The idea that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote the Quran is a prevalent one in the West.
Even those who are sympathetic to Islam among western writers cannot admit that the Quran is a revelation from God.
Let’s briefly take a look at this issue in light of well-documented historical facts, logic, as well as with respect to the Prophet’s personality, life and career.
The Prophet’s life is perhaps the most fully and rigorously documented of any person in pre-modern times. This fact enables us to closely examine the claim that he wrote the Quran. Islamic scholars have discussed this issue in detail and have cited hundreds of proofs that establish the divine origin of the Quran. Here, we will mention just a few.
1- The Unlettered Prophet
It was well-known among the early Arabs of Makkah that the Prophet Muhammad was unlettered and did not know how to read or write. The Quran itself states this fact. None of his detractors ever attempted to deny this claim of the Quran:
Believe, then, in God and His Messenger – the unlettered Prophet who believes in God and His words – and follow him, so that you might find guidance! (7: 158)
As is recorded in his biography, when the angel Gabriel approached the Prophet for the first time at the age of 40, and revealed to him the first word of the Quran – “Read!” – The Prophet’s response was that he was unable to read.
Thus, even at the start of revelation, the Prophet was in no position to compose a book. Indeed, as the Quran states, the Prophet’s being unlettered was itself a matter of divine wisdom:
Never have you recited Scripture before this (Quran O Prophet)! Nor have you transcribed one with your right hand. For then, the progenitors of falsehood would have had cause to doubt (the revelation). (29: 48)
2- In various instances during the Prophet’s life where a problem arose, he was unable to find a solution until it was revealed to him by God.
In some cases the answer was delayed causing the Prophet great anxiety. If the Prophet had devised the answers himself, why would he need to wait for revelation?
Here are a few examples: Once a group of people accused the Prophet’s wife Aisha of adultery. The slanderous accusations shook the Muslim community in Madinah and resulted in the Prophet separating from his wife temporarily. During this extremely difficult ordeal, he did not know what to do. Finally, after nearly one month, verses were revealed that established the innocence of Aisha and rebuked those who made the false accusations against her.
The leaders of the Prophet’s tribe, Quraysh, once asked the Prophet a few questions in order to test him and to see if he really was the Messenger of God.
They asked about stories and issues, such as the Seven Sleepers, the nature of the soul, etc. Weeks had passed and the Prophet would not give any answers, because he did not have knowledge of them. As a result of the delay, the Prophet was accused of being a liar by members of his tribe. Finally, the Prophet received by revelation an entire chapter of the Quran, the Cave (Chapter 18), as well as other verses, answering all the questions asked to the Prophet by the Quraysh.
In the early days of Islam, the Muslims used to face Jerusalem while praying. The Prophet wished and wanted to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Makkah. But he did not instigate the change himself; instead, he waited for a command from his Lord, raising his head towards the heavens in anticipation. The Quran states:
We have seen you (O Prophet) often turn your face towards heaven… (2: 144)
Thereafter when God commanded that the direction of prayer be changed the Muslims were actually performing prayer in congregation and immediately turned their faces towards Makkah, turning from North to South.
In all of these incidents and many others, the Prophet did not act until revelation came to him with an explicit answer or command. This was the case even though the delay caused him to be rebuked and accused of being a false Prophet. If the Quran were from the Prophet, surely he could have “revealed” the verses earlier. This shows the Quran is a revelation from God, and not from Muhammad’s own imagination.