I personally have no doubt in it but when searching, this similar yahoo question is very interesting. All answers are really long and they basically do not deny the pen and paper story of the Prophet. If the prophet was illiterate, how can he ask for pen and paper in his last days? The answer by MuhammadK is very methodical. He refers to Quran 25:5 (among other things) and says he indeed could read and write. This would be against our belief, if we know he could both read and write.

My question is, Was prophet Muhammad illiterate?

  • can you please referance the paper and pen story?
    – NesreenA
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 11:06
  • @NesreenA are you serious? did you click on the link above?
    – muslim1
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 11:16
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    the link above doesent give any refrence to the story it simply says a summery of the story, yahoo answers isnt really the ideal place where you can get reliable information
    – NesreenA
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 11:17
  • @NesreenA the question is not about the paper and pen story. The question is, was the prophet illiterate. You can totally ignore the above story.
    – muslim1
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 11:21
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    Just to note: Even if the prophet was literate during his last days doesn't necessarily mean that he was literate throughout the revelation. Literacy, like most skills, can be learnt over time.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


Allah referes to the prophet, as the unlettered prophet, which means illiterate, or poorly educated.

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful.

Say, [O Muhammad], "O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death." So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided.7:157-158

nothing else can contradict the quran of course, if Allah has given him the title of the "unlettered prophet" then indeed he is illiterate, in which we cannot deny.

  • The question doesn't refer to "something else" contradicting the qu'ran - it refers to other parts of the Qu'ran, which must also be correct. Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 12:28
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    the other information he gave was hadith (from the link) not quran, which may contradict the quran since its humans that narrate it. The quran as other people pointed out was translated incorrectly. Also, he said to ignore any of the information given and simply answer was the prophet illiterate.
    – NesreenA
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 14:05
  • @NesreenA I have a problem here. When Quran says we created man from Mud then we say it should not be taken in its literal meaning because it is symbolic. Thus we invalidate Quran ourselves. Here you are saying Quran is always right but then there could be other proof the prophet could read and write. Remember he was a successful businessman, highly intelligent, a book was revealed on him and then he had time to learn it even if he did not know in the beginning.
    – muslim1
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 14:29
  • i dont belive its symbolic i belive as the quran says we are made from earth and his soul was breathed into adam and he was alive, it may depend on whos interpertation you follow- but we should continue this in the chat
    – NesreenA
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 15:11
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    the word in question 'Ummi' does not necessarily mean Unlettered. Many scholars also propose that it means 'Gentile' or those who have Not received a Revelation. Note it is used to refer to both the Prophet and His Community. Are you seriously going to say all the Quraishi Arabs couldn't write. What does that have to do with revelations?
    – Ali
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 7:14


In addition to Nesreen's answer I'd like to add this about Al-Furqan 25:5. The word in question is اكتتبها. Note that this is not translated as "has written down" which is more properly كتبها. A more precise translation is "has had written down" which of course can imply that he (the Prophet) could have had someone else write it for him.

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