Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Taking Out Islam At Its Roots: Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) not Historical



Damien F. Mackey



Scholars have long pointed out the historical problems associated with the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the history of Islam, with some going even so far as to cast doubt upon Mohammed’s actual existence. Biblico-historical events, normally separated the one from the other by many centuries, are re-cast as contemporaneous in the Islamic texts. Muslim author, Ahmed Osman, has waxed so bold as to squeeze, into the one Egyptian dynasty, the Eighteenth, persons supposed to span more than one and a half millennia.


Now, as I intend to demonstrate in this article, biblico-historical events that occurred during the neo-Assyrian era of the C8th BC, and then later on, in the Persian era, have found their way into the biography of Mohammed supposedly of the C7th AD.         




Whilst I have long held the belief that the Prophet Mohammed was actually of Old Testament biblical origins, a BC time Israelite mysteriously projected into AD time, I have had the greatest difficulty in pinning him down to a specific character or to a specific biblical period. I better realise now that there is a good reason for this. Mohammed is a composite of a number of major biblical characters, spanning a succession of eras, but masterfully woven by Islam into the one credible figure – were it not for those shocking historical anomalies. Credible, yes, yet also incredible. The Prophet Mohammed is a larger than life figure, inspiring, magnificent, whilst being enormously complex.

He is also highly controversial. One has only to browse the website, Answering Islam (http://www.answering-islam.org/index.html), to discover this. Colourful articles such as:


William DiPuccio investigates Islam and Extremism: What is Underneath.

Silas rebuts an article by David Liepert published by the Huffington Post: Muhammad, Child brides, and David Liepert. Various articles on the nature and attributes of Allah: The Great Divorce: Allah and His Attributes and Allah’s Hands: More Than A Handful of Evidence by Anthony Rogers, Allah – the Best of the Inheritors? and Allah – the Heir? by Jochen Katz. Rebuttals to Bassam Zawadi: (1) Did Muhammad Contemplate Suicide?, (2) A Dawagandist Tacitly Accuses His Prophet of Being a Liar.

Did You Know That Muhammad Was A Misogynist? Did Abraham Build the Kaaba?


But my pressing interest in this article is not whether or not Mohammed was a paedophile, or had bad breath, told lies, was an epileptic, or delusional. No, what fascinates me is the historical problem. And there are others out there who have confronted this issue, from popular writers such as author Robert Spencer, founder of the major website Jihad Watch, who recently published a book with the provocative title Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins (ISI Books, March 2012),



to some genuine scholarly efforts. The Foreword to Spencer’s book, for instance, as the blurb informs us (http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/fjordman/unmasking-muhammads-dubious):


… was written by the eminent scholar Johannes J. G. (Hans) Jansen, an Arabist and a Professor of Modern Islamic thought at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands until his retirement in 2008. Among his other accomplishments, he has translated the Koran into Dutch. Jansen points out that what sparse information and physical evidence we do have does not seem to confirm the traditional Islamic accounts of the sixth and seventh centuries.

In fact, archaeological findings contradict the traditional picture. Only further archaeological work in present-day Arabia and Greater Syria can shed more light on these issues. In Saudi Arabia, such excavations are forbidden, and Wahhabi hardliners have actively destroyed some sites. Furthermore, the religious authorities may not be interested in bringing to light findings that might contradict their religious views or undermine Saudi Arabia’s central status in Islam.

As Jansen states, “An Iraqi scholar, Ibn Ishaq (c. 760), wrote a book that is the basis of all biographies of Muhammad. No biographical sketches of Muhammad exist that do not depend on Ibn Ishaq. If an analysis of Ibn Ishaq’s book establishes that for whatever reason it cannot be seen as an historical source, all knowledge we possess about Muhammad evaporates. When Ibn Ishaq’s much-quoted and popular book turns out to be nothing but pious fiction, we will have to accept that it is not likely we will ever discover the truth about Muhammad.”

Moreover, a fully developed Arabic script did not yet exist at the time when the Koran was supposedly collected for the first time, which further introduces substantial sources of error. The Koran itself was probably far less stable and collected much later than Muslims believe.

Finally, the hadith collections which elaborate upon the personal example of Muhammad were developed many generations after the alleged events of his life had taken place, and are considered partially unreliable even by Muslims. It is likely that a great deal of this material was fabricated outright in a process of political and cultural struggle long after the first conquests.

[End of quote]


Spencer does not claim to be an original scholar in these matters, but credits such individuals as Ignaz Goldziher, Theodor Nöldeke, Arthur Jeffery, Henri Lammens, Alphonse Mingana, Joseph Schacht, Aloys Sprenger and Julius Wellhausen, as well as more recent researchers such as Suliman Bashear, Patricia Crone, Volker Popp, Yehuda Nevo, Michael Cook, Ibn Warraq, Judith Koren, Ibn Rawandi, Günter Lüling, David S. Powers and John Wansbrough. And we continue reading here:


Several contemporary critical scholars — Christoph Luxenberg, for example — have been forced to write under pseudonyms due to persistent threats against their lives. This virtually never happened to scholars in Christian Europe who critically examined the Bible or the historical Jesus during the nineteenth century, but it happens frequently to those who question Islam and its traditions.

One might suspect that the main reason why many Muslims often tend to react with extreme aggression against anyone questioning their religion is because it was originally built on shaky foundations and could collapse if it is subjected to closer scrutiny.

Non-Muslim chroniclers writing at the time of the early Arabian conquests made no mention of the Koran, Islam or Muslims, and scant mention of Muhammad. The Arab conquerors themselves didn’t refer to the Koran during the first decades, quite possibly because it did not then exist in a recognizable form.

Modern scholars like Patricia Crone have questioned whether Mecca as an important trading city and center of pilgrimage truly existed by the year 600 [AD], as Islamic sources claim. Its location makes no sense if it was supposed to be located on the trade routes between the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Europe. No non-Muslim historian mentions it in any accounts of trade from the sixth or seventh centuries. Given the centrality of Mecca in traditional history, this casts the entire canonical story of the origins of Islam into doubt.

[End of quote]


On this issue of Mecca, J. Toler has asked the question: “Did Abraham Build the Kaaba?” (http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/toler/abraham_kaaba.html):


… Why did the Kaaba play a central role in Muhammad’s fantasies? While no historical facts support his claims, Muslims are seldom deterred. Islam is built upon the notion that Abraham was not only a Muslim [Q. 2:31] but that he was selected by Allah to build the Kaaba in Mecca [Q. 2:125-127], and that while doing so he established the rituals and beliefs which are the cornerstones of Islamic worship. The pagan origins and practices of the Kaaba will not be discussed here, only the patriarchal journeys and the Islamic corruption of the Bible’s texts. Muslims claim that Mecca and the Kaaba are the centers of worship for the entire world. Christians and Jews know that it is Jerusalem, where lays the chief cornerstone of Yahweh's kingdom [Psalm 102:16; I Peter 2:6]. The City of David [Zion] is mentioned nearly 50 times in the Bible as the home of God's people [Isaiah 10:24] and where the hosts will reign [Isaiah 24:23]. Are Muslims going to tell us that these references are corruptions in the texts and that Mecca was the intended city the whole time? Hardly even remotely plausible.

The Kaaba in Mecca is without equal in veneration in Islamic tradition, and had been revered by Arab pagans long before Muhammad’s birth. The Muslim religion holds that the Kaaba was built by Abraham and Ishmael after hearing a direct revelation from Allah. This seems improbable. After all, once Allah guides a people on the right course and provides a mode of conduct for worship through a chosen Prophet, Allah does not then lead them astray into confusion or an inability to see the right course [Q. 9:115]. How is it then that such a man as Abraham would be sent to Mecca to deliver the people from polytheism and build the Kaaba only to later have them fall into apostasy and disbelief, needing yet another prophet in the 7th century A.D.? Abraham being in Mecca is just not consistent with important Islamic doctrines, and a myth. For example, in Q. 2:125 the Kaaba is being purified [Ar. 'tahara'], yet in Q. 2:127 the foundation are still being raised [Ar. Rafa'a]. Depending on the traditions being reviewed, the Kaaba was built by Allah or maybe Adam or possibly Abraham. But, is it true? ….


