In their attempts to discredit the divine origin of the Quran, critics for centuries have claimed that the Prophet Muhammad authored the Quran.
One historical fact, however, is sufficient to debunk that theory: the Prophet’s living conditions were unfavorable for him to have authored an impeccable masterpiece.
Not Enough Resources
In the 23-year period of prophethood, the Prophet Muhammad did not have the adequate equipment to conclude all the facts that are stated in the Quran. Take, for instance, the Quran’s statement on the expanding universe:
We have built the universe with power, and indeed We are expanding it. (Quran 51:47)
With the telescope reportedly invented in the 17th century, over 1000 years after the Prophet Muhammad, it would have been difficult for him to have discovered this fact on his own.
The Prophet Muhammad was not a philosopher, researcher, or a scientist. He was unable to read or write, and no evidence exists of him employing a team of scientists to conduct research.
Unlike the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 AC), Aristotle (d. 384 BC) was a scientist and a philosopher who engaged in learning, science, and academic debates.
In regards to embryonic development, Aristotle held the theory of epigenesis, which claimed that an organism’s development went through stages.
Scientists in the 17th century clashed with that theory and advocated the idea of preformation, which stated that an embryo is a miniature man whose parts were already formed.
Preformationists could not fathom how unorganized matter could self-organize into life. By the 18th-century, preformation became the dominant theory, and Aristotle’s idea was dismissed.
In the 19th century, however, the cell-theory influenced scientists to reconsider epigenesis. By the 20th century, the invention of ultrasound gave scientists the tool to prove that early development did indeed undergo stages.
One unlearned man could not have duplicated this research, which took centuries to complete, and could not have done it without technology. The claim is not that it is impossible for someone to introduce a theory in a given century.
The striking element is that the facts about embryonic development were accurately presented in the Quran and had no need for revision.
Aristotle’s epigenesis theory was made centuries earlier than the Prophet Muhammad, but it had flaws. Aristotle’s theory incorrectly postulated that a fetus formed from menstrual blood.
Some preformationists also held wrong ideas. As an example, the female was not considered to have a role in the source material of the embryo.
The Quran, however, describes the embryonic development as an epigenetic process with the embryo’s source material emanating from both the male and female.
Some critics conveniently claim that the Prophet Muhammad “corrected” the flaws of earlier scientists and authored an accurate account of the developmental process.
However, the living conditions of the Prophet Muhammad, as will be explained further in this article, indicate that the required research and resources for the “correction” to be made were just not available.
Then We made him as a sperm-egg drop (zygote) in a firm lodging. Then We created the sperm-egg drop into a clinging clot, and We created the clot into a lump, and We created the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is God, the best of creators. (Quran 23:13-14)
Indeed, We created man from a sperm-egg drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing. (Quran 76:2)
The Prophet Muhammad lived his life in desert areas and did not explore or study the vast seas. Still, we can find facts about oceanography that could only be realized if one frequented the waters and conducted tests with modern equipment.
After analyzing factors such as the sea’s salinity and density, scientists have recently discovered that a separation zone, or a partition, exists where salt and fresh water meet. The Quran spoke about this partition over fourteen centuries ago:
And it is He who has released the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition. (Quran 25:53)
The Prophet Muhammad who was unlettered and a land dweller could not have discovered the separation zone, let alone describe it accurately.
His geographical remoteness also made it difficult for him to have studied artifacts and documents of other cultures in other continents.
The Quran states that the Prophet Joseph lived under a King in Egypt, which historical data substantiate today. This fact also refutes the accusation that the Prophet copied from the Bible since the Bible states that at Prophet Joseph’s time a Pharaoh ruled Egypt.
Without visiting Egypt or having access to its historical documents, the Prophet could not have adequately studied Egyptology and corrected the Biblical error as some critics allege.
Fighting for His Life
In Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad called to monotheism, the belief of the hereafter, and the belief in Prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, etc.
The response of the pagan Arabs to his call was horrific. They demanded that he and his followers recant monotheism and follow the paganism of their fathers.
Refusing to do so, the Muslims were tortured and persecuted for a decade while they committed to restraint and non-violence.
The Prophet Muhammad escaped assassination attempts on his life and fled to Madinah. The pagans pursued him on the way but were unable to apprehend him.
After Muslims settled in Madinah, the pagans launched constant attacks on Madinah: the Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud, and the Battle of the Trench. In this 5-year period, the pagans also committed acts of aggression on Madinah and its inhabitants in between those battles.
The Prophet’s responsibility of continuously defending his city would make it difficult for him to sit and write an eloquent document of over 6,000 verses that also contain scientific and historical facts.
As any writer knows, writing takes a lot of effort and concentration. It involves research, proofreading, editing, re-editing, line editing, copy editing, developmental editing, etc. When the mind is distracted, stressed, or not in optimal performance, writers can face writer’s block: when the brain cannot produce words. Writers have described the tedious task of writing:
“Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment thereafter.”
– Jessamyn West
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
– Gene Fowler
“Writers don’t have lifestyles. They sit in little rooms and write.”
– Norman Mailer
The time, focus, and resources the writing of the Quran would have required were not available to the Prophet Muhammad, making it inconceivable that he authored it.
He did not know how to read or write nor did he have assemblies with scientists, philosophers, or historians.
Also, he was preoccupied with defending his life and his city against attacks until death.
We can safely assume that the Prophet Muhammad’s conditions were not ideal for authoring a masterpiece work. The source of the Quran could not have been a 7th-century unlettered human being. It had to be divine.