PROVING THE PROPHETHOOD OF MUHAMMAD ﷺ
One of the most common attacks on Islam is the allegation the prophet Mohammad ﷺis an impostor. This is not a modern attack but it is a very old one from the early days when that the prophet (peace and blessing from Allah be upon him) announced to people that he is the messenger of God. The disbelievers of Arabia had accused him in different ways. They accused him of being a liar, a poet, and a sorcerer. After that, they gave up but still couldn’t watch his message spread all over Makkah anymore, so they tried to bribe him to stop calling people to Islam. In the following paragraphs, all of these accusations that he was accused with and also about those offers that were offered to him.
In the following paragraphs, the accusations that he was accused of will be discussed, but also the different offers that were made to him in attempt to stop the spreading of the message Islam.
Muhammad ﷺmade the claim, ‘I am Allah’s Messenger.’ Either he was true in his claim or he was not. If the people begin by the assuming the latter and will investigate all possibilities raised by skeptics of past and present, discussing some of their misconceptions. Only if all other possibilities are exhausted can one reasonably conclude that the only possibility left is that he was true in what he claimed. Also a look at what the Quran has to say on the matter.
Was he a Liar?
First, touch upon and look into the type of person he was before he made that claim of "I am God's messenger"
Before Islam, he was well-known to his own people to be trustworthy and reliable, an honest man, a person of integrity, who did not lie. It was due to this reason they named him “Al-Ameen”, or “The Trustworthy” He was strongly opposed to lying and warned against it.
Is it possible for him to tell a consistent lie for 23 years, a lie so monstrous that it would make him a social outcast where he would be disfavored and disrespected by the people of Makkah at that time; but that was not the case because even after he claimed the prophethood the people were still respecting him and some of them were entrusting or safekeeping their money with him because they were trusting him the most out of anyone in Makkah. So what kind of contradiction is that? They accused him of the worst accusations then trust him to keep and protect their money!
He was never known to have lied even once about anything. Yet the disbelievers of Quraish accused him of lying when they were the ones who named him "The Trustworthy"!!
A liar will falter sometimes, perhaps with a friend, maybe with his family members; somewhere along the line he will make a mistake. His message, delivered over two decades, will contradict itself sometimes. But what we see in reality is that the scripture he brought declares and exhibits freedom from inconsistencies, his message remained consistent throughout his mission, and even in the midst of a battle (“the pinnacle of hardship” or “and hardship”), he proclaimed his prophet-hood! Neither hardships nor battles affected his prophethood. If someone read the Quran he will notice the consistency in the Quran from the first Surah till the last one.
Was he Insane?
Mental disorders are like any other illness in that it has symptoms and those who are mentally unstable can be easily identified by their symptoms. Muhammad ﷺdisplayed no symptoms of insanity at any time in his life. No friend, wife, or family member suspected or abandoned him due to insanity. He preached for a long time and brought a Law unknown in its completeness and sophistication to ancient Arabs. If the prophet was insane, it would have been obvious to those around him at one point in a period of twenty three years. If he was insane there was no way that he could have called for the same thing in such a perfect way for more than two decades. When in history did an insane man preach his message telling people to worship One God for a long time, three years of which he and his followers spent in exile, and eventually became the ruler of his lands? Which insane man has ever won the hearts and minds of people who met him and earned the respect of his adversaries? And even more so, how did the message of an insane man reach us undistorted 1400 years later?
More so, his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar were recognized for their abilities, nobility, skills, and finesse. Abu Bakr was one of Quraish's wise leaders, while Umar was one of the bravest men at that time so much so that anyone would think twice before harming him. They were willing to sacrifice anything for the religion he brought. On one occasion, Abu Bakr, brought all his material possessions to Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and when asked what he left for his family, responded, ‘I left for them God and His Messenger!’
So is it possible for such great, wise, strong people to follow an insane man?
Was he a Poet?
