A Nineteenth Century Expert's Insight into Muhammad's Legacy
10 Jul, 2008
- William Muir understood Islam and Muhammad as well as humanly possible and it shows in his work and the level of importance with which he viewed his efforts. William Muir himself noted:
“MUHAMMAD and the Qur’an, the author of Islam and the instrument by which he achieved its success, are themes worthy of the earnest attention of mankind. If I have to any degree succeeded in contributing fresh materials towards the formation of a correct judgment of either, many hours of study, snatched not without difficulty from other engrossing avocations, will have secured an ample recompense.”
William Muir’s work very much assists in “the formation of a correct judgment” of both Muhammad and Islam. In the hope of introducing a wider audience to his work, I have set forth a portion of William Muir's conclusion to “The Life of Mahomet” below as I believe it is as insightful of a look into the life and impact of Muhammad as one will find. My only contribution is that I have substituted a few modern words in place of some of the older, dated words and I have updated some of the spellings, but I have not changed any meaning.
William Muir's summary of Muhammad’s life also acts, in my view, as an insight into Islam given that the religion completely derives from Muhammad’s words and deeds and Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an to obey and emulate Muhammad. Consequently, understanding Muhammad aids a great deal in understanding Islam and some Muslims’ behavior.
One aspect of William Muir’s work that I find fascinating is that despite the fact that he ultimately concludes that “[t]he sword of Muhammad, and the Qur’an, are the most fatal enemies of Civilization, Liberty, and Truth, which the world has yet known,” he takes his time to state his opinion and, before he does, he sets forth both the positive and negative attributes of Muhammad in detail. Such an approach lends great credibility to his work.
Without further comment, I now present to you William Muir’s conclusion of what I consider to be his Magnum Opus (great work) that, because of modern events, has assumed an importance that transcends time and cultural changes.
The Person and Character of Mahomet.
General Review of Muhammad's Character
IT may be expected that before bringing this work to a close, I
should gather into one review the chief character traits in the
character of Mahomet, which at different stages of his life, and
from various points of view, have in the course of the history been
presented to the reader, This I will now briefly attempt.
. . .
Simplicity of his Life
A patriarchal simplicity pervaded his life. His custom was to do everything for himself. If he gave an alms, he would place it with his own hand in that of the petitioner. He aided his wives in their household duties; he mended his own clothes; he tied up the goats; he even cobbled his sandals. His ordinary dress consisted of plain white cotton stuff; but on high and festive occasions, he wore garments of fine linen, striped or dyed in red. He never reclined at meals. He ate with his fingers; and when he had finished, he would lick them before he wiped his hands. The indulgences to which he was most addicted were "Women, scents, and food." In the first two of these, Ayesha tells us, he had his heart's desire; but when she adds that he was limited in the third, we can only attribute the saying to the vivid contrast between the frugal habits prevalent at the rise of Islam, and the luxurious living which rapidly followed in the wake of conquest and prosperity. Mahomet, with his wives, lived in a row of low and homely cottages built of unbaked bricks; the apartments were separated by walls of palm branches rudely daubed with mud; curtains of leather, or of black hair-cloth, supplied the place of doors and windows. His living area was to all easy of access,- "even as the river's bank to him that draweth water therefrom." Yet we have seen that he maintained the state and dignity of real power. No approach was suffered to familiarity of action or of speech. The Prophet must be addressed in subdued accents and in a reverential style. His word was absolute. His bidding was law.
Urbanity and Kindness of Disposition
A remarkable feature was the urbanity and consideration with which Muhammad treated even the most insignificant of his followers. Modesty and kindness, patience, self-denial, and generosity, pervaded his conduct, and riveted the affections of all around him. He disliked to say No; if unable to reply to a petitioner in the affirmative, he preferred to remain silent. "He was more bashful," says Ayesha, "than a veiled virgin; and if anything displeased him, it was rather from his face, than by his words, that we discovered it; he never smote anyone but in the service of the Lord, not even a woman or a servant." He was not known ever to refuse an invitation to the house even of the meanest, nor to decline a proffered present however small. When seated by a friend, "he did not haughtily advance his knees towards him." He possessed the rare faculty of making each individual in a company think that he was the most favored guest. When he met any one rejoicing. he would seize him eagerly and cordially by the hand. With the bereaved and afflicted he sympathized tenderly. Gentle and unbending towards little children, he would not disdain to accost a group of them at play with the salutation of peace. He shared his food, even in times of scarcity, with others; and was sedulously solicitous for the personal comfort of every one about him. A kindly and benevolent disposition pervades all these illustrations of his character.
Muhammad was also a faithful friend. He loved Abu Bakr with the romantic affection of a brother; Ali, with the fond partiality of a father. Zeid, the Christian slave of Khadija, was so strongly attached by the kindness of Muhammad, who adopted him, that he preferred to remain at Mecca rather than return to his home with his own father: "I will not leave thee;' said he, clinging to his patron "for thou hast been a father and a mother to me." The friendship of Muhammad survived the death of Zeid, whose son, Osama, was treated by him with distinguished favor for his father's sake. Othman and Omar were also the objects of a special attachment; and the enthusiasm with which the Prophet, at Hodeibia, entered into "the Pledge or the Tree" and swore that he would defend his beleaguered son-in-law with his last breath, was a signal proof of faithful friendship. Numerous other instances of Muhammad's ardent and unwavering regard might be adduced. And his affections were in no instance misplaced; they were ever reciprocated by a warm and self sacrificing love.
Moderation and Magnanimity
In the exercise at home of a power absolutely dictatorial, Muhammad was just and temperate. Nor was he wanting in moderation towards his enemies, when once they had cheerfully submitted to his claims. The long and obstinate struggle against his pretensions maintained by the inhabitants of his native city, might have induced a haughty tyrant to mark his indignation in indelible traces of fire and blood. But Muhammad, excepting a few criminals, granted an universal pardon; and, nobly casting into oblivion the memory of the past, with all its mockings, its affronts, and persecutions, he treated even the foremost of his opponents with a gracious and even friendly consideration. Not less marked was the forbearance shown to Abdullah and the disaffected party at Medina, who for so many years persistently thwarted his schemes and resisted his authority; nor the clemency with which he received the submissive advances of the most hostile tribes; even in the hour of victory.
Cruelty Towards His Enemies
But the darker shades of character, as well as the brighter, must be depicted by a faithful historian. Magnanimity or moderation are nowhere discernible as features in the conduct of Muhammad towards such of his enemies as failed to tender a timely allegiance. Over the bodies of the Coreish who fell at Badr, he exulted with savage satisfaction; and several prisoners, - accused of no crime but that of scepticism and political opposition, - were deliberately executed at his command. The Prince of Kheibar, after being subjected to inhuman torture for the purpose of discovering the treasures of his tribe, was, with his cousin, put to death on the pretext of having treacherously concealed them: and his wife was led away captive to the tent of the conqueror. Sentence of exile was enforced by Muhammad with rigorous severity on two whole Jewish tribes at Medina; and of a third, likewise his neighbors, the women and children were sold into distant captivity, while the men, amounting to several hundreds, were butchered in cold blood before his eyes.
Craftiness and Perfidy
In his youth Muhammad earned amongst his fellows the honorable title of "the Faithful." But in later years however much sincerity and good faith may have guided his conduct in respect of his friends, craft and deception were certainly not wanting towards his foes. The perfidious attack at Nakhla, where the first blood in the internecine war with the Coreish was shed, although at first disavowed by Muhammad for its scandalous breach of the sacred usages of Arabia, was eventually justified by a pretended revelation. Abu Basir, the freebooter, was countenanced by the prophet in a manner scarcely consistent with the letter, and certainly opposed to the spirit, of the truce of Hodeibia. The surprise which secured the easy conquest of Mecca, was designed with craftiness if not with duplicity. The pretext on which the Bani Nadhir were besieged and expatiated (namely, that Gabriel had revealed their design against the Prophet's life,) was feeble aud unworthy of an honest cause. When Medina was beleaguered by the confederate army, Muhammad sought the services of Nueim, a traitor, and employed him to sow distrust among the enemy by false and treacherous reports; "for," said he, "what else is War but a game at deception?" In his prophetical career, political and personal ends were frequently plotted by the flagrant pretense of Divine revelations, which a candid examination would have shown him to be nothing more than the counterpart of his own wishes. The Jewish and Christian systems, at first adopted honestly as the basis of his own religion, had no sooner served the purpose of establishing a firm authority, than they were ignored if not disowned. And what is perhaps worst of all, the dastardly assassination of political and religious opponents, countenanced and frequently directed as they were in all their cruel and perfidious details by Muhammad himself leaves a dark and indelible blot upon his character.
Domestic Life; Polygamy
In domestic life the conduct of Muhammad, with one grave exception, was exemplary. As a husband his fondness and devotion were entire, bordering, however, at times, upon jealousy. As a father he was loving and tender. In his youth he is said to have lived a virtuous life. At the age of twenty-five he married a widow forty years old: and for twenty-five years he was a faithful husband to her alone. Yet it is remarkable that during this period were composed most of those passages of the Qur’an in which the black-eyed Houris, reserved for believers in Paradise, are depicted in such glowing colors. Shortly after the death of Khadija, the Prophet married again; but it was not till the mature age of fifty-four that he made the dangerous trial of polygamy, by taking Ayesha, yet a child, as the rival of Sauda. Once the natural limits of restraint were overpassed, Muhammad fell an easy prey to his strong passion for the sex. In his fifty- sixth year he married Haphsa; and the following year, in two succeeding months, Zeinab bint Khozeima, and Omm Salma. But his desires were not to be satisfied by the range of a harem already greater than was permitted to any of his followers; rather, as age advanced, they were stimulated to seek for new and varied indulgence. A few months after his nuptials with Zeinab and Omm Salma, the charms of a second Zeinab were by accident discovered too fully before the Prophet's admiring gaze. She was the wife of Zeid, his adopted son and bosom friend; but he was unable to smother the flame she had kindled in his breast; and, by divine command she was taken to his bed. In the same year he married a seventh wife, and also a concubine. And at last, when he was full threescore years of age, no fewer than three new wives, besides Mary the Coptic slave, were within the space of seven months added to his already well-filled harem. The bare recital of these facts may justify the saying of Ibn Abba,- "Verily the chiefest among the Muslems (meaning Muhammad) was the foremost of them in his passion for women;" a fatal example imitated too readily by his followers, who adopt the Prince of Medina, rather than the Prophet of Mecca, for their pattern.
Thus the social and domestic life of Muhammad, fairly and impartially viewed, is seen to be checkered by light and shade. While there is much to form the subject of nearly unqualified praise, there is likewise much which cannot be spoken of but in terms of severe reprobation.
Conviction of a Special Providence
Proceeding now to consider the religious and prophetical character of Muhammad, the first point which strikes the biographer, is his constant and vivid sense of an all pervading special providence. This conviction molded his thoughts and designs, from the minutest actions in private and social life to the grand conception that he was destined to be the Reformer of his people and of the whole world. He never entered a company "but he sat down and rose up with the mention of the Lord." When the first fruits of the season were brought to him, he would kiss them, place them upon his eyes and say, - "Lord as thou hast shown us the first, show unto us likewise the last." In trouble and affliction, as well as in joy and prosperity, he ever saw and humbly acknowledged the hand of God. A fixed persuasion that every incident, small and great, was ordered by the divine will, led to the strong expressions of predestination which abound in the Qur’an. It was the Lord who turned the hearts of mankind: and alike faith in the believer, and unbelief in the infidel, were the result of the Divine fiat. The hour and place of every man's death, as all other events in his life, were established by the same decree; and the timid believer might in vain seek to avert the stroke by shunning the field of battle. But this persuasion was far removed from the belief in a blind and inexorable fate; for Muhammad held the progress of events in the divine hand to be amenable to the influence of prayer. He was not slow to attribute the conversion of a scoffer like Omar, or the removal of an impending misfortune, as when Medina "was delivered from the confederated hosts, to the effect of his own earnest petitions to the Lord. On the other hand Muhammad was not altogether devoid of superstition. He feared to sit down in a dark place until a lamp had been lighted; and his apprehensions were sometimes raised by the wind and clouds. He would fetch prognostications from the manner in which a sword was drawn from its scabbard. A special virtue was attributed to being cupped an even number of times, and on a certain day of the week and month. He was also guided by omens drawn from dreams: but these perhaps were regarded by him as intimations of the divine will.
Muhammad's Conflict at Mecca: His Unwavering Steadfastness.
The growth in the mind of Muhammad of the conviction that he was appointed to be a Prophet and a Reformer, was intimately connected with his belief in a special providence, embracing as well as the spiritual the material world: and simultaneously with that conviction there arose an implicit confidence that the Almighty would crown his mission with success. The questionings and aspirations of his inner soul were regarded by him as proceeding directly from God; the light which gradually illuminated his mind with a knowledge of the divine unity and perfections, and of the duties and destiny of man,---- light amidst gross darkness,---- must have emanated from the same source; and he who in his own good pleasure had thus begun the work would surely carry it to an end. What was, Muhammad himself but a simple instrument in the hand of the great Worker? It was this belief which strengthened him, alone and unsupported, to brave for many weary years the taunts and persecutions of a whole people. In estimating the signal moral courage thus displayed by him, it must not be overlooked that for what is ordinarily termed physical courage Muhammad was not remarkable. It may be doubted whether he ever engaged personally in active conflict on the battle field: though he accompanied his forces, he never himself led them into action, or exposed his person to unavoidable danger. And there were occasions on which (as when challenged by Abdallah to spare the Bani Cainucaa, alarmed by the altercation at the wells of Moraisi, or pressed by the mob at Jierrana,) he showed symptoms of a faint heart. Yet even if this be admitted, it only brings out in higher relief the singular display of moral daring. Let us for a moment look back to the period when a ban was proclaimed at Mecca against all the citizens, whether professed converts or not, who espoused his cause; when they were shut up in the Sheb or quarter of Abu Talib, and there, for three years without prospect of relief, endured want and hardship. Those must have been steadfast and mighty motives which enabled him, amidst all this opposition and apparent hopelessness of success, to maintain his principles unshaken. No sooner was he released from confinement, than, despairing of his native city, he went forth to Tayif and summoned its rulers and inhabitants to repentance; he was solitary and unaided, but he had a message, he said, from his Lord. On the third day he was driven out of the town with ignominy, blood trickling from the wounds inflicted on him by the populace. He retired to a little distance, and there poured forth his complaint to God: then he returned to Mecca, there to carry on the same outwardly hopeless cause, with the same high confidence in its ultimate success. We search in vain through the pages of profane history for a parallel to the struggle in which for thirteen years the Prophet of Arabia, in the face of discouragement and threats, rejection and persecution, retained his faith unwavering, preached repentance, and denounced God's wrath against his godless fellow citizens. Surrounded by a little band of faithful men and women, he met insults, menace, danger, with a high and patient trust in the future. And when at last the promise of safety came from a distant quarter, he calmly waited until his followers had all departed, and then disappeared from amongst his ungrateful and rebellious people.
And at Medina
Not less marked was the firm front and unchanging faith in eventual victory, which at Medina bore him through seven years of mortal conflict with his native city; and enabled him while his influence and authority were yet very limited and precarious even in the city of his adoption, to speak and to act in the constant and undoubted expectation of entire success.
Denunciation of Polytheism and Idolatry
From the earliest period of his religious convictions, the idea of ONE great Being who guides with almighty power and wisdom the whole creation, while yet remaining infinitely above it, gained a thorough possession of his mind. Polytheism and idolatry, being utterly at variance with this first principle of his belief, were condemned with abhorrence as leveling the Creator with the creature. On one occasion alone did Muhammad ever swerve from this position,- when he admitted that the goddesses of Mecca might be adored as a medium of approach to God. But the inconsistency of the admission was soon perceived; and Muhammad at once retraced his steps. Never before nor afterwards did the Prophet deviate from the stein denunciation of idolatry.
Earnestness and Honesty of Muhammad at Mecca
As he was himself the subject of convictions so deep and powerful, it will readily be conceived that the exhortations of Muhammad were distinguished by a corresponding strength and urgency. Being also a master in eloquence, his language was cast in the purest and most persuasive style of Arabian oratory. His fine poetical genius exhausted the imagery of nature in the illustration of spiritual truths; and a vivid imagination enabled him to bring before his auditory the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, the joys of believers in Paradise, and the agonies of lost spirits in hell, as close and impending realities. In ordinary address, his speech was slow, distinct, and emphatic; but when he preached, "his eye would redden, his voice rise high and loud, and his whole frame become agitated with passion, even as if he were warning the people of an enemy about to fall on them the next morning or that very night." In this thorough earnestness lay the secret of his success. And if these stirring appeals had been given forth as nothing more than what they really were, - the outgoings of a warm and active conviction, they would have afforded no ground for cavil; or, if you will, let him have represented his appeals as the teaching of a soul guided by natural inspiration, or even enlightened by divine influence, - such a course would still have been nothing more than that trodden by many a sincere, though it may be erring, philanthropist in other ages and in other lands. But in the development of his system, the claims of Muhammad to inspiration far transcended any one of these assumptions. His inspiration was essentially oracular. His mind and his lips were no more than a passive organ which received and transmitted the heavenly message. His revelations were not the fruit of a subjective process in which a soul, burning with divine life and truth, seeks to impress the stamp of its own convictions on all those around; the process, on the contrary, was one which Muhammad professed to be entirely external to himself, and independent of his own reasoning and will. The words of inspiration, whether purporting to be a portion of the Qur’an, or a message for general guidance, were produced as a real and objective intimation, conveyed in a distinct form by the Almighty, or through the angel Gabriel, his messenger. Such was the position assumed by Muhammad. How far it was fostered by epileptic and apparently supernatural paroxysms (which do not however come prominently to view at least in the later stages of his career) or by similar physiological phenomena, it is impossible to determine. We may readily admit, that at the first Muhammad did believe, or persuaded himself to believe, that his revelations were dictated by a divine agency. In the Meccan period of his life there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives to belie this conclusion. The Prophet was there, what he professed to be, "a simple Preacher and a Warner;" he was the despised and rejected teacher of a gainsaying people; and he had apparently no ulterior object but their reformation. Muhammad may have mistaken the right means for effecting this end, but there is no sufficient reason for doubting that he used those means in good faith and with an honest purpose.
