A Critical and Historical Overview of the Sīrah Genre from the Classical to the Modern Period

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Abstract

Sīrah (the life and biography of Prophet Muhammad) has been the point of focus and writing since the Prophet passed away. Approaches to sīrah have evolved in the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds over the centuries. This has had a significant impact on how the Prophet and even Islam are viewed in the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. While Muslim scholars have focused on details of the exact biography, what and why a particular incident occurred in his life, his leadership, reverence of his teachings and other aspects of his life as a role model as well as lessons that can be derived from his life to emulate in daily life, non-Muslim authors have approached sīrah quite differently. Some are extremely critical to the point of ridicule and slander, while others approach it in a more authentic and genuine manner. The sources to which they have access, namely Arabic sources, play a critical role in the way sīrah is approached. Similarly, interactions with Muslims, scientific developments and globalisation have had significant impacts on the way sīrah is perceived, particularly in modern times. This article provides a chronological and systematic review and analysis of the major sīrah works written by Muslims and non-Muslims since the 7th century. It traces the evolvement of sīrah literature in Muslim and non-Muslim scholarship by documenting the reasons and fundamental factors affecting various approaches to sīrah across the centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number196
Number of pages21
JournalReligions
Volume13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2022

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