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Mohammad not illiterate

Reader comment on item: King of Pop Michael Jackson and Black Converts to Islam
in response to reader comment: Michael Jackson and Reply to Laura

Submitted by jason (United States), Mar 13, 2006 at 13:56

Let's set the record straight: Mohammad was not illiterate! Granted, he did not have a high-level education. He was unlettered, as modern acedemia would say, but he could read, write, and perform a moderate level of math.

So How do I know that? I asked him.... Only kidding (we've got to lighten this up a little)!

The answer is simple. All you have to do is look at his trade. He was a trader, a merchant, and a caravan runner. All of these involved the use of contracts, written contracts.

Now even though the area was not under direct control of the Eastern Roman Empire, its trade and business communities were influenced by what was going on in the ERE. Justinian's Code was well established law there in Mohammad's time. The written contract was and is a key article within the Justinian legal system (the system presently in place in Continental Europe). Without a written contract, you didn't do business in the ERE. And Arab traders who did business in the ERE expected other traders to use written contracts as well, even if those other traders did not do business in the ERE.

Since Mohammad was born into a family of merchants, he was born into a home where the adult males would have at least had fundamental reading and writing skills. As the future heir to the family business, he would have been taught thses skills,, since they were essential to his family's business. If he couldn't read, he would have been unable to fulfill his role in the family. I would place his educational level to be around that of a modern 8th to 10th grader. Quite sufficiant to write the Koran (I am a professional writer, so I have quite a bit of experience in this arena).

One thing we do have to keep in mind is that, while he was not highly educated, he was extremely intelligent. History is full of people who were successful because they were highly intelligent, though only modestly educated. Abraham Lincoln comes readily to mind. He would also have had a fairly cosmopolitan social upbringing. As a traveling merchant, Mohammad would have been exposed to people of differing races, languages, and religions.

Now , if you put these three things together (modest education, high intelligence, and cosmopolitan experience) in an otherwise spitually oriented person, there is a reasonable possibility that something like the Koran could be produced (especially if there was some spark of divine inspiration). What we, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, must realize is that this is not a common combination. The fact that such a person appeared at a very specific place and time where people were ready for such a message is something of a miracle in and of itself. So, even though I am a Fundamentalist Christian, I am willing to conced that there was some divine intervention in play where Mohammad was concerned. No, I'm not willing to wholey accept him as a divine prophet, but there is something there. Maybe my next 30 years of study will lead me to that answer.

Again, Mohammad was not illiterate. Simple knowledge of history and the application of logic prove this out. However, being modestly educated does not diminish what it took to produce the Koran, or found a new religion. Very few highly educated men have ever accomplished either, never mind both.
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