Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting the issue of Muhammad and Epilepsy Pt. 3

Exposing More of Jamal Badawi’s Misinformation

Sam Shamoun 

We come to the conclusion of our examination

The Cause of Muhammad’s Epilepsy 

Our analysis has shown that this is another instance where Jamal Badawi was less than honest and forthright about what the sources he named stated concerning the issue of epilepsy. Instead of refuting the notion of Muhammad being an epileptic, the information contained in the authorities that Badawi referenced such as Britannica, actually point in the opposite direction. Muhammad’s condition when he was supposedly being inspired perfectly fit the symptoms listed in these sources in regards to epilepsy. In fact, the symptoms Muhammad exhibited have led some to conclude that he suffered from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE).(1) 

What makes this rather interesting is that one of the affects of TLE is that subjects who suffer from it tend to be hypersexual, which is precisely how the hadiths describe Muhammad! 

Narrated Qatada: Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were ELEVEN IN NUMBER." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet used to pass by (have sexual relation with) all his wives in one night, and at that time he had NINE WIVES. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 142

Now some may take this to mean that Muhammad’s condition was nothing more than a physical brain disorder, which caused him to have hallucinations that convinced him that a spirit being from God was visiting him. However, I am convinced that his condition wasn’t merely the result of abnormal brain activity, but was due primarily to demonization. I believe that the seizures were caused by a malevolent spirit (perhaps Satan himself), since Muhammad’s condition perfectly fits that of a demon possessed person. Note, for instance, the following biblical account where Jesus casts out an evil spirit that was tormenting a young boy: 

“When He came to His other disciples, He saw a great crowd around them, and the scribes disputing with them. Immediately when all the people saw Him, they were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. He asked the scribes, ‘What are you debating with them?’ One in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. Wherever it takes hold on him, it dashes him to the ground. And he foams at the mouth and gnashes with his teeth and becomes rigid. And I told Your disciples so that they would cast it out, but they could not.’ He answered, ‘O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me. So they brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit dashed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. He asked his father, ‘How long has it been since it came to him?’ He said, ‘From childhood. Often it has thrown him into the fire and into the water to kill him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!’ When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more.’ The spirit cried out and convulsed him greatly. But it came out of him, and he was as dead, so that many said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:14-27 

The possessed boy’s symptoms are eerily similar to what Muhammad experienced when receiving messages from his spirit. 

Interestingly, the Islamic sources confirm that Muhammad initially thought that he was demon-possessed, or more specifically possessed by a jinn, and wanted to commit suicide because of it: 

"The mental excitement of the Prophet was much increased during the fatrah, and like the ardent scholar in one of Schiller's poems, who dared to lift the veil of truth, he was nearly annihilated by the light which broke in upon him. He usually wandered about in the hills near Makkah, and was so long absent, that on one occasion, his wife being afraid that he was lost, sent men in search of him. He suffered from hallucinations of his senses, and, to finish his sufferings, he several times contemplated suicide by throwing himself down from a precipice. His friends were alarmed at his state of mind. Some considered it as the eccentricities of a poetical genius; others thought that he was a kohin, or soothsayer but the majority took a less charitable view (see Surah lxix. 40, xx. 5), and declared that he was insane; and as madness and melancholy are ascribed to supernatural influence in the east, they said that he was in the power of Satan and his agents, the jinn. They called in exorcists and he himself doubted the soundness of his mind. ‘I hear a sound' he said to his wife, 'and see a light. I am afraid that there are jinn in me.' And other occasions he said 'I am afraid I am a kahin.’ ‘God will never allow that such should befall thee,' said Khadyjah; - ‘for thou keepest thy engagements, and assistest thy relations.' According to some accounts, she added, 'Thou will be the prophet of thy nation.' And, in order to remove every doubt, she took him to her cousin Waraqah and he said to her, 'I see thou (i.e. thy explanation) art correct; the cause of the excitement of thy husband is the coming to him of the great nomos, law, which is like the nomos of Moses. If I should be alive when he receives his mission, I would assist him; for I believe in him. After this Khadyjah went to the monk, 'Addas, and he confirmed what Waraqah had said. Waraqah died soon after, before Mohammed entered on his mission. (T. P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 393; bold and underline emphasis ours) 


