Was Muhammad Illiterate?

  The Islamic sources tell us that, when Muhammad was asked to do miracles to prove that God had indeed sent him, he could not do any. Muhammad said it was because Allah had only sent him as a "Warner," meaning that all he had the power to do was to speak the message of his god. 

  But it seems that not all of his followers were content with having a prophet who had no miracles to his name, and so they decided to somewhat embellish his story. They claim that Muhammad was illiterate, unable to either read or write, and that therefore the Quran itself was the miracle that Allah had given Muhammad.

  This poses a few problems for the Muslims who make this claim.

  First, it contradicts their own god's words in his Quran claiming that Muhammad was only a Warner and not a miracle worker. (Quran 29:50, 7:188, 13:7)

  Second, some scholars say the Arabic word, "ummi," which had originally been translated as "illiterate" is better translated as "one who has no book," or "a people to whom no book has ever been given." 

  Other scholars say the word simply means "unschooled," in reference to one who has received no formal religious training.

  And lastly, the Islamic sources themselves prove that Muhammad could read and write. Citations are listed below. Italics are ours.

  From Sahih Bukhari:
  Narrated Anas bin Malik:
  Once the Prophet wrote a letter or had an idea of writing a letter. The Prophet was told that they (rulers) would not read letters unless they were sealed. So the Prophet got a silver ring made with "Muhammad Allah's Apostle" engraved on it. As if I were just observing its white glitter in the hand of the Prophet… (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 65)
  Narrated 'Ursa:
  The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with 'Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88)
  Narrated 'Ubaidullah bin 'Abdullah:
  Ibn 'Abbas said, "When the ailment of the Prophet became worse, he said, 'Bring for me (writing) paper and I will write for you a statement after which you will not go astray.' But 'Umar said, 'The Prophet is seriously ill, and we have got Allah's Book with us and that is sufficient for us.' But the companions of the Prophet differed about this and there was a hue and cry. On that the Prophet said to them, 'Go away (and leave me alone). It is not right that you should quarrel in front of me." Ibn 'Abbas came out saying, "It was most unfortunate (a great disaster) that Allah's Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 114)
  From Sahih Muslim:
  Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: When Allah's Apostle was on his death-bed and in the house there were some people among whom was 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, the prophet said, "Come, let me write for you a statement after which you will not go astray." 'Umar said, "The prophet is seriously ill and you have the Qur'an; so the Book of Allah is enough for us." The people present in the house differed and quarrelled. Some said "Go near so that the prophet may write for you a statement after which you will not go astray," while the others said as Umar said. When they caused a hue and cry before the prophet, Allah's Apostle said, "Go away!" Narrated 'Ubaidullah: Ibn 'Abbas used to say, "It was very unfortunate that Allah's Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Hadith Number 573)