[End of quote]


Returning again to the Spencer article, we read about the problems associated with the original language:


The Koran claims to be written in clear Arabic, but even educated Arabs find parts of it hard to understand. The German philologist Gerd R. Puin, whose pioneering work is quoted by Ibn Warraq in What the Koran Really Says, states that up to a fifth of it is just incomprehensible.

Perhaps one of the reasons why the Koran stresses its Arabic nature may be, ironically, that portions of it were not originally written in Arabic at all, but in related Semitic languages.

Christoph Luxenberg has suggested that some sections of it were originally written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic that had long been used as a literary language in much of the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent. He demonstrates convincingly that certain puzzling Koranic verses make more sense if you read them in Syriac. The virgins that brave Muslim men are supposed to enjoy in Paradise (Koran 44:51-57, 52:17-24, 56:27-40) may not be virgins at all, but rather white raisins, or perhaps grapes. Yes, fruit.

It’s possible that some of these Christian Syriac texts were written by a heretical group that rejected the Trinity of mainstream Christianity. It’s certainly true that a few Koranic chapters as we know them are somewhat more tolerant than others, but if we believe this non-traditional reading of history, some of them were based on pre-existing Jewish or Christian texts.

[End of quote]


Much of them, I should argue along similar lines, were based on the Old and New Testament!

I think that Spencer really gets close to hitting the nail on the head when he arrives at the conclusion that the Prophet Mohammed was, in fact, “a semi-legendary figure … whose exploits were greatly elaborated upon by later generations” - though my qualification of what he argues would be that this “semi-legendary figure” was based on real historical individuals, and not on figures as historically vague as the ones that Spencer will now propose:


In the final section of the book, Spencer sums up the findings to date. He suggests that Muhammad may have existed as a semi-legendary figure, comparable to Robin Hood, King Arthur or William Tell, whose exploits were greatly elaborated upon by later generations. Yet the traditional account of him as Islam’s founder is riddled with gaps and inconsistencies.

The Arab conquerors may have known some vague monotheism partly inspired by Christians and Jews, but in the generations and centuries after the conquests they abandoned this and developed a more militant creed that came to function as a vehicle for Arab nationalism and imperialism. Perhaps the conquests shaped Islam more than Islam shaped the conquests.

But if someone more or less invented Muhammad, wouldn’t they want to invent a more sympathetic character than the very ruthless and brutal man we see emerge from the traditional accounts? Possibly yes, but as Spencer comments, the Arabs of this age may have thought that such a ruthless character was an inspiration for conquest and empire-building.

[End of quote]


Most surprising of all is the conclusion of Muslim convert, Muhammad Sven Kalisch, Germany's first professor of Islamic theology, that ‘Mohammed probably never existed’ (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122669909279629451):


…. Muhammad Sven Kalisch … fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn't like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.

So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Theology Without Muhammad

Read a translated excerpt from "Islamic Theology Without the Historic Muhammad -- Comments on the Challenges of the Historical-Critical Method for Islamic Thinking" by Professor Kalisch.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn't portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises.

"We had no idea he would have ideas like this," says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at Münster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. "I'm a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I'm not a Muslim."

When Prof. Kalisch took up his theology chair four years ago, he was seen as proof that modern Western scholarship and Islamic ways can mingle -- and counter the influence of radical preachers in Germany. He was put in charge of a new program at Münster, one of Germany's oldest and most respected universities, to train teachers in state schools to teach Muslim pupils about their faith.

Muslim leaders cheered and joined an advisory board at his Center for Religious Studies. Politicians hailed the appointment as a sign of Germany's readiness to absorb some three million Muslims into mainstream society. But, says Andreas Pinkwart, a minister responsible for higher education in this north German region, "the results are disappointing."

Prof. Kalisch, who insists he's still a Muslim, says he knew he would get in trouble but wanted to subject Islam to the same scrutiny as Christianity and Judaism. German scholars of the 19th century, he notes, were among the first to raise questions about the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Many scholars of Islam question the accuracy of ancient sources on Muhammad's life. The earliest biography, of which no copies survive, dated from roughly a century after the generally accepted year of his death, 632, and is known only by references to it in much later texts. But only a few scholars have doubted Muhammad's existence. Most say his life is better documented than that of Jesus.

Muhammad Sven Kalish

Muhammad Sven Kalish


"Of course Muhammad existed," says Tilman Nagel, a scholar in Göttingen and author of a new book, "Muhammad: Life and Legend." The Prophet differed from the flawless figure of Islamic tradition, Prof. Nagel says, but "it is quite astonishing to say that thousands and thousands of pages about him were all forged" and there was no such person.

All the same, Prof. Nagel has signed a petition in support of Prof. Kalisch, who has faced blistering criticism from Muslim groups and some secular German academics. "We are in Europe," Prof. Nagel says. "Education is about thinking, not just learning by heart."

Prof. Kalisch's religious studies center recently removed a sign and erased its address from its Web site. The professor, a burly 42-year-old, says he has received no specific threats but has been denounced as apostate, a capital offense in some readings of Islam.

"Maybe people are speculating that some idiot will come and cut off my head," he said during an interview in his study.

A few minutes later, an assistant arrived in a panic to say a suspicious-looking digital clock had been found lying in the hallway. Police, called to the scene, declared the clock harmless.

A convert to Islam at age 15, Prof. Kalisch says he was drawn to the faith because it seemed more rational than others. He embraced a branch of Shiite Islam noted for its skeptical bent. After working briefly as a lawyer, he began work in 2001 on a postdoctoral thesis in Islamic law in Hamburg, to go through the elaborate process required to become a professor in Germany.

The Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. that year appalled Mr. Kalisch but didn't dent his devotion. Indeed, after he arrived at Münster University in 2004, he struck some as too conservative. Sami Alrabaa, a scholar at a nearby college, recalls attending a lecture by Prof. Kalisch and being upset by his doctrinaire defense of Islamic law, known as Sharia.

In private, he was moving in a different direction. He devoured works questioning the existence of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Then "I said to myself: You've dealt with Christianity and Judaism but what about your own religion? Can you take it for granted that Muhammad existed?"

He had no doubts at first, but slowly they emerged. He was struck, he says, by the fact that the first coins bearing Muhammad's name did not appear until the late 7th century -- six decades after the religion did.

He traded ideas with some scholars in Saarbrücken who in recent years have been pushing the idea of Muhammad's nonexistence. They claim that "Muhammad" wasn't the name of a person but a title, and that Islam began as a Christian heresy.

Prof. Kalisch didn't buy all of this. Contributing last year to a book on Islam, he weighed the odds and called Muhammad's existence "more probable than not." By early this year, though, his thinking had shifted. "The more I read, the historical person at the root of the whole thing became more and more improbable," he says.

He has doubts, too, about the Quran. "God doesn't write books," Prof. Kalisch says.


[End of quote]



Some Shocking Anomalies in Islamic History


Whilst one could point to many of these, I just want to mention a few that have struck me as being particularly incredible and bold. Taking these in chronological order - that is, in a proper chronological order - they are:


  1. Mecca’s Ka'aba, so vital to Islam, built by Abraham; 
  2. Egypt’s Vizier Hemiunu identified by some as Haman of the story of Queen Esther;
  3. 'Abraha ('Abrahas) attacks Mecca in year of Mohammed’s birth (to be explained);
  4. Nehemiah as a contemporary of Mohammed.


