You are here
The character of Muhammad is of primary importance when looking at Islam with a critical eye. Various studies are listed here for guidance.
The Sirat Rasul (biography of Muhammad) as translated by A. Guillaume can be found here: https://archive.org/details/TheLifeOfMohammedGuillaume
Tara MacArthur. This is a very readable account: Unsheathed - The Story of Muhammad
Several different looks at Muhammad's life and character can be found here: http://www.australianislamistmonitor.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=220&Itemid=21&layout=default
The first one, Unmasking Muhammad is an in depth probe in to his character by an ex-Muslim with an extremely unflattering summary! This study is quite heavy reading but gives an excellent insight into both Muhammad and the nature of Islam:
Islam stands or falls on the credibility of Muhammad on which we do not have single evidence but unfathomable doubts because his conduct was immoral. But he successfully twisted the sense of morality of his followers, distorted their sense of ‘Humanness’ and linked “doing good” and “a service to God” to all ungodly things. Briefly, he had given a sacred aura to crime and terrorism.
This article provides a quick overview of Muhammad's life: https://sites.google.com/site/islamicscripturesunveiled/Home/muhammad
From History of Shariah:
It is generally accepted among Muslims not only that the Prophet was a perfect human being and thus worthy of emulation, but also that he enjoyed divine inspiration and thus could make no error in matters of religion or shariah law.
Muhammad: “I have been made victorious with terror.” The Hadith, collected by Bukhari(4.52.220):
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand." Abu Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by them).
How best to establish, for instance, that the actions of jihadis in beheading their foes are indeed contrary to Islam? Fighters for the Islamic State might well point out that the Qur’an describes angels decapitating unbelievers with the aim of spreading terror; that the first Muslims are described as harvesting heads on the battlefield of Badr; that Muhammad himself is said to have owned a sword that can be translated as ‘Cleaver of Vertebrae’. It is not enough, within such a context, merely to insist that Islam is a religion of peace, and leave it at that. Muslim scholars have an urgent responsibility to demonstrate in the most painstaking detail exactly where and why the jihadis are wrong.
Muhammad bought, sold, and captured slaves.
He bought slaves: “Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported: There came a slave and pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) on migration; he (the Holy Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves, and he did not afterwards take allegiance from anyone until he had asked him whether he was a slave (or a free man).” (Muslim 3901).
“Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle was on a journey and he had a black slave called Anjasha, and he was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you), O Anjasha! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!’” (Bukhari 8.73.182).
He also ordered or supported over 40 separate instances of killing, some for mocking him (Charlie Hebdo!):
The example of Muhammad found in his words and deeds in the Sunna are very important because the Quran refers to Muhammad in glowing terms 91 times and exhorts people to belive in him and follow him:
Quran 4:69 - And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger - those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.
Quran 48:9 - That you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor him and respect the Prophet and exalt Allah morning and afternoon.
However, the Hadiths show that Muhammad used torture and assassination to help build Islam:
Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 83, Number 37:
Narrated Abu Qilaba:
Once 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz sat on his throne in the courtyard of his house so that the people might gather before him. Then he admitted them and (when they came in), he said, "What do you think of Al-Qasama?" They said, "We say that it is lawful to depend on Al-Qasama in Qisas, as the previous Muslim Caliphs carried out Qisas depending on it." Then he said to me, "O Abu Qilaba! What do you say about it?" He let me appear before the people and I said, "O Chief of the Believers! You have the chiefs of the army staff and the nobles of the Arabs. If fifty of them testified that a married man had committed illegal sexual intercourse in Damascus but they had not seen him (doing so), would you stone him?" He said, "No." I said, "If fifty of them testified that a man had committed theft in Hums, would you cut off his hand though they did not see him?" He replied, "No." I said, "By Allah, Allah's Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate." Then the people said, "Didn't Anas bin Malik narrate that Allah's Apostle cut off the hands of the thieves, branded their eyes and then, threw them in the sun?" I said, "I shall tell you the narration of Anas. Anas said: "Eight persons from the tribe of 'Ukl came to Allah's Apostle and gave the Pledge of allegiance for Islam (became Muslim). The climate of the place (Medina) did not suit them, so they became sick and complained about that to Allah's Apostle. He said (to them ), "Won't you go out with the shepherd of our camels and drink of the camels' milk and urine (as medicine)?" They said, "Yes." So they went out and drank the camels' milk and urine, and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of Allah's Apostle and took away all the camels. This news reached Allah's Apostle , so he sent (men) to follow their traces and they were captured and brought (to the Prophet). He then ordered to cut their hands and feet, and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, and then he threw them in the sun till they died." I said, "What can be worse than what those people did? They deserted Islam, committed murder and theft."
Sura 9 (the penutlimate one to be revealed) is viewed by some as Muhammad's Muhammad's Last Will and Testament, a view expanded on here: http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2010/09/qurans-last-word-on-non-muslims.html
As a final note, some academics have raised questions as to whether Muhammad even existed.