The Emergence of Islam
Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Title Page, Copyright
Illustrations and Features
The story of the emergence of Islam, as it is usually told, is rather straightforward. Muhammad was born in Mecca, a pagan city in western Arabia in 570 CE. At the age of forty, he began to proclaim revelations from the one true God, the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. ...
Timeline of Traditional Chronology from the Birth of Muhammad to the Death of 'Ali
The Family Tree of the Prophet Muhammad according to the Traditional Biography
Part 1: The Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs
Introduction to Part 1: Historical Overview
Islam today is a global religion with adherents from diverse nations, races, and cultures. The story of its origins, however, takes place among a specific group of people: the Arabs of the late antique Near East. The Arabs at the time lived in an area that stretched from modern-day Yemen ...
Chapter 1: Muhammad in Mecca
The Prophet Muhammad, according to the traditional Islamic sources, was an orphan. His father, Abdallah, died three months before he was born, and his mother, Amina, died when he was only six. After his mother died, Muhammad was adopted by Abu Talib, his paternal uncle. ...
Chapter 2: Muhammad in Medina
The Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina held such great significance to later Muslims that they chose it to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Thus Islamic years are abbreviated ah, from the latin anno hegirae, “in the year of the hijra.” ...
Chapter 3: The Birth of an Empire
The Prophet was dead and no new prophet was to be born. In the Bible (2 Kgs. 2), the prophet Elisha takes up the mantle of the prophet Elijah, but no one—according to Islamic belief—could take up Muhammad’s mantle. The Quraan describes Muhammad as the “seal of the prophets” (33:40). ...
Conclusion to Part One
In his work Muhammad at Medina (published in 1956), William Montgomery Watt introduces his examination of Muhammad’s moral character in the following way: “We may ask, ‘Was Muhammad a good man according to the standards of the Arabia of his day?’ ...
Part 2: The Qur'an
Introduction to Part 2: History and Literature
At various points in the first part of this book, I reflect on the uncertain quality of the story of Islam’s origins that I tell there. This uncertainty is a product of the Islamic sources on which this story is based. Ibn Ishaq, the earliest Islamic biographer of Muhammad, is said to have died in 767 CE, well over a century after the Prophet’s death. ...
Chapter 4: The Qur'an and Its Message
The Quraan is a relatively short book (just over half the length of the New Testament). It is divided into 114 chapters, or suras, and each of these suras is divided into verses. According to Islamic tradition, the division into suras was revealed by God to the Prophet; ...
Chapter 5: The Qur'an and the Bible
A second step to understanding the religious context in which the Quraan emerged is found in its close relationship with biblical literature. According to the traditional biography, Muhammad spent most of his life, and the first half of his prophetic career, in Mecca, the heart of a deeply entrenched pagan culture. ...
Chapter 6: Rethinking the Biography of the Prophet
In the previous two chapters, I suggest that the Quraan was proclaimed in a milieu where people were hotly debating theology, and in particular theology involving Christ (that is, Christology), and where they knew the literature of Jews and Christians well. ...
Chapter 7: The Historical Context of the Qur'an
Most introductory books on Islam begin with the biography of Muhammad and then explain the Quraan according to that biography. In the present chapter, we will do things the other way around. Instead of asking what the biography of the Prophet can teach us about the Quraan, ...
Conclusion to Part Two
At this point, the reader who had hoped for a year-by-year description of the rise of Islam might justifiably feel disappointed. Due to the nature of our sources, a precise history of Islam’s emergence has proven to be elusive. The Islamic sources on the life of the Prophet are late; ...
Part 3: Contemporary Perspectives
Introduction to Part 3: Classical Texts and Contemporary Religion
The conviction that Muslim societies today should be modeled on that of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina reflects a notion about the Prophet himself, namely, that he was the perfect man. Muhammad was impeccable (“free from sin”) and infallible (“free from error”). ...
Chapter 8: Contemporary Muslim Narratives of Islam’s Emergence
The story of Islam in the modern era is a story of remarkable growth. In the year 1900, the global population of Muslims was 200 million; by 2010, this number had risen to 1.6 billion. Even in terms of percentage of world population, the number of Muslims has grown considerably, ...
In the course of this book, it has become apparent that the question of Islam’s emergence is far from settled. Earlier generations of critical scholars, following medieval Islamic historical sources, generally thought of Islam as a tradition that emerged in reaction to a sort of vulgar Arab paganism. ...
Glossary of Proper Names and Technical Terms
Bibliography and Further Reading
Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2012
OCLC Number: 825768068
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