দি  ইন্সটিটিউট ফর কুরআনিক রিসার্চ এন্ড এ্যাপ্লিকেশন (ইক্বরা)

লক্ষ্য

ইক্বরার লক্ষ্য হলো বর্তমান ও ভবিষ্যত প্রজন্মের জন্য স্রষ্টার ঐশী বাণীর সমন্বিত অধ্যয়ন ও সার্বজনীন প্রয়োগের জন্য জ্ঞানদীপ্ত অনুশীলন।

উদ্দেশ্য

ইক্বরার উদ্দেশ্য হলো কুরআনের বাণীর উত্তরোত্তর সমৃদ্ধ অনুধাবনের জন্য টেকসই ভিত্তি প্রস্তুত করা এবং জীবন ও সমাজের প্রায়োগিকতার জন্য প্রয়োজনীয় জ্ঞানভিত্তিক ফ্রেমওয়ার্ক বা কাঠামো নির্মাণ।

প্রকাশিত বইসমূহ

Book Review: Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet by David S. Powers

Abstract

The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that prophecy ended with Muhammad. The Qur’an identifies Muhammad as the Seal of Prophets, a figure of speech that came to be understood as signifying that he was the Last Prophet. The success of this claim was an achievement that required work. The Qur’an suggests that the office of prophecy is hereditary. Thus, if Muhammad had a son, he might not be the Last Prophet; and if he was the Last Prophet, he could not have a son. As is well-known, Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity.

Before receiving his first revelation, however, Muhammad is said to have adopted a man named Zayd as his son: Zayd’s name was changed to Zayd b. Muhammad and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two men. This seemingly marginal figure, known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad whose name is mentioned in the Qur’an. Eventually, Zayd would be repudiated by his father and sent to certain death on a battlefield in southern Jordan. By focusing attention on Muhammad’s relationship with Zayd, I seek to recover a neglected phase in early Islamic history. To secure the integrity of the claim that Muhammad was the Last Prophet, the first Muslims were compelled to substitute sonlessness for biological generativity.

I argue that Muhammad’s repudiation of the Beloved of the Messenger of God and Zayd’s martyrdom at the Battle of Mu’ta were driven by theological imperatives designed to facilitate the doctrine of the finality of prophecy. To this end, the historical record was adjusted, legal institutions were abolished or reformed, and the consonantal skeleton of the Qur’an was modified.

end of abstract


Many students of Quran will be drawn to this book by its title, a portion of the verse from surat al-ahzab (33:40): “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but the messenger of God and the seal of the prophets. God is aware of everything.” And its subtitle will undoubtedly attract those with a penchant for literary theory and semiotics. (It is also the title of Gordon Newby’s study, The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad [Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1989], on the intertextuality of Ibn Ishaq’s sira.) Those enticed and willing to engage this book deeply will not be disappointed. David Powers takes the reader on a complex journey into thickets of precise grammatical and literary analysis, across expanses of religious studies theory, and through mazes of paleography and manuscript studies. It is not an expedition for the faint of heart.

Book Cover: Muhammad is not the Father of Any of your Men

He begins with a brief story about the obscure Quranic word kalala that seems not to make sense in either its literary or linguistic setting. His attempt to figure out its meaning some years ago resulted in something of a disappointment but not the end of the story. Powers’ early study of the term and the critique that it engendered stimulated a deeper investigation that, along with a chance discovery in the basement of his university library and the serendipitous publication of a facsimile edition of a Quran codex written in the first century, AH, led to this fascinating book. What began as curiosity over an unexpected word became a notable study of prophecy in monotheistic religious traditions and an extremely important investigation of the core Islamic creedal assumption that Muhammad is God’s final prophet.

Powers first draws attention to the father–son motif that is so critical to Judaism and Christianity and its apparent absence from the Islamic foundation narrative. He observes that this motif is in fact not absent at all, but because it occurs rather differently in Islam it has been largely overlooked. In fact, says Powers, the father–son motif appears in Islam with the purpose of establishing one of the most essential creedal notions of Islam—that Muhammad is God’s final messenger, the last prophet. The problem, according to Powers, is that the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood was known neither to him nor his closest companions during his lifetime. The issue arose only after Muhammad’s death when the new community of believers faced the task of determining and authorizing legitimate leadership. The Quran does mention specifically that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets (khatim al-nabiyin), but “seal” can mean the confirmation or the fulfillment of prophecy—not only the end of prophecy—and some early Quran commentators in fact defined it as such.

