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This article was downloaded by: [Eliza Tasbihi] On: 22 August 2013, At: 20:54 Publisher: Routledge Informa

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Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean

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Muammad the Prophet and Arabia

Eliza Tasbihi
a a

Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

To cite this article: Eliza Tasbihi (2013) Muammad the Prophet and Arabia, Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25:2, 273-275 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09503110.2013.804326

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Book Reviews


Downloaded by [Eliza Tasbihi] at 20:54 22 August 2013

Friedmans contribution to Nusayr -Alaw studies is analytical, encyclopaedic and well-written. In addition to challenging misunderstandings of Nusayr beliefs, Friedman demonstrates how the migration from Iraq to Syria, a series of charismatic leaders during the fourth/tenth and fifth/eleventh centuries, and autonomy during the Crusades enabled a small and sometimes reviled sect to survive to the present. Despite persecution in their earliest years, Nusayr s have been tolerated by their Sh and Sunn neighbours for most of their history. The only written attacks on Nusayrism were penned by Ibn Taymiyya, the Hanbal scholar of the eighth/four century, who was part of a short-lived Mamlu teenth s k effort to convert Nusayr in to Sunnism and later to destroy their communities. Both efforts failed. Even modern times, Alaw tes have been integrated into Syrian and Arab nationalist movements. Only since the 1980s have neo-Hanbal Islamists resurrected Ibn Taymiyyas charges of heresy. At least one major portion of this story remains unexplained. As Friedmans sources demonstrate, the esoteric knowledge that is at the core of Nusayrism is the preserve of a male elite (al-kha this ssa). How did Nusayrism develop beyond minority and encompass the mass of adherents (al-a mma) that would make it a viable social and political group? The book under review calls for a study of history during the 400 years between the Mamlu Nusayr k failure to liquidate the sect and the early thirteenth/nineteenth century, when European scholars began to study it. Like any excellent work of research, Friedmans answers big questions and inspires more. STEVE TAMARI Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, USA steve.tamari@gmail.com 2013, Steve Tamari http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09503110.2013.804325

Muhammad the Prophet and Arabia URI RUBIN , 2011 [Variorum Collected Studies Series] Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate xiv + 346 pp. US$165.00 (hardcover) ISBN 9781409408468 Due to the importance of the Prophet Muhammad to the Muslim community, his persona and figure have always been a fascinating subject for researchers and scholars of Islam. His life and teachings and his sunna, as well as the message framed in the Qura n, have been studied extensively from numerous perspectives and Western scholarship has dedicated a number of valuable works to his legacy. Among the most important of such writings on Muhammads mission as messenger, of Uri Rubin. The work under prophet and leader of Arabian society have been those review, Muhammad the Prophet and Arabia, reprints several of Rubins contributions to this area of study, and particularly those touching on various aspects of the Qura nic and post-Qura nic image of Muhammad.


