In Defense Of Prophet Muhammad (saw) – Our Prophet Was Not Illiterate! (i)

By Ammar Abdulhamid

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

In the name of God the most Gracious, the most Merciful

Recently there is a blasphemous video clip in social media circulation of a certain so-called Sheikh who insolently excommunicated pious prophet’s parent (peace be upon them) and wahabbically registered them to eternal damnation, perdition and torment in hellfire. After watching the clip (which will shock every believer), I am extremely appalled and dejected. I instantly feel obliged to refute his lies, defend these innocent pure personalities and untangle the whole misconception and politics therewith. However, as I set to write, I just remembered not only his parent, but he himself (Prophet) is not spared from ilk of such wahabbi spurious fabrications as he is surrounded with raunchy myths and incredulous fallacies. Myths and lies like: ‘He is Illiterate’, He is Salacious—Sleeping with 11 wives in one night, Massacring Banu Quraiza, Urinating while standing, Exposing nakedness, Missing prayers, Owning a personal shaitan (Na’auzubillah) And many more filthy lies are reported in excess in so-called ‘Sahih’ collections. The worst part of it is; gullible Muslims are brainwashed that those hadith are ‘true’ however pondering over them is baselessly prohibited by ‘Salafu Salih’. At this point I feel more obliged to start with defending him (SAW) and unraveling these fallacies before moving to his parent (peace be upon them). This article is therefore meant to prove from Quran, authentic ahadith and classical Sunni history books that our prophet, Muhammad (SAW) was  ‘LITTERATE’ and lettered. Not only he was able to read and write, but in fact he did practically in appropriate occasions.


It is obvious that all true Muslims unanimously agreed prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the BEST human ever created plus the best in whatever respect; righteousness, piety, devotion, knowledge, manner, leadership, justice and intellect. Similarly, the best in numeracy, literacy, ken, propriety, valour and greatness. He is pluperfect, infallible and free from all physical, psychological or mental deficiency and defect. It suffices the fact that all prophets were literate and versatile and our prophet (SAW) is the superior of all. Because he is exemplary in all respect Allah Almighty told us in Chapter 33 verse 21 to imitate him in all respect unhesitatingly:

“Certainly you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.”

I am inviting the people who can reason to ponder on the above verse. Is the fictitious ‘Prophet Illiteracy’ part of the ‘excellent example’ that we will imitate? Because NOWHERE in the Quran where Allah says, ‘Apostle of Allah is exemplar to you EXCEPT his Illiteracy’!

The irrationality of this myth of illiteracy compelled a Malaysian Sunni Sheikh Ashaari Muhammad to write in his book ‘Buah Fikiran’ as follows:

“May Allah have mercy on us on the misapprehension and the misconception on the status of Rasulullah (peace and blessings be upon him) as a Messenger that is ummiy. We have all along understood that ummiy means someone who doesn’t know how to read or write, or in other words, illiterate. If that is our understanding, it means we consider him as someone unlearned or someone stupid… How can a Messenger whose nobility is such that his name is linked with the name of God, be said to be illiterate… Actually what is meant by ummiy is someone who learns in an extraordinary manner, not according to normal method or learning according to the normal process” (Buah Fikiran, Minda Ikwan 2006).

Even some Christian thinkers (Mufakkirun), atheists, pantheists as well as freethinkers couldn’t help but admit that Prophet (SAW) is the best human in whatever, whatever! respect. For instance, a great French historian (who was Pantheist) Alphonse de Lamartine , who lived between 1790 to 1869 has described prophet (SAW) as the best human genius in his ace book ‘History of Turkey’ written in 1854 as follows “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad?”

However, some section of Muslims had (due to some political calculations—which are beyond the scope of this article) and concoctions of Banu Umayya, absurdly described the best human on Earth and Heaven as ‘ILLITERATE’ who could neither read nor write. (Astagfirullah). But THEY can read and even WRITE that our noble messenger (SAW) is ‘Illiterate’. Allah Almighty, in his Glorious Book already preempted the fabricators of such lies in chapter 6 verses 112-113, only the wise ponder: Allah the Exalted says: “We have permitted the enemies of every prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other FANCY WORDS, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their FABRICATIONS. This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such FABRICATIONS, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.”

Alhamdulillah, I indeed ‘listen’ (and read) this fabrication and I ‘disregarded’ it; the lie already ‘exposed’ them, it will be further exposed here inshaa Allah, in conformity with the eloquence steps of the above verses.

