Religious Studies | The Life of Muhammad
R553 | 25487 | 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
Required Texts: Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad; Sigmund Freud,
Moses and Monotheism; and the Harper-Collins Study Bible.