You must reject China, if you reject the Prophet (upon whom be peace) !

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August 7, 2016
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August 20, 2016

You must reject China, if you reject the Prophet (upon whom be peace) !

Today let us discuss the Prophet-hood of Muhammad (upon whom be peace). The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) claimed Prophet-hood over 1400 years ago. To assess whether this claim is true we must rationally investigate the historical narratives and testimonies concerning the life of the Prophet (upon whom be peace).

Once we do this, we will be in a position to conclude that he was speaking the truth. We can summarise the argument as follows:

1. The Prophet could have been a liar, deluded, both or speaking the truth
2. He wasn’t a liar, deluded or both
3. Therefore he was speaking the truth

*** You must reject China, if you reject the Prophet! ***

In epistemology (which is narrowly defined as the study of knowledge and belief) testimony is considered as one of the sources of knowledge, and when applied properly it can form justified beliefs. Testimony is a valid source knowledge only when it comes from a reliable source, especially if there are multiple sources in agreement. Obviously there are conditions to how we can use testimony, but in the majority of the cases we consider testimony as a valid source of knowledge. Take our certainty that China exists. Many of us have never been to China, we have never eaten Chinese food in China, we have never spoken to someone in China. All we have as evidence is a map, and people telling us they have travelled to China, and we may have spoken to people that claim to be from China. However, is a map evidence? Couldn’t it be the case that someone can produce a map and just draw a new country and name it “Fufula”. Is speaking to a person who claims to be Chinese evidence? Couldn’t someone come up to you and claim he is a Fufulanian? What about people who travelled to China, is this a valid source of knowledge? Couldn’t people come up to you and say they travelled to Fufula? This line of questioning actually undermines our certainty that China exists!

Conversely, if we examine why we have such a high level of certainty that China exists we will conclude that it is due to recurrent testimony. Recurrent testimony is that a large number of people have reported a claim to knowledge (such as the existence of China) that it is impossible for them to agree upon a lie or to simultaneously lie. This is accentuated by the fact that most of these people never met and lived in different places (and different times). Therefore to claim they have lied is tantamount of claiming a mass conspiracy!

In light of the above if the claim of the Prophet Muhammad’s (upon whom be peace) prophethood is rejected it is equivalent of rejecting that China exists! Because there are greater reasons to believe that the Prophet (upon whom be peace) was not lying about his claim than the belief that China exists.

In order to assess this, let us discuss the four possible options:

1. he lied
2. he was deluded
3. he was bother lying and deluded
4. he was speaking the truth.

*** 1. Did he lie? ***

Early historical sources on the Prophet Muhammad’s (upon whom be peace) life illustrate and emphasise the integrity of his character. He was not a liar and to assert as much is indefensible. The reasons for this abound, for instance he was known even by the enemies to his message as the “Trustworthy”.[1]

Further proof of the Prophet’s (upon whom be peace) reliability and credibility is enforced and substantiated by the fact that a liar usually lies for some worldly gain, but the Prophet (upon whom be peace) rejected all worldly aspirations, and suffered tremendously for his message.[2] He rejected the riches and power he was offered to stop promulgating his message. Significantly, he was persecuted for his beliefs; boycotted and exiled from his beloved city – Makkah; starved of food; and stoned by children to the point where his blood drenched his legs. His wife passed away and his beloved companions were tortured and persecuted.[3] The psychological profile of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) was obviously incongruent with a liar, and to maintain that he was dishonest is tantamount of making bold claims without any evidence. The late Emeritus Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies W. Montgomery Watt in, Muhammad at Mecca, explores this:

“His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves.”[4]

It was the Prophet’s (upon whom be peace) truthfulness that was a key aspect of his success on both political and religious levels. Without his trustworthiness, which was an integral part of his moral behaviour, he could not have achieved so much in a relatively short space of time. This view is addressed by the historians Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley in, History of the Saracen Empire:

“The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force.”[5]

*** 2. Was he deluded? ***

The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) could not have been deluded, because by definition someone who is deluded speaks falsehood while believing it to be true. To undermine this claim the Prophet (upon whom be peace) foretold of many things that would occur to him and his community after him, pertaining to victory, the removal of the tyrannical kingdoms of Chosroes [the royal title for the Zoroastrian kings of Persia] and Caesar, and the establishment of the religion of Islam throughout the earth. These events occurred exactly as Muhammad (upon whom be peace) foretold. It is as if he was reading the future from an open book. For example:

– The Messenger predicted ‘Ammar’s martyrdom in a ‘civil’ war: What a pity O ‘Ammar, a rebellious group will kill you. [6]
– The Prophet foretold that Fatima would join him first of all after his death: Before his death, the Messenger called his daughter Fatima to his bedside and informed her that she would be the first among his family to join him after his death. Fatima joined her father, the pride of mankind, six months later.[7]
– The Prophet predicted the Mongol invasion: “The Hour will not be established till you fight with the Khudh and the Kirman from among the non-Arabs. They will be of red faces, flat noses and small eyes; their faces will look like flat shields, and their shoes will be of hair.” [8]

In addition to this, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) do not represent the teachings of a deluded man. [9]

*** 3. Was he was both a liar and deluded? ***

This is logically impossible, as the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) could not have been convinced that he was speaking the truth but yet it being based on falsehood and at the same time pretend to be speaking the truth but yet it being based on a lie!

*** 4. Was he was speaking the truth? ***

Dr. William Draper in ‘History of Intellectual Development of Europe’ wrote:

“Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born in Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race… To be the religious head of many empires, to guide the daily life of one-third of the human race, may perhaps justify the title of a Messenger of God.”[10]

Thomas Carlyle in his ‘On Heroes and Hero Worship and The Heroic History’ wrote:

“The man’s words were not false, nor his workings here below…a fiery mass of Life cast up from the great bosom of Nature herself. To kindle the world; the world’s Maker had ordered it so.”[11]

In light of addressing the other options it can be argued the quotes above represent the most rational conclusion.

*** Responding to the main contention ***

A main contention against this argument is that the narratives concerning the life of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) are not valid sources of knowledge. This contention is self-defeating in various ways. If the narratives of the life of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) are rejected, then all established history must be rejected, including World War 1, the battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion of Britain! The reason for this is that the historical science adopted by Islamic scholarship is far more nuanced and precise than the methods used by western historians.

The Islamic method of validating historical narrative is based upon the text (matn) and the chain of narration (isnad), both of which make up a hadith (pl. ahadith). The textual part of the hadith may sound right but it requires an authentic chain of narration with reliable reporters in order to be accepted. Abdullah b. al-Mubarak, the teacher of Imam Bukhari, said:

“The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.”[12]

To summarise a vast science, the following broad classifications clearly show the depth and thoroughness of the science of hadith:

– According to the reference to a particular authority, e.g. the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), a Companion, or a Successor; such ahadith are called Marfu` (elevated), Mauquf (stopped) and Maqtu` (severed) respectively .
– According to the links in the isnad, i.e. whether the chain of reporters is interrupted or uninterrupted, e.g. Musnad (supported), Muttasil (continuous), Munqati (broken), Mu`allaq (hanging), Mu`dal (perplexing) and Mursal (hurried).
– According to the number of reporters involved in each stage of the isnad, e.g. Mutawatir (consecutive) and ahad (isolated), the latter being divided into Gharib (scarce, strange), `Aziz (rare, strong), and Mash’hur (famous).
– According to the manner in which the hadith has been reported, such as using the (Arabic) words ‘an (“on the authority of”), haddathana (“he narrated to us”), akhbarana (“he informed us”) or sami’tu (“I heard”). In this category falls the discussion about Mudallas (concealed) and Musalsal (uniformly-linked) ahadith.
– According to the nature of the matn and isnad, e.g. an addition by a reliable reporter, known as ziyadatu thiqah, or opposition by a lesser authority to a more reliable one, known as Shadhdh (irregular). In some cases, a text containing a vulgar expression, unreasonable remark or obviously-erroneous statement is rejected by the traditionists outright without consideration of the isnad: such a hadith is known as Munkar (denounced). If an expression or statement is proved to be an addition by a reporter to the text, it is declared as Mudraj (interpolated).
– According to a hidden defect found in the isnad or text of a hadith. Although this could be included in some of the previous categories, a hadith Mu`allal (defective hadith) is worthy to be explained separately. The defect can be caused in many ways; e.g. two types of hadith Mu`allal are known as Maqlub (overturned) and Mudtarib (shaky).
– According to the reliability and memory of the reporters; the final judgment on a hadith depends crucially on this factor: verdicts such as Sahih (sound), Hasan (good), Da`if (weak) and Maudu` (fabricated, forged) rest mainly upon the nature of the reporters in the isnad.[13]

In light of the above to reject the narratives that elucidate on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) would be tantamount of rejecting all kown historical truths because the science of hadith is far more thorough than the methodologies used is western history.

Credits: Hamza Tzortzis
[1] Martin Lings. Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources. 2nd Revised Edition. The Islamic Texts Society. 1983, page 34.
[2] Ibid, page 52.
[3] Ibid, pages 53 – 79.
[4] W. Montgomery Watt. Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford. 1953, page 52.
[5]Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley. History of the Saracen Empire. London, 1870.
[6] Bukhari, Muslim and Musnad Ahmad
[7] Bukhari
[8] Muslim
[10] History of Intellectual Development of Europe. An online version is available here:
[11] On Heroes and Hero Worship and The Heroic in History. An online version is available here:
[12] Related by Imam Muslim in the Introduction to his Sahih

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