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By David S. Powers

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Many of the believers who formulated the Islamic foundation narrative were converts to Islam or their descendants. Inevitably these men and women were engaging in a conversation with earlier Jewish and Christian traditions, both written and oral. On the following pages, I shall attempt...

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pp. 1-15

This book is the first scholarly attempt to reconstruct the biography of a man named Zayd who was a Companion of the Prophet Muḥammad. Although Zayd is well known to Muslim audiences, past and present, he has not been viewed as a figure of major importance, and he is virtually unknown...

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1. Zayd

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pp. 16-29

The steppe lands between Syria and Iraq served as the grazing grounds of the tribe of Kalb, camel breeders who inhabited oases in the valley formed by Wadi Sirhan in northern Arabia, the gateway to Syria. In the sixth century C.E., Kalbīs could be found living in Salamiyya, Palmyra, Damascus, the Golan, and in the region of Harran. In northern Arabia, they settled in...

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2. Zaynab

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pp. 30-48

Muḥammad is said to have received his first revelation in 610 C.E., shortly after adopting Zayd. The identity of the first person to become a believer is a matter of dispute. It stands to reason that the first converts would have been his wife, children, and close relatives. As ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib would later recall, ...

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3. Mu’tah

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pp. 49-68

In the Sīra of Ibn Isḥāq the Muslim community’s memory of Zayd centers largely on his role as a military figure (see Introduction). Even if the sources do not identify him as Zayd b. Muḥammad, it would have been under that name that he participated in the Battles of Badr (2 A.H.), Uḥud (3 A.H.), ...

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4. Usāma

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pp. 69-94

In 610 C.E., shortly after receiving his first revelation, the Prophet arranged for his son Zayd b. Muḥammad to marry Umm Ayman, a darkskinned Ethiopian woman. Circa 613, Umm Ayman gave birth to a son whose name would have been Usāma b. Zayd b. Muḥammad al-Hāshimī...

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pp. 95-124

In the standard version of the Islamic foundation narrative, Zayd and Usāma play only a marginal role in the events associated with the rise of Islam. Clearly, however, the appearance of marginality is not an accurate reflection of the status of these two men in the minds of the early community...


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pp. 125-140


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pp. 141-156

Citation Index

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pp. 157-160

Subject Index

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pp. 161-174


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p. 175-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780812209952
E-ISBN-10: 0812209958
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812246179

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Zayd ibn Ḥārithah, -629 or 630.
  • Usāmah ibn Zayd, -673?.
  • Muḥammad, Prophet, -632 -- Companions -- Biography.
  • Qurʼan -- Relation to the Bible.
  • Islam -- Origin.
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