Innumerable authentic (Sunni) aHadith confirm prophets (SAW) do read and write. However I will table few of such hadith which are all authenticated and some even reach ‘Mutawattir’ level, plus all are related in either of six Sunni canonized books. Part 1 of this article relies on these hadith and classical history books. Part 2 will unravel this myth with Quranic evidences and finally bury this Banu Umayya fallacy and its contemporary peddlers .



Imam Bukhari, the author of Sunni most authentic book confirmed Prophet (SAW) can read and write; not only he can, but in fact he did.

‘Ubayd Allah b. Musa – Israil – Abu Ishaq al-Bara, may Allah be pleased with him: When the prophet, peace be upon him, intended to perform ‘Umrah in the month of Dhi al-Qa’dah, the people of Makkah did not let him enter Makkah till he settled the matter with them by promising to stay in it for three days only. When they wrote the document (of treaty), they wrote:

“These are the terms on which Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, agreed.” They said, “We will not agree to this, for if we believed that you are the Messenger of Allah, we would not prevent you, but you are Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah.” He said, “I am the Messenger of Allah and also Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah.” Then, he said to ‘Ali, “Rub off (the words) ‘the Messenger of Allah.” He (‘Ali) replied, “No, by Allah, I will never rub you off.” So, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, took the document AND WROTE, “This is what Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah has agreed upon….” Ref: 1. Mohsen Khan’s Sahih Bukhari English: Volume 3, Book 49, Number 863:

*The celebrated Sunni historian Ibn Jarir Tabari, after relating the above hadith in Sunni most venerated history book, ‘Tariq Tabari’; he commented thus: “It is not proper for him (the prophet) to write but HE WROTE”.  My humble appeal to those with healthy conscience (Aql) is to cogitate on the above hadith. How can an illiterate, who can neither read nor write, but Bukhari related that he (prophet) WROTE? Were Bukhari and Tabari lying or it means really prophet (SAW) can write?


“When the time of the death of Prophet approached while there were some men in the house, and among them was Umar Ibn al-Khattab, Prophet said: “Come near LET ME WRITE FOR YOU a writing after which you will never go astray.”Umar said: “Prophet is seriously ill, and you have the Qur’an, so Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.” The people in the house differed and disputed. Some of them said, “Come near SO THAT PROPHET MAY WRITE FOR YOU a writing after which you will not go astray,” while the others said what Umar said….” Ref: Sahih Bukhari Arabic-English Volume 9 hadith no. 468 and Volume 7 hadith 573

Before saying anything let us remember sura An-Najm verse number 2.

“And neither does he speak out of his own desire”

So, prophet (SAW) never talk out of joke or mere fancy; whatever he said or act is divine. In the above hadith he verbally said ‘LET ME WRITE TO YOU…’

A true believer (with intellect) must ponder how can an illiterate write? Or prophet (SAW) doesn’t know he is illiterate? Suppose they bring the ink what will he say? Will he say ‘I am only kidding?’ (Astagfirullah). Perhaps the more poignant question is: why NONE of those Sahaba said “Yah, rasulullah, you cannot read and write, why are you asking for writing material”?! May be his companions doesn’t know, only Banu Umayya and today’s Wahabbi know.


Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once the Prophet wrote a letter or had an idea of writing a letter. The Prophet was told that they (rulers) would not read letters unless they were sealed. So the Prophet got a silver ring made with “Muhammad Allah’s Apostle” engraved on it. As if I were just observing its white glitter in the hand of the Prophet. Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 65:

Comment: We read in the above hadith that one day the Holy Prophet (S) either WROTE a letter or INTENDED to write a letter. The Prophet (S) writing a letter or even intending to write a letter is a clear proof of the fact that he knew how to read and write. There is no way he could intend to write if he knows he was illiterate. Perhaps he doesn’t, only Banu Umayya knows.


Narrated by Nu’aym ibn Mas’ud; I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) say when he READ the letter of Musaylimah: What do you believe yourselves?  They said: We believe as he believes. He said: I swear by Allah that were it not that messengers are not killed, I would cut off your heads. Ref: Sunan Abu-Dawood Hadith no 2755.

The above hadith plainly asserts that Muhammad (SAW) READ the Letter. It was not READ for him. It was not RECITED to him; he READ it himself and no evidence to support otherwise.


Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The prophet (SAW) WROTE a letter to Heraclius: “From Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, to Hiraql (Heraclius), Chief of the Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance.”Ibn Yahya reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that AbuSufyan said to him: We then came to see Hiraql (Heraclius) who seated us before him. He then called for the letter from the Apostle of Allah (SAW). Its contents were: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, from Muhammad the Apostle of Allah, to Hiraql, chief of Byzantines. Peace be to those who follow the guidance. To proceed…..”  Ref: Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 41, Hadith 5117.


“We were with Prophet, and there was a screen between the women and between us. Prophet said: Wash me with seven waterskins and bring something to write upon and an inkpot, I SHALL WRITE A DOCUMENT for you and you will never be misguided till eternity. The women said bring to Prophet what he wants. Umar said; I said to them: Keep quiet. You are like the women of Yusuf when he is ill and you shed tears, and when he is healthy you hold him by his neck. Thereupon Prophet said: They are better than you (Umar)” Ref: al-Tabaqat al Kabir, Volume 2 page 305, English translation by S. Moinul Haq.

Comment on Fifth Hadith: When an illiterate (whom you know cannot read and write at all) said to you ‘Give me writing material, I shall WRITE something for you’: what will be your first reaction? Believer who have working intellectual faculty, must ponder on this.


In the introduction I made mention that all prophets (AS) can read and write competently. This is not mere postulation; it is Allah, the most Exalted that told us they can all read and write; there is no way ahadith can say otherwise.

  1. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) continued to cry over his mistake for years on end, however, the glad tidings of acceptance of his. repentance did not come Then one day, Prophet Adam said, “O Lord! I ask you for the sake of Muhammad that You forgive me.”Allah replied, “O Adam! How have you come to know of Muhammad when I have not caused him to be born yet?” Prophet Adam said, “O Lord! When You created me I raised my head and SAW that on the throne it was WRITTEN ‘La ilaha illallahu Muhammadur Rasoolullah’. So I understand that the name to accompany yours would only be of the most beloved to You of all creation.” Upon this, Allah stated, “you have spoken the truth, O Adam. He is the most beloved of all creation to Me. And since you ask Me for his sake, then I have forgiven you. And if Muhammad was not, then I would not have created you.” This particular incident of Prophet Adam reading from the throne occurred well before the time when he was taught the names of all things and the angels as well as the Shaytan were challenged to mention them. (2:31-33). The prophet Adam ‘SAW’ what is ‘WRITTEN’ and understand it. What else is definition of ‘Literacy’?
  2. About Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) Allah states in the Quran al-A’raf verse 145: “And We WROTE about everything for him on the Tablets (of the Torah) as an admonition and making all things clear. ‘Hold to them strongly, and command your people to adopt the best in it, I will show you the home of the deviators”

Every sensible mind knows there would only be purpose in writing down for Musa; that is if he could READ. For if he couldn’t read, then writing for him is useless.

  1. When we look on Prophet Isah (peace be upon him) Allah Almighty relates what he uttered as a baby in the lap of his mother in (Maryam verse 30): He said, ‘I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. Here also there would only be purpose in a book for Isah (AS) that is only ‘IF’ he could READ. Likewise a look into Chapter four verse 113 of Quran, reveal scenario similar to this. Allah the Exalted says: “Were it not for the favor and mercy of God, some of them would have certainly tried to make you (Muhammad) go astray. However, they cannot lead any one astray but themselves nor can they harm you. God has revealed the Book to you, has given you wisdom, and has TAUGHT you what you did not know. Certainly God’s favor to you has been great”. What else is needed of literacy after being taught divinely?

Here, I am also appealing to believers who can reason with their God-given intellect (Aql); If Prophet Adam could READ the declaration of faith written on the throne, Prophet Musa could READ the Torah written on the Tablets and Prophet Isa spoke divine revelation in his mother’s lap and READ the Gospel; does it make sense that our beloved Prophet, who is the leader and superior to all the Prophets, could not read the divine revelation even at the age of forty years? Moreover, previous Prophets were taught by Allah to read before the annunciation of prophet hood, due to significance of literacy in Allah’s religion, how come His most beloved and superior to all of these prophets cannot read albeit he was taught?

No wonder, this is one of the absurd Banu Umayya fabrications to defame the holy prophet (SAW) (and now peddled by Wahabbism) because it blatantly contradict Quran and pure sound intellectual faculty. ‘Illiteracy’ in whatever form does not suit the grandeur and is not befitting to the exalted status of our noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).

Part 2

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