In order to understand Islam, we must understand its prophet, Muhammad. There were two Muhammads, with two characters. In Mecca, Muhammad preached and exhorted people to submit to Islam. In Medina, he used the threat of the sword to compel people to convert to Islam. Meccan contemporaries passed a very harsh judgment on him. They called him a crazed poet, among other things, because they felt what he kept saying didn’t cut it even as poetry, given the fact that poets have always been afforded a wide berth. Being a poet myself, I know that my poetry is often received, if not with great appreciation, with a modicum of acceptance, or at least tolerance. Muhammad may or may not have been a crazed poet, since this appellation is largely based on tastes and opinions.
Others, as of more recent times, have concluded that the man suffered from a chronic case of recurring seizures. They attribute Muhammad’s claims about receiving revelations from Allah and the numerous experiences he reportedly had with jinn as clear indications of seizure-induced hallucinations. Modern neuroscience documents the fact that a form of mental illness involves auditory and visual hallucinations that may seem very real experiences to the afflicted.
A third group claims that Muhammad was simply a fraud and a charlatan who made up all this for his own nefarious purposes.