Knight approaches hadith and sira as important religiocultural and literary phenomena in their own right. In rich detail, he lays out the variety of ways that early believers imagined Muhammad's relationship to beneficent energy—baraka—and to its boundaries, effects, and limits. Drawing on insights from contemporary theory about the body, Knight shows how changing representations of the Prophet's body helped to legitimatize certain types of people or individuals as religious authorities, while marginalizing or delegitimizing others. For some Sunni Muslims, Knight concludes, claims of religious authority today remain connected to ideas about Muhammad's body.
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This groundbreaking, theoretically sophisticated book eloquently demonstrates the potential of applying theory to the study of hadiths. It will be sought after for teaching in Islamic studies and religious studies as well as gender studies."—Aisha Geissinger, Carleton University
Michael Knight presents the reader with a picture of the Prophet Muhammad as a boundary-breaking body that manages flows of baraka, or blessing, through its corporeal connection to other bodies. Engaging issues that are in hot debate—the status of hadith reports and proper methods of interpretation, gender and sexuality, and power hierarchies in Islamic culture—this is a vigorous and powerful book."—Scott Kugle, Emory University