I have been listening to a podcast, called "The History of Byzantium" and in one of the episodes there was a discussion about the lack of reference to Mohammad or Qur'an in the century after his death, and Muslims were referred as Ishmailets, Saracens, etc. but never any reference to the prophet. It sounded like the Caliphate from Damascus somehow created an image of Mohammad. After that period, an Islam that is more similar to our days' version emerges, with references to its prophet, and the holy text.

I haven't been able to find any sources on this discussion, what I have been able to find is a link to this book, which I haven't read yet; http://www.amazon.com/Did-Muhammad-Exist-Inquiry-Obscure/dp/161017061X

Can someone give a modern historic outlook of beginnings of Islam, and the existence of its prophet? Also please correct if there are any mistakes in this text.

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    You've addressed most of my original comment, but I think the answer is uncontrovertably "yes". Every historical figure that existed and most which haven't, have been transformed by history and mythology. George Washington never cut down a cherry tree. Marie Antoinette never said "let them eat cake". They existed, but they probably wouldn't recognize the figures which have been constructed around their names. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 22 '16 at 15:13
  • The Prophet Muhammad died in 632. The first major confrontation between Arab and Byzantine forces took place in 634. – Lucian Apr 11 at 23:41

Your question touches on the problem how one would prove any historical fact when there is no living (and credible) witness or modern forensic analysis. Look at the sources, consider who wrote them, consider who would benefit from forging them, consider if multiple different sources give a coherent explanation.

  • There seem to be fragmented non-Islamic sources from the 7th century AD.
  • Naming differences are easily explained by exonyms and endonyms. The fact that the western chroniclers got the name wrong early on is only to be expected. (Consider that the French call the Germans Alemanni while the Slavic languages simply call them Nemec, mute ...)

The preponderance of evidence seems to show that Mohammed did exist. I'd call it about as strong as the evidence for Jesus. What Mohammed did, what he wrote and what he taught is another matter, where faith enters the question.

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    I'd say the evidence for the existence of Mohammed is in fact far stronger than for the existence of Jesus. Christianity was an underground cult for its first century or two. Islam started on its wave of military conquest during Mohammed's lifetime, which continued with little interruption (other than the still-ongoing argument over whether Abu Bakr or Ali was his rightful heir) for many centuries. – jamesqf Feb 21 '16 at 20:18
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    " as strong as the evidence for Jesus" doesn't say much.. – Greg Feb 23 '16 at 4:33
  • How can you compare the existence of 2 people who live 600 years apart? You should compare 2 people of the same time era. – illinoistim Mar 11 '16 at 2:26

Well it seems likely that he existed if that's what you mean to ask.

When you say "give a modern historic outlook and the existence of the prophet" what do you mean? Wikipedia has a large number of sources https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad

I certainly don't think that somebody simply made him up if that's what you mean to imply. If you wish to read about the early days of Islam (i.e Mohammad's life) it would seem you would be well served by following the sources in the Wikipedia article. It seems that there were lots of reference amongst the Byzantines, Jews and the Europeans to Mohammad and Islam in general.

I am no expert on the subject, but given the impact he had on the Middle East (prosecuting war in the Middle East, siring children etc.) I would say his existence was far more established than that that of, say, Jesus of Nazareth.

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  • How can you compare the existence of 2 people who live 600 years apart? You should compare 2 people of the same time era. – illinoistim Mar 11 '16 at 2:23
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    It's really very simple. By examining sources (or the lack thereof). This question isn't about comparing the two, it's about citing historical evidence for the existence of one. There are very, very few historical records of Jesus of Nazareth and almost all are after his death. Your statement seems to misunderstand the scope of the question. Just a hunch, but are you a Christian? – Anaryl Mar 11 '16 at 17:21

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