  1. Mecca.


Archaeological evidence suggests that the city of Mecca is late, and certainly could not have been relevant to the time of Abram (Abraham). A study from Dr. Rafat Amari (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3ABakkah) shows that there is no historical record penned before the 4th century AD, that suggests that Mecca ever existed before that time, while other ancient Arabian towns are well attested in the historical record.[11] In another study, Dr. Rafat Amari found that no pre-4th century historical or archaeological record that suggests that the Kaaba existed before the early 5th century.[13]

‘Mecca’, as the centre of worship, at the centre of the world, of the nations (cf. Ezekiel 5:5), can only have been, originally, Jerusalem; the name Mecca having been derived from the Arabic Muqa (Mecca) in Bayt al-Muqaddas, referring to “Jerusalem”. For as quoted above: “Muslims claim that Mecca and the Kaaba are the centers of worship for the entire world. Christians and Jews know that it is Jerusalem, where lays the chief cornerstone of Yahweh's kingdom [Psalm 102:16; I Peter 2:6]”. The original Ka'aba, or “Cube”, could only have been the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies “was a perfect cube” (http://the-tabernacle-place.com/articles/what_is_the_tabernacle/tabernacle_holy_of):


Within the Holy Place of the tabernacle, there was an inner room called the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. Judging from its name, we can see that it was a most sacred room, a place no ordinary person could enter. It was God’s special dwelling place in the midst of His people. During the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness, God appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was a perfect cube — its length, width and height were all equal to 15 feet.


[End of quote]


Now, whilst Abraham himself never visited Mecca, he certainly did visit the site of the Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah, with his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:2).

Not surprisingly, the story of this famous incident occurs also in the Qur'an, but differently told. There even appears to be disagreement amongst Islamic scholars as to which son of Abraham was intended for the sacrifice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_of_Isaac):


Among early Muslim scholars, however, there was a dispute over the identity of the son.[12] The argument of those early scholars who believed it was Isaac rather than Ishmael (notably Ibn Ḳutayba, and al-Ṭabarī) was that "God's perfecting his mercy on Abraham and Isaac" referred to his making Abraham his friend, and to his rescuing Isaac. On the contrary, the other parties held that the promise to Sarah was of a son, Isaac, and a grandson, Jacob,[13] excluded the possibility of a premature death of Isaac.[12]


[End of quote]


(b) Haman.


Also quite outlandish are certain attempts to merge the Vizier of Old Kingdom Egypt, Hemiunu, with Haman of the Persian era. Though this preposterous situation seems to be quite consistent with Islam’s worrying lack of any historical perspective (as more recently typified by the efforts of Ahmed Osman), ranking with this absurdity associated with Mary the mother of Jesus (http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Menj/sister_of_aaron.htm):


The Quran confuses Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, with Miriam the sister of Moses. The Quran identifies Mary as the sister of Aaron, the daughter of Imran, whose mother was the wife of Imran:


When the wife of Imran said, 'Lord, I have vowed to Thee, in dedication, what is within my womb. Receive Thou this from me; Thou hearest, and knowest.' And when she gave birth to her she said, 'Lord, I have given birth to her, a female.' (And God knew very well what she had given birth to; the male is not as the female.) 'And I have named her Mary, and commend her to Thee with her seed, to protect them from the accursed Satan.' S. 3:35-36 Arberry


Then she brought the child to her folk carrying him; and they said, 'Mary, thou hast surely committed a monstrous thing! Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother a woman unchaste.' S. 19:27-28


And Mary, Imran's daughter, who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books, and became one of the obedient. S. 66:12


Compare this to what the Holy Bible says:


"Then Mary (Hebrew- Mariam), the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand…" Exodus 15:20


"The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam." Numbers 26:49


"The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar." 1 Chronicles 6:3


"For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Micah 6:4

[End of quote]


History well knows that Hemiunu was the famous Vizier of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty, and possibly even the architect of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Conventional history would date Hemiunu to c. 2500 BC - but, according to my revision of Egyptian history, this would be about a millennium too early. See e.g. my:


Moses - May be Staring Revisionists Right in the Face



And, whether or not I am right in my identifying of Haman with king Jehoiachin (Coniah) “the Captive”, of Judah (based on Jewish legends that Haman was in fact a Jew):


The Wicked Haman Un-Masked?



I am entirely confident, at least, that this estimate of mine is at least a millennium closer to the correct era of Haman than is the version put forward by Islamic Awareness, that would locate the evil Haman to old pharaonic Egypt. J. Katz tells of this in “The Haman Hoax” (http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/katz/haman/app_hammon_hemiunu.html):


The psychology of Islamic Awareness: It may be probable that it is somebody else?


Just how much the IA-authors are groping in the dark can be seen in one little formulation in one of their footnotes. Before they turn to their “substantiation” and promotion of Bucaille’s claims, they present this introductory paragraph:


Haman is mentioned six times in the Qur'an: Surah 28, verses 6, 8 and 38; Surah 29, verse 39; and Surah 40, verses 24 and 36. The above ayahs portray Haman as someone close to Pharaoh, who was also in charge of building projects, otherwise the Pharaoh would have directed someone else. So, who is Haman? It appears that no commentator of the Qur'an has dealt with this question on a thorough hieroglyphic basis. As previously mentioned, many authors have suggested that "Haman" in the Qur'an is reference to Haman, a counsellor of Ahasuerus who was an enemy of the Jews. Meanwhile others have been searching for consonances with the name of the Egyptian god "Amun."[58]


There would not be much to comment on in this paragraph, were it not for the fact that they added the following footnote to their last sentence:


[58] Syed suggests that "Haman" is a title of a person not his name, just as Pharaoh was a title and not a proper personal name. Syed proposes that the title "Haman" referred to the "high priest of Amun". Amun is also known as "Hammon" and both are normal pronunciations of the same name. Syed's identification of Haman as "the high priest of Amun" may be probable. See S. M. Syed, "Historicity Of Haman As Mentioned In The Qur'an", The Islamic Quarterly, 1980, Volume 24, No. 1 and 2, pp. 52-53; Also see a slightly modified article by him published four years later: S. M. Syed, "Haman In The Light Of The Qur'an", Hamdard Islamicus, 1984, Volume 7, No. 4, pp. 86-87. (Source; bold emphasis mine)1


On one hand, they seem to discount the suggestion of connecting the name Haman with the god Amun since that is something that was only done by “others”, and they do not come back to this idea in their article. On the other hand, they write in their footnote that this “identification of Haman as ‘the high priest of Amun’ may be probable”. What is that supposed to mean? Is it probable or is it not probable? And if this identification is probable, does that mean that Bucaille’s claims are then improbable? Why then do they dedicate most of the space in their article to propagating Bucaille’s claims? After all, two contradictory answers cannot both be probable at the same time. In normal language, “probable” means that it has a probability that is higher than 50%. And that means that all other potential solutions have a probability that is less than 50%. Despite the fact that they expanded this footnote when they revised their paper, this nonsensical formulation stayed the same.


After Islamic Awareness argued their case for the Bucaille-ian Haman, they then write:


It is also interesting to note that there also existed a similar sounding name called Hemon[71] (or Hemiunu / Hemionu[72] as he is also known as), a vizier to King Khnum-Khufu who is widely considered to be the architect of Khnum-Khufu's the Great Pyramid at Giza. He lived in the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom Period (c. 2700 - 2190 BCE).


