This volume comprises a new edition of The Earliest Biographies of the Prophet and Their Authors, a pioneering study on early Arab-Islamic historiography by the German Orientalist Josef Horovitz (1874-1931). The first comprehensive work of modern European scholarship on the early accounts of Muhammad’s life to make full use of the available sources, this study traces the emergence and growth of the sira tradition from the generation of Muslims following the Prophet’s death down to the great biographical dictionary of Ibn Sa’d in the ninth century, and thus covers many of the most important developments in the formative stage of Arab-Islamic historical writing. Horovitz’ work has played a key role in the study of its subject since its first publication in 1927-28, and today it continues to serve as a valuable survey. The present edition is a companion volume to a collection of other essays by Horovitz, Studies in Early Islam, also edited by Professor Conrad and shortly to be published by the Darwin Press.
The original printed version of this book was a revision of the author’s 1904 Berlin Habilitationsschrift, prepared under the supervision of Eduard Sachau and never published in the original German. For this edition the English translation has been checked and many typographical and translation errors corrected. The notes have been expanded and updated, and the work includes an introduction by the editor on the study of early Islam in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and Horovitz’s role in sira studies as well as a full bibliography. The book will be of interest to all scholars and students of Islamic history, religious, studies, and pre-modern historiography.
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