I've reached the conclusion that Muslims face an impossible task. Simply put, their entire faith rests upon defending a man - Muhammad - who is indefensible.
Wafa Sultan expressed it best when she said, "It is impossible that a man who did the things Muhammad did could be a prophet of God."
It is impossible that a man in his mid-50's could engage in sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old child, possibly damaging her physically so that she never became pregnant, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could finance his religious and political community by robbing the trade caravans that passed through his area on their annual trips between Arabia and Syria, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could encourage his own son to divorce his wife so that he, the father, could marry her, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could lie to his wife to get her out of the house so that he could sleep with the slave girl he had given her as a gift, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could call other men to follow him, and then watch them die one after the other in the battles he instigated to build his empire while giving them promises of the sensual Paradise that awaited them, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could behead 800 Jewish men who had lived in his city for centuries for the simple reason they refused to accept him as their leader, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could trade the Jewish wives and daughters of the men he had just beheaded for weapons and horses, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could be so fearful of criticism that he would send a man at night to kill the mother of a nursing child because of the poems she had written against him, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could sentence a woman to death by having her limbs attached to camels that moved in opposite direction pulling her apart, then behead her and parade her severed head through Medina, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could torture a young Jewish tribal leader to death to obtain his money, and then "marry" his 17-year old widow the same night, and be a prophet of God.
It is impossible that a man could allow his followers to have sex with their female slaves as well as their prisoners of war, whether or not they were married, and be a prophet of God.
For the past several months on Al-Hayat TV, Father Zakariya Boutros has been discussing the dozens of stories Muhammad "stole" from the Old and New Testaments, as well as from the Midrash and other ancient Jewish documents, and inserted into the Qur'an as revelations from Allah. Zakariya makes a clear distinction between "plagarism", which is the Arabic word "iqtibas", and "theft". He points out that Muhammad did not merely copy and paste stories from these documents into the Qur'an, but essentially changed their meanings in the Qur'an to indicate that he, Muhammad, was not merely similar to but essentially superior than the individuals such as Adam, Moses, and Abraham whose stories he stole.
For the first part of his 90-minute program Zakariya presents his evidence, and then opens the lines for people to call in. His live programs do not contain the 10-second delay to block out explicit language found in American programs such as the Larry King Show, which means the listener gets to hear exactly what the caller says. More than one call has a sequence similar to this:
Moderator: Our next caller is Abdul Rahman from Bahrain. Hello, Abdul Rahman.
Caller: You bastard, you son-of-a-bitch, you son of a whore, you MF'ing infidel...
Zakariya Boutros: Thank you, may God bless you and forgive you...
Very rarely do the callers actually challenge the information presented by Zakariya, because they cannot. No-one can.
Muslims in the West tend to follow a different approach in trying to defend Muhammad. They simply present information about Muhammad in a way that ignores the reality of his actions. Reza Aslan for example, in No God but God, describes the raids led by Muhammad as a type of "spring games" engaged in by everyone of the era. Tariq Ramadan in The Footsteps of the Prophet acknowledges that Muhammad was engaged to Aisha when she was six, but then says that Muhammad married her "several years later". That sound better than saying he raped her when she was nine. Tariq also admits that Muhammad allows men to "beat their wives" in the Qur'an, but claims that Muhammad himself "never struck a woman", and is therefore a model worthy of emulation in his relationship with women. Tariq ignores the hadith where Aisha herself says that Muhammad "struck me on the chest with such force that it hurt me", when she made the mistake of following him outside the house one night.
P.S. "Rape" is a highly emotive word that is extremely offensive to Muslims when used in the context of Muhammad and some of his sexual partners, and is not used lightly. Looking at the situation objectively in a male-dominated paternalistic society where women had little freedom of choice, what other word can describe the sexual conquest of a 9-year-old child given away by her father to the man her father believed to be a Prophet from Allah? What other word can describe the sexual conquest of a 17-year-old Jewish girl, Sofiah, the same day this Prophet tortured and killed her husband? What other word can describe the sexual conquest of a young Christian slave girl, Mary the Copt, in the house of her mistress Hafsah, one of Muhammad's wives? What other word can describe the sexual conquest of female slaves and prisoners of war taken in battles instigated by this Prophet and his followers?