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Witnesses to a World CrisisHistorians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century$
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James Howard-Johnston

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208593.001.0001

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Early Islamic Historical Writing

Early Islamic Historical Writing

Chapter:
(p.354) 11 Early Islamic Historical Writing
Source:
Witnesses to a World Crisis
Author(s):

James Howard‐Johnston

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208593.003.0012

The investigation enters a new phase, that of vetting Islamic sources. The Qur'an is shown to be an important historical source for the biography of the Prophet and the evolution of the umma (Muslim community) once individual suras are classified into chronologically distinct groups. Attention then turns to the voluminous historical traditions about the rise of Islam picked up by later Muslim historians. Two lines of argument are developed—one from general considerations and the other from a comparison of Islamic and non‐Islamic testimonies about the futuh (conquests), fitna (civil conflict), and warfare against the Romans—in favour of the authenticity of the kernels of early Islamic historical traditions and their chronological ordering. Only three events—the capture of Jerusalem, the assassination of ‘Ali, and the battle of Karbala—can be shown to be out of sequence, in each case because a higher, religious truth has prevailed.

Keywords:   Qur’an, umma, Prophet, sura, Islam, futuh, fitna, Jerusalem, ‘Ali, Karbala

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