Epileptic Theory :
Some of the people agree that the Prophet (pbuh) was sincere and truthful but allege that he was suffering from epilepsy and during his epileptic seizures he recited what later became the Qur’an. Some writers have compared description of the Prophet (pbuh) when he received revelations with that of epileptic seizures. In actual fact they were far from similar. From the hadith i.e. tradition we learn that the Prophet (pbuh) received the revelation in one of the following conditions:

I.    In the Form of a ringing Bell.
II.   Sometimes when the revelation came even though it was very cold his brow would be streaming with perspiration.
III.  Sometimes he would look perturbed.
IV. Sometimes he would become very heavy while receiving revelations.

 “These descriptions in no way bear resemblance to the medical symptoms of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a sudden and recurrent disturbance in the mental function or movement of the body, or both.” Its symptoms include “complete or partial loss of consciousness, accompanied by muscular spasms or convulsions or by more complex behavior. 70% of patients suffer their first attack before the age of 20 and in some types of epilepsy attacks diminish as the patient enters adulthood.

There are 4 main types of epilepsy.
a. Grand Mal Epilepsy or ‘the big sickness’
b. Petit Mal Epilepsy or ‘the little sickness’
c. Focal Seizures
d. Psycho-Motor Seizures The Prophet’s description when he received the revelation clearly indicates that he did not suffer from the epilepsy of any form.

Grand Mal Epilepsy
This form of epilepsy shows the following symptoms:
1. Generalized convulsions preceded by a complete loss of consciousness, a loud scream and falling to the ground;
2. A stiffening of the body (including the respiratory system sometimes) and jerking movements in all four extremities of the body. In some cases the tongue can get bitten because of a tightening in the muscle of the face;
3. At the end of the attack the patient is totally disorientated, confused, sleepy, sick;
4. The patient will have no recollection of what happened during the seizure or immediately afterwards. The Prophet (Pbuh) did not suffer from any of these symptoms during his life, and most importantly, he remembered everything that had happened to him during the time when the revelation was given to him and recited what he had been commanded to memorize.

Petit Mal
Petit Mal occurs in children and dies out during early adulthood. An attack consists of a very brief episode of unresponsiveness lasting no more than 15 seconds usually. Since the Prophet (pbuh) first received revelation at the age of 40, and each period of revelation lasted a few minutes, it is impossible that the Prophet (pbuh) suffered from this malady.

Focal and Psycho-motor seizures
Focal seizures originate in a particular area of the brain and the seizure affects those parts of the body controlled by that part of the brain. An attack may show symptoms of jerking in particular extremities or as numbness and trembling in those extremities; the seizure can spread throughout the brain resulting in generalized convulsions.
Psycho-motor seizures are set off by an emotional, sensory or psychical aura - that is an unpleasant odour, taste or illusion about size and distance which causes intense fear. The patient becomes unresponsive and can do strange things such as suddenly walking off. The seizure lasts 1-3 minutes and after recovery, the patient will have no memory of the attack itself or the aura, which caused it in the first place. Again, these symptoms are totally dissimilar from what the Prophet (pbuh) experienced, and was seen to experience by his family and companions when receiving the Qur’an.

The causes of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is not a disease, it is a syndrome and therefore there is not usually one specific cause behind it. The actual syndrome is created through the malfunction of nerve cells in the brain where the neurons release or discharge excessive electrical energy causing thereby intense excitability in the cells - resulting in a loss of consciousness and convulsions. The reason for this abnormal behavior in the nerve cells of an individual epileptic can be complex; there is no single cause normally. However in 50% of cases a primary or contributing factor for the syndrome can be identified. Such factors include injury at birth or later; congenital defects (e.g. Cerebral Palsy); infectious diseases such as Meningitis which attack the nerve tissue, parasitic infections, brain tumours, shock etc. An attack can also be brought on as a result of withdrawal from alcohol or barbiturates; extreme emotional distress, or fatigue. The Prophet (pbuh) had none of these problems and therefore did not have epilepsy either. He was known to be in perfect physical and mental health. Although he went through extremely exhausting and stressful times, he displayed a great deal of fortitude. The Qur’an is such an amazing, unchallengeable and glorious book, that one Muslim psychiatrist has said that if it was indeed the work of an epileptic, “I’d like to see more of these epileptic people!”

Those who profound the religious illusion theory and the subconscious theory assume that the Qur’an had actually originated from Muhammad's (Pbuh) knowledge, imagination, experiences and environment, although he himself was not aware of this fact. Some of such non-believers even allege that he was crazy (God Forbid).
This theory is refuted easily. The Prophet preached a consistent message for about 23 years. It is unlikely that a crazy person or a visionary feeding of his own sub-conscious, would be able to be so consistent.
Secondly a visionary would not be able to falsely convince himself for 23 years that he was receiving a scripture from divine sources, when it was actually originated within himself.The Qur’an contains so much information which could not have originated from a human being's mind, whether crazy, conscious or subconscious.

A. One such example is Surah Kahf chapter 18 of the Qur’an which was revealed in reply to the questions posed by the mushriks (polytheists) of Makkah, in consultation with the people of the Book, in order to test Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). These questions were :-

i.   Who were the sleepers of the cave ?
ii.  What is the real story of Khizar ?
iii. What do you know about Zulqarnain ?

As these three questions concerned the history of the Jews and Christians and were unknown in Hijaz, a choice of these were made to test whether the Prophet (pbuh) possessed any source of knowledge of the hidden and unseen things. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, ‘tomorrow I will tell you’. However, when they came for the answers, he had to put them off day by day until 15 nights had passed and still he had received no revelation of any kind. The people of Makkah taunted him, and he was distressed and sad that he received no Divine help, which he longed for. It was after fifteen days from the time that the questions were posed that Archangel Gabriel brought him a revelation that gave him the answers to these questions. The long wait he had to endure was explained in Al Qur'an 18:23-24)

Nor say of anything,
I shall be sure to do
So and so tomorrow”-
 Without adding
“If Allah wills”.

 The delay of this revelation although painful to the Prophet (pbuh) was in reality on added strength. Those pagans of Quraish who mere in two minds were convinced that had the Prophet (pbuh) invented the earlier revelations then there was no reason to delay this latest one, especially when so much was at stake. It is difficult to conceive how religious illusion could have helped him to state the correct replies which silenced his critics.
Besides these types of information there are several other sets of information in the Qur’an which no human mind could have produced at that time in human existence, whether consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously.

a) Historical facts and events which were not known to the Prophet (pbuh) or his contemporaries e.g. about Zulkarnain, city of Ihram.
b) Several prophecies about the future which have come true.
c) Several scientific facts which were unknown and only discovered hundreds of years after the revelation of the Qur’an.

Read more on Is  Qur'an The Word Of God?

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Student of BA in Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. Can be reached at @LiaqatQazi
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