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"Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam" by Ahmad Shahab (April 2017)

"Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam" by Ahmad Shahab (April 2017)

Ahmed (Shahab), Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam, Harvard University Press, 2017, 320 p. ISBN 978-0674047426

The author

Shahab Ahmed (d. 2015) taught at Harvard University as Professor of Islamic Studies.

Presentation

One of the most controversial episodes in the life of the Prophet Muhammad concerns an incident in which he allegedly mistook words suggested by Satan as divine revelation. Known as the Satanic verses, these praises to the pagan deities contradict the Islamic belief that Allah is one and absolute. Muslims today—of all sects—deny that the incident of the Satanic verses took place. But as Shahab Ahmed explains, Muslims did not always hold this view.

Before Orthodoxy wrestles with the question of how religions establish truth—especially religions such as Islam that lack a centralized authority to codify beliefs. Taking the now universally rejected incident of the Satanic verses as a case study in the formation of Islamic orthodoxy, Ahmed shows that early Muslims, circa 632 to 800 CE, held the exact opposite belief. For them, the Satanic verses were an established fact in the history of the Prophet. Ahmed offers a detailed account of the attitudes of Muslims to the Satanic verses in the first two centuries of Islam and traces the chains of transmission in the historical reports known as riwāyah.

Touching directly on the nature of Muhammad’s prophetic visions, the interpretation of the Satanic verses incident is a question of profound importance in Islam, one that plays a role in defining the limits of what Muslims may legitimately say and do—issues crucial to understanding the contemporary Islamic world.

Hommage to the late Shahab Ahmed by Noah Feldman and Beena Sarwar.

