"Did Muhammad Exist?: An inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins" by Robert Spencer (Apr. 2012), 254 pgs., hardback. Initially, I was incredulous that someone might actually question that the Muslim prophet Muhammad may not have existed. After all, when one reads books pertaining to Islam they all uniformly note specific dates as to when he was born (the year of the Elephant), slinked away on his hajra to Medina, conducted various military campaigns, and portrayed his slow death - as detailed in the ahadith. However, the author (Mr. Spencer) has combed through the writings of many Islamic researchers who have questioned the historiography of some event in Muhammad's perceived career as a `barker' for the Arabian dessert god Allah. Quickly, the chapter titles are: Introduction: the Full Light of History? (Chpt 1) The Man Who Wasn't There. (2) Jesus, the Muhammad. (3) Inventing Muhammad. (4) Switching On the Full Light of History. (5) The Embarrassment of Muhammad. (6) The Unchanging Qur'an Changes. (7) The Non-Arabic Arabic Qur'an. (8) What the Qur'an May Have Been. (9) Who Collected the Qur'an? , and (10) Making Sense of It All. As the author admitted: "In writing this book, I do not intend to break new ground. Instead, I aim to bring to wider public attention the work of a ... band of scholars who have dared ... to examine what the available historical data reveals about the canonical account of Islam's origins" (p. 8). In this goal the author succeeds admirably. Is Muhammad the Arab version of England's Robin Hood? Perhaps not a real figure, but more of a figurine based on legends from the dim memories of faded accounts of misty campfire tales about past multiple adventure-action dune warriors and chieftains. Mr. Spencer unabashedly poses the heretical question: "Did Muhammad exist?" Mr. Spencer notes that the name "Muhammad actually appears in the Qur'an only four times, and in three of those instances it could be used as a title - the `praised one' or `chosen one' - rather than as a proper name" (p. 17). So the Quran itself bespeaks little about the realism of `Muhammadun rasulu Allahi' - and it appears that the Quran didn't bind up well until sixty years after its reciter's demise - even though Muslims maintain that it has always existed (p. 126). Mr. Spencer tried to find a `reality check' for Muhammad in both the ahadith (life stories) and Sira (biography). However, Muhammad's first biographer (Ibn Ishaq) didn't pen his work until "at least 125 years after the death of his protagonist" (p. 19) - and from which all following biographies regarding `al-insan al-kamil' were derived. Despite Mr. Spencer's incredulity of believing Ibn Ishaq, Mr. Spencer respectfully wrote a section on "Defending Ibn Ishaq" (p. 88). Why is it that despite the early military jihad campaigns of the Muslim warriors there are no contemporary accounts mentioning Muhammad's name? As Mr. Spencer asks: why do the early `Islamic' coins fail to acknowledge Muhammad or the Muslim faith? It is beyond the scope of this short review to extensively detail all of the doubts that Mr. Spencer raises about the existence of Muhammad. A big `Thank You' to Mr. Spencer for bringing together the salient highlights of all the Doubting Thomases ... er ... Doubting Orientalists, in exposing that Muhammad remains well hidden behind the Muslim khimar veil - as depicted on the book's cover. `Allahu alam.'