It remains unclear, however, why Islamic Awareness considers this interesting. Do they seriously consider him a candidate for the quranic Haman, or do they not? If not, why would they introduce him in their article? Somehow, it seems to be an implicit suggestion of Hemiunu as a candidate for Haman – particularly since there are indeed a number of Muslims who are seriously propagating Hemiunu as the Haman of the Qur’an!2 In any case, we will take a closer look at Hemiunu shortly.


So, all in all, Islamic Awareness offers the world three Hamans: (a) the high-priest of Amun (a speculative construct and mere hypothesis, no evidence is provided in their article, not connected to a specific date or person), (b) “hmn-h, the overseer of the stone-quarry workers of Amun” (19th or 20th dynasty, roughly 1300-1100 BC), and (c) Hemiunu the vizier of Khufu (4th dynasty, ca. 2570 BC). First the Muslims had the problem that there was no Haman in Egypt, contrary to the claims of the Qur’an, and now we have the opposite problem that there are too many.


Why is that a problem? Because adding more and more “potential Hamans” to the discussion also means that the probability for each one of these to be the right one is decreasing. ….

[End of quote]


(c) 'Abraha ('Abrahas)


This is the one that really grabbed my attention. It is chronologically important because it is (unlike (a) and (b)) dated contemporaneously with Mohammed. In fact, it is dated to the very year of his birth, supposedly c. 570 AD. It is the account of a potentate’s march on Mecca, with the intention of destroying the Ka'aba. The whole thing, however, is entirely fictional, though it is based upon a real event: namely, the famous march upon Jerusalem by the forces of king Sennacherib of Assyria (c. 700 BC). The reference to “elephants” is irrelevant (or irrelephant) in the neo-Assyrian era.

As noted in (a), Mecca and Ka'aba ought to be re-read, in the context of Mohammed, as, respectively, Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies.

The legendary account is as follows (http://www.dacb.org/stories/ethiopia/_abraha.html):


'Abraha (Ge'ez: 'Abreha) also known as 'Abraha al-Asram or Abraha b. as-Saba'h, was an Aksumite Christian ruler of Yemen.


A number of legends of popular origin have been woven around 'Abraha's name in Arab tradition which have not yet been substantiated. Of these traditions, the best-known concern the expedition against Mecca. At this period Mecca was the thriving center of the pagan cult of the Ka'aba and the pilgrim traffic was in the hands of the powerful Qurays family. Fired with Christian zeal, 'Abraha set out to build a magnificent church at Sana'a to serve as a counter-attraction to the surrounding pagan peoples. This aroused the hostility of the Qurays who feared that the pilgrim traffic with its lucrative offerings would be diverted to Sana'a. It is sometimes said that one of their adherents succeeded in defiling the church and this led 'Abraha to embark upon a campaign against Mecca. This event is associated in Islamic tradition with the year of the Prophet's birth, c. 570 A.D. 'Abraha is said to have used elephants in the campaign and the date is celebrated as the Year of the Elephant, 'am al fil.' An indirect reference to the event is found in Surah 105 of the Quran. 'Abraha's expedition probably failed due to the successful delaying tactics of the Qurays and pestilence broke out in the camp, which decimated his army and forced him to withdraw. Another tradition relates the expedition to an unsuccessful economic mission to the Qurays by 'Abraha's son.


No reliable information exists about the date of 'Abraha's death although tradition places it immediately after his expedition to Mecca. He was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons, Yaksum and Masruq, born to him by Raihäna, a Yemenite noblewoman whom 'Abraha had abducted from her husband.

[End of quote]


This is just one of many later versions, more or less accurate, of the invasion of Israel by the almost 200,000-strong army of Sennacherib. E.g., Sirach refers to it accurately in 14:18-25, as did Judas Maccabeus in 2 Maccabees 8:19. Herodotus managed to mangle it and re-locate it to Pelusium in Egypt (http://www.varchive.org/tac/lastcamp.htm):


Herodotus (II. 141) relates this event and gives a version he heard from the Egyptians when he visited their land two and a half centuries after it happened. When Sennacherib invaded Pelusium, the priest-king Sethos went with a weak army to defend the frontier. In a single night hordes of field mice overran the Assyrian camp, devoured quivers, bowstrings and shield handles, and put the Assyrian army to flight. Another version was given by Berosus, the Chaldean priest of the third century before the present era.  


[End of quote]


“Pestilence”, or was it “field mice”? Actually, it was neither. The real story can be read in the Hebrew Book of Judith, a simplified account of which I have provided in my article:


“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”.



As with the story of Mohammed, this wonderful victory for ancient Israel has been projected into AD time, now with the (possibly Jewish) heroine, “Gudit” (read Judith), defeating the Aksumites [Axumites] (read Assyrians), the Axumites being the same nation as 'Abraha’s  (http://www.africaspeaks.com/reasoning/index.php?topic=1103.0;wap2):  


Historian J.A. Rogers in the early 1900s identified Gudit as one in the
same with a black Hebrew Queen named Esther and associated her with the
"Falasha" Jewish dynasty that reigned from 950 to 1260AD. Many Falashas
today proudly claim her as one of their own.

Yet it is of dispute that Gudit was of the Jewish faith. And many in
fact believe she probably adhered to indigenous African-Ethiopian based
religion, hence her seemingly strong resentment towards a then
encroaching Judeo-Christian Axum.

Whatever her origins or real name, Gudit's conquering of Axum put an end
to that nation-state's reign of power. Her attack came so swift and
efficiently, that the Axumite forces were scattered in her army's wake.

[End of quote]


That sounds like the culmination of the Book of Judith!

There may be some true glimpses of Sennacherib in the account of the invasion by the forces of 'Abraha. It was actually Sennacherib’s son (the “Nadin” above) who was killed by Judith, and we read above: “Another tradition relates the expedition to an unsuccessful economic mission … by 'Abraha's son”. And, as Sennacherib died shortly after his army’s demise, so: “No reliable information exists about the date of 'Abraha's death although tradition places it immediately after his expedition to Mecca”. And Sennacherib’s death occurred at the hands of two of his sons, whilst: “['Abraha] was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons …”. (http://www.the-faith.com/featured/abrahas-elephant-destruction-kabah/)

Moreover, Sennacherib had formerly sent up to Jerusalem his official, Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:2): “Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem”. Similarly: “From Al-Maghmas [Michmash?], Abraha sent a man named Al-Aswad ibn Maqsud to the forefront of his army”. Now, the sarcastic Rabshakeh had taunted the officials of king Hezekiah with these words (v. 8): Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them!’ In a dim reflection of this powerful incident, whilst reversing it, we find 'Abraha’s man saying: “I have come to the House that is your religion and the religion of your fathers and that is your sanctuary and protection – for the purpose of destroying it. You do not speak to me about that, yet you speak to me about (a meager) 200 camels that belong to you!” 2000 horses reduced to a tenth and becoming 200 camels.


In a further connection with Assyria, with Nineveh, Mohammed is said to have encountered a young Christian from that famous city. One wonders, therefore, if Mohammed ought to be re-dated closer to c. 612 BC (when Nineveh was irrevocably destroyed), or, say (for symmetry), to c. 612 AD.


The Christian servant 'Addas was greatly impressed by these words and said: "These are words which people in this land do not generally use." The prophet (s) asked: "What land are you from, and what is your religion?" 'Addas replied: "I am Christian by faith and come from Nineveh." The prophet Muhammad (s) then said: "You belong to the city of the righteous Yunus (Jonah), son of Matta."


Even more worryingly, perhaps, Mohammed claimed to be the very “brother” of the prophet Jonah: “ 'Addas asked him anxiously if he knew anything about Jonah. The prophet (s) significantly remarked: "He is my brother. He was a prophet and so am I." Thereupon 'Addas paid homage to Muhammad (s) and kissed his head, his hands and his feet”.