  Abu Laila 'Abdullah b. 'Abd al-Rahman b. Sahl reported that the elderly persons of (the tribe) had informed Sahl b. Abu Hathma that 'Abdullah b. Sahl and Muhayyisa went out to Khaibar under some distress which had afflicted them. Muhayyisa came and informed that Abdutlah b. Sahl had been killed, and (his dead body) had been thrown in a well or in a ditch. He came to the Jews and said: By Allah, it is you who have killed him. They said: By Allah, we have not killed him. He then came to his people, and made mention of that to them. Then came he and his brother Huwayyisa, and he was older than he, and 'Abd al-Rahman b. Sahl. Then Muhayyisa went to speak, and it was he who had accompanied ('Abdullah) to Khaibar, whereupon Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said to Muhayyisa: Observe greatness of the great (he meant the seniority of age). Then Huwayyisa spoke and then Muhayyisa also spoke. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (pbuh)  said: They should either pay blood-wit for your companion, or be prepared for war. Allah's Messenger (pbuh) wrote about it to them (to the Jews). They wrote: Verily, by Allah, we have not killed him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said to Huwayyisa and Muhayyisa and Abd al-Rahman: Are you prepared to take oath in order to entitle yourselves for the blood-wit of your companion? They said: No. He (the Holy prophet) said: Then the Jews will take oath (of their innocence). They said: They are not Muslims. Allah's Messenger (pbuh), however, himself paid the blood-wit to them and sent to them one hundred camels until they entered into their houses, Sahl said: One red she-camel among them kicked me. (Sahih Muslim, Book 16, Hadith 4126)
  It has been narrated on the authority of Anas that the prophet of Allah (pbuh) wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome), Negus (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) despot inviting them to Allah, the Exalted. And this Negus was not the one for whom the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had said the funeral prayers. (Sahih Muslim, Book 19, Hadith 4382)
  From Sunan Abu Dawud:
  Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: 
  Sa'id said: Umar ibn al-Khattab said: Blood-money is meant for the clan of the slain, and she will not inherit from the blood-money of her husband. Ad-Dahhak ibn Sufyan said: The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) wrote to me that I should give a share to the wife of Ashyam ad-Dubabi from the blood-money of her husband. So Umar withdrew his opinion. Ahmad ibn Salih said: AbdurRazzaq transmitted this tradition to us from Ma'mar, from az-Zuhri on the authority of Sa'id. In this version he said: The prophet (pbuh) made him governor over the bedouins. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 18, Hadith 2921) 
  Narrated Mujja'ah ibn Mirarah al-Yamani:
   Mujja'ah went to the prophet (pbuh) asking him for the blood-money of his brother whom Banu Sadus from Banu Dhuhl had killed. The prophet (pbuh) said: Had I appointed blood-money for a polytheist, I should have appointed it for your brother. But I shall give you compensation for him. So the prophet (pbuh) wrote (a document) for him that he should be given a hundred camels which were to be acquired from the fifth taken from the polytheists of Banu Dhuhl. So he took a part of them, for Banu Dhuhl embraced Islam. He then asked AbuBakr for them later on, and brought to him the document of the prophet (pbuh). So AbuBakr wrote for him that he should be given one thousand two hundred sa's from the sadaqah of al-Yamamah; four thousand (sa's) of wheat, four thousand (sa's) of barley, and four thousand (sa's) of dates. The text of the document written by the prophet (pbuh) for Mujja'ah was as follows: "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This document is from Muhammad, the prophet, to Mujja'ah ibn Mirarah of Banu Sulma. I have given him one hundred camels from the first fifth acquired from the polytheist of Banu Dhuhl as a compensation for his brother." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Hadith 2984) 
  Narrated Yazid ibn Abdullah:
   We were at Mirbad. A man with dishevelled hair and holding a piece of red skin in his hand came. We said: You appear to be a bedouin. He said: Yes. We said: Give us this piece of skin in your hand. He then gave it to us and we read it. It contained the text: "From Muhammad, Apostle of Allah (pbuh) to Banu Zuhayr ibn Uqaysh. If you bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, offer prayer, pay zakat, pay the fifth from the booty, and the portion of the prophet (pbuh) and his special portion (safi), you will be under by the protection of Allah and His Apostle." We then asked: Who wrote this document for you? He replied: The Apostle of Allah (pbuh). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Hadith 2993)
  Narrated Amir ibn Shahr:
  When the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) appeared as a prophet, Hamdan said to me: Will you go to this man and negotiate (pbuh) for us (with him)? If you accept something, we shall accept it, and if you disapprove of something, we shall disapprove of it. I said: Yes. So I proceeded until I came to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) I liked his motive and my people embraced Islam. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) wrote the document for Umayr Dhu Marran. He also sent Malik ibn Murarah ar-Rahawi to all the (people of) Yemen. So Akk Dhu Khaywan embraced Islam. Akk was told: Go to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) and obtain his protection for your town and property. He therefore came (to him) and the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) wrote a document for him: "In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, to Akk Dhu Khaywan. If he is true his land, property and slave, he has the security and the protection of Allah, and Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah. Written by Khalid ibn Sa'id ibn al-'As." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Hadith 3021)
  Narrated Muslim ibn al-Harith ibn Muslim at-Tamimi:
  A similar tradition (to No. 5061) has been transmitted by Muslim ibn al-Harith ibn Muslim at-Tamimi on the authority of his father from the prophet (pbuh) hrough a different chain of narrators, up to "protection from it". But this version says: "before speaking to anyone". In this version Ali ibn Sahl said that his father told him. Ali and Ibn al-Musaffa said: The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) sent us on an expedition. When we reached the place of attack, I galloped my horse and outstripped my companions, and the people of that locality received me with a great noise. I said to them: Say "There is no god but Allah," and you will be protected. They said this. My companions blamed me, saying: You deprived us of the booty. When we came to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh), they told him what I had done. So he called me, appreciating what I had done, and said: Allah has recorded for you so and so (a reward) for every man of them. AbdurRahman said: I forgot the reward. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) then said: I shall write a will for you after me. He did this and stamped it, and gave it to me, saying....He then mentioned the rest of the tradition to the same effect. Ibn al-Musaffa said: I heard al-Harith ibn Muslim ibn al-Harith at-Tamimi transmitting it from his father. (pbuh)(Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Hadith 5062)
  Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
   The prophet (pbuh) wrote a letter to Heraclius: "From Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, to Hiraql (Heraclius), Chief of the Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance." Ibn Yahya reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that AbuSufyan said to him: We then came to see Hiraql (Heraclius) who seated us before him. He then called for the letter from the Apostle of Allah (pbuh). Its contents were: "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, from Muhammad the Apostle of Allah, to Hiraql, chief of Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance. To proceed." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Hadith 5117)

  Sadly, in their desire to make their prophet appear more competitive  with the miracle-working prophets of the Bible, these Muslims have concocted another fable which is easily disproved. This only further weakens their claims that their religion comes from the One True God, Who despises lies and fabrications.


The Lord hates six things;
in fact, seven are detestable to Him:

arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that plots wicked schemes,
feet eager to run to evil,

a lying witness who gives false testimony,

and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.
 Proverbs 6:16-19 


Jesus is Lord!  

  See also:

    Is Muhammad Only A Warner or a Prophet/Messenger? by Sam Shamoun


    http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/only_warner.html 




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