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Can Muslims accept historically researched differences about Islam?

Reader comment on item: Jews and the Qur'an

Submitted by Dave (United States), Mar 15, 2022 at 14:04

The canonical versions of Muhammad and his early followers greatly differ from the scientific research on actual seventh century events by modern scholars. Books like "Did Muhammad Exist?" by Robert Spencer or "A Prophet Has Appeared" by Stephen Shoemaker are good references.
Without going into the details, the actual Muhammad (or whoever actually was in charge at the time) emerges as religiously inclusive (his "Believer" then was just a monotheist), not a Muslim or a founder of Islam, not from Arabia, and did very favorable things for Jews and others, such as kicking the Romans (Byzantine Christians) out of Jerusalem so that Jews were no longer excluded, rebuilding Solomon's Temple for all monotheists and was truly respectful of the region's Christians despite battling the Byzantines. Thus, Muhammad was an appealing person from a 21st century perspective (he liked diversity), and was hardly the narrow-minded religious fanatic that many of his contemporary followers claim to emulate. And it makes sense: No Khomeini or ISIS-like wacko would have been able to achieve his incredible military successes. He won big by forming a broad coalition of the willing, not by terror and intimidation.
Can modern Muslims change their views based on this research, or are they hopelessly wedded to the mythology created by the inventors of Islam from the Abbasid Caliphate a century after Muhammad lived? I'm pessimistic, but at least we infidels aren't so committed to gory fairy tales concocted by bloodthirsty medieval potentates.
Given that we are stuck with the primacy of the canonical Islam, it's worthwhile to have books like these to investigate it. Thanks for the review.

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