Study of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). Critical issues. Aims of session. To identify the issues raised concerning non-Muslim, Western studies of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) To consider the ways that scholars have identified the wider context for such studies.
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‘isma = immunity from error
“So the memory of the historical person of the Meccan merchant, and of the able and realistic head of state of Medina, is lost on the one hand in the speculations of a mysticism wholly foreign and unknown to him, while on the other hand it materialises in the most naive beliefs of popular piety.”(Gabrieli, 1977, 11)
Buhl – genuine nature of prophetic inspiration
Watt – methodological revaluation of tradition
‘shows how far the West has come from the hatred of the Middle Ages, towards a more just and sympathetic appreciation of the Prophet of Islam.”(Gabrieli, 1977, 21)
‘He has taken the sources seriously, analyzed them, and formulated his conclusions with great sharpness and clarity. Taking as his point of departure the great Muslim biographies… The clear and direct way in which he formulates his conclusions on the various events of the Prophet’s life, the confident fashion in which he employs his conclusions, has appeared to some to indicate an exaggerated confidence in the reliability of these latter.’ (Rodinson, 1981, 46)
Rodinson, M. A Critical Survey of Modern Studies on Muhammad’ in Swartz, M.L. (1981) Studies on Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.- comments on his own biography
‘Attempted to show the relationship between the eschatological visions of the early preaching of Muhammad and the international political situation of that period. Taking the sociological correlations of his preaching as established, the author attempted to show how a personal, psychological evolution shaped Muhammad into an instrument capable of formulating and communicating an ideology that corresponded to the needs of the time and milieu.”(Rodinson, 1981, 50)
‘the summary of the life of Muhammad as presented here is fraught with difficulties and insoluble problems.”(Rippin, 1990, 34)
- knowledge of original Arabic sources
‘A Muslim Assessment of Books on the Life of the Prophet
Muhammad’ in Ashraf, A. (ed.) (1986) Resources for the teaching of
Islam in British Schools. Cambridge: The Islamic Academy. pp. 25-43.
1. Nature of objectivity in dealing with:
2. Quality of discernment- must understand what prophethood means and accept this dimension
3. Awareness of the main aim of Religious Education - phenomenology
“None of the writers of this group has understood the Prophet of Islam properly. Even when praising him, they do it out of their purely human perspective considering his administrative talent or his statesmanship. A Prophet is himself the norm, and if one wants to understand a prophet one is in need of a metaphysical knowledge and a profound religious insight.”(1986, 38)