We know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a sincere person. Almost everyone who has studied the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would non-hesitantly admit that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sincere. Regardless of whether he was sincerely right or wrong or whether any another aspects of his character could be criticized, they would admit that he was at least subjectively sincere and believed that he was receiving revelations from God.
W. Montgomery Watt states:
His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad. (W. Montgomery Watt, Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford 1953, p. 52)
Sir William Muir said:
It is strongly corroborative of Mahomet's sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were not only of upright character, but his own bosom friends and people of his household; who, intimately acquainted with his private life, could not fail otherwise to have detected those discrepancies which ever more or less exist between the professions of the hypocritical deceiver abroad and his actions at home. (Sir William Muir, The Life of Mahomet, page 54)
I agree with Sprenger in considering 'the faith of Abu Bakr the greatest guarantee of the sincerity of Mohammedin the beginning of his career' - and, indeed, in a modified sense, throughout his life. (Ibid., page 56)
J.W.H. Stobart said:
Abu Bakr was a man of the purest character. His friendship for Mahomet, and unwavering belief in his mission, are a strong testimony to the sincerity of the prophet. (J.W.H. Stobart, Islam and its Founder, page 209)
Tor Andrae said:
The genuineness and sincerity of Mohammed's piety, and the honesty of his belief in his religious call, are indisputable. (Tor Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, page 185)
John Gilchrist said:
We can safely reject the view that Muhammad was a deliberate impostor. Throughout the twenty-three year period of his assumed ministry, he held to the unflinching conviction that he was called to be a prophet and that the revelations he was receiving were coming to him from above. (John Gilchrist, Muhammad and The Religion of Islam, Chapter: A Study of Muhammad's Personality: An Assessment of His Personality)
Arthur Glyn Leonard said:
If ever a man on this earth found God, if ever a man devoted his life to God's service with a good and great motive, it is certain that the Prophet of Arabia (Muhammad) is the man. Muhammad was not only the greatest but truest man that humanity has ever produced. (Arthur Glyn Leonard, Islam, her moral and spiritual value: A Rational and Psychological Study, pages 18-19)
Here we see that even non-Muslim critics of Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to at least admit that he was sincere and believed he was receiving revelation from God. In that case, it is difficult to imagine that the Prophet (peace be upon him) knowingly plagiarized material and included it into the Qur'an.
Now citation of scholars isn't enough and it's important to also look at some evidence pointing to the Prophet's (peace be upon him) sincerity. Let us see some highlights of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) life, which make it clearly evident that he was truly sincere.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) bore a son by the name of Ibrahim. Approximately a year and a half after his birth he died. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very distressed by the death of his son. The day the Prophet's (peace be upon him) son died there was an eclipse:
Volume 2, Hadith no. 153
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu'ba:
"The sun eclipsed in the life-time of Allah's Apostle on the day when (his son) Ibrahim died. So the people said that the sun had eclipsed because of the death of Ibrahim. Allah's Apostle said, "The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e. birth) of some-one. When you see the eclipse pray and invoke Allah."
Notice how the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) erroneously believed that the sun had eclipsed due to the death of his son. If Muhammad (peace be upon him) were a false prophet and insincere, he would have easily used the opportunity to take advantage of the situation and affirmed what his companions were saying and that is that the sun was eclipsing due to the death of his son. However, we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was forthright and denied that this was the case and that the sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death of anyone. Here, we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sincerely speaking the truth instead of using the chance to impress the people by affirming their statements.
Another instance occurred after the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated from
Mecca to . The Meccans were planning to assassinate the Prophet (peace be upon him), thus the Prophet (peace be upon him) had bodyguards to guard him until Allah revealed the following verse: Medina
O Messenger! deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people.
After this verse was revealed the Prophet (peace be upon him) told his bodyguards to stop guarding him for he received a promise from God that he would be protected. (See Sunan Al Tirmidhi [Hadith Number 3046] Sheikh Al-Albani said it is authentic from the way of Aisha in Saheeh Al-Tirmidhi under Hadith Number 3046; Al-Mustadrak fi al Saheehayn [Hadith Number 3221]: Imam Al Dhahabi said it is authentic as well as Al-Hakim; U'mdat Altafseer(an abridged commentary on Ibn Kathir's commentary) [Volume 1, page 710]: Ahmad Shakir said the narration is authentic.)
If Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not sincerely believe that he was a Prophet of Allah would he have ordered such a thing especially when he knew that his life was in actual danger and shouldn't take any risks? The answer is no.
Allah Almighty revealed the following verse:
And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.
Ibn Abbaas states in his commentary.
(And some part of the night awake for it) to recite the Qur'an and to pray after sleeping a little, (a largess for thee) a merit for you; it is also said that this means: you alone are enjoined to do so. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Commentary on Chapter 17, Verse 79)
My question is why would the Prophet (peace be upon him) make a prayer late into the night compulsory upon himself in exclusion to the rest of the Muslims? Why would he do that to himself? Doesn't this show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sincerely believed in and followed the revelation that he was receiving besides making them up?
Also an incident occurred with Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in which she was falsely accused of committing adultery and she and the Prophet (peace be upon him) had to wait in distress for the verse from the Qur'an to come down to vindicate Aisha of the crime. (Read the story in Qur'anic commentaries under Chapter 24, Verse 11)
Now if the Prophet (peace be upon him) were the author of the Qur'an he would have quickly (instead waiting for more than a month and causing distress for himself) made up a verse vindicating his beloved wife and also saved himself from the distress of having people suspecting his own wife for cheating on him. However, his sincerity shows that he did not make up the Qur'an, but was waiting to receive revelation from Allah Almighty.
The Arabs were challenged to produce something like the Qur'an, then ten Surahs (chapters) similar to it, and then one Surah similar to it:
And if ye are in doubt as to what we have revealed from time to time to our servant then produce a surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if ye are truthful.
Surah 52: 33-34
Or do they say: "He fabricated the (message)" nay, they have no faith! Let them then produce a saying like unto it, If (it be) they speak the truth!
The question I would like to ask is which insincere prophet would author a book and challenge the best of Arab poets to find discrepancies in it? Would any sensible layman in mechanics challenge the mechanics of BMW or Mercedes to critique him and expose him? Doesn't this show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was so confident about the revelations he was receiving?
Yes, one may think that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sincerely wrong, however the point that I am trying to make is that it is most reasonable to assume that he was at least sincere.