The Historical Muhammad / Edition 1

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In his quest for the historical Muhammad, Zeitlin's chief aim is to catch glimpses of the birth of Islam and the role played by its extraordinary founder. Islam, as its Prophet came to conceive it, was a strict and absolute monotheism. How Muhammad had arrived at this view is not a problem for Muslims, who believe that the Prophet received a revelation from Allah or God, mediated by the Angel Gabriel. For scholars, however, interested in placing Muhammad in the historical context of the seventh-century Arabian Peninsula, the source of the Prophet's inspiration is a significant question. It is apparent that the two earlier monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity, constituted an influential presence in the Hijaz, the region comprising Mecca and Medina. Indeed, Jewish communities were salient here, especially in Medina and other not-too-distant oases. Moreover, in addition to the presence of Jews and Christians, there existed a third category of individuals, the Hanifs, who, dissatisfied with their polytheistic beliefs, had developed monotheistic ideas. Zeitlin assesses the extent to which these various influences shaped the emergence of Islam and the development of the Prophet's beliefs. He also seeks to understand how the process set in motion by Muhammad led, not long after his death, to the establishment of a world empire.

About the Author:
Irving M. Zeitlin is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Toronto

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Zeitlin’s approach is novel andintriguing.”
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This book will be of value to serious students of Islamic historyas well as educated readers generally. Both groups will be wellable to navigate the historical and historiographical landscapes ofthe rise of Islam – with the foundational qualities thatenabled it to develop into a world religion. The pursuit ofcertainty in discerning and understanding Muhammad’shistorical biography and the rise of his religious movement isongoing, and Irving Zeitlin has provided a clear, balanced, andplausible account using traditional sources and modern scholarlytheories and interpretations."
Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado at Boulder

"It is very important for Muslims and non-Muslims alike tounderstand the importance of the Prophet Muhammad because he is socentral to Islam. The Historical Muhammad contributessignificantly to the discussion of the life of the Prophet, asubject highly relevant to our time."
Akbar S. Admed, American University, WashingtonDC

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745639987
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/22/2007
  • Series: Please Select a Ser.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving M. Zeitlin, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Toronto

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Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Introduction and Overview of the Life of Muhammad     1
Donner's Reply to the Skeptics     6
Enter Muhammad: An Overview     8
The Battle of the Trench     12
Ibn Khaldun's Social and Economic Theory     16
Bedouins and Sedentary Peoples     16
Asabiyah     17
Pre-Islamic Arabia     25
The Hijaz on the Eve of the Rise of Islam     27
Pre-Islamic Religion     29
The Role of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael     36
Who was the Sacrificial Son?     37
The Islamic Theory that Abraham, Ishmael, and Hagar Traveled to the Valley of Mecca     38
Abraham, Ishmael, and the Kaaba     40
William Muir on the Abrahamic Question     41
Muir on the Founding of Mecca and the Abrahamic Legend     43
Recent and Current Scholarship     46
The Religion of Mecca     48
The Kaaba and its Devotees     49
Hanifiya and the Religion of Abraham     50
More on Pre-Islamic Religion in the Arabian Peninsula     63
Possible Influences on Muhammad's Inspiration     74
Jewish Historians on the Jews of Arabia     78
Baron on Pre-Islamic, Arab-JewishRelations in Arabia     82
The Jews of Arabia: A Recent Re-Examination     87
Richard Bell's Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment     95
W. Montgomery Watt's Muhammad     107
Watt's Muhammad at Mecca     107
The Daughters of Allah or the So-Called Satanic Verses     112
More on the "Daughters of Allah" Affair     113
A Sociological Argument     118
Watt's Muhammad at Medina     120
Muhammad at Medina: William Muir's Analysis     124
Muhammad and the Jewish Tribes of Medina     125
The Battle of Badr     128
Current Research on the Massacre of the B. Qurayza     133
The Conquest of Khaybar     133
Muhammad and the Jews     137
Muhammad and the Jews: G. D. Newby's Re-Examination of the Evidence     143
Concluding Sociological Reflections     154
Abu Bakr and the Ridda     162
Notes     165
Bibliography     170
Index     175
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