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Robert Spencer Webinar: Did Muhammad Exist?

Here is a report on the January 15 webinar I did for Middle East Forum on Islam’s obscure origins. Preorder the revised and expanded edition of Did Muhammad Exist? here.

“Robert Spencer: ‘Did Muhammad Exist?’” by Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum, March 1, 2021

Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, spoke to participants in a January 15 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the scarcity of historical evidence that Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, actually existed.

Spencer noted that Muhammad is mentioned only four times in the Quran, and those few mentions are vague and devoid of any specifics. Most of the details about Muhammad’s life are found in the Hadith, reports about Muhammad’s “words and deeds.” The Hadith are the foundation for Islamic law followed today and the basis for imitating Muhammad, “most notably by jihadis.” The Hadith date primarily from the 9th century, whereas Muhammad, according to Islamic tradition, died in the year 632. For two centuries, “you have this massive empire stretching from Spain to India, and there’s virtually no mention of the person who is supposed to be the guiding figure that made those conquests happen.”

Islamic apologists typically explain the absence of contemporaneous Arabic accounts of Muhammad by pointing to the fact that the Arabs relied on oral tradition to pass knowledge from generation to generation. But written accounts by various people conquered by the Arabs from the 7th century on are quite voluminous, yet there is little mention of Muhammad in them.

For example, Sophronius, the Christian patriarch of Jerusalem who surrendered the city to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab in 637 described the invaders as followers of Abraham who came out of Arabia, but did not describe them as Muslims or record them as making claims about Muhammad or a new religion. Other conquered peoples, such as the Persians and the Indians, also wrote of their ordeals, but omitted mention of Muhammad. What early references to Muhammad can be found do not line up with the Hadith canon….

There is more. Read the rest here.

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