Enlighten me on Musalmiyah, Sajah bint al-Harith and other people claiming priesthood around the time of Muhammad.
Doesn't that show that Muhammad was simply the most successful of many similar claimants around the time of a great social upheaval in Arabia?
>the most successful
No, more like just the luckiest one. The competing prophets of early Islam just show that Muhammed was merely voicing something that was in the air at the time in Arabia.
If you lived in Arabia in the 7th century, and you knew about the Byzantine Empire and Persian Empire being involved in an all consuming war, I figure that apocalyptic screeds about God ending the world very soon will seem pretty convincing. Same thing happened in the nihilistic hell of post-invasion Iraq, that's where ISIS get their popularity from
>I figure that apocalyptic screeds about God ending the world
Arabia was largely spared any destruction. Rather, the titanic war between the Byzantines and Persians caused both empires to pull out from supporting various client petty kingdoms in Arabia. Without their patrons' gold and armies, the old Arab rulers quickly lost their authority. The power vacuum was filled by various warlords who sought to legitimize their power by claiming divine favor.
No as Maududi suggested, an ideology like Hegel's (ie History needed a religious social and political reform on the eve of Islam) might have made a change necessary but only God could have produced the specific reform needed.
Besides most of these people popped up after Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and were copying him by trying to perform similar miracles, producing their own holy books in a Quranic style and even trying to gain legitimacy as a partner or successor of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم
An interesting point is that their therewere a few claimants to Messiah-ship before and after Jesus which is an equally interesting question to be investigated.
Certain tribes heard of Muhammad, thought he wasn't legit, and decided to try and emulate him. They seriously thought they could steal his thunder and create their own "religion", but they were wrong.
Ibn Khaldun talks about the soothsayers in his Muqaddimah.
Whether one sees Muhammad as a meeting of personal genius and charisma with a climate of religious diversity in the 6th century Hejaz, or as the mouthpiece of God's word, has a great deal to do with whether one is a Muslim or not.
In any case apologetics/conversion literature, just like arguments for atheism to the faithful, are annoying, full of hot air, and do nothing but stoke the fire. A moratorium, for God's sake and ours alike, is in order.