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Imagining the FetusThe Unborn in Myth, Religion, and Culture$
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Jane Marie Law and Vanessa R. Sasson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380040.001.0001

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A Prophet Emerging: Fetal Narratives in Islamic Literature

A Prophet Emerging: Fetal Narratives in Islamic Literature

(p.203) A Prophet Emerging: Fetal Narratives in Islamic Literature
Imagining the Fetus

Daniel C. Peterson

Oxford University Press

Stories about the antemortal existence, conception, gestation, and birth of the Prophet Muhammad, absent from the Qur’an, began to circulate in the decades after his death. They served a political purpose, to glorify Muhammad and Islam in the ideological competition, first with Arabian paganism and then with the world faiths (chiefly Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and, even more important, Christianity) that confronted Muslims during and after the Arab expansion. In contrast to certain other religious founders, the fetal Muhammad is never represented as speaking or acting, and indeed he is essentially devoid of human personality. He is a symbol, representing Islam’s claim to be the final and definitive revelation from God and its parallel assertion of universal political sovereignty.

Keywords:   Muhammad, Qur’an, light of Muhammad, Amina, Mecca, Ka‘ba, sira

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