Muhammad and the Believers

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-05-07
  • Publisher: Belknap Pr

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The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has since the 1970s been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of the Muslim sources. In Muhammad and the Believers, the eminent historian Fred Donner offers a lucid and original vision of how Islam first evolved. He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what we may call the "Believers' movement" begun by the prophet Muhammad-a movement of religious reform emphasizing strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God's revealed law. The Believers' movement thus included righteous Christians and Jews in its early years, because like the Qur'anic Believers, Christians and Jews were monotheists and agreed to live righteously in obedience to their revealed law. The conviction that Muslims constituted a separate religious community, utterly distinct from Christians and Jews, emerged a century later, when the leaders of the Believers' movement decided that only those who saw the Qur'an as the final revelation of the One God and Muhammad as the final prophet, qualified as Believers. This separated them decisively from monotheists who adhered to the Gospels or Torah.

Author Biography

Fred M. Donner is Professor of Near Eastern History in the Oriental Institute and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
A Note on Conventionsp. xvii
The Near East on the Eve of Islamp. 1
The Empires of the Late Antique Near Eastp. 3
Arabia between the Great Powersp. 27
Mecca and Yathrib (Medina)p. 34
Muhammad and the Believers' Movementp. 39
The Traditional Biography of Muhammad the Prophetp. 39
The Problem of Sourcesp. 50
The Character of the Early Believers' Movementp. 56
The Expansion of the Community of Believersp. 90
Sourcesp. 90
The Community in the Last Years of Muhammad's Lifep. 92
Succession to Muhammad and the Ridda Warsp. 97
The Character of the Believers' Early Expansionp. 106
The Course and Scope of the Early Expansionp. 119
Consolidation and Institutions of the Early Expansion Erap. 133
The Struggle for Leadership of the Community, 34-73/655-692p. 145
Background of the First Civil Warp. 146
The Course of the First Civil War (35-40/656-661)p. 155
Between Civil Wars (40-60/661-680)p. 170
The Second Civil War (60-73 /680-692)p. 177
Reflections on the Civil Warsp. 189
The Emergence of Islamp. 194
The Umayyad Restoration and Return to the Imperial Agendap. 195
The Redefinition of Key Termsp. 203
Emphasis on Muhammad and the QurĈanp. 205
The Problem of the Trinityp. 212
Elaboration of Islamic Cultic Practicesp. 214
Elaboration of the Islamic Origins Storyp. 216
The Coalescence of an "Arab" Political Identityp. 217
Official vs. Popular Changep. 220
The umma Documentp. 227
Inscriptions in the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalemp. 233
Notes and Guide to Further Readingp. 237
Glossaryp. 257
Illustration Creditsp. 265
Indexp. 267
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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