“… Later Muhammad would express this experience of the ineffable by saying that he had been visited by an angel, who had appeared beside him in the cave and given him orders to ‘Recite!’ Like some of the Hebrew prophets, who were deeply reluctant to utter the Word of God, Muhammad refused. ‘I am not a reciter!’ he insisted, thinking that the angel had mistaken him for one of the disreputable kahins, the soothsayers of Arabia. But the angel simply ‘whelmed me in his embrace until he had reached the limits of my endurance,’ and eventually Muhammad found himself speaking the very first words of the Qu’ran… Muhammad CAME TO HIMSELF IN A STATE OF TERROR AND REVULSION. The idea that he had, against his will, probably become a jinn-possessed kahin filled him with such despair, says historian Tabari, that he no longer wanted to go on living. Rushing from the cave, he began to climb to the summit of the mountain TO FLING HIMSELF TO HIS DEATH. But on the mountainside he had another vision of a being, which, later, he identified as Gabriel… Jeremiah had experienced God as an agonising pain that filled his every limb; LIKE MUHAMMAD IN THE EMBRACE OF THE ANGEL, he experienced the revelation as a sort of DIVINE RAPE… The various traditions give conflicting accounts of Muhammad’s original vision; some say that it consisted only of the vision in the cave; others mention only the vision of the angel on the horizon. But all emphasise Muhammad’s FEAR AND HORRORCRAWLING ON HIS HANDS AND KNEES, THE WHOLE UPPER PART OF HIS BODY SHAKING CONVULSIVELY, Muhammad flung himself into her lap, ‘Cover me! Cover me! He cried, BEGGING HER TO SHIELD HIM FROM THIS TERRIFYING PRESENCE. Despite his contempt for the kahins, who always covered themselves with a cloak when delivering an oracle, Muhammad instinctively adopted the same posture. TREMBLING, he waited for the TERROR to abate, and Khadija held him in her arms, soothing him and trying to take his fear away. All the sources emphasise Muhammad’s profound dependence upon Khadija during his crisis. Later he would have other visions on the mountainside and each time he would go straight to Khadija and beg her to cradle him and wrap him in his cloak. But Khadija was not just a consoling mother figure; she was also Muhammad’s spiritual adviser… When the fear receded on that first occasion, Muhammad asked her if he had become a kahin; it was the only form of inspiration that was familiar to him and despite its towering holiness it also seemed DISTURBINGLY similar to the experience of the jinn-possessed people of Arabia. Thus Hassan ibn Thabit, the poet of Yathrib who later became a Muslim, says when he received his poetic vocation, his jinni had appeared, THROWN HIM TO THE GROUND and forced the inspired words from his mouth. Muhammad had little respect for the jinn, who could be capricious and make mistakes. If this is how al-Llah had rewarded him for his devotion, he did not want to live. Throughout his life, the Qu’ran shows how sensitive Muhammad was to any suggestion that he might simply be majnun, possessed by a jinni, and carefully distinguishes the verses from the Qu’ran from conventional Arabic poetry. (Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet [HarperSanFrancisco, 1992], 4. Revelation, pp. 83-85; bold and capital emphasis ours) 

“Muslim tradition shows that putting this message into words was never easy. Muhammad once said: ‘Never once did I receive a revelation without thinking that my soul had been torn away from me.’ It was a process of creation that was agonizing. Sometimes, he said, the verbal content was clear enough: he seemed to see the angel in the form of a man and heard his words. But at other times it was more painful and incoherent: ‘Sometimes it comes unto me like the reverberations of a bell, and that is the hardest upon me; the reverberations abate when U am aware of their message.’… After the first few revelations, however, Muhammad experienced a period of silence for about two years. It was a time of great desolation, and some Muslim writers have attributed HIS SUICIDAL DESPAIR to this period. Had he been deluded after all? Or had God found him wanting as the bearer of revelation and abandoned him? The silence seemed catastrophic, but then came Sura 93 – the Sura of Morning – with a burst of luminous reassurance…” (Ibid., p. 89; bold and capital emphasis ours)    

Contrary to Armstrong’s claim, NO true prophet or apostle of God experienced the kind of torture or “divine rape” that Muhammad underwent, and none of them ever thought of killing themselves after their encounter with God or one of his righteous angels. Unlike Muhammad, God or his spiritual emissaries would comfort and strengthen the people that they spoke with, and reassured them that they had nothing to fear (cf. Isaiah 6:1-10; Jeremiah 1:4-10; Daniel 8:15-18; 10:1-21; Luke 1:11-19, 26-28; Revelation 1:12-18). This is unlike Muhammad’s spirit, who left him emotionally and physically demoralized to the point that he thought he had gone mad, which then caused him to want to end his life. 

