Why Mohammed?

Question from Ali:
I was asking a friend if God wanted to reveal Islam to all humans why was it in Arabic? He answered me because he chose Mohammed as his prophet. Then I asked why of all the people he chose an illiterate man? They answered me because that is the miracle and how he showed his divine powers of making an illiterate man able to read and write instantly. So i got stuck on that thought and couldn’t answer because it made some sense… if you have a supporting argument for me to continue that conversation please advise me…

Answer by SmartLX:
It would have made more sense for God to reveal himself in multiple places, in all major languages, with a consistent message for mankind. Therefore I don’t think much of the supposed decision to send a message to just one person in any single language, let alone Arabic. That said, if that was how it had to happen, Arabic was as good a language as any – less for its popularity than for the fact that it was spoken by many groups with aggressive warriors who were ideal for spreading Islam by the sword.

Not all Muslims believe that God bestowed literacy upon Mohammed (peace be upon him, as they say). This Muslim site doesn’t say anything about him ever learning to read or write. There’s a third opinion too: a separate site (written by a non-Muslim) gives a quote from the “writings” of Mohammed himself which implies that he was always able to read.

It hardly matters, because as the first link says it’s perfectly reasonable to think that Mohammed dictated his works to his companions, at least a few of whom were surely literate. Oral storytelling and other communication has a strong tradition in the Middle East, and even today Muslims are encouraged to memorise chunks of the Quran for recital (and, of course, simply for the sake of indoctrination). It’s the simplest explanation for a large body of written work coming from an illiterate man, and it even satisfies some Muslims. There’s still the supernatural claim that the angel Gabriel (Jibril) provided much of the material to Mohammed beforehand, but his literacy is irrelevant to that issue.

Take all of the above into account, and the idea of Mohammed’s sudden literacy makes very poor Muslim apologetic when there are so many other – and so much more mundane – things that could have happened instead.

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