For my reconstruction of Jonah and Nineveh, see:


Prophet Jonah and the Beginnings of a New History




  1. Nehemiah


Having fairly often read about the biblical Nehemiah, I nearly fell off my chair when I read in a French publication that there was supposedly a Jewish Nehemiah contemporaneous with the Prophet Mohammed, that Nehemiah doing the same sorts of things that the biblical version of the name had done. I have recently written about this in:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time



Now this is a very strange Afterglow of BC in AD time!


There is a strange interfacing (mirroring) of c. 600 BC [I picked this round figure for purposes of symmetry only] events with c. 600 AD events, particularly the appearance of [a] Nehemiah in both cases, serving the Persians in both cases, in relation to Jerusalem in both cases.


600 BC, approximately, has been sucked all the way forward to 600 AD!


…. One extraordinary case [reference to the Velikovskian aftershocks as quoted above] that has just come to light for me concerns Nehemiah (thought to be a Jew) of c. 600 BC.

Now I find that there was a Nehemiah, a Jew, supposedly in 614 AD (the era of Mohammed), to whom a Persian general had entrusted the city of Jerusalem (just as “Artaxerxes”, thought to have been an ancient Persian king, had allowed Nehemiah his cupbearer, the governor, to return to Jerusalem and to restore the damaged city). This supposedly later Nehemiah “offers a sacrifice on the site of the Temple”, according to Étienne Couvert (La Vérité sur les Manuscripts de la Mer Morte, 2nd ed, Éditions de Chiré, p. 98. My translation). “He even seems to have attempted to restore the Jewish cult of sacrifice”, says Maxine Lenôtre (Mahomet Fondateur de L’Islam, Publications MC, p. 111, quoting from S.W. Baron’s, Histoire d’Israël, T. III, p. 187. My translation), who then adds (quoting from the same source): “Without any doubt, a number of Jews saw in these events a repetition of the re-establishment of the Jewish State by Cyrus and Darius [C6th BC kings of ancient Persia] and behaved as the rulers of the city and of the country”.


Whilst this is quite a penetrating observation as far as it goes, I think that the conclusion ought actually to go far deeper even than this. This “Nehemiah, a Jew”, I now suggest, was none other than the original Nehemiah himself, “the governor”, of the OT Book of Nehemiah. He was not ‘repeating the re-establishment of the Jewish state by Cyrus and Darius’, but was the very one who had prophetically envisioned it!


He has been sucked all the way forward to 600 AD!


And Mohammed, originally an Old Testament prophet, has been curiously metamorphosised into a C7th AD Arabian prophet.

[End of quote]





Part Two:

From Birth to Marriage



The ‘life’ of Mohammed will be shown to consist of, to a large extent, a string of biblical episodes (relating to, for instance, Moses; David; Job/Tobias; Jeremiah; Jesus Christ), but altered and/or greatly embellished, and re-cast into an Arabian context.

This has been achieved with the greatest of skill, conflating all of these disparate sources, and re-arranging them into a thrilling epic of literary magnificence.



The Neo-Assyrian Factor


Whilst it is not to be commonly expected for ancient Assyria to be discussed in the context of the Prophet Mohammed, given that the Assyrian empire had dissolved in the C7th BC, and here is Mohammed supposedly in the C7th AD, I found reason to raise this issue in Part One:




Because an event that is said to have taken place in the very year that Mohammed was born, c. 570 AD, the invasion of Mecca by 'Abraha[s] of the kingdom of Axum [Aksum], has all the earmarks, I thought, of the disastrous campaign of Sennacherib of Assyria against Israel.

Not 570 AD, but closer to 700 BC!

Lacking to this Qur'anic account is the [Book of] Judith element that (I have argued in various places) was the catalyst for the defeat of the Assyrian army. But that feminine detail is picked up, I believe, in the story of the supposedly AD heroine, Gudit (possibly Jewish), who routed the Axumites. Hence read: Gudit = Judith; and Axum can substitute for Assyria. If that famous biblical incident involving neo-Assyria is some sort of chronological marker for the very beginning of those “biblical episodes” pertaining to Mohammed (as mentioned above), then the era of king Sennacherib of Assyria must be our (revised) starting point. And, indeed, it is there that we find one who displays some striking resemblances to Mohammed: he is Tobias, the son of Tobit, who was born at this time, and whom I have identified with the prophet Job. His father Tobit tells us about this arduous time for his family, continuing on into the reign of Sennacherib’s successor, Esarhaddon (Tobit 1:18-22):


I [Tobit] also buried any whom King Sennacherib put to death when he came fleeing from Judea in those days of judgment that the king of heaven executed upon him because of his blasphemies. For in his anger he put to death many Israelites; but I would secretly remove the bodies and bury them. So when Sennacherib looked for them he could not find them. Then one of the Ninevites went and informed the king about me, that I was burying them; so I hid myself. But when I realized that the king knew about me and that I was being searched for to be put to death, I was afraid and ran away. Then all my property was confiscated; nothing was left to me that was not taken into the royal treasury except my wife Anna and my son Tobias.

But not forty days passed before two of Sennacherib’s sons killed him, and they fled to the mountains of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon reigned after him. He appointed Ahikar, the son of my brother Hanael over all the accounts of his kingdom, and he had authority over the entire administration. Ahikar interceded for me, and I returned to Nineveh. Now Ahikar was chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet, and in charge of administration of the accounts under King Sennacherib of Assyria; so Esarhaddon reappointed him. He was my nephew and so a close relative.


Ahikar and Luqman


More needs to be said about the immensely important Ahikar, too, because his wisdom - for much of which he would have been indebted to his uncle Tobit - has been drawn upon in the Qur'an (http://archive.org/stream/TheStoryOfAhikar/Ahikar_djvu.txt):






We pass on, in the next place, to point out that the legend of Ahikar was known to Mohammed, and that he has used it in a certain Sura of the Koran.

There is nothing a priori improbable in this, for the Koran is full of Jewish Haggada and Christian legends, and where such sources are not expressly mentioned, they may often be detected by consulting the commentaries upon the Koran in obscure passages. For example, the story of Abimelech and the basket of figs, which appears in the Last Words of Baruch, is carried over into the Koran, as we have shown in our preface to the Apocryphon in question. It will be interesting if we can add another volume to Mohammed’s library, or to the library of the teacher from whom he derived so many of his legends.

The 31st Sura of the Koran is entitled Lokman (Luqman) and it contains the following account of a sage of that name.

* We heretofore bestowed wisdom on Lokman and commanded him, saying, Be thou thankful unto God: for whoever is thankful, shall be thankful to the advantage of his own soul: and if any shall be unthankful, verily God is self-sufficient and worthy to be praised. And remember when Lokman said unto his son, as he admonished him.


O my son, Give not a partner unto God, for polytheism is a great impiety.

♦ ♦♦♦♦♦

O my son, verily every matter, whether good or bad, though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and be hidden in a rock, or in the heavens, God will bring the same to light: for God is clear-sighted and knowing.

O my son, be constant at prayer, and command that which is just, and forbid that which is evil, and be patient under the afflictions that shall befall thee: for this is a duty absolutely incumbent upon all men.

♦ ♦♦#♦♦

And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice, for the most ungrateful of all voices surely is the voice of asses.’

♦ ♦♦#♦♦

Now concerning this Lokman, the commentators and the critics have diligently thrown their brains about. The former have disputed whether Lokman was an inspired prophet or merely a philosopher and have decided against his inspiration: and they have given him a noble lineage, some saying that he was sister’s son to Job, and others that he was nephew to Abraham, and lived until the time of Jonah.

