In the name of Allah, Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem
In 2012, there was a documentary entitled “Islam: The Untold Story”, written and presented by historian Tom Holland. He made rather bizarre statements on the origins of Islam. Tom Holland argues that it is not Islam that gave birth to the Arab Empire (the Islamic Civilization like Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates), but the Arab empire that gave birth to Islam. Prophet Muhammad, according to Holland, never existed, but only a mythological product of the Arab Empire. Islam is an invented religion.
“What if it wasn’t Islam that gave birth to the Arab Empire? But the Arab Empire gave birth to Islam?”-Tom Holland in “Islam: The Untold Story”.
Any honest research to find out the origins of any religion should be welcomed. However, Holland’s argument is very problematic in numerous ways. In the documentary, he points out to some facts that really do sensationalize his arguments, but lacking in substance.
Regarding the existence of prophet Muhammad, Holland said that there is no mention of Muhammad except 60 years after his death. He showed an old coin dated more than 50 years after the death of Muhammad, and he said that it was the first time ever the name of Muhammad is written on any surviving document. The first time.
This is just so wrong.
Muslim and non-Muslim accounts on Muhammad and Makkah
Thanks to Islamic Awareness for writing and summarizing Dated And Datable Texts Mentioning Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE. I got the information below from their website.
Robert Hoyland in his book “Seeing Islam as Others Saw it” had compile Muslim and non-Muslim accounts relating to the rise of Islam and Muhammad. The book contains an extensive collection of Greek, Syrian, Coptic, Armenian, Latin, Jewish, Persian, and Chinese primary sources written between 620 and 780 AD in the Middle East, which provides a survey of eyewitness accounts of historical events during the formative period of Islam.
There are so many references to Muhammad in Hoyland’s compilation, yet Tom Holland said he can’t find any. Funny.
Anyway, here are some of the examples:
1) Doctrina Jacobi Nuper Baptizati, 13–20 AH / 634–640 CE.
This text, written by a Christian apologist about a fictitious story of a Palestine Jewish merchant named Jacob, who was forced to convert to Christianity. Later he converted in his own will. Although fictitious designed for apologetic purposes, historical details of contemporary events reveal a quite startling information- the Prophet of the Saracens. Saracens is the word used by Romans back in those days to refer to the Arabs.
I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: “What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?” He replied, groaning deeply: “He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword.
2) Thomas The Presbyter, 19 AH / 640 CE.
Next, in this manuscript, published by Wright, have puzzled many scholars for apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature. In relation to Islam and Muslims, there are two important dates mentioned in this manuscript.
AG 945, indiction VII: On Friday, 4 February, [i.e., 634 CE / Dhul Qa‘dah 12 AH] at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Muḥammad [Syr. tayyāyē d-Mḥmt] in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician YRDN (Syr. BRYRDN), whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.
AG 947, indiction IX: The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in [the monasteries of] Kedar and Benōthō. There died the blessed man Simon, doorkeeper of Qedar, brother of Thomas the priest.
It is the first date above which is of great importance as it provides the first explicit reference to Muhammad in a non-Muslim source. The account is usually identified with the battle of Dathin. According to Hoyland, “its precise dating inspires confidence that it ultimately derives from first-hand knowledge”. This means that the time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) is slightly over a year and half!
3) The History Of The Patriarchs Of Alexandria,
And in those days Heraclius saw a dream in which it was said to him : «Verily there shall come against thee a circumcised nation, and they shall vanquish thee and take possession of the land». So Heraclius thought that they would be the Jews, and accordingly gave orders that all the Jews and Samaritans should be baptized in all the provinces which were under his dominion. But after a few days there appeared a man of the Arabs, from the southern districts, that is to say, from Mecca or its neighbourhood, whose name was Muhammad; and he brought back the worshippers of idols to the knowledge of the One God, and bade them declare that Muhammad was his apostle; and his nation were circumcised in the flesh, not by the law, and prayed towards the South, turning towards a place which they called the Kaabah. And he took possession of Damascus and Syria, and crossed the Jordan, and dammed it up. And the Lord abandoned the army of the Romans before him, as a punishment for their corrupt faith, and because of the anathemas uttered against them, on account of the council of Chalcedon, by the ancient fathers.
The time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) is slightly over a year and half!
In fact, there are many more texts and manuscripts mentioning Muhammad. The list goes on…..
