Routledge Handbook on Early Islam: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Routledge Handbook on Early Islam

1st Edition

Edited by Herbert Berg


392 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-08-23
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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


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

22. Invocations of early Islam in US discourse(s) of Muslim pluralism

Justine Howe

About the Editor

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.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Islam / History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies