10 July 2014
World Religion West
Dr. Smith  

                                                  Muhammad in the cave with Gabriel

I begin my critical examination of Islam with the person of Muhammad and his revelations.  For this is where it all started.  If I’m expect to accurately discern the spirit of Islam then I must begin at the foundation, I must examine the seed.  Muhammad is the founder of Islam and is believed by Muslims to be the sole human instrument that “received” the words of the Quran directly from Allah. At this point I will review the nature of Muhammad’s spiritual encounters that led to his career as a “prophet” and birthed the religion that now has the attention of the world.
Muslims believe that when Muhammad received the revelations that have been compiled to make up the Quran, he received them word for word, directly from Allah.  As such, Allah is thought to be the actual author of the Quran.  The Quran is thus intended to be read as if it is Allah speaking directly in the first person.  Muhammad is merely viewed as the human messenger, or the apostle of Allah.  As one Muslim theologian has said, “The prophet was purely passive indeed unconscious: the Book was in no sense his, neither it’s thought, nor language, nor style: all was of God, and the Prophet was merely a recording pen.” 1 This stands in distinction to the Christian view of the nature of inspiration of the Bible.  Christians understand that while God indeed inspired the authors of Scripture to convey His thoughts and words, each individual author brought to the Scriptures his own individual human style and personality.  God used the human agents as His vessels, but He did not literally override them.  As you will see, this was not the manner of Muhammad’s revelations. 
Ms. Karen Armstrong, a popular and highly sympathetic writer about Islam and Muhammad gives this account of the manner of Muhammad’s initial encounter with what Muslims believe was Gabriel the angel in...