Islamic Terror: Conscious and Unconscious Motives

By Avner Falk | Go to book overview

A Clash of Civilizations?

For all its “strangeness” to the “Western” mind, Islam is one of the world’s major religions, with hundreds of millions of believers. The conventional wisdom has it that Islam was created in the seventh century of the Christian era by the man Muslims believe to be the “Last Prophet,” Muhammad ibn Abdallah (570–632 CE), “the messenger of Allah,” who had “visions” of Allah, the father god of the ancient Arabs, speaking to him and commanding him to create the new religion. Muhammad was the “last prophet” as all the major prophets of Judaism and Christianity had been incorporated into Islam, which sought to present itself as the ultimate religion. There are also “revisionist” theories of the birth of Islam which challenge these facts (Hawting 1999; Ibn Warraq 2000; Nigosian 2004).

Recently, an Iranian-American “clinical neuropsychologist” has sought to “prove” that the Prophet Muhammad’s religious visions (or hallucinations), which led to the creation of Islam, were products of epileptic seizures (Sadeghian 2006). In fact, Muhammad may have suffered from psychiatric rather than neurological illness: like some of the Jewish prophets of ancient times (Falk 1996, pp. 179–190), not only did he have hallucinations, but several times during his life he was depressed and attempted suicide (F. E. Peters 1994; Inamdar 2001). Muhammad’s alleged suicide attempts are documented in several prominent Islamic texts in Arabic beginning in the ninth century CE: Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari’s Sahih al-adab al-mufrad lil-Imam al-Bukhari (the hadith or oral tradition of Islam), Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (Chapter of the Messenger of God), later rewritten by Ibn Hisham, Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir (Book of the Major Classes), and al-Tabari’s Ta’rikh al-Rusul wa’l-Muluk (History of the Messengers and Kings). These books are part of the basis of Islam today.

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