Life of Muhammad - how such bad logic passes?

I am not sure if this the right forum. Mods please free to move it to GD or wherever depending on how it evolves.

I came upon this website and was reading the biography of Mohammed, the Prophet and the founder of Islam.

What I am going to write or the questions that I have, are not any form of criticism of the religion of Islam. I am only curious as to why something so obviously illogical did not, and does not even now, stimulate the sense of rationality and logic that a normal man is expected to posses.

I also hope that, since it is only a biography, an account of his life, and not a revelation like the Koran, I am safe to assume that the standard defense of ‘it is not possible to comprehend the true meaning because a lot of what is written is *allegorical’ * does not apply.

After reading the biography, and with the given assumption that Mohammed is supposedly a prophet and a messenger, it is reasonable to conclude that he was someone specifically chosen by God to deliver his message.

Following are some odd and illogical things I found that I feel should appear as just that to any mind functioning normally. I say this because I am sure that if the exact same events were to happen to some person today, they would appear illogical and ridiculous, and not worth a shred credibility.

God waited until Mohammed was 40 before deciding to let the latter know that he was the one who had been chosen to receive the revelations and be the messenger to all mankind. Huh? If the purpose is to save mankind, isn’t the concept of ASAP applicable?

Mohammed received his first revelation when he was 40, and then there was nothing for the next three years. What happened? Why would God decide to suddenly take that long a holiday before resuming where he left off?

The biography says that the Prophet “started by preaching his mission secretly first among his intimate friends, then among the members of his own tribe…” .

Now, if I was in Muhammad’s position, and I was convinced that the revelations to me were from Allah himself, the creator of the world, the all powerful, why would I not go public with his messages straightaway? If I am doing someone’s bidding, working as commanded by him and secure in the knowledge that the person whose command I am executing is all powerful and protection is thus guaranteed, why would I be afraid? The only reason perhaps would be if I was not absolutely sure and lacked the actual confidence that I will be protected. But then, why would the one whose command I am obeying not provide adequate protection to me, especially when he can?

The verses of the Koran were not revealed to Mohammed all at once but it happened over an extended period of time. I can understand that it was too voluminous to expect it to be done in one sitting - though I have read the translation of the Koran and I am sure I could do it in one sitting if I wanted and would take me a day perhaps. It also adds that “the Quran was not revealed all at once, but in fragments as occasions arose.”

Assuming both God and Muhammed had somewhat busy schedules and were a little pressed for time, I would have understood if it was said that it took God and Muhammad a week, a month or even a couple of months to complete the transfer of the contents of a book. But years? Several years? And that too on occasions?? Why would God give revelations about how mankind is supposed to live so intermittently, and also have them relate to occasions or events happening in some particular person’s life? What bearing or relevance do instructions on subjects like how to live life, social norms and laws, description of how the earth and the universe was created etc. etc have with occasions or events happening in my personal life? By what stretch of logic do I tie them together?

I will not discuss the rest of it although it is replete with similar fallacies. Also, it seems that God in the case of Islam did not help Mohammed with a single miracle. Although there maybe just as many events defying logic in the case of Christianity and Judaism but there are at least a few occasions where we can see God trying to help his messenger, be it Abraham, Moses or Jesus by performing miracles. Not that I am in anyway hinting that either of these religions or the stories behind them are any more convincing, but one could somewhat believe that it was easier to mislead folks 2000 years by miracles than it is now. But here in the case of Islam, even that element is absent.

The question is therefore, how do the Muslims answer such questions? Or is it that their religious faith is so great that they are blind to such glaring contradictions of logic?

I can see, perhaps, being puzzled by the events you read, but I see no indication that any of them are fallacies. Waiting until a man is 40 to announce his prophetic mission? So what? Perhaps Mohammed needed to have reached a mature position in life to accept and understand the mission. Waiting three years between the first and second revelation? Again, there could be the matter of allowing a maturation process to take effect. (We are not talking about whether words could be imparted to the man that he would rationally understand, but that the message he was to proclaim had to be understood by the man in the context of his life and his surroundings.) Preaching secretly to his friends? Again, a matter of finding a receptive audience who could comprehend the message. (And, given the hostility that the message incurred once it was proclaimewd openly, it would make sense that one (man or God) would want the first adherents to be quite secure in their beliefs before setting them out to make the proclamation.)

I am not in any way claiming that I believe the narrative of God’s revelation to The Prophet, but your arguments are little more than projections of your own beliefs onto a different set of circumstances as you challenge those claims from your own perspective.

They could be silly and invented, but they are not actually illogical as you have posted them.

