Religious Studies | Studies in Islam: The Life and Legacy of Muhammad
R553 | 24527 | K. Jaques

This course will explore the ways in which sacred biography is
used in various contexts to develop theories of authority and
history. The course will begin by examining a number of different
theories of religious authority and then move on to how biography is
formative in developing “orthodox” methods of interpreting
revelation as a means of understanding the relationship between
humans and God. We will then focus specifically on the biography of
Muhammad (d.632 CE) written by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767). We will explore
the development of Muhammad biographical traditions and how
particular forms of biography (legal and quasi-legal traditions that
relate specific information thought to originate with Muhammad) were
used by Ibn Ishaq in various contexts and how changing cultural
circumstances influenced the evolution of popular understandings of
Muhammad’s life. Specifically, we will focus on how Ibn Ishaq used
various pre- existing cultural and religious themes and motifs
common in late antique and early medieval Mediterranean culture to
create an image of Muhammad as a prophetic authority. Requirements:
Attendance is required. There will be weekly analyses of the
readings, a midterm exam, and a final. Required Texts: Ibn Ishaq,
The Life of Muhammad; Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism; and the
Harper-Collins Study Bible.

Meets with A485