Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you;
Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to make sure.— George Carlin (via damn-peasants)
hereticaldeej asked: You have spoken at length in the past about Jesus' existence and powers (or lack thereof); do you have any similar insight into the Prophet Muhammed? It was something that occurred to me, and I'm going to do some research on it, but I thought you might have something to say on the topic (and your followers might be interested by it to boot.)
Islam, like Christianity, has very obscure origins. The source material for the Qur’an, for instance, was probably a Christian document.1 Also, Christ isn’t on par with Allah and thus, Islamic views of Jesus may have been influenced by non-Trinitarian (Unitarian) sects.2 What’s really interesting to note is that Muhammad, unlike Jesus, isn’t a name. Sure, Jesus comes from the Hebrew word יְשׁוּעָה (pronounced Yeshua). The name means rescuer, which is synonymous to savior. The name was common in the first century, but it is a little fishy that Jesus Christ means anointed savior. Regardless, assuming there was a historical Jesus, his name could have been Jesus. This wouldn’t be the case with a historical Muhammad.
Muhammad, which comes from the Arab word مُحَمَّد, roughly translates as praised one. It’s not a name, it’s a title.3 Interestingly enough, Muhammad could have been a character that developed in response to Jesus first being associated with the title muhammad. Another aspect Islam and Christianity share is the unreliability of documents. If you think the Gospels are problematic, consider the hadiths! They are quite telling of the many factions that existed in early Islam. I am of the view that a historical Muhammad is currently inaccessible. The hadiths and the Qur’an itself are simply unreliable. Furthermore, given that his name is actually a title, we don’t even know where to look. I would recommend Robert Spencer’s works. I’d also recommend Solomon Nigosian’s Islam: Its History, Teachings, and Practices. He shares the following:
The difficulty in discerning the role of Muhammad is enormous, which may come as a surprise to those who are not experts in literary criticism. But every scholar who has tried to study the available sources of information on Muhammad knows that the endeavor of sifting through the evidence to arrive at some tangible historical facts results only in the unpleasant feeling of uncertainty. Critical investigation of the material on Muhammad, both in the Qur’an and in the mass of Muslim traditions, has resulted in profound scholarly disagreements concerning his life and the part he played in the early Muslim community. In fact, the attempt to separate the historical from the unhistorical elements in the available sources has yielded few, if any, positive results regarding the figure of Muhammad or the role he played in Islam. The predicament faced by modern scholars is perhaps best stated by Harald Motzak:
At present, the study of Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim community, is obviously caught in a dilemma. On the other hand, it is not possible to write a historical biography of the Prophet without being accused of using the sources uncritically, while on the other hand, when using the sources critically, it is simply not possible to write such a biography.
Nigosian, S. A.. Islam: Its History, Teachings, and Practices, p.5-6. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Print.
Hope this helps! Thanks for the question.