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Old 30 September 2013, 12:16 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,350

Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
OTOH, things like receiving the various revelations which became the Koran in visions while meditating, and ascending to heaven on a white horse upon death, are matters of faith.
Of course, and I would discount similar stories about Jesus when considering his historical existence. And I guess I don't know enough about Islamic scholarship (or middle-eastern history) to say one way or the other how much people have questioned Mohammed's existence. I have the impression that modern Islam, at least, wouldn't encourage that sort of speculation. But modern Christianity hardly encourages speculation about the existence of Jesus, either.

And to be fair, I've not seen many actual historians questioning the historical existence of Jesus (as an influential preacher in first-century Palestine). I certainly don't question his existence myself. I wouldn't be surprised if some of his recorded teachings were an amalgamation of various preachers or other influential sources, but that's not necessary for me to accept his existence.

One thing that Islam was very careful about from the beginning - perhaps learning from the example of Christianity, and the various difficulties in the early church - was to record the provenance of every story or phrase or command that was attributed to Mohammed.

There was a dedicated movement of scholarship, while writing the Koran and its commentaries, to trace everything back to Mohammed himself - "We know He said this because I, as the writer, heard it from Fred, who said that George told him, and we know that George studied under Bert who could have heard Mohammed Himself preaching on this particular occasion." (The names I have used are examples only and may not accurately reflect Islamic scholarship at the time. I'm also not sure how many generations would have been necessary at the time of writing - probably no more than in Christian scholarship, though, and early Islamic scholars were a lot more methodical about it, which might be why there's less doubt.)
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