Jul 05, 2008
Note to Muslim readers: This article may seem offensive, but try to read it in the sense of opening a dialogue. If Muhammad lived “in the full light of history,” then Muslims and non-Muslims should be able to discuss his attributes and claims, including the reasonableness of those attributes and claims. Muhammad has made claims that have neither been verified by other witnesses nor have they been challenged by Muslims by the use of reason. Was he really given the text of a scripture written on an imperishable tablet? Have you ever even reflected on his Ninety-Nine Names?
No prophet has been ascribed more names than Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.
Muslims proudly list the Ninety-Nine Names of Muhammad on websites. Some of the notable sobriquets include #18 Mahi, (“Obliterator”), #31 Ta-ha (T.H.), #33 Ta-sin (T.S.), #37 Ya-sin (Y.S.), and #50 Narazi (a word for which there is no known meaning). While most of the names have to do with religious qualities, some are merely everyday attributes: #25 Hashimi (Family of Hashim), #26 Abtahi (Belonging to al-Batha), and #80 Yatim (Orphan).
Based on the collections of hadith about Muhammad that extol his sexual prowess, it is surprising that the list of names includes undecipherable initials and words which have no meaning, but not something for which he was renown. Historical accounts indicate that Muhammad bore eight children with his first wife Khadijah. (al-Tabari, Vo. IX, Para. 1767) . Ultimately, Muhammad married 15 women, and had eleven at one time plus two concubines (al-Tabari, Vol. IX, Para. 1766 and 1778). It has been told that Muhammad had the sexual strength of thirty men, and that he sometimes would make the rounds of his wives, sleeping with all of them in one day and night. (Bukhari Vol. 1, Number 268). So perhaps one of the non-religious names for Muhammad should be something like “Big Stud.”
After all, sex is a central theme in Islam. Women must be covered from head to toe in black, baggy outfits to avoid arousing the sexual lusts of men. The Arabic word for marriage, nikah, is actually the word for the sexual act. The seventy virgins in paradise for each man certainly stand out in importance above the rivers of wine and the plentiful fruits. So it wouldn’t hurt if the Prophet of Islam were a model of achievement in the sex department.
But then, sadly, all of Muhammad’s sons died in infancy, and he had only one daughter, Fatimah, who survived him by a mere six months. For all of his sexual opportunities, none of his wives after Khadijah ever became pregnant. But some historians report that his Copt concubine, Mariya, bore Muhammad a son, Ibrahim, (who died before he was two years old). Ali Sina, in his newly revised book, Understanding Muhammad, a Psychobiography, has introduced a different tradition reported by Ibn Sa’d and recorded in Tabaqat, Vol. 8, Page 224. It seems that Mariya also had a Coptic lover named Mabur who was presented to Muhammad as a gift-slave from the ruler of Alexandria at the same time as Mariya. Ibrahim, then, would most likely be the son of Mabur. While this story is echoed by Al-Tabari (Vol. IX, Para. 1782), the critical difference is that Al-Tabari’s account insists that Mabur was a eunuch. Al-Tabari’s account is as follows: Muhammad, hearing that it may have been Mabur that fathered Ibrahim, sent Ali to kill him. When Mabur realized what Ali intended to do, he lifted his shirt and showed Ali that he was “completely castrated, not having anything left of what men [normally have]”, so Ali refrained from killing him.
Now, this story makes more sense if one could imagine the ensuing dialogue:
Ali: Mabur, rumor has it that you are Mariya’s lover and that you that fathered Ibrahim.
Mabur: Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t. What are you going to do about it?
Ali: The Prophet ordered me to kill you.
Mabur: OK, if you kill me, then everyone in Medina will conclude that I was, indeed, the father of Ibrahim. They will also realize that Muhammad, with eleven wives, hasn’t gotten a single one of them pregnant. Kill me, and Muhammad is impotent.
Ali: You’ve got a point, but how does this get resolved?
Mabur: You tell Muhammad that you saw me naked, and I was like an empty cup – no tea-bag and no stirrer, either. He wouldn’t want you to kill an innocent eunuch, would he?
Ali: But you’re not a eunuch, are you?
Mabur: And Muhammad isn’t impotent, is he?
Ali: OK, but you keep away from Mariya. Any more kids from her, and Muhammad will chop both of our necks.
For all the sex in the Quran and in Muhammad’s life, he had little to show for it. Only one surviving child, and no sons to carry on his legacy. The Sunni vs. Shiite rift is a direct consequence of Mohammad having no heir-apparent.
By comparison, let’s look at another well-known Arab family – the bin Ladens. The patriarch of the family was Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden (died 1967). He had 22 wives and 55 children. From that start, there are now 600 descendants and their spouses. Osama bin Laden was his 17th child, and he went on to have five wives and twelve to twenty-four children. So, just between Osama and his father alone, they produced almost 80 children. The Prophet Muhammad had only one surviving child who died just six months after him.
This leads to another twist to the story of Muhammad’s sexual prowess, and it also implies that Muhammad was impotent. Muhammad’s nine surviving wives were quite young. Aiyisha, who he defrocked when she was nine and he was 54, was only eighteen when Muhammad died. The only wife who was not in her teens or twenties, was Sauda who was in her thirties when Muhammad died. Obviously, all of these women were still attractive and were still of child-bearing age. So was it an act of cruelty or an attempt to cover up his impotency when Muhammad’s wives forbidden to remarry after his death?
The Quran was quite explicit: “The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on each other. His wives are their mothers.” (Surah 33:6) Simply put, marrying a widow of Muhammad would be incest. This is reinforced in verse 53, which says, “You must not speak ill of God’s apostle, nor shall you ever wed his wives after him; this would be a grave offence in the sight of God.” A more logical motive for this decree is that if the surviving widows began to have babies with their new husbands, it would be proof positive that Muhammad was indeed impotent. So these young women were condemned to spinsterhood for the rest of their lives.
There is something incomplete about 99. Why just 99 names? It is so close to 100, why not scrounge up one more descriptive name for the Prophet, just to have a nice, round number? Should it be “Big Stud” or “the Impotent”? Muslims should read up on their Prophet and make their own decision.
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