The late start and long wait may seem illogical, but that’s hardly unique to Islam.

  • Moses was a full adult (I don’t know if we know the exact age) when he received his calling.

  • Jesus seems to have had some inkling of his divine mission as a young man, but didn’t start actively teaching until he was 30. By that time he had been AWOL, as far as the NT shows, for 17 years. Was he working as a carpenter? Who knows?

  • Joseph Smith received his first vision at 14 but did basically nothing, and told practically nobody, for the next four years.

Every religion requires a “great leap of faith” to swallow something that sounds very unlikely (what Philip Roth described as “beliefs that would embarrass a gorilla”). Compared to a Great Flood, a virgin birth, and sacred, must-be-believed Gospels that describe the same events with crucial, irreconcilable differences, the life of Muhammad sounds downright logical.

According to the Bible, Moses was over 40 before God revealed himself to him, Jesus was 30 before he started a public ministry. I don’t see the age being particularly relevent. If you think waiting until Muhammad was 40 was waiting too long, why don’t you think God waiting until the mid 600’s as being too long? Certainly he could have given all that info to save mankind at the beginning of time.

The bible was written over a period of something like 1000 years, the various Hindu sacred texts also have taken centuries to write and you’re taking the Koran to task for taking a few years?

If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that Mohammed waited until he was 40 to “anounce his prophetic mission”. My question was why God had to wait until Mohammed was 40 before deciding to give his revelations and set him off on his mission? You also say

The generally accepted age of man to reach maturity is well before that. And what mission are we talking of here? As far as I have been able to make out, Mohammed was spoken to by Gibral, and the role of Mohammed was nothing more than to simply recite the words. Mohammed was not expected to analyze or in any other way alter or massage the words in any manner whatsoever. Nothing was to be done to the revelations that required any faculties dependent on maturity. By his own definition, Mohammed was only a medium, and nothing more. I find it hard to see what difference it would make if the same set of rules were anounced even if the medium is of an age less than 40.

Does that imply that at the time of the first revelation, God thought Mohammed was mature but then realized his mistake and waited for another three years. Being God shouldn’t he have known better?

This is what I do not understand. The message is coming from God. God is the creator of the universe and is all powerful. God gives the message to Mohammed and Mohammed is expected to convey it to the people. And yet when Mohammed does exactly that, the same God does nothing to help Mohammed when people turn hostile? How does that make sense?

My post is in no way an attempt to compare the events in the life of the messengers of Judaism and Christianity, except on the point where while the other messengers were helped by God by way of miracles, no such thing happened with Mohammed, although the latter claims that Allah is the same as the God of the prophets before him. I agree that the events in the Old and New Testament are just as incomprehensible.

Again, as I have said I have not made an attempt at comparison. The events in the Bible are just as illogical but that does not make events in the life of Mohammed “downright logical”.

You were already given one possibility- maturity. There could me many other logical reasons such as the timing of other events.

Really? I’m 39 and I find myself more mature and wise then I did when I was 30 and when I was 30 was much more mature then when I was 20. I’d like to hope I haven’t maxed out and will still be even more mature at 50. I still laugh out loud at farts.

Maybe God wanted him to analyze His words so he could better explain their meanings or repeat them with more conviction? Maybe no one would have followed the words of someone who was only 20 and had not yet obtained some level of trust and prestige in the community? There are so many possible logical answers that there is nothing inherently illogical about the chronology of supposed miracles.

No. I believe it implies Muhammad could have been ready for certain revelations and not yet ready for others for a multitude of possible logical reasons.

Perhaps Mohammed at thirty wouldn’t have wanted to be a prophet, and would have ignored God’s revelation. Perhaps the people around him weren’t ready for the revelations, and would have ignored him. If you look at the history of Islam (or almost any other charismatic religion) there’s a seemingly endless confluence of events and conincidences by which the religion could have failed, if things went a little differently. If one presumes that there is a legitimate divine origin behind Mohammed’s revelations, it’s no great stretch to assume that God gave out his revelations at the precise times and places where the message would be best received and disseminated.

As another poster pointed out, maturity isn’t an either/or kind of thing. At one point in his life, Mohammed was mature enough for one particular revelation. Three years later, having further matured, he was ready for the next revelation.

To what extent is the concept of free will important in Islamic theology? In most Christian traditions, it’s vital that the individual accept God of his own choice. I don’t know how much of this carries over to Islam, though.

Allah moves in mysterious ways.

Seriously, why bother trying to apply logic to a religion; even a supposedly historical account of one? If you apply historical evidence to the life of Jesus you don’t get much.

