Muhammad Could Not Read and Write?

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It’s not true that Muhammad could not read and write as the Muslims keep propagating. They do this to posit an impression that Muhammad was indeed a prophet since how he had acquired some biblical teachings if he’s not divinely inspired? The answer is Waraqah Ibn Nawfal, a Nestorian christian who happened to be the uncle of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid the first wife of Muhammad. Waraqah was the one who proclaimed Muhammad as their prophet in Arabia. When Waraqah was still alive in Mecca, Muhammad’s Qurans were Bible-aligned, pro-Jews, and pro-Christians. But when Waraqah died and Muhammad fled to Medina, his Qurans became brutal against the Jews and Christians. The Bible teachings had gone and the sword verses reigned in the Medinean Qurans.

The meaning of the word “illiterate” or “unlettered” mentioned in Quran is not referred to the person who could not read and write, but the person who is unknowing or ignorant of the Book (Torah and Gospel). Here’s the proof from Quran;

[Quran 2:78]

[Sahih International] And among them are unlettered ones who do not know the Scripture except in wishful thinking, but they are only assuming

[Yusuf Ali] And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture.

[Quran 3:20]

[Yusuf Ali] So if they dispute with thee, say: “I have submitted My whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me.” And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: “Do ye (also) submit yourselves?” If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, Thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah’s sight are (all) His servants. 

[Muhsin Khan] So if they dispute with you (Muhammad SAW) say: “I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me.” And say to those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates (Arab pagans): “Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)?” If they do, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message; and Allah is All-Seer of (His) slaves

COMMENT: The (Jews and Christians) and the Arab pagans are contrasted here. The Jews and Christians who know the Book and the Arab pagans who know not the Book, also called ‘illiterates’ or ‘unlettered ones’. 

According to Quran Muhammad Could Read and Write;

1. [Quran 29:48] neither did you (o Muhammad saw) read any book before it (this Quran), nor did you write any book (whatsoever) with your right hand. in that case, indeed, the followers of falsehood might have doubted.

2. [Quran 25:5] and they say: “tales of the ancients, which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.”

According to Hadiths Muhammad Could Read and Write; 

1. [Sahih al-Bukhari 65]

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once the Prophet (ﷺ) wrote a letter or had an idea of writing a letter. The Prophet (ﷺ) was told that they (rulers) would not read letters unless they were sealed. So the Prophet (ﷺ) got a silver ring made with “Muhammad Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)” engraved on it. As if I were just observing its white glitter in the hand of the Prophet.

2. [Sahih al-Bukhari 3053]

Narrated Sa`id bin Jubair: Ibn `Abbas said, “Thursday! What (great thing) took place on Thursday!” Then he started weeping till his tears wetted the gravels of the ground . Then he said, “On Thursday the illness of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was aggravated and he said, “Fetch me writing materials so that I may have something written to you after which you will never go astray.” The people (present there) differed in this matter and people should not differ before a prophet. They said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) is seriously sick.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Let me alone, as the state in which I am now, is better than what you are calling me for.” The Prophet (ﷺ) on his death-bed, gave three orders saying, “Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them.” I forgot the third (order)” (Ya’qub bin Muhammad said, “I asked Al-Mughira bin `Abdur-Rahman about the Arabian Peninsula and he said, ‘It comprises Mecca, Medina, Al-Yama-ma and Yemen.” Ya’qub added, “And Al-Arj, the beginning of Tihama.”)

3. [Sahih al-Bukhari 3161]

Narrated Abu Humaid As-Saidi: We accompanied the Prophet (ﷺ) in the Ghazwa of Tabuk and the king of ‘Aila presented a white mule and a cloak as a gift to the Prophet. And the Prophet (ﷺ) wrote to him a peace treaty allowing him to keep authority over his country.

4. [Sahih al-Bukhari 5158]

Narrated ‘Urwa:  The Prophet (ﷺ) wrote the (marriage contract) with `Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

5. [Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88]

Narrated ‘Ursa: the prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

6. [Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 717] 

Narrated by Ubaidullah bin ‘Abdullah:  Ibn Abbas said, “When Allah’s Apostle was on his deathbed and there were some men in the house, he said, ‘Come near, I will write for you something after which you will not go astray.’ Some of them ( i.e. his companions) said, ‘Allah’s Apostle is seriously ill and you have the (Holy) Quran. Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.’ So the people in the house differed and started disputing. Some of them said, ‘Give him writing material so that he may write for you something after which you will not go astray.’ while the others said the other way round. So when their talk and differences increased, Allah’s Apostle said, “Get up.” Ibn Abbas used to say, “No doubt, it was very unfortunate (a great disaster) that Allah’s Apostle was prevented from writing for them that writing because of their differences and noise.”

