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Patrica Crone v. Kecia Ali and the life of Muhammad

Reader comment on item: Uncovering Early Islam

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Mar 28, 2015 at 12:43

Dr. Pipes

This is about Ms Kecia's Lives of Muhammad and Robert Spencer's recent review of her book.


If I want to read about of the life prophet of Islam then I will read the earliest primary literary sources in Arabic about his life the likes of Ibn Hisham's redaction of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah and al-Maghazi by al-Waqidi and for sure Karen Armstrong foolish biography or Ms Kacia's book would not be real sources .

The Qur'an? It does not tell us anything about his life! the Ahadith? they are very late and anachronistic so we are really left with not very much to go on. What is most amazing is that the Muhammad of Ibn ishaq and al-Waqidi was a nasty warlord and caravan raider and his biography as was proven by Henri Lammens to be no more than another form of exegesis of the opaque verses in the Qur'an and that there was nothing historical about it. And indeed modren historians of early islam are proving that the likes of let us say the battle of Badr never happened based on reading the Quranic text

The truth is we do not really know very much about Muhammad or even if he really existed and if he did then did he live in Mecca and Medina or did he live way up north close to Palestine as it seems to be the case? And indeed the fact that the Qur'an has it share of Syriac words and Syriac grammatical constructions makes one wonder that Islam must have been the product of the civilizations of al-Sham al-Mesopotami and less likely to have been born in very distant Mecca.

We just do not know and if we know something about him we only know about his Medina period as for the first 50 years of his life his early biographies are not great help.

Now if I really want to understand the nature of the early literary source, beacuse that is all we have, about the life then I sould read Patrica Crone's great article: What do we actually know about Muhammad 2008


And the truth is we do not know very much.

Did he exit? Patricia Crone believes in the above article that he existed. i do believe that the evidence she provides is very weak but I will leave it to another post

One final point: Crone with great respect to such great scholar I would disagree with her comments about Luxenberg's work. This does not mean that I agree with every thing he says but he for sure was able to explain many verses in the Qur'an by going back to the literary source and that is Syriac and by pointing out that al-Tabari and indeed the early Mufasereen had great reverence for the Syriac language and informed us about many loan Syriac words in the Qur'an. What does this mean? That is a very different and important issue that I will leave to another post


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