Did Muhammad Write the Quran?

Name of Questioner: Gail

Date: 9-9-2019 06:14:38 PM

Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Team


How would react the allegation that your Prophet Muhammad wrote the Quran?

Dear Gail,

Thank you for your question.

With regard to your question, Dr. Ibrahim H. Malabari, a well-known Islamic researcher and author of many Islamic books, states:

The charge against the Prophet Muhammad that he concocted the Quran is a very prevalent one, especially in the West. Even those who are sympathetic to Islam among Western writers cannot admit that the Quran is revelation and its author is God himself.

There is a long and deep-rooted tradition in Western literature that views the Quran as the work of the Prophet. Thus, we will look at this issue, though extremely briefly, in light of well-documented historical facts, logic, as well as with respect to the Prophet’s personality, life and career.

The Prophet Muhammad is perhaps the most fully documented person in antiquity and history. This fact enables us to examine closely the claim that he wrote the Quran himself.

This is a topic of volumes, as scholars have discussed in detail hundreds of strong evidences that establish the divine origin of the Quran.

Considering the scope of this answer, we will mention just a few.

First, it was well-known among the early Arabs of Mecca that the Prophet Muhammad did not read or write, and was not formally educated.

The Quran itself states that the Prophet was unlettered, specifically in the sense that he could not read or write. No one in the Meccan community attempted to deny this claim of the Quran: “Believe, then, in God and His Messenger – the unlettered Prophet who believes in God and His words – and follow him, so that you might find guidance!” (Quran 7:158)

As is recorded in his biography, when the angel Gabriel approached the Prophet for the first time at the age of 40, and revealed to him the first verse of the Quran, “Read!”, the Prophet’s response was that he was unable to read.

Thus even at the start of revelation, the Prophet was in no position to compose a book. Indeed as the Quran states, the Prophet’s being unlettered was itself a matter of divine wisdom: “Never have you recited Scripture before this (Quran oh Prophet)! Nor have you transcribed one with your right hand. For then, the progenitors of falsehood would have had cause to doubt (the revelation).” (Quran 29:48)

Second, in various instances in the life of the Prophet Muhammad where a problem arose, he was unable to find a solution until it was revealed to him by God.

In many of these instances, the answer was delayed often causing the Prophet great anxiety. If the Prophet had devised the answers himself, why would he need to wait on revelation?

Here are a few examples:

  • Once a group of people accused the Prophet’s wife Aishah of adultery. The slanderous accusations shook the community in Medina, and resulted in the Prophet separating from his wife temporarily. During this extremely difficult ordeal he did not know what to do. Finally, verses were revealed that established the innocence of Aishah and rebuked those who made the false accusations against her.
  • The leaders of Quraish once asked the Prophet a few questions in order to test him and to see if he really is the Messenger of God. They asked about stories and issues, such as the Seven Sleepers, Dhul-Qarnain, the nature of the spirit, etc. Weeks had passed and the Prophet would not give any answers, because he did not have knowledge of them at that time. As a result of the delay, the Prophet was accused of being a liar by the Quraysh. Finally, the Prophet received by revelation a whole chapter of the Quran, called the Cave (Chapter 18), as well as other verses, answering all the questions asked to the Prophet by the Quraysh.
  • In the early days of Islam, the Muslims used to face Jerusalem while praying. The Prophet wished and wanted to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca. But he did not instigate the change himself; instead, he waited for a command from his Lord, raising his head towards the heavens in anticipation. The Quran states: “We have seen you (O Prophet) often turn your face towards heaven…” (Quran 2:144)

Thereafter God’s commands arrived, and Muslims immediately turned their faces towards the direction of Mecca, turning from North to South.

In all of these incidents and many others the Prophet did not act until revelation came to him with an explicit answer or command. This was the case even though the delay caused him to be rebuked and accused of being a false Prophet.

If the Quran were from the Prophet, surely he could have “revealed” the verses earlier. This shows the Quran is a revelation from God, and not from Muhammad’s own imagination.

Third, the Arabs, both Muslims and non-Muslim, have testified to the high calibre and literal mastery of the Quran:

  • Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to be a judge of the poetry festival in Mecca. His mastery of the Arabic language was superb. Nonetheless, when he heard a portion of the Quran, he was spellbound, and because of it embraced Islam. How could the Prophet produce such a literal masterpiece at the age of 40 when he had never shown such talent before?
  • Similarly, there were many others like At-Tufayl ibn Amr al-Dawsi, Utbah ibn Rabiha and others who had such experiences when they heard portions of the Quran. They would repeat statements such as, “I have heard words of such that I never heard before. By God, it is not poetry, nor magic, nor divination.” This was often their first impression.

This shows that the Quran was something beyond the Prophet’s talent or genius, as its origin was other than the Prophet Muhammad.

