Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam

Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam

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by Fred M. Donner
     
 

The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has since the 1970s been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of the Muslim sources.

In Muhammad

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Overview

The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has since the 1970s been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of the Muslim sources.

In Muhammad and the Believers, the eminent historian Fred Donner offers a lucid and original vision of how Islam first evolved. He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what we may call the "Believers' movement" begun by the prophet Muhammad—a movement of religious reform emphasizing strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God's revealed law. The Believers' movement thus included righteous Christians and Jews in its early years, because like the Qur'anic Believers, Christians and Jews were monotheists and agreed to live righteously in obedience to their revealed law. The conviction that Muslims constituted a separate religious community, utterly distinct from Christians and Jews, emerged a century later, when the leaders of the Believers' movement decided that only those who saw the Qur'an as the final revelation of the One God and Muhammad as the final prophet, qualified as Believers. This separated them decisively from monotheists who adhered to the Gospels or Torah.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674064140
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
05/07/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
525,219
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.78(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

A Note on Conventions xvii

1 The Near East on the Eve of Islam 1

The Empires of the Late Antique Near East 3

Arabia between the Great Powers 27

Mecca and Yathrib (Medina) 34

2 Muhammad and the Believers' Movement 39

The Traditional Biography of Muhammad the Prophet 39

The Problem of Sources 50

The Character of the Early Believers' Movement 56

3 The Expansion of the Community of Believers 90

Sources 90

The Community in the Last Years of Muhammad's Life 92

Succession to Muhammad and the Ridda Wars 97

The Character of the Believers' Early Expansion 106

The Course and Scope of the Early Expansion 119

Consolidation and Institutions of the Early Expansion Era 133

4 The Struggle for Leadership of the Community, 34-73/655-692 145

Background of the First Civil War 146

The Course of the First Civil War (35-40/656-661) 155

Between Civil Wars (40-60/661-680) 170

The Second Civil War (60-73 /680-692) 177

Reflections on the Civil Wars 189

5 The Emergence of Islam 194

The Umayyad Restoration and Return to the Imperial Agenda 195

The Redefinition of Key Terms 203

Emphasis on Muhammad and the Qur'an 205

The Problem of the Trinity 212

Elaboration of Islamic Cultic Practices 214

Elaboration of the Islamic Origins Story 216

The Coalescence of an "Arab" Political Identity 217

Official vs. Popular Change 220

Appendix A The umma Document 227

Appendix B Inscriptions in the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem 233

Notes and Guide to Further Reading 237

Glossary 257

Illustration Credits 265

Index 267

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