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Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins [Kindle Edition]

Robert Spencer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Are jihadists dying for a fiction? Everything you thought you knew about Islam is about to change.
Did Muhammad exist?
It is a question that few have thought—or dared—to ask. Virtually everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, takes for granted that the prophet of Islam lived and led in seventh-century Arabia.
But this widely accepted story begins to crumble on close examination, as Robert Spencer shows in his eye-opening new book.
In his blockbuster bestseller The Truth about Muhammad, Spencer revealed the shocking contents of the earliest Islamic biographical material about the prophet of Islam. Now, in Did Muhammad Exist?, he uncovers that material’s surprisingly shaky historical foundations. Spencer meticulously examines historical records, archaeological findings, and pioneering new scholarship to reconstruct what we can know about Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early days of Islam. The evidence he presents challenges the most fundamental assumptions about Islam’s origins.
Did Muhammad Exist? reveals:

How the earliest biographical material about Muhammad dates from at least 125 years after his reported death
How six decades passed before the Arabian conquerors—or the people they conquered—even mentioned Muhammad, the Qur’an, or Islam
The startling evidence that the Qur’an was constructed from existing materials—including pre-Islamic Christian texts
How even Muslim scholars acknowledge that countless reports of Muhammad’s deeds were fabricated
Why a famous mosque inscription may refer not to Muhammad but, astonishingly, to Jesus
How the oldest records referring to a man named Muhammad bear little resemblance to the now-standard Islamic account of the life of the prophet
The many indications that Arabian leaders fashioned Islam for political reasons

Far from an anti-Islamic polemic, Did Muhammad Exist? is a sober but unflinching look at the origins of one of the world’s major religions. While Judaism and Christianity have been subjected to searching historical criticism for more than two centuries, Islam has never received the same treatment on any significant scale.
The real story of Muhammad and early Islam has long remained in the shadows. Robert Spencer brings it into the light at long last.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Spencer] has engaged in concerted detective work of a scholarly nature. His book is no polemic. It is a serious quest for facts. . . . Well-written and moves right along.” —Washington Times


“Careful, detailed, well-reasoned. . . . [A] brave book.” —FrontPage Magazine


“This will send shockwaves through Islamic communities.” —The Blaze


In an impeccably researched book, Spencer shows that all our Arabic sources for the life of Muhammad are very late, tendentious, and unsupported by any archaeological or epigraphic evidence, while the non-Islamic sources are scant and ambiguous. Thanks to this book, skepticism regarding what we can know about Muhammad must now and forever be taken seriously.” —Ibn Warraq, editor of What the Koran Really Says


“A surprising and eye-opening new book . . . Quite a convincing job.” —PJ Media


“Robert Spencer has displayed brilliant scholarship and fierce courage in his previous books. In this one he perseveres and confronts with deep erudition the most topical problem of our century.” —Bat Ye’or, author of The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam


“A super detective service for the West . . . Spencer leaves few rocks unturned in his search for the truth about Islam and Muhammad.” —Capitalism Magazine

About the Author

Robert Spencer is the author of several critically acclaimed books about Islam, including the New York Times bestsellers The Truth about Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine and the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Spencer holds a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth for more than three decades.


