Origins of the Prophetic Teachings
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

I have been told by a critic of Islam that the Prophet Muhammad (sws) did not receive any revelation from the Almighty rather he would make things up. The following tradition is quoted to prove that the Prophet (sws) would copy things from others and present it as divined decrees.

 ‘Aishah (rta) narrates that Judāmā bint Wahb al-Asadiyyah informed her that she heard the Messenger of Allah (sws) say, ‘I intended to prohibit ghilā but I remembered that the Greeks and Persians do that without it causing any injury to their children.’ Malik explained: ‘Ghilā is that a man has intercourse with his wife while she is suckling [her offspring]’. (Mu’attā, No: 16)


We very well know that the Holy Prophet (sws) lived in a particular culture in a particular period of history. He did not claim that all he uttered was sanctioned from the Almighty. He must have also expressed his views based on his own observations of the matters, inherited knowledge of that time and self-inclinations. The referred to incident does not tell us that he received a revelation about the ill-effects of a certain act which he did not promulgate merely on the information that some people were doing the same without being harmed. This in fact tells us that the Holy Prophet (sws) thought that the act could have caused some harmful effects upon the infants; therefore, he intended to stop the Muslims from that. On being informed that it was not the case, he refrained from stopping others from doing the same but expressed his own tendency. How does this prove that the teachings of the Holy Prophet (sws) were borrowed from others? A man in his practical life depends a lot upon the available information and the knowledge of the people of the past and the present. Why should the Holy Prophet (sws) be denied this right? If somebody claims that since the Holy Prophet (sws) did not come up with a parallel method of growing crops and did not use his own invented weapons of war and relied upon the discoveries of other people, it proves that he was an imposter. Should he be paid heed to?

The only thing that has a potential to mislead one is the use of the word ‘prohibition’ in the tradition. This confusion also is a result of lack of knowledge. The tradition does not transmit the actual words spoken by the Holy Prophet (sws). Even if we suppose that in this instance it did, it could have been a decree as an administrator or merely an expression of his own tendency towards a matter in the same wording. He would sometimes suggest the traditional medicines known in Arabia and this does not fall within the purview of religion. Certainly he did not make these things mandatory for his followers because they do not form part of the Dīn (religion) revealed to him. Once he expressed his disapproval of a certain method of fertilization of dates at that time, it resulted in substantial decrease in the production that season. On hearing this he said:

I am a human being like you. When I give you any religious command, accept it. When I express my personal opinion, remember that I am nothing but a human being. (Sahīh Muslim, No: 2362)

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