In Search of Muhammad

Clinton Bennett, Author
Clinton Bennett, Author Continuum $44.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-304-70401-9
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
How much can we know of the life of Muhammad? Of the sources we possess, how many offer historically accurate portraits of the prophet? In this ambitious study, Bennett, who teaches theology at Westminster College, Oxford, tries to answer these and other questions. Bennett divides Muhammad's life into three periods: from his birth to his experiences of revelation (A.D. 570-610); the period between the revelation and his pilgrimage (hejira) from Mecca to Medina (610- 622); his ascent to power in Medina to his death (622-632). Very little is known of the early periods of Muhammad's life, but there is a good deal of biographical material from the later years, in part, says Bennett, because there were more witnesses to Muhammad's life and work. In part one, Bennett examines and evaluates biographical sources. He notes that there exist early collections of sayings attributed to the prophet that offer some insight into Muhammad's life, but that the earliest complete biography of Muhammad comes from the hand of Ibn Ishaq almost 100 years after Muhammad's death. Part two surveys the non-Muslim lives of Muhammad written between the seventh and 20th centuries. In part three, Bennett uses conversations with contemporary Muslims as he explores the significance for them of Muhammad's life and work. It all adds up to an accessible and thorough glimpse into the identity of Muhammad. (Jan.)
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