7. [Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 65]

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once the Prophet wrote a letter or had an idea of writing a letter. The Prophet  was told that they (rulers) would not read letters unless they were sealed. So the Prophet got a silver ring made with “Muhammad Allah’s Messenger” engraved on it. As if I were just observing its white glitter in the hand of the Prophet.

8. [Sahih Muslim 1774a]

It has been narrated on the authority of Anas that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome), Negus (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) despot inviting them to Allah, the Exalted. And this Negus was not the one for whom the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had said the funeral prayers.

9. [Sunan Abi Dawud 2927] 

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: Sa’id said: Umar ibn al-Khattab said: Blood-money is meant for the clan of the slain, and she will not inherit from the blood-money of her husband. Ad-Dahhak ibn Sufyan said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) wrote to me that I should give a share to the wife of Ashyam ad-Dubabi from the blood-money of her husband. So Umar withdrew his opinion.

Ahmad ibn Salih said: AbdurRazzaq transmitted this tradition to us from Ma’mar, from az-Zuhri on the authority of Sa’id. In this version he said: The Prophet (ﷺ) made him governor over the bedouins.

10. [Sunan Abi Dawud 2990]

Narrated Mujja’ah ibn Mirarah al-Yamani: Mujja’ah went to the Prophet (ﷺ) asking him for the blood-money of his brother whom Banu Sadus from Banu Dhuhl had killed.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Had I appointed blood-money for a polytheist, I should have appointed it for your brother. But I shall give you compensation for him. So the Prophet (ﷺ) wrote (a document) for him that he should be given a hundred camels which were to be acquired from the fifth taken from the polytheists of Banu Dhuhl. So he took a part of them, for Banu Dhuhl embraced Islam.

He then asked AbuBakr for them later on, and brought to him the document of the Prophet (ﷺ). So AbuBakr wrote for him that he should be given one thousand two hundred sa’s from the sadaqah of al-Yamamah; four thousand (sa’s) of wheat, four thousand (sa’s) of barley, and four thousand (sa’s) of dates.

The text of the document written by the Prophet (ﷺ) for Mujja’ah was as follows: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This document is from Muhammad, the Prophet, to Mujja’ah ibn Mirarah of Banu Sulma. I have given him one hundred camels from the first fifth acquired from the polytheist of Banu Dhuhl as a compensation for his brother.”

11. [Sunan Abi Dawud 3063]

Narrated Amr ibn Awf al-Muzani: NThe Prophet (ﷺ) assigned as a fief to Bilal ibn Harith al-Muzani the mines of al-Qabaliyyah, both those which lay on the upper side those and which lay on the lower side. The narrator, Ibn an-Nadr, added: “also Jars and Dhat an-Nusub.” The agreed version reads: “and (the land) which is suitable for cultivation at Quds”. He did not assign to Bilal ibn al-Harith the right of any Muslim. The Prophet (ﷺ) wrote a document to him:

“This is what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) assigned to Bilal ibn al-Harith al-Muzani. He gave him the mines of al-Qabaliyyah both those which lay on the upper and lower side, and that which is fit for cultivation at Quds. He did not give him the right of any Muslim.”

The narrator AbuUways said: A similar tradition has been transmitted to me by Thawr ibn Zayd from Ikrimah on the authority of Ibn Abbas from the Prophet (ﷺ). Ibn an-Nadr added: Ubayy ibn Ka’b wrote it.

12. [Sunan Abi Dawud 3027]

Narrated Amir ibn Shahr: When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) appeared as a prophet, Hamdan said to me: Will you go to this man and negotiate for us (with him)? If you accept something, we shall accept it, and if you disapprove of something, we shall disapprove of it.

I said: Yes. So I proceeded until I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). I liked his motive and my people embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) wrote the document for Umayr Dhu Marran. He also sent Malik ibn Murarah ar-Rahawi to all the (people of) Yemen. So Akk Dhu Khaywan embraced Islam.