At Medina Worldly Motives Mingle With His Spiritual Objects
But the scene altogether changes at Medina. There the acquisition of temporal power, aggrandizement, and self-glorification, mingled with the grand object of the Prophet's previous life; and they were sought after and attained by precisely the same instrumentality. Messages from heaven were freely brought forward to justify his political conduct, equally with his religious precepts. Battles were fought, wholesale executions inflicted, and territories annexed, under pretext of the Almighty's sanction. Nay, even baser actions were not only excused, but encouraged, by the pretended divine approval or command. A special license was produced, allowing Muhammad a double number of wives; the discreditable affair with Mary the Coptic slave was justified in a separate Sura; and the passion for the wife of his own adopted son and bosom friend, was the subject of an inspired message in which the Prophet's scruples were rebuked by God, a divorce permitted, and marriage with the object of his unhallowed desires enjoined! If we say that such revelations" were believed by Muhammad sincerely to bear the divine sanction, it can be but in it very modified and peculiar sense. He was not only responsible for that belief, but, in arriving at any such conviction, he must have done violence to his judgment and to the better principles of his nature.
Rapid Moral Declension: the Natural Consequences
As the necessary result of this moral obliquity, we trace from the period of Muhammad's arrival at Medina a marked and rapid declension in the system he inculcated. Intolerance quickly took the place of freedom; force, of persuasion. The spiritual weapons designed at first for higher objects were no sooner prostituted to the purposes of temporal authority, than temporal authority was employed to impart a fictitious weight and power to those spiritual weapons. The name of the Almighty, impiously borrowed, imparted a terrible strength to the sword of the State; and the sword of the State, in its turn, yielded a willing requital by destroying "the enemies of God," and sacrificing them at the shrine of a false religion. "Slay the unbelievers wheresoever ye find them;" was now the watchword of Islam "Fight in the ways of God until opposition be crushed and the Religion becometh the Lord's alone!" The warm and earnest devotion breathed by the Prophet and his followers at Mecca, soon became at Medina dull and vapid; it degenerated into a fierce fanaticism, or evaporated in a lifeless round of cold and formal ceremonies. The Jewish faith, whose pure fountains were freely accessible to Muhammad, as well as the less familiar system of Christianity, in spite of former protestations of faith and allegiance, were both cast aside without hesitation and without inquiry; for the course on which he had entered was too profitable and too enticing to permit the exercise of any such nice research or close questioning as (perhaps he unconsciously felt) might have opened his eyes to the truth, and forced him either to retrace his steps, or to unveil himself before his own conscience in the fearful form of an impostor. To what other conclusion can we come than that he was delivered over to the judicial blindness of a sell deceived heart; that, having voluntarily shut his eyes against the light, he was left miserably to grope in the darkness of his own choosing.
Benefits of Muhammadanism
And what have been the effects of the system which, established by such instrumentality, Muhammad has left behind him? We may freely concede that it banished for ever many of the darker elements of superstition which had for ages shrouded the Peninsula. Idolatry vanished before the battle-cry of Islam; the doctrine of the unity and infinite perfections of God, and of a special all-pervading Providence, became a living principle in the hearts and lives of the followers of Muhammad, even as it had in his own. An absolute surrender and submission to the divine will (the very name of Islam) was demanded as the first requirement of the religion. Nor are social virtues wanting. Brotherly love is inculcated within the circle of the faith; orphans are to be protected, and slaves treated with consideration; intoxicating drinks are prohibited, and Muhammadanism may boast of a degree of temperance unknown to any other creed.
Outweighed by its Evils
Yet these benefits have been purchased at a costly price. Setting aside considerations of minor import, three radical evils flow from the faith, in all ages and in every country, and must continue to flow so long as the Qur’an in the standard of belief.
FIRST: Polygamy, Divorce, and Slavery, are maintained and perpetuated ;- striking as they do at the root of public morals, poisoning domestic life, and disorganizing society.
SECOND: freedom of judgment in religion is crushed and annihilated. The sword is the inevitable penalty for the denial of Islam. Toleration is unknown.
THIRD: a barrier has been interposed against the reception of Christianity. They labor under a miserable delusion who suppose that Muhammadanism paves the way for a purer faith.
No system could have been devised with more consummate skill for shutting out the nations over which it has sway, from the light of truth. Idolatrous Arabia (judging from the analogy of other nations) might have been aroused to spiritual life, and to the adoption of the faith of Jesus; Muhammadan Arabia is, to the human eye, sealed against the benign influences of the Gospel. Many a flourishing land in Africa and in Asia which once rejoiced in the light and liberty of Christianity, is now overspread by gross darkness and a stubborn barbarism. It is as if their day of grace had come and gone, and there remained to them "no more sacrifice for sins." That a brighter day will yet dawn on these countries we may not doubt; but the history of the past and the condition of the present is not the less true and sad. The sword of Muhammad, and the Qur’an, are the most fatal enemies of Civilization, Liberty, and Truth, which the world has yet known.
