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Summary of 10.5 "Source of the Quran IV - Epilepsy: Unscientific Explanation"

In the second, third and fourth programs in this series the main question was to examine who the author of the Quran was.  The first three programs in that particular program focused mainly on the issue of deliberate fabrication and whether the Prophet might have deliberately claimed that the Quran was from Allah while he was the author of it. In the fifth program we started to analyze the position of those who could not help to admit his truthfulness while still trying to reconcile with the rejection of the Quran as divine revelation by seeking some kind of psychic explanation.  The last program mainly covered the issue of epilepsy and whether it had anything to do with the revelation of the Quran.  To approach that question we first started by summarizing the information that we have historically about the state of the Prophet when he received revelation and then we went to the authorities in psychiatry to examine the nature of epilepsy, how it is defined, what the various types of epilepsy.  By examining them we have seen that their symptoms are quite inconsistent and not really related in any essential way to the experience of the Prophet during the state of revelation.  The Quran after all is in our hands and if anyone thinks this is a result of an epileptic seizure let them read the Quran.  People with epilepsy would not utter such kind of wisdom and like I said before if this is the product of epilepsy then we can do with allot more people like that.  Maybe that is why comparatively this painting of Prophet Muhammad as an epileptic person, while it still persists in some writings seems to be less prominent than it did in the past.


10.6     Source of the Quran V - Religious Illusions

Host:  Can you explain the idea of visions and how it relates to the explanation of the source of the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

This is another attempt to reconcile admitting that the person is truthful and sincere but at the same time claiming that what he said came from himself.  The basic notion is that they say that a person who is deeply religious may go through certain religious or spiritual experiences or have visions in which he may think that his own thoughts come from a different source.  So they would not deliberately lying or changing a person may sincerely think that these ideas actually came to them from an outside source.  The classical example that some people give is the story of Joan of Arc.  It is very strange between that and the revelation of the Quran.  It is just like saying that the elephant and the trees are the same because both of them have trunks.


Host: Could you tell us about John of Arc and how the connection is made in relation to the revelation of the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

Joan of Arc as described by historians was a pious and deeply religious young girl who was also as staunch nationalist.  France at that time, fifteenth century, was under the domination and rule of the British.  This girl loved her country so much that she really wanted to liberate her country from this foreign domination.  she tried all means to seek all kind of help in order to mobilize and motivate her people to gain their independence, part of which was seeking the help of the government.  In this kind of charged atmosphere and nationalism she began to be convinced that she is destined to lead her people towards liberation.  This is why we find that she spoke about voices and visions that she claimed came to her.  This claim was very enthusiastically accepted by her people who were very prone to these things.  They become very staunch followers of Joan of Arch which lead to their victory in Lorraine in 1429.  It is interesting to discuss the story of Joan of Arc but totally inexcusable to make an analogy between Joan of Arc and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  We are comparing it here to a limited phenomena, visions, which could happen in man cases other than the story of Joan of Arc.

This was something that was quite limited and had to do with leading the nation for a specific purpose as liberation at that time, an attitude which was enforced by religiosity and deep faith and piety of an individual on one hand and the revelation given to the Prophets which is a much more comprehensive reformation that was not intended for one purpose or for certain circumstances but something which is lasting with comprehensive coverage of areas of belief, moral behavior, total outline for a social system and sometimes economics and political systems like in the case of Islam.  These are really things that changed the history of humanity in a very fundamental way, accompanied by stunning miracles and could not be challenged by skeptics and lead most of them to believe in those Prophets.  We are talking about revelation given to the Prophets followed upon hundreds of millions of people over hundreds of years and to compare that with a limited phenomena is definitely something that is not very relevant.  I was quite amused that in a new encyclopedia called the New Catholic Encyclopedia that they just make this connection automatically as if it is a matter of course between Joan of Arch and the revelation of the Quran which is lacking in substance.


Host:  What is the gist of this theory and how it applies to Prophet Mohammad?

Jamal Badawi:

One of the proponents of this theory is a person that people view to be a much better writer about Islam, in being reasonably fair and less bias than many writers who preceded him, but again he falls into the same problem of not going far enough as to admit the divine revelation of the Quran.  This writer was Emit Birmingham in his book The Live of Muhammad.  His basic theory is that, others follow the same way of thinking, the kind of sincerity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) might have lead him to reject the kind of corruption, lack of belief in God or this kind of paganism that was rampant among his people because of his pure nature and sincerity through his own internal light which allowed him to see that these things were wrong.  He had a pure innate nature and he did not participate in the mode of worship that his people did.  He continues to say that he may have thought and contemplated about the need and hope that his people would improve and that they would come to God in their moral behavior and that they would be guided to the truth.  Prophet Muhammad might have heard things about the belief of the Jews and Christians and he did not accept their way of explaining the creator and divinity.

