A Muslim scholar in Germany has ques­tioned the valid­ity of the exis­tence of Mohammed. Muhammad Sven Kalisch lumps the alleged recip­i­ent of the recita­tion in the same cat­e­gory with Jesus, Abraham et. al., to which can prob­a­bly be added Siddhartha Gautama:

He told the [Toronto] Star in a recent phone inter­view that his research leads him to believe that the three great monothe­is­tic reli­gions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have myth­i­cal origins.

I like the hedg­ing — prob­a­bly myth­i­cal. There may after all be some fac­tual truth to the Finger of YHVH scrib­ing the Decalogue into lit­eral stone tablets; or a res­ur­rec­tion; or Gabriel turn­ing a ran­dom Arab into a kind of per­sonal sec­re­tary to celes­tial mid­dle man­age­ment.1

Though to be fair, there’s no rea­son to believe Mohammed (and the oth­ers) did not exist. It’s just the super­hu­man attrib­utes given to them that we have every rea­son to doubt. Nonetheless the Muslim world is react­ing with its typ­i­cal, mea­sured and intellectually-​​balanced response:2

A spokesper­son for the [German Muslim cen­tral] coun­cil, Ali Kizilkaya, has said if the Prophet Muhammad didn’t exist then the Qur’an doesn’t exist.

Which is not even slightly bom­bas­tic. What’s being impugned here, of course, is not the exis­tence of the Koran, but rather its divine author­ship or inspi­ra­tion, and even then only from the most lit­eral per­spec­tive. You don’t have to believe in Gabriel or Mohammed to believe, for instance, in a Deistic agent, one whose nature can be appre­ci­ated through all aspects of exis­tence (since, in one way or another, all aspects of exis­tence would derive ulti­mately from that entity).

But rather than mar­vel in silent awe at the beauty of a flower, the typ­i­cal fun­da­men­tal­ist response is to become furi­ous when ver­ba­tim translit­er­a­tion is in any way chal­lenged. Cue the reduc­tio ad absur­dum:

This would mean that we would have to abol­ish the reli­gion alto­gether,” Kizilkaya said.

Given the way fun­da­men­tal­ism in gen­eral chooses to express itself, maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Though I’d hate to limit the abo­li­tion of reli­gion to Islam alone.

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1. Yeah. Right.
2. Ibid.

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