Allah mentions their accusation in the Quran and responds to it:
“Or do they say (of you), ‘A poet for whom we await a misfortune of time?’ Say, ‘Wait, for indeed I am, with you, among the waiters.’ Or do their minds command them to (say) this, or are they a transgressing people? Or do they say, ‘He has made it up?’ Rather, they do not believe.” Quran Surah Tur 52:30-32
God describes the poets of that time so the Prophet can be compared with them:
“And as for the poets - (they, too, are prone to deceive themselves: and so, only) those who are lost in grievous error would follow them. Do you not see that they roam confusedly through all the valleys (of words and thoughts), and that they (so often) say what they do not do (or feel)? (Most of them are of this kind -) save those who have attained to faith, and do righteous deeds, and remember God unceasingly, and defend them¬selves (only) after having been wronged, and (trust in God’s promise that) those who are bent on wrong¬doing will in time come to know how evil a turn their destinies are bound to take!” Quran Surah Shura 26:224-227
Let's see first what the Arabian poets were talking about in their poems. The topics of poems before Islam were mainly concentrated on speaking of wine, womanizing, war, and leisure unlike the Prophet who invited to good manners, serving God, and helping the poor. Hence the difference is very obvious between the two types of poetry. Muhammad ﷺfollowed these unique teachings before anyone else unlike the poets of old or philosophers of today.
The Quran which the Prophet recited was unlike any poetry in its style. The Arabs of the time had strict rules in regards to rhythm, rhyme, syllables and endings to each verse of poetry. The Quran did not conform to any of the rules which were known in the time, but at the same time, it surpassed any type of text which the Arabs had ever heard. Some of them actually became Muslims after hearing only a few aayaath of the Quran, due to their certain knowledge that the source of something so beautiful is above the level of the humans' ability no matter how good they can be.
One of the most eloquent among Arabs Al-Walid Ibn Al-Mugheerah who was well verses in the Arabic poetry, was one of those who were astonished when the prophet recited some of the Quran to him.
Muhammad ﷺwas never known to have composed a poem before Islam or after prophethood. Rather, the Prophet had a severe dislike for it. Compilations of his statements, called Sunnah, have been diligently preserved and are completely different in its literary content than the Quran. The store-house of Arabic poetry does not contain any couplets by Muhammad ﷺ.
Was he a Sorcerer?
Prophet Muhammad ﷺnever learned or practiced sorcery. On the contrary, he condemned the practice of sorcery and taught his followers how to seek protection against it. Allah forbade the practice of magic and sorcery in many aayaath: And the magician thrives not, (no matter) where he goes." Quran Surah Taha 20:69
Also, the prophet Mohammad ﷺcondemned the practicing of sorcery and magic on many occasions. He said:
"Keep away from the seven destructive sins!" They said, "What are they, O Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "Associating partners with Allah; practicing sorcery; taking a life, which Allah has made forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic Law); eating Riba (usury) eating up an orphan's wealth; fleeing from the battle field at the time of fighting (with the unbelievers); and accusing chaste women, who never think of anything that can touch their chastity and who are good believers, of fornication. (Bukhari and Muslim)
And he also said: “Whoever blows on knots practices magic, and whoever practices magic is a mushrik (polytheist).” (At-Tabarani)
Sorcerers have a strong relationship with the devil. Their partnership allows them to deceive people. Devils propagate lies, sins, obscenities, immorality, evil, and they destroy families. The Quran clarifies those upon whom the devils descend: “Shall I inform you upon whom the devils descend? They descend upon every sinful liar. They pass on what is heard, and most of them are liars.” Quran surah Shura 26:221-223
Therefore, for someone who practices sorcery and magic, he has to have a strong relationship with the devil and Jinn which means obeying them in anything they asked for. In other words, the sorcerer has to deal with them as if they are a supreme power hence associating partners with Allah and committing Shirk which is what Islam came to abolish, rather it called for worshipping the one true God.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺwas known and recognized to be a man of integrity true to his word who was not known to have ever lied. He commanded good morals and fine manners. No sorcerer in world history has brought a scripture like the Quran or a Law like his.
So, how can one implement something he condemned and always ordered people to stay away from it?
What he was looking for through his claim?
1. Was he after money?
When the leaders of Quraish at Makkah saw that his followers started to grow in number they tried another strategy with him in order to stop him calling people in Makkah to Islam. The prophet ﷺreceived an interesting offer. An envoy of the pagan leaders, Utbah, came to him saying: "If you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest one of us. If you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us..."
