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Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins [Hardcover]

Robert Spencer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 April 2012

Are jihadists dying for a fiction? Everything you thought you knew about Islam is about to change.

In Did Muhammad Exist? best-selling author Robert Spencer meticulously examines historical records, archaeological findings, and pioneering new scholarship to reconstruct what can be known about Muhammad, the Quran, and the early days of Islam. He uncovers evidence that calls into question fundamental assumptions made even by non-Muslims.

    Did Muhammad Exist? reveals:
  • The earliest biographical material about Muhammad dates from 150 years after the traditional date of his death.
  • Neither the Arab conquerors of the seventh century nor the people they conquered made any mention of Muhammad, the Quran, or Islam for fully six decades.
  • Recent scholarship indicating that the Quran was constructed from existing materialsincluding a pre-Islamic Christian text.
  • Numerous archaeological indications that Islam as a religion was fashioned for political reasons.
  • Far from an anti-Islamic polemic, Did Muhammad Exist? is a sober and unflinching look at the origins of one of the worlds major religions. While Judaism and Christianity have been subjected to searching historical criticism for more than two centuries, Islam has, astonishingly, never received the same treatment on any significant scale. In bringing to light the latest scholarship on Muhammad and Islam, Robert Spencer raises questions of global consequence.

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Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins + The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion + Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: ISI Books (15 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161017061X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610170611
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A surprising and eye-opening new book . . . Quite a convincing job." --"PJ Media"

About the Author

Robert Spencer is the author of several critically acclaimed books about Islam, including the "New York Times" bestsellers "The Truth about Muhammad" and "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)." He is a columnist for "FrontPage Magazine" and the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Spencer holds a master's degree in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth for more than three decades.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very stimulating work 31 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are some obvious problems with this study from an academic point of view. It seems that the author doesn't read Arabic, so all the references are to secondary sources; but even so, the arguments are well controlled and well organised. It deals with a very important subject and provides a fresh, interesting perspective; and apart from the polemical content, it presents a lot of facts about the history of Islam. It might be argued that it is all filtered through a biased original position: but compare that with the vast pile of works biased in the other direction, written by Muslims or Muslim apologists, and one can forgive this evident bias, as the author has taken care to justify his positions and offer evidence. As he is not really an Arabist, some of these positions will be open to reasonable criticism, but that is a good thing, and I hope there will be some kind of debate. Few of the hostile reviews I have read really address the points made; but also it must be said that most of the friendly reviews are from people who just like the general idea of the book without considering that there are arguments to the contrary. The ideal thing would be for Muslims to read it and answer its arguments: but to be fair, this would almost mean that they would have to stop being Muslims, as the book clearly suggests that some of their core beliefs are false.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing 4 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one thought provoking book. Exceptionally we'll researched and equally we'll reasoned. You will, having read this book, really question whether the Islamic traditions ( ahadith) contain any element of truth at all! A revealing and informative read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars We need more books on religions' origins. 28 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm looking for evidence of these principal characters, like Muhammad, Jesus, Moses et al and nothing's surfaced to convince me either existed or merits their religions being respected, applauded, privileged in a caring society that seeks peace. That's why I bought this book and will continue to invest in others. The work of people like Spencer and others mentioned herein is important: it's somewhat disappointing that followers of these religions / sects / denominations / cults don't realise that honest endeavour to expose data and argument will certainly reveal any substance that is foundational to their belief. Or maybe psychology drives overreaction?

What would you expect of a barely literate culture that was host to a man-cum-conduit? I'd anticipate his fame and repute to be wide, that non-compliants and impersonators would be punished with vigour and publicity, that Muhammed (or any similarly "chosen one") would be equipped with an incorruptible means of replicating the message to be shared. But, if ...
To me - though I've not researched this history - it seems that a much abused, frequently belittled community found a huge and unlikely victory over the embers of once great empires: a victory so wide and long-lasting that the conquered peoples' culture was redrawn just as were the laws and borders.

Why would I, an antitheist, seek evidence of these figures in history?

