Closing the big gap between Umayyads and late Hellenistic

Image result for tel bet yerah


 “… misled by their stern belief in textbook chronology archaeologists have, time and again, distorted the situation laid bare by excavations to match their pre-conceived dates. Yet, the time to allow stratigraphy its say may be closer than ever”.

 Gunnar Heinsohn



In what follows, professor Heinsohn gives great import to the Nabataeans, whose cultural influence, however, appears to have bene negligible.

Thus Wikipedia:


Many examples of graffiti and inscriptions—largely of names and greetings—document the area of Nabataean culture, which extended as far north as the north end of the Dead Sea, and testify to widespread literacy; but except for a few letters[10] no Nabataean literature has survived, nor was any noted in antiquity.[11][12][13] Onomastic analysis has suggested[14] that Nabataean culture may have had multiple influences. Classical references to the Nabataeans begin with Diodorus Siculus ….


More promising, I think, would be to substitute Nabataeans with the Hellenistic Greeks of Syria, which thus enables the identification of the enigmatic Umayyads with their neo-Hellenistic architecture, out of fashion for 700 years, in and near Jerusalem in the 8th century.





The revisionist thesis (Gibson 2011) that Muhammad’s Quranic geography is better suited to the Nabataean area around Petra than the area of Mecca and Medina, enables the identification of the enigmatic Umayyads with their neo-Hellenistic architecture, out of fashion for 700 years, in and near Jerusalem in the 8th century.


By employing (with Tiberias as an example) the stratigraphy-based approach to the 1st millennium CE, early Christianity, early Islam as well as Rabbinical Tanakh-Judaism all develop side by side in the 1st/2nd c. CE, i.e. 8th/9th c. CE stratigraphically. They emerge in the competition for finding the most appropriate way to lead a righteous Jewish life. JEWISH EVIDENCE

of 1st millennium CE TIBERIAS confirms the contemporaneity of its major periods in the time-span of the 8th-10th c. CE: Between 1 and the 930s CE there are only some 230 years with stratigraphy! [from Heinsohn 2018]



II Are Nabataean and Umayyad art styles really 700 years apart?


So, who was capable to place 15 m deep cement foundations under Jerusalem’s Umayyad palaces in front of the Temple Hill? Whose Arabic realm was located close enough to the Holy City to [build] … there in such a massive way? Who were the Arabs well known for alliances with [?]


Eventually, the Israeli scholars decided to invoke a geological miracle to obey Christian chronology and, at the same time, make sense of the stratigraphy of Tiberias. That mover of a higher order was identified as a mega-earthquake of 749 CE [AD] afflicting all the lands from Damascus to Egypt. With surgical precision that [disaster] … had pushed the 1st c. BCE … Roman material upwards until it stopped precisely at the Umayyad level of the 7th/8th c. ff. CE. The Arab material, however, was kept in its position in such a wondrous manner that the Roman material was neither allowed to stop inappropriately below nor to move inappropriately above the Arab material believed to have arrived some 700 years later.


Yet, all the stratigraphic evidence does really show (for the period preceding the catastrophe that drowned the 2nd/3rd. c. CE Roman theatre of Tiberias) is the contemporaneity of 7th/8th ff. c. CE Arabs and 1st c. BCE to 2nd c. CE Romans. Thus, Early Medieval Umayyads followed as directly after Late Hellenisms (=Late Roman Republic = Late Latène of the 1st c. BCE) as Roman Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd c. CE). However, misled by their stern belief in textbook chronology archaeologists have, time and again, distorted the situation laid bare by excavations to match their pre-conceived dates. Yet, the time to allow stratigraphy its say may be closer than ever.


A recent example for such fresh openness is provided by Bet Yerah on the southern tip of Lake Kinnereth. For decades, a large fortified enclosure on this site … was misidentified as a synagogue from Byzantine Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.). Yet fresh excavations completed in 2013 point to the Umayyad qasr (castrum) of al-Sinnabra from the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th c.). That fortress cuts through the site’s Hellenistic walls whose period is dated some 700 years earlier. Even the name of the place, Al-Sinnabra or Sinn en-Nabra (Umayyad Arabic), is still the same as in Hellenistic times (700 years earlier) when it was known as Sennabris (Greek):


“Post-Hellenistic presence on Tel Bet Yeraḥ was quite limited in extent and did not produce massive deposits. Early excavators reported Roman remains, but virtually nothing of this period can be identified in the remaining collections. Byzantine occupation appears to be limited to the church excavated and published by Delougaz and Haines” (Greenberg/Tal/Da’adli 2017, 1).


700-year period have long been seen by art historians (e.g., Avi-Jonah 1942). Indeed, there are “close relations between the art of Ahnas and the Nabataean sculptural school reflected at Khirbat et Tannur. Despite the time gap between the sites, this affinity cannot be fortuitous” (Talgam 2004,100). ….


Biblical Nehemiah and Nehemiah ben Hushiel  

Image result for nehemiah building jerusalem

Part One:

A very “poor” history indeed 




Damien F. Mackey



“The historical records from this period are poor. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is thought

to be an historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius”.





The “historical records … are poor” because there never was any historical C7th AD Jewish leader Nehemiah ben Hushiel. The whole reconstruction is a weird projection into supposed AD time of a real history that had occurred way back in BC time, during the Persian empire.

I have shown this abundantly in my series:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Two: The Nahum Factor

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Three (i): A Late, Fake Persian Empire

and (continued):

It therefore follows that this fake (supposedly second) “Nehemiah” could not have been the leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius”.

Not only, though, because the AD Nehemiah did not exist, but also because of some very serious historical anachronisms associated with “Heraclius”.

See e.g. my multi-part series, beginning with (Part One):


Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh

See also the related and extensive:


Ghosts of Assyria’s Past Haunting ‘Middle Ages’

All of this terrible, pseudo-historical mish-mash has resulted in a duplication of:


  • officials Nehemiah; of
  • Sanballats; possibly of
  • priests Jaddua; of
  • Sheshbazzar (the AD version of him being Shahrbarāz); of
  • Persian-Sassanian Cyrus-Chosroes; of
  • Persian into Parthian (Sassanian) empires.

White elephant in the realm: Birth of Mohammed, Reformation

 Image result for white elephant abraha the army of elephants



 Damien F. Mackey


“About the only thing these two idioms have in common is the word elephant, but that was enough to pull them together to produce white elephant in the room. … the Wikipedia entry notes that elephant in the room is “not to be confused with white elephant“.”

 Neal’s blog



What a marvellous thing is text book history, or, ought one say, would-be history!

Both the prophet Mohammed and the Reformation seem to kick off with a white elephant.

Mohammed (Muhammad), we are told, was born in “the Year of the Elephant”:


We all know that the year of the Elephant is the year in which Mohammad was allegedly born. The year Islam credits for this event is the year 570 A.D. Islamic tradition says that another major event took place in the same year which is narrated in Sura 105 “The Elephant”, and what happened to the army that was marching on Mecca to destroy it and the Kaaba.


And the gift of a white elephant to pope Leo X may have helped launch the Reformation.

For thus we read at:


…. Amazingly, this whole elephant episode may have helped spark the Protestant Reformation.

Pope Leo X was known for having an overly extravagant papal court, including, among other things, regularly throwing lavish masquerades at the Vatican. Soon-to-be Protestant Reformers were already angry at the Church, but the fact the Pope now had a special pet elephant from India named Hanno was viewed as the perfect over-the-top example of how corrupt the papacy had become.

Just one year after the elephant’s death, Martin Luther published his 95 Theses. One historian writes that Hanno the elephant “formed the basis for one of the first published criticisms leveled against him by German supporters of Martin Luther.” ….


I personally do not believe in all this Year of such-and-such an animal stuff, e.g. Elephant. However, as a Tiger football supporter from childhood (a family tradition), I was more than happy to learn in the year 2000, said to be the Year of the Tiger, that I had been born in the previous Year of the Tiger (1950). The Richmond Tigers are the reigning premiers.



Be that as it may, I think that whoever came up with the idea that the prophet Mohammed was born in the year when a certain Abraha (or Abrahas), of the kingdom of Axum (or Aksum), invaded Mecca, must have been seeing pink elephants. For as I have argued in my “Biography of the Prophet Mohammed” series, Mohammed was not a real historical person, his biography is replete with anachronisms, and, moreover, as I pointed out in e.g.:


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage




the supposed invasion of Abraha is simply an Islamic appropriation of the real invasion by the neo-Assyrian king, Sennacherib, against, not Mecca and its Kaaba, but Jerusalem and its Temple – the date being closer to 700 BC than to 570 AD.

It is just one of various examples of ancient Ninevite history being absorbed into the pseudo-history of Mohammed. See e.g. my article:


Prophet Jonah, Nineveh, and Mohammed


Now Abraha was apparently riding a white elephant.

But, as if that weren’t enough, Abraha’s elephant is said to have been named Mahmud, or Mahmoud the Praiseworthy.

But, wait, isn’t that the name-epithet of Mohammed?

The One with the Throne is praised (Mahmud) AND HE IS MUHAMMAD”.


Most strange, too, it is that Martin Luther, who kicked off the Reformation – possibly on the back of (so to speak) a white elephant – has been described as “another Nehemiah”.

See e.g. my:


Nehemiah and Martin Luther


in which one will also read that: “The two men [Nehemiah and Luther] are almost carbon copies of each other”.

All of a sudden we are getting too many Nehemiahs for comfort – considering that the biblical one seems to re-emerge (and, once again, under Persian auspices) during the life of the Prophet Mohammed:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time


Has someone been seeing too many pink elephants?


Or, put another way, has white elephant become something of an elephant in the room?


Qur’an (Koran) quite unreliable

quran vs bible 2

Further argument for

Prophet Mohammed’s

likely non-existence


Part Three: Qur’an (Koran) quite unreliable



“Muslims cannot consistently maintain that the Scriptures delivered previously have been corrupted or lost, since the Qur’an appears to assume that these Scriptures are still with the “people of the book” (Christians and Jews). The case here is strong and the implications difficult to escape”.