He answered with some verses of the Qur’an: “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Ha. Mim. A revelation from (Allah), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful; a Book whereof the verses are explained in detail; a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who know, giving good news and warning, yet most of them turn away, so they do not listen." Qur’an Surah Fussilat 41: 1-4 And he recited until ayath 38.
Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) , Muhammad's ﷺwife, said, "o my nephew, we would sight three new moons in two months without lighting a fire (to cook a meal) in the Prophet's houses." her nephew asked, "o aunt, what sustained you?" she said, "the two black things, dates and water. And the Prophet ﷺhad some Ansar neighbors (from the supporters) who had a "milk-giving" she-camel and they used to send the Prophet some of its milk." Sahih Al-Bukhari Sahih al-Bukhari 6459(Vol. 8, Book 76, Hadith 466) and Sahih Muslim 2972
Anas, a Companion of Muhammad, said, "The Prophet did not eat at a table till he died, and he did not eat a thin nicely baked wheat bread till he died." Sahih Al-Bukhari, 6450(Vol.8: 457), and Al-Tirmizi, Vol.4:2363
Muhammad's wife `A'ishah said, "The Prophet’s mattress on which he slept was made of leather stuffed with the fiber of the date-palm tree." Saheeh Al-Bukhari, 6456 and Saheeh Muslim, 2082
Amr ibn Al-Harith, one of Muhammad's Companions, said that when the Prophet died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land that he left to charity. Saheeh Al-Bukhari, 2739, and Musnad Ahmad, 17990
So he was living a hard life till he died. Sometimes he would ask his wife Aisha if they have any food, and if she answered that there is nothing to eat at home, he would say that he would fast. This thus shows that he had no desire for wealth, For how can someone who lived such a simple life possibly choose to reject an offering of wealth?
On another occasion and in response to his uncle's plea to stop calling people to Islam, Muhammad's answer was as decisive and sincere: "I swear by the name of Allah, O Uncle, that if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand in return for giving up this matter (calling people to Islam), I will never desist until either Allah makes it triumph or I perish defending it." Tafseer Ibn Katheer and Al-Serah Al-Nabaweyyah, Ibn Hesham, vol. 1, pp. 265-266.
In addition to this, as accounts show, his life changed after he became a prophet of Allah as he was the husband of a wealthy tradeswoman, and he enjoyed the comforts of life available to him at his time. However after his prophethood, he became of the poorest of people. Days passed without a stove fire being lit in his house, and at one time, hunger drove him to the mosque in hope of some provision.
2. Was he after women?
He became a messenger of Allah when he was married to Khadijah who was older than him by 15 years. He married her when he was 25 and she was 40 years old. When she died he remained unmarried for such a long time. When he decided to marry again he married Sawda bint Zam'a who was a middle-aged widow and neither young nor beautiful woman.
The only virgin woman he married among all his wives was Aisha Bint Abi-Bakr (May Allah be pleased with them). The rest of his wives were either widows or divorced.
3. Was he after authority, leadership, and fame?
As already mentioned the following offer that the prophet ﷺfrom the disbelievers:
He received an interesting offer. An envoy of the pagan leaders, `Utbah, came to him saying, "If you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest one of us. If you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us..."
And already said earlier that he refused that offer. Even among his followers he wasn't looking for glory or any great position. His followers loved him, respected him, and trusted him to an amazing degree. Yet he continued to emphasize that he should not be deified; only Allah was to be worshipped. His Companion Anas reported that there was no person whom they loved more than the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, yet when he came to them, they did not stand up for him because he hated their standing up for him as other people do with their great people.
When anyone come to Madinah to meet the prophet ﷺand had never seen him before they would enter the room that he and his companions sit together in and would asked which one among them is the prophet Muhammad, That was because he was not sitting in a different place or some kind of special chair or throne which would distinguish him as a leader. Also, he did not dress differently in a way that showed that he was the leader of Muslims but wore the same clothing as the people of medina did, different from the kings and leaders of that time.
Despite his responsibilities as a Prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, Muhammad ﷺused to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes, help with the household work, and visit poor people when they got sick. He also helped his Companions to dig a defensive trench by moving sand with them. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.