In order to implant the forgery of copying, the writers are inculcating the story of Prophet’s meet with the Christian priest, Bahira. Really he had met him. But merely proving the events of Meeting, one cannot conjecture that Muhammad, was taught Bible but facts as to how did he happen to meet him, how many times had it been, and what were the themes they discussed, all should be proved. In case it is proved that Muhammad was seeking a priest to study the bible and he got Bahira, or quite accidentally he chanced to meet him but the latter making use of chance narrated him the biblical stories, the argument would have been healthy and agreeable. But so long as these are unproven or something proved contrary to them, the hypothesis is but bubbles on waves.
Bauben citing the views of Nicholas of Cusa remarks: “With so many Christian heretics around, nothing could be more appealing than to suggest that Muhammad was actually taught by some of these; hence names like Bahira and Sergius were bandies about as being responsible for his ‘heresy’ (Bauben, The image, p. 13).
Indeed, they are not ready to decipher the incident of the encounter. They are satisfied with the mere reporting of the unexpected meeting, which is outwardly misleading. Referring all the biographies of Prophet, one cannot find out more than one meeting with Bahira. It was when he was twelve. The moment he met the boy, Muhammad, he recollected the prophecies traditionally transmitted to him about the forth coming Prophet. Muhammad Hykal reports:
“It was only after Muhammad’s strong insistence that Abu Talib permitted the child to accompany him and join the trip to Al Sham. In Connection with this trip which he took at an early age, the biographies relate Muhammad’s encounter with the monk Bahira at Busra (1) in Syria. They tell how the monk recognized in Muhammad the signs of Prophet hood as told in Christian books”(Muhammad Husain Haykal, The life of Muhammad, p. 54).
But Christian writers conceal the detail of their conversation, while repeatedly chant, the ‘encounter of Muhammad with Bahira’. So the historical event is misinterpreted. Hence, the relevance of Daniel’s agony, ‘To read San Pedro and Ibn Ishaq side by side is to be given a striking lesson in the way the same material can be used in order to give totally different impressions’(Daniel, Islam and the West, p. 237).
A.M.Shaboo also is moved by this confusing practice of the same event: “…after a lengthy discussion of the Bahira story, Shaboo deduces that Muslims tell the story apologetically to prove Muhammad’s Prophet hood while Christians, with Al-Kindi as typical example, refer to the story to disprove exactly that and show Bahira as a heretical Nestorian (A. M. Shahoo, ‘An Evaluative study of the Bahira story in the Muslim and Christian Tradition Unpublished M.A Thesis, Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham UK, 1984, quoted in Image of Prophet by Bauben P.15).
Why does the same event create confusion? The strict line between the two methodologies, as hinted earlier, is that, they conceal the quintessence of the discussion while we reveal it. Let us put the event in the lab.
When Bahira happened to see the clouds spreading shadow to a boy, he invited the group and prepared a feast for them. Everybody of them took part in it, except Muhammad, he being the youngest. When Bahira couldn’t see him he wanted to invite him also. When he entered he started looking him detectively and scrupulously. When all other went out, he started speaking in the name ‘Latha’ and ‘Uzza’ the gods of Quraysh, to which he protested to answer. Then, he spoke in the name of Allah, and asked many questions to which he gave apt answers, which were cent percent agreeable to that he knew. Bahira detected the seal of Prophet Hood and confirmed the things as they are; later, he talked to Abu Talib:-
Bahira : Who is this boy?
Abu Thalib : my son.
B : He is not your son. The father of this boy is not likely to live.
A : Certainly, he is my brother’s son.
B : What happened to his father?
A : Died, his mother being pregnant.
B : You are true. Go back with nephew. And keep an eye on Jews. In the name of God Allah, if they saw him, and realized what I did, they will put an end to his life. This boy is going to have something.
Abu Thalib rushed him to Makkah with him and never had a trip to Syria with him again.
This event has been reported by Ibn Hisham Vol.1 pp: 194-6, Ibn Katheer vol. 2 pp 365-6, and Baihaqi in Dalayil Al-nnubuwwa vol.2, pp 26-9. the event is famous among the historians of wars as said by Baihaqi vol.2p. 26 and all the historians have agreed upon it, even William Muir, who denied it in his ‘life of Muhammad’ agreed it. Even though the event has been denied by scholars for the reports are ‘Mursals’(2) for some infidelities. Mursals of Sahaba are acceptable to majority of Muhadhiths(3) and Islamic jurists (Abdu Rahman Bava bin Muhammad Al Malabari, Seerathu Sayyid Al Basher, Darul Ma’arif, India, 2001, P.51,52 with foot note).
The allegation of copying leads us to Bahira who certified Muhammad to be the foretold prophet!
