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The next Rushdie?

Posted by Richard on December 15, 2006

Abbas Sadeghian is a clinical neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine. A few years ago, while studying seizure disorders, he encountered a 19th-century book on the subject that suggested Muhammad may have had a seizure disorder. Sadeghian eventually researched the matter in depth and presented a paper on the subject. Encouraged by colleagues, he’s now expanded that work into a book that seems destined to cause trouble:

Religious prophet Muhammad suffered from epileptic seizures, according to a book recently released by a Tehran- native and Muslim-raised neuropsychologist. Abbas Sadeghian delivers these findings in the book Sword & Seizure, which is based on historical text, including the Koran.

Sadeghian was inspired by a comparable paper he presented in 2001 at New York University’s Fielding Institute. He says Muhammad had suffered from "complex partial seizures," which are displayed through "excessive sweating and light trembling, olfactory, auditory and visual hallucinations, epigastric sensations (bad taste), excessive perspiration and hyper-religiosity." He says evidence of these is recounted throughout the Koran.

Epilepsy-induced hallucinations might explain some of the events Muhammad described that we non-believers dismiss as fantasy, such as his flight on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem. That story, by the way, is the sole basis for Islam’s claim that Jerusalem is a holy site to Muslims. According to Muhammad, one night a winged horse flew him to Jerusalem. He climbed atop the Temple Mount, and from there, ascended into heaven for a visit with Allah and the earlier prophets. Based on that story, the Jews must be driven out of the city that King David made the capital of Israel over 3000 years ago, and it must become solely Muslim.

Sadeghian’s book is available from Amazon, and there’s an excerpt (apparently from the preface or introduction) at I did some cursory searching and haven’t turned up any fatwahs, death threats, or demonstrations of Muslim outrage against him. But the cartoon riots didn’t occur until six months after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons, and Khomeini waited five months after the publication of Satanic Verses to issue a fatwah calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie.

I suspect Dr. Sadeghian’s book will eventually draw the wrath of the more excitable elements of Islam, much as Rushdie’s did. I hope he’s beginning to take security precautions now.

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