Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men
The Making of the Last Prophet
Publication Year: 2011
The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that the office of prophecy is hereditary but that the line of descent ends with Muhammad, who is the seal, or last, of the prophets.
While Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, he is said to have adopted a man named Zayd, and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two. Zayd b. Muhammad, also known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad to be named in the Qur'an. But if prophecy is hereditary and Muhammad has a son, David Powers argues, then he might not be the Last Prophet. Conversely, if he is the Last Prophet, he cannot have a son.
In Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men, Powers contends that a series of radical moves were made in the first two centuries of Islamic history to ensure Muhammad's position as the Last Prophet. He focuses on narrative accounts of Muhammad's repudiation of Zayd, of his marriage to Zayd's former wife, and of Zayd's martyrdom in battle against the Byzantines. Powers argues that theological imperatives drove changes in the historical record and led to the abolition or reform of key legal institutions. In what is likely to be the most controversial aspect of his book, he offers compelling physical evidence that the text of the Qur'an itself was altered.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Table of Contents
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The word kalāla occurs twice in the Qur'ān, once in Q 4:12b and again in 4:176. Although the word is little known today, even among native speakers of Arabic, it was a subject of great interest to the early Muslim community. The second caliph 'Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb is reported to...
Part I: Fathers and Sons
Chapter 1. The Foundation Narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
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The foundation narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all formulated in the idiom of family relationships. In each case, it is the same family that is the subject of the respective foundation narrative, albeit at a different stage in history. The Jewish theological doctrine of divine election...
Chapter 2. Adoption in the Near East: From Antiquity to the Rise of Islam
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The abstract noun adoption refers to the act of establishing a man or woman as parent to one who is not his or her natural child. Adoption creates a filial relationship between two individuals that is recognized as the equivalent of the natural filiation between a biological parent and his or her child. ...
Chapter 3. The Abolition of Adoption in Early Islam
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In the sixth century C.E., the Arabian peninsula was inhabited by both trans-humant nomads and settled people, most of whom were pagans and polytheists, although some were monotheists or had been exposed to monotheism. ...
Part II: From Sacred Legend to Sacred History
Chapter 4. The Repudiation of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
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From antiquity down to the rise of Islam, adoption was widely practiced by Semites, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Although Jews and to a lesser extent Christians rejected the civil institution, both religious communities used the concepts of sonship and adoption as metaphors...
Chapter 5. The Battle of Mu'ta
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In his commentary on the Qur'ān, Muqātil b. Sulaymān does not mention the date on which Zayd died or the circumstances of his demise. Later commentators likewise are silent about these matters. ...
Chapter 6. The Martyrdom of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
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Compared to the foundation narratives of Judaism and Christianity, in which the father-son motif plays a central role, the Islamic foundation narrative is anomalous. The fact that none of Muḥammad’s natural sons reached the age of maturity makes it appear as if God could not test...
Chapter 7. Pretexts and Intertexts
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Verse 37 of Sūrat al-Aḥzāb is one of the few verses in the Qur'ān that appears to refer to an event in the life of the Prophet: Muḥammad’s marriage to the former wife of his adopted son Zayd. The circumstances surrounding this marriage would have been familiar to the Prophet’s Companions. ...
Part III: Text and Interpretation
Chapter 8. Paleography and Codicology: Bibliothèque Nationale de France 328a
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Islamic tradition teaches that God spoke to Muḥammad over a period of twenty-three years between 610 and 632 C.E., and that after receiving a divine communication, the Prophet would teach it to his Companions. The revelations are said to have been preserved in two ways: Some Muslims...
Chapter 9. Kalāla in Early Islamic Tradition
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Q. *4:12b referred to a man who designates a daughter-in-law (*kalla) or wife as his heir. This sub-verse was revised by the early Muslim community in such a manner as to produce a text that refers to a man or a woman who is inherited by kalāla. The word kalāla was an artificial...
Chapter 10. Conclusion
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The assertion that Islam supersedes Judaism and Christianity cannot fully be understood apart from the dynamics of the foundation narratives of the three Abrahamic faiths. All three narratives are formulated in the idiom of family and tell the story of a single family at a different stage in its history. ...
Appendix 1. The Opening lines of Q. 4:12b and 4:176 in English Translations of the Qur'ān
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Appendix 2. Deathbed Scenes and Inheritance Disputes: A Literary Approach
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Appendix 3. Inheritance Law: From the Ancient Near East to Early Islam
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Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion