Dhu'l Qadah 1424 H
Volume 17-01 No : 205
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In the previous two articles in this series, we analysed 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 analyze and respond to some more probabilities given by skeptics who allege that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) authored the Qur’an without claiming its authorship.
By Dr. Zakir Naik
In the previous article (please see Islamic Voice, Dec. 2003), we began the discussion on the claim by some sceptics that moral reformation of individuals and societies was a motive for Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) to have allegedly compiled the Qur’an. We continue our discussion on this subject.
The Qur’an says:
Who can be more wicked than one who invents a lie against Allah or says “I have received inspiration” when he has received none or (again) who says “I can reveal the like of what Allah has revealed?”
This verse prescribes the most humiliating punishment for such liars. If Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the author of the Qur’an, was he deceitfully ascribing it to God and describing himself as the most wicked man? Had he been the author of the Qur’an, there was every possibility that his fabrication might one day be uncovered and get him into trouble.
a) A similar warning is given in the Qur’an in the following verse:
“And if the messenger were to invent any sayings in Our name We should certainly seize him by his right hand And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart: Nor could any of you withhold him (from Our wrath).”
There are several such verses in the Qur’an e.g. Al-Qur’an 42:24 & 16:105.
b) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not deliver the whole Qur’an at one sitting. He recited it piecemeal over a period of about 23 years during which any question would be answered. The Qur’an says:
“If you ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed they will be made plain to you”
People took this opportunity to ask a wide range of questions covering subjects like intoxicants, gambling, charity, new moon, menstruation, spoils of war, or even historical figures like Zulqarnain. Therefore the Qur’an mentions in several places “They ask thee concerning such and such matter. Say: it is so and so”. In no way could Muhammad (pbuh) have known in advance the questions he would be asked, thus perfectly matching his reformation purposes for which he had set out to write the Qur’an. It would be foolish for a Prime Minister who wants to talk about the transportation facility in his country to call a press conference and invite the press to ask any question. They may choose to inquire about the food situation or even about political prisoners.
c) There is sufficient proof in the Qur’an against this moral reformation theory because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself is corrected by the Qur’an in several places.
Once while Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was deeply engrossed, trying to convince the teachings of Islam to pagan Quraish leaders of Makkah, a poor Muslim blind man, Abdullah Ibn Umm-Makhtum interrupted the discussion because he wanted to learn the Qur’an. The Prophet (pbuh) did not appreciate this interruption, which was evident by his frowning. Although the prophet (pbuh) did not say a word yet a revelation was consequently sent which is preserved forever in the Qur’an.
“The (Prophet) frowned and turned away because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell you but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive admonition and the teaching might profit him?”
Anyone besides the Prophet (pbuh), whether saint or sinner, would not have been questioned so. But he, whose gentle heart ever sympathized with the poor and affected, got new light from above, and without the least hesitation published this revelation in the Qur’an. Subsequently every time he met this blind man, he received him graciously and thanked him that on his account, God had remembered him.
There are several similar verses in the Qur’an e.g. in response to Prophet’s (pbuh) oath of not taking honey, Al-Qur’an 66:1 was revealed. In context of revenge of Hamzah (ra) death, Al-Qur’an 16:126 was revealed. In context of prisoners of war for ransom, Al-Qur’an 8:67 was revealed. When Prophet (pbuh) had prayed for a hypocrite, Al-Qur’an 9:84 was revealed.
