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By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

10/18/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Muhammad's moral life is all there is with which to assess him.

Since the natural law, albeit natural, is God's own law, that is, of his design, it follows that God's revealed law cannot contradict the natural law.  It necessarily follows that the law which God has writ in man and his nature ought not to conflict or contradict, though it may be supplemented with and supported by, revealed or divine law.   The life and message of one who claims to be a purveyor of God's revelation, whether it be Moses, or Jesus, or Muhammad, or anyone else, can be tested through the compatibility of that claimed revelation with natural law. 

Article Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/18/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Islam, Muhammed, Muslim, Islan, Koran, Quran, Jihad, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Muhammad is a man who must be taken seriously.  He is, after all, touted by over a billion Muslims to be the mouthpiece of the most-high-God.  He is the only witness that God talked to him and recited through him his Qur'an.  Muhammad claimed to be, and his followers hold him to be, the prophet of prophets, the seal of the prophets, khatim al-nabiyin.  This means no one can improve on or change his message. 

But there is more, Muhammad claimed to be, and his followers hold him out to be, the most perfect human, what the Muslims call al-insan al-kamil.  The Qur'an--in the view of Muslims the uncreated word of God himself--says that Muhammad is a good example to imitate, uswa hasana.  Repeatedly, the Qur'an holds Muhammad out to be an exemplary man.  E.g., Qur'an, 33:21, 3:32, 3:132, 4:13, 4:59, 4:69, 4:80, 5:92, 8:1, 8:20, 8:46, 9:71, 24:47, 24:51, 24:52, 24:54, 24:56, 33:33, 47:33, 49:14, 64:12, 68:4.  For this reason, Muhammad is sometimes referred to as the "living Qur'an."

That is why Muslims are so hostile when it comes to criticism of their supposed prophet.  That is also why Muslims object to any depiction of Muhammad: he is simply too perfect to portrait.  That also explains why particularly pious Muslims slavishly imitate him, from the most mundane matters--his toilette habits, his likes for food, his beard growing and dyeing--to more transcendent matters--his prayer habits, his pilgrimage habits, to more troublesome matters--his dislike of critics, his penchant for violence, his sexual and marital habits.

Now the claims of the Muslim cry for scrutiny to see if they are true.  If they are true, it seems Muhammad as the self-professed prophet of the Creator God must be followed.  If they are false, he and his message must be rejected.  Tertium non datur.  Given the claim by Muhammad and his followers, there is no third option between yeah or nay.

The only means we have to determine whether Muhammad was the prophet of all prophets and the perfect example of human living is to invoke the judgment of reason.  Is it a reasonable claim on the part of Muhammad and his followers to claim that this man Muhammad is the prophet of all prophets and the perfect human?

In the realm of morals, the reason we use is called practical reason.  It is what helps us determine the good.  The product of reason in the realm of morals yields us what we call the natural law. 

The natural moral law provides us with sure guidance in both our personal life and our life in common.  The natural moral law, a law resident in our hearts, is a law placed there by God the Creator of men and women.  It reflects His ordered reason, His ratio ordinis, and it informs us, through self-evident principles, through conscience, through inclinations, and finally, through the application of practical reason in further determinations to know the good and discover legitimate means to pursue that good. 

The existence of the natural moral law exists before we come upon the question of God revealing Himself through supernatural means, through Revelation.  Accordingly, the natural law ought to be the common language, the lingua franca, by which and through which all men of good will can speak.  It is the law universal and shared by all men, a law superior and precedent of, all claimed positive revelation and all moral convention.

Since the natural law, albeit natural, is God's own law, that is, of his design, it follows that God's revealed law cannot contradict the natural law.  It necessarily follows that the law which God has writ in man and his nature ought not to conflict or contradict, though it may be supplemented with and supported by, revealed or divine law. 

Similarly, the life and message of one who claims to be a purveyor of God's revelation, whether it be Moses, or Jesus, or Muhammad, or anyone else, can be tested through the compatibility of that claimed revelation with natural law. 

The natural law, then, serves as a litmus test that may be applied to any claimed revelation and any man who claims to be a messenger of God.  A man who claims to be a prophet but who lives a life that contradicts the natural law may be confidently rejected for he is an inauthentic prophet, a false prophet. We may accept here the admonitory words of Jesus which are eminently reasonable.

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit, and the evil tree brings forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that brings not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them."  (Matt. 7:15-20)

In the next various articles, I intend to tackle what is no doubt a controversial subject, but one that needs to be approached honestly and forthrightly.  How does Muhammad fare when his life is judged against the natural moral law?  What are his fruits, the fruits of his life and the fruits of his teaching?