How did Holland miss these important facts? How come he said he could find no reference to Muhammad and Mecca at all when it is very clearly and explicitly stated in these texts?
Writer at Muslims4UK, Inayat Bunglawala, decided to personally question Tom Holland on twitter.
Read the full conversation here.
Apparently, Tom Holland wants sources from Muslims themselves during that time that mention Muhammad. This really puzzles me:- aren’t the ahaadith enough to prove sources from Muslim’s testimony of Muhammad?? There are thousands of recorded sayings of Muhammad from Muslim themselves, and Holland disregarded it because ahadith are unreliable sources yet he wants Muslim testimonies.
In fact, Muslim texts (ahadith and sirah) and non-Muslim texts are almost the same. According to Michael G. Morony, Hoyland emphasized the parallels between Muslim and non-Muslim accounts of history emphasizing that non-Muslim texts often explain the same history as the Muslim ones even though they were recorded earlier. He concludes “Hoyland’s treatment of the materials is judicious, honest, complex, and extremely useful.”
Besides, according to Judith Koren and Yehuda Nevo, both of whom tried to proof that Muhammad didn’t exist earlier than Holland tried, contend that any Muslim source must be checked against a non-Muslim source (preferably material, e.g., archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics), and if the two sources conflict, the non-Muslim source is to be preferred. Now that Hoyland’s paper confirms the Muslims ahadith and sira regarding the existence of Muhammad himself, what is there left to say that Muhammad didn’t exist.
Relics of Muhammad
Thanks to Abdullah R. Merji on his answer on a question in Quora: “Was Muhammad a real historical figure? What is the evidence for his existence? What is the most verifiable, indisputable, archaeological evidence for his existence?“. Most of the information below, and some above, are from his answer. Be sure to read his answer too.
If manuscripts aren’t enough there are relics and artifacts related to Muhammad:
- The house and room where Muhammad and Khadija lived.
- Articles that Muhammad wore on his head:
- His shirt and his shoe:
- Muhammad’s swords. Many are displayed in Turkey:
- The tooth of Muhammad and his hair:
There are also Muhammad’s letter to head of states. This is one of them, a
letter of the Prophet Muhammed to Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi, the governor of Bahrain.
You can even see his seal which is written “Allah Rasul Muhammad”
Why didn’t Holland speak of any of these relics related to Muhammad?
Abdullah R. Merji had said it the best.
“Muslims have more than 100,000 reported incidents and items from Muhammad, much of it reported by chain of narrators and their status. Could it be one big lie?
Impossible, because of the amount of information and the amount of people needed to collaborate something like this. If you would download Sahih Al Bukhari from http://archive.org and check the information it holds you would understand. Then download another similar book of another scholar like Malik, you will see the similarities. But you will also see the amount of information that cannot be generated and overlapped to be same in context but different in strings of narrators. And different in times and generations.“
How about the Quran? If Muhammad was a myth, then who wrote the Quran, if not Allah? How can the Quran be written by man? There are many proofs that the Quran is written by Allah, and Muhammad is mentioned in the Quran as the Messenger of Allah. Even Tom Holland himself in his book “In the Shadow of the Sword” uncovers that the Qur’an does indeed date from the time of the Prophet – as the mainstream Islamic narrative has always maintained.
You can fake anything you want in the world. But you cannot fake the Quran.
How come Muhammad did not exist?
Finally, if one argues that it was the Arab Empire inspired the creation of Islam, then what inspired the Arab Empire? The Arabs during the 7th century were made up of clans and tribes and far from being a united nation. Clans fought each other. Stole from each other. How did the Arabs of the 7th century was able to unite and create such an influential empire? Where do they get the inspiration to build such an empire?
How come Muhammad did not exist when every person on the face of this Earth that calls him/herself a Muslim, either Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Salafi, Quranist, all of them believe that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. If Muhammad was just a myth there certainly must be among Muslims themselves who reject Muhammad as a messenger or that he didn’t exist. There are Muslims rejecting hadith, there are muslims rejecting sunni scholars, there are muslims promoting liberalism, but none- NONE rejects Muhammad as a prophet.
Frequent news entail certain knowledge. We never met Napoleon, yet we know he existed because many people met him. Same with Muhammad, we never met him, but the proof of his existence is staggering.
May Allah always guide us.
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