© 2015 – Routledge
Sira stands for al-sira al-nabawiyya, meaning the biography of Prophet Mu?ammad, and is one of the earliest types of literature in the Muslim tradition, shaping the identity and content of this tradition as it has also developed alongside it.
This book represents a shift away from the prevalent view that the main value of sira lies in its utility as a historical source for the life of Mu?ammad. It examines the nature and role of sira as a distinct genre of the Muslim literary and historical tradition and as an independent scholarly discipline. Beginning with a discussion of contemporary scholarship and approaches to the study of sira, the book then outlines a number of defining characteristics typical of sira as a genre, as well as examining the role of the chronological narrative, the textual and functional role of variant reports and the divergences between them, and the centrality of the relationship between the text of the Qur’an and sira. Particular attention is paid to the question of narrativity and historical discourse as it occurs in sira, and the ability of sira authors to resort to a number of other scholarly disciplines in order to extrapolate further meaning from their source material.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach to provide a concise and original insight into the nature of sira as a distinct form of literature, this book is essential reading for students and scholars interested in the historiography of Islam, and early Islamic history and literature.
PART I: APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF SĪRA
Chapter 1: New Trends in the Understanding of Sīra
Chapter 2: Sīra and Historical and Literary Analysis
PART II: THE GENRE OF SĪRA AND ITS FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS
Chapter 3: The Sources and the Case Study
Chapter 4: Problems of Describing Sīra as a Genre
Chapter 5: Chronology and Narrative
Chapter 6: Variants
Chapter 7: Relating Events to Revelation
Chapter 8: Literary Models of Story and History in Sīra
The nature of the historical period in which the emergence of Islamic civilization occurred has produced vigorous scholarly debate. While the general impact of the newly formed Arab empire on pre-existing cultures is evident to historians, establishing the varied trajectories of the transition from pre-Islamic times to the period in which the establishment of an Islamic social, political, administrative and cultural order is a matter of significant discussion. Routledge Studies in Classical Islam is dedicated to the best scholarship on that period, revealing the difficulties and the complexities in establishing the history of the time. Focusing on the Arab and Persian worlds up to the tenth century, the series includes original textual sources in translation, modern scholarly works not previously available in English, and newly commissioned works dedicated to examining the period critically in light of the evidence that is available to historians today. Every work in this series focuses on the question of "how do we know" when it comes to establishing the history of this controversial period, producing a persuasive body of insightful scholarship as conducted in the academic community today.