The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the Islamic tradition and social practice dealing with the life and persona of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim authors are proud to notice that there is more literature written about Muhammad than about any other human being.
Who was Muhammad?
- What can we know about him?
- How is he remembered in Muslim collective memory?
- How is he celebrated in writing and ritual?
- What is the importance of his persona in Islamic piety?
This course will discuss the main traditions about the life and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, but will at the same time critically historicize both Islamic and Western approaches to Muhammad.
This seminar is intended to provide students with an introduction to the most important scholarly approaches to this literature, emphasizing the shift from historical studies to methods of literary criticism, religious studies, and historical anthropology. While most recent studies still focus on the formative period of Islam, this course will also include studies on later periods, and on the importance assigned to the prophet in theology and “popular” Islam, in mysticism and ritual. The geographical range extends from the Maghreb to Turkey, and potentially beyond.
Requirements: Informed participation in discussions, reading assignments, midterm, final exam, research paper (10-15 pages).
No language skills other than English are required.
Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman
Schimmel, And Muhammad is his Messenger
Guillaume, tr., The Life of the Prophet
Additional readings will be distributed through CTools.