The formative period of Islam remains highly contested. From the beginning of modern scholarship on this formative period, scholars have questioned traditional Muslim accounts on early Islam. The scholarly fixation is mirrored by sectarian groups and movements within Islam, most of which trace their origins to this period. Moreover, contemporary movements from Salafists to modernists continue to point to Islam’s origins to justify their positions.
This Handbook provides a definitive overview of early Islam and how this period was understood and deployed by later Muslims. It is split into four main parts, the first of which explores the debates and positions on the critical texts and figures of early Islam. The second part turns to the communities that identified their origins with the Qurʾān and Muḥammad. In addition to the development of Muslim identities and polities, of particular focus is the relationship with groups outside or movements inside of the umma (the collective community of Muslims). The third part looks beyond what happened from the 7th to the 9th centuries CE and explores what that period, the events, figures, and texts have meant for Muslims in the past and what they mean for Muslims today. Not all Muslims or scholars are willing to merely reinterpret early Islam and its sources, though; some are willing to jettison parts, or even all, of the edifice that has been constructed over almost a millennium and a half. The Handbook therefore concludes with discussions of re-imaginations and revisions of early Islam and its sources.
Almost every major debate in the study of Islam and among Muslims looks to the formative period of Islam. The wide range of contributions from many of the leading academic experts on the subject therefore means that this book will be a valuable resource for all students and scholars of Islamic studies, as well as for anyone with an interest in early Islam.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Herbert Berg Part I: The Qurʾān and Muḥammad 1. The Qurʾān, Nicolai Sinai 2. The Qurʾān and other scriptures, David Cook 3. The collection and canonization of the Qurʾān, Herbert Berg 4. Muḥammad, Stephen J. Shoemaker 5. The sīra, Pavel Pavlovitch 6. Ḥadīth and sunna, Jens Scheiner 7. Exegesis, Michael E. Pregill Part II: Identities and communities in early Islam 8. Identity and social formation in the early Caliphate, Peter Webb 9. Pre-Islamic Arabia and early Islam, Ilkka Lindstedt 10. Early Muslims and peoples of the book, Fred M. Donner 11. Politics and economics of the early Caliphate, Fanny Bessard 12. The myth of the "Shīʿī Perspective”: identity and memory in Early Islam, Najam Haider 13. Mysticism in early Islam: The Pre-compilations phase, Sara Sviri Part III: Modern and contemporary reinterpretation of early Islam 14. Modernists and their opponents: reading Islam, Simon Wood 15. The golden age and the contemporary political order: the Muslim Brotherhood and early Islam, Rachel M. Scott 16. Salafīs: past to present, present to past, Jeffrey T. Kenney 17. Feminist Muslim (re)interpretations of early Islam, Aisha Geissinger Part IV: Revisioning early Islam 18. Early Islam: an alternative scenario of its emergence, Markus Gross 19. Qurʾānists, Daniel W. Brown 20. In search of authenticity: modern discourse over homosexuality through early Islam, Sara Omar 21. True history in black and white: reimagined origins in the Nation of Islam,
Herbert Berg is Professor of Religion in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and Director of International Studies, University of North Carolina Wilmington. He holds a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the University of Toronto. His research focuses on Islamic origins, the Nation of Islam, and method and theory in the study of early Islam.