With that said, we do want to make it clear that we are not suggesting that everyone who suffers from epilepsy is under demonic possession. What we are saying is that Muhammad’s case definitely shows that the seizures he experienced were demonically induced, since the messages he believed to be receiving while undergoing such seizures caused him to deny the spiritual Fatherhood of God, the essential Deity of Christ, his vicarious death for the salvation of sinners and other core biblical doctrines. And according to the Holy Bible this indicates that Muhammad was a false prophet and an antichrist, who received his “revelations” from a satanic spirit (cf. Matthew 24:23-25; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-15; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-16; 5:9-13; 2 John 1:7-11). 

So much for Badawi’s feeble attempt of refuting the overwhelming evidence, which points to his prophet suffering from epileptic seizures that were satanically induced.       

Related Articles

F. W. Burleigh, Was Muhammad an Epileptic?

Ali Sina, Muhammad’s Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) 

Michael A. Sherlock, Did the ‘Prophet’ Muhammad Suffer from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

Source of Muhammad’s Inspiration: Divine or Demonic? 


(1) Muhammad wouldn’t be the only historic figure diagnosed with TLE. Many believe that Socrates also suffered from this condition, which caused him to think that a daemon was inspiring him. 

For instance, this is what the New International Encyclopedia writes in its entrée for demon: 

"… Then the concept entered by the time of Socrates and Plato upon its meaning of guardian spirit. In this sense Socrates called his indwelling genius daimonion, and he fancied that it spoke within him to restrain him, but never to impel him…" (Ibid., [Dod, Mead and Company, Inc., New York, Second edition 1918], Volume 6, p. 665) 

And here is the abstract for a medical article discussing the possibility of Socrates having TLE:  

Epilepsia. 2006 Mar;47(3):652-4. 

Socrates and temporal lobe epilepsy: a pathographic diagnosis 2,400 years later. 

Muramoto O1, Englert WG.

Author information 

Erratum in

Epilepsia. 2006 Jun;47(6):1086. 



Some enigmatic remarks and behaviors of Socrates have been a subject of debate among scholars. We investigated the possibility of underlying epilepsy in Socrates by analyzing pathographic evidence in ancient literature from the viewpoint of the current understanding of seizure semiology. 


We performed a case study from a literature survey. 


In 399 BCE, Socrates was tried and executed in Athens on the charge of "impiety." His charges included the "introduction of new deities" and "not believing in the gods of the state," because he publicly claimed that he was periodically and personally receiving a "divine sign," or daimonion, that directed him in various actions. We found textual evidence that his daimonion was probably a simple partial seizure (SPS) of temporal lobe origin. It was a brief voice that usually prohibited Socrates from initiating certain actions. It started when he was a child, and it visited Socrates unpredictably. Moreover, we found at least two descriptions of Socrates' unique behavior that are consistent with complex partial seizures (CPSs). The fact that Socrates had been experiencing both SPSs and CPSs periodically since childhood makes the diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) likely


We hypothesize that Socrates had a mild case of TLE without secondary generalization. This is the first report in 2,400 years to present a pathographic diagnosis of TLE in Socrates based on specific diagnostic features in the ancient textual evidence. Our study demonstrates that the knowledge of modern epileptology could help understand certain behaviors of historic figures. (PubMed, accessed on December 20, 2016; underline emphasis ours) 

Interestingly, this same publication has an article discussing the possibility that Muhammad also had TLE! 

Epilepsis. 1976 Dec;17(4):423-7. 

A differential diagnosis of the inspirational spells of Muhammad the Prophet of Islam. 

Freemon FR. 


This paper reviews the spells of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. During these spells, Muhammad sensed the approach of a figure whom he thought to be the Angel Gabriel. The inspirational message transmitted to Muhammad during these spells helped form the religion of Islam. This is a review of the historical details of these spells and an attempt to reach a medical diagnosis. Although an unequivocal decision is not possible from existing knowledge, psychomotor or complex partial seizures of temporal lobe epilepsy would be the most tenable diagnosis. An examination of Western civilization's views of Muhammad's spells reveals historical and modern misconceptions about epilepsy. (PubMed, accessed on December 20, 2016; underline emphasis ours)