 Jonathan McLatchie



Jonathan McLatchie here gives a clear and unequivocal “reason” as to why the Qur’an (Koran) of Islam cannot be a divinely-inspired work:


A Simple Reason Why The Qur’an Cannot Be The Word of God



The Islamic religion claims that the Qur’an, revealed allegedly by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad beginning in 610 A.D., is the inspired and inerrant word of God. Such an assertion, however, is highly problematic, and many, many arguments could be given to convincingly refute it. In this article, I am going to offer one of those reasons, which I perceive to be the most damning. In future articles, we will consider some other serious difficulties with the idea that the Qur’an represents the revealed words of God. My argument here can be summarized in syllogistic form as follows:


Premise 1: Either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not.


Premise 2: If the Bible is the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.


Premise 3: If the Bible is not the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.


Conclusion: Therefore, the Qur’an is not the Word of God.


First, a note of qualification. By “the Bible” I refer to the Old and New Testaments as we possess them today and as possessed by Christians at the time of Muhammad in the seventh century.


Mackey’s comment: There was no historical C7th AD Mohammed (refer back to Part One and Part Two of this series).

McLatchie continues:


Granted, there are textual variants in the New Testament Greek manuscripts, but the core message of the New Testament remains the same — they are thus immaterial to what I’m attempting to establish here.


Premise 1 need not be defended, since it is self-evident that the two alternatives are mutually exclusive and exhaustive possibilities. Premise 2 is easy to establish, since the Qur’an and the Bible fundamentally contradict one another. The most obvious item of conflict relates to whether Jesus died by crucifixion, denied by the Qur’an (Surah An-Nisa 157-158) but affirmed throughout the New Testament and indeed a cornerstone of New Testament theology. The Qur’an also repeatedly denies the core Biblical concept that Christ is the incarnate eternal Son of God, affirming instead that He is only a messenger or prophet (e.g. Surah Al-Maeda 75). The Qur’an, on multiple occasions, denies the Trinity (e.g. Surah An-Nisa 171; Surah Al-Maeda 73). The Qur’an, of course, repeatedly misrepresents Christian theology on these matters, as I discuss here, but this is immaterial to the issues that concern us here. If, then, the Christian Scriptures are indeed the inspired Word of God, the Muslim Scriptures cannot be, since the Qur’an so fundamentally disagrees with the theology of the Bible.


The Qur’an’s Affirmation of the Christian and Jewish Scriptures


For the Muslim to reject the conclusion of the argument, at least one of the three Premises must also be rejected. As I have shown, Premises 1 and 2 cannot be reasonably denied. What, then, of Premise 3? The Qur’an, over and over again, affirms the Christian Scriptures, claiming consistency with them, and asserting that the Torah and the Gospel (the “Injil”), and also the Psalms, are previous revelations from Allah. Consider, for example, the following verses.


  • Surah Al-E-Imran 3: “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth [i.e. the Qur’an], confirming what has been before it, and has sent down the Torah and the Injil.”


  • Surah An-Nisa 136: “O you who believe, do believe in Allah and His Messenger and in the Book He has revealed to His Messenger and in the Books He has revealed earlier. Whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day has indeed gone far astray.”


  • Surah An-Nisa 163: “Surely, We have revealed to you [i.e. Muhammad] as We have revealed to Nuh and to the prophets after him; and We have revealed to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and their children, and to Isa, Ayyub, Yunus, Harun, and Salaiman, and We have given Zabur [i.e. the psalms] to Dawud.”


  • Surah Al-Isra: “Your Lord knows best about all those in the heavens and the earth, and We have certainly granted excellence to some prophets over some others, and We gave Dawud the Zabur (the Psalms). Say, “Call those who you assume (to be gods), besides Him, while they have no power to remove distress from you, nor to change it”.”


  • Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have written in Zabur (Psalms) after the advice that the land will be inherited by My righteous slaves.”


The Qur’an even goes so far as to assert that the prophet Muhammad is prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments. Consider the following verses.


  • Surah Al-Araf 157: “Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummiyy (unlettered) prophet whom they find written with them in the Torah and the Injil and who bids the what is fair and forbids what is unfair, and makes lawful for the good things, and makes unlawful for the impure things, and relieves them of their burden, and of the shackles that were upon them. So, those who believe in him and support him, and help him and follow the light sent down with him, those are the ones who are successful.”


  • Surah As-Saff 6: Remember when Isa, son of Maryam, said, “O children of Isra’il, I am a messenger of Allah sent towards you, confirming the Torah that is (sent down) before me, and giving you the good news of a messenger who will come after me, whose name will be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with manifest signs, they said, “This is a clear magic.”



One will search in vain, however, to find any mention of Muhammad in any Biblical text. This has left Muslim apologists doing hermeneutic gymnastics to inject Muhammad somewhere into the Bible. All such attempts, however, have proven futile. One such attempt is the claim that the coming prophet like Moses, spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-19, is, in fact, Muhammad. Here’s the full text:


The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.


This argument, like the rest, is fraught with problems. The most damning of those is the context, which limits the word “brothers” of verse 15 and 18 to the Israelites. Verses 1-2 of Deuteronomy 18 clearly reveal who “brothers” refers to:


The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the Lord’s food offerings as their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.


Here, “brothers” can only refer to the Israelites. Since the prophet of verses 15-19 is to come from among the “brothers” of the Israelites, Muhammad is excluded as a contender for its fulfillment.


Another favorite is the Advocate or Helper promised by Jesus to the disciples in John 14 and 16. In John 14:15-16, we read the following words of Jesus:


If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.


It is extremely difficult to read Muhammad into this text, since the promised Helper is said to be with Jesus’ followers forever and in them, something not accomplished by Muhammad. The Muslim interpretation also utterly ignores the overall context of the text. Jesus here is speaking to his disciples. If the promise refers to Muhammad, then it was fulfilled six hundred years later. Thus, everything said by Jesus to the disciples would not be relevant to them.


In John 15:26-27, we read more about this coming Helper:


But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.


Was Muhammad sent by Jesus? Does he proceed from the Father? Moreover, the disciples bearing witness is directly linked to the coming of the promised Helper, and thus the fulfillment of this promise must be found in the disciples to whom the promise was made.


John 16:7-14 provides yet further difficulties:


Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


This text makes it even more clear that the Helper is sent by Jesus and comes to these specific disciples to whom Jesus is speaking. Muhammad did not come [sic] for a further six centuries. We are also told that the Helper will glorify Jesus. Muhammad certainly did not glorify Jesus.

One could proceed to go through all of the passages that Muslims typically cite as alleged prophecies concerning Muhammad. None of them, however, fare any better than these. Indeed, the two I have addressed above are the most often cited texts — the favorites of Muslim apologists.


Confronted with this obvious Qur’anic error about the contents of the Christian Scriptures, Muslim apologists will often attempt to argue that the Christian Scriptures have been corrupted, or that the “Injil” (the Gospel) refers to a special book given only to Jesus (whom the Qur’an calls “Isa”) which has left no record in history. As we shall see, however, neither the historical record, nor the Qur’an, allows for that possibility.


Has the Message of the Injil and Torah Been Corrupted or Lost?


Muslims cannot consistently maintain that the Scriptures delivered previously have been corrupted or lost, since the Qur’an appears to assume that these Scriptures are still with the “people of the book” (Christians and Jews). The case here is strong and the implications difficult to escape. Let’s take a look at some of these texts in the order that they appear in the Qur’an.


  • Surah Al-Baqara 91: “When it is said to them, “Believe in what Allah has revealed,” they say, “We believe in what has been revealed to us” — and they deny what is beyond it, whereas that is the truth which confirms what is with them. Say, “Why then have you been slaying the prophets of Allah earlier, if you were believers?””


This verse contends that the Scriptures previously revealed by Allah (i.e. the Torah and Injil) are “with them” (i.e. the people of the Book) at the time of the … revealing of the Qur’an in the seventh century. If the Jews and Christians that the Qur’an is addressing didn’t have access to these Scriptures, the verse makes no sense. Here is another example which further illustrates this point:


  • Surah Al-E-Imran 70: “O people of the Book, why do you disbelieve in the verses of Allah while you are yourselves witnesses (to those verses)?”


Again, Christians and Jews are witnesses to the verses revealed in the previous Scriptures. The “you” of this verse clearly refers to the Christians and Jews of Muhammad’s day. Here’s another example from the same chapter:


  • Surah Al-E-Imran 199: “Surely, among the people of the Book there are those who believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to you and what has been sent to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not barter away the verses of Allah for paltry (worldly) gains. They have their reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is swift at reckoning.”


Notice in the above verse the use of the plural personal pronoun “them”. The revelation from Allah was apparently sent not only to Jesus but to them (meaning, the people of the Book). Why, then, do Muslims frequently claim that the Injil was revealed only to Jesus?


Perhaps the most frequently cited verse in connection with this topic is the following text from the fifth chapter of the Qur’an:


  • Surah Al-Maeda 43-49: “How do they [i.e. the Jews] ask you to judge while the Torah is with them, having the ruling of Allah? Still, they turn away, after all that. They are no believers. Surely We have sent down the Torah, in which there was guidance and light by which the prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah, used to judge for the Jews, and (so did) the Men of Allah and the Men of knowledge, because they were ordained to protect the Book of Allah, and they stood guard over it. So, (O Jews of today,) do not fear people. Fear me, and do not take a paltry price for My verses. Those who do not judge according to what Allah has sent down are disbelievers. We prescribed for them therein: A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear and a tooth for a tooth; and for wounds, an equal retaliation Then, if one forgives it, that will be expiation for him. Those who do not judge according to what Allah has sent down, they are the unjust. We sent Isa son of Maryam after those prophets, confirming the Torah that was (revealed) before him, and We gave him the Injil having guidance and light therein, and confirming the Torah that was (revealed) before it; a guidance and a lesson for the God-fearing. And the people of the Injil must judge according to what Allah has sent down therein. Those who do not judge according to what Allah has sent down, they are the sinners. We have sent down to you the Book with truth, confirming the Book before it, and a protector for it. So, judge between the according to what Allah has sent down, and do not follow their desires against the truth that has come to you. For each of you We have made a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made a single community of people, but (He did not), so that He may test you in what He has given to you. Strive, then to excel each other in good deeds. To Allah is the return for all of you. Then Allah shall tell you about that in which you disputed. We order you to judge between the according to what Allah has sent down. Do not follow their desires, and beware of them, lest they should turn away from some of what Allah has sent down to you. If they turn away, be assured that Allah intends to make the suffer for some of their sins. Surely, many of the people are sinners.”


