Ibn Ishaq was a biographer of Islamic prophet Muhammad. He collected stories of the prophet which can now be found in his book The Life of Muhammad: Apostle of Alllah. The book was written in the early years after the death of Muhammad.
In the work, we find the following story:
The apostle of Allah himself described what had happened. ‘Whilst I and my milk-brother were pasturing some animals in the rear of our house, two men came to us dressed in white garments and bearing a golden platter full of snow. They took hold of me, opened my belly, extracted my heart, split it open and took out of it a black lump of blood which they threw away. Then they washed my heart and belly with snow, until they had purified them. Then one of them said to his companion, “Weigh him against one hundred of his people.” And he weighed me with them, but I proved heavier than they. Then he said, “Weigh him with one thousand of his people.” This he also did, and I was again found more heavy. After that he said, “Leave him; for if you were to weigh him against his whole nation, he would outweigh it.'” (London, the Folio Society, 2003, p.20)
This story is interspersed with other more standard ones describing the life of Muhammad.
The New Testament has a few miraculous stories of Jesus: He is born of a virgin, walks on water, and his body briefly glows with light. When we compare these stories, what do we find?
We find distinct differences. The stories of Jesus were seen by many and reported by eyewitnesses and recorded in the New Testament by first-generation eyewitnesses. This story of Muhammad was seen by no one and is only handed down to us through the long line of people telling the story to the next generation, who told it to the next.
The stories of Jesus in the New Testament are presented in a historical narrative that reads like a history book: Jesus went to this town, sent the disciples ahead on a boat, came to them walking on the water, taught some spiritual truths, and went to the other side of the sea. By contrast, the stories of Muhammad presented here are isolated vignettes with such a fantastic tone that we have trouble taking it any way except allegorically or completely symbolic. The story of Jesus reads like a miracle and is preceded by a normal historical narrative, while that of Muhammad leaves us wondering whether anyone would take it seriously. Yet it is in Ibn Ishaq’s narrative like all the other stories.
Another important difference is that the stories of Jesus are told by His followers to bring praise to Jesus. By contrast, this story of Muhammad is told by himself to bring glory to himself.
We are also left to wonder how they weighed 1,000 people, or how such a heavy man would not collapse whatever it sat upon.
For these reasons, we reject this historical narrative of Muhammad as fancy. However, since it is early and corroborated, this story gives us some indication that we can extend the rejection to the body of historical knowledge of Muhammad.