedouin nurse(s), and then the death of his mother and grandfather, all before he was eight years old, Muhammad went to live with his uncle. His uncle apparently treated him well – but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if his uncle (and/or the Bedouins with whom Muhammad lived for the first four years of his life) used him as a sex object, since such was common in primitive societies – and is still common in many Muslim countries.
Research has shown that a child with such experiences will commonly have, as a minimum, serious difficulties in establishing his or her “self identity” and in feeling empathy for others. As a result, rather than the Muslim method of identifying him as “the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”, with “pbuh” an abbreviation for “peace be upon him”, I think it more appropriate to refer to him (as in this post’s title) as “the Pathetic Muhammad (pbuh)”, with this “pbuh” an abbreviation for “pity be upon him.”
Now, although there are many reports about Muhammad’s traumatic childhood, I’ve seen relatively few reports about his life during his teens and early twenties. Reports suggest that he “was a loner” (e.g., enjoying the “women’s work” of tending sheep, alone), but under his uncle’s guidance, he apparently became competent in his uncle’s business of trading and transporting goods (e.g., between Yemen and Syria) and gained a reputation for industry and honesty. As a result (according to Muslim tradition), when he was 25 Muhammad’s personal life improved dramatically: he accepted the proposal from his boss, Khadija, to become her husband.
Khadijah was a widow approximately 15 years older than Muhammad. She ran a successful trading business, later inherited from her father and headquartered in Mecca. With Khadija, Muhammad seemed to have his first and only happy home life. She may already have had three daughters from her previous marriage(s); they had another daughter (Fatimah) and two sons. Muhammad’s marriage to Khadija for 24 years, essentially doubling his age, seemed to be the best years of his life, although both his sons died (when Muhammad was thirty five and forty five). Khadija seemed to have encouraged his “prophethood”, and (as I’ll outline in the next post) it seems to have been during these years that he (and possibly others, including Khadija) composed the “peaceful verses” of the Koran.
In fact, as readers can easily confirm, there are many reports that Muhammad didn’t accept his initial “visits” from the angel Gabriel as being other than a delusion. It’s reported that it was Khadija’s cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal (a priest of the Christian Ebionites sect, i.e., the original Jewish-Christian sect, with the word ‘Ebionites’ derived from the Hebrew word Ebionim meaning “the poor ones”) who suggested to him that he was being contacted by God/Allah. Further, some authors (e.g., start from the Wikipedia article about Waraqah) suggest that he was one of the sources of some of Muhammad’s “revelations” included in the Koran.
When Muhammad was about 50, his life again turned bad: according to available reports, both Khadija and Muhammad's uncle/ protector / foster-father died (in the same year), his role as a prophet was rejected by the Meccans (his uncle had protected him from the Meccans who considered him “mad”), he and his approximately 70 followers took refuge in Medina, he became the town’s ruler, and he began the business of being a brigand. Extrapolating from my own “mid-life crisis” (after experiences that were bad but nowhere near so bad as Muhammad’s) I expect that Muhammad “lost it”. Muslim raids, murders, enslavements, rapes, etc. followed, and it seems that Muhammad then wrote the horrible verses of the Koran, “abrogating” (or overruling) the peaceful verses. As a result, the Koran became a handbook for terrorists, as it is to this day.
Readers should consult more competent authors for analyses of Muhammad’s mental condition. For example, consider the following from the essay “From Belief to Enlightenment” by the ex-Muslim Ali Sina:
Muhammad was an emotionally sick man who was not in control of himself. He grew up as an orphan in the care of five different foster parents before he reached the age of eight. As soon as he became attached to someone, he was snatched away and given to someone else. This must have been hard on him and was detrimental to his emotional health. As a child, deprived of love and a sense of belonging, he grew with deep feelings of fear and lack of self-confidence. He became a narcissist. A narcissist is a person who has not received enough love in his childhood, who is incapable of loving, but instead craves attention, respect and recognition. He sees his own worth in the way others view him. Without that recognition he is nobody. He becomes manipulative and a pathetic liar.For further investigations of Muhammad’s narcissistic delusions, I recommend that readers refer to Ali Sina’s 2008 break-through book Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet (the Table of Contents and selected sections of which are available here) as well as the important 2010 e-book Unmasking Muhammad – The Malignant Narcissist and His Grand Delusion Allah by Sujit Das. The following is from a review of Ali Sina’s book by Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited.
Narcissists are grandiose dreamers. They want to conquer the world and dominate everyone. Only in their megalomaniac reveries is their narcissism satisfied. Some famous narcissists are Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Mao. Narcissists are intelligent, yet emotional wrecks. They are deeply disturbed people. They set themselves extremely high goals. Their goals always have to do with domination, power and respect. They are nobody if they are neglected.
Narcissists often seek alibis to impose their control over their unwary victims. For Hitler it was the party and race, for Mussolini it was fascism or the unity of the nation against others, and for Muhammad it was religion. These causes are just tools in their quest for power. Instead of promoting themselves, the narcissists promote a cause, an ideology, or a religion while presenting themselves as the only authority and the representative of these causes. Hitler did not call the Germans to love him as a person but to love and respect him because he was the Fuhrer. Muhammad could not ask anyone to obey him, but he could easily demand his followers to obey Allah and his messenger. Of course Allah was Muhammad’s own alter ego, so all the obedience was for him in the final account. In this way he could wield control over everyone’s life by telling them he is the representative of God and what he says is what God has ordained.
Why are some Muslims intolerant, violent and supremacist? Why do they bully? What spurs them to riot and murder over the silliest things?Other ex-Muslims have reached similar conclusions about Muhammad. For example, the following is from the homepage of the Apostates of Islam, whose members include Ibn Warraq, Taslima Nasrin, Parvin Darabi, Nonie Darwish, and Anwar Shaikh:
To understand Muslims, one must understand their prophet. This psychobiography [by Ali Sina] seeks to unveil the mystery of the prophet of Islam. Historians tell us Muhammad used to withdraw to a cave, spending days wrapped in his thoughts. He heard bells ringing and had ghostly visions. He thought he was demon possessed, until his wife reassured him he had become a prophet. Convinced of his status, he was intolerant of those who rejected him, assassinated those who criticized him, raided, looted, and massacred entire populations. He reduced thousands to slavery, raped (and allowed his men to rape) female captives. All of this, he did with a clear conscience and a sense of entitlement. He was magnanimous toward those who admired him, but vengeful toward those who did not. He believed he was the most perfect human creation and the universe’s raison d’être. Muhammad was no ordinary man.
This book ventures beyond the stories. Focusing on the “why” rather than the “what,” it unravels the mystique of one of the most enigmatic and influential men in history. Islam is Muhammadanism. Muslims worship and emulate Muhammad. Only by understanding him can one know what makes them tick.
Understanding Muhammad begins with a brief history of his life. Muhammad had a loveless childhood. He then passed to the care of relatives who took pity on him and spoiled him. As the result he developed narcissistic personality disorder, a trait that made him a megalomaniac bereft of conscience. Muhammad believed in his own cause. Even when he lied, he felt entitled and justified to do so. Thanks to another mental illness, namely temporal lobe epilepsy, the prophet of Islam had vivid hallucinations he interpreted as mystical and divine intimations. He also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, causing his fixations on numbers, rituals and stringent rules. In the addition, he suffered from acromegaly, a disease caused by excessive production of a growth hormone resulting in large bones and odd facial features.
The combination of his psychological disorders and his unusual physiognomy made him a phenomenon that set him apart from ordinary people. His uneducated followers interpreted his differences as signs of his prophethood. Like devotees of all cults, they rose to champion his cause with dedication. By defying death and butchering others they made Islam the world’s second largest religion, now the biggest threat to world peace. The author argues that Islam is incompatible with democracy and human rights, and the only way to avert the clash between barbarity and civilization, and a world disaster, is to expose its fallacy and demystify it. “Muslims must be weaned from Islam for humanity to live in peace,” says Ali Sina.
