Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two Decisive Questions

Be that as it may, the Messenger has not fared well at the hands of his Western biographers, who see nothing particularly spiritual or mystical in either him or in the Qur'an. There are some exceptions to this rule among the Western critics, and they are important, but they cannot by themselves stem the tide of rejection emanating from the others. Very often they reduce him to the role of a political, social, or historical personality devoid of any sacred dimension to his character or his mission. In more recent interpretations, he has been practically adopted by both Western and Muslim Marxists as one of their own. Under such circumstances, the traditional accounts of the Prophet are either ignored or treated in the light of the particular ideological system held by the biographer. In medieval times in the West, the critics of Islam and its founder were at least much more logical: Muhammad was a false Prophet; the Qur'an was a false Scripture; therefore, Islam was a false religion. His medieval critics knew perfectly well that two decisive questions had to be answered in advance by anyone evaluating the Islamic message, and that everything depended on how one answered them: "Is the Qur'an a revealed Scripture?" and "Is Muhammad a true Prophet?" They knew that, if they answered "Yes" on both counts, their entire doctrinal structure built on the uniqueness of the Christian message for all mankind would collapse over their heads.
-Victor Danner, The Islamic Tradition: An Introduction, p. 36.