The prophetical claims of the founders of Islam (Muhammad) and Mormonism (Joseph Smith, Jr.): a comparison from a Christian apologetic perspective
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The history of comparing Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, is relatively novel in contrast to human history, as well as sporadic. Starting as early as 1834, various antagonists and protagonists have tried to show where the two leaders lives have overlapped for either polemical, sociological, or apologetic reasons, with none of them getting much beyond the "superficial" level that later Mormon scholars such as Hugh Nibley and Arnold Green allude to in the critiques of previous works on the subject. Therefore, a thorough and in-depth research of this matter that gets beyond the superficiality, anecdotal, and trivial, and determines if there are any real parallels between them, is long overdue. With this intent, it is also deemed necessary to offer a possible reason or reasons why any parallels exist, if they exist. At the outset the assumption of the research is that Muhammad and Joseph Smith had many things in common due to their personal experiences, beliefs they shared, and the works they produced. Preliminary evidence will be discussed in detail later points in that direction. Both were visited by angels that assisted them in the creation of extra-biblical sources of authority, the Koran and the Book of Mormon. Both were influence internally through the families and externally through their surroundings to pursue the prophet statuses. Both exhibited eccentric behavior toward women, their neighbors, and the world. Both shared an extraordinary zeal for power and conquest, regardless of the means necessary to fulfill the latter. Both of these men subscribe their beliefs and works to encounters with a "spirit," which is taken for granted as being from God, yet has been rarely discussed with any amount of critical analysis or exegesis. Even though it is assumed that Muhammad and Joseph Smith had many things in common, it is also acknowledged that many differences existed as well. There is no such thing as the perfect analogy between any two persons or entities without confusing the distinct identities that make those persons or entities unique. It is unfortunate, though, that some have decided to focus on the differences to the degree where it is concluded that the main reason anyone should compare both Muhammad and Smith is to that "pious writers…felt the needs to expose Joseph Smith and Mormonism…contending that both Joseph Smith and Muhammad different [sic] little from preceding ‘imposters’ and ‘frauds.’" The premise of this research is that despite the differences, the similarities are more than coincidental, and in many cases striking. While Green may be correct in part, that previous works were done with an ulterior motive in mind, no one has conducted a study that fully did as Green suggests. This is stated while taking into account that it would seem that such evaluations as his have an ulterior motive behind them as well; one that desires to thwart open investigation and inquiry by poisoning the well before any evidence is examined or conclusions drawn.
- Theology