Historicity of Muhammadsa

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

Muhammadsa, the Prophet of Islam, (570-632) was the most notable historical figure of 7th Century Arabia.

While some have questioned the Prophet'ssa very existence, the consensus among the majority of authoritative academics and historians - including non-Muslims - is that Muhammadsa certainly did exist.



Earliest Islamic Sources


The Quran

The Quran contains the revelations Muhammadsa claimed to have received from God. These regular refer to historical events from the Prophet's life and mention him by name on occasion. The Quran, which dates to Muhammad'ssa own life, is believed by Muslims to have been perfectly preserved and to provide entirely accurate and reliable historical details. Moreover, Muslims argue the history of the Quran must be entirely truthful as were Muhammadsa falsifying facts from his own era he would have been exposed among his contemporary followers.

Early works on Fiqh

Works on fiqh - attempting to interpret correct Islamic practices in accordance with the teachings of Muhammadsa - from the earliest decades of Islamic history are in existence today. The most notable of these works is the Muwatta by Imam Malik, who was born in the Prophet'ssa city of Medina 79 years after Muhammad'ssa death. Malik was therefore able to collect quotes attributed to Muhammadsa directly from the generation that followed him in Medina.

Ahadith

Main article: Ahadith

Ahadith - or sayings attributed to Muhammadsa - began to be widely and consciously collected in written formats by Muslim historians within two centuries of the advent of Islam. Most Muslims view the collection of Bukhari to be the most authentic of these early efforts. Unlike the Quran, Muslims do not consider other sources infallible.On many occasions, the collectors of ahadith would cite two different versions of the same event specifically to acknowledge the exact details were disputed. Nonetheless, works on ahadith were carefully investigated and edited by the early Muslim historians due to their important theological status and therefore are considered generally reliable.

Tafsir

Early Muslim scholars wrote Tafsir commentaries of the Quran adding detailed explanations of the historical events it referenced. Perhaps the most notable is the work written by Al Tabari, who was born approximately 200 years after Muhammadsa era.

Tarikh/Sirah

Sirah were biographies of Muhammadsa, while works on Tarikh more generally recorded early Islamic history. These documents are considered far less reliable than ahadith by Muslim scholars. Whereas ahadith were carefully investigated due to their use in theology and legal rulings, Tarikh and Sirah were far more liberally compiled and contained a greater proportion of dubious traditions. The earliest biography still in existence today was written by ibn Hisham within 200 years of the Prophet'ssa life and was in itself based on an earlier biography by ibn Ishaq. Meanwhile a more general history of the region was prepared by Al Tabari in the decades following ibn Hisham's work.
 

Earliest non-Muslim Sources


Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati [Teaching of Jacob]

A Byzantine document dating to within two years of Muhammad'ssa life records a discussion between Christians and Jews, which states: "a deceiving prophet has appeared amid the [Arabs]"

Thomas Presbyter manuscript

A manuscript dating to within the first few decades of Muhammad'ssa life, written by Christian historian Thomas Presbyter, can be found in the British library. Presbyter writes how in the year 634 "there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Muhammad in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled."

A History of Heraclius

Written within 30 years of Muhammadsa by Armenian Christian historian Sebeos, A History of Heraclius records: "A man of the sons of Ishmael named Muhammad, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and Muhammad taught them to recognise the God of Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. Because the command had come from on High, he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith. Abandoning the reverence of vain things, they turned toward the living God, who had appeared to their father- Abraham. Muhammad legislated that they were not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsehoods, and not to commit adultery."


Physical Evidence


Oldest manuscripts of the Quran

Parchments of the Quran dating to within the life of Muhammadsa were discovered by the University of Birmingham in 2015. Notably, the text was as we have it today confirming the Islamic belief that the Quran remains an unchanged and reliable record of the revelations received by the Prophetsa. Other texts and quotes from the Quran within a few decades of his life have also been found.

PERF 558 document

A document, known as 'PERF 558' has been discovered in Egypt and dates to within 12 years of Muhammad'ssa life. The text includes the first verse of the Quran as well as references to the Quranic concept of Zakat  and, indirectly, to the migration of the Prophetsa through use of the date "22 years after the migration".

Zuhayr Inscription

An inscription found in Arabia, relatively near where Muhammadsa lived, has been found which dates to within 14 years of his life, quotes the first verse of the Quran, refers to the death of the Prophet'ssa companion Umar.

Coins

Coins bearing the Kalima, or declaration of Islamic faith, including Muhammad'ssa name have been dated to the 680s and 690s - approximately half a century from the era within which he lived.

Disputed artifacts

A number of artifacts said to have belonged to Muhammadsa exist, although their authenticity is disputed. These include a letter, signed by the Prophet'ssa hand-print, to St Catherine's Monastery. They also include his seal, a letter he wrote to a nearby ruler and various personal possessions.