How can Christians and Jews judge by what has been revealed in the Torah and Injil if they do not have access to those Scriptures? Again, the text assumes that the “people of the book” have access to the previously-revealed Scriptures. We go on:


  • Surah Al-Maeda 68: “Say, “O people of the Book, you have nothing to stand on, unless you uphold the Torah and the Injil and what has been sent down to you from your Lord.” What has been sent down to you from your Lord will certainly make many of the most persistent in rebellion and disbelief. So, do not grieve over the disbelieving people.”


Not only does this text command the “people of the Book” to uphold the Torah and the Injil (which they must have in their possession for the command to make sense), but they are told of the Scriptures that were previously “sent down to you“. Who does “you” refer to? In context, it can only refer to the people of the Book. This is difficult to square with the popular Islamic notion that the Injil was revealed only to Jesus and was quickly lost without leaving any trace in history. Again, this text assumes that the “people of the book” possess the Torah and the Injil and that they have been neither corrupted nor lost.


As if those weren’t enough, here’s one final example:


  • Surah Yunus 94: “So, (O prophet,) even if you are in doubt about what We have sent down to you, ask those who read the Book (revealed) before you. Surely, truth has come to you from your Lord, so never be among those who are suspicious.”


This text again makes no sense unless the Christians and Jews have access to the Books revealed before Muhammad. The Muslim contention that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures have been corrupted beyond recognition is simply without support from the Qur’an.


Was Jesus A Successful Preacher of Islam According to the Qur’an?


Muslims typically maintain that Jesus preached Islam, but was apparently not very successful in winning converts, because His message became quickly corrupted. Such a notion, however, is contrary to the text of the Qur’an. Let’s take a look at some more verses:


  • Surah Al-E-Imran 50-52: “I [Jesus] have come to you confirming that (book) which is (sent down) prior to me, that is, the Torah, and to are permissible for you some of what was prohibited to you. I have come to you with a sign fro your Lord So, fear Allah and obey me. Allah is surely my Lord and your Lord. So, worship Him. This is the straight path So, when Isa sensed disbelief in them, he said: “Who are my helpers in the way of Allah?” The disciples said: “We are helpers of Allah We believe in Allah; so be our witness that we are Muslims”.”


According to this text, Jesus was at least somewhat successful as a preacher of Islam and his own disciples themselves, at least some of whom — Peter, Matthew, John — are contributors to the New Testament. If these disciples were Muslims, why is their theology so strongly at odds with the Qur’an?


  • Surah Al-E-Imran 55: “When Allah said: “O Isa, I am to take you in full and to raise you towards myself, and to cleanse you of those who disbelieve, and to place those who follow you above those you disbelieve up to the Day of Doom. Then to Me is your return, whereupon I shall judge between you in that over which you have differed.”


In the above text, Allah promises Jesus that He will place those who follow him “above those who disbelieve up to the Day of Doom”. If barely anyone was a true follower of Jesus (i.e. a Muslim), then this text cannot be understood.


  • Surah Al-Maeda 110-111: “Call to mind the time when Allah will say “O Isa, son of Maryam, remember my blessing upon you and upon your mother; when I supported you with the Holy Spirit. You spoke to people while you were still in the cradle and when you grew to middle age. I taught you the Book and the Wisdom, the Torah and the Injil. You created from clay something in the shape of a bird, when you blew on it, and it became a bird by My leave. I kept the children of Isra’il away from you when you came to them with clear signs, and the disbelievers among them said, ”This is a clear magic.” When I enjoined upon the disciples (of Jesus), “Believe in Me and in My Messenger,” they said, “We believed. Bear witness that we are the submitting ones”.”

This text again attests that the disciples of Jesus were Muslims. Interestingly, the story recounted in the above passage does not appear anywhere in the Bible, but can be traced to the Arabic infancy Gospel (dated to the sixth century) which Muhammad would have had access to. Indeed, I would argue that there is a strong case to be made for literary dependence on this apocryphal book.  Here is the relevant text from the Arabic infancy Gospel 36:


Now, when the Lord Jesus had completed seven years from His birth, on a certain day He was occupied with boys of His own age. For they were playing among clay, from which they were making images of asses, oxen, birds, and other animals; and each one boasting of his skill, was praising his own work. Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys: The images that I have made I will order to walk. The boys asked Him whether then he were the son of the Creator; and the Lord Jesus bade them walk. And they immediately began to leap; and then, when He had given them leave, they again stood still. And He had made figures of birds and sparrows, which flew when He told them to fly, and stood still when He told them to stand, and ate and drank when He handed them food and drink. After the boys had gone away and told this to their parents, their fathers said to them: My sons, take care not to keep company with him again, for he is a wizard: flee from him, therefore, and avoid him, and do not play with him again after this.


Notice in particular how this passage ends. Jesus is accused of being a “wizard”. The Qur’an states that “the disbelievers among them said, ”This is a clear magic.”” It seems probable that this source is where the author of the Qur’an is drawing from on this point.


We go on:


  • Surah Ash-Shura 13-14: “He has ordained for you people the same religion as He has enjoined upon Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you (O prophet) and that which We had enjoined upon Ibrahim and Musa and Isa by saying, “Establish the religion, and be not divided therein.” Arduous for the mushriks (polytheists) is that to which you are inviting them. Allah chooses (and pulls) toward Himself anyone He wills, and guides to Himself anyone who turns to Him (to seek guidance). And they were not divided, in jealousy with each other, but after the knowledge had come to them. Had it not been for a word that had come forth earlier from your Lord (and was effective) until a specified time, the matter would have been decided between them. And those who were made to inherit the Book after them are in confounding doubt about it.”


Who are “those who were made to inherit the Book after them”? Isn’t this referring to those who inherited the books of Abraham and Moses and Jesus (the three prophets listed in the above text)?


  • Surah As-Saff 14: “O you who believe, be supporters of (the religion of) Allah, just as Isa, son of Maryam, said to the Disciples, “Who are my supporters towards Allah?” The Disciples said, “We are the supporters of (the religion of) Allah.” So a group from the children of Isra’il believed, and another group disbelieved. Then we supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became victors.”


This text implies that a group from among the Jews believed the Islamic teachings of Jesus. Why, then, did they leave no trace in history? The final sentence (“Then we supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became victors”) is typically interpreted by commentators as being in reference to Christianity becoming the religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century A.D. If this is the case, why does the Christian religion that gained victory over the Roman empire look so different from Islam? The Christianity that became the dominant religion in the Roman empire maintained the deity of Christ and his death by crucifixion, two propositions expressly denied by the Qur’an.


Can Anyone Change Allah’s Words?


The Qur’an states plainly on several occasions that no one can alter or change the words of Allah and that Allah preserves and protects His words. Here’s what the Qur’an says:


  • Surah Al-Anaam 34: “Indeed, many messengers have been rejected before you [i.e. Muhammad], but they stood patient against their rejection, and they were persecuted until Our help came to them. No one can change the words of Allah, and of course, some accounts of the Messengers have already come to you.”


  • Surah Al-Anaam 115: “The Word of Your Lord is perfect in truth and justice. None is there to change His words, and He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”


  • Surah Al-Hijr 9: “We, Ourselves, have sent down the Dhikr (the Qur’an), and We are there to protect it.


  • Surah Al-Kahf 27: “And recite what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no one to change His words, and you will never find a refuge beside Him.”


Muslims are frequently telling us about the miraculous textual preservation of the Qur’an. As an aside, the notion that the text of the Qur’an as we possess it today perfectly resembles the Qur’an of the seventh century is demonstrably untrue — but that’s a subject for another day. My question for Muslims is thus: If Allah was able to perfectly preserve the text of the Qur’an, why wasn’t he able to do the same with the Bible? Do the above verses not apply equally to the previous revelations of Allah?


What Does The Historical Record Say About Biblical Textual Preservation?


As far as ancient texts go, the New Testament is the best attested of antiquity, based on the sheer volume of manuscripts (between 5 and 6 thousand Greek manuscripts) and the earliness of those manuscripts. Moreover, the earliest manuscripts we have demonstrate the existence not of a single line of corrupt transmission, but multiple lines of transmission with varying levels of accuracy. Multiple lines of transmission defy the possibility of being under the control of any central editing process. The burden of proof lies with the skeptic who asserts corruption of the primitive New Testament texts since the extant manuscripts show multiple lines of independent transmission. In any case, even if no New Testament manuscripts were preserved, we would still be able to construct the vast majority of the New Testament from quotations by early church fathers.




To conclude, the argument developed above represents a formidable challenge to the Islamic religion, and I challenge any Muslim to show me where I have erred. In order to maintain his Islamic faith, a Muslim must reject one or more of the Premises of the syllogism given at the start of this article. If he cannot do so, the conclusion follows necessarily and inescapably.


Ezra ‘Father of the Jews’. Appropriated as ‘Uzair of the Koran (Qur’an)

Story of Prophet Uzair/Ezra a.s


“… if the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra be valid, and there seems no reason to gainsay it, then Mohammed had either been misinformed, or had purposely invented this queer dogma”.

J. Walker


This is the opinion of J. Walker, as expressed in his article “Who is ‘Uzair?”:

Though I have been at pains to show in articles that the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) was not a real flesh-and-blood historical person – but a biblical composite.


And the same is probably true of this ‘Uzair of the Koran.


Walker writes:

A Koranic passage which has bewildered many students, is that anent … the name of ‘Uzair. It is the sole reference … in the Koran to a personage whose identity is by no means certain, but is usually equated with that of the biblical Ezra. The Sura (IX) in which it is found is of the late Medina period, and the verse in question (30) reads: “The Jews say ‘Uzair (Ezra?) is God’s son: and the Christians say, the Messiah is God’s son… How are they misguided!”

The interpretation of this may be taken in the expanded form found in Damir (Hayat al-Hayawan, trans. Jayakar, Vol. I. 553), as follows:-

“When ‘Uzair claimed that God had sent him to the Jews to renew the Pentateuch they disbelieved saying, ‘God has not placed the Pentateuch in the memory of anyone after its being lost, unless he is His son,’ so they called him, ‘Uzair ibn Allah.”