We are ex-Muslims…In his online 2010 book Unmasking Muhammad – The Malignant Narcissist and His Grand Delusion Allah, Sujit Das summarizes as follows (to which I’ve made a few, minor, editorial changes):
Why Muhammad was not a prophet…
Muhammad’s life is that of a gangster godfather. He raided merchant caravans, looted innocent people, massacred entire male populations and enslaved the women and children. He raped the women captured in war after killing their husbands and told his followers that it is okay to have sex with their captives and their “right hand possessions.” (Quran 33:50) He assassinated those who criticized him and executed them when he came to power and became de facto despot of Arabia. Muhammad was bereft of human compassion. He was an obsessed man with his dreams of grandiosity and could not forgive those who stood in his way. Muhammad was a narcissist like Hitler, Saddam or Stalin. He was astute and knew how to manipulate people, but his emotional intelligence was less evolved than that of a six-year-old child. He simply could not feel the pain of others. He brutally massacred thousands of innocent people and pillaged their wealth. His ambitions were big, and as a narcissist, he honestly believed he is entitled to do as he pleased…
Critics often ask the question: Was Muhammad a knowing fraud or did he genuinely believe that the revelations were coming from a God? No matter the truth, the answer simply does not have much meaning. Even if he were sincere, his sincerity does not relieve him from criminal charges against him. If a racially prejudiced White person “sincerely believes” that Blacks should not have equal rights, his sincerity does not affect our moral condemnation of his belief. For the same reason we condemn those Hindus who still believe in untouchability. In the same way, Muhammad cannot get away in any case. If he was not a knowing fraud, then we can say that he was capable of self-deception. He used to bring messages freely from his God to justify political murders, assassinations, raid, booty, pedophilia, abundant sex, even to solve his domestic problems, all clear evidence that he was an absolute fake; his sincerity means nothing.All of which reminds me (and apparently also “Dan of California” of the Cherokee legend that I quoted earlier in my online book:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.Thereby, it appears that, after Khadija, their two sons, and his uncle died, Muhammad fed his evil wolf. As a result, Muhammad lost his natural understanding of (and natural proclivity for) morality and justice: he abandoned any hope he might have had to be a productive member of his society, he treated his subsequent wives (including his child bride) as mere sex objects, he murdered his critics and those who would not obey him, he raided, raped, and plundered people, and in general, he made the horrible mistake of concluding that the end justifies the means.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win grandfather?”
The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
The means that he chose were horrible: rather than using reasoning and setting an honorable example, he chose to persuade by initiating physical violence; unlike Gandhi, he chose the law of the jungle, might makes right; he thus chose brutality, as Muslim terrorists do to this day. Further, the end he chose couldn’t have been worse: he didn’t choose some goal that might help humanity; instead, he chose goals (either rationally or irrationally) to help himself – just as subsequent Muslim fanatics have chosen to help themselves. Thus, he didn’t (and they don’t) seek to live a moral life and to be productive for the benefit of other humans, but he chose (and they choose) goals for personal benefits: to placate an imagined god, in turn for the selfish goal of eternal happiness in an imagined paradise and to avoid the horrors of an imagined hell. The result was (and is) to create hell on Earth.
My goal for the next two posts is to outline how Muhammad’s mistakes, failures, lies, megalomania, and narcissism were used to create and perpetuate the hell on Earth into which (most unfortunately for them) most Muslims were born. To end this post, I want to quote the following, century-old, inspirational poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature, in which he describes his vision of heaven on Earth. I’ll add that I’m ashamed to say it’s a poem that I had never seen until I read the book by Sujit Das. Similar to the book by Das (but unlike anything from Muhammad), Tagore’s poem is a gift to all humanity. I should also add that I took the liberty to make two minor changes to the poem, changes with which I expect Tagore would approve, if he could have seen another century of “ever widening thought and action.”
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward…
into ever-widening thought and action:
Into that heaven of freedom… let [the world] awake.
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward…
into ever-widening thought and action:
Into that heaven of freedom… let [the world] awake.
[To be continued]