In this segment, Dr. Badawi defends Muhammad against the accusation, made by some Orientalists, that Muhammad received his revelations during epileptic seizures. Badawi essentially adopts Haykal's refutation of the epilepsy theory and then gives us a great amount of information on epilepsy from the Encyclopedia Britannica. Personally, I have never believed in the epilepsy theory. However, I am very concerned about Muhammad's behavior during his purported "revelations". No Prophet of God ever experienced such things when the Lord used them to reveal His message, however the shamans and spirit mediums of Muhammad's time often did. I am also concerned about many incidents in the life of Muhammad which demonstrate his belief in the occult.
Jamal Badawi: This is another argument that rejects the divine origin of the Qur'an and attributes it to Muhammad. In previous segments, we talked about deliberate fabrications which is not logical. This position is the same in essence that Muhammad wrote the Qur'an but did not lie, he believed that it did. Nobody should be dogmatic, it is OK to be open and frank.
I agree, we must be frank and honest. We must examine all of the evidence, after all, our eternal destiny is at stake.
Jamal Badawi: Someone made a mis-diagnosis. What was the state of Muhammad when he received the revelation? What do the authorities say about epilepsy? The description of what happened during revelation is found in Bukhari and Muslim: the revelations come to me like the ringing of a bell, getting his attention. After the ringing, Gabriel uses me and when he leaves, I fully comprehend what he dictated. The Qur'an was fully memorized by the Prophet. Second, he came to Muhammad in the form of a human and no one around him could see Gabriel. In Bukhari Muhammad was telling Aishah that Gabriel was greeting her and she could not see him. Aishah described his state when he received revelation that even on a cold day, his brow were streamed with perspiration. In Muslim it says that he became perturbed and his face changed when revelation came to him, he sometimes nodded his head. In addition to this the Qur'an tells us the state of the Prophet during revelation. He was so cheerful that he would repeat after Gabriel Sura 75:16:
Sura 20: 114
In some sources, when Muhammad received revelation, if he riding a camel, his body became so heavy that the camel had to sit down. This is the maximum information and some looked into this and came up with the conclusion that it must be epilepsy. This is biased and unscientific.
These forms of behavior were not exhibited by any of God's Prophets. As for Muhammad's perfect memory, please read this article.
Jamal Badawi: Revelation did not start with Muhammad. We cannot always explain how revelation comes. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in revelation, and believe that Prophets received revelations. It is very strange that some writers who are Jews and Christians, none say the Jesus, Moses, and John the Baptist were epileptics, but with Muhammad they do this. An atheist could make this argument, but how can believer say that it was epilepsy with Muhammad.
Revelation occurred long before Muhammad, however, none of God's Prophets went through the theatrics that Muhammad went through, when they received the Word of God. Dr. Badawi must remember that, since Muhammad never made an accurate prophecy of a future event, Jews and Christians do not consider him a Prophet. I am not trying to be rude or insulting, I am simply being honest.
Jamal Badawi: I refer to other authorities. We have to ask what is epilepsy? It is a sudden disturbance in the mental function or movement of body or both. There is a partial or complete loss of consciousness. Seventy percent of epileptics have their first attack before age 20 and usually they disappear in adult life. There are four types: big sickness, little sickness, focal seizures, and psycho-motor seizures. None of these match Muhammad's experience.
Host: What about the symptoms of the first type?
Jamal Badawi: In Grand Mal, there is complete loss of consciousness preceded by a large scream and the body falls and stiffens. The person has no memory of what happened to him during or after the seizure. Muhammad did none of this and did not forget what was given to him.
Host: What about the second type?
Jamal Badawi: Petit Mal occurs among children and disappears in early adult life. There are brief episodes of unresponsiveness for a few seconds. This did not happen to Muhammad because his revelations took longer.
Once again, I agree with Dr. Badawi that epilepsy is not a good explanation. However, to be completely truthful about this issue, we must remember that early biographers tell us that Muhammad had some very strange experiences while he was being cared for by his wet-nurse, Halima. In fact, on one occasion he fell down in a kind of stroke and when he stood up his face was livid. Ibn Ishaq tells us that two men clothed in white had seized him and opened his chest. This type of occult event never happened to any of God's Prophets! Ibn Ishaq also tells us that Muhammad's foster-parents feared that he was possessed of a demon suggesting that Muhammad had these attacks throughout his young life.
Jamal Badawi: Focal seizures happen in certain parts of the brain, there is some jerking of limbs and this is the focal-motor attack. There is a general state of convulsion. The last type is the psycho-motor seizures which start with a aura, or unpleasant order or taste or sight, there is intense fear and after this the person is unresponsive and do weird things. This goes on for 1 to 3 minutes. After the seizure, the person has no memory.
Host: What about the cause of epilepsy and could Muhammad have had any of these?
Jamal Badawi: It is difficult to talk about one cause, it is a complex of symptoms and there could be many reasons. The neurons have a discharge that cause them to be in a state of excessive excitability. This leads to a loss of consciousness. In 50% of cases there are contributing factors including injury, cerebral palsy, infectious diseases, parasites, tumors. These happens from withdrawing from drugs or stress. None of these things can be traced to Muhammad, he was in perfect health throughout his life. Muhammad went through many moments of stress and he never fainted. If the Qur'an is a product of a seizure, as one Muslim doctor said, I would like to see more epileptics.
I am not a Medical Doctor and, even if I were, I could not diagnose the ailments of a man who died 14 centuries ago. Another way to look at this problem is to realize that there are other types of seizures that resemble epilepsy and these are very often related to the occult. My academic background is in the natural sciences and, before I became a Christian, I would always laugh at, and immediately dismiss, any and all claims concerning the existence of the occult. Even now, I am often highly skeptical of such things. However, the existence of evil is very real in this world and some people foolishly dabble with evil through their involvement with the dark powers of the occult - sadly, some young people harm, and even kill, themselves.
Please remember that, during the mission of Jesus Christ, a young boy, which the Bible says was "an epileptic", was brought to the Lord (see Matthew 17.15). This young man would suddenly fall down, go into convulsions, and would be unable to speak. It is very clear from the Bible that this was not any form of natural or common epilepsy, but was demonically induced. All three Gospels which record this incident (Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9) state very clearly that Jesus exorcised the unclean spirit and healed the boy.
Once again, I cannot examine Muhammad or diagnose his physical or mental health conditions. However, it is fairly safe to say that anyone under the influences of the occult do, in fact, have seizures that are similar to epilepsy (but are not epilepsy). Such episodes occur frequently in tribal cultures, as well as in occult groups in the United States and Europe, and there are many documented cases where Spirit Mediums, New Age "Channelers", and Tribal Shamans have had these seizures at various times, usually at times which suited their purposes. Unlike epilepsy which, as Dr. Badawi correctly tells us causes a loss of memory, these people remember everything. In any case, no Prophet of God would receive His Word in such a way and no follower of the true God would ever be involved with the occult.
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