There have been many Islamic theologians who have argued the toss about this stuff over the years. Maybe there’s a certain advantage to the current majority ethos of Islam, that the Koran is the inerrant word of Allah, and to doubt it is to commit blasphemy. Christianity at least has the majority of adherents not actually believing this about the Bible, but when you do get Christian sects that do, you end up with angels dancing on the head of a pin, and Intelligent Design, attempting to fit the world to the illogic.

Why apply your logic to a (mythical) god?

You do know that according to many Hindus, the undersea ridge between Sri Lanka and India was actually built by an army of supernatural monkeys? Seriously.

See, this is exactly the sort of thing that could get me to attend church.

That and priests who are required to spend 6 hours a day in the gym and celebrate the rites nude?

I’m not sure that the concept of timeliness is particularly applicable. If you accept that God’s word is revealed to people at some point, then the selection of that point might well seem arbitrary. Why didn’t Mohammed receive revelations a day earlier? Why not a week? Why didn’t he spring forth from the womb fully in posession of God’s wisdom? For that matter, why wait for Mohammed? Why not some guy who lived earlier?

A particular time of revelation is only illogical if you don’t think we can ever learn anything new from God.

You can go a long time between schizophrenic episodes.

I’m a full-on Nicene Christian who believes that from conception onward, Jesus was the Creator God in the flesh & it baffles me that He didn’t seem to do anything till age 30… so I can let these issues slide in Mohammed’s life.

Marrying the nine-year-old girl, not so much.

Unfortunately almost all the responses my op have tended to assume that since there are similar illogical developments in the biographies of the prophets of the other religions, there is no point questioning the events in that of the prophet of Islam. Perhaps I was not good enough to frame my question in a proper manner.

The point I am trying to make is that in the legends of the other prophets, there are at least a few incidents where God is shown as helping the prophet by way of miracles to convince his audience who is also witness to the miracle being performed. All I am saying is that it is plausible to understand that in the face of miracles it is possible that logic may take a back seat in the minds of the people. Inconsistencies and fallacies are rendered insignificant and the questioning mind usually silenced when it witnesses miracles purportedly performed and attributed to God. One is then likely to close his mind to rationality and accept anything and everything as the will of God.

However in the case of Mohammed, he was not provided with any miracles that anyone other than him could witness. The few places where it is possibly referenced, like his trip to Heaven and the angels fighting with the army of Mohammad, had only Mohammad himself to vouch for it. In the case of Jesus for example, besides the claim he made that he was God, he also buttressed it by doing things that a common man found miraculous. The not-as-critical mind of such a person can quite likely get impressed and close itself to inconsistencies. We see such things happening even today. You can find people claiming extraordinary powers and these people also manage to generate a good number of followers. But one thing common with all of them is that regardless of what means they employ, crooked or otherwise, they provide at least superficial evidence to the common person that attests to whatever extraordinary power they claim to posses, thereby achieving some measure of success in convincing the audience that they are comparatively closer to God.

In the case of Muhammed however, there was no such incident or event. How come then, the population in general went along with whatever he claimed without his giving any evidence in support of what he was claiming. Yes, it is true that initially people did not believe him. But then later they did? Why? What made them change their mind in the absence of any evidence at all, even superficial or fabricated?


In fact, at the wedding at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that the wedding host is out of wine, he lightly rebukes her by saying “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.”

As for keeping your message private, Jesus sends out his disciples with the message “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” In another instance, a Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed child asks Jesus for help. Jesus tells her that he was only sent to to sheep of Israel and not to pagans like herself, going so far as to call her a dog (metaphorically). She says that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table and Jesus heals her child. But it’s obvious that Jesus’s focus is the Jewish people, despite his statements that no one will enter Heaven except through him.

I don’t really understand your complaint, here. No one who converted to Christianity ever witnessed Christ do a miracle, either, because there’s no such things as miracles. As an atheist, I don’t see any meaningful difference between, “I did a miracle that no one saw, so believe me!” and “Some people that you’ve never met saw me do a miracle, so believe me!”

I’m an agnostic bordering on atheist. However, you’ll rarely find me attacking the philosophical or theological underpinnings of Christianity on here. The practices of some groups of Christians, yes, but not the general platform of Christianity.

That said, from my observation post over here in Godlessland, it seems kind of silly to cavil at the illogic of one religion’s history while giving the illogic in another’s a pass. I can understand it happening, given that that other religion is pretty intertwined with our Western culture and history and so seems fairly commonplace and “normal” to us, but it’s still kind of silly.

That wasn’t the point you were making at all. Your point was pretty well addressed bu several posters and now you’re making a new one. I think Miller did a pretty good job addressing this one in three sentences.