Did the Prophet suffer from Epilepsy?
The claims that the Prophet Muhammad suffered from epilepsy rests on a number of shaky assumptions not supported by medical research. They are based solely on the many different descriptions of his state during his reception of revelation. First, the Prophet first received revelation when he was forty years old. This would mean that the Prophet suddenly developed epilepsy later in life as it has never been reported that he suffered from such experiences before. This is highly unlikely from a medical perspective.
Moreover, epilepsy is seen as one way of explaining the Prophet’s visions and spiritual experiences. The Prophet was not reported to have suffered from any such physical or mental conditions except during his reception of revelation. This would mean that the Prophet’s
epilepsy occurred only when he was inspired by verses from the Qur’an. This would be a medical anomaly as epilepsy is not consistently associated with such experiences.
Untreated epilepsy also leads to mental damage and difficulties. The Prophet Muhammad received revelation for 23 years and it was never reported that his memory or mental faculties suffered in any way.
If we consider the entire life history of the Prophet, one sees very clearly the integrity and consistency of his personality and qualities. He transformed the belief, practice and mindset of a corrupt and backward people to a moral and civilized one. He became the father of a nation in a manner unparalleled in human history.
From his family life to his public persona, the details of his life were transparent. And what emerges from a fair-minded look at his personality is that all his achievements cannot be reduced to some single medical reason. Unlike many of the great figures of history, what the Prophet did, said and sanctioned is recorded authentically and even more so after he received revelation. Indeed the
thousands of pages that have been written on his life reveal not a trace of erratic or irrational behavior.
The idea of the Prophet being an epileptic was first advanced by Orientalists whose arguments both from a scientific and historical view are very flimsy. Since then, the argument has been rehashed by propagandists and critics who care little for the basis of their claims. From the above, it is clear that when one looks fairly at the life of the Prophet, it is hard to take such an argument seriously.