“O Khadija, I see light and hear sounds, and I fear I am mad.” —Muhammad to his wife Khadija, per Ibn Saad’s Kitab Tabaqat Al-Kubra
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet became so sad as we have heard that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Apostle in truth” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and would return home. And whenever the period of the coming of the inspiration used to become long, he would do as before, but when he used to reach the top of a mountain, Gabriel would appear before him and say to him what he had said before. —Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Hadith 111
Islam does not hold up to criticism or questioning based upon the methodology of critical thinking. And, indeed, such ideological scrutiny is not even allowed within Islam. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, the variant source texts of Islam were all destroyed by Caliph Uthman to prevent textual criticism and debate. And, unlike the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition—which unfolded over centuries, penned by many different hands and offering many different perspectives—Islam is 100% Muhammad: It was Muhammad alone who recited the Koran (revealed by Allah through a voice in Muhammad’s head calling itself the Angel Gabriel); and it is Muhammad alone whose deeds and words show Muslims the “direct path” they are to follow.
The Heresy of Thinking outside the Box
While Jews and Christians compare the lessons of different texts, and debate their merits and meanings, for Muslims such questioning and criticism would be equivalent to apostasy—leaving Islam—and they would be subject to the death penalty, as a result (only three crimes justify the death penalty: murder of a Muslim; illegal sexual relations, including adultery and sodomy; and apostasy, or leaving the religion, either by formal conversion or by informal questioning or criticism of it). Muslims must believe in everything Islamic, because of the totalitarian nature of Islam. Muslims are not allowed to question the perfection of Islam.
Why No Reform of Islam Is Possible
Since Muhammad is Allah’s final prophet, he is considered the final reformer of all monotheistic tradition. The problem with a having a perfect prophet is that nothing that comes after him can ever be accepted as Islamic. How can there be any improvement to perfection, unless it be admitted that Muhammad was not perfect and that his ideas could stand revision? This is why there can never be a reformation of Islamic dogma. What the West wants to label “moderate Islam” is seen by doctrinaire Muslims as “immoderate Islam.” A free-thinking, self-critical Islam can never be. To quote Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
Fruit of a Poisoned Tree
It is not well-known in the West that Muhammad, on at least seven occasions, tried to kill himself, due his belief that he had been possessed by a poetic demon (it was a common belief among Arabs in Muhammad’s day that poetry was inspired by jinn or demons). But Muhammad was prevented from throwing himself off a mountaintop, upon each occasion, by the Angel Gabriel (or “Jibreel”). And it was Khadija, Muhammad’s wife, who persuaded him that he was not insane and that the angel was right to stop his efforts at suicide. Khadija encouraged in Muhammad the idea that he was really a prophet undergoing an important inner transformation. (Muhammad was a skilled trader and caravan driver, whose efforts Khadija needed for her business to continue to flourish.) Without Khadija’s persuasions, Muhammad would likely have chosen to evade the voice he had been hearing by eventually completing his suicidal plan.
Sanity and Stability versus Madness and Lability
Since Islam comes from just one source—Muhammad—everything in Islam rides on the words and deeds of a potential madman whose initial belief, with respect to the voice in his head, was that he had become a poet or gone insane, and Muhammad hated both kinds of person. Judeo-Christian texts that do not fit within the overall tradition of ethical monotheism can be thrown out as non-canonical, lending a good measure of sanity and stability to the Western worldview and its firm basis in the Golden Rule. But, since Islam is all based upon the peculiar perspective of one flawed individual, all of that person’s idiosyncracies, dysfunctions, and depravities have been institutionalized in Islamic doctrine. And, as a result, Islam is a very paranoid doctrine that sees any critic—even if he be a Muslim insider—as having it out for Islam.
This dogmatic insistence that no other religion but Islam should be allowed to exist anywhere on earth, and that Jihad should be fully prosecuted until there is no ideology in the world but Islam, is a dogma beyond intolerance; it is an absolutely insecure and obsessively paranoid way of thinking that will brook no opposition. Perhaps this is the reason why 60% of Islamic text is obsessed with how to treat the Kafir (the non-Muslim). But what else can be expected, in the way of modeling, from a paranoid-schizophrenic prophet?
Was Muhammad Mentally Ill Already as a Child?
During Muhammad’s early childhood, a Bedouin wet nurse who cared for him told of Muhammad’s strange report about “two men in white raiment.” W. M. Watt’s translation of Muhammad at Mecca (from Volume Six of al-Tabari’s The History of the Prophets and Kings) recounts Muhammad’s words as follows: “[T]wo men in white clothes came to me with a golden basin full of snow. They took me and split open my body, then they took my heart and split it open and took out from it a black clot which they flung away. Then they washed my heart and my body with that snow until they made them[selves] pure.” The Bedouins were sufficiently disturbed by Muhammad’s account to return the boy to his mother.
In A. Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s work, the father of a young playmate of Muhammad’s says, “I am afraid that this child has had a stroke, so take him back to his family before the result appears. . . . She [Muhammad’s mother] asked me what happened and gave me no peace until I told her. When she asked if I feared a demon had possessed him, I replied that I did.”
Paranoid-Schizophrenia: Early Onset
What the Bedouins and other tribal societies of ancient Arabia thought of as demonic possession often finds its modern analogue in paranoid-schizophrenia, which can find an early onset in some young children. Schizophrenia is generally characterized by hallucinations or voices that nobody else can perceive. The voices can be threatening or critical. Young children may believe pets or animals are talking to them or calling them names (which might explain Muhammad’s lifetime dislike of dogs and his prohibition of artwork depicting animals).
Schizophrenics are typically delusional and can easily be talked into believing an idea devoid of any rational basis in fact (such as Muhammad’s notion, supported by Khadija, that he was last in a line of Jewish prophets). Once an idea becomes fixed in the mind of a schizophrenic, attempts to convince the person otherwise usually meet with rejection. This can have the side-effect of making the afflicted person peculiarly convincing when it comes to discussions along the lines of his delusion.
During Muhammad’s adult life, “demonic possession” must have been an issue among the people who knew him. People’s concerns about the matter must have caused Allah to come to the defense of Muhammad, in the Koran, Sura 81:22-25: “No, your compatriot [Muhammad] is not mad. He [Muhammad] saw him [Gabriel] on the clear horizon. He does not grudge the secrets of the unseen, nor is this the utterance of an accursed devil.” And Allah speaks out for Muhammad again in Sura 69:41-42: “It [the Quran] is no poet’s speech: scant is your faith! It is no soothsayer’s divination: how little you reflect! It is revelation from the Lord of the Universe.” Since poets were thought by tribal Arabs to be insane, a defense of Muhammad’s sanity is warranted.
The Paranoia Continues to This Day
There have been other theories about Muhammad and the possibility he may have had epilepsy or some other neurological affliction. But all of these speculations are not allowed within the Islamic community. Any critical thinking about Islam is a thought crime punishable by death. Just consider this: an ideology that sends assassins after Pamela Geller for sponsoring a Muhammad Drawing Contest might be more than a little paranoid about the threat level to their ideology such an event might inspire!
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