The difficulty that presents itself is the fact that no historical evidence can be adduced to prove that any Jewish sect, however heterodox, ever subscribed to such a tenet. What grounds were there for the accusation? Was it a figment of Mohammed’s [sic] own imagination? Rodwell frankly believes it was. Goldziher accepts it as “a malevolent metaphor for the great respect which was paid by the Jews to the memory of Ezra as the restorer of the Law and from which Ezra legends of apocryphal literature (II. Esdra, XXXIV, 37-49) originated ….” But we are inclined to inquire, if it were “a malevolent metaphor,” on whose side was the malevolence? Whence originated such an accusation? It is not probable that the Prophet uttered an indictment of this nature in a city like Medina where Jews abounded, without some foundation.

The Jewish post-biblical writings do not seem to yield any possible solution for this erroneous statement. The quotation from the Talmud (Sanhedrim, 21, 2) given by Geiger … to the effect that Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Law had Moses not preceded him, does not assist us in unraveling the puzzle. Lidzbarski … favors the possibility of a Jewish sect in Arabia venerating Ezra to such a degree as to deify him; thus casting shame on their orthodox brethren.

All these views are held on the supposition that the text of the Koranic passage is reliable. Emendations, of course, on the other hand, have been proposed, but it always seems a precarious operation to have resort to conjectural alteration in order to elucidate a troublesome text. There are two such textual emendations which have been proposed and which are worthy of mention because of their ingenuity. The first is by Casanova … who reads ‘Uzail instead of ‘Uzair, and equates with ‘Azael, who, according to the Jewish Hagada, is the leader of the “sons of God” of Genesis VI:2, 4. The second is by J. Finkel … who alters the diacritic points, substitutes z for r, and reads Aziz – “king” or “potentate”. This emended text he connects with the verse in the Psalms (2:7): “The Lord said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.”

In spite of such conjectures, however, Horovitz (op. cit. 167), considers that there is no reason to doubt the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra. He himself in this treatment of the subject (op. cit. 127-128) suggests in conclusion that, “it is very probable that Mohammed received his information from a Jewish or Judeo-Christian sect who revered Ezra in similar manner as certain sects did Melchisdek (See Epiphan. Haeres, LV, 1-9)”.

To conclude, if the equation ‘Uzair = Ezra be valid, and there seems no reason to gainsay it, then Mohammed had either been misinformed, or had purposely invented this queer dogma. Certainly among the Jews, Ezra the Scribe, the second Moses, as leader of the men of the Great Synagogue played a most important part in the editing of the Jewish Scriptures and the re-establishment of Judaism in Zion after the Captivity, but so far as is known, no Jewish sect ever held such an extreme doctrine as is herein imputed to them by Mohammed. If the idea did not germinate in Mohammed’s own mind, and since it is quite alien to Judaism, it is obviously a slanderous accusation made against the Jews by their protagonists. I would suggest therefore that perhaps the libelers were none other than their old enemies the Samaritans, who hated Ezra above all because he changed the sacred Law and its holy script. We do not readily associate the Samaritans with matters Islamic but in a very able article (in the Encyclopedia of Islam on the Samaritans) Dr. Gaster has demonstrated that Mohammed seems to have made several borrowing from Samaritan sources. May not this be another?

Let us look at the question through Samaritan eyes. Ezra had acted presumptuously. He had changed the old divine alphabetic character of the holy Books of the Law – a character still used and revered to this day by the rapidly dwindling Samaritan community – for the mercantile Aramaic script. He had acted in a dictatorial manner as if he were God Himself, or the very Son of God. The Samaritans, thoroughly shocked, accused the Jews of following Ezra … and accepting his new edition of the sacred text. They not only accused the Jews of altering the sacred scriptures. Dr. Gaster (in his Schweich Lectures on the Samaritans) indeed proposes to find in this the origin of Mohammed’s conception of the Tahrif, or the doctrine of the corruption of the Holy Bible by the People of the Book. For example, in Sura IV, 48: “Among the Jews are those who displace the words of the Scriptures.” If Dr. Gaster’s suggestion be correct, then Mohammed had found an ally against the Jews in the Samaritans. And if he found the accusations of the latter a useful weapon against the former in one instance, might he not do likewise in another instance, and that especially in the case of a personality like Ezra, whose name was the subject of controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans? Mohammed we know may have acquired his information from the Samaritans during his journeying to Syria, but on the other hand there might have been Samaritan off-shoots in Arabia, although no trace of such is discoverable in the historical records, unless a vestige be found in the feud of Sumair between the two Jewish tribes of Medina. That is highly problematical, and need not be stressed. But it is not at all unlikely that the source of Mohammed’s indictment of the Jews is to be found amongst the Samaritans or amongst Arab tribesmen of Samaritan strain. If we found in Samaritan literature the opposite belief that Ezra (or Uzair) was the son of Satan, we would be well-nigh sure of having settled the matter. Unfortunately, access to Samaritan records is not possible at the moment for the present writer, and the argument from silence is not of substantial value. ….


Further argument for Prophet Mohammed’s likely non-existence

Image result for r spencer muhammad


“As Spencer observes, “it would entirely reasonable to expect that seventh-century chroniclers … would note the remarkable influence and achievement of this man”, but no, “there is nothing dating from the time of Muhammad’s activities or for a considerable time thereafter that actually tells us anything about what he was like or what he did”.”


Mervyn F. Bendle



Mervyn F. Bendle has written a handy review of Robert Spencer’s provocative 2012 book, Did Muhammad Exist?:

I [Damien F. Mackey] would query only the concluding quote from Spencer, that “as a prophet of the Arabs who taught a vaguely defined monotheism, [Mohammed] … may have existed”, based upon my view that Mohammed, a composite biblical character, was based – especially for the first part of his supposed life – largely on Tobias of the Book of Tobit.

For more on this, see e.g. my:


Prophet Jonah, Nineveh, and Mohammed


The Revisionist Case That Muhammad Did Not Exist

Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2012), 272 pages, $39.95


Did Muhammad exist? No. And neither did the Koran for that matter, at least not in the form or with the status ascribed to it by Muslims. These are the two major conclusions of a vigorous stream of revisionist scholarship that has struggled for many decades to gain a hearing within the critically indolent field of Islamic Studies.

It is a primary virtue of a new book by Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist?, that it summarises and explores this important work in a balanced, lucid and compelling fashion. It shows that the vast presence that Muhammad enjoys in global history rests on flimsy foundations, which Spencer’s new book systematically dismantles, leaving few stones standing, synthesising the findings of revisionist scholars into a devastating demolition of the traditional accounts of Muhammad and the origins of Islam in all their aspects.


As Spencer acknowledges, he builds on the work of earlier dissenting scholars, including Aloys Sprenger (1813–93), Ignaz Goldziher (1850–1921), Henri Lammens (1862–1937) and Joseph Schacht (1902–69), as well as more contemporary figures whose work is discussed below. His book also complements several recent sets of related essays and readings, including those edited by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd R. Puin on The Hidden Origins of Islam (2010), and by the pseudonymous Ibn Warraq on The Quest for the Historical Muhammad (2000), Which Koran? (2007), and Virgins? What Virgins? (2010). These have sought to raise the profile of the revisionist perspective and to challenge the rather inertial state of scholarship in this vital field.


The critical torpor that afflicts Islamic Studies is understandable of course, especially when Western scholars of Islam (and their universities) are dependent on petro-dollar funding from Muslim benefactors, and the goodwill of Muslim countries in which they carry out their research. Moreover, as Ibn Warraq observes in Virgins? What Virgins?, scholars have been “crushed into silence out of respect for the tender sensibilities of Muslims, by political correctness, postcolonial feelings of guilt, and dogmatic Islamophilia”. Indeed, Edward Said’s massively influential polemic Orientalism (1978) imposed a virtual prohibition on the objective study of Islam, asserting that even the most innocuous commentary is actually a form of Eurocentric oppression. Scholars are also aware of the apparently limitless wrath of Muslims eager to react violently to any suggestion that the fundamental tenets of their religion are being questioned or shown insufficient respect. And, of course, the role of Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets” and the status of the Koran as the pre-existing, eternal word of God are foundational beliefs of Islam, and are at least as central to that religion as Jesus Christ is to Christianity.


On the other hand, this timidity cannot be completely excused, as other religions have faced scholarly assaults upon their foundations. Christians have had to deal with relentless challenges to key elements of their faith by increasingly outspoken scholars for nearly 300 years. As long ago as the early eighteenth century Thomas Chubb initiated “the search for the historical Jesus”, which was taken up by a later Enlightenment intellectual, Hermann Reimarius, and promoted by Gotthold Lessing, who disingenuously justified the systematic deconstruction of the Christian faith on the basis that “the contingent truths of history can have no impact upon the eternal truths of reason”, with which he identified Christian theology. This deconstructive effort gathered pace through the nineteenth century, culminating in Albert Schweitzer’s (in)famous book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), and the subsequent work of Rudolf Bultmann, who set out systematically to “demythologise” the New Testament, ridding it of supernatural content, and conjuring up a Jesus who propounded an existentialist philosophy that, predictably, mirrored that of Bultmann. Subsequent biblical scholarship formulated increasingly powerful forms of historical and critical analysis, and the historicity of Jesus became highly problematic, inspiring the “death of God” school of theology in the 1960s.

More recently, Christians have had to accommodate the influential iconoclasm of the Jesus Seminar, made up of scholars and laypersons who regularly vote with coloured beads in a ballot on the historicity of the accounts of the activities and teachings of Jesus. Consequently, they portray him in a counter-culture or New Age guise, as an itinerant Hellenised Jewish wise man and faith healer who challenged religious dogmas and repressive social conventions, preached a theology of liberation, and championed the cause of the marginalised and oppressed. And, of course, according to the seminar, Jesus was not divine, but just an ordinary mortal of normal parentage who was executed by a frightened establishment, and not as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world, and who is also certainly not the Second Person of the Trinity. Adding to such intellectual assaults, Judaism and Christianity have to engage with two of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in history—the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Nag-Hammadi Library—both of which have the capacity to overturn and re-constitute the earliest history of both religions.