Akk was told: Go to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and obtain his protection for your town and property. He therefore came (to him) and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) wrote a document for him:

“In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Akk Dhu Khaywan. If he is true his land, property and slave, he has the security and the protection of Allah, and Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. Written by Khalid ibn Sa’id ibn al-‘As.”

13. [Sunan Abi Dawud 5136]

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) wrote a letter to Heraclius: “From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Hiraql (Heraclius), Chief of the Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance.” Ibn Yahya reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that AbuSufyan said to him: We then came to see Hiraql (Heraclius) who seated us before him. He then called for the letter from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Its contents were: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, from Muhammad the Messenger of Allah, to Hiraql, chief of Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance. To proceed.”

14. [Sunan Abu Dawud 42:5117]

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet wrote a letter to Heraclius: “From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Hiraql (Heraclius), Chief of the Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance.” Ibn Yahya reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that Abu Sufyan said to him: We then came to see Hiraql (Heraclius) who seated us before him. He then called for the letter from the Messenger of Allah. Its contents were: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, from Muhammad the Messenger of Allah, to Hiraql, chief of Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance. To proceed.” 

15. [Sunan an-Nasa’i 4853]

It was narrated from Abu Bakr bin Muhammad bin ‘Amr bin Hazm, from his father from his grandfather, that: the Messenger of Allah wrote a letter to the people of Yemen, included in which were the rules of inheritance, the sunan and the (rules concerning) blood money. He sent it with ‘Arm bin Hazm and it was read to the people of Yemen, Its contents were as follows: “From Muhammad the Prophet to Shurahbil bin ‘Abd Kulal, Nu’aim bin ‘Abd Kulal, Al-Harith bin’ Abd Kulal, Qail dhil-Ru’ain, Mu’afir and Hamdan. To precede” – And in this letter it said that whoevewrkills a believer for no just reason is to be killed in return, unless the heirs of the victim agree to pardon him. For killing a person, the Diyah is one hundred camels. . . . 

16. [Sunan an-Nasa’i 4855] It was narrated that Ibn shihab said: “I read the letter of the Messenger of allah which he wrote for ‘Amr bin Hazm when he sent him to govern Najran. The letter was with Abu Bakr bin Hazm. The Messenger of Allah wrote this; ‘A statement from Allah and His Messenger; O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations, and he wrote the Verses until he reached. Verily, Allah is Swift in reckoning. Then he wrote: ‘this is the book if retaliation: For a soul, one hundred camels, ”’ . . .

17. [Hadith about the (non) incident of the pen and paper (a Sunni perspective) [written by: Ibn Al-hashimi] 

The prophet asked for a pen and paper in order to write down some religious advice for the Muslims. however, immediately after asking for the pen and paper, the prophet fainted and became unconscious. while the prophet lay unconscious, a man got up to get the pen and paper, but Umar Ibn Al-Khattab called him away from doing that. Umar felt that they should not bother the prophet by asking him to write down religious advice, but rather they should allow the prophet to regain consciousness, get some rest, and recuperate. therefore, Umar said to the other Muslims: “the prophet is seriously ill and you have the Quran; so the book of Allah is enough for us.” 

18. [Saifur Rahman, The Sealed Nectar p.227-228] 

“Embrace Islam… If you two accept Islam, you will remain in command of your country; but if your refuse my Call, you’ve got to remember that all of your possessions are perishable. My horsemen will appropriate your land, and my Prophethood will assume preponderance over your kingship.”  

COMMENT: The above is one of the threatening letters sent by Muhammad to the rulers of other countries. This letter was addressed to Jaifer (King Oman) and his Brother ‘Abd Al-Jalandi, that they should accept Islam or suffer deaths and destruction. 

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Author: Renz Pejana Silawan

The author is just a simple man, He was a carving and carpentry sub-contractor. But lately, he discovered that his true passion is writing. He studied at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, took up Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. The fear of death knocked on his mind when he aquired 3 lumps on his neck in 2010. He realized that the most important thing to a man is eternal life. He found out that the Bible is consistent in its teaching and backed up by spiritual and physical evidences. Today, he is happy knowing that there is a God who will receive him in the afterlife. And he wants to share this discovery to all people who are willing to accept this good news.

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