According to the Muslims, the Koran is the product of God because, according to them, Muhammad was illiterate and therefore could not have created the text of the Koran.

Was Muhammad illiterate?

We find nowhere throughout the Koran an explicit statement that Muhammad could neither read nor write. In this regard, three verses of the Koran are quoted:

“Here is some news of the Unseen that We reveal to you. You did not know them, neither you nor your people before that … “(11:49)

It is from Sura 29:48 that Muslim theologians deduce the clearest indication of Muhammad’s inability to read and write:

“And before that you did not recite any book, nor did you write any of it with your right hand. Otherwise, those who deny the truth would have had doubts. “

In addition to these verses, Muslim apologists insisted that, according to Sura 7: 157-158, the Prophet would have been ummi, an Arabic notion translated from the Muslim side by “who can neither read nor write”, whereas from a non-Muslim perspective, this word is also considered as a derivative of umma (assembly, community or of the people). This term ummi would mean someone who, unlike the “possessors of the Book”, has not yet received a revelation. In other words he is not ‘of the prophets’, but ‘of the people’.

Finally, the use of the term ummi retains a certain degree of imprecision. The term could be translated, either by “pagan” or “among the Gentiles”. Some French translations of the Koran give “uneducated”, which leaves the two interpretations possible.

On the other hand, several historians and Muslims tell us that Mohammed knew how to read. This is notably the case of Mohammed Talbi, associate of Arabic, a great specialist in medieval Muslim history, former dean of the University of Tunis, who His book the breath of the spirit, qualifies this story as legend:

“Contrary to legend, born of false apologetic worries,he was a cultured and literate man [Mohammad]. The Bible was read among his family. There was no need to meet a monk during a trip to Syria to be initiated into Judeo-Christianity. The Koranic word, which tradition has interpreted as “illiterate”, means rather that he was “the prophet of the nations” (Sura 7: 157-158), … The Koran (Surah 3 : 20) confirms this interpretation: “Say to those who have received the book, and to the ummiyyin. “Those who received the book” are obviously Jews and Christians. Who are the Ummiyyin? They are of all the others, all the non-Jewish nations. (Sura 62: 2).
The meaning of ummi is thus well established. It does not mean “illiterate” in any way. He designates the Gentiles, that is, all the non-Jewish nations that had not yet received a revealed Book. “[1]

Because of his trade, Muhammad had to be able to read and write.

Finally, it is the Sunnah, who tells us that Mohammed was literate:

Reported by Ursa, according to Anas bin Malik:
One day the Prophet wrote a letter, or had the idea of ​​writing a letter. It was told the Prophet that they would not read the letters unless they were sealed. So the Prophet got a silver ring with “Muhammad the Apostle of Allah” engraved on it. I was watching the white (of the ring) sparkle on the hand of the Prophet. (Sahih Bukkari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 65)

Ibn’Abbas said, “Thursday! What (a great thing) took place Thursday! Then he began to weep until his tears wet the gravel of the earth. Then he said, “On Thursday when Allah’s Apostle’s illness got worse and (where) he said,” Seek me what to write, so that I can write something for you after which You will never wander. “(Sahih Bukkari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 288)

Similar hadiths can be found at the following references:

Sahih Bukkari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 393
Sahih Bukkari Volume 9, Book 92, Number 468
Sahih Bukkari, Volume 4, Book 59, Number 716
Sahih Bukkari, Volume 4, Book 59, Number 717
Sahih Bukkari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 573


[1] Talbi, Mohamed, The Breath of Mind, University of the Koran ed., Pages 10-12

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