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The Life of the Prophet Muhammad*
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.
Online, beginning September 4
Communication with Instructor: Best way to reach me is through the following email: email@example.com. I will respond to your inquiries within 24 hours.
1-The Life of Muhammad. Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Translated by Alfred Guillaume. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. Reprinted Karachi, 1967, 1978. 815 pp. (required)
2- Muhammad: His Life from the Earliest Sources. Martin Lings. London: Islamic Texts Society and George Allen & Unwin, 1983. 359 pp. Reprinted 1991. (required)
3- Prophet Muhammad the Teacher and His Teaching Methodologies. ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah. Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2003 (required)
4- All additional readings will be posted on Blackboard.
Research Paper 35%
Final Exam 35%
Weekly Written Responses 30%
Week 1: Arabia and the Near East in the 7th Century: Historical Context of Muhammad’s Mission.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 69-107; Lings 1-42; Rahman (online) 292-308 (Muhammad and Trade).
Week 2: Beginning of Revelation to Migration to Abyssinia.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 109-155; Lings 43-84; Rahman (online) 822-829 (Muhammad’s Moral Conduct).
Week 3: Umar’s Acceptance of Islam to the Hijrah.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 155-218; Lings 85-117; Rahman (online) 843-853 (Muhammad’s Lifestyle I).
Week 4: Hijrah and the Foundations of a New Society.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 219-281; Lings 118-134; Rahman (online) 854-874 (Muhammad’s Lifestyle II).
Week 5: The first Raids and the Battle of Badr.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 281-360; Lings 135-159; Rahman (online) 875-878/ 880-881(Muhammad as Neighbor).
Week 6: Changes in the Political Situation in Medina and the Battle of Uhud.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 360-404; Lings 160-194; Rahman (online) 893- 016 (Muhammad’s Conduct with Others).
Week 7: After Uhud and the Battle Khandaq.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 426-470 ; Lings 195-233; Rahman (online) 127-144 (Muhammad as Husband).
Week 8: The Pact of Hudabiyah and the Acceptance of the Muslim Community in Arabia.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 484-540; Lings 234-273; Rahman (online) 822-829 (Muhammad and Children).
Week 9: The Conquest of Mecca and its Aftermath.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 540-576/ 587-601; Lings 274-316; Iyad (online) 29-34 (Muhammad’s Personal Traits).
Week 10: Arabia’s Allegiance to Muhammad and Bidding the World Farewell.
Reading: Ibn Ishaq 602-659/ 678-688; Lings 317-345; Iyad (online) 39-41 (Muhammad’s Personal Traits).
Week 11: Muhammad as Spiritual and Moral Guide.
Reading: Schimmel (online) 24-55/ 159-175; Khalidi (Online) 151-174; Iyad (online) 41-83 (Muhammad’s Spiritual Character).
Week 12: Muhammad as Educator.
Reading: Abu Ghuddha (Read entire book).
Week 13: Muhammad as Statesman.
Reading: Iqbal (online) 1-52; Rahman (online) 655-684 (Muhammad as Legislator), 758-764 (Muhammad as Judge).
Week 14: Muslim and Non-Muslim Images of Muhammad.
Reading: Khalidi (Online) 21-36/ 281-304, Bennet (online) 69-135.
Week 15: Preparations for exam and final paper. No readings.
Description of Assignments
There are three required books that are listed above which will be read in their entirety [Note: all poems found in Ibn Ishaq’s work are to be skipped as many of them are of little historical value and were presumably included by the author to embellish the narrative]. The first two texts (Ibn Ishaq and Lings) will be read concurrently in the first 10 weeks of the course and the third (Abu Ghudda) will be read in its entirety for week 12 (See Course Outline for details). Ibn Ishaq and Lings’ biographies on a whole cover the same topics, yet it is important to read both of them for several reasons:
- Ibn Ishaq’s work is the earliest full biography of the Prophet Muhammad that is extant. Therefore it represents a primary historical source for understanding his life. Most subsequent biographies relied on Ibn Ishaq to construct their narratives, so it is of great historical significance to engage this text.
- Lings’ text is a modern rendition of the Prophet Muhammad’s life; hence, its style and structure should be easier to read and helpful in explaining those aspects that you find ambiguous in Ibn Ishaq’s classical biography.
- Although Lings relies heavily on Ibn Ishaq in constructing the episodes in the Prophet Muhammad’s life, he also utilizes other crucial early sources on the Prophet’s life (i.e. al-Waqidi and Ibn S’ad) which should furnish information not found in Ibn Ishaq. Yet, at the same time, there is lots of information in Ibn Ishaq’s biography that you won’t find in Lings (e.g. information on the occasions of revelations (asbab al nuzul) of many Quranic chapters and verses). This underscores the importance that both should be read together to develop a fuller picture of the Prophet’s life.
