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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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The Life of the Prophet

The Life of the Prophet

(p.395) 12 The Life of the Prophet
Witnesses to a World Crisis

James Howard‐Johnston

Oxford University Press

Islamic traditions about pre‐Islamic Arabia are tested in relation to three episodes which are independently covered by non‐Islamic sources—a massacre of Christians in Najran in 523, an attack from the south on Mecca in 552, and the conquest of Yemen by a Persian expeditionary force c. 571. The tests proving positive, it is possible to venture with some confidence into the canonical version of the life of the Prophet (the sira) and to accept the picture presented of Mecca as a major cult and commercial centre. Corroboration is to hand in the Qur'an, a document embedded in the sira (the Constitution of Medina), and anthologies of verse collected in the sira. Special attention is paid to the accommodation reached at Hudaybiya in 628 between the Muslims and the Quraysh of Mecca, and to the subsequent concealment of the great concession made by the Prophet.

Keywords:   Arabia, Najran, Mecca, Yemen, Prophet, sira, Qur'an, Constitution, Hudaybiya, Quraysh

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