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Title: After the Prophet's Death: Christian-Muslim Polemic and the Literary Images of Muhammad
Authors: Szilagyi, Krisztina
Advisors: Cook, Michael A.
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Subjects: Near Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies
Islamic culture
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The central thesis of this dissertation is that the anti-Islamic literature of Christians living under Muslim rule generally drew on the contemporaneous Muslim Tradition and seldom stemmed, contrary to what has often been claimed, from their ignorance or misunderstanding of Islam. The first chapter demonstrates the validity of this thesis when applied to Christian narratives of Muhammad's death recorded in the ninth century--narratives that scholars have for centuries regarded as examples of the malicious inventiveness of Christian polemicists. The next two chapters discuss questions arising from the thesis: If Christian authors merely retold Muslim material, how did it function as polemic? And why do we find only faint traces of it in the Muslim Tradition today? In answer to the first question, the second chapter scrutinizes how the narratives were likely to have been understood by their medieval Christian readers and argues that for Christians they amounted not only to an unfavorable comparison of Muhammad with Christ and late antique holy men, but also to an implicit denial of his future bodily resurrection. The answer to the second question lies in the formative influence of Christian critique on the Muslim Tradition. The relentless Christian polemic in the first two centuries of Islam made Muslims adapt, among other things, their narratives of Muhammad's death to the religious world of Christianity. The third chapter examines the vestiges that the conflicts surrounding this makeover left in Muslim literature. The last chapter takes a birds' eye view of the reception of the Christian narratives of Muhammad's death. It explains their disappearance from medieval eastern Christian writings after the ninth century, tracks the new lease of life they received in western Christendom in the twelfth century, and clarifies the circumstances of their eventual rejection by early modern Orientalists in favor of the classical Muslim hagiography of Muhammad. The dissertation concludes with the outline of a new paradigm for the interpretation of medieval non-Muslim literary images of Islam that reflects their roots in the Christianity of the Islamic world.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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