We now come to the very real problems with Islam's history, from the perspective of the historians themselves.
Since so much of what is classically known about how Islam began is derived from the 9th and 10th centuries, for what was happening in the 7th century (thus, around 200 - 300 years too late), historians are concerned by such a time discrepancy.
So, they have decided to return to the 7th century, and find out what exactly the historical evidence tells us.
And what they are finding is not very encouraging.
-The first Arab inscription referencing Muhammad is in 691 AD, yet it should be from the time Muhammad lived, in 632 AD, or before. Suggesting no Arab referred to Muhammad for 60 years following his death (Volker Popp-Ohlig & Puin 2010:53)
-The first reference to the term ‘Muslim’ is in the 690s. Prior to that time they were called: Saracen’, ‘Hagarene’, ‘Ishmaelite’, ‘Maghraye’, and ‘Muhajiroun’ (‘Chronicle of John of Niku’ – 1602, & Nevo & Koren, 2003:234)
-The first reference to the term ‘Islam’ is not until 691 AD (on the Dome of the Rock) (Volker Popp-Ohlig, & Puin 2010:71)
-The first reference to Mecca is not until 741 AD, yet this is the city where Abraham supposedly lived in 1800 BC (see Surah 21:51-71), and where Muhammad grew up (Crone 1987:134-136; Hoyland 1997:426; Holland 2012:303)
-The first biography of Muhammad within Islamic sources is not until 833 AD (Ibn Hisham & Al Waqidi)
These findings are indeed damaging, and suggest that the classical account of how Islam began is not only false, but can not be supported when observing that which history affords us.
The scholars who are doing this investigation involve some of the best minds in the Western world today, including:
-Dr John Wansborough (SOAS: Qur’anic studies, Sect. Milieu)
-Dr Gerald Hawting (SOAS: 1st c. of Islam)
-Dr Patricia Cröne (Princeton: Meccan trade, 15 languages)
-Dr Andrew Rippin (Calgary: Muslims, Their beliefs/Practices)
-Dr Robert Hoyland (Oxford: Seeing Islam as Others, 18 lang.)
-Dr Yehuda Nevo (Jerusalem: Crossroads to Islam, inscriptions)
-Dr Gunther Lűling, Dr Gerd-Rüdiger Puin, Dr Hans-Caspar Graf von Bothmer, Dr Karl-Heinz Ohlig (Germany, earkt Qur'anic MSS)
© Pfander Centre for Apologetics, 2017