open missionary hostility
toward Islam and Muslims into Orientalism proper, which claimed to studyIslam and its Prophet, upon him peace and blessings, scientifically. Major works which redefined theparameters of discourse include works by Simon Ockley (
History of the Saracens
18), Edward Gibbon(
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
87) and Thomas Carlyle (
The Hero as Prophet, Mahomed
, 1840). These were the so-called
which approached the Prophet, upon himpeace and blessings a historical figure who had played a part in world events and not as a diabolicdeceiver driven by depravity and greed. The emergence of Orientalism was fostered by the establishmentof chairs of Arabic (Leiden, 1613; Cambridge, 1632; Oxford, 1634), the compilation of Arabicdictionaries and grammars (especially that of Silvestre de Sacy, 1810), and the acquisition and study of numerous manuscripts from the Middle East. The material resources available to the Western scholarsincreased considerably. This increase led Ernest Renan to state confidently that
one can say withoutexaggeration that the problem of the origins of Islam has definitely
now been completely resolved…
Thelife of its founder is as well known to us as that of any sixteenth-century reformer. We can follow year by year the fluctuations of his thoughts, his contradictions, his weaknesses . . .
This understanding of the Western scholars of the Prophet being in the
full light of history
was tobe replaced within the course of the twentieth century to its opposite: the Western scholarship was to goon the
quest for historical Muhammad
this took place through a number of important shifts whichincluded an assault on the sources of Prophetic biography by men like Ignaz Goldziher, who passed the
verdict that Ḥadīth cannot be trusted as a historical document
; Joseph Schacht, who emphasized that
toa much higher degree than hitherto suspected, seemingly historical information on the Prophet is onlythe background for legal doctrines and therefore devoid of independent value
and Henri Lammens who argued that all we know about the Prophet, upon him peace and blessings, consists of a few allusionstaken fro
m the Qurʾān and elaborated into stories
. Others who had impact on the Westernunderstanding of Sirah include Regis Blachere, Montgomery Watt, Rudolf Sellheim, F. E. Peters, PatriciaCrone and Michael Cook. Against this background and dominant trend, a remarkable development in Sirah writing emergedduring the last quarter of the twentieth century, which attempted to recapture the intimacy andtraditional understanding of the original source-texts which had been shadowed by the modernistictrends. This development was further helped by the overall political, social, and intellectual revivalism of the Muslim world toward at the beginning of the fifteenth Islamic century
a time which heralded theemergence of the contemporary Muslim world and closed the period of three centuries of siesta. In fact,one can call the turn of the fourteenth Islamic century a watershed, marking the closure of the lowestintellectual and political mark in Muslim history and heralding a period of awakening which like all suchchanges is currently characterized by a great of confusion, chaos, violence, and intellectual anarchy, but which, nevertheless, has all the ingredients and signs of a turning point in world history, which might as well be a decisive event for the whole humanity.
These works, called
Internalized Sirah Texts
Displayed by men like Bede (), who considered Muslims a “plague of Saracens”; Charlemagne‖s
, who called Muslims detestable followers of the commandments of the demons”.
E. Renan, “Mahomet et les origins de l‖Islamisme‖,
Revue des deux mondes
, 12 (1851):1065, quoted
by Robert Hoyland, “Writing the Biography of the Prophet Muhamm
ad: Problems and
5/2 (2007) 581-602.
F. E. Peters, “
uest of the Historical Muhammad,”
International Journal of Middle East Studies
, Vol. 23, No. 