|The spirit being Jibril said to Muhammad, "Of course you are the prophet of Allah... Would I lie to you?"|
In my book, Facing Islam, I discuss Muhammad's torment and temptations to commit suicide as follows:
“Poet or Possessed”
The “revelations” began dramatically, after Muhammad had spent many days and nights alone in a cave in Hira, worshipping Allah. Significantly, Muhammad himself did not at first believe he was being visited by the archangel Gabriel, thinking rather that he was a victim of a jinn (from which we get the word “genie”) or a demon. His first encounter with the powerful spirit being which commanded him to “read and recite” was frightening: "He pressed upon me so tightly I thought it was death.” (The Sira, Ibn Ishaq, p106; cf. Bukhari, 5:96:5)
He then fled trembling back to his wife Khadija, fearing for his life, crying, “Woe is me, poet [that is, oppressed by demonic visions] or possessed!” (Ibid.) Would that he had trusted this harrowing first impression. He became fearful and suicidal, but was eventually persuaded by his wife Khadija and her uncle Waraqa (a Nestorian heretic) that the messages were from God and that he was Allah’s chosen messenger (Bukhari, 5:1:3. Also 4:55:605). Khadija is credited with being the first Muslim.
That Muhammad then actively sought further encounters with the being which assailed him is testimony to his willingness to open himself up to the unseen realm. That he was so easily convinced by his wife and uncle (and the forceful “being”) that he was specially chosen by God and was not demonically oppressed or possessed shows that vainglory and satanic deception had totally seized control of his mind and heart.
After the initial visitation, there was a three year drought of “revelations,” during which Muhammad suffered from suicidal depression and self-doubt. According to the accepted early biographies of Muhammad, the “revelations” themselves always had a profound effect on the “prophet.” They sometimes came upon him violently, causing him to sweat on a cold day or even pass out. Muhammad said that sometimes bells and other sounds accompanied the “revelations.” Secular historians, physicians and psychologists have long speculated that Muhammad suffered from epilepsy, schizophrenia or some other pathological condition.
For the purpose of our discussion, we assume that the reports about the “revelations” and the effect they had on the “prophet” are true as transmitted to us via the original Islamic sources. (Facing Islam, pp 116-117)