At times, this book has a vague sense of being a contest between two progeny of Abrahamic religion. Spencer, irrespective of anyone's view of his motives, delivers a clear catalogue of today's claims of Islam measured against its footprints in history.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book 9 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very well written, but easily raedable, account of the early years of Islam, using the same scholarly techniques that are regularly used to make a critical study into the origins of Christianity, Buddhism and all other religions, but which Islam has been fanatical in condemning when applied to itself.
The reasons become abundantly clear; contradictory, historically incorrect and, in many cases, entirely incoherant statements made about the early stages of Islam, by Islam itself, and very little evidence, if any, that Muhammed existed, let alone spoke with god.
This book conclusively destroys the claims made by Islam to be uniqu amongst religions in that it can show a direct link to god (any god) or a unique religious ethos. In fact, the evidence suggests, very strongly, that Islam began as a rather peculiar and heretical Christian sect, closely linked to the Nestorian heresy, which only later adopted a figure-head of Muhammed and wrote its own Koran, mainly to unite a disparate and warring Arab Empire.
Highly recommended for any with an interest in history, religion, Arabic studies or honesty!
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking for trouble 4 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Since Robert Spencer is a toxic political operative, let me begin by saying that I don't support his agendas, and know very well why he *really* wrote this book. (Clue: Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.)

That being said, "Did Muhammad Exist" is, admittedly, a good introduction to the revisionist view of Muslim origins and early Muslim history. For rather obvious reasons, it doesn't "solve" the issue, but it could be read with some profit by those who simply want a quick overview of it.

Virtually everyone regards Muhammad as a real historical character. The canonical Muslim stories about him certainly seem to have a historical kernel. They portray Muhammad as a persecuted preacher of monotheism in a hostile pagan environment, who after a series of armed confrontations with his adversaries at Mecca and Medina became a political ruler in the period immediately before the Arab conquests of Persia, Syria and Egypt. There is a certain compelling historical logic to this picture. Somebody must have invented Islam and united the Arabs before their successful military-political exploits. The Muslim sources also talk about factional struggles within Muhammad's community after his death, including a budding Sunni-Shia split. This, too, sounds logical. Thus, very few people have questioned the veracity of the Muslim narratives. There doesn't seem to be any particular need to do so. Stripped from their miraculous elements, such as Muhammad's meeting with Gabriel, the stories about his life and times sound like a straightforward historical chronicle.

Of course, the revisionists beg to differ.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. Essential reading to those who really want to understand...
I would recommend reading this along with Tom Hollands brilliant "In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World " and "What... Read more
Published 4 months ago by N E Body
1.0 out of 5 stars A grossly evil and racist perversion of historical fact
I have just read this farce of a 'study' (requested from an academic friend), as I have no intention of spending my hard earned money, the royalties of which will no doubt end up... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Canopus72
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all made up!
Fascinating book and a brave man to write it so frankly. Should be compulsory reading in all schools. Clearly the Caliphs created the religion for their own purposes.
Published 10 months ago by P. R. Goddard
5.0 out of 5 stars jesus did
best book I have read on this topic, concise and to the point, he did not exist as he I portrayed in the Koran, it is possible that some figure did exist but he was not a prophet... Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Clayton
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
This book challenges the accepted account of Muhammad's life, and in doing so challenges traditional views regarding the origins of Islam. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dynamo
5.0 out of 5 stars Did Muhammad exist
I think one day truth will be out about the basis of Islam and Muhammad. I think both are imaginary. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sukhdev Singh Sagoo
5.0 out of 5 stars subject matter
another great book on islam . great reading confirming facts that were recorded in other books i had purchased.
very simply written and cross referenced to many other works . Read more
Published 19 months ago by brunovechio
1.0 out of 5 stars A shoddy Polemic
Notwithstanding a sizable section on the Qur'an, the principal objective of this book is to show that the Islamic Prophet Muhammad is a historical myth, a person who most probably... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Yasin100
5.0 out of 5 stars Lifting the lid on this fraud
Robert Spencer has done the world a favour by shining a light on this so-called religion. This is a well written and scholarly book that should be required reading for every... Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Mr. A. Robertson
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