Contemporary Christianity has been able to accommodate this relentless historical-critical activity, not without discord and division, but certainly without systematic intimidation and acts of violence and assassination against those who voice reservations about the truth claims being made. Indeed, many indubitably Christian scholars have embraced the challenge of these new discoveries and explored new insights generated by critical analysis of their source material.


Nothing comparable has occurred in Islamic Studies, even though the tools of historical and critical analysis are very applicable to that field of scholarship. Several tragic cases can be cited concerning those who’ve tried. Professor Suliman Bashear was a leading Arab scholar (Studies in Early Islamic Tradition, 2004) who was badly injured after being thrown out of a classroom window by fundamentalist students enraged by his revisionist argument that Islam evolved as a religion within the matrix of Judeo-Christian monotheistic thought that prevailed in the Middle East in Late Antiquity, rather than appearing abruptly as the result of a prophetic revelation. Professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd also ventured too far into this type of inquiry (Rethinking the Qur’an: Towards a Humanistic Hermeneutics, 2004). He was one of Egypt’s leading Koranic scholars and a very rare liberal Islam theologian who developed a humanistic form of Koranic hermeneutics that he used to argue that Islam could accommodate itself to modernity. Consequently, and despite his exemplary scholarly achievements, he was refused promotion at his university, declared an apostate from Islam, forcibly divorced from his wife, sentenced to death by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and driven into exile. Mention might also be made of Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a German convert to Islam who taught Muslim theology at the University of Munster, but saw his career and his faith evaporate when he announced that his research had convinced him that Muhammad never existed.


It doesn’t require much imagination to envisage the bloody consequences of any “Muhammad Seminar” or ballot on the reliability of the Koran conducted in a Muslim country, or indeed in Western countries, paralysed as they are not only by threats of violence and the withdrawal of financial and other support, but also by the ever-tightening constraints of political correctness and proliferating laws on “hate speech” and discrimination. Not surprisingly, at least two of the most important Western scholars challenging the received account of the origins of Islam publish under pseudonyms, and travel and appear in public in disguise and with substantial security, wary of the fate suffered not only by Bashear and Abu Zayd, but also by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh, Salman Rushdie and Naguib Mahfouz, amongst many other intellectuals victimised by Muslim authorities and fanatics.


The scholarly insurgency in Islamic Studies challenging the traditional orthodoxy made its breakthrough about four decades ago, after an extended period of intellectual stagnation amongst traditionalists, in a classic example of a paradigm revolution. As Harald Motzki notes in his review of “Alternative Accounts of the Qur’an’s Formation” in The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an (2006), there was very little development in Western scholarship concerning Islam until 1970 when some very important work emerged to challenge the accepted wisdom about the early history of the religion. A revolutionary paradigm had emerged suddenly to challenge the dominant one.


According to the dominant account, the Koran appeared in the first decades of the seventh century AD in Mecca and Medina as a result of a series of divine revelations to a charismatic religious and political leader, Muhammad, who had these recorded, and who then edited and re-arranged them during his prophetic career. They were later collected during the reign of the second caliph, ‘Umar, with the canonical version being finalised under the third caliph, ‘Uthmān, some twenty years after Muhammad’s death in 632. This was published as the official version of the Koran and has prevailed to the present day; attempts to produce a critical edition dealing with troublesome textual variations have been resisted.


This traditional account of the origins of the Koran is based on what is asserted to be the stylistic uniformity of the text, and (in a methodologically circular move) on evidence believed to be found in the Koran itself, with the latter interpreted in the light of other traditional Muslim accounts (hadith) about the life of Muhammad and the compilation of the Koran. It is not based on external documentary, archaeological or numismatic evidence. (Note that the apparently Koranic verses inscribed in the Dome of the Rock, although early, contain variations that raise more questions than they answer about the formation of the Koran, as Spencer and other revisionists point out. For example, it appears that the verses record a dissident Christian critique of mainstream Christology, predate the Koran, and were incorporated into, rather than derived from it.)


The alternative paradigm emerged in response to a range of unavoidable difficulties about the evidence that scholars ultimately could no longer evade. The decisive step was taken by John Wansbrough, an American-born historian at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. As Motzki notes, “all the elements of [the official] account have been challenged by John Wansbrough in his Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation (1977) and The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History (1978)”, two works whose legendary difficulty unfortunately (or deliberately?) limited their impact on a wide audience. At any rate, Wansbrough tackled head-on the fundamental problem in the historiography of early Islam, the absence of any original source material from the first century in the religion’s history, and concluded that this was because such material existed (if at all) only as an oral tradition or traditions, and relevant documentary or other sources from the period, including any early forms of the Koran, therefore never existed. Indeed, he dated the formation of the canonical version of the Koran to no earlier than the third Muslim century (the ninth century AD), some 200 years after Muhammad was said to have received his revelations.


This solution, although traumatic and resisted by those who adhered to the previous paradigm, could not be avoided. As F.E. Peters observed in “The Quest of the Historical Muhammad” (1991), in terms of any extant historical evidence illuminating its sudden appearance in the mid-seventh century, the Koran “stands isolated like an immense rock jutting forth from a desolate sea, a stony eminence with few marks on it to suggest how or why it appeared in this watery desert”. As Daniel Brown concluded in A New Introduction to Islam (2004): “Wansbrough’s arguments, given the state of the evidence, are substantially irrefutable”; and consequently,

students of Islam are faced with a set of contrasting paradigms for the formation of the Qur’an. Proponents of one paradigm accept the traditional Muslim view, sometimes with superficial revision. The other paradigm places the canonization of the Qur’an in a Near Eastern environment during the two centuries following the conquest.


These paradigms are quite incompatible, the implications of the new one being devastating for Islam’s traditional self-understanding of its history and the foundations of its faith.


Wansbrough’s re-interpretation did not stop there. He also rejected the basic assumption of the standard source analysis of the Koran—that it was possible to identify facts in the text that anchored it in history and provided reliable insights into “what really happened” in the formative years of both the text itself and Islam. Instead, he applied form criticism derived from the work of Bultmann and others in biblical studies, where it had been honed to a sharp critical edge, and which approached the Koran and the traditional accounts surrounding it as literature, that is, as fictional accounts derived from various sources, including oral traditions, woven together in a creative and collective fashion over an extended period.

He also noted that the Koran and early Muslim documents made considerable reference to concepts, images and theological issues associated with various forms of the Judeo-Christian tradition that played a dominant role within a broader monotheistic matrix prevailing throughout the Middle East at the time. He surmised that the religious movement that eventually evolved into Islam had begun as a Judeo-Christian sect in the western Arabian region, and that material derived from this sectarian source was adapted to an Arab perspective over centuries to ultimately become the Koran.


Consequently, in Wansbrough’s interpretation, the official account of Islam’s origins is best seen as a “salvation history”, constructed from various sources and projected back onto the past by later generations as the Arab people sought to establish their own religious identity and acquire a special status as the recipients of God’s “final” revelation. Muhammad emerges as a similarly constructed mythical figure, who served to provide the Arab people with their own prophet. Moreover, he was also granted a special status, as the Seal of the Prophets, ranking above all previous prophets of the Judeo-Christian tradition and disqualifying any that might appear in the future. In summary, according to this analysis, neither Muhammad, the Koran, nor Islam appeared miraculously in the seventh century, as the traditional account maintains, but evolved instead over centuries, as have other world religions.


The new paradigm had other champions. In 1977, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook published what Spencer describes as “the wildly controversial book” Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. This book propounded a controversial re-interpretation of the early history of Islam that “unleashed an avalanche of work on Islam’s origins”, as Fred Donner reflected in “The Historical Context” in The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an. Like Wansbrough, Crone and Cook rejected outright the basic axiom of most previous accounts of the early formation of Islam—that it is possible to derive an historically reliable framework from Islamic sources:

It is … well-known that these sources are not demonstrably early. There is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century, and the tradition which places this rather opaque revelation in its historical context is not attested before the middle of the eighth. The historicity of the Islamic tradition is thus to some degree problematic.


At most, “what purport to be accounts of religious events in the seventh century are utilizable only for the study of religious ideas in the eighth”, and consequently, for historical purposes, “the only way out of the dilemma is thus to step outside the Islamic tradition altogether and start again”.


The best external point of departure for reconstructing the early history of Islam, Crone explained in Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (1980), was a mass of documentary material that has been systematically ignored because of its non-Muslim provenance and implications:

All the while that Islamic historians have been struggling with their inert tradition, they have had available to them the Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Coptic literatures of non-Muslim neighbors and subjects of the Arab conquerors, to a large extent edited and translated [over a century ago, but] left to collect dust in the libraries ever since.


While this dismissive attitude towards these sources was “striking testimony to the suppression” of historical scholarship concerning the non-Islamic Middle East, this material was invaluable, “because there is agreement between the independent and contemporary witnesses of the non-Muslim world [and] they leave no doubt that Islam was, like other religions, the product of a religious evolution”, and not a sudden revelatory event of epochal significance that left, inexplicably, no contemporary historical evidence to support subsequent traditional Muslim claims about it.


Wansbrough had been a mentor of Crone and Cook, although they diverged from his account in several areas, accepting an earlier date for the final recension of the Koran, seen as a compilation of material derived from Judaic forms of Christianity and Middle Eastern pagan sources. In their view Islam, the caliphate, and the Arab conquests were the ultimate results of a rebellion against the Byzantine and Persian empires as they slid into crisis, initially involving a coalition of Arabs and Jews inspired by Jewish messianism, and known in non-Muslim contemporary sources as “Hagarenes”, because of their decision to claim descent from Abraham through his slave wife Hagar as distinct from the Jewish claim of descent from Abraham through his wife Sarah. At some point in the early eighth century the coalition dissolved and the “Hagarenes” began to evolve a specifically Arab version of monotheism as they recognised the need to establish their own religious identity. In this fashion Crone and Cook reach the same basic conclusion as Wansbrough, although they proceeded along a slightly different route in a more combative fashion.


Another central figure amongst the revisionists must be noted. This is the pseudonymous scholar Christoph Luxenberg, who argued in The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran (German edition 2000, English translation 2007) that the emergence of Islam is best understood in terms of the evangelising activities of Syrian Christians who were active in Arabia at the time. Their teachings were, of necessity, expressed in concepts derived from their own Syro-Aramaic language, and those Arabs who responded adopted many of these terms and incorporated them as loan words into an oral tradition that eventually evolved into a central component of the Koran.

