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Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited by Ibn Warraq, is an anthology of 15 studies examining the origins of Islam and the Qur'an. Ibn Warraq is a scholar (he studied under Montgomery Watt and the bestselling author of several books on Islam. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic religion based on the Quran. ... The , , (Arabic: recitation, also transliterated as Quran, Quran, Quran, Koran, and Alcoran), is the holy book of Islam. ...


The contributors listed in the Quest for the Historical Muhammad present their research and conclude that traditional Islamic views of its history and the origins of the Qur'an are fictitious and based on nothing more than historical concoctions and blatant revisionism aimed at forging a religious Arab identity. The Arabs (Arabic: عرب ) are a large and heterogeneous ethnic group found throughout the Middle East and North Africa. ...

Contents


Summary of arguments

  • Although the unreliability of the Arabic literary sources has been known for a century, only recently have scholars begun to explore its full implications, thanks largely to the ground-breaking work of the British scholar John Wansbrough.
  • Philologists and scholars look skeptically at the Arabic written sources and conclude that these are a form of "salvation history" - self-serving, unreliable accounts by the faithful.
  • The huge body of material, that Islamic revisionist scholars find, is mostly spurious. So unreliable do the revisionists find the traditional account, Patricia Crone has written, that "one could, were one so inclined, rewrite most of Montgomery Watt's biography of Muhammad in reverse." For example, an inscription and a Greek account leads Lawrence Conrad to fix Muhammad's birth in 552, not 570.
  • Patricia Crone finds that Muhammad's career took place not in Mecca but hundreds of kilometers to the north.
  • Yehuda D. Nevo and Judith Koren find that the classical Arabic language was developed not in today's Saudi Arabia but in the Levant, and that it reached Arabia only through the colonizing efforts of one of the early caliphs.
  • The Arab tribesmen who conquered great swathes of territory in the seventh century were not Muslims, perhaps they were pagans.
  • The Qu'ran is a not "a product of Muhammad or even of Arabia," but a collection of adaptations from earlier Judeo-Christian liturgical materials stitched together to meet the needs of a later age.
  • Most broadly, "there was no Islam as we know it" until two or three hundred years after the traditional version has it (more like CE 830 than 630);
  • Islam developed not in the distant deserts of Arabia but through the interaction of Arab conquerors and their more civilized subject peoples.
  • Quest for the Historical Muhammad raises basic questions for Moslems concerning the prophet's role as a moral paragon; the sources of Islamic law; and the God-given nature of the Koran.

John Edward Wansbrough (19 February 1928, Peoria Illinois - 10 June 2002, Montaigu-de-Quercy France) was a historian of Islam who taught at SOAS in London. ... Philology is the study of ancient texts and languages. ... Patricia Crone (born 1945, Denmark) is a scholar of Islam working at the Institute for Advanced Study. ... William Montgomery Watt is a English Islamic scholar. ... Patricia Crone (born 1945, Denmark) is a scholar of Islam working at the Institute for Advanced Study. ... This article is about the city in Saudi Arabia. ... The Levant Levant is an imprecise geographical term historically referring to a large area in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east. ... The Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula is a mainly desert peninsula in Southwest Asia at the junction of Africa and Asia and an important part of the greater Middle East. ... The Arabs (Arabic: عرب ) are a large and heterogeneous ethnic group found throughout the Middle East and North Africa. ... Judeo-Christian (or Judaeo-Christian) is a term used to describe the body of concepts and values which are thought to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, and typically considered (along with classical Greco-Roman civilization) a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and moral values. ...

Contents

PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

  • Studies on Muhammad and the rise of Islam : a critical survey - Ibn Warraq
  • Origins of Islam : a critical look at the sources - Ibn Rawandi

PART TWO: Ibn Warraq is a scholar (he studied under Montgomery Watt and the bestselling author of several books on Islam. ...

PART THREE: Ernest Renan (February 28, 1823–October 12, 1892) was a French philosopher and writer. ...

  • Koran and tradition : how the life of Muhammad was composed - Henri Lammens
  • The age of Muhammad and the chronology of the Sira - Henri Lammens
  • Fatima and the daughters of Muhammad - Henri Lammens
  • Matters of principle concerning Lammens' Sira studies - C. H. Becker

PART FOUR: MODERN PERIOD Henri Lammens (1862-1937), was a Belgian born well-known Jesuit Orientalist. ... Carl Heinrich Becker (1876 - 1933). ...

  • The quest of the historical Muhammad - Arthur Jeffery
  • A revaluation of Islamic traditions - Joseph Schacht
  • Abraham and Muhammad : some observations apropos of chronology and literarry topoi in the early Arabic historical traditon - Lawrence I.Conrad
  • The function of asbab al-nuzul in Quaranic exegesis - Andrew Rippin
  • Methodological approaches to Islamic studies - Judith Koren and Yehuda D. Nevo
  • The quest of the historical Muhammad -F. E. Peters
  • Recovering lost texts : some methodological issues - Lawrence I. Conrad

PART FIVE: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JOHN WANSBROUGH Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), Schact was professor of Arabic and Islamics at Columbia University in New York. ... Andrew Rippin is Professor of History and Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. ... F.E. Peters is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, History, and Religion at New York University. ...

  • The implicatons of, and opposition to, the methods of John Wansbrough - Herbert Berg
  • John Wansbrough, Islam, and monotheism - G.R. Hawting.
  • Glossary
  • Abbreviations
  • Dramatis Personae: Explanatory List of Individuals and Tribes
  • Genealogical Table
  • Map of Western Asia and Arabia
  • Chronological Table and the Islamic Dynasties
  • Contributors

John Edward Wansbrough (19 February 1928, Peoria Illinois - 10 June 2002, Montaigu-de-Quercy France) was a historian of Islam who taught at SOAS in London. ... Herbert Berg was trained at the University of Torontos Centre for Religious Studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s; he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is Director of their Graduate Liberal Studies program. ...

Further reading

  • The Quest for the Historical Muhammad Prometheus Books (March 1, 2000) ISBN 1573927872

Prometheus Books is a publishing company, which publishes Scientific, educational, and popular books. ...

See also

  • review of The Quest for the Historical Muhammad

 
 

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