Fourth, there is a marked difference between the Prophet’s sayings and Quranic verses. The Prophet’s sayings are recorded in volumes, called hadith, which are more voluminous than the Quran. When he spoke, his sayings were not accompanied with any extraordinary experiences, but when he received the revelation he would often experience abnormal sensations. When verses were revealed to him, sometimes he would sweat even on cold days, his face would become red, his body would become heavy, etc.

Was he just acting? Definitely not! How could he have lived such a pretentious and complicated life for 23 years? This is indeed the difference between the hadith and the Quran.

As for the Quran, he received it by revelation from God verbatim, and as for the hadith, they were his own words.

Another crucial point in this respect is the huge difference between the linguistic style of the Quran and that of hadith.

A comparison of both suggests unequivocally that the author of the Quran is entirely different from that of the hadith.

It is also recorded authentically that the Arabs themselves were surprised by the language of the Quran because the Prophet was not known to have composed any literal piece before its revelation.

Clearly, the language of the Quran was not from Muhammad’s own tongue. Even non-Arabic speaking people can see this vast difference in style and language between the Quran and the hadith, even by reading translations.

Fifth, a good portion of the Quran includes stories of previous Prophets and their nations. Always, the concluding remark is that the Prophet had no previous knowledge of any of those stories or historical events, and that he only knew of them through revelation, for example:

  • After relating the story of Moses and Pharaoh the Quran states: “You were not (there, O Prophet,) on the western mountainside (of Tur) when We decreed to Moses the Commandments. Nor were you (there among those) of the Children of Israel who bore witness (to these events). Furthermore, We brought forth (many) generations (after Moses), such that the life spans (of heedlessness) that stretched over them grew (so very) long – (until they forgot God’s Covenant). Moreover, you were not (there with Moses when he was) dwelling among the people of Midian, conveying Our message unto them…” (Quran 28:44-45)
  • The Quran also states after the story of Jesus and Mary: “This account of something that was beyond the reach of your perception We [now] reveal unto you: for you were not with them when they drew lots as to which of them should be Mary's guardian, and you were not with them when they contended [about it] with one another.” (Quran 3:44)
  • It also states after the story of Joseph: “This is (but one) of the tidings of the unseen (past) that We reveal to you, (O Prophet). For you were not with them when they resolved (to execute) their (evil) affair, and while they were plotting (it).” (Quran 12:102)

Verses like the above appear routinely after the stories in the Quran. Thus, if the Prophet had learned these stories from Jews and Christians, why should he ascribe them to God? Is he such a blatant liar?

Sixth, the Quran severely criticized the Prophet on several issues:

  • The Prophet was once sitting with some of the leaders of Quraysh, inviting them to Islam. A blind man, Abdullah ibn Umm Makhtum, who was already a Muslim, came to the Prophet to ask him some questions regarding Islam. The Prophet ignored him, as he was busy delivering the message of Islam to the leaders of Quraysh, hoping they would come to Islam. Thereupon, the revelation came reproaching and reprimanding him: “He frowned and turned away because the blind man approached him. Yet for all you did know (O Muhammad) he might perhaps have grown in purity?” (Quranv80:1-3).
  • The Prophet used to love to eat honey. Once he refused to consume any honey after his wives discouraged him to do so, as a result of a quarrel they were having among themselves. God again reproached and reprimanded him: “O Prophet! Why do you, out of a desire to please [one or another of] your wives impose [on yourself] a prohibition of something that God has made lawful to you?” (Quran 66:1)
  • At the time of the battle of Tabuk, some hypocrites came and asked the Prophet to excuse them from participating in the campaign. The merciful Prophet accepted their excuse. Thereupon, revelation came down upon him again reproaching and reprimanding him: “May God pardon you (O Prophet)! Why did you grant them permission (to stay at home) before it had become obvious to you as to who was speaking truth and (before) you came to know (who were) the liars.” (Quran 9:43)

There are many other incidents in which the Prophet was reproached and reprimanded by God.

The logical question here is why would the Prophet make up these verses? Even if someone had revealed these verses to him, why would he retain them while having a firm belief that these verses will be recited and read throughout the ages?

The logical and factual answer is that these are not the words of the Prophet, and he is not the author of the Quran.

Seventh, one of the major themes of the Quran is that the source of the Quran is God Himself. The Prophet did not have any right to add or subtract from what had been revealed: "If he (Muhammad) had dared to attribute some of (his own) sayings unto Us, we would indeed have seized him by his right hand and would indeed have cut his life-vein.” (Quran 69:44-46)

If the Prophet was really the author of the Quran, why did he have to state these words? Was he a sheer liar to the extent that he both concocted the Quran and devised threats against himself?

History and logic would refute this claim, especially since the Prophet was known never to have uttered a lie in his whole life. Before Prophethood, even the pagan idolaters attested to his truthfulness, and he was known as the “Trustworthy” and “Truthful”.

Are we to believe that suddenly, at the age of 40, the Prophet not only began to utter a long string of lies but that these lies were against God Himself? Simply illogical!

We hope this answers your question.

Keep in touch.

Source: Taken from the author’s Ten Questions and Answers about the Prophet Muhammad.