Inconsistencies Run Through the Character of Muhammad
In conclusion, I would warn the reader against seeking to portray in his mind a character in all of Muhammad, its parts consistent with itself as the character of Muhammad. The truth is that the strangest inconsistencies blended together according to the wont of human nature) throughout the life of the Prophet. The student of the history will trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of Muhammad were first tinged, and then gradually debased by a half unconscious self-deception; and how in this process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile, - these opposite principles often co-existing even as active agencies in his conduct. The reader will observe that simultaneously with the anxious desire to extinguish idolatry, and to promote religion and virtue in the world, there was nurtured by the Prophet in his own heart, a licentious self-indulgence; till in the end, assuming to be the favorite of Heaven, he justified himself by "revelations" from God in the most flagrant breaches of morality. He will remark that while Muhammad cherished a kind and tender disposition, "weeping with them that wept," and binding to his person the hearts of his followers by the ready and self-denying offices of love and friendship, he could yet take pleasure in cruel and perfidious assassination, could gloat over the massacre of an entire tribe, and savagely consign the innocent babe to the fires of hell. Inconsistencies such as these continually present themselves from the period of Muhammad's arrival at Medina; and it is by the study of these inconsistencies that his character must be rightly comprehended. The key to many difficulties of this description may be found, I believe, in the chapter "on the belief of Muhammad in his own inspiration." When once he had dared to forge the name of the Most High God as the seal and authority of his own words and actions, the germ was laid from which the errors of his after life freely and fatally developed themselves.
And Through the Qur’an and Conclusion
I might have extended these remarks (had they not already exceeded the limits intended for them) to an examination of the doctrines and teaching of Muhammad as exhibited in the Qur’an. That volume, as I have before observed, does not contain any abstract or systematic code. It grew out of the incidents and objects of the day; and the best mode of ascertaining its purport and its bearing, is not to draw into one uniform system its various lessons and dogmas, liable as they were (excepting in one or two fundamental points) from time to time to differ; but to trace the development of its successive precepts and doctrines in connection with the several stages of the Prophet's life, and the motives from which he may be supposed at the moment to have acted. This with reference to some of its main doctrines and institutions, I have sought in the course of the foregoing pages to do. . . .
Because William Muir’s work is more than 75 years old, it is no longer copyright protected and is, therefore, readily available for mass distribution over the Internet. All of William Muir’s complete books can be accessed for free online at: http://www.bible.ca/islam/library/Muir/ and other locations.
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Andrew Stunich is a practicing lawyer in California. He specializes in civil litigation. He has studied the Middle East for the last twenty-seven years. In addition to his Juris Doctorate in law, he studied business, economics, and history at Humboldt State University. After September 11, 2001, he undertook an intensive self-study of Islam. Mr Stunich has also appeared on a regional radio program in Northern California to discuss Middle East related issues and Islam. He has also debated Islam on a popular Northern California website and in newspaper editorials with a Humboldt State University professor and Islamic apologist.
Name: ha ha ha ....
Date: Wednesday July 09, 2008
Time: 21:35:30 -0700
Many has proved that Islam was a menace, a danger or a disgrace to humankind. Still there are people who have blind faith to Islam. You take Islam as your religion, it is like entering a no-return door. With several Quranic ayas that instruct to kill the infidels, one cannot change his belief (Islam) without risking his own life. Other religions don't threat you with death once you leave them, but Islam does.
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 03:01:52 -0700
Good more evidence is coming to expose the true nature of islam! But will the billion strong zombies heed? That remains to be seen. The more islamic you are the more backward and the obscurantist you become!
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 08:14:24 -0700
The sword of Muhammad, and the Qur’an, are the most fatal enemies of Civilization, Liberty, and Truth, which the world has yet known. This sums up the authors study of islam. How did this logically inconsistent, hotch potch and mish mash of ideas gain such a strong hold on humanity? Through a system of terror and intimidation and appeal to the baser instncts of human kind. Along with it deception and appeal to the great need in human beings for god and brotherhood under a religious banner. Religion is a tribalism of spiritual ideas. Tribalism is one of the strongest instincts in man because the tribe was the most powerful force in the individuals struggle for survival. This tribal instinct can however be manipulated by nationalist and religious leaders for their own selfish ends to gain power. Mr. Stunich you are an intellectual. Is there any merit in this idea that national and religious affiliation have as at its base, tribal instinct? The tribal instinct which from the times of early human society has been the strongest factor in human survival?
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 09:02:10 -0700
Peter, you ask a difficult question that I cannot definitively answer, but I have noticed that people seem to have some inborn traits that affect their religious and political beliefs. Just take alook at American society. We are bombarded daily with the influence of what is now a mostly secular culture; yet, a high percentage of Americans believe in God. I have had years of secular education and, yet, I still retain my belief in God. Muhammad's success was in part related to his ability to transfer people's natural belief in God to him by the use of various techniques, most important of which were terror and financial reward. From my study, it appears that Muhammad had little success converting people until he started using terror and booty to either coerce conversion or make it attractive to the type of people that made him militarily more powerful by the promise of booty to them. Then, when he became powerful and successful that also attracted converts. Many vanquished people are, over time, attracted to the power and authority of their conquerors. Not only does success win people over in its own right, but a seperate psychological process occurs. On an individual scale, we call it the Stockholm Syndrome. I belive that same principle plays a factor in conqueror and vanquished group dynamics. People want to survive and Muhammad developed a system that made it far more likely one would survive and thrive if one converted to Islam. When Islam no longer had military or financal supremacy the process stopped and most growth in the Islamic world comes through poulation increases amongst Muslim families. From what I have seen, it appears that Islam is not nearly as strong of a conversion through persuasion religion as Christianity is, despite Islam's relative simplicity, and what success Islam has via proselytizing appears to have involved a non-fundamentalist version of Islam. I think that voluntary acceptance of fundamentalist Islam involves being born into the culture or first accepting a version of the religion that is more peaceable and then slowly over time sliding into Islamism. Maybe I am just engaging in wishful thinking, but it seems to me that few people would convert straight to fundamentalist Islam absent a strong financial motive or some other type of earthly reward to do so. Just look at the videos on YouTube of recent converts dicussing Islam. They universally talk about Islam in terms that reveals that they have little understanding of real Islam.
