In the preface to “No god but God" Reza Aslan writes that “To ask whether Jesus truly raised Lazarus from the dead, or whether the word of God indeed poured through the lips of Muhammad, is to ask totally irrelevant questions."
I see it differently. Looking at the second part of Reza's statement, I think that whether or not Muhammad actually heard the voice of God in the cave on Mount Hira and throughout the rest of his life is of extreme importance. As with most major questions, there aren’t many possible answers. In this case, there are only two. Either Muhammad was given the words of God by the angel Gabriel, or he made it all up. If the first is true, we should all become Muslims. If the second……….
As for the first part of his statement, I'm surprised Reza made reference to the relatively unimportant tomb of Lazarus compared to the much more significant tomb of Jesus. Which brings to mind the following story:
In 1980 British Anglican bishop John Hick came to Temple University to promote his book “The Myth of God Incarnate”. The bishop explained that he had faced a dilemma when Muslims began moving into his UK parish. How could he relate to them if his religion was superior to theirs? Jesus performed miracles while Muhammad did none. Jesus guaranteed his followers eternal life, and Muhammad’s message was to hope for the best. Jesus rose from the dead, and Muhammad died of a headache. The bishop concluded he needed to bring his religion down to their level. The result was his book, which debunked all the supernatural events of the New Testament.
As I left the hall, I saw my Islamics Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr ahead of me. Assuming he must have been impressed, I caught up to him. “Dr. Nasr,” I asked, “What did you think?” I’ve never forgotten his reply. “I don’t know how that man can call himself a Christian,” he said. “If you take the resurrection out of Christianity, it collapses like a deck of cards.”
I believe Dr. Nasr was correct. But the same holds true for Islam. If Muhammad did not really receive the words of God in the cave, there’s nothing there.