Biographies of Muhammad

Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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Nicholas19
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Post by Nicholas19 » May 16th, 2021, 5:54 am

I just searched for Mahomet and Muhammad, but can't see any biographies of the Prophet.

Might be interesting to find one that is manageable. Muir's is in 4 volumes, so that's a bit of an epic enterprise. There are a few others though as well.

Mahomet and his successors by Irving, Washington, (1783-1859) (1849)
https://archive.org/details/mahomethissucces00irvi

Aloys Sprenger, The Life of Mohammad, from Original Sources (Allahabad: The Presbyterian Mission Press, 1851).
https://archive.org/details/lifemohammadfro00aloygoog/page/n16/mode/2up

William Muir, The Life of Muhammad and History of Islam to the Era of the Hegira (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1858-1861), 4 vols.
Volume I: https://www.answering-islam.de/Books/Muir/Life1/index.htm

Best regards,
Nicholas J. Bridgewater

"The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens."
- Baha'u'llah
See: http://bahai.org/

Some Answered Questions.
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. I.
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Kazbek
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Post by Kazbek » May 16th, 2021, 7:51 pm

Good idea, though with a caveat. The source materials on the life of Muhammad are voluminous and disputed, providing biography writers across the centuries ample space to project their own beliefs. It's worth to keep that in mind while choosing a source. Muir's work, in particular, while displaying impressive scholarship, was motivated in large part by his missionary aims. It could be compared to a biography of Luther written by an old-school Catholic historian. I'm not familiar with the first two, but they look promising, and worth taking a closer look.

Michael

Nicholas19
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Joined: June 27th, 2007, 7:04 am
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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Post by Nicholas19 » May 17th, 2021, 9:16 am

Good idea, though with a caveat. The source materials on the life of Muhammad are voluminous and disputed, providing biography writers across the centuries ample space to project their own beliefs. It's worth to keep that in mind while choosing a source. Muir's work, in particular, while displaying impressive scholarship, was motivated in large part by his missionary aims. It could be compared to a biography of Luther written by an old-school Catholic historian. I'm not familiar with the first two, but they look promising, and worth taking a closer look.
I agree that it would be good to have a more objective or Muslim approach to the life of Muhammad, but the classic Western biographies have their place in literature and Islamic studies. As someone who reveres and believes in the Prophet Muhammad myself, I am of course averse to critiques of His life. But I suppose it's up to the reader to take whatever is written with a pinch of salt, and with a view to who the writer was. And there is a place for biographies of Luther by Catholic historians. The important thing, I think, with LibriVox, is to record the wealth of human knowledge and history via its literature.
Nicholas J. Bridgewater

"The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens."
- Baha'u'llah
See: http://bahai.org/

Some Answered Questions.
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. I.
An Elementary Greek Grammar.

Kazbek
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 3046
Joined: April 24th, 2019, 12:06 pm

Post by Kazbek » May 17th, 2021, 2:48 pm

Oh, for sure. We want to record all the books in the PD... eventually. :) We do have to prioritize, though, and being aware of these issues can be helpful to whoever will make the choice. I skimmed the first two of these, and Irving's book seems like a better choice. He's making a fair effort to be objective, for his time, and it also helps that he's an accomplished prosaist. I think this 2-volume edition is easier on the eyes:

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.178987/page/n7/mode/2up
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.178986/page/n13/mode/2up

By the way, the scan of the other book is truncated. There's a full scan at the archive and it runs to over 700 pages.

We'll have to wait a couple of decades before we can record the work of Montgomery Watt, which was a real watershed in Western scholarship on this topic, and still remains a gold standard.

Michael

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