"THE AUTHOR"

Dr. M. Khalifa


The Prophetís antagonistic contemporaries used any means to discredit his prophethood, discerning in it a cardinal threat to their supremacy as leaders of the community. Is it not strange to note how when modern Orientalists echo these accusations made fourteen centuries ago, they merely phrase them anew? Godís Composition under challenge - as His Book foretells. The human theorists refuted.

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Introduction

This is one of the most controversial points about the sacred book. Muslims are of the firm belief that it was God's composition, word by word and even letter by letter; the divine revelation coming down through the mission of the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (s) in installments. Immediately after each revelation the Prophet (s) repeated the heavenly words aloud to his followers around him and to his scribes who wrote them down.

Yet, on the other hand, non-Muslims find it hard to accept that any book whatever exists or ever existed which was actually composed by God. Books held sacred by non-Muslims have been written by men who were saintly and held in great spiritual esteem, but who nonetheless were mortals. This applies to the Old and New testament as well as to books of other faiths.

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Orientalists

Islam is the sole religion whose followers firmly believe their sacred book to have been composed by God. This, however, has been persistently denied by non-Muslim writers down the years who claim categorically that the Quran was composed by Muhammad with or without the help of others. Some of these writers' statements are extremely sweeping and moreover make little or no attempt to give supporting evidence.

Sale, for instance, in his Preliminary Discourse, first published in the eighteenth century, declared: "That Muhammad was really the author and chief contriver of the Quran is beyond dispute; though it be highly probable that he had no small assistance in his design from others." [Prophet Muhammad (s) never claimed that he is the author of Qur'an]. Sir William Muir in the last century, Wollaston in 1905, Lammens in 1926, Champion and Short in 1959, Glubb in 1970 and Rodinson as late as 1977 merely reiterated this logically unfounded assumption.

We find the echoing statements of other Orientalists: from Menzees, "Nothing else but a pure creation and concoction of Mohammed and of his accomplice;" and from Draycott, "Through it all runs the fire of his genius; in the later Surahs (chapters) it is the reflection of his energy that looks out from the pages." Many Orientalists have claimed the Prophet to be a poet, a thinker, an epileptic or bewitched, or to have relied on Jewish and Christian sources in composing the Book. A few writers in the Middle Ages even came out with the fantastic assertion that it was put together by Christians or Jews especially employed for the purpose, patching it up with bits of the Bible in order to satisfy popular demand! Of course, this particular medieval assertion was subsequently proved to be untrue and accordingly dropped when some accurate information became available in the West.

In fact, most of these notions are not exclusively the Orientalists' inventions, being promulgated originally by tribal chiefs among the disbelievers in the Prophet's own time. Naturally, such antagonistic contemporaries were prepared to use any means to discredit his prophethood, discerning in it a cardinal threat to their supremacy as leaders of the community. Their assertions and accusations against the Prophet have come down to us in the vivid terms of the Quran:

When it was said to them: There is no god save Allah, they were scornful and said: Shall we forsake our gods for a mad poet? Nay, but he brought the Truth and he confirmed the messengers before him. (52:29-34)

And when Our revelations are recited unto them they say: we have heard, if we wished we could say the like of it, this is nothing but fables of the ancients. (8:31)

Is it not strange to note how when modern Orientalists echo these accusations made fourteen centuries ago, they merely phrase them anew?



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Courtesy: The Message, an ICNA Publication, 1995.
Copyright © 1997 Web version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.

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