In addition to these biographies, I have included weekly readings that are posted on Blackboard which consist of hadith (prophetic traditions) texts (primary sources) the highlight different aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s character and personality (these readings are noted in the course outline). This is because the seerah (biographical) literature tends to focus on the political episodes of his life and in doing so one gets good idea of the historical events in the Prophet Muhammad’s life, but not who he is as a person. These hadith readings will hopefully supplement this deficiency.
Weeks 11-15 will be spent reading secondary literature on various aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life and how he is represented inside and outside of the Muslim Tradition. On a whole, you will be reading an average of 100 pages a week, which is less daunting then it sounds given that many pages of Ibn Ishaq’s biography are filled with poems that you will not be required to read.
Weekly Written Responses: on a weekly basis, you are required to make several writing reflections on the readings and the lectures. These reflections are to be posted in the folders found on the Discussion Board forum on Blackboard. The first type of response you will be asked to submit is to the weekly readings. What you say in these responses is up to you so long as it deals with the issues raised in the readings. Your responses may take any of the following forms: you may have further information on the topic that you would like to share, or perhaps you want to disagree with point of view of the author, or you might want to share your thoughts on how that particular reading furthered your understanding of the subject under study, etc. Keep in mind that your writing must be cogent and focused a particular point you are trying to make and not a serious of scattered thoughts that you haphazardly put together. In light of this, you must adhere to the following criteria when writing/posting your reflection on the readings:
- This reading reflection or response must be a minimum of one double spaced page (approx. 300 words).
- This response should include the citation of the page(s) of the idea/fact from that week’s readings which the reflection is a response to. So, the response should be spurred from something specific in the readings and not a general commentary on the reading topic(s). Although, it may be in certain circumstances a general reflection/critique if it seeks to highlight how the authors have presented or approached the subject. In this case, there should by citations from the reading that prove your point.
- It should be posted by Friday 5pm for the week in which those readings are assigned.
- The posting should be made in the appropriate reading written response folder on the discussion board: e.g. week one reading responses should be place in Week 1 Reading Response forum. Posting the responses in the correct folder is the responsibility of the student; not having the response the in the correct place will lead to a loss of grade for that assignment.
The second type of written response you are required to make is a written response to someone else’s written reading reflection after having read what they said. This is for the purpose of fostering online discussion of the materials so that we learn from each other’s critiques/comments. This should be one paragraph in length (approx. 150 words) and should be posted by Sunday 5pm at the end of the week in which those readings are assigned. There are no restrictions on who and how you respond to your classmates but I ask that you don’t respond to the same set of individuals every week and that you explore other classmates responses. Moreover, your response should be respectful of the reflections and/or persons of the classmate you are responding to. These postings should take the form of replies to the thread that is already created by the written reading reflection of the classmate you are responding to.
The third type of written weekly reflection/response you are required to post is in reference to the weekly lecture that I will post on Blackboard beginning every Monday. It should be a thoughtful commentary on something that was mentioned in the lecture. This should be one paragraph in length (approx. 150 words) and should be posted by Sunday 5pm at the end of the week in which that lecture was posted. There will be separate Discussion Board folder/forum for this postings entitled: Lecture Written Responses # [indicating week number].
Research Paper: Each student is required to write a 12-15 page double spaced (excluding footnotes/endnotes and bibliography) research paper on one of the following topics. The paper is due at the end of the last week of the course.
1) The Prophet’s approach towards Jews and Christians and how that approach is applicable to Muslim’s relations to Jews and Christians today.
2) The significance of the Hijrah (migration to Medina) for the Muslims of the time and its significance for Muslims throughout history and especially for contemporary Muslims who emigrated to the West.
3) The Night Journey (Isra and Mi’rage) of the Prophet Muhammad and its importance for Muslims especially in the domain of spirituality.
4) Family life of the Prophet Muhammad as contrasted with modern family life.
5) The Prophet Muhammad’s relations with members of his community: women, children, orphans, slaves, poor, handicapped, youth and elderly. How is this relevant today?
6) Representation of the Prophet Muhammad in the history of Western literature and contemporary media.
7) The Islamic notion of prophecy as represented in the Prophet Muhammad life as both political and spiritual leader of the Muslim community and what that entails for confluence of issues of religion and social justice.
8) Other topics may be chosen with consultation of the instructor.
Final Exam: This will consist of several essay questions which draw upon both the readings and lecture notes. More will be said about the timing and specific format of the exam later in the semester.
Abū Ghuddah, ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ. Prophet Muhammad the Teacher and His Teaching Methodologies. Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2003
al-Balâdhurî, Ahmad b. Yahyâ b. Jâbir (d. 279/892). The Origins of the Islamic State: Being a Translation from the Arabic Accompanied with Annotation, Geographic and Historical Notes of the Kitâb Futûh al-Buldân. Vol. I. Translated by Philip Khûri Hitti (b. 1303/1886). New York: Columbia University Press, 1916. xi + 518 pp. Vol. II. Translated by Francis Clark Murgotten. New York: Columbia University Press, 1924. Both vols. reprinted Beirut: Khayats, 1966; also New York, AMS Press, 1968-69.
Al-Basha, Abdur Rahman. Portraits from the Lives of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS). Translated by Alexandra S. Al-Osh. Fairfax, VA: Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, 1993. 3 vols. xiii + 470 pp.
Beeston, A. F. L., T. M. Johnstone, R. B. Serjeant, and G. R. Smith. Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period (The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature). 1983.
Buaben, Jabal Muhammad. The Image of the Prophet Muhammad in the West: A Study of Muir, Margoliouth and Watt. Leicester, UK: The Islamic Foundation. 416 pp.
al-Buti, Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan. Jurisprudence in Muhammad’s Biography: Scientific and Systematic Studies of Lessons, Principles and Constitution. Translated and abridged by Ali Rustum. 1st ed. Damascus: Dar al-Ma’arifah, 1988. 165 pp.
Dashti, Ali. Twenty Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad. F. R. C. Bagley (Translator) Publisher: Mazda Pub; Reprint edition (June 1994). ISBN 1568590296.
Donner, Fred McGraw. Narratives of Islamic Origins: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam, No. 14) (The Darwin Press, 1998), ISBN: 0878501274.
Emerick, Yahiya. Muhammad (Critical Lives Series). 330 pp.
al-Ghazâlî, Abû Hâmid Muhammad b. Muhammad (450-505/1058-1111). Book XX of al-Ghazâlî’s “Ihyâ’ ‘ulûm ad-Dîn”. Translated by Leon Zolondek. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1963. 76 pp.
al-Ghazali, Muhammad (1335-1416/1917-1996). Fiqh-us-Seerah: Understanding the Life of Prophet Muhammad. 2nd ed. Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH). 514 pp.
Haneef, Suzanne. A History of the Prophets of Islam, Derived from the Quran, Ahadith, and Commentaries. Vol. 1. Library of Islam, ABC International Group, 2002-2003. 2 vols. 1051 pp. Vol. 1, 2002, 525 pp. Vol. 2, 2003, 526 pp.
Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1306-1375/1889-1956). The Life of Muhammad. Translated by Ismâ‘îl Râjî A. al-Fârûqî (1339-1406/1921-1986). North American Trust Publications, 1976. 639 pp.
Hoyland, Robert G. Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early ... (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam).
Humphreys, R. Stephen. Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry. Rev. ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. xiv + 401 pp. ISBN 0691008566.
Ibn Ishâq, Muhammad (d. 151/768). Ibn Ishaq’s The Life of Muhammad. Translated by Alfred Guillaume. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. Reprinted Karachi, 1967, 1978. 815 pp.
----------. The Life of Muhammad, Apostle of Allah. Translated by Edward Rehatsek (1234-1308/1819-1891). Edited by Michael Edwardes. London: The Folio Society, 1964. 177 pp.
Ibn Hishâm . “Pages from Ibn Hisham.” Translated by S. Sharafuddin. In Islamic Culture 11 (1937), 125-137.
Ibn Kathîr, ‘Imâd al-Dîn Ismâ‘îl (701-774/1302-1373). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sîrah al-Nabawiyya. Translated by Trevor Le Gassick. Reviewed by Ahmad Fareed and Muneer Fareed. Reading, UK: Garnet Publishing Limited, 1998-1999. 4 vols. 1960 pp.
Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary: Wafayat al-a‘yan wa anba’ abna’ al-zaman (M. de Slane’s English Translation). Edited and annotated by S. Moinul Haq. Karachi: Pakistan Historical Society, 1961-1976 or later. 8 vols. Vol. I (Pakistan Historical Society Publication no. 28), 1961, 361 pp., has biographies numbers 1 through 100. Vol. II, part 1 (PHSP no. 64), 1976, 352 pp., has bios 101-217. Vol. II, part 2 has bios 218-293. Vol. III (PHSP no. 58), 1970, 573 pp., has bios 294-498. Vol. IV (PHSP no. 39), 1964, 469 pp., has bios 499-647. Vol. V has bios 648-728. Vol. VI (PHSP no. 50), 1967, has bios 729-779.
Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad (168-230/784-845). Ibn Sa‘d’s Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir. Vols. I and II. Translated by S. Moinul Haq and H. K. Ghazanfar. Karachi: Pakistan Historical Society, 1967- . 1096 pp. Vol. I is Pakistan Historical Society Publication no. 46; Vol. II is PHSP no. 59.
----------. Men of Madinah. Volume I. Translated by Aisha Bewley. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, Ltd., 1997. 337 pp. This contains Vol. VII of the original, dealing with deals with the Companions, Successors, and subsequent generations of scholars in Basra, Baghdad, Khurasan, Syria and Egypt.
----------. Men of Madinah. Vol. II. . Translated by Aisha Bewley. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, Ltd., 2000. 421 pp. This contains Volume V of Ibn Sa‘d, concentrating on the Successors, the generation after the Companions, who lived in al-Madinah itself.
----------. Women of Madinah. Translated by Aisha Bewley. London: Ta-Ha Publishers, Ltd., 1415/1995. 330 pp. This contains Volume VIII of Ibn Sa‘d’s work, dealing with all the women whom Ibn Sa‘d recognized as transmitters of tradition, including the women Companions of the Prophet
Iqbal, Muhammad. Muhammad the Beloved Prophet. Translated by Khurshid Ahmad and Aftab Ahmad. Montreal: Aftab Ahmad, 1989.
‘Iyad ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Qadi (476-544/1083-1149). Muhammad Messenger of Allah: Ash-Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyad. Translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley. 2nd ed. Granada, Spain: Madinah Press, 1992. 512 pp.
al-Kisâ’î, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allâh (fl. c. 597/1200?). The Stories of the Prophets (Kisâ’î’s Qisas al-anbiya). Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr. Boston, 1980. New edition: Tales of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiyâ’). Chicago: Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., 1997. xxxviii + 378 pp.
Lings, Martin (Abu Bakr Siraj al-Din) (1327-1426/1909-2005). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. London: Islamic Texts Society and George Allen & Unwin, 1983. 359 pp. Reprinted 1991.
al-Majlisî, Muhammad Bâqir ibn Muhammad Taqî ibn Maqsûd ‘Alî (1038-1110/1628-1699). The Life and Religion of Muhammad - Hayât al-Qulûb (Vol. 2). Translated by J. L. Merrick. San Antonio: The Zahra Trust, 1982.
Mirkhond, Muhammad bin Khâvendshâh bin Mahmûd (836-903/1432-1498). The Rawzat-us-Safa or Garden of Purity, Containing the Histories of Prophets, Kings, and Khalifs. Translated by Edward Rehatsek (1234-1308/1819-1891). Edited by F. F. Arbuthnot. 1891-1894. Reprinted Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli. 5 vols. lxxii + 2033 pp.
al-Mubarakpuri, Safi-ur-Rahman (b. 1361/1942). Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtûm (The Sealed Nectar): Biography of the Noble Prophet. 1st edition. Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 1416/1996. 503 pp.
Newby, Gordon. The Making of the Last Prophet. Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1989. 265 pp.
Numani, Shibli (1273-1332/1857-1914). Sirat-un-Nabi. Translated by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni. 2 or 4 vols.
Rahman, Afzalur. Encyclopedia of Seerah. 8 vols. Over 7200 pp.
Salahi, Adil. Muhammad: Man and Prophet. 830 pp.
Siddiqui, Abdul Hameed (d. 1398/1978). The Life of Muhammad. Originally published in two vols., 1968-1969. 2nd edition 1975. Reprinted Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1983, 1991. xv + 324 pp.
al-Tabarî, Abû Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarîr (225-310/839-923). The History of al-Tabarî. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987- . 38 vols. More than 8000 pp. Relevant vols. for Sirah are 5 through 9.
Watt, W. Montgomery. Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960. xvi + 192 pp. BP 75 W 3
----------. Muhammad at Medina. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956. xiv + 418 pp. BP 75 W 32
----------. Muhammad’s Makkah: History in the Qur’an. Edinburgh: University Press, 1988. vii + 113 pp. ISBN 0852246110. BP 75 W 34 1988
---------. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman. London: Oxford University Press, 1974. 250 pp. BP 75 W 33 1974
The Life of Muhammad. Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Translated by Alfred Guillaume. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. Reprinted Karachi, 1967, 1978. 815 pp. (required) buy now
Muhammad: His Life from the Earliest Sources. Martin Lings. London: Islamic Texts Society and George Allen & Unwin, 1983. 359 pp. Reprinted 1991. (required) buy now
Prophet Muhammad the Teacher and His Teaching Methodologies. ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah. Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2003 (required) buy now