Muhammad Knight (Michael), Muhammad’s Body. Baraka Networks and the Prophetic Assemblage, Chapel Hill, NC, the University of North Carolina Press, ("Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks"), 2020, 216 p. ISBN 978-1-4696-5890-2
Michael Muhammad Knight is assistant professor of religion and cultural studies at the University of Central Florida and the author of several books, including Muhammad: Forty Introductions.
Muhammad’s Body introduces questions of embodiment and materiality to the study of the Prophet Muhammad. Analyzing classical Muslim literary representations of Muhammad’s body as they emerge in Sunni hadith and sira from the eighth through the eleventh centuries CE, Michael Muhammad Knight argues that early Muslims’ theories and imaginings about Muḥammad’s body contributed in significant ways to the construction of prophetic masculinity and authority.
Knight approaches hadith and sira as important religiocultural and literary phenomena in their own right. In rich detail, he lays out the variety of ways that early believers imagined Muhammad’s relationship to beneficent energy—baraka—and to its boundaries, effects, and limits. Drawing on insights from contemporary theory about the body, Knight shows how changing representations of the Prophet’s body helped to legitimatize certain types of people or individuals as religious authorities, while marginalizing or delegitimizing others. For some Sunni Muslims, Knight concludes, claims of religious authority today remain connected to ideas about Muhammad’s body.