Some of the people agree that the Prophet (pbuh) was sincere and truthful but allege that he was suffering from epilepsy and during his epileptic seizures he recited what later became the Qur’an. Some writers have compared description of the Prophet (pbuh) when he received revelations with that of epileptic seizures. In actual fact they were far from similar. From the hadith i.e. tradition we learn that the Prophet (pbuh) received the revelation in one of the following conditions:
I. In the Form of a ringing Bell.
II. Sometimes when the revelation came even though it was very cold his brow would be streaming with perspiration.
III. Sometimes he would look perturbed.
IV. Sometimes he would become very heavy while receiving revelations.
“These descriptions in no way bear resemblance to the medical symptoms of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a sudden and recurrent disturbance in the mental function or movement of the body, or both.” Its symptoms include “complete or partial loss of consciousness, accompanied by muscular spasms or convulsions or by more complex behaviour. 70% of patients suffer their first attack before the age of 20 and in some types of epilepsy attacks diminish as the patient enters adulthood. There are 4 main types of epilepsy. a. Grand Mal Epilepsy or ‘the big sickness’ b. Petit Mal Epilepsy or ‘the little sickness’ c. Focal Seizures d. Psycho-Motor Seizures The Prophet’s description when he received the revelation clearly indicates that he did not suffer from the epilepsy of any form. a. Grand Mal Epilepsy This form of epilepsy shows the following symptoms: 1. Generalized convulsions preceded by a complete loss of consciousness, a loud scream and falling to the ground; 2. A stiffening of the body (including the respiratory system sometimes) and jerking movements in all four extremities of the body. In some cases the tongue can get bitten because of a tightening in the muscle of the face; 3. At the end of the attack the patient is totally disorientated, confused, sleepy, sick; 4. The patient will have no recollection of what happened during the seizure or immediately afterwards. The Prophet (Pbuh) did not suffer from any of these symptoms during his life, and most importantly, he remembered everything that had happened to him during the time when the revelation was given to him and recited what he had been commanded to memorize. b. Petit Mal Petit Mal occurs in children and dies out during early adulthood. An attack consists of a very brief episode of unresponsiveness lasting no more than 15 seconds usually. Since the Prophet (pbuh) first received revelation at the age of 40, and each period of revelation lasted a few minutes, it is impossible that the Prophet (pbuh) suffered from this malady.
c. Focal and Psycho-motor seizures Focal seizures originate in a particular area of the brain and the seizure affects those parts of the body controlled by that part of the brain. An attack may show symptoms of jerking in particular extremities or as numbness and trembling in those extremities; the seizure can spread throughout the brain resulting in generalized convulsions. Psycho-motor seizures are set off by an emotional, sensory or psychical aura - that is an unpleasant odour, taste or illusion about size and distance which causes intense fear. The patient becomes unresponsive and can do strange things such as suddenly walking off. The seizure lasts 1-3 minutes and after recovery, the patient will have no memory of the attack itself or the aura, which caused it in the first place. Again, these symptoms are totally dissimilar from what the Prophet (pbuh) experienced, and was seen to experience by his family and companions when receiving the Qur’an.
The causes of Epilepsy Epilepsy is not a disease, it is a syndrome and therefore there is not usually one specific cause behind it. The actual syndrome is created through the malfunction of nerve cells in the brain where the neurons release or discharge excessive electrical energy causing thereby intense excitability in the cells - resulting in a loss of consciousness and convulsions. The reason for this abnormal behaviour in the nerve cells of an individual epileptic can be complex; there is no single cause normally. However in 50% of cases a primary or contributing factor for the syndrome can be identified. Such factors include injury at birth or later; congenital defects (e.g. Cerebral Palsy); infectious diseases such as Meningitis which attack the nerve tissue, parasitic infections, brain tumours, shock etc. An attack can also be brought on as a result of withdrawal from alcohol or barbiturates; extreme emotional distress, or fatigue. The Prophet (pbuh) had none of these problems and therefore did not have epilepsy either. He was known to be in perfect physical and mental health. Although he went through extremely exhausting and stressful times, he displayed a great deal of fortitude. The Qur’an is such an amazing, unchallengeable and glorious book, that one Muslim psychiatrist has said that if it was indeed the work of an epileptic, “I’d like to see more of these epileptic people!”
(To be continued) The author, Dr. Zakir Naik, is a well-known orator 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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