Others have said that he was an African: slave. It will not escape the reader’s notice that the term sister’s son to Job, to which should be added nephew of Abraham, is the proper equivalent of the ξδελφος by which Nadan and Ahikar are described in the Tobit legends.

Job, moreover, is singularly like Tobit.


A few comments are due here. Concerning the last statement “Job … is singularly like Tobit”, that is because, I believe, that Job was Tobias, the very son of Tobit.

Most interesting, too, that “Lokman … was a sister’s son to Job”. In my ten part series, “Friends of the Prophet Job”, I tentatively identified Ahikar with “Bildad the Suhite” (https://www.academia.edu/12171292/Friends_of_the_Prophet_Job._Part_Two_Bildad_the); Lokman, with “Zohar the Naamathite” (https://www.academia.edu/12373380/Friends_of_th); and the Aesop (who will be mentioned below) also with Zophar the friend of Job (https://www.academia.edu/12373952/Friends_of_the_Prophet_Job._Part_Three_Zophar_th).

Now, returning ‘Ahikar in the Koran’: 


That [Lokman] lived till the time of Jonah reminds one of the destruction of Nineveh as

described in the book of Tobit, in accordance with Jonah’s prophecy. Finally the African slave is singularly like Aesop … who is a black man and a slave in the Aesop legends. From all of which it appears as if the Arabic Commentators were identifying Lokman with Ahikar on the one hand and with Aesop on the other; i.e. with two characters whom we have already shown to be identical.

The identification with Aesop is confirmed by the fact that many of the fables ascribed to Aesop in the west are referred to Lokman in the east: thus Sale says: —

‘The Commentators mention several quick repartees of Luqman which agree so well with what Maximus Planudes has written of Aesop, that from thence and from the fables attributed to Luqman by the Orientals, the latter has been generally thought to be no other than the Aesop of the Greeks. However that may be (for I think the matter may bear a dispute) I am of opinion that Planudes borrowed a great part of his life of Aesop from the traditions he met with in the east concerning Luqman, concluding them to have been the same person, etc. …’. *

These remarks of Sale are confirmed by our observation that the Aesop story is largely a modification of the Ahikar legend, taken with the suggestion which we derive from the Mohammedan commentators, who seem to connect Lokman with Tobit on the one hand and with Aesop on the other.


Comment: In all of this we find ourselves firmly grounded in the neo-Assyria era of the C8th BC.

The article now focusses upon the relevant Qur'anic text:


Now let us turn to the Sura of the Koran which bears the name Lokman, and examine it internally: we remark (i) that he bears the name of sage, precisely as Ahikar does: (ii) that he is a teacher of ethics to his son, using Ahikar’s formula ‘ ya bani ‘ in teaching him: (iii) although at first sight the matter quoted by Mohammed does not appear to be taken from Ahikar, there are curious traces of dependence. We may especially compare the following from Ahikar: ‘ O my son, bend thy head low and soften thy voice and be courteous and walk in the straight path and be not foolish And raise not thy voice when thou laughest, for were it by a loud voice that a house was built, the ass would build many houses every day.’

Clearly Mohammed has been using Ahikar, and apparently from memory, unless we like to assume that the passage in the Koran is the primitive form for Ahikar, rather than the very forcible figure in our published texts. Mohammed has also mixed up Ahikar’s teaching with his own, for some of the sentences which he attributes to Lokman appear elsewhere in the Koran. But this does not disturb the argument. From all sides tradition advises us to equate Lokman with Aesop and Ahikar, and the Koran confirms the equation. The real difficulty is to determine the derivation of the names of Lokman and Aesop from Ahikar ….

Some of the Moslem traditions referred to above may be found in Al Masudi c. 4 : ‘ There was in the country of Ailah and Midian a sage named Lokman, who was the son of Auka, the son of Mezid, the son of Sar. ….


Comment: The mention of “Midian” in association with Lokman is also most significant in my context, because as I have argued in:


A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit



it was from Midian (wrongly given as “Media”) that the Naphtalian clan of Tobit and some of his relatives hailed.

Continuing with the article:

Another curious point in connexion with the Moslem traditions is the discussion whether Loqman was or was not a prophet.

This discussion cannot have been borrowed from a Greek source, for the idea which is involved in the debate is a Semitic idea.

But it is a discussion which was almost certain to arise, whether Lokman of whom Mohammed writes so approvingly had any special … as a prophet, because Mohammed is the seal of the prophets.

And it seems from what Sale says on the subject, that the Moslem doctors decided the question in the negative; Lokman * received from God wisdom and eloquence in a high degree, which some pretend were given him in a vision, on his making choice of wisdom preferably to the gift of prophecy, either of which was offered him.’ Thus the Moslem verdict was that Lokman was a sage and not a prophet.

On the other hand it should be noticed that there are reasons for believing that he was regarded in some circles and probably from the earliest times as a prophet. The fact of his teaching in aphorisms is of no weight against this classification: for the Hebrew Bible has two striking instances of exactly similar character, in both of which the sage appears as prophet. Thus Prov. XXX. begins :

* The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy*

and Prov. xxxi begins :

*The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.’

Both of these collections appear to be taken from popular tales*, and they are strikingly like to the sentences of Ahikar.


At the conclusion of the Syntipas legends, when the young man is solving all the hard ethical problems that his father proposes to him, we again find a trace of Ahikar, for he speaks of the ‘ insatiate eye which as long as it sees wealth is so ardent after it that he regards not God, until in death the earth covers his eyes.’ And amongst the sayings of Ahikar we find one to the effect that * the eye of man is as a fountain, and it will never be satisfied with wealth until it is filled with dust.’ Dr Dillon points out that this is one of the famous sayings of Mohammed, and if that be so, we have one more loan from Ahikar in the Koran.

Cf Sura 102, ‘The emulous desire of multiplying [riches and children] employeth you, until ye visit the graves.’ ….

[End of quotes]


Mecca, Nineveh


In Part One, “Mecca”, which archaeologically could not have any bearing upon Abraham, was re-cast as “Jerusalem; the name Mecca having been derived, it was suggested, from the Arabic Muqa (Mecca) in Bayt al-Muqaddas …”.

And the Ka'aba (meaning “Cube”) was identified as the “Holy of Holies”, the most sacred place in the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusaalem.

Thus it is not entirely surprising to find the “Meccans” having their own Levite-like custodians of the holy place (http://sheikyermami.com/2014/01/global-warming-is-a-fraud-the-mohammedan-winter-is-here-to-stay/): “Mohammed … was descended from the noble but impoverished family of Hashim, of the priestly tribe of Koreish, who were the chiefs and keepers of the national sanctuary of the Kaaba”.

Even the name, Hashim, looks like the Hebrew, Ha Shem (“The Name”, it being a term for God).

We also learned in Part One that Mohammed had encountered a young man from Nineveh – quite an anomaly. And the pair discussed the prophet Jonah whom Mohammed called his “brother”.

Tobit, for his part, well knew of the prophet Jonah, having warned his son, Tobias (14:4): “Go into Media [sic], my son, for I surely believe those things which Jonah the prophet spoke about Nineveh, that it shall be overthrown”.  


I would re-set the childhood of Mohammed, therefore, to the reign of king Sennacherib of Assyria, and have Tobias/Job as a major biblical matrix for it. Tobias’s/Job’s long life in fact, which extends - according to my revision - from Sennacherib to beyond the Fall of Nineveh, will suffice to encompass “biblical episodes” attached to Mohammed from his birth to his marriage to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.


My primary source here, serving as a biography of Mohammed, will be Yahiya Emerick’s Muhammad (Critical Lives), Alpha, 2002:



Birth of Mohammed


Given as c. 570 BC, the “Year of the Elephant”. But revised here to the reign of Sennacherib. Mohammed’s parents are traditionally given as ‘Abdullah and Aminah, or Amna. Now, this information is what really confirms me in my view that Tobias is a major influence in the biography of Mohammed, because the names of Tobias’s parents boil down to very much the same as those of Mohammed. Tobit is a Greek version of the name ‘Obad-iah, the Hebrew yod having been replaced by a ‘T’.

