The present chapter seeks to show just how little is known about Jews and Judaism at the time of Muhammad. Whereas many want to argue that a stable Judaism acted as a “midwife” to the birth of Islam in the seventh century, this chapter argues that there is very little material evidence to support with any degree of certainty just what kind of Jews Muhammad interacted with (if he, in fact did). In addition to this dearth of material evidence, the Islamic sources describing these Jews are later, often much later, than the period upon which they purport to describe. The claim that the Jews gave birth to Islam, then, are both ludicrous and self-serving. The chapter suggests that the later Muslim sources transformed the Jews that Muhammad was believed to have had contact with into what they considered to be normative Jews.
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