Recently, Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a convert to Islam and a scholar of Islamic theology, shocked the world by declaring that, based on his research, Muhammad probably never existed. (For the news about Kalisch, see “Muslim Academic Questions Muhammad’s Existence,” “Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt,” and “Scandal Exposes Islam’s Weakness.”)
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s quite common to find Muslim apologists appealing to the most radical, anti-Christian, atheistic writings in their attacks against Christianity. For instance, this past April, as James and I debated Jalal Abualrub, Jalal said that Christians don’t have any evidence that Jesus ever existed. Here he could only be basing such a claim on the hyperskeptical nonsense of some of the self-proclaimed “infidels” who write for the Secular Web. (Note: Some of the writers there are actually reasonable scholars–but not the ones who hold that Jesus was a myth.) The Jesus-myth theory has become quite popular in some circles, and Muslims seem quite happy with this (though I’m not sure why Muslims would be so delighted to hear that Jesus never existed; wouldn’t this refute Islam?).
But what happens when the same radical skepticism that has been applied to Christianity for the past two centuries is applied to Islam? Kalisch gives us the answer: Muhammad probably never existed.