And ‘Obadiah, or ‘Abdiel, is, in Arabic ‘Abdullah, the name of Mohammed’s father.

And Amna is as close a name as one could get to Anna, the wife of Tobit (as we read above).


Tobias (my Job) is the biblico-historical foundation for the young Mohammed!


In articles of mine such as:


Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit



I have drawn many parallels between the Hebrew and Greek tales, showing how Odysseus and his son, Telemachus, can sometimes resemble, respectively, Tobit and his son, Tobias; the goddess Athena can sometimes assume the part played by the angel, Raphael {In the ‘life’ of Mohammed, we are going to find one “Maysara” performing a service akin to that of the angel Raphael in the Book of Tobit}; the cruel Poseidon is the demon, Asmodeus; there are the many suitors, as with Penelope, with Sarah; and then there is the common factor of the dog, given the name of “Argos” in The Odyssey.

These extremely popular and much copied books of Tobit and Job have also influenced Mesopotamian literature, in one case of which Ahikar himself may even have been involved:


Friends of the Prophet Job. Part Two: Bildad the Suhite.

(ii) Babylonian Job.



Egypt - according to the Testament of Job, the prophet Job had been a “king of Egypt” - and who knows where else? Well, in Arabia, for another example, as is being proposed in this article. And we are finding the Prophet Mohammed to have been no more real a person (though less obviously mythical) than was Odysseus, or Telemachus.

Now, as explained in my “Odyssey” article, it can happen that events associated with the biblical original, for example, the father, can be, in the mythological version, attributed to someone else, say, the son. And we now find that to be the very case in the biography of Mohammed. For, whereas Mohammed is thought to have been orphaned and to have been raised by his grandfather and uncle, in the Book of Tobit the father was orphaned (Tobit 1:8): “I [Tobit] would bring it and give it to them in the third year, and we would eat it according to the ordinance decreed concerning it in the law of Moses and according to the instructions of Deborah, the mother of my father Tobiel, for my father had died and left me an orphan”. {“Deborah” here may be a distant ancestor, possibly even the famous Deborah of the Book of Judges, given her close association with the tribe of Naphtali (e.g., Judges 4:10; 5:18), Tobit’s tribe (Tobit 1:1)}.

Now poor ‘Abdullah, the father of Mohammed, in an episode that harkens back to the era of the Judges, to Jephthah’s terrible vow (Judges 11:30): ‘… whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering’, was elected by his father, ‘Abdel Muttalib, as the one of his ten sons to be sacrificed to God in thanksgiving.

Ultimately ‘Abdullah was spared that grim fate, due to an encounter between ‘Abdel Muttalib and the shamaness, Shiya - Emerick tells about this Shiya on p. 19.

Here we may have a reminiscence of king Saul of Israel’s clandestine visit to the witch of Endor (I Samuel 28:7). 

Indeed, a further facet of the Jephthah story will recur again, later, in the quite different context of who will have the honour of placing the fabled Black Stone of the Ka'aba back on the eastern wall after repairs. (This whole wall building episode is like that of Nehemiah). Emerick recounts it on p. 48. Abu Umayyah will advise the assembled crowd to wait for the next person who will come through a nearby gate in the courtyard of the Ka'aba. That person was, as fate would have it, Mohammed himself. 

The situation of Mohammed, born into a Qureish environment of universal idol worship, and with the Jews as a separate entity, is very much the situation of Tobit and his little family, whose the tribe of Naphtali (separate from the Jews) had completely apostatised (Tobit 1:4): ‘When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem’.  

Again, ‘Abdullah’s involvement in caravan trading into Syria is entirely compatible with what Tobit tells us about himself in 1:12-14: ‘Because I was mindful of God with all my heart, the Most High gave me favor and good standing with Shalmaneser, and I used to buy everything he needed. Until his death I used to go into Media, and buy for him there’ – compatible especially given my identification (in my “Geography of Tobit”) of “Media” as Midian, including Bashan, “a part of the province of Damascus”:

As with Tobit’s genealogy, with the repetition of names of the same root (Tobit 1:1): ‘I am Tobit and this is the story of my life. My father was Tobiel …’, so was the case with Mohammed’s grandfather, ‘Abdel Muttalib, and his son, Abu Talib.

The account of the pregnancy of Mohammed’s mother is predictably extraordinary, and one might be inclined to think of, for example, the pregnancy of Elizabeth with John the Baptist, and of the Virgin Mary with Jesus. If so, it would be only one of many borrowings from the Gospels, in this case Luke’s. Emerick tells of it (pp. 21-22):


About two months after her husband left [having joined a caravan trade to Syria], Aminah called her servant … “I’ve had a strange dream! I saw lights coming from my womb, lighting up the mountains, the hills, and the valleys all around Mecca”. Her servant then predicted: “You will give birth to a blessed child who will bring goodness”.


In Luke 1:11-17, we read about the miraculous encounter of the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, the Aaronite priest, with an angel who will be identified in v. 19 as “Gabriel”:  


Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


Common to the ‘life’ of Mohammed here are the visitation by the angel Gabriel (who also figures in the Book of Daniel); the avoidance of alcohol; and the exultation of the child.

Further on in Luke’s Gospel it will be the Virgin Mary whom the angel Gabriel will address (Luke 1:30-32): ‘You [Mary] have found favor with God. You will become pregnant, give birth to a son … He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High’.

Luke 1:28 is sometimes translated as [Mary’s being] “Highly Favoured”.

Now, according to Emerick (p. 29): “Highly Praised is the translation of the Arabic name Muhammad, which was an unusual name in Arabia at that time”. This name was given to the child by his grandfather, who had, in the ancient Israelite fashion of going around Jericho “seven times” (Joshua 6:15), walked with the new born baby “seven times around the Ka‘bah”. It was then that ‘Abdel Muttalib named the child, connecting him with an ancient House - as with the angel Gabriel’s (Luke 1:32-33): ‘The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end’. The joyful ‘Abdel Muttalib exclaimed: “Blessed child, I shall call you Highly Praised. The birth of this child coincided with the glory and triumph of the Ancient House, blessed be he?”

As in the story of Moses (Exodus 2:7-9), a wet nurse is provided for the child. “Aminah, frail from her depression and weakened by the arduous childbirth, engaged a wet nurse in the city …”. And also as with Moses (v. 10), “Muhammad would be raised by a foster mother …”. Whereas both Moses and Jesus had to be saved from the wrath of a monarch, the situation baby Mohammed was faced with was (p. 30): “An epidemic … going around the city …”. When it was safe to return, after some years had elapsed, exactly as with the young Jesus (Matthew 2:19-21), Mohammed came home.  


Youth of Mohammed


When the aged ‘Abdel Muttalib died, Mohammed was taken in by his uncle, Abu Talib, who, more than Mohammed’s short-lived father, ‘Abdullah (despite the common name), represents Tobit and his wise and kindly mentoring of the young Tobias. Emerick (p. 33): “Abu Talib took Muhammad in and treated him with great affection. Although Abu Talib was poor, he and his wife …”. Cf. Tobit 4:21: ‘We’re poor now, but don’t worry. If you obey God and avoid sin, he will be pleased with you and make you prosperous’.

