Early stories exist of Muhammad ascending into heaven, and, on that same journey, seeing some of the sufferings of the damned in hell. But these stories don't appear clearly in the Qur'an, they're always placed years before Muhammad's death, and they play no role in his life or in Islamic theology that's even remotely comparable to the function that the "harrowing of hell" and Christ's post-resurrection ascent have served in Christian lore and thought.
It's simply false to say that Muhammad's life precisely parallels that of Jesus. The differences are fundamental and far too numerous to be listed here. (Read my biography!) And when the same claim is actually examined with regard to Baal, Osiris, Krishna and the like, it fares no better.
If you're ever confronted with Graves' list or something like it, demand to see supporting references. Or, if you're pressed for time, just go ahead and laugh. It's not to be taken seriously.
Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and as director of advancement for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He is the founder of MormonScholarsTestify.org. He blogs daily at dcpsicetnon.blogspot.com.
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