Muslims maintain that since Muhammad was illiterate, then surely the Qur’an would be miraculous.
Polemically, would this then mean that Homer, around 1400 B.C., who wrote the masterpieces Iliad and the Odyssey and that was totally blind, or Beethoven, who was almost death, that they were as well divine messengers? Actually, even if Muhammad were illiterate, this wouldn’t be enough to make him a prophet.
Muhammad was a successful trader. At least, he could read the numbers. We have to remember that in Arab, as in all other Semitic languages, the numbers were written with letters (Abjed system). Thus, Muhammad could read/write, otherwise he could not be an international trader. We have some proof on that:
- Muhammad was never entering Khadija’s home without first checking the accounts (Bukhari 4.53.393).
- “so that I may write” Bukhari 4.53.393 “
- Muhammad wrote a letter: Bukhari, “the book of virtues” Nr 1756, Nr 65:
- Muhammad is called “nabiyyu’l Ummi” (Bukhari “Book “Exegesis” nr 4124; Bukhari Book Medecine Nr 5374; Book “Jihad 2” 2479; Surah 7:156-8). This is rendered as “illiterate prophet”, but illiterate (ummi), means “gentile”, in opposition to Jews. In fact, Surah 3:19 Muhammad is asked to read to “ummi and to the people of the Book”, Ummi thus stays for the gentils, the Arabs. The Qur’an gives as well the true meaning of “ummy/ummyyeen”, in Surah 3:20 and 3:75. The Meccans were not familiar with the Bible, were thus called “gentiles”. The word “ummi” is used six times in the Qur’an, and in one ayat, the Archangel Gabriel told him first: “Iqra” (read)! Muhammad answered: “I’m not a reader”. How could an illiterate read? Or was Allah unaware that Muhammad couldn’t read? Shi’ias are a little odd with the fact that Muhammad was illiterate. How could someone in such a high position not be able to read or write? Moreover, as we have seen, it contradicts different ahadith.
We have another reference maid by Bukhari, when Muhammad signed the treaty of Hudaybiyya . Muhammad cancelled the title of “apostle of God”, writing the down “son of Abdullah”. In another situation, Muhammad “cancelled the words that he didn’t like” (Sunan Abu Dawud 19.3021); Or: “We then asked: Who wrote this document for you? He replied: THE APOSTLE OF ALLAH (pbuh). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Number 2993)
Moreover, we have to ask ourselves: the Qur’an has been dictated for 23 years to Muhammad. Was he thus so obstinate having not learnt to read during all this time?