In a famous story, an old priest, in the fashion of Samuel choosing to anoint the young David from amongst the sons of Jesse, will pick out the 12-year old Mohammed amongst many. Emerick tells of it (pp. 34-35):


Around the year 582, Abu Talib decided to join the great caravan going to Syria in order to boost his finances. …. After a couple of weeks of long, hard travel, the caravan and its attendants decided to make camp in a region called Bostra, just short of Syria. Just ahead on the road was a small Christian monastery where a solitary monk by the name of Bahira lived. …. He sent an invitation to the men of the caravan to come to the monastery for a banquet, asking that everyone attend. When the merchants arrived, the priest looked them over and found nothing special about any of them. He asked if everyone from the caravan was present and was told that everyone was there except a small boy who was left behind to watch the animals. Bahira requested that he also be invited, so someone went to fetch young Muhammad.


Compare (the strikingly similar) I Samuel 16:10-11: 


Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”


Like David, too, Mohammed (later) tended sheep (Emerick, p. 40): “Muhammad’s humble occupation as a shepherd impressed upon him the value of hard, honest work”.

But there is also a recorded incident in the otherwise unknown boyhood of Jesus (the Good Shepherd) at the age of twelve – and it, too, involves travellers (Luke 2:41-42): “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.”

Emerick continues with the story of Bahira, with the boy Mohammed now present (p. 35): “After Muhammad joined the gathering, Bahira watched the boy carefully and noted his physical features and behaviour. He seemed to have an otherworldy look in his eyes, a strength in his bearing”.

David also had fine eyes and a good appearance (I Samuel 16:12): “Now [David] was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome”.

On pp. 56-57 Emerick, still in connection with the Bahira story which is here accepted as being quite “historically tenable”, will make this notable admission:


A fair amount of literature exists on the portents and signs prior to the rise of Muhammad as a religious leader. These writings may be based more on retrospective idealism than proven facts. One can logically assume that Muhammad had no knowledge of his future significance and that premonitions and recognition of his greatness by his contemporaries were greatly exaggerated. Beyond the episode with the monk Bahira when he was twelve, which was related not only by Abu Talib but also by several of his associates and thus gains more credibility, little except the predictions of a man named Waraqah seem historically tenable. The abruptness and unexpectedness of Muhammad’s rise may be simply inexplicable.

[End of quote]


Why I think that it might be very important for Islam to defend the veracity of the Bahira incident is because he is the one who would proclaim Mohammed as “the last prophet” in God’s great scheme of things. Thus Emerick (p. 35):


…. Muhammad boldly told the monk that he hated the idols. This statement impressed the aged Christian further. Then he asked for the boy to lift his shirt, and the monk found a birthmark on his back, just between the shoulder blades. Bahira looked at the spot, which was about the size of a small egg, and declared, “Now I am most certain that this is the last prophet for whom the Jews and Christians [sic] await …”.


It is interesting that both Bahira and the Waraqah referred to above, seemingly lone individuals, non-Jews, but monotheists, are either Christian (Bahira) or, like Waraqah (Emerick, p. 31): “… [an] unaffiliated monotheist who also had some knowledge of Christianity”.    


Marriage of Mohammed


The golden thread in the ‘life’ of Mohammed of the Book of Tobit (combined with Job) continues on, I believe, into the account of his marriage to the widowed beauty, Khadijah, also given as ‘Siti Khadijah’ (http://kelantan.attractionsinmalaysia.com/SitiKhadijahMarket): “Siti Khadijah Market (Pasar besar Siti Khadijah), as its name implies, is a local wet market. Its name after Prophet Muhammad’s wife, [who] is known for her entrepreneurial skill, as this market is mostly run by women”. In the Testament of Job the prophet’s wife is similarly called “Sitis” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/26/judaism-job-philosoph): “Job's first wife is Sitidos (Sitis). Her name may have the same root as the word Satan in Hebrew or Sotah (unfaithful wife). She is a princess and Job a tribal leader”.

She is, I have argued, the same as the wife of Tobias, Sarah, meaning “princess”, “lady”:


Job’s Wife as Sarah of Book of Tobit



Sarah was apparently, then, just like Khadijah, a woman of high status. She was likewise beautiful and full of quality, as described by the angel Raphael (Tobit 5:12): “She is sensible, brave, and very beautiful; and her father is a good man”. That father, Raguel, I have tentatively identified in my series, “Friends of the Prophet Job”, as Eliphaz (https://www.academia.edu/12159726/Friends_of_the_Prophet_Job._Part_One_Eliphaz_the_Temanite). Just as with Khadijah, whose former husbands had died (Emerick, p. 41): “… Khadijah … married not once but twice …. Each husband died in turn, leaving her with a huge personal fortune”, likewise (though rather more spectacularly) Sarah (Tobit 3:8): “Sarah had been married seven times, but the evil demon, Asmodeus, killed each husband before the marriage could be consummated”.

The poor and rather insignificant Muhammad got his big break in life when that lowly life of his would - like with the young Tobias - converge with that of his future wife. And it similarly involved a journey to Syria for business purposes. When (as Emerick tells, p. 42): “In about the year 595, Khadijah announced that she would hire a local man to lead a particularly important caravan to go to Syria”, Abu Talib suggested to Muhammad that he should apply. “Abu Talib, always on the lookout for opportunities for his own or any family member’s advancement, suggested to his nephew Muhammad that he try to get a job with Khadijah’s caravan”.

The part played by Abu Talib in this situation reminds one of Tobit, who instructed his son (Tobit 4:20-21): ‘Tobias, I want you to know that I once left a large sum of money with Gabrias' son, Gabael, at Rages in Media. We're poor now, but don't worry. If you obey God and avoid sin, he will be pleased with you and make you prosperous’. In my “Geography of Tobit” I have proposed that “Rages” here equates geographically with the city of Damascus. Tobias was now a young man of marriageable age, and Muhammad was “twenty-five years old and still living with his uncle …” (Emerick, p. 42). Muhammad, similarly as with Tobit, “saw this caravan as an excellent opportunity to earn money …”.

“Abu Talib confidently told his nephew that he could get him double the salary of the man already hired … two camels”. And he duly informed Khadijah of it, “… we won’t accept less than four”.

Tobias, on the other hand, wants to give the disguised angel, who had guided him on the way, not “double the salary”, but “half of everything we brought back with us” (Tobit 12:2). And whilst that “two camels” can be found also in Tobit 9:1-2: “Then Tobias called Raphael and said to him: “Brother Azariah, take along with you four servants and two camels and travel to Rages”,” we see from this text that those “four servants” have been ‘reincarnated’ in the Islamic version as “four [camels]”.

Khadijah here refers to Muhammad as “a close relative”. We find the identical description in Tobit 6:10-11, where the angel tells Tobias: ‘Tonight we will stay at the home of your relative Raguel. He has only one child, a daughter named Sarah, and since you are her closest relative, you have the right to marry her’.  

Just as Tobit had looked out for a suitable travelling companion for his son, and had found in the angel-disguised-as-Azariah a good character (Tobit 5:13): ‘… you are from a good family and a relative at that! …. Your relatives are fine people, and you come from good stock. Have a safe journey’, so, in Maysara - whose name is phonetically compatible with Azariah - does Abu Talib perceive a good character and worthy travelling companion (Emerick, p. 43): “Abu Talib knew of Maysara’s good character and encouraged his presence on the journey”. Khadijah, who “was known for rejecting all suitors” (p. 44), though for reasons less dramatic than in the case of Sarah’s loss of all suitors, now married the younger Muhammad, whose fortunes had just increased exponentially (p. 45): “not only was he suddenly getting married, his fortunes were also taking a dramatic turn for the better”.  

So had the angel informed Tobias about Sarah (6:11): “… you have the right to marry her. You also have the right to inherit all her father's property”.

“Muhammad and Khadijah would have six children together, two boys and four girls”. Tragically, the life of the sons would be cut off early, just as with Tobias/Job.



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