In fact, prophecy in the monotheistic religions seems to be a family affair. All of God’s prophets derive from the Abrahamic family, including Jesus and the old Arabian prophets Hud and Salih. As long as the genealogy of Abraham continues with the production of offspring deriving from the Abrahamic line, new prophets may arise. Muhammad, for example, derived from an Abrahamic line through Ishmael that had been rejected by Jews and Christians. One might argue that because Muhammad had no surviving biological male children, he was indeed the last prophet. But Muhammad adopted a son named Zayd, who, in the legal and cultural traditions of the Near East, would be his inheritor in all ways. And that son was no insignificant figure. Not only was he known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, he was also the only contemporary figure aside from Muhammad himself whose name appears in the Quran (33:37).

While Zayd did not outlive Muhammad, Zayd’s son did, leaving open the possibility that future prophets could arise. And anybody who studies religion knows that the authority of prophets trumps the authority of any other religious leadership. What would have happened to the caliphate if a new prophet had arisen? According to Powers, the earliest generations of Muslims after the death of the Prophet eveloped strategies to ensure that no new prophet would appear. These included interpretations imposed on the Quranic term “seal of the prophets,” input into the canonical story of Muhammad’s relationship with his erstwhile son Zayd, and even adjustment to the skeletal consonantal text of the Quran.

What about the word kalala? Around this word are found some of the most exciting parts of Powers’ expedition, confirmed, it would seem, by an ancient first-century AH Quran manuscript. Just as he had sensed years ago, the impossible word is exactly that—a word that was invented in order to ensure that Muhammad could not have had an heir. According to Powers, the original word used in the Quran was (theoretically) ∗kalla (constructed from the Semitic consonantal root, klh), meaning daughter-in-law, but a second lam was added in the manuscript by a different hand and a new meaning assigned to it. It is the corrected version that we have in the Quran today. And what is the difference in meaning? A lot, it turns out, for this is a verse that treats inheritance, and ∗kalla would mean that the daughter-in-law can and in some cases must inherit from her father-in-law.

The plot thickens. Muhammad’s daughter-in-law was the wife of his beloved adopted son Zayd. The word ∗kalla in the original context was paired with the word imraa—“wife.” Now it happened, according to the Tradition, that Muhammad’s daughter-in-law Zaynab—the former wife of his former adopted son Zayd—became his own wife. Whether daughter-in-law or wife or both, any child of hers through Muhammad or Zayd, and indeed all subsequent children through that line, would forever be threatening to the rulers of a growing empire.

The threat was removed during the tumultuous first two generations after the death of the Prophet when the community was expanding at breakneck speed, lands were conquered and administrations established, peoples were moving around the Middle East and North Africa in great numbers, the text of the Quran was being established, and the literary tradition that would become the foundational story of Islam was being formulated. When the dust settled, the textual and literary tradition that emerged ensured that Muhammad had no heirs, whether biological or through adoption. But enough evidence was left behind, from minority opinions among commentators, to competing oral traditions eventually reduced to writing, to (at least) one ancient Quran manuscript that retains evidence of manipulation. This book unpacks that complex and fascinating process of ensuring that Muhammad was indeed the father of none of his men—and the quest to discover it.

I am convinced of the thrust of Powers’ argument and deeply impressed by his scholarship. There remain two questions that to my mind would benefit from further consideration. The first is the issue of the finality of prophethood and its association with prophetic genealogy. One of the core theological premises of Islam is that Muhammad is the last prophet. This provides Islam with authority and allows it not only to correct or even supersede prior religions but also to anticipate and preempt the assertions of future religions that might claim the same status in relation to it. So there can be no more prophets after Muhammad. But what about other Abrahamic genealogies? Lack of heirs might end the Ishmaelite Abrahamic genealogy through Muhammad, but Arabs from the clan of Hashim or the larger tribe of Quraysh could also trace their genealogy to Abraham. Could there not be a hidden prophetic spark in any of these waiting to emerge when the time is right? And what about the Israelites who trace their lineage to the Patriarch? Jews carried on, and according to some traditions, continued to expect a prophet from their own people at least through the 6th and 7th centuries C.E.

The second question relates to the transition from theoretical ∗kalla to kalala. According to my understanding of Powers’ position, the original term disappeared entirely from Arabic and was replaced by kanna, though kalla is common in virtually all other Semitic languages. It is difficult to imagine the natural though inconsistent linguistic move from the “L” to “N” phoneme affecting every single dialect of Arabic to such an extent that the original ∗kalla dropped out entirely from Arabic, as is the case today. If ∗kalla occurred originally in the Quran, it must have been known in 7th-century Arabia. How could it disappear entirely from the language only a few generations later? Alternatively, if the phonemic shift had occurred generations earlier so that the word kalla was unknown in 7th-century Arabic, how could it occur in the Quran?