Product Details

  • File Size: 587 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (April 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Y90W26
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,875 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
291 of 314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did the Muslim Muhammad Exist? April 14, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Did Muhammad Exist?: An inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins" by Robert Spencer (Apr. 2012), 254 pgs., hardback. Initially, I was incredulous that someone might actually question that the Muslim prophet Muhammad may not have existed. After all, when one reads books pertaining to Islam they all uniformly note specific dates as to when he was born (the year of the Elephant), slinked away on his hajra to Medina, conducted various military campaigns, and portrayed his slow death - as detailed in the ahadith. However, the author (Mr. Spencer) has combed through the writings of many Islamic researchers who have questioned the historiography of some event in Muhammad's perceived career as a `barker' for the Arabian dessert god Allah. Quickly, the chapter titles are: Introduction: the Full Light of History? (Chpt 1) The Man Who Wasn't There. (2) Jesus, the Muhammad. (3) Inventing Muhammad. (4) Switching On the Full Light of History. (5) The Embarrassment of Muhammad. (6) The Unchanging Qur'an Changes. (7) The Non-Arabic Arabic Qur'an. (8) What the Qur'an May Have Been. (9) Who Collected the Qur'an? , and (10) Making Sense of It All. As the author admitted: "In writing this book, I do not intend to break new ground. Instead, I aim to bring to wider public attention the work of a ... band of scholars who have dared ... to examine what the available historical data reveals about the canonical account of Islam's origins" (p. 8). In this goal the author succeeds admirably. Is Muhammad the Arab version of England's Robin Hood? Perhaps not a real figure, but more of a figurine based on legends from the dim memories of faded accounts of misty campfire tales about past multiple adventure-action dune warriors and chieftains. Mr. Spencer unabashedly poses the heretical question: "Did Muhammad exist? Read more ›
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87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muhammad April 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading "Did Muhammad Exist?" and found it very enlightening. He brings together a lot of the research that has been done on "The Qur'an" and the prophet by others and makes it intelligible to the average person. His book is in no way a complete survey of all the material available on the subject but he does explain what we do know about the prophet and what we don't know. He does the same for "The Qur'an" and the hadiths. Additionally, he puts Islam into an historical context.

This is the same kind of research that had previously been done on Jesus, David and others mentioned in the Bible. For too long Islam has been off limits and one wonders what is being hidden? At the end of the book, Robert Spencer tells us that historical investigators have a responsibility to delve further into Islam's origins. I couldn't agree more.
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245 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, judicious, scholarly April 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I read this book in manuscript, and found it intellectually provocative, scrupulously evidence-based, and gracefully written. The thesis it explores is one that has been too little considered by English-language scholars: What are the reliable historical grounds for crediting the canonical narrative of the origin of Islam? For centuries, Christians and Jews have seen their respective sacred scriptures subjected to deconstruction and skepticism, while Islam received almost a "free pass." Not every skeptical treatment of scriptures has been disinterested or honest, of course. Scholars are human beings, and they have their own motives. Indeed, the analysis of Jewish/Christian scriptures by men like Hobbes and Locke was strongly motivated by their irreligious agendas. Readers of Spencer's other books will know in advance what his stance is: He worries about the political aspirations of those Muslims who are religiously intolerant, and calls on Muslims to embrace religious pluralism--while candidly acknowledging the problems this would pose for orthodox Muslims. For this, he is falsely labeled a bigot or even a "racist" (as if Islam, a world religion, were some ethnic cult). In this new book, Spencer examines the almost shocking thesis: What is Islamic revelation was an afterthought, a narrative created AFTER the Arab conquests of the Near East, to give the new ruling elite an ideological pretext for power. Historians will have to continue conducting research, under adverse conditions (Saudi Arabia, for instance, does not welcome infidel archaeologists) to see how much merit there is in this thesis. But the book is certainly well worth reading.
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180 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book--couldn't put it down April 22, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book and when it finally arrived I found myself riveted to every page.

People have long questioned whether Moses or Jesus existed, why not the same question about Mohammed? Why has it taken so long to ask?

Spencer does an amazing job showing that there is, in fact, no historical evidence at all that Mohammed ever existed, and that the tales about him were written long after he was dead and were often fabricated to justify one tribe's actions over another. Even the stories about Mecca being an important center of trade appear to be fabricated as its location would preclude it from serving this purpose.

Brilliant book. I hope other scholars will follow Spencer's lead and make more critical investigations into the origins of Islam.

Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very compelling. Everyone should read this book.
Very compelling. Everyone should read this book.
Published 21 days ago by Eric E.
4.0 out of 5 stars Obscure origins is right! As I unbelievable as it ...
Obscure origins is right! As I unbelievable as it may seem, Islam and the legends about Muhammad resulted from the Arab conquests in the Middle East, and not the other way around,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen Guilford
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and easy to read
This is Spencer at his best! He makes a strong case based on fair questions, and a close examination of the traditional accounts. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Antonio Rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight
Great explanations and insight into the development of Islam using historical evidence. A good book to have for people to gain understanding and be informed about Islam.
Published 1 month ago by Rashnu
4.0 out of 5 stars A Doubt I Share
I have just started reading this so it's too early to comment; I'll edit this later when I have finished the book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nelson W. Lentz
5.0 out of 5 stars Group of Desert Nomads' Imagination...A Good Argument
Let's face it folks, the Koran is a scramble of a bit of the Torah, Gospels, Zoroasterism and a whole lot of Biblical Name Dropping. That doesn't mean that Mohammed existed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by PatnCat
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
After reading through all the negative reviews on here, I understood that ALL the criticisms of this book were something on the lines of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Cliff Pinto
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Reading for Non-Muslims & Muslims
I am still reading this book. There are really questions as to the existence of Mohammad. I am really inclined to believe that this person is a make believe and all those... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rafael B. Fuentes
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually a very solid "intro" historical inquiry into Islam's roots
As a MA in Classical History and a BA in Religion I always wondered why a deeper dive into the "Historical Muhammad" has never been done. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jean Payens
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opener
While the premise appeared ludicrous at first, and I'm not totally convinced he's right about there being no historical 'muhammad' as a source for later wildly-inflated stories... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jeffrey A. Gross
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More About the Author

ROBERT SPENCER is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of thirteen books, including two New York Times bestsellers, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (both Regnery). Recent books he has written include Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins (ISI) and Not Peace But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam (Catholic Answers). His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We're In (Regnery).

Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army's Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community.

Spencer is the Vice President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). He is a weekly columnist for PJ Media and FrontPage Magazine, and in addition to his books, has written many hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism. His other books are Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter); Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery); Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't (Regnery); Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs (Regnery); and The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran (Regnery). He is coauthor, with Daniel Ali, of Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics (Ascension), and editor of the essay collection The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims (Prometheus). He is coauthor, with Pamela Geller, of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War On America (Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster). Spencer's books have been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Korean, and Bahasa Indonesia.

Along with his current weekly columns, for nearly ten years Spencer wrote the weekly Jihad Watch column at Human Events. He has completed a weekly Qur'an commentary at Jihad Watch, Blogging the Qur'an, which has been translated into Czech, Danish, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. He has served as a contributing writer to Steven Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism. His articles on Islam and other topics have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News, TownHall.com, Real Clear Religion, the Daily Caller, the New Criterion, the Journal of International Security Affairs, the UK's Guardian, Canada's National Post, Middle East Quarterly, WorldNet Daily, First Things, Insight in the News, National Review Online, and many other journals.

Spencer has discussed jihad, Islam, and terrorism at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the German Foreign Ministry. He has also appeared on the BBC, ABC News, CNN, FoxNews's O'Reilly Factor, the Sean Hannity Show, the Glenn Beck Show, Fox and Friends, and many other Fox programs, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, C-Span, France24, Voice of Russia and Croatia National Televison (HTV), as well as on numerous radio programs including Bill O'Reilly's Radio Factor, The Mark Levin Show, The Laura Ingraham Show, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, Michael Savage's Savage Nation, The Sean Hannity Show, The Alan Colmes Show, The G. Gordon Liddy Show, The Neal Boortz Show, The Michael Medved Show, The Michael Reagan Show, The Rusty Humphries Show, The Larry Elder Show, The Barbara Simpson Show, Vatican Radio, and many others.

He has been a featured speaker at the University of California-Irvine, Temple University, Dartmouth College, Penn State University, the University of California-Los Angeles, Stanford University, New York University, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, State University of New York-Binghamton, State University of New York-Stony Brook, DePaul University, the College of William and Mary, Washington University of St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Boise State University, and many other colleges and universities.

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