Controversies over Islamic Origins: An Introduction to Traditionalism and Revisionism
What evidence do we have to reconstruct the origins of Islam? On the basis of what sources can the first century of Islam be accessed? Why do historians of early Islam consider the literary sources of Islamic origins to be so problematic? How is the problem of early Islamic history framed? This book addresses these critical questions by discussing various approaches to the problem of reconstructing Islamic origins. In a spirit of welcoming diverse perspectives and encouraging healthy scholarly debate, it explores different, even conflicting modern theories about the emergence of Islam through various case studies, including recent debates on the Qur’an, the biography of the Prophet, and early conquest narratives. A broad spectrum of both traditionalist and revisionist scholarship is critically examined with the purpose of illuminating not only how modern scholars differ, but also what they have in common.
Mun’im Sirry teaches in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, USA. He is the author of Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions (2014), and editor of New Trends in Qur’anic Studies: Text, Context, and Interpretation (2019) and, with Peter Casarella, Finding Beauty in the Other: Theological Reflections across Religious Traditions (2019). Currently, he serves as co-editor of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. He is also coordinator of the “Contending Modernities” Research Group on Indonesia.
“Mun’im Sirry has given us a comprehensive and dispassionate overview of recent academic debates on the nature and origins of the Qur’an and the early Muslim community. In a time when scholars of the subject are often not in close dialogue with one another across schools, or are dismissive of other methodologies, his wide-ranging and closely argued survey is essential.”
Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan, USA
“Sirry celebrates the vibrancy of Qur’anic/early Islamic Studies and exemplifies that vibrancy. Extraordinarily useful, this work examines the early history and development of the Islamic narrative. Sirry traces how different lines of thought about early centuries of Islam cross and diverge. He embodies a middle way by fully inhabiting each position as he considers them. He shows a monumental grasp of scholarly positions and how to organize and map them. Breathtaking in its scope, he finds common ground between the traditionalists and revisionists.”
Professor of the Hebrew Bible, University of St. Thomas, USA
“By introducing us to the complex traditionalist and revisionist scholarship, this book offers a critical and erudite exploration of conflicting theories about the emergence of Islam. [It is a] much-needed and timely work that will be of interest to specialists as well as to general readers and students.”
Professor of Islamic Studies, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
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