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.
1. Yeah. Right.
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