This theory allowed Luxenberg to resolve many apparent inconsistencies and incoherencies of the Koran by considering certain obscure words, phrases and sentences as originally Aramaic loan words rather that Arabic. This procedure involved exploring ancient Aramaic for relevant or plausible homonyms for terms found in the Koran on the assumption that these had been imported into the oral tradition that later found written Arabic form in the Koran after copyists and editors had guessed at their meaning, thereby producing the difficulties that characterise the text. A famous example of this is the rendering of one term as “virgins” instead of “raisins”. According to Luxenberg, the word usually translated as “virgins” or “dark-eyed maidens” is best understood as referring to “white raisins” of “crystal clarity”, meaning that the promised delights awaiting martyrs in Paradise are more culinary that carnal—a finding that may be deflating for prospective suicide bombers.


Another scholar drawn into the revisionist camp was Gerd R. Puin, a German authority on ancient Koranic manuscripts. Puin was the head of a restoration project commissioned by the Yemeni government to examine and catalogue a vast hoard of Koranic and non-Koranic fragments discovered in Sana’a in 1972. Amongst the material was a palimpsest which appears to contain the oldest Koranic texts in existence. Significantly, the older of the texts can be radio-carbon-dated to no later than 660 AD. This was after the canonical Koran was supposedly settled, and yet it exhibits significant textual variations that suggest a process of formation of the Koran that differs markedly from the traditional account, and is especially challenging for Muslims who believe that the Koran is the eternal word of God and arrived in this world perfect and fully formed. Based on this and evidence derived from the other material, Puin and his associates concluded that the proto-Islamic religious movement must have been in constant flux in its early years and that the Koran is an amalgam of texts from various sources that were apparently not fully intellectually assimilated even at the time of Muhammad, and may date from at least a century before. In particular, Puin detected a Christian substrate in the material from which may be derived an entire “anti-history” of the origins of Islam.


In summary, what Ibn Warraq identifies in Virgins? What Virgins? as “the Wansbrough/Cook/Crone line” lies at the centre of the revisionist paradigm, supported, supplemented and developed by the work of other scholars. Instead of the traditional view that Islam appeared miraculously, as “a breach in cultural continuity unparalleled among the great civilisations”, as Marshall Hodgson asserted in The Venture of Islam (1974), the revisionists offer a more prosaic scenario. As Warraq says:

Islam, far from being born fully fledged with a watertight creed, rites, rituals, holy places, shrines, and a holy scripture, was a late literary creation, as the early Arab warriors spilled out of the Hijaz [the Western region of Arabia containing Jeddah, Mecca and Medina] in dramatic fashion and encountered sophisticated civilizations—encounters that forced them to forge their own religious identity out of the already available materials, which were then reworked to fit into a mythical Hijazi framework.


This included a holy scripture to supplant those of the Jews and the Christians, and a prophetic figure to supersede Jesus Christ. The profound implications of this paradigm shift have been summed up by one leading proponent of the traditional position as follows: “If the hypothesis of Wansbrough and others in his group turns out to be true, it would serve to destroy the very basis of Islamic civilization” (Massimo Campanini, The Qur’an: The Basics, 2007).


Robert Spencer’s new book appears to signal a growing confidence amongst the revisionists. He published a biographical study, The Truth about Muhammad, in 2006, based on the earliest sources, and although he remarked then that “from a strictly historical standpoint, it is impossible to state with certainty even that a man named Muhammad actually existed”, he nevertheless felt compelled to concede that “in all likelihood he did exist”. Now he believes that “may have been an overly optimistic assessment”, as

even the pillars used to support the traditional account begin to crumble upon close scrutiny … The available historical records contain a surprising number of puzzles and anomalies that strongly suggest that the standard Muslim story about Muhammad is more legend than fact.


This is not surprising, as the extant material concerning the historical figure of Muhammad is scant indeed, as we have seen. And even in the Koran, Spencer reminds us, “the name Muhammad actually appears … only four times, and in three of those instances it could be used as a title—the ‘praised one’ or ‘chosen one’—rather than as a proper name”, and no information is disclosed about his life. (By contrast, Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times, eleven as the Messiah.) Elsewhere, the sources fall into two categories. First, there is the biography by Ibn Ishaq and related works composed in the ninth and tenth centuries; and, second, the canonical collections of hadith from the same era. As Ohlig observes in The Hidden Origins of Islam, “following the canons of historical-critical research, these reports, written approximately two hundred years after the fact, should be taken into consideration only with great reservations”; while Brown confirms in A New Introduction to Islam that “all accounts of Muhammad’s life lead back to Ibn Ishaq, an otherwise minor Medinian scholar who secured a place in history by compiling the first full biography of Muhammad”. Moreover, the work of Ibn Ishaq is itself not even extant, but is known only via the work of a ninth-century Muslim writer, Ibn Hisham, who explained that he heavily edited Ibn Ishaq’s work to remove “things which it is disgraceful to discuss [and] matters which would distress certain people” or otherwise scandalise the devout. Nevertheless, Ibn Ishaq’s version remains the dominant source of all later biographies of Muhammad, so much so that, in Brown’s view, anyone who reads a modern biography, such as Montgomery Watt’s major two-volume study, “is essentially reading Watt’s commentary on Ibn Ishaq”, and this stricture applies to similar biographies and textbooks based on them, which together shape much of what is accepted knowledge about Muhammad and the origins of Islam.


Nor are external contemporary sources of any assistance in establishing a reliable picture of the historical Muhammad, despite the literally awesome impact he was alleged to have had on the world at the time. As Spencer observes, “it would entirely reasonable to expect that seventh-century chroniclers … would note the remarkable influence and achievement of this man”, but no, “there is nothing dating from the time of Muhammad’s activities or for a considerable time thereafter that actually tells us anything about what he was like or what he did”. Moreover, what records do exist produce more questions than answers. For example, there exists a Christian account from around 635 of the conquest of Jerusalem by “the godless Saracens … who give themselves up to prostitution, massacre and lead into captivity the sons of men”, but it makes “no mention, even in the heat of the fiercest polemic, of the conquerors’ god, their prophet, or their holy book”. A similar account, the Doctrina Jacobi, written around 635 to 640, speaks of an unnamed Saracen prophet emerging in the region, but this was in 635, after Muhammad’s supposed death, and this prophet (if he existed) was proclaiming not a new religion but “the advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come”: a Jewish or Christian Messiah.

Notably, nowhere amongst such accounts is there mention of “Muhammad”, “Islam”, the “Koran”, or “Muslims”, with reference only to “Saracens”, or “Hagarenes”, and so on, and no indication that a major new religion has emerged, led by a new prophet and supreme political and military leader. Even more significantly, the Arab conquerors themselves didn’t mention these terms, with the few references to “Muhammad” as likely to be an honorific as a proper name, and in several instances these are accompanied by the symbol of the cross, suggesting a Christian association. It was only at the very end of the seventh century, sixty years after the traditional date of Muhammad’s death, that any mention of him begins to appear, and it was another sixty years before Ibn Ishaq’s biography was apparently published.


Ultimately, it is only through the wilful suppression and avoidance of historical evidence and the implications that flow from it that the traditional accounts can be maintained, and it is difficult to dissent from what Spencer calls “A Revisionist Scenario” that offers a synthesis of what is known (and not known) about the appearance of the Koran, Muhammad, and the origins of Islam. In his own attempt to provide an evidence-based account, Spencer begins with the “immutable fact” of the Arab empire that emerged at the time and quickly found itself requiring the ideological legitimation that could only be provided by a political theology similar to that exercised over their subject people by the Roman, Byzantine and Persian states. The Arab rulers appear initially to have been adherents of Hagarism, and rejected the mainstream Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, with the latter seen instead as a messenger of God. Around the beginning of the eighth century this allegiance began to fade in favour of an embryonic version of Islam that nevertheless retained many elements of the original religion.


This new faith emphasised an extremely rigorous form of monotheism, within which “the ‘praised one’, Muhammad, an Arabian prophet who may have lived decades before”, took centre stage. This prophetic figure had to be not only an Arab, a warrior, and a political leader, but also an inhabitant of central Arabia, to avert any suggestion that the new divine dispensation was anything other than purely Arabian in origins and nature. Similar considerations surrounded the advent of the Koran, which was fashioned from various sources, including the inscription from the Dome of the Rock, and other material that originally had a Judeo-Christian provenance, resulting in the “numerous non-Arabic elements and outright incoherencies” that came to characterise it. In summary, the imperatives of “empire came first and the theology came later … the spiritual propositions that Islam offers were elaborated in order to justify and perpetuate the political entity that generated them”.

So, did Muhammad exist? In Spencer’s view, “as a prophet of the Arabs who taught a vaguely defined monotheism, he may have existed. But beyond that, his life story is lost in the mists of legend.” Ultimately, “as the prophet of Islam, who received (or even claimed to receive) the perfect copy of the perfect eternal book from the supreme God, Muhammad almost certainly did not exist”.


Dr Mervyn F. Bendle is Senior Lecturer, History and Communication, at James Cook University. He wrote on “How Civilisations Die” in the April issue.

How Robert Spencer came to his view


“In 2003, Walter Williams, in his The Historical Origin of Islam, asserted that Muhammad is the brainchild of Arabian scholar Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) …who was the main individual involved in the morphing and mythologizing …of the making of the prophet Muhammad; he also shows that the the Koran is a mixture of Jewish literature, put together by Jewish scholars to include the Torah and the New Testament Gospels”.


The anonymous author of the following article, “Muhammad never existed”, does not miss out on anyone, moving on from getting rid of Mohammed to concluding also that Noah; Abraham and Sarah; Joshua; John the Baptist; Jesus, Mary and Joseph; did not have any real existence.


Firstly, we read here (my comments added):


Muhammad never existed

American Robert Spencer’s 2012 Did Muhammad Exist?, in which he recounts how he unlearned his previously held 2007 belief that Muhammad was a real historical figure. [6]

In religio-mythology, Muhammad never existed is the view, opinion, or reasoned belief that Muhammad (569 to 632), the supposed-to-have-existed prophet or figurehead of Islam, said to have penned the Quran, never existed as a real person, but rather is a mythical character sold as an historical figure.