Book Reviews

In addition to a short preface and both a general index and an index of Qura nic references, the book is arranged in three sections. The first, Muhammads Prophe tic Image, consists of six articles dealing with Muhammads prophecy. The first article, Muhammad and the Qura n, is a survey of Qura nic verses in which Muhammad s name, characteristics, aim and mission are mentioned. In the second, The Qura nic Idea of Prophets and Prophethood, Rubin examines the status of the previous prophets and their scriptures, and considers in general the Abrahamic religions as reflected in the Qura n and in post-Qura nic sources such as s nic exegesis), ta ra (Muhammads biography), tafs r (Qura r kh (historiography) and had (Muslim tradition). In the third article, a review of G. Llings Die th Wiederentdeckung des propheten Muhammad, which looks at the angelic nature of Llings understanding of the Arabic text and Muhammad, Rubin casts doubt on suggests that he had misread words such as aslam and ma lik. In the fourth article, Pre-existence and Light, Rubin considers the phenomenon of Muhammadan light. Through an examination of Sh a sources, Rubin argues that light serves as a symbol of the prophetic expansion of the Islamic faith, representing Muhammads scholars primordial substance, the essence of all essences, called by Muslim al-haq qa al-muhammadiyya. The next article, Muhammad the Exorcist: Aspects of prophetic charisma in the of Islamic-Jewish Polemics, offers a parallel reading Islamic and Jewish traditions. Through an examination of a selection of Talmudic sources, had th, and various narratives, Rubin concludes that Muhammads power as an exorcist manifested itself primarily in the form of anti-demonic effects. The final article of this section, The Shrouded Messenger, is a textual analysis of two chapters of the Qura n, LXXIII al-Muzammil and LXXIV al-Muddaththir. Rubin studies three different interpretations of Muhammads state of being on the basis of various exegetical sources. The articles in the second section reflect on Muhammads prophetic experience as manifested in his night journey (isra from Mecca to Medina ) and his emigration (hijra). In the first article in this section, Muhammads Night Journey to al-Masjid a al-Aqsa nic verses reflecting an Islamicised , Rubin examines three sources: Qur version of the earthly Jerusalem; Sh a sources, which accept the concept of the heavenly ascension; and the account of the orientalist B. Schrieke, who believes the visionary aspect of the isra emerged as late as the Umayyad period. Rubin suggests that there was a higher degree of consensus between the earliest Qura n exegetes than Schrieke has been prepared to allow. In the next article, The Life of Muhammad and the Qura n, Rubin examines the Qura n and the s ra on the subject of the Prophets hijra, and argues that both sources rely on the communal memory of the Islamic umma. The third section focuses on the historical character of Muhammads Arabia, traditions about Mecca and the Kaba and the pre-Islamic Arabian roots of some Qura nic and post-Qura nic ideas and rituals, including the pre-Islamic sacred status of the Kaba. The first article here, Abraha, is a historical study of Abraha, the Christian king who attacked Mecca with the people of the Elephant in about 570 CE. The next article, Hanafiyya and Kaba, is a study of as the religious foundation for the Kaba as the centre of worship as well members of the Quraysh, who followed the traditional religion of Abraham. In the third article in this section, Between Arabia and the Holy Land, Rubin addresses one way in which Islamic historiography records the origins of Islam in general, and the pre-hijra history of the qibla in particular, emphasising the

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Book Reviews


Downloaded by [Eliza Tasbihi] at 20:54 22 August 2013

pre-Islamic roots of the practice. In the next article, The Hands of Abu Lahab and the Gazelle of the Kaba, Rubin offers a new reading of the Qura n CXI and explores the historical account of hostility between Abu Lahab and the Prophet, highlighting the literary origins of the event. Quraysh and Their Winter and Summer Journey attempts to provide a different interpretation of Qura n CVI. Through an examination of various exegetical and historical sources, Rubin offers a new reading of the chapter, originally understood to be a Medina chapter, re-dating its religious monotheistic message to the Mecca period. The next article, Morning and Evening Prayers in Early Islam, examines traditions and reports concerning the prayer times and their significance, also tracing their roots to pagan times. In the last article, On the Arabian Origins of the Quran, Rubin demonstrates that the word furqa n has a purely Arabic origin and stands for the light of the dawn. The article also discusses the exegetical interpretations of the term as redemption and as distinction between truth and falsehood. This collection of Uri Rubins articles is a significant contribution to the study of the life of Muhammad, pre-Islamic Arabia and its peoples rituals, and will be scholars interested in Islamic studies, Qura of great benefit to nic exegesis and the life of Muhammad. While the articles on Muhammad and the Qura n and the of prophets and prophethood are less analytical, others, such as Qura nic idea his review of Llings work and his own The Shrouded Messenger, are much more critical and offer concrete textual analyses. By looking at preIslamic and post-Qura nic sources and in some cases juxtaposing Islamic and Jewish sources, Rubin offers a new reading of the Islamic material and makes a major contribution to the field of Islamic studies and the biography of Muhammad. ELIZA TASBIHI Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada eliza.tasbihi@mail.mcgill.ca 2013, Eliza Tasbihi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09503110.2013.804326

The Islamic Scholarly Tradition: Studies in History, Law, and Thought in Honor of Professor Michael Allan Cook ASAD Q. AHMED, BEHNAM SADEGHI and MICHAEL BONNER (Eds), 2011 [Islamic History and Civilization, volume LXXXIII] Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers xxvi + 386 pp. 139.00/US$197.00 (hardback) ISBN 139789004194359 The book consists of four sections and includes fourteen articles. It opens with a bibliography of Professor Michael A. Cook, followed by an essay by Stephen Humphreys in which he praises Cooks scholarship, especially Hagarism, co-authored with Patricia Crone, for instigating an ongoing debate. Humphreys presents Cooks vast and diverse interests, highlighting his dry wit and modesty and his