Hajar Mulder's views on Islam, religion, the news, politics.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
How Some in the West like to lash back: the Prophet Muhammad never existed: Eildert Mulder, John Wansbrough, Yehuda Nevo, Judith Koren, Abu Zeid
Columnist Eildert Mulder wrote 12 April 2006 in Dutch on (and off-)line Christian newspaper Trouw that Prophet Muhammad pbuh never existed, according ‘dissident Islam experts’. Any solid evidence for this claim is missing, however. These claims are real old news, but annoyingly enough this newspaper, which is widely read in the Netherlands, tried to revitalise their own urban legend to this effect. Their columnist Eildert Mulder, no relative, said, that 'Muhammad' was an honorary title for Jesus, and not a name. He also said, that the prophet Muhammad hadn't existed. Here follows a translation from Dutch of my own responsive article in online newspaper Nieuwsfeit, 2006:
Friend and foe of Islam agree on one thing: That Islam existed in the seventh century AD and that the religion had as good as reached its final shape. Opinions differ, says Mulder, on the period in between: seventh until ninth century. German author Christoph Luxenberg, who is often quoted in Trouw, also in other articles, would have said that Qur’an has ’emerged’ from a ‘lengthy’ process, at least a century would have lapsed between the ‘Meccan’ and ‘Medina’ era. This same Eildert Mulder says, however, two weeks later, on 5 May, that this Mr Luxenberg has claimed that Qur’an al Kerim has been copied from a ‘pre-Qur’an’ in Aramaic and that therefore ‘many Aramaic words’ appear. And on 26 April he said that Qur’an ‘according to Luxenberg’ must have emerged in the fifth century AD. No evidence of these ‘pre-qur’ans’ has been presented. It sounds contradictory at first sight, as Aramaic is an ancient Semitic language which lived and lives in the northern Arabic countries, being Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and also in Irak. The language has existed thousands of years and in its glory days it was court language of the Babylonian Empire and lost its importance after 200 AD. Luxenberg, however, appears to have kindred spirits who try to elaborate on the Aramaic story line. The American author John Wansbrough says that Qur’an al Kerim is an adapted scripture of a Jewish-Christian sect and that Muhammad is a fabricated figure and according to this mr Wansborough, too, Qur’an would have emerged in a centuries long process. Egyptian professor Abu Zeid, teaching in a Netherlands university, is said to be among his followers, according Wikipedia. If such is the case, this kind of opinions will gain unassailable status among the Dutch. However, the words by a refugee from a country with questionable governance need not necessarily be true. Nevertheless: on first hearing one might think: plausible, if it weren’t that quite a lot of Qur’anic contend differs from Biblical text and this alone makes such statement hard to believe.
Mulder shows his true colors when we see the evidence he produces for his theory. What is it that he says? ‘Luxenberg and Wansbrough are supported by archeology. Israeli archeologists Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren investigated religious writings on buildings. It appears that more than a century after Muhammad died, according to biographers, that the official inscriptions are clearly Islamic ones. The writing of ordinary people in caves follow this development some forty years later.’ We call such writings graffiti. These two published their conclusions in the book ‘Crossroads to Islam’. What must those inscriptions prove? For a starter, that Muhammad hasn’t existed. The Caliphs, however, have existed and fabricated a carefully orchestrated publicity campaign where the name ‘Muhammad’ was introduced. A lengthy text in Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock was its first proof, say Nevo and Koren; at that time the slogan ‘Praiseworthy is God’s Messenger’ was introduced. Trouw readers are familiar with the paper’s view that the name Muhammad is not the Prophet’s own first name, but an honorary title meaning ‘praiseworthy’. Mulder goes a step further by adding, not hindered by any academic standards such as proof, that the rest of the text in the Dome ‘further writes about Jesus only’. We may wonder why. Based on other articles from his hand, this seems unlikely. Nevo and Koren, too, call this inscription in the Dome of the Rock a ‘good summary of Jewish-Christian religion’. As long as we confine ourselves to these generals, nothing can be said to discredit that, Qur’an itself confirms that ‘this Scripture was brought as a confirmation of the previous one’. Open door kicked open, but no proof of Muhammad’s non-existence. Nevo and Koren said further that the East-Roman empire gladly and voluntarily surrendered its possessions in the Middle East to the Arabs, which enabled them to build the Dome of the Rock. It wasn’t until later that the Arabs were expelled by the East-Roman Empire towards Syria, whence they could pass on their Bible knowledge to the Arabs.
The truth, however, is that not one single archeological finding, nor any literature from that era, is able to prove a fabricated marketing tool in the sense of a ‘product Prophet Muhammad’. This much Trouw cannot but, and does, admit. More so: the found cave writings and paintings seem to confirm that an Islamic presence has been present in the Negev Desert just after the Prophet’s death. As ahadith already state, when they narrate the conquests made under the four righteous Caliphs.
Eildert Mulder's article appeared in Dutch newspaper Trouw, on 12 April 2006. Apparently, it's
not available anymore. However, Mulder has written a book on the subject, called 'De omstreden bronnen van de Islam', 'The questionable sources of Islam', may be available at GoodReads.com.
Professor Abu Zeid is deceased now.
Stuff like this, inspired me to start a blog on Islam, a few years ago. It disappoints me, why westerners have such hard time reading the Qur'an's contents objectively, without cultural and local coloring, and without competitive edge. I've read several westerners claiming, that Islam is a rewrite of the Bible or of Persian and Greek philosophy. They think, that Qur'an is no renewal at all. I've tried to compare Qur'anic texts with other ancient texts; a lengthy task, that is by no means finished yet. It may take me several more years of interesting read, of which the outcome isn't pre-set.