In 1239, Frederick II published a treatise that denied the divinity of Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad, declaring each of them imposters.

In 1930, Soviet Marxist theoretician Liutsian I. Klimovich, in his lecture “Did Muhammad Exist?”, argued the time gap between Muhammad’s alleged lifetime and the first written sources was so huge that we cannot suppose that any of the information given in these sources is authentic; that nothing is known for sure about the historical Muhammad, and that it is even likely that he never existed. Quite consequently, Klimovich assumed that the Koran was not Muhammad’s work but the product of a whole group of authors. Muhammad was created by later historians as a myth, designed to explain the emergence of the Islamic community out of the Hanif movement. The prophet was an invention to cover up early Islam’s character as a social protest movement. [1]


Mackey’s comment: I would generally agree with Klimovich’s observations.

Though, as I have argued in many places now, Mohammed is a composite biblical character and was unlikely “created” for the purpose as outlined here by Klimovich. Whether or not the latter explanation accounts for the emergence of Islam is, however, a separate matter.

The article continues:

In 2003, Walter Williams, in his The Historical Origin of Islam, asserted that Muhammad is the brainchild of Arabian scholar Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) … who was the main individual involved in the morphing and mythologizing … of the making of the prophet Muhammad; he also shows that the … Koran is a mixture of Jewish literature, put together by Jewish scholars to include the Torah and the New Testament Gospels. [2]

Mackey’s comment: Based on my view (above) of the origins of the non-historical character, “the Prophet Mohammed”, the Koran is largely an Arabic appropriation of the Bible, including both Old and New Testaments.

The article continues:


In 2007, Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch (2003), author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (2005) and The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion (2006), was at a conference with Ibn Warraq, author of Why I Am Not a Muslim (1995), during the course of which they [went] for [a] walk together, discussing Islam, during which time Warraq made the following comment:

I don’t think Muhammad ever existed at all.”

Ibn Warraq (2007), comment to Robert Spencer during walk [3]

Spencer, who at the time believed that Muhammad was a “real person”, who actually existed as an historical figure, i.e. he believed Muhammad was a “false prophet”, someone who sold his own opinions off to people as divine revelations, and Warraq engaged into debated on issue. Warraq’s reasoning and answers paused Spencer into reflection. In the next five years, Spencer came to reevaluate his position:

Ibn Warraq is responsible for the fact that I no longer believe in Muhammad. I no longer believe Muhammad existed as an historical figure.”

— Robert Spencer (2013), “Interview with Ibn Warraq” [3]


Mackey’s comment: Ibn Warraq is, according to the following, an “ex-Muslim secular humanist (1995) turned atheist (2009)”:


Ibn Warraq

In existographies, Ibn Warraq (1946-) (FA:170) is an Pakistani-born English ex-Muslim secular humanist (1995) turned atheist (2009), pseudonymously named after Arabian god skeptic Abu Isa al-Warraq (c.815-870), noted for his 1995 Why I Am Not a Muslim, stylized as an Islamic version of Bertrand Russell‘s 1927 Why I Am Not a Christian, characterized as the “first Muslim history of doubt” (Hecht, 2003).

Warraq was influenced, in respect to existive thinkers, by Salman Rushdie and the “Rushdie affair” and articles by pseudo Ibn al-Rawandi (see: Ibn al-Rawandi) in the New Humanist, into going public with his work in attempting to “sow a drop of doubt in a sea of dogmatic certainty. [5]

Warraq, in his 1995 book, cites: Xenophanes, Michel Montaigne, Galileo, Benedict Spinoza, Isaac La Peyrere, Thomas Hobbes, Edward Gibbon, Pierre Bayle, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Thomas Paine, Carlyle, Averroes, Avicenna, Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Robert Ingersoll, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Einstein, Reynold Nicholson, Christopher Luxenberg. (Ѻ) [5] ….


The article continues:


In 2008, German jurist and former Islamic theologian Sven Kalisch, whose doctoral thesis (1997) was on “common sense and flexibility in Islamic legal methodology” (see also: Goethe‘s jurisprudence issues and student reactions), completed at the Faculty of Law and Economics at the Technical University of Darmstadt—a Protestant-to-Muslim convert (age 15) turned Muslim-to-nonbeliever convert (age 44)—made controversial headlines by stating, in an article entitled “Islamic Theology Without the Historic Muhammad: Comments on the Challenges of the Historical-Critical Method for Islamic Thinking”,

Muhammad probably never existed.”

— Sven Kalish (2008) (Ѻ)

Kalisch’s researched opinion is that Muhammad never existed; at the time, he was said to be in the middle of completing a book on this subject. [4]

In 2011, Hans Jansen, in his “The Historicity of Muhammad, Aisha and Who Knows Who Else”, argued the position that Muhammad is a fictional character. [5]

“It may sound crazy but it is not as crazy as it sounds: a number of scholars consequently suspect that Muhammad is not a historical figure, but a literary character that was created by ancient Arab storytellers, perhaps early in the eighth century of our era.”

— Hans Jansen (2011), “The Historicity of Muhammad” [3]

In 2012, Robert Spencer, in his Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins, asserted, per reason that there is no mention of a person named “Muhammad” in Arab literature until 692, a full sixty years … AFTER the purported death of Muhammad in 632, that what is Islamic revelation was an afterthought, a narrative created after the Arab conquests of the Near East, to give the new ruling elite an ideological pretext for power. [6] ….

Mackey’s comment: The writer of the article now proceeds to ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’, by generalising the non-existence of the mainstays of Judaïsm, Christianity and Islam:


The general issue, to summarize this general Muhammad did not exist view, is that all of the main figures, characters, and prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, each of which progressively building on the other, are human character re-writes, aka “god reduction” morphs, of what were primarily original Egyptian mythological gods and stories, as the works of the 100+ religio-mythology scholars have shown, e.g. Noah is the god Nu (Noah never existed), Abraham is the god Ra (Abraham never existed), Sarah is the star Sirius, Virgin Mary is the goddess Isis, Jesus is the god Osiris (see: Jesus never existed), Joshua is the god Shu (see: Joshua 10:13), John the Baptist is the god Anubis, Joseph is the god Geb, and so on (see: Egyptian-to-Christian transliteration); hence, if the Islamic figure Muhammad claimed to have “spoken” to all of these so-called prophets, e.g. during his famous “night journey”, then he too is a mythological figure, sold to people, over time, as a real person, as a way to found Islam on the historical religions, aka ancient mythologies.

1. (a) Existence of Muhammad (section) – Wikipedia.
(b) Klimovich, Liutsian. (1931). “Did Mohammed exist? The debate in the Communist Academy in anti-religious section of the Institute 12/1930 CI philosophy. on the report of LI Klimovich” (“Sushchestvoval li Mokhammed? Diskussiia v Kommunisticheskoi akademii v antireligioznoi sektsii instituta filosofii 12/XI 1930g. po dokladu L.I. Klimovicha”), in: Voinstvuiushchii ateizm, No. 2-3, (1931), 189-218.
2. Williams, Walter. (2003). The Historical Origin of Islam (abs). Maathian Press.
3. (a) Spencer, Robert. (2013). “Ibn Warraq Exposes Islam on ABN” (Ѻ), Betsy Ross, Jan 31.
(b) Robert Spencer (author) – Wikipedia.
4. (a) Kalisch, Sven. (2008). “Islamic Theology Without the Historic Muhammad: Comments on the Challenges of the Historical-Critical Method for Islamic Thinking”, (in German), Publication.
(b) Anon. (2008). “Excerpt: Muslim Academic Questions Muhammad’s Existence”, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15.
(c) Higgins, Andrew. (2008). “Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt” (Ѻ), The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15.
(e) Historicity of Muhammad – Wikipedia.
(f) Thims, Libb. (2011). Purpose? (in a Godless universe). (94-pg manuscript) (unfinished); Online as 105-page unfinished manuscript (14 Apr 2013). IoHT publications.
(g) Sven Kalisch –
(h) Sven Kalisch (German → English) – Wikipedia.
5. Jansen, Hans. (2011). “The Historicity of Muhammad, Aisha and Who Knows Who Else” (Ѻ),, May 16.
6. (a) Spencer, Robert. (2007). The Truth About Muhammad (Ѻ). Publisher.
(b) Spencer, Robert. (2012). Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins (foreword: Ibn Warraq). Open Road Media.
(c) Zmirack, John. (2012). “Amazon Review” (Ѻ), Apr 9.


Mackey’s comment: Given the incident of which we read in Acts 14:11-13 – far more recent than Abraham – the attempted apotheosis by the Lycaonians of Paul and Barnabas:


When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices in the Lycaonian language: ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates, hoping to offer a sacrifice along with the crowds [,]


then it would not be surprising if some of the great biblical characters were to have been assimilated to certain of the pagan gods.

This is most especially applicable to the antediluvian patriarchs. See e.g. my:

 Cain and Osiris

which article includes mention of the likely divinization of Noah as well.

Regarding the above observation: “Noah is the god Nu (Noah never existed)”, I would readily agree at least with Noah’s identification by the Egyptians as Nu. See e.g. my:

Noachic Flood in Egyptian Legend

As for: “Abraham is the god Ra (Abraham never existed), Sarah is the star Sirius”, the god Ra was anciently established in Egyptian religion long before the emergence of Abram (Abraham), whose historical reality has been greatly strengthened by Dr. John Osgood’s determination of a most suitable archaeology for the patriarch and his era (not to mention the Bible’s naming Abraham’s contemporaries over a vast section of the then-known world). See e.g. my:


Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham


But Abraham and Sarah may indeed have entered into ancient mythologies. See e.g. my:


Abraham and Sarah in Greek Mythology?



Convert to Islam doubts the historicity of the Prophet Mohammed

Image result for mohammed kalisch


Damien F. Mackey


“It is a strange and indirect way of validating the dictum of the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig: Islam is a parody of Judaism and Christianity”.





As far as I am concerned, “the dictum” of Franz Rosenzweig – as presented above by “Spengler” – is perfectly correct.


