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The Life of the Prophet Muhammad
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The Life of the Prophet Muhammad

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  1. The Life of the Prophet Muhammad

  2. Periodization of the Prophet’s Life • Preparation for Prophecy: • Childhood: preparation for prophecy • Merchant career and marriage: • Meccan Revelations and Persecution: • Early revelations in Mecca • Building up early network of followers • Persecution by Meccans • Isra’ and Mi’raj (الإسراء و المعراج) • Emigration and War: • Building Medinan community, political ruler • War with Meccans, their allies, conflict with Medinan Jews • After the Conquest: • Conquest of Mecca in 8/630 CE • Receiving submission of Arabian tribes • Conquest of Arabian peninsula

  3. Preparation for Prophecy Born around 570CE in the prominent clan of Banu Hashim of the Quraysh tribe – soon he is orphaned. He is raised by foster parents in the desert as a shepherd, where his heart is cleansed by angels Adopted into the home of his uncle Abu Talib, he becomes known as al-Amin – the trustworthy one

  4. Preparation for Prophecy - 2 With his uncle, he goes on merchant caravans north to Syria – where he is recognized by the Christian monk Buhayra At 25, the 40-year-old widow Khadija offers him marriage and control of her business – they have 4 daughters (one is Fatema) As a manager, he has more time and begins meditating in the desert and the mountain cave of Hira And in 610 CE….

  5. Meccan Revelations At first, preaches to family and friends: Khadija, Abu Bakr and ‘Ali immediately believe Slowly begins preaching to the Quraysh, who meet him with serious opposition and mockery Soon his preaching threatens the tranquility of the annual hajj, and Muhammad is smeared as a “sorcerer who splits people from their families.” Torture, killing of Muhammad’s followers – psychological torture of Muhammad Flight of some followers to Ethiopia for refuge with the Christian king

  6. Meccan Revelations 2 Boycott of Banu Hashim: no intermarriage or trade for two years Conversion of ‘Umar – newfound strength Year of Sadness 9/619: new protector? Abu Talib dies, Khadija dies, Abu Lahab new head of Quraysh Prophet seeks protection in Ta’if – when he fails, Mut’im b. ‘Adi protects him. The Night Journey and Ascension: Muhammad finds his place among prophets, Jerusalem is direction of prayer

  7. Muhammad’ s Arguments • The People of the Book know: • Previous revelations have predicted Muhammad • The message is the same 2. To the Polytheist Arabs: • Muhammad is al-Amin • He is not asking anything from you • He has no knowledge of this except from God – he is ‘illiterate’

  8. Rebuttals of the Unbelievers • He has a ‘teacher’ who tells him this Quran • He is a ‘sorcerer’ or madman • He is breaking with tradition • His followers are the poor and miserable Prominent Meccan Opponents of Islam: Abu Lahab (Muhammad’s uncle), Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan (father of Mu’awiya, first Umayyad Caliph)

  9. Emigration to Medina and War Deal worked out with Yathrib, and many Muslims emigrate – eventually only Muhammad, Abu Bakr and ‘Ali remain When Mut’im dies, Muhammad’s murder is planned… 622, the tenth year of revelation, Muhammad and Abu Bakr move to Yathrib… the City of the Messenger of God

  10. Medina and War with Mecca • Battle of Badr (624 / 2): miraculous Muslim victory, major Quraysh leaders killed – Islam now a power to be reckoned with. • Battle of Uhud (625 / 3): almost ends in defeat for the Muslims • Battle of Khandaq (627 / 5): Meccans and their allies besiege Medina, Muslims drive them away. • Treaty of Hudaybiyya (628 / 6): peace established, Muslims can visit Mecca for hajj • Conquest of Mecca (630 / 8): after conflict breaks out between Mecca’s allies and the Prophet’s allies, Muhammad declares peace broken and moves to occupy Mecca. Scales have shifted so far towards Muslims that the conquest is peaceful. Abu Sufyan and Meccan opponents of Islam convert to Islam.

  11. Establishing Control in Medina and Arabia The Jewish Tribes of Medina: • ‘Constitution of Medina’: Jews and Muslims one community (umma) • Jewish tribes gradually fall into conflict with Muhammad, are expelled or executed Marriage: the Prophet marries 11 women after Khadija, mostly daughters of close Companions or of prominent tribes ‘The Year of Delegations’ 631/10: the Prophet accepts loyalty of Arab tribes

  12. Muhammad in Context • ‘Haram’: the sacred precincts of Arabia. Muhammad: Medina is my haram. • Leader of Super-Tribal Alliance and at the center of kinship/marriage network • World full of the supernatural: jinn, kahin and sorcerer • Late Antique Near Eastern Holy Man? • Desert meditation • Seen as arbitrator in communal disputes • Person becomes center of cult

  13. Historiographical Issues • How do we know about Muhammad’s life (and the origins of Islam)? • Skepticism about sacred narratives • Principle of Analogy • Principle of Dissimilarity • Outright skepticism (Revisionist School)? • Response: • Who orchestrates this conspiracy? • Early epigraphic and non-Muslim sources

  14. Muhammad as Jesus and Moses • The story of the Prophet’s life is put together in the mid 8th century in Medina and Baghdad (the most famous is by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767) – in the midst of Jewish and Christian lore • Stories of Muhammad’s miracles: • He makes a sheep’s empty udder flow with milk • He makes a small pool of water suffice for all his followers • Ascension to Heaven is a Jewish trope