Powers’ forensic ability is outstanding and the encyclopedic nature of his research profoundly impressive. He demonstrates remarkable control over a broad range of material, lines up the evidence, suggests multiple explanations, and then draws out what he sees is the necessary conclusion. This is an extremely important book, a “must read” for all seriously engaged in Quran scholarship, Islamic studies, and the history of the Middle East.

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies, January 2011

Review by Reuven Firestone

Another Review by Walid A Saleh

ট্যাগ / কী-ওয়ার্ড:

অন্যান্য প্রবন্ধ

April 9, 2024
The Origin of Arabic Language & Its History

"And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur'an" - Surah Ash-shuraa, verse 7 We explore the history and development of the Arabic language, as well as its connection to religion. Here are compilation of a few resources via YouTube. The Origins of Arabic - The Arabic Language How Arabia Got Its Name? What […]

April 8, 2024
Ghulam Ahmad Parwez - A Scholar of Islam

Among Muslim scholars, particularly who translated and interpreted the Quran in modern times, I am very fascinated and interested in the thoughts of late Ghulam Ahmad Parwez (1903-1985), also known as G A Parwez. Here is a summary as a way of introduction to this noteworthy scholar. Ghulam Ahmad Parwez was a prominent Islamic scholar, […]

April 6, 2024
The Qur'an and the Just Society - Ramon Harvey - Book Review

Main Topic or Theme The main theme of "The Qur'an and the Just Society" by Ramon Harvey revolves around exploring the ethical and moral framework provided by the Qur'an for creating a just society. Key Ideas or Arguments Chapter Titles or Main Sections Chapter Summaries Key Takeaways or Conclusions Author's Background and Qualifications Ramon Harvey […]

April 5, 2024
না বুঝে কুরআন পড়ে আমরা শয়তানকে যেভাবে সাহায্য করি

১.স্টারপিক ফ্যাক্টরির মালিক সোহান সাহেব। ফ্যাক্টরির বয়স প্রায় ২৫ বছরের বেশি, মালিকের বয়স ৬৭ বছর। তার ফ্যাক্টরির পুরনো এবং বিশ্বস্ত ম্যানেজার হলো ফারুক সাহেব। মালিক সোহান সাহেব এবার ঠিক করেছেন টানা ২ মাসের জন্য তিনি ফ্যাক্টরির নিয়মিত কাজ থেকে বিরতি নিয়ে আমেরিকায় তার মেয়ে, মেয়ে জামাই ও নাতিদের সাথে সময় কাটাবেন। দীর্ঘ ২ মাস তার […]

March 29, 2024
ইসলামের আদিপর্ব অনুসারে কাবার পরিচয়

Sean Anthony is a Professor of Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, The Ohio State University gives a presentation in YouTube on a talk titled: "What is the Kaaba? Perspectives from the Early Islamic Period."

March 29, 2024
আনুষ্ঠানিক নামাজের উৎস সন্ধানে

রাসুল সা. এর মসজিদে সালাতের অধিবেশনের আসলে ভূমিকা কি ছিলো? নামাজ কি? কেন নামাজ পড়া হতো? কুরআন থেকে কি এই প্রশ্নের উত্তর পাওয়া সম্ভব?

January 28, 2024
ট্রান্সজেন্ডার ও ইসলাম

ট্রান্সজেন্ডার বিষয়ে ইসলামের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি কি?

জেন্ডার বিষয়ে ইসলামের ঐতিহাসিক সম্পর্ক ও ধারনা কি? ওস্তাদ মোবিন ভাইদ ব্লগিং থিওলজিতে ইসলামে ট্রান্সজেন্ডারিজম নিয়ে একটি আলোচনা করেছেন যা অনেকগুলো ডাইমেনশন থেকে ট্রান্সজেন্ডারিজমকে বিশ্লেষণ করেছেন।

December 30, 2023
আমরিন জামিয়িন ও বিশ্বাসীদের সংগঠিত হওয়ার রূপরেখা প্রসঙ্গে

যারা আমরিন জামিয়িন বা সংঘবদ্ধ কর্মের বিষয়ে অগ্রসর হতে চান তাদের জন্য করণীয় কি হতে পারে?