Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muslim Scholar Declares: "Muhammad Probably Never Existed"

Recently, Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a convert to Islam and a scholar of Islamic theology, shocked the world by declaring that, based on his research, Muhammad probably never existed. (For the news about Kalisch, see "Muslim Academic Questions Muhammad's Existence," "Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt," and "Scandal Exposes Islam's Weakness.")

Let's start with the obvious. It's quite common to find Muslim apologists appealing to the most radical, anti-Christian, atheistic writings in their attacks against Christianity. For instance, this past April, as James and I debated Jalal Abualrub, Jalal said that Christians don't have any evidence that Jesus ever existed. Here he could only be basing such a claim on the hyperskeptical nonsense of some of the self-proclaimed "infidels" who write for the Secular Web. (Note: Some of the writers there are actually reasonable scholars--but not the ones who hold that Jesus was a myth.) The Jesus-myth theory has become quite popular in some circles, and Muslims seem quite happy with this (though I'm not sure why Muslims would be so delighted to hear that Jesus never existed; wouldn't this refute Islam?).

But what happens when the same radical skepticism that has been applied to Christianity for the past two centuries is applied to Islam? Kalisch gives us the answer: Muhammad probably never existed.

I have to say that I find such a conclusion to be absolutely absurd. Muhammad existed. There's no other reasonable interpretation of the evidence. Nevertheless, Kalisch's conclusion shows what can happen when Muslims suddenly become consistent in their reasoning. Islam wouldn't last five seconds against the hyperskeptical approach that is used in the West against Christianity.

To sum up the obvious: Consistency is important. If the methodology you use against Christianity would also destroy Islam, either be consistent and reject Islam or abandon your methodology. (The alternative is to defend your right to be inconsistent, as Shabir Ally did in his recent debates with James White. See here for more on this.)

Now for the less obvious. Muslim apologists don't understand how, in the long run, they're actually helping people come to Kalisch's conclusion. When I debate an Adnan Rashid or a Bassam Zawadi, they assure me that the early Muslim community was filled with liars and fools, who would not hesitate to invent false stories. They contend that Muslims passed on countless fabrications. Beyond this, we know that by the time we get to al-Bukhari, there were literally hundreds of thousands of unreliable narrations circulating in the Muslim world.

What's the obvious conclusion here? If the early Muslim scholars weren't reliable, how can we trust anything they said? If the vast majority of ahadith (well over 95%) were unreliable, how can we trust other ahadith circulating in the same community?

As I have pointed out in debates, I have more respect for the early Muslim scholars than Muslims do, which is why I accept much of what they said about Muhammad. But when Muslims have to constantly attack their own sources in order to rescue Muhammad from the embarrassing facts of history, where will such a path lead? It will lead to utter skepticism about the Muslim sources. We'll see how Islam stands up to scrutiny once Adnan and Bassam have convinced the Muslim world that their earliest scholars can't be trusted (and once young Muslims start following Sami Zaatari in showing complete contempt for Islam's greatest scholars--such as Ibn Kathir). I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more Muslims like Kalisch, defending the Muhammad-myth.


Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

Well Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch is certainly not one of the orientialists. He converted to Islam, has studied it to great length and every depth, know Qur'anic Arabic. And is probably one of the best scholars in Islam and Arabic worldwide. Seems that we have a Muslim Bart Ehrman here.

I look forward to read his books, I am sure there will be hundreds of quotations we can use in our questioning of the Qur'an.

And just wait and see now Muslims will say that quotations are of no value which then will backfire against 90 procent of the Muslim polemics against the Christian faith.

Be certain dear Muslims, we will use Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch's information and quotations as much as you use Sanders, Ehrman and Brown. Obviously Muhammad Sven Kalisch's conclusions will carry equal weight, have fun.

David Wood said...


It will also be interesting to watch the Muslim reactions worldwide. Bart Ehrman is free to walk down the street in any Christian society on the planet. Would Professor Kalisch be so fortunate? Of course not. The death threats are rolling in as we speak.

Peacful Muslim said...

I see that you are interested to see the Muslim reactions worldwide!!!
And you said that surely he will be put to death, me to, I think that someone here or there will put him to death, and then you will feel that your words become real and you will feel like your point is approved by Muslims.
But I will Tell you my reactions towards that, surely from the Islamic point of view this man is considered a "Kafir", because he refused a very important part of the Islamic faith, and God in his Holy Quran said, (2:85:Do you, then, believe in some parts of the divine write and deny the truth of other parts? What, then, could be the reward of those among you who do such things but ignominy in the life of this world and, on the Day of Resurrection?).
So we Muslims, following our scriptures, surely consider him out of Islam and an apostate, but, this don’t make killing him mandatory or make it a duty or a response to God’s call, even if some Muslim scholars do believe in this, but they are many others who believe in the contrary. And they have their convenient explanations from the Islamic sources.
And I know that you are aware that Muslims consider the Quran perfectly God’s words and is the most authentic and most important reference, and I quest you to find any verse in the Quran that order in killing apostates. And more we can find many sources in which the Prophet PBUH didn’t kill apostates and in Sura 2:72 you will find God telling his Prophet Muhammad about some apostates without ordering their death, and there is no evidence that Prophet Muhammad PBUH killed them.
You will only find some ahadeeth, and here is not the place to discuss the authenticity and the explanation of them.
Finally, Peace Be Upon You All!!!