Name: Peter - Many thanks Andrew
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 10:44:46 -0700
Someone once said that islam is like a supermarket. One takes what one wants and leaves the rest. This perverse flexibility of islamic scripture like quran is readily used by the followers of this religion to win converts over by showing them the softer "peaceful" side of islam. This means showing the verses which speak of peace, Non coercion in the conversion process, etc. When it comes to justifying their criminal actions there is a whole new set of verses which are unearthed readily. I agree with your assertion that the conversion process takes place after muslims have gained control over non muslim territory. Then comes the coersion, intimidation, discrimination, and the "taxation" which slowly breaks down the barriers of the non muslim population to acceptance of islam. I dont think there is a country or region which converted to islam before being conquered. Also muhameds claim that Allah is the same god as that of the christians and muslims and the belief in monotheism played a major part in the conversion process. It is always easier to convert if the opposition claims that the god which is being worshipped is the same god which the prospective converts were worshipping before conversion. That too is a monumental lie because allah is the pagan moon god of the Kaaba and not the God of the Jews or Christians. This combined with the stockholm syndrome which i am inclined to believe is probably a survival reflex, plays a part in the eventual conversion. Since there is a greater chance of survival by sympathising with someone who has total power over oneself than by being antagonistic. Once people are converted they are locked in because there is a death sentence hanging over anyone who tries to convert back to their religion. Grappling with this problem is necessary if non muslims have to combat this evil ideology called islam. What seems pertinent is that muslims must show solidarity and fairness to muslims but not to non muslims. This way the non muslim knows that the only way they are going to be allowed to live in peace and have some degree of justice is by converting to islam. It seems there is a combination of factors which made islamic comversions
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 11:24:05 -0700
Peter, I agree with almost all that you write, with one minor exception. In the Qur'an, a rarely cited verse, 41:37, states: "Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Adore not the sun and the moon, but adore God, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve." Such a verse reveals that Muhammad was definitely aware of and undoubtedly deeply influenced by Arabian Paganism that incuded moon worship, but he clearly was trying to develop something other than unadulterated moon worship. I have been working for some time on an essay that debunks the claim that Islam is an "Abrahamic religion." My essay on this issue will not be completed for some time, but the gist of my conclusions are that the biggest change Muhammad made was that, while pagan Arabia was a fairly pluralistic society with respect to religious belief, Muhammad created a religion that had very little tolerance for lack of belief in Muhammad as God's prophet or messenger. In short, Muhammad converted a society where great diversity of belief and practice was at least tolerated to some degree to a society where Islam was the only religion tolerated with little exception. What is Islam? In my view, the Allah of Islamic doctrine is nothing more and nothing less than Muhammad's alter ego. Islam is neither unadulterated moon worship nor is it an Abrahamic faith that worships the God of Judaism and Christianity. Allah is simply a syncretic God created by Muhammad based upon all of the influences existing on the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and his own personality, wants and desires. The confusion about Islam's origins lies in the fact that so many influences affected Muhammad. He was greatly influenced by Arabian Paganism which was in turn influenced by much, if not most, of the beliefs prevalent in the Middle East. It is, therefore, no surprise that Muhammad's creation, Islam, bears so much ritualistic resemblance to Arabian pagan worship and some resemblance to some practices borowed from Judaism, both orthodox and heretical. Muhammad was also obviously somewhat familiar with the heretical versions of Christianity to which he was exposed, but Christianity plays a very small role in the sycretic mix that is Islam. In fact, Christianity and Islam are diametrically opposed to one another. The core belief of Christianity is that Jesus died for everyone's sins and belief in him leads to salvation. Conversely, Islam says that is all a lie and that Jesus was not even crucified. The two religions could not, therefore, be much more opposed to one another. Similarly, Islam created so much hatred and contempt for Jews that the two religions must also be viewed as nearly diametrically opposed to one another. Zoroastrianism also affected Islam. Just compare the statement of faith for Zorastrianism ("…I profess myself a devotee of Mazda, a follower of Zarathustra")to the Shahada, or statement of faith for Islam - "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet." It seems obvious to me where Muhammad got his idea for such a statement of faith. Just study the modern rituals of Islam and compare them to the pre-Islamic practices and one sees undeniable influence. For example, the Kabaaa and pilgrimage to it remains a devoted aspect of both pre-Islamic Arabian pagan faith and practice and Islamic faith and practice. This is just a teaser. My essay will much more clearly set forth these principles in further detail. And, yes, I am aware that Muhammad claimed Allah was the God of the Jews and Chrstians, but I no more believe that than I do anything else in the Qur'an.
Name: Re: Andrew Stunich (From the Clotmadman)
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 14:03:00 -0700
Very interesting thoughts and I agree in almost every point with you except the very last one. I would consider Allah to be identical to the god of the jews and christians because Muhammad plagiatised and imitated them. On the other hand it is true that there is so much difference between Allah and the christian view of god. Do you know that many early (gnostic) christians also considered their god to be different from the jewish god who also incorporates intolerance to some degree. So it is the christian (gnostic) god who might be considered different. Thus, I would consider Allah as an highly exaggeration of Jahwe, who also shows many aspects of intolerance (eg Commandments # 1-2).
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 19:52:28 -0700
History shows us that when Moses saved his people from the tyrant pharoe and insisted that that his people show mercy To Allah, they did not. instead they rebuked moses. When jesus came with sighns that he was aprohet Most of the people at that time only tormented him. So Allah raised him to heaven and will send him back again to establish the truth. This only Allah knows when. Likewise Mohammed at his time too when he brought the message of God The Majority didnt believe but as time passed It is still the uncorrupted religion so far. Once Islam is diminished Prophet Jesus will be sent back to earth to guide the people.
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Thursday July 10, 2008
Time: 20:14:50 -0700
Will that be before or after the tooth fairy comes?