He says that you may have heard about the Prophet that was prophesied to come about that time and in some cases that the prophecies said he would come form that area.  He said that these thoughts and ideas might have gone into his mind and kept jelling in his subconscious until as, Tore Andre another writer put it until he convinced himself that he would be the reformer or Prophet of that time.  This kind of conviction lead him to have an illusion of voices speaking to him or visual illusions of people talking to him that he thought were angels. and whatever he thought of in his subconscious came out and he sincerely thought this was revelation from Allah which took the form of the Quran.  We find Birmingham presenting this theory in a very lovely and romantic way: the Prophet used to go to the cave in the mountain, he look at the silence of the night and the sparkling stars and soft light of the moon along with the expanse of sand, in many cases they talk about waves which were very far away, with a very romantic picture in the silence of the night thinking and contemplating the creation, destiny of mankind and the ideas kept coming into his mind.  It is a romantic and beautiful presentation but in terms of meeting scholarly rigger is another thing all together.


Host:  What reasoning could you put forward that this explanation is in fact incorrect and would not stand the test of good scholarship?

Jamal Badawi:

One can say that a person is under an illusion for a specific period of time, months a couple of years and one could say that whatever the person says under this state of illusion may be a product of his own thinking and subconscious.  The point that is forgotten in this theory is that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) continued his message for a period of 23 years and consistently reported the same thing throughout this period.  He uttered the Quran in front of everyone else and they kept record of that.  To say that for 23 years he was convincing himself that the Quran came from an outside source given what we know about his personality and wisdom doesn’t make sense.  These sort of visions which are only a product of the subconscious would have to be related to the individual’s own experience.  If it came from his subconscious then it came basically from his knowledge, experience and environment.  As such it reflects his own thinking.

When we examine the Quran we will find that there is amble evidence of things in the Quran that could have never emanated from the Prophet’s mind whether conscious or sub conscious.  This includes the fact that certain historical things were mentioned in the Quran from the past that were not known to the Prophet or to the people around him.  We can not say that this came from the subconscious; it was specific concrete knowledge of what happened in the past.  In the Quran there is information about future events that are so clear and vivid which came to pass in the exact way that the Quran mentioned; how could that come from the subconscious.  Third, there are many indications in the Quran that the nature of what is in the Quran could not have come from the mind or thoughts of the Prophet.  Fourthly, from a purely scientific standpoint we will find that there are so many things in the Quran that scientists discovered hundreds of years after the Prophet and it was not known at his time.  Again how could he have had that infinite knowledge?  How could these things come from his subconscious, his limited experience and knowledge let alone the fact that he was an illiterate person in an environment that was not advanced in any science?


Host:  How does information about past history in the Quran show that Prophet Muhammad could not have been the author of the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

The Quran mentions many stories about things that have happened all the way from the time of creation.  More particularly there are lots of stories about the Prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad.  Not all of these stories are identical to what we find in previous scriptures like the Bible.  It is well known that history is specific knowledge and is not something that emanates because of insight it is specific information based on something that actually took place in the past.  It can not come from the subconscious.  The only way it comes is through the person learning it.  Like they say one can’t have their cake and eat it too.  If one is assuming that he learned this history from previous sources or read it (even though he did not know how to read or write but for the sake of argument) and that he knew this information from another source and claimed that it came from God which would delve into deliberate fabrication which we discussed amply in the previous programs.  So we either assume that or that it came from his subconscious.  Again this is illogical because the subconscious doesn’t tell one what happened in history.

Some might say that some of the stories of the Prophets were known in general and that he may have had them in the back of his mind.  We find that there are amazing things in the Quran that show that it is very meticulous and that it did not come by way of general familiarity.  For example the story of the seven sleepers, Ahl Al Kahf as described in chapter 18 in the Quran.  Not only does it mention this story but it says that they stayed in the cave for 300 years plus nine.  This is put in such a strange way.  Why did it not say 309 years but rather 300 years which is increased by nine.

