In a YouTube video, David Wood claimed that Muhammad is a false prophet; and provided some criteria to support is theory. I felt responsible to give some answers.
Claim 1: Source of Quran might be human
In this claim, David Wood says that Quran includes practices pre-dating Muhammad; which indicates that the source of the book can not be divine.
It is actually written in the Quran itself that God has only one religion, which was sent through all prophets to different communities in forms suitable for each. Therefore; since Quran was sent to the Arabic community, it is natural that it has preserved the useful and good deeds of that community.
Usually; when Quran provides a suggestion corresponding the Arabic customs, it provides the reasoning as well. Combining the suggestion & reasoning, we are able to understand the logic behind the verse; and project it to our lives today.
That’s why the verses containing Arabic customs are as important as others. Evaluating them in their own time & reasoning, we are able to get the core timeless message.
Claim 2: Muhammad might be influenced by demons
In this claim, David Wood claims that according to historical records, Muhammad spoke some verses; which he later cancelled because they were from the devil.
This notorious historical claim is based on vague sources at best. When we look at the Quran, it really mentions the devil potentially affecting the prophet. However, this verse is not specific to Muhammad.
Actually; the verse says that every single prophet was affected by the devil at some point whenever they wished something, but they were able to withstand it due to their holy nature.
According to credible interpreters; this verse means that even prophets get earthly and selfish desires when they wish something for their community. This is merely a warning for believers that they will get get similar desires, and they need to be aware & prepared.
In fact; we are told that Jesus and Buddha, two widely accepted spiritual teachers, had to face some sort of devil at some point on their journey. Jesus was on the desert, and Buddha was under a tree. So, the message in the Quran is consistent with them as well.
This isn’t about an invisible demon whispering false verses into the ear of a prophet. It is more about the selfish desires in the heart of humans; even prophets.
Claim 3: Quran doesn’t fulfill the criteria of divine origin
In this claim, David Wood invents two criteria for the divine origin of the Quran: Literary style and biblical prophecies; and says that they are not credible.
Actually; one of the most significant criteria of divine origin is the scientific miracles in the Quran. There are countless direct scientific information, which none of the people at Muhammad’s time might have known. Google about it, and you might be surprised.
Claim 4: Muhammad invented verses to marry unlimited women
In this claim; David Wood says that Muhammad can marry as many women as he wants, and evaluates this as a sign that he invented the verses according to his own will.
It is true that Quran enables Muhammad (and him only) to marry more women than other believers. However; this verse should be evaluated with its pre-conditions and the historical state of Muhammad’s community.
Quran says that Muhammad’s “extra” wives should either be immigrants (who possibly left her husband & family behind), or refugees (who possibly has no husband or protector).
The Arabic community back then was not a modern society with a high level of safety and regulations. It was more like a wild jungle, and a woman without a protector had a slim chance of survival.
A marriage to the prophet means that such single women converting to Islam had unconditional protection and security; even after the death of Muhammad. This enabled women to have an equal chance with men to convert to Islam solitarily.
Talking about marriage; one simply can’t assume that a marriage with the prophet necessarily means to have an intimate relationship with him. Divorce related verses make a distinction between the intimate wives and non-intimate wives. Therefore, we understand that there is a form of non-intimate marriage during the time of Muhammad.
Remembering that the purpose of the verses enabling Muhammad to marry an unlimited number of immigrant/refugee women is to protect them; my conscience is telling me that a prophet wouldn’t force any woman under his protection to become intimate.
Claim 5: Muhammad invented verses to marry his bride
In this claim; David Wood says that Muhammad wanted to marry the wife of his son, and invented a verse to have a false divine approval for his desire.
To my best historical knowledge, here is how the incident actually happened.
Muhammad didn’t really have a son. However; one of his freed male slaves (named Zeyd) became like a son to him; because they were close. The best corresponding term we have today would be an “adopted son”.
Zainab was a distant relative of Muhammad, which means that she was a free woman from a decent family (far from a slave). Despite her desire to marry Muhammad, she was asked to marry Zeyd.
That’s the first revolution that we will see in this incident. This was a very important sample act to demonstrate that all people are equal, even if they were labeled as “free” or “slave”. That was a very unorthodox act in its own time, and the prophet demonstrated over his own family that there is no such thing as superior / inferior people. We are all human and equal, and (so called) royal & slave can get married.
After Zainab and Zeyd got married, their relationship didn’t really work out. They were not getting along well.
Eventually, Zainab said that she can’t honor the marriage any longer; and wanted to get under the auspices of the prophet. However; the Arabic customs forbid the marriage between a man and the wife of his adopted son.
That’s the exact point where the verse in question came to Muhammad; which is not unusual because many verses came to him following social conflicts. That enabled the community to learn the Quran over real-life examples, not only theoretically.
The verse in question was the second revolution orbiting this incident.
Quran neither says that everyone must marry the wife of his adopted son, nor encourages it. It simply provides a permission, which might be used in certain circumstances.
This permission can’t be evaluated without other marriage-related verses of Quran. In summary; Quran actually encourages having a single spouse, but leaves the option of multiple wives open for the necessary circumstances.
Such instances probably occurred where solitary women need protection of a man under dire circumstances, or when only a few men were left due to a war. Remember that not all marriages force intimate relations either, and many interpreters say that a man should have permission of his actual wife in order to get a new wive (otherwise there would be no justice).
Evaluating the time Muhammad was living, war and death was very common among Arabic communities, and female new-joiners of Islam sometimes had to leave part or all of their families behind. In such circumstances, the ban to marry the wife of one’s adopted son probably didn’t serve the new Islamic community any longer because women would seek protection of their trusted step-father-in-laws; who were respeced elders.
Therefore; it was demonstrated over the Prophet himself that an obsolete practice of the Arabic community is not valid any more. This is neither the first nor the last example of the Quran making an example over the Prophet himself.
Quran was sent to the Arabic community, and it should be evaluated within its communal context.
In the modern communities today; no one really needs to marry her step-father-in-law. But the law doesn’t forbid it either. So how is that different from what the Quran says?
Claim 6: Muhammad’s wife / slave relationship
This claim of David Wood is disturbing for many believers, so I won’t mention it here. You can watch the original video if you want.
Quran criticizes Muhammad in multiple verses. This is a sign that, despite being a prophet, Muhammad was also human with possible mistakes and occasional less-than-ideal behavior.
Even if you find less-than-ideal decisions of Muhammad, and even if some of them is true, it doesn’t shadow the Quran at all. In fact, this would be consistent with the Muhammad portrait pictured by the Quran itself: A “human” prophet of God.
As mentioned before; one of the most significant signs of the divine origin of Quran is the scientific information which can’t possibly be known by anyone in Muhammad’s community. Even if Muhammad did some mistakes, this didn’t affect his task as a messenger.
You also need to evaluate Muhammad within his own time, community and culture. Back then; having multiple spouses and being intimate with female slaves was a common and accepted practice. The verses in Quran actually “limited” such acts, and brought practices which would end slavery over time altogether.
Instead of shattering the entire community all at once, it had the approach of a slower but steady change; where people had the chance to adapt.
The verse mentioned by David Wood is merely another demonstration over the life of Muhammad. It strongly indicates that the word of God can’t be changed or bent; even by the prophet. Whever is enabled by God, can’t be disabled (even by the Prophet). And if you think about the counter-idea, whatever is disabled by God, can’t be enabled (even by the Prophet).
Considering that Muhammad was the “president” (for lack of a better term) of his community as well; the lesson for us believers is evident.