In an earlier article I had referred to the Satanic Verses incident in Muhammad’s life.Here there is a great video where David Wood,ex-atheist,now Christian,of answeringmuslims.com,debates Muslim Adnan Rashid about it.David Wood in the debate names the several independent Muslim persons who told the story.They were pious believers and there is no reason to doubt the story unless you accept a conspiracy theory.
What are the Satanic Verses?
The story,which according to the historical method employed by all historians,is certainly true,is that one day Muhammad was reciting chapter 53 of the Koran(which has 62 verses) and Satan intervened,or so Muhammad claimed, and made Muhammad say it was alright to pray to 3 Arab goddesses of the Arab religion.
That went utterly and 100% against the earlier message to Muhammad that there was only one God and to only pray to him.And Muhammad believed it.The pagan Meccans heard and they and the Muslims prayed together to the 3 goddesses.In effect,Muhammad advocated polytheism.Later Allah sent Gabriel to Muhammad to tell him it was a trick of Satan.
We have 37 Muslims narrations that can be traced to 8 different and independent sources(Muslim sources) that confirm it.
Why the “Conspiracy Theory” is Unconving to Historians
One could say all those people got together in the middle of the night and invented the story.The idea that it happened is rejected by historians due to the Historical Method.The conspiracy theory is also rejected by historians when there are those who deny the truth or high probability of the Aisha story:that Aisha,Muhammad’s last wife, consummated her marriage to him at age 9.
Aisha and Puberty
One Muslim argument is that Islamic Law forbids sexual intercourse with a wife unless she has reached puberty.Regarding Aisha they say she had already had first menstruation at age 9.It can happen,though it is very rare,yet 9 is too early for intercourse,puberty or no puberty.
Even in Iran with Khomeini
The Shias,who are 10% of all Muslims,have their own different hadith collections.They reject the 6 hadith collections of the Sunnis.To my knowledge those hadiths do not mention the age of Aisha at consummation,yet for some reason the Ayatollah Khomeini,a Shia, lowered the age of marriage in Iran to age 9.
The Satanic Verses Story is in the Earliest Biography about Muhammad
It was written by a Muslim scholar called Ibn Ishaq,who wrote it around 750,some 120 years after Muhammad’s death.Yet 80 years later another scholar,called Ibn Hisham,took it out.We know it was there because a scholar who read the original has told us.
An Authentic and Independent Oral Tradition
Notice the story was in the earliest biography of Muhammad,but that was written 120 years later.It is a long time.Yet the fact that 9 serious,pious Muslims have independently repeated it tells us that we have an authentic oral tradition that is based on history,on a story so scandalous it was widespread.The same for the Aisha story.
The Argument that it is not in Any of the 6 Canonical Sunni Hadith Collections
We know hadiths were invented,Bukhari himself,the greatest Sunni hadith collector,rejected some 300.000 false stories or 95% of what he heard.In fact during the 10 year rule of Shia leader Khomeini(1979-1989) some 4,000 new hadiths were “discovered”(fabricated) which nobody knew had existed before.The story is not in any of the 6 collections but:
1.The Satanic Verses was taken out by Ibn Hisham from Ibn Ishaq’s biography.
2.How do we know they were not taken out from the 6 canonical collections?
Anyway,Bukhari implies it in Two Hadiths(stories about Muhammad and his Companions)
He says of a time when the Muslims and pagans prayed together in one hadith and in the other does not mention the kind of people who participated(was that information taken out?}.He does not say why(was the reason taken out of the text?).Bukhari also says it was when Muhammad recited chapter 53,which is the one related to the Satanic Verses incident.
1.The Muslims were monotheists and the pagans were polytheists.
2.The only time when they both prayed together was when Muhammad said it was ok to pray to 3 Arab godesses.
“The Prophet performed a prostration:
1.When he finished reciting Surat an-Najm(Chapter 53,where the Satanic Verses appear),
2.And all the Muslims and pagans and Jinns and human beings prostrated along with him.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 19, Number 177)
“The first Sura in which a prostration was mentioned, was Sura An-Najm (Chapter 53,The Star). Allah’s Apostle prostrated (while reciting it), and everybody behind him prostrated except a man whom I saw taking a hand-full of dust in his hand and prostrated on it. Later I saw that man killed as an infidel, and he was Umaiya bin Khalaf.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60,Number 386)
To read more Details of the Pros and Cons there are the Articles
The Historical Method
It is a technique used by historians to determine what is true or what probably happened.It has several criterions:
1.Criterion of Embarassment:
If something is counter-propaganada to a person or cause yet is held by its partisans as true then it is true or likely to be true.One is not going to invent negative material for a cause,movement,person.
2.Criterion of Early Attestation
3.Criterion of Coherence
That the information is consistent with what we know of the culture,customs,beliefs of the milieu.
4.Criterion of Dissimilarity
The details about person or movement that are not typical of his milieu.
5.Criterion of Multiple Attestation
Information that is attested by several independant sources,not only from one book.
6.Criterion of Enemy Attestation
According to the documentary evidence given by pious,devout Muslims a non-Muslim scholar can conclude that according to the criteria of multiple attestation,embarassment and to a certain extent early attestation the stories are true or very likely true.
The 6 Sunni Hadith Collections in Order of Authenticity
Among the Sunnis(90% of Muslims) there are 6 books that have the sayings and deeds of Muhammad and his companions.They are called hadiths.The first two,by Bukhari and Muslim,are the most authentic,for them.
The collections in order of authenticity are those written by:
1.Bukhari (died 870)
2.Muslim (died 874)
3.Al-Nasai (died 915)
4.Abu Dawud (died 888)
5.Al-Tirmidhi (died 892)
6.Ibn Majah (died 887)
Authenticity according to the Muslim Type of Scholarship
For them Bukhari,Muslim,etc used a good method for determining if X information was good.They:
1.Found the chain of transmission of narrators,what they called isnad.So even though 200 years had passed they determined that A was told the story by B,who was told by C,who was told by D,etc,who was told by Muhammad.
2.Then they determined if the narrators were people who had a reputation for honesty,piety,mental equilibrium.If one of the narrators had a bad reputation the hadith was not authentic.
3.They used mutiple attestation.If the saying attributed to Muhammad came from different people,different reliable narrators,then it was evidence of authenticity.
About Aisha Again and her Age when she Consummated her Marriage
For a Sunni Muslim scholar if information is:
1.Repeated not just once but several times in Bukhari then it’s true.
2.If it’s repeated in Muslim also,and several times,then even more so.
3.If it appears in Nasai,Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah also,then it’s beyond doubt.
The Documentary Evidence on which the Accusation is Based
I had shown it in an earlier article,that it is most likely true.Here it is:
Regarding the Arguments of some Western Muslims that Aisha was Not 9
Now the Muslims use the lunar calender,which is shorter than our solar calender.If Aisha was recently 9 then her age of consummation was,for us,8 years 9 months.Here are 13 arguments against the arguments used by some Muslims than Aisha was not 9,but really 17 or 18 when the marriage was consummated:
Watch the Debate:”The Satanic Verses:Fabricated or Historical?”