Name: Anne Dexter
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 08:00:45 -0700
Re: Friday July 11, 2008.Time: 04:34:37 -0700 If this is what the koran teaches, its similar to the 1st Testament.. Any Christian? please Clarify?
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 08:36:33 -0700
Anyone who still thinks that Allah of the Quran and God (Jehovah) of the Bible are the same should read "Allah: Is He God?" at this website: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Newton/allah.html
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 08:53:56 -0700
The Qur'an is very different from the Bible. First, the Bible does not purport to have been written by God. Most Christians believe that the Bible is simply inspired by God. Conversely, Muslims believe that the Qur'an is literally the word of God. The Quran has one author - Muhammad. The Bible has numerous authors. Most important, the Qur'an stands alone amongst the world's major religious books as commanding the faithful to wage perpetual war against unbelievers until they are killed, converted or subdued into a discriminatory status and paying tribute to Muslims. The closest the Old Testament comes is that at Jericho, the destruction of the populace was commanded by God -perhaps because they sacrificed their children, but there are no open commands in the Bible to "slay the pagans wherever you find them as there is in the Qur'an. The proof is also established by modern experience, other than a few occasional crazy people, no one except Muslims kill in the modern age expressly stating that they kill for and as commanded by Allah. That is why there have now been more than 11,000 Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11.
Name: Re: Anne Dexter
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 10:00:07 -0700
Of course Mohammad drew many things from the Old and New Testament, as well as from the Talmud and many apokryphal christian writings. Does this imply that Judaism, Christianity and Islam share the same god? The Katholic Church says "Yes", some evangelical churches say "No" because they believe that Allah is the pagan moon god. On the other hand the Quran forbids worshipping of the moon. How can we deal with this? I think the Quran is fake. Can a fake book still believe in the right god? What would christians think if I would worship christ by killing "infidels", raping their wives and enslaving their children.
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 10:14:42 -0700
I agree with you Ms. Dexter. I believe the Catholic Church simply got it wrong. Perhaps the church accepted Muhammad's claim that Allan and the Christian God were one and the same. But in my view, having rejected belief that Muhammad was God's Messenger, we must reject the verse of the Qur'an that states that Muslims worship the same God as the Jews and Christians. We cannot see God. God for us is embodied by the principles God stands for and the rules imposed by God for the conduct of humanity and God's intercession and salvation. If the principles attributed to God are so opposed then can the God be one and the same? I think at a certain level of differentiation they cannot. I think that we also lend Muhammad a degree of approval that he does not, in my opinion, deserve when we say that Allah is one and the same with the God of the Bible.
Name: Re: Andrew Stunich
Date: Friday July 11, 2008
Time: 10:48:57 -0700
Ok, but are the jewish god and the christian god identical then? Jews cannot agree that god can become a human and many early gnostic christians believed that the jewish god is different from the hidden god behind christ. But you can also go on and ask many more questian. Is the "Heaven" from confucian classics identical to our god? How about other gods from other cultures?
Name: Gene - To Anne Dexter
Date: Saturday July 12, 2008
Time: 12:11:17 -0700
Like you, I have also been asking these questions for some time. There is an opinion from some christian sects most notably jehovahs witness that it is not God who spoke to Moses and the prophets but His emissaries/representatives. This could mean the Archangels etc. Let me give you my personal view though you have directed your question to Andrew. God by the very definition of God is impossible to completely fathom. This does not mean he does not exist but that it is impossible for our limited intellect or it maybe due to our limited knowledge. It should not dissuade anyone from trying though. However I think there are "higher" spiritual powers which are guiding humanity to a greater destiny. These powers intervene from time to time. Recorded interventions would have been to abraham, moses etc. The first part of the plan was to create a set of principles, belief in monotheism and the formation of a group of people dedicated to those principles. This chosen group was told to remain separate from the neighnouring tribes so that they would not be corrupted. This is exactly what is described in the Old Testament. The message given to them is meant only for them and for that time. The first stage was to prepare the ground for the next stage. The next stage of the plan was to send the most powerful entity in the spiritual world. Not an archangel but the Son of God - Jesus Christ. This is the entity who is at the epicenter of Gods plan for salvation. His mission is to declare a universal message unlike the old testament message which is limited to a small group of people. The new mesage is supposed to supercede the old one. "you have heard that it was said ,an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but I tell you do not resist an evil doer----". This king of the spirit world executes this second stage of the plan brilliantly. He is born with enormous powers but uses these powers with extreme wisdom and intelligence and most efficiently to give a foundation to this new universal message. He is called the Son of God because he is closer to God than anybody else in the spirit world. He has the most complete knowledge of God and is totally in synch with God. So closely does he know the mind of God and so closely he is aligned with the will of God that it is impossible to differentiate between the two. For most purposes they are the same entity. Let me explain it further. If two people could read each others minds totally and concur in everything they did it would mean they are intellectually one entity. Another example is that human civilisation is communicating so quickly and efficiently with adavanced technology that the whole of humanity is begining to behave like a single organism with a single intellect. The more advance the communication the more easier it is to share our thoughts and metamorphose into a single intellectual entity. New technologies like the internet are taking us in that direction. In the spirit world just like in our world not every one is allied with the Son of God. There are other spirits who have declared enimity with the Son of God. Though their powers are limited compared to the Son of God they are so blinded by their hatred that they try every trick to make it impossible for Jesus plan of salvation to suceed. It is basically a power struggle. A struggle that satan and his minions cannot win but they want to make the plan fail. Jesus message in the New testament is a universal message wich does not seek the triumph of any one group of people but all of humanity. By setting a standard which is morally correct and universal the hope is that we will progress and evolve faster. The wrong ideologies will slow down humanities progress. The message must stand the test of time and must still be valid for intelligent life in the universe far into the future. I say intelligent life because humans far into the future will have evolved into beings which will be almost totally different from our current forms. That is why Jesus message is very broadly defined by principles but very few specifics. Specific details would be outdated very soon as humanity evolves but universal, broad principles would stand the test of time. I hope this answers some of your questions.