David Wood said...

Peaceful Muslim,

Good to hear from you again. I didn't say Professor Kalisch will be killed. I said that the death threats are rolling in.

You asked me to show you where the Qur'an commands Muslims to kill apostates. Unfortunately, you're assuming that Muslims are "Qur'an only" Muslims, i.e. that Muslims only believe in the Qur'an. This is simply false. The overwhelming majority of Muslims also look to the Sunah of Muhammad.

What do we find when we turn to Sahih al-Bukhari, Islam's most trusted collection of ahadith?

Sahih al-Bukhari 6878—Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and that I am the Messenger of Allah, cannot be shed except in three cases: (1) Life for life; (2) a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and (3) the one who turns renegade from Islam (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6921—Ibn Umar, Az-Zuhri and Ibrahim said, “A female apostate (who reverts from Islam), should be killed.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6922—Allah’s Messenger [said], “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

You have declared that Professor Kalisch is an apostate. Thus, according to Sahih al-Bukhari, he should be killed.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

I agree David

Kalisch life is certainly in danger.

And as to you Peaceful Muslim, my point was, based upon typical Muslim apologetics against the Bible and Christianity which is based upon people like Kalisch, now Muslims if they are people of honesty will need to consider Kalisch's conclusions as equally and authoritative.

Sunil said...

Peaceful Muslim,

In any case, it is good that you do not agree with killing of people who leave/denounce Islam. I presume that you are all for freedom of choice of religion, open debate, religious criticism etc. Now, do you strongly condemn all Muslims and Islamic nations which do not allow these rights and repeatedly violate basic human rights? Are there people out there to be vocal about it, raise their pitch and call for mending of ways by Islamic societies and willing to put down their lives fighting for such reform?

Bryant said...


Do you have the full recent debates that James White had with Sami Zaatari and Shabir Ally?

David Wood said...


Nope. The debates were recorded, but it will probably be a while before they're available.

Peacful Muslim said...

First of all: Good day for all of you.
Second, Mr. Wood it seems that you didn't read well my post, because i never said that Muslims are only Quranic, actually they can't be, because Sunna is complementary to Quran, but this relation between them is not as you think, it's a little bit different. Third: i told you that you will not find in the Quran anything that commands killing apostates, but also i told you that God Told Prophet Muhammed about some apostates without ordering their death, and you have the quote, and also that the Prophet PBUH didn't kill them, more, there are many examples in which prophet Muhammad didn't kill apostates, and that's because only being an apostate is not a reason to be killed, and many Muslim scholars say that, these are not only my words, even several Sheikh of Al Azhar and many great scholars.
And about the Hadeeth that you quoted, I told you before in my post, and I don’t know why you didn’t read it carefully, that you will find some ahadeeth regarding this issue and I told you also that here is not the place to discuss their authenticity and meaning.
And especially about the Female apostate all “Mazaheb” schools of jurisprudence, agreed that a female apostate is not ought to be killed, especially the “Hanafy” and “Shaf’y”.
And one thing I noted that you are presenting me those hadeeth as I don’t know them, if this note is write, I just want to tell you that I know well my religion, and this doesn’t prevent me to feel peaceful and to seek for peace, but vice versa my religion encourages me.
About Mr Sunil comment on me, I want to tell you that here in Egypt, where I live, and in many other Islamic societies, there are scholars that are fighting, by word and mind, the wrong ideas and misconceptions about Islam, and are demanding that we should revise the books of the first scholars, but not fighting Islam. And I don’t need to condemn Muslims, but I have to play my role in correcting them, as I’m discussing with you now, I make discussions among us Muslims for the same reason, (Clarifying The Misconceptions About Islam).
Peace Be Upon You All.

Haecceitas said...

White vs. Zaatari is available for download. See the following links:

seo aris said...

kebanyakan pria telah sukses menggunakan cialis asli jababeka sebagai obat kuat yang ampuh untuk berhubungan intim dengan pasangan kekasihnya. klik tautan . banyak kasus dimana pria sering kalah saat berhubungan intim sebelum mereka mengenal yang namanya cialis asli karawang oleh sebab itu tablet kuning mungil ini sangat bermanfaat bagi pria yang ingin memperbaiki tingkat ereksi yang lebih membaik. baca seterusnya . penyebab terbesar sulitnya ereksi adalah ketika pria menderita penyakit impotensi karena alat vital tidak mampu mengalirkan darah menuju organ-organ vital sehingga dapat menghambat terjadinya ereksi. cialis asli semarang bisa anda konsumsi sebelum melakukan hubungan intim dengan renggang waktu sekitar 30 menit dan mampu bertahan selama 36 jam setelah obat bereaksi. klik link ini . sekarang ini banyak wanita yang mendapatkan klimaks setelah suaminya mampu memberi pelayanan yang terbaik saat diranjang, cialis asli bandung dapat merubah gaya hidup pasangan jadi lebih romantis ketika mereka melakukan hubungan badan bersama pasangan.