While we are unable with certainty to judge the subjective sincerity of Muhammad, we are able to make an objective and morally certain assessment of his external actions, at least as those are reported to us by Muslim sources.  In this analysis, we may take the earliest Muslim sources regarding Muhammad's life as true.

Obviously, a man who has reached moral perfection must live a life in perfect conformity with the natural moral law in addition to one in conformity with any revealed law.  The moral perfection ascribed to Muhammad by the Muslims necessarily means that Muhammad could not have been trapped by conventional Bedouin morality.  Though he could live within convention and custom to the extent that these were not in contradiction with natural moral law, as a prophet whose ear was supposedly in tune with the voice of God, one would expect him to be able to overcome or criticize conventions to the extent that these contravened natural moral law.

In making this assessment regarding Muhammad, we are fortunate to have Islamic sources upon which we draw on to form a fairly accurate description of Muhammad's life.  Although the Qur΄an is not particularly biographical, there is a wealth of narrations or reports (called hadith) concerning the words and the deeds of Muhammad and these have been gathered in a number of authentic collections such as the Sahih al-Bukhari, the Sahih Muslim, the Sunan as-Sughra, the Sunan Abu Dawud, the Jami al-Tirmidhi, and the Sunan ibn Majah

Moreover, there are some fairly old and traditional biographies of Muhammad (sirat rasul allah or al-sira al-nabawiyya), such as the biography by Ibn Ishaq or the history of at-Tabari.  There are also recountings of Muhammad's military expeditions (maghazi), such as that by al-Waqidi.

In the exploration of the topic, we are aided by what Ernest Renan observed to be a unique feature of Islam relative to Judaism or Christianity; namely, that Islam was born "in the full light of history."  Islam, Renan says, "was born in the full light of history, its roots are even with the ground.  The life of its founder is as well known to us as the reformers of the XVIth century.  We can follow year by year the fluctuations of his thought, his contradictions, his weaknesses."

And it is the moral weaknesses in Muhammad that we will follow, relying on the description of Muhammad in Muslim sources, even though we may assume that these would be palpably biased in favor of Muhammad.

Given what the Muslims ask us to believe of Muhammad, it is fair that we demand more from him than we would from an ordinary mortal.  Human foibles and peccadilloes (or worse), while forgivable or at least understandable in a mere man among men, are not forgivable and are anomalous in a man who has set himself up as a divine standard against which there is no appeal, the normative canon by which human virtue is to be measured. 

This is particularly true since Muhammad's messages were buttressed by no miracle, and his flesh has not yet risen from the dead, but lies smoldering, like that of all men, in his mausoleum, the Rauda at Medina, waiting the Resurrection both he and Jesus preached.

Muhammad's moral life is all there is with which to assess him.

In the next series of articles, incidents in Muhammad's life will be compared and contrasted to those natural law precepts dealing with a variety of circumstances.  For convenience, we intend to rely upon the statement of those natural law precepts found in the Ten Commandments or Decalogue: You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not lie (bear false witness). You shall not steal.  You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.  To these precepts, I have also added the precept that the chattel slavery of humans is a violation of the natural moral law.

Most men would agree that adultery, murder, lying, stealing, lusting after another's goods and wife, and treating humans as property, as things, are, from a perspective of natural law, offensive regardless of conventions or customs.  In the words of J. Budziszewski, all humans know that these things are wrong: these are things we can't not know.  These absolute prohibitions are part of what St. Paul called the law written in the hearts of all men.  (Rom. 2:15)

The reader is forewarned.  The analysis which these series of articles will set forth is not particularly complimentary to Muhammad, and is sure to give offense to Muslims, but it is not calculated to give offense.  That it gives offense is something that is collateral to the calculated purpose, which is to tell the truth about Muhammad.  The appraisal is intended to give a frank, candid, and honest assessment of some of the external actions of Muhammad, together with a fair comparison of those actions to the natural moral law, the law of God written in our hearts.  If the heart's witness against Muhammad is severe, that is the heart's witness. 

In his Pensées (No. 277), the philosopher Blaise Pascal famously wrote: Le coueur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point.  The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.  In this instance, however, there is no division.  The heart and reason--both components of the natural moral law as they are components of man--stand together arm-in-arm in solid witness against the claimed prophet of Islam.

(This article is adapted from the book written by the author entitled, The Heart's Witness Against Muhammad: Why the Natural Law Proves Muhammad False.)

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Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

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