REFUTING SOME OF THE INSINUATION OF THE ORIENTALISTS ON THE SIRAH
William Muir, one of the orientalists have made the wildest insinuation that the Prophet was, since his boyhood, a life long patient of epilepsy of falling disease with reference to the incident of Shaqq al Sadr. The insinuation originated with the Greeks and was then taken up by subsequent writers.
Some of the orientalists even misread the expression fa-alhiqihi occurring in the report as bi-alhaqqiiyah and then strangely translated it as the hypochondriacal disease. Syed Ahmed Khan pointed this out.
Referring to the incident of Shaqq al Sadr, Muir says that it was probably a fit of epilepsy. To support this theory of epilepsy Muir cites in a footnote to his text referring to the work of Sirah by Ibn Hisham (Ibn Ishaq).
But disregarding the fact that in Wustenfelds edition of that work, as also in all other editions the material expression in the report is usiba, Muir reproduces it as umiba which is apparently a strange and meaningless expression. He then gives its meaning as had a fit. If he had in fact followed a faulty manuscript or printed copy of the work, it would have been proper to refer to that. However, Muir did not do so.
When Syed Ahmed Khan pointed out in the year1870 this gross mistake on Muirs part, the latter simply omitted the foot-note in question from the subsequent edition of his book without altering or modifying his assertion, for which the foot note had originally been given as evidence. Thus, even though the mistake and misuse of the source were pointed out, the allegation was persistently advanced.
It may be noted that in none of the reports concerning the incident of Shaqq al-sadr, it is mentioned that the boy Muhammad was seen unconscious or in a fit of epilepsy.
Again, none of the reports relates the incident with the physical stresses and strains that sometimes attended the coming of revelation to the Prophet much later in his life. Yet Muir mixes up the above two states and concluded that it is the result of epilepsy.
Muir is aware that the reports on Shaq al Sadr is inadequate to assume epilepsy, so he proceeds to twist the meaning of the state of the Prophet at certain times of revelation. Thus he sowed confusion, and later other orientalists picked up from where he left off and write about epilepsy.
For Muslims, the so-called excited state and ecstatic swoons are not an evidence of revelation.
In the New Encyclopedia Britannica epilepsy has been defined as: sudden and recurrent disturbances in mental function, state of consciousness, sensory activity, or movements of the body caused by paroxysmal malfunction of cerebral nerve cells. Under type of seizures it mentions four categories: Grand Mal, Petit Mal, Psychomotor and Infantile Spasms.
Historical, rational or medical grounds cannot substantiate the theory of Epilepsy or any such ailment, because the Prophet was of exceptional mental/physical health till his death. The Prophet did not show any sign of degeneration of body or mind which is medically accepted as the unavoidable effects of epilepsy or hysteria. Muir himself notes to the effect that the Prophet was of excellent health.
When the good health of the Prophet and the general effects of a person suffering from epilepsy could not be reconciled, the followers of Muir goes on to suggest that the Prophet artificially induced the symptoms in order to produce revelation.
There could yet be other forms of epilepsy not known to medical science. Even then it would still be a case of a disease and would thus have affected his mental faculties making him incapable of thought control. But every time Muhammad received a revelation he would be in complete control of himself and was completely able to recall everything after and have it recorded accordingly. He was given this assurance by Allah when the following verses were recorded in the Quran:
Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran O Muhammad l) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to give you (O Muhammad) the ability to recite. And when We have recited it to you (O Muhammad) through Jibrael, then follow you its (the Quran) recital. Then it is for Us (Allah) to make it clear to you.
The Quran which was recited by Muhammad is available today. When examined, it does not look like the weird screams and other mumblings of an epileptic. In fact the Quran is so easy to remember that if one gathers any small number of sincere Muslims together, it is possible to repeat the Quran from their collected memories. This, irrespective of whether these people understand Arabic or not. The Quran confirms this fact as follows:
And we have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?"