In the second journey of Prophet to Syria, he met the Christian Priest Nestorius. This encounter was also quite accidental, and not for the sake of studying Christianity. It was when, he was twenty-five. Khadija (May Allah Please with her) sent his servant Maisarah and Muhammad to sham for business. When they turned up Basara they got in beneath a tree. There was an inn of a Christian priest, named nestoius (Nesthura). The priest said pointing to Muhammad. ‘he is none but a Prophet’. Maisarah could experience in the journey, many extraordinary things, the remarks of this monk being one, the spreading of shadows by clouds and exceeding profit being other examples.
Among the critics of Islam William Muir does not agree, the possibility of Prophet’s meeting with Nestorius, even when he lets a chance for Muhammad to have met other monks and have discussed. Bauben writes:‘Muir does not dispute the possibility of that Muhammad might have met some monks on his journey to Syria and might have discussed matters with them or listened to them, but he calls ridiculous and puerile the idea that he met Nestorious’(Bauben, Image P. 28).
Muir refuses it not because it is impossible historically but because he cannot put up with a monk pronouncing the prophet hood. He thoroughly believes that Muhammad would have been a Christian provided Christianity had been pure. He seems to say, since Christianity was corrupt at that time Muhammad along with majority of people was misled into another path. He says ‘we may well mourn that the misnamed Catholicism of the empire thus grievously misled the mastermind of the age, and through him eventually so great a part of the eastern world’ (William Muir, The life of Muhammad P. 22).
As in the case of Bahira, Nestorius, also, declared Muhammad to be the fortold prophet, instead of helping him to create Quran teaching him biblical stories. Bauben’s footnote as to ‘Nestorius died about 451 AD, about 120 years before the birth of Muhammad seems to be erroneous.
The third priest whom Prophet met was Waraqath ibn Noufal. Apart from the previous two encounters, this was a deliberate one. Khadija (R), intentionally approached Waraqa, with Muhammad, when he had the first experience of revelation in the cave Hira. Waraqa was at first a Jew, but being fed up with the practice of idolatry, he migrated and embraced Christianity.
Christian writers allege that prophet had repeatedly visited Waraqath who could write in Arabic and Hebrew. David Samual Margoliouth writes: ‘Waraqa, son of Noufal, cousin of Khadija, is likely to have had much to do with the beginning of Islam. He is credited with having translated the Gospel, or part of one, into Arabic. It was probably the Gospel of Nativity and was afterward useful to the Prophet’ (Margoliouth, Muhammad P. 42).
W.Montogamary Watt remarks: “…..Muhammad had frequent communication with Waraqa at an earlier date and learned much of general Character. Later Islamic concepts may have been largely moulded by Waraqa’s ideas (Watt. Mecca P. 51, 52).
Both Islamic historians and critics of Prophet are unanimous in that, Muhammad (PBH) has met Waraqa. The authoritative doctrines of Islam say that this meeting was soon after the first revelation in the cave of Hira. But some writers, who agreed that prophet repeatedly visit him, deny the particular meet to which ample proof are there in Islamic history. Bauban writes:
“Margoliouth discount the historicity of the visit to Waraqah ibn Noufal by Khadija and Muhammad in which he was said to have confirmed the authenticity of Muhammed’s experience in the cave of Hira.” (Bauben, Image P. 66, 7).
As for the visit before this incident, any bit of evidence had not been cited by these writers. Even a prostitute can raise a scandal. But, to corroborate the argument with the support of affluent certifications is the task of a gentle genius. The Christian writers are challenged to show any proof supporting their claim.
As for the visit after this encounter, there is no proof in Islamic history. It is taken for granted by all the schools that, Waraqah didn’t live for more than three of four years after this encounter. Watt himself believes so (Watt., Mecca P.51). As per the view of ‘The shorter Islamic encyclopedia of Islam’ Waraqa died early in Muhammad’s prophetic career(The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden E. J. Brill, 1953, P. 651). It means that even after the death of Waraqa Prophet must have got revelation nearly for twenty years. According to scandal, he might have informed Muhammad from his cemetery as a telepathic conveyance. It is a mere mockery.
Bauben calls it interesting. ‘The assumption itself is interesting considering that Waraqa might have died some three or four years after the incident (Bauben, Image P. 239).
As in the case of Bahira the polemists conceal the subject matter of discussion. When we decipher the incident, it will be clarified to everybody, that Waraqa also certified him to be the foretold Prophet. The detailed description of the incident has been given by Bukhari and Muslim, the most authoritative doctrines second to the holy Qur’an. Paid writers are still welcome to prove the contrary.
(1) Busra (Busra ash-Sham) is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria. It is a major archaeological site and has been declared a unesco world heritage site.
(2) Mursals : Mursal literally means 'hurried'. If the narrator between the Successor and Muhammad (PBH) is omitted from a given chain of narration, the hadith is mursal, e.g., when a Successor says, “The Prophet said ...”
(3) Muhadhiths : The term muhaddith refers to a specialist who profoundly knows and narrates hadith, the chains of their narration isnad, and the original and famous narrators.