Academic Programs 

The Life of the Prophet Muhammad* (HI-536)
Fall 2009

The Prophet Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the final prophet of God and the model for their lives as individuals and communities. Through translated selections of original historical sources, the course will survey interpretations of the personality and achievement of the Prophet made by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. Muslim emulation of the Prophet will be examined with reference to the Hadith literature and devotional prayers.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15

Dr. Shadee Elmasry



Course Syllabus

This course is designed to a) educate the student on the biography of the Prophet Muhammad and b) expose graduate students to specific aspects and different perspectives related to Muhammad. As such, we begin by reading the sira, or biography. The course then breaks off topically, covering a different topic each week. Readings are around 30-40 pages per week, but in cases where the reading is easy, it may go up to 60-70 pages.

Syllabus and course organization: The course is 14 weeks, 12 of which are reading weeks and 2 are for paper writing. Each week ends on Sunday and begins the same day at 5pm (i.e. new reading and discussion question will be posted Sunday 5pm). Do the reading and post your responses on or before Thursday (on the Discussion Board). Then you must post at least one response to a classmate’s post during the weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun). Thus, each week you are doing two posts minimum. I will be checking in periodically.

Papers and Grading: The first paper will consist of a comparison between the Makkan and Madinan phase. More details will be furnished. The final paper will also be discussed at a later date. There will also be a final test. Grading: 15% posts, 25% mid-term paper, 25% Final Test, 35% Final Paper.

Core Texts to buy:

Martin Lings. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
Barbnaby Rogerson: The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography

Readings on Blackboard: All readings besides Lings and Rogerson will be posted on Blackboard.

Topic for this week
a. Reading title and pages.
(comments on reading if necessary)
*DQ (Discussion Question) –

WEEK 1. Sep 8 – 12 Ice Breaker & Basic Bckground
a. Daniel Peterson. Muhammad Prophet of God; pp. 1-5.
*DQ -

WEEK 2. Sep 13 – 19 Context: The Arabia in which Muhammad was born and raised
a. Barnaby Rogerson. The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography; pp. 11-67.
*DQ – What about this setting makes it likely that a prophet would rise from it? What about it makes it unlikely?

WEEK 3. Sep 20 – 26 Muhammad Receives Revelation; Revives ‘Tawhid’
a. Martin Lings. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources; pp. 43-45.
b. Mubarakphuri. The Sealed Nectar; pp. 44-48 (edited) .doc file.
c. Umar al-Ashqar. The Messengers and the Messages; pp. 89-97.
d. A. J. Wensinck. The Muslim Creed, pp. 17-35 (The language of this work is slightly
abstruse but the author makes valuable observations on the way in which the
Prophet taught matters of belief).
*DQ -

WEEK 4. Sep 27 – Oct 3 Muhammad in Makka
a. Martin Lings & Barnaby Rogerson. Read from revelation to hijra.
(Read one and skim the other.)
*DQ -

WEEK 5. Oct 4 – 10 Muhammad in Madina
(Begin paper prep, comparing the Makkan phase with Madinan phase)
a. Martin Lings & Barnaby Rogerson. Read from hijra to death.
(Read one and skim the other.)
*DQ -

WEEK 6. Oct 11 – 17 Reading Catch Up and First Paper

WEEK 7. Oct 18 – 24 Muhammad the Lawgiver: The Role of ‘Sunna’ and ‘Hadith’ in
Islamic Law
a. Mohammad Hashim Kamali. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence; pp. 44-50.
(Muhammad is unique among the founders of civilizations in that his very words and deeds are the sources of law. This reading discuses how the sunna is viewed from the different angles of Muslim scholarship. This is likely the most intensive reading since it is based on technical terms. See .doc file “Technical Terms” for definitions.)
b. Muhammad Siddiqi. Hadith Literature: Its Origin, Development, and Special Features;
pp. 1-6.
c. Ibid; pp. 76-82 (stop at “According to the classical traditionists.”
*DQ -

WEEK 8. Oct 25 - 31 Muhammad the Statesman
a. Afzal Iqbal. The Prophet’s Diplomacy; pp. 1-52.
*DQ -

WEEK 9. Nov 1 – 7 Muhammad in the Spiritual Life of Muslims
a. Qadi Iyad. On the Necessity of Loving the Prophet; pp. 316-324.
b. Annemarie Schimmel. And Muhammad is His Messenger; pp. 24-56.
c. Ibid; pp. 144-159.
*DQ -

WEEK 10. Nov 8 – 14 Muhammad and Jesus
a. William Phipps. Muhammad and Jesus: A Comparison of the Prophets and Their
Teachings; pp. 109-135.
*DQ -

WEEK 11. Nov 15 – 21 Europeans and ‘Mahound’
a. Minou Reeves. Muhammad in Europe; pp73-97.
(Read the first page, then you can quickly skim to the bottom of pp. 87, then read
to end of assignment.)
b. Ibid; pp.271-300.
*DQ -

WEEK 12. Nov 22 – 28 Women Around the Prophet & THANKSGIVING BRK
(Begin brainstorming and preparing final paper)
a. Annemarie Schimmel. My Soul Is a Woman; pp. 26-33.
(This week will end on Wed. Make your first post by Tuesday and second one by
*DQ -

WEEK 13. Nov 29 – Dec 5 Muhammad and the Historians of the West
a. Clinton Bennet. In Search of Muhammad; pp. 37-65.
(This reading is a very useful summary of the various conclusions at which the early
Orientalists arrived regarding sira and hadith literature. There are many names, but
as Graduate students, you should be familiar with them, particularly if your focus is
*DQ -

WEEK 14. Dec 5 – 12 Complete and Hand in Final Paper and Short Test



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