Moreover, that I believe that the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) had no real historical existence (qua Mohammed), is apparent from my series:


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

Scholars have long pointed out the historical problems associated with the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the history of Islam, with some going even so far as to cast doubt upon Mohammed’s actual existence. Biblico-historical events,… more


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part One (b, ii): Mohammed and Nineveh

Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Medes in c. 612 BC, and not re-discovered until the C19th AD – “Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible,… more


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

The ‘life’ of Mohammed will be shown to consist of, to a large extent, a string of biblical episodes (relating to, for instance, Moses; David; Job/Tobias; Jeremiah; Jesus Christ), but altered and/or greatly embellished, and re-cast into… more


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Three: Adding Montuemhat

The name Montuemhat itself may have great significance following on from my argument, albeit most controversial, that Tobias/Job was the ‘matrix’ for the Prophet Mohammad.



In the following article, “Spengler” tells of the interesting case of “Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a German convert to Islam” who likewise has disputed the very existence of Mohammed:

Scandal exposes Islam’s weakness


“Did you hear about the German Gnostic?” “He couldn’t keep a secret.”


Just such a Teutonic mystic is Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a German convert to Islam who teaches Muslim theology at the University of Munster. Kalisch recently laid a Gnostic egg in the nest of Islam, declaring that the Prophet Mohammed never existed, not at least in the way that the received version of Islamic tradition claims he did. Given that Kalisch holds an academic chair specifically funded to instruct teachers of Islam in Germany’s school system, a scandal ensued, first reported in the mainstream English-language press by Andrew Higgins in the November 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal [2008].


On closer reading, Kalisch offers a far greater challenge to Islam than the secular critics who reject its claims. The headline that a Muslim academic has doubts over the existence of the Prophet Mohammed is less interesting than why he has such doubts. Kalisch does not want to harm Islam, but rather to expose what he believes to be its true nature. Islam, he argues, really is a Gnostic spiritual teaching masquerading as myth. Kalisch’s heretical variant of Islam may be close enough to the religion’s original intent as to provoke a re-evaluation of the original sources.


A labor of love from inside the fortress of Islamic theology may accomplish what all the ballistas of the critics never could from outside the walls. Koranic criticism, I have argued for years (here and elsewhere – You say you want a reformation? Asia Times Online, August 5, 2003) is the Achilles’ heel of the religion. That argument has been made about Christianity for years by Elaine Pagels and other promoters of “Gnostic Gospels”, and it is dead wrong. In the case of Islam, though, it might be dead accurate.


Kalisch is a Gnostic, a believer in secret spiritual truths that undergird the myths manufactured for the edification of the peasantry. But he is a German Gnostic, and therefore feels it necessary to lay out his secrets in thorough academic papers with extensive footnotes and bibliography. It is a strange and indirect way of validating the dictum of the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig: Islam is a parody of Judaism and Christianity.


It is in weird little byways of academia such as Kalisch wanders that the great battles of religion will be fought out, not at academic conferences and photo opportunities with the pope. For example: the Catholic Islamologists who organized the November 4-7 meeting of Catholic and Muslim scholars in Rome envision incremental reforms inside Islam through a more relaxed Turkish version (see A Pyrrhic propaganda victory in Rome Asia Times Online, November 12, 2008 and Tin-opener theology from Turkey Asia Times Online, June 3, 2008). Despite their best efforts at an orderly encounter with Islam, events have a way of overtaking them. Last March, Pope Benedict personally received into the Catholic faith the Egyptian-born Italian journalist Magdi Allam at the Easter Vigil. In September, Kalisch dropped his own bombshell. In a way, it is longer-acting and more deadly.


A small group of Koran scholars, to be sure, has long doubted Mohammed’s existence. Their scholarship is sufficiently interesting, though, to question whether it is worthwhile exposing the alleged misdeeds of the Prophet Mohammed, who may not have existed in the first place (The Koranic quotations trap Asia Times Online, May 15, 2007). Earlier this year, I reported on the progress of the critics, as well as belated emergence of a treasure-trove of photocopies of Koranic manuscripts hidden away by Nazi Islamologists (Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code Asia Times Online, January 18, 2008). The Nazis had a Gnostic interest in Islam (call them “Gnazis”). The manuscripts and copies are now under the control of mainstream scholars at the University of Berlin, with deep ties to Arab countries.



Kalisch is the first Muslim scholar to dispute the Prophet’s existence, while continuing to profess Muslim. If the Prophet did not exist, or in any case did not dictate the Koran, “then it might be that the Koran was truly inspired by God, a great narration from God, but it was not dictated word for word from Allah to the Prophet”, he told a German newspaper.

A German Protestant who converted to Islam as a teenager in search of a religion of reason, Kalisch can live with an alternative of reading of Islam. Very few of the world’s billion and a half Muslims can.


Islam cannot abide historical criticism of the sort that Judaism and Christianity have sustained for centuries. “Abie, if you’re here, then who is that there in my bed?,” responds the Jewish wife in the old joke when her husband catches her in delicto flagrante. No one can offer an alternative explanation for the unique persistence of the Jewish people after 30 documented centuries of Jewish life. “If Moses didn’t exist,” the Jews respond to skeptics, “then who brought us out of Egypt?” Told that perhaps they didn’t come out of Egypt, the Jews will respond, “Then what are we doing here today?”


Christians, by the same token, read the writings of numerous individuals who either met Jesus of Nazareth or took down the accounts of people who did, and who believed that he was the only begotten Son of God. Proof of Jesus’ divinity, though, is entirely beside the point. If the Christian God wanted to rule by majesty and power, he would not have come to earth as a mortal to die on the cross. The Christian God asks for love and faith, not submission before majesty. The Christian is not asked to prove the unprovable, but to love and believe. Muslims have a different problem: if Mohammed did not receive the Koran from God, then what are they doing there to begin with? Kalisch has the sort of answer that only a German academic could love.


“We hardly have original Islamic sources from the first two centuries of Islam,” Kalisch observes in a German-language paper available on the Muenster University (website). It is fascinating reading, and since it is not yet available in English I take the liberty of translating or summarizing a few salient points. Responsibility for any errors of translation of interpretation is my own.


Kalisch continues, “And even when a source appears to come from this period, caution is required. The mere assertion that a source stems from the first or second century of the Islamic calendar means nothing. And even when a source actually was written in the first or second century, the question always remains of later manipulation. We do not tread on firm ground in the sources until the third Islamic century.”


This, Kalisch observes, is extremely suspicious: how can a world religion have erupted in a virtual literary vacuum? A great religion, moreover, inevitably throws off heresies: where are the early Islamic heretics and Gnostics? Later Islamic theologians knew the titles of some of their works, but the content itself was lost. “The only explanation for the disappearance is that it had long since become unusable theologically,” he alleges of certain Shi’ite sources.


Kalisch draws on the well-known work of Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, whose criticism of the received version have a distinctly minority position in Koranic scholarship:


It is a striking fact that such documentary evidence as survives from the Sufnayid period makes no mention of the messenger of god at all. The papyri do not refer to him. The Arabic inscriptions of the Arab-Sasanian coins only invoke Allah, not his rasul [messenger]; and the Arab-Byzantine bronze coins on which Muhammad appears as rasul Allah, previously dated to the Sufyanid period, have not been placed in that of the Marwanids. Even the two surviving pre-Marwanid tombstones fail to mention the rasul.




The great scandal of Islamic tradition is the absence of Islamic formulations from coins and monuments dating from … its first two centuries, as well as the presence of material obviously incompatible with Islam. “Coins and inscriptions are incompatible with the Islamic writing of history,” Kalisch concludes on the strength of older work, including Yehuda Nevo and [Judith] Koren’s Crossroads to Islam.


The oldest inscription with the formulation “Mohammed Messenger of Allah” is to found in the 66th year of Islamic reckoning, and after that used continuously. But there also exist coins found in Palestine, probably minted in Amman, on which the word “Muhammed” is found in Arabic script on one side, and a picture of a man holding a cross on the other. Kalisch cites this and a dozen other examples. Citing Nevo/Koren and other sources, Kalisch also accepts the evidence that no Islamic conquest occurred as presented in much later Islamic sources, but rather a peaceful transfer of power from the Byzantine empire to its local Arab allies.


“To be sure,” Kalisch continues, “various explanations are possible for the lack of mention of the Prophet in the early period, and it is no proof for the non-existence of an historical Mohammed. But it is most astonishing, and begs the question of the significance of Mohammed for the original Muslim congregation in the case that he did exist.”


The numismatic, archeological, source-critical and other evidence against acceptance of the received version of Islamic history was well developed by other scholars. But it was never accepted by mainstream Orientalists. Cynics might point to the fact that most Middle Eastern studies programs in the West today are funded by Islamic governments, or depend on the good will of Middle Eastern governments for access to source material. Academia is not only corrupt, however, but credulous: the question arises: if Mohammed never existed, or did not exist as he is portrayed, why was so much effort devoted in later years to manufacturing thousands of pages of phony documentation in the Hadith and elsewhere?


Why, indeed, was the Mohammed story invented, by whom, and to what end? The story of the Hegira, Mohammed’s flight from Mecca to Medina allegedly in 622, provides a clue, according to Kalisch. “No prophet is mentioned in the Koran as often as Moses, and Muslim tradition always emphasized the great similarly between Moses and Mohammed,” he writes. “The central event in the life of Moses, though, is the Exodus of the oppressed Children of Israel out of Egypt, and the central event in the life of Mohammed is the Exodus of his oppressed congregation out of Mecca to Medina … The suspicion is great that the Hegira appears only for this reason in the story of the Prophet, because his image should emulate the image of Moses.”


Something very ancient and entirely genuine long buried within Islam may be struggling to the surface, a cuckoo’s egg, as it were, waiting to hatch. It is noteworthy that Germany’s Alevi community (immigrants from Turkey’s 5-to-15 million strong Alevi population) expressed solidarity with Kalisch when he came under attack from other Muslim organizations.

Coming from a minority within a minority, Kalisch has offered a new and credible explanation of the motive behind the great reshuffling of Islamic sources during the second and third centuries of the religion. I cannot evaluate Kalisch’s handling of the sources, but the principle he advances makes sense. It is another crack in the edifice of Islam, but a most dangerous one, because it came from the inside. ….