The Expeditions: An Early Biography of Muhammad (Library of Arabic Literature)

The Expeditions is one of many oldest biographies of the Prophet Muhammad to outlive into the trendy period. Its fundamental writer, Ma'mar ibn Rashid (714-770 AD/96-153 AH), was once a fashionable pupil from Basra in southern Iraq who used to be respected for his studying in prophetic traditions, Islamic legislations, and the translation of the Qur'an. This attention-grabbing foundational seminal paintings includes tales passed down via Ma'mar to his so much fashionable scholar, 'Abd al-Razzaq of Sanaa, touching on Muhammad’s adolescence and prophetic occupation in addition to the adventures and tribulations of his earliest fans in the course of their conquest of the close to East.

Edited from a sole surviving manuscript, the Arabic textual content deals quite a few enhanced readings over these of past variations, together with special notes at the text’s transmission and variations as present in later works. This new translation, which renders the unique into readable, sleek English for the 1st time, is observed via a variety of annotations elucidating the cultural, non secular and ancient contexts of the occasions and members defined inside its pages.

The Expeditions represents a massive testimony to the earliest Muslims’ reminiscence of the lives of Muhammad and his partners, and is an fundamental textual content for gaining perception into the historic biography of either the Prophet and the increase of the Islamic empire.

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The textual content is phenomenal simply because, along Ibn Hishām’s (d. 218/834) redaction of the prophetic biography of Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq (d. 150/767–68),5 The Expeditions is among the earliest and so much seminal examples of the style of prophetic biography in Arabic literature to have survived. Early biographies of the Prophet Muḥammad—and via “early” I suggest written inside centuries of his loss of life in 10/632—are a very infrequent commodity. actually, no surviving biography dates previous to the second/eighth century. The rarity of such early biographies is certain to pique the interest of even an informal observer. The absence of past biographical writings approximately Muḥammad isn't really because of Muslims’ loss of curiosity in telling the tales in their prophet. no less than partially, the shortage of such writings is rooted within the issues of a number of the earliest Muslims that any recording of a publication of news approximately Muḥammad’s existence might necessarily divert their energies from, or even possibility eclipsing, the prestige of Islam’s sacred scripture, the Qurʾan, because the so much priceless concentration of devotion and scholarship. This paucity of early biographies can also be partly the results of the truth that, ahead of the codification of the Qurʾan, the Arabic language had no longer totally emerged as a medium during which written literary works have been produced. for contemporary historians enthralled by way of such concerns, the try and tease out the implications of this chronological hole among Muḥammad’s lifetime and our earliest narrative resources approximately him might be all-consuming. Debates therefore proceed in earnest over no matter if we might recognize something in any respect in regards to the “historical Muḥammad” given the demanding situations provided by means of the resource fabric. yet what's intended precisely through the “historical Muḥammad”? smooth historians communicate of the ancient Muḥammad as a kind of shorthand for an ancient realizing of Muḥammad’s existence and legacy that's humanistic, secular, and cosmopolitan. this is often to claim that any speak of a historic Muḥammad is simply an interpretation of his existence that's unique from, yet no longer unavoidably incompatible with, both how his religion group imagined him centuries after his loss of life or how rival religion groups considered him throughout the lens in their personal adversarial non secular xv Introduction polemic. but all glossy understandings of Muḥammad necessarily derive from a physique of texts written by way of a religion group, for we don't have any modern witnesses to Muḥammad’s prophetic venture, and the earliest stories that do live to tell the tale are penned by means of outsiders whose depictions and figuring out of Islam in its earliest years are sketchy at most sensible and stridently adverse at worst. 6 as a result, to talk of a ancient Muḥammad isn't really to talk of the genuine Muḥammad. We realize that we search to appreciate, clarify, and reconstruct the lifetime of a guy utilizing the instruments and techniques of contemporary historic feedback. no matter what shape one of these venture takes, and whatever the technique followed, there is not any escaping the fundamental conundrum dealing with all historians of early Islam: they have to model their reconstruction of Muḥammad’s biography from the stories and interpretations of the neighborhood that respected him as Prophet.

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