Contents

Introduction: How Does Truth Happen?
1. How to Read the Earliest Sources?
2. The Earliest Narrative Reports (Riwāyahs) and Their Transmitters
Riwāyahs 1 to 7: From Muḥammad b. Ka‘b al-Quraẓī
Riwāyah 1: From the Rayy Recension of the Sīrah of Muḥammad Ibn Isḥāq
Riwāyah 2: Abū Ma‘shar’s Report from Muḥammad b. Ka‘b and Muḥammad b. Qays
Riwāyah 3: al-Wāqidī’s Report from al-Muṭṭalib b. Ḥanṭab and the Banū Ẓafar
Riwāyahs 4 to 6: Summary Reports from Muḥammad b. Ka‘b al-Quraẓī
Riwāyah 4: A Summary Report from Muḥammad b. Ka‘b in the Tafsīr of Abū al-Layth al-Samarqandī
Riwāyah 5: A Summary Report from Muḥammad b. Ka‘b in the Tafsīr of Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī
Riwāyah 6: A Summary Report from Muḥammad b. Ka‘b in the Tafsīr of Abū al-Shaykh al-Iṣbahānī
Riwāyah 7: From the Maghāzī of Yūnus b. Bukayr
Riwāyahs 8 to 13: From ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr
Riwāyah 8: From Abū al-Aswad’s Egyptian Recension of ‘Urwah’s Maghāzī
Riwāyah 9: al-Bayhaqī’s Citation of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah, and Ibn Kathīr’s Citation from Ibn Abī Ḥātim of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah
Riwāyah 10: al-Dhahabī’s Citation of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah
Riwāyah 11: Abū Nu‘aym al-Iṣbahānī’s Citation of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah
Riwāyah 12: al-Suyūṭī’s Citation from Ibn Abī Ḥātim’s Tafsīr of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah
Riwāyah 13: al-Kilā‘ī’s Citation of the Maghāzī of Mūsā b. ‘Uqbah
Riwāyahs 8 to 13: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 14 and 15: al-Zuhrī from Abū Bakr ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. al-Ḥārith
Riwāyah 14: Probably from al-Zuhrī’s Tafsīr with a ṣaḥīḥ mursal isnād
Riwāyah 15: Probably from al-Zuhrī’s Kitāb al-maghāzī
Riwāyahs 14 and 15: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 16 to 20: From Abū al-‘Āliyah al-Baṣrī
Riwāyah 16: Cited by al-Ṭabarī with a ṣaḥīḥ mursal Basran isnād
Riwāyah 17: Also Cited by al-Ṭabarī with a ṣaḥīḥ mursal Basran isnād
Riwāyah 18: Cited by al-Suyūṭī in the Durr from the Tafsīrs of al-Ṭabarī, Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abī Ḥātim by an Unspecified ṣaḥīḥ isnād
Riwāyah 19: Cited by al-Suyūṭī in the Durr from the Tafsīrs of al-Ṭabarī, Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī
Riwāyah 20: Cited by Yaḥyā b. Sallām al-Baṣrī in his Tafsīr
Riwāyahs 16 to 20: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 21 and 22: From al-Suddī
Riwāyah 21: In the Tafsīr of ‘Abd b. Ḥumayd al-Samarqandī
Riwāyah 22: In the Tafsīr of Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī
Riwāyah 23: From Muḥammad b. al-Sā’ib al-Kalbī
Riwāyahs 24 to 26: From Qatādah b. Di‘āmah
Riwāyah 24: Cited by Yaḥyā b. Sallām al-Baṣrī in His Tafsīr
Riwāyah 25: al-Ṭabarī’s Citation of Tafsīr Muḥammad ibn Thawr ‘an Ma‘mar ‘an Qatādah, and of al-Ḥasan b. Yaḥyā’s Citation of Qatādah in the Baghdādī Transmission of the Tafsīr of ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Ṣan‘ānī
Riwāyah 26: From the Tafsīr of ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Ṣan‘ānī
Riwāyahs 24 to 26: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 27 to 30: From Muqātil b. Sulaymān
Riwāyah 27: Muqātil’s Commentary on Qur’ān 22:52 al-Ḥajj
Riwāyah 28: Muqātil’s Commentary on Qur’ān 53:19–26 al-Najm
Riwāyah 29: Muqātil’s Commentary on Qur’ān 109 al-Kāfirūn
Riwāyah 30: Muqātil’s Commentary on Qur’ān 39:43–45 al-Zumar
Riwāyahs 27 to 30: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 31 to 33: From Mujāhid b. Jabr
Riwāyah 31: From Mujāhid’s Commentary on Qur’ān 22:52 al-Ḥajj Cited by Ibn ‘Aqīlah
Riwāyah 32: From Mujāhid’s Commentary on Qur’ān 39:45 al-Zumar Cited by al-Wāḥidī
Riwāyah 33: From Mujāhid’s Commentary on Qur’ān 17:73 al-Isrā’ Cited by al-Tha‘labī
Riwāyah 34: From al-Ḍaḥḥāk b. Muzāḥim al-Balkhī
Riwāyahs 35 to 44: Attributed to ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Abbās
Riwāyah 35: From ‘Aṭiyyah b. Sa‘d al-‘Awfī
Riwāyah 36: From Abū Ṣāliḥ
Riwāyah 37: From ‘Aṭā’ b. Abī Rabāḥ al-Makkī
Riwāyah 38: Cited Directly from Ibn ‘Abbās in the Gharā’ib al-Qur’ān of Niẓām al-Dīn al-Naysābūrī
Riwāyah 39: From Abū Sāliḥ; from ‘Ikrimah the mawlā of Ibn ‘Abbās; and from an Unnamed Source
Riwāyahs 40 to 44: Sa‘īd b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbās
Riwāyahs 40, 41 and 42: ‘Uthmān b. al-Aswad ← Sa‘īd b. Jubayr
Riwāyah 40: In the Mukhtārah of al-Ḍiyā’ al-Maqdisī with a Deficient isnād
Riwāyah 41: In the Tafsīr of Abū al-Layth al-Samarqandī with an Unacknowledged ṣaḥīḥ isnād
Riwāyah 42: In the Asbāb al-nuzūl of al-Wāḥidī with an isnād Stopping at Sa‘īd b. Jubayr
Riwāyahs 43 and 44: Shu‘bah ← Abū Bishr ← Sa‘īd b. Jubayr ← Ibn ‘Abbās
Riwāyah 43: Cited from Yūsuf b. Ḥammād al-Baṣrī in the Musnad of al-Bazzār with Two Cautionary Remarks
Riwāyah 44: Cited from Yūsuf b. Ḥammād al-Baṣrī in the Mu‘jam al-Kabīr of al-Ṭabarānī and in the Tafsīr of Ibn Mardawayh, with an Interesting Remark
Riwāyahs 35 to 44: Conclusions
Riwāyahs 45 to 47: From Sa‘īd b. Jubayr without Attribution to Ibn ‘Abbās
Riwāyah 45: Cited by al-Ṭabarī from Sa‘īd b. Jubayr via Shu‘bah and Abū Bishr Ja‘far b. Abī Waḥshiyyah
Riwāyah 46: Cited by Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī from Sa‘īd b. Jubayr via Shu‘bah and Abū Bishr Ja‘far b. Abī Waḥshiyyah
Riwāyah 47: Cited by al-Suyūṭī in the Durr without an isnād
Riwāyahs 40 to 47: Conclusions
Riwāyah 48: From ‘Ikrimah, the mawlā of Ibn ‘Abbās
Riwāyahs 49 and 50: From al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī
Riwāyah 49: Cited from al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī in al-Nukat wa-al-‘uyūn of al-Māwardī
Riwāyah 50: Cited from al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī in Aḥkām al-Qur’ān of al-Jaṣṣāṣ
Conclusions: The Satanic Verses, Riwāyahs 1 to 50
3. Why Did the Early Muslim Community Accept the Satanic Verses Incident as Truth?
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

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