Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men

Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 376
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    Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men
    Book Description:

    The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that the office of prophecy is hereditary but that the line of descent ends with Muhammad, who is the seal, or last, of the prophets. While Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, he is said to have adopted a man named Zayd, and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two. Zayd b. Muhammad, also known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad to be named in the Qur'an. But if prophecy is hereditary and Muhammad has a son, David Powers argues, then he might not be the Last Prophet. Conversely, if he is the Last Prophet, he cannot have a son. In Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men, Powers contends that a series of radical moves were made in the first two centuries of Islamic history to ensure Muhammad's position as the Last Prophet. He focuses on narrative accounts of Muhammad's repudiation of Zayd, of his marriage to Zayd's former wife, and of Zayd's martyrdom in battle against the Byzantines. Powers argues that theological imperatives drove changes in the historical record and led to the abolition or reform of key legal institutions. In what is likely to be the most controversial aspect of his book, he offers compelling physical evidence that the text of the Qur'an itself was altered.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0557-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Part I: Fathers and Sons
    • Chapter 1 The Foundation Narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
      (pp. 3-10)

      The foundation narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all formulated in the idiom of family relationships. In each case, it is the same family that is the subject of the respective foundation narrative, albeit at a different stage in history. The Jewish theological doctrine of divine election emerges directly from the dynamics of domestic relations within the household of Abraham, to wit, the patriarch’s relationship with his wife Sarah, his concubine Hagar, and his sons Ishmael and Isaac. Similarly, the Christian theological doctrine of Christology emerges directly from the details of domestic relations within the household of Joseph, Mary,...

    • Chapter 2 Adoption in the Near East: From Antiquity to the Rise of Islam
      (pp. 11-23)

      The abstract noun adoption refers to the act of establishing a man or woman as parent to one who is not his or her natural child. Adoption creates a filial relationship between two individuals that is recognized as the equivalent of the natural filiation between a biological parent and his or her child. Whereas a legitimate child qualifies for certain rights (for example, inheritance) and duties (for example, support for an elderly parent) by virtue of his or her natural filiation, a male or female who does not have these rights or duties may nevertheless acquire them through the legal...

    • Chapter 3 The Abolition of Adoption in Early Islam
      (pp. 24-32)

      In the sixth century c.e., the Arabian peninsula was inhabited by both transhumant nomads and settled people, most of whom were pagans and polytheists, although some were monotheists or had been exposed to monotheism.

      The Arabs were familiar with one or another form of the ancient and late antique Near Eastern institution of adoption (and they may have been familiar with levirate and/or cagar marriage). Islamic sources report that in pre-Islamic Arabia, adoption served several functions: A child who had been captured and enslaved might be manumitted and adopted by a tribesman; a member of one tribe or clan who...

  5. Part II: From Sacred Legend to Sacred History
    • Chapter 4 The Repudiation of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
      (pp. 35-71)

      From antiquity down to the rise of Islam, adoption was widely practiced by Semites, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Although Jews and to a lesser extent Christians rejected the civil institution, both religious communities used the concepts of sonship and adoption as metaphors for the relationship between God and man.

      It is against the background of Near Eastern practices and ideas relating to adoption that I propose to reexamine Muḥammad’s repudiation of his adopted son Zayd and the abolition of adoption in early Islam. According to the standard view, Muḥammad repudiated Zayd in order to facilitate his marriage to Zaynab bt....

    • Chapter 5 The Battle of Muʾta
      (pp. 72-93)

      In his commentary on the Qurʾān, Muqātil b. Sulaymān does not mention the date on which Zayd died or the circumstances of his demise. Later commentators likewise are silent about these matters.

      The silence should come as no surprise. In their treatment of Q. 33:36–40, the commentators are interested in Zayd only insofar as he is relevant to the story of Muḥammad’s marriage to Zaynab following her divorce from Zayd in the year 5 a.h., as related in v. 37. From the perspective of tafsīr, v. 37 has nothing to do with Zayd’s death and, conversely, Zayd’s death has...

    • Chapter 6 The Martyrdom of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
      (pp. 94-119)

      Compared to the foundation narratives of Judaism and Christianity, in which the father-son motif plays a central role, the Islamic foundation narrative is anomalous. The fact that none of Muḥammad’s natural sons reached the age of maturity makes it appear as if God could not test Muḥammad by instructing him to sacrifice a beloved son.

      Appearances can be deceptive. There is reason to believe that the father-son motif was initially an important component of the Islamic foundation narrative. Until the end of the first century a.h.—if not later—the early Muslim community recognized this motif and played with it,...

    • Chapter 7 Pretexts and Intertexts
      (pp. 120-152)

      Verse 37 of Sūrat al-Aḥzāb is one of the few verses in the Qurʾān that appears to refer to an event in the life of the Prophet: Muḥammad’s marriage to the former wife of his adopted son Zayd. The circumstances surrounding this marriage would have been familiar to the Prophet’s Companions. During the course of the first and second centuries a.h., Muslims treated Q. 33:37 as referring to an event in Muḥammad’s life, and the historicity of this event has been universally accepted by Muslims down to the present—an attitude shared by most if not all scholars.¹ For both...

  6. Part III: Text and Interpretation
    • Chapter 8 Paleography and Codicology: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Arabe 328a
      (pp. 155-196)

      Islamic tradition teaches that God spoke to Muḥammad over a period of twenty-three years between 610 and 632 c.e., and that after receiving a divine communication, the Prophet would teach it to his Companions. The revelations are said to have been preserved in two ways: Some Muslims memorized the words taught to them by the Prophet; others inscribed the utterances on palm branches, animal bones, stones, cloth, parchment, papyrus, and wooden boards. Accordingly, at the time of Muḥammad’s death in 11/632, the revelations would have existed in the minds of the Muslims who had memorized them and on various writing...

    • Chapter 9 Kalāla in Early Islamic Tradition
      (pp. 197-224)

      Q. *4:12b referred to a man who designates a daughter-in-law (*kalla) or wife as his heir. This sub-verse was revised by the early Muslim community in such a manner as to produce a text that refers to a man or a woman who is inherited by kalāla. The word kalāla was an artificial invention that was not part of the Arabic lexicon during the lifetime of the Prophet. To complicate matters, the word kalāla occurs only twice in the Qurʾān, and it has no equivalent in any other Semitic language. In the first half of the first century a.h., very...

  7. Chapter 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 225-234)

    The assertion that Islam supersedes Judaism and Christianity cannot fully be understood apart from the dynamics of the foundation narratives of the three Abrahamic faiths. All three narratives are formulated in the idiom of family and tell the story of a single family at a different stage in its history. In all three cases, the father-son motif serves as a metaphor for a key theological doctrine: divine election, Christology, and the finality of prophecy, respectively. In all three cases, the specific shape taken by the foundation narrative was conditioned by theological considerations: The Israelite claim that only the Children of...

  8. Appendix 1. The Opening Line of Q. 4:12b and 4:176, Respectively, in English Translations of the Qurʾān
    (pp. 235-242)
  9. Appendix 2. Deathbed Scenes and Inheritance Disputes: A Literary Approach
    (pp. 243-250)
  10. Appendix 3. Inheritance Law: From the Ancient Near East to Early Islamic Times
    (pp. 251-258)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 259-304)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-322)
  13. Citation Index
    (pp. 323-328)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 329-354)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 355-359)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 360-360)