Name: QURAN ENCOURAGES TERRORISM
Date: Saturday July 12, 2008
Time: 12:20:46 -0700
This is the evidence that muhamed justifies terrorism Sura (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" Sura (9:5) - "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them." Sura (9:14) - "Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace..." This is evidence that muhamed encourages terrorism
Name: Islams False god allah
Date: Sunday July 13, 2008
Time: 12:27:40 -0700
About Allah being the same god as that of the christians and jews is total falsehood. Allah is the moon god of the kaaba- Hobal. Al ilah means the lord and Hobal was the chief diety of the kaaba. Along with him there were other gods. The stone at the kaaba is a meteorite which was mistakenly belived to have fallen from the moon. This god was being worshipped even before muhamad was born. The only thing different taught by muhamed was that allah is the only god and the other gods were not to be worshipped. Along with allah there were supposed to be three daughters of allah. In a moment of weakness to win the meccans over muhamed agreed that daughters of allah could be worshipped. Later on he went against those statements and called them the satanic verse as they were supposedly inspired by satan. So muhamed got fooled by satan according to his own statements. http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-myths-hajj-pagan-origin.htm So allah is the false moon god. Muhamed told another lie when he said this god is the same as the god of the christians and jews. So islam is based on a lie.
Name: Cannot refute the evidence that quran encourages terrorism
Date: Sunday July 13, 2008
Time: 12:30:47 -0700
Not one muslim has been able to refute evidence that the quran encourages terrorism They just reprint the same verses in the quran without refuting the evidence given
Date: Sunday July 13, 2008
Time: 20:11:44 -0700
nice work but the deaf & dumb muslims never accept the truth and they don't have belief in humanity.
Date: Monday July 14, 2008
Time: 19:04:29 -0700
'From what I have seen, it appears that Islam is not nearly as strong of a conversion through persuasion religion as Christianity is, despite Islam's relative simplicity, and what success Islam has via proselytizing appears to have involved a non-fundamentalist version of Islam.' Very observant. And imitative. I have observed that Islam takes on Christian characteristics in Christian contexts ('religion of peace and compassion') and Hindu characteristics in Hindu contexts but then gradually it encultures the individual just as a virus at first imitates its host so that the host's defences are weakened. Then it gets control of the host's DNA and replicates it as its own DNA.
Name: reply to - Cannot refute the evidence that quran encourages terrorism
Date: Monday July 14, 2008
Time: 20:09:20 -0700
Whats the meaning of terrorism? What do you call state sponsored terrorism? What do you mean by competitive edge? Who is Al qaidas biggest Terrorist. Did the UN sanction the war to Iraq? Who is biggest war crimanal in 21st Century?
Name: Please answer the question and refute the evidence
Date: Tuesday July 15, 2008
Time: 10:17:42 -0700
First answer the question? Do you agree that the quran encourages violence against non muslims to spread islam as shown by the evidence quoted here? Do you accept this as a correct way to spread religion?
Date: Tuesday July 15, 2008
Time: 19:43:19 -0700
ALLAH has taught us in the Qur'an that all other `religions' and ways of life are unacceptable to Him if a person is aware of Islam. The Qur'an states (translation), [3:85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers. However, even though the ALLAH The Creator of the Worlds has clearly specified that no other way of life is acceptable to Him except Islam (i.e. submission to Him as embodied in the Qur'an and Sun’nah), He has also commanded the Muslims to be tolerant of people who espouse other creeds. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Al-Awsat by Al-Tabarani, we find regarding those non-Muslims living in the Islamic state, The Messenger of Allah (saas) said, "One who kills a non-Muslim person under protection will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise." Also from the Sunnah, specifically in a report from Al-Khatib, we find that the Messenger of Allah (saas) also said: Whoever hurts a non-Muslim person under protection, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Resurrection. In short, Islam is intolerant of false ideas, however it is tolerant of the people who hold to those ideas. One historical example of Muslims living up to the standard of Islam can be found from the time of the Spanish Inquisition. During that disaster sprung by misguided Catholics, some Spanish Jews fled to Muslim Turkey and to this day, there is a community of Spanish-speaking Jews in Turkey. Another example may be found during one of the Crusader invasions from Western Europe. Some of the the Catholic Western European knights were so likely to rape, murder, and pillage the Jews and Orthodox Christians, that when the Muslims won, they were treated as a liberating force by those non-Muslims. [2:136] Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered.
Name: Quran contradicts itself
Date: Wednesday July 16, 2008
Time: 16:38:36 -0700
Why is the quran saying in one verse to be tolerant and the other verse to be ruthless to non muslims? These contradictions show that islam is false religion.
Name: Andrew Stunich
Date: Thursday July 17, 2008
Time: 06:55:44 -0700
The Qur'an is not as contradictory as it appears. When Muhammad came to power in Medina, his entire approach changed from trying to persuade others to convert solely by voluntary means and he began to reveal the harsher verses of the Qur'an. These subsequent verses were meant to replace early verses. "When We substitute one revelation for another, - and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not." (Qur'an, chapter 16, verse 101) "None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things?" (Qur'an, chapter 2, verse 106) It follows that what was happening within the Muslim community at the time verses were revealed plays an important role in interpreting the Koran. Sadly, that history overwhelmingly supports the fundamentalists' interpretation and leads to violence as terrorists mimic the life of Muhammad that they are taught was inspired by God and which constitutes the perfect example for living.
Name: Paul R.
Date: Tuesday July 22, 2008
Time: 08:17:18 -0700
Thankfully too much is known about the life of the so-called prophet to ever turn him in to this perfect paragon of mankind. Devotion and misplaced loyalty to tradition do their work, but levelheaded scholarship reveal the unpalatable truth: Muhammad was a deeply flawed man.
Name: to Paul R.
Date: Tuesday July 22, 2008
Time: 20:35:15 -0700
If you believe in a God, then follow his messengers. By following Gods teachings mankind benefits and not God, as god has given Only limited freewill to mankind in this Earth. If you fail to understand Gods teaching it is you are at loss.