Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Muhammad and the People of the Book

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Muhammad and the People of the Book

Article excerpt

Muhammad and the People of the Book. By Sahaja Carimokam. Bloomington, Ind.: Xlibris Corporation, 2011. 568pp. $36.99.

Carimokam (a pseudonym), addresses the question of Muhammad's relationship with nonMuslims and how it changed during his lifetime, providing a very significant understanding of the Qur'an and early Islamic history. He frames his understanding of Muhammad on pre-modern biographers such as Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, Ibn Kathir, and at-Tabari; he then incorporates the conventional Western scholarship of Watt, Wellhausen, Donner, and Lammens with revisionists such as Wansbrough, Cook, and Crone. He also brings three canonical collections of Sunni Muslim hadiths (reports of the sayings and actions of Muhammad) to bear on the call to jihad against all non-Muslims.

Carimokam 's study is formulated on a chronological reading of the Qur'an, based on nineteenth-century scholar Theodor Nö ldeke's work, rather than in its textual order. Each chapter comprises established periods in the life of Muhammad (early, mid, and late Meccan, hijri, and major events of Medina) and shows how Muhammad's inaccurate and anachronistic rendition of Jewish traditional literature led to the Jewish rejection of him as prophet. Each chapter breaks down the number of verses dealing with various theological topics, Muhammad's evolving self-image, and the opposition he encountered.

Readers will likely find the author's critical, dispassionate, and non-polemical inquiry into the Qur'an refreshing. …

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