If we keep in mind that the Muslims and Arabs used the lunar calendar which is 11 days shorter than the solar year.  If we multiply 11 days by 300 years and divide it by 365 we end up with nine years.  This was revealed to people who did not know about calculations and as we know the Prophet said “We are illiterate people.”  For this meticulous expression to be mentioned in the Quran we can not say one can not say that it was just a general familiarity.  This is just one example.  There is stronger evidence: in the Quran a challenge was made which was not meat by anyone Muslim or non Muslim.  In (11:49) after the Quran describes some stories of the Prophets it says “Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous.”  If this statement in the Quran were not true then somebody no I am an Arab like you and I knew these stories, but not a single person even from those who wanted to stop the rise of Islam couldn’t raise objections and say that they knew the information.  Nor could any outsiders say that they were familiar with the stories.  A challenge was made and it is a fact that people in fact did not know about these stories.  Where did the Prophet get this information?  Again the subconscious is a very poor explanation of such meticulous and detailed cases of precise information.  Similar citations can be found in (12:3) and in chapter 19 about the story of Mary the Mother of Jesus where we find the mention that the information is new and neither the Prophet nor the any of the people have any knowledge of it.  This is why one scholar of the Quran ended by saying that some of the opponents of the Prophet were smarter than some of the contemporary critics because they were intelligent enough not to say that he got his information from his subconscious but they made another accusation found in (25:5) that they were stories he must have gotten from other sources.  Again they could not reply to the question that these stories were not known to anyone in the area, so where did he get the information from?


Host:  Can you give us a few examples of the Prophecies in the Quran that could not have come from the subconscious of the Prophet?

Jamal Badawi:

All of these are characterized with definitiveness.  They are not things that may happen but they are things that had been decided.  None of the Prophecies in the Quran proved to be false and it has been 1400 years after the Quran was revealed.  Many people can say that there are astrologers and lots of people who make prophecies that come true but nobody can say that without any fault after 1400 years that there wasn’t a single flaw in any of there people’s prophecies.  After all the Prophet was neither an astrologer or someone who claimed any other way of obtaining information except what had been revealed to him directly from God.  Some of these prophecies relate to a definite statement in the Quran that Islam would be preserved, protected, its Prophet will be protected and its Book will be protected from loss or change and all of these have proven to be correct.  A statement can be found in (14:24). (15:9), (61:6) and many others.  Many of these revelations came to the Prophet in the Meccan period.  This is quite significant because during this period the Prophet and his companions were under severe persecution and they only had a handful of followers and mostly the weak and downtrodden people.

At that time there was no way that one could predict or prophecies that they would succeed.  We know that there were many Prophets and reformers who came under circumstances where everything was in favore of their success and then something happens suddenly that stopped their message.  How could anyone during the Meccan period under these very adverse conditions predict with precision and definitiveness that these things would happen.  After the fact in the history of  Islam there have been many tragedies, with lots of bloodshed, Muslims murdered in thousands and tens of thousands, their books were burned, copies of the Quran were burned and trampled upon, billions of dollars were spent to try to confuse the message of Islam or present it differently.

Despite all of it Islam continued to grow and it is the fastest spreading religion today both among people who are illiterate and people who are highly literate.  Again how could anyone from 1400 years ago make this definitive prophecy.  For example in (2:24) a challenge was made that even if mankind, Jinn and sea creatures came together to create something to imitate the Quran they won’t be able to do it.  We are now 1400 years later and no body claims to have something even similar let alone identical.  In (5:67) there is a definite promise that God will protect the Prophet and as we said before that was not necessarily the case with all Prophets as some were killed.  It was clearly indicated in the Quran that he would be protected and that is why in Al Tirmithi and Al Hakim it says that when this verse was revealed that God would protect him from the people-the Prophet let those who were guarding him go.  There were many instances during history where the Prophet’s life was at stake and he was very cool and comfortable because he knew of the promise of God would be fulfilled and that no one would be able to kill him.

During the most dangerous of moments he would shout: “I am the Prophet, there is no lie about it.”  This is narrated in Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad.  There are prophecies about the general destiny of the believing group and the disbelieving group.  For example there is the famous verse in the Quran that God has made a promise to those who believe and do good deeds that He will establish their religion for them and that he will give them power to rule on earth.  When Muslims were true to their faith more than half of the world was under their rule and Muslims had a civilization which was quite unique in its humanitarian orientation as well as its great scientific progress.  In Surah 48 there is mention of the treaty of Hidibiah which is a promise that was made under the most adverse conditions.  None of the prophecies that the Quran speaks of has proven to be untrue even after the passage of 1400 years.  I don’t think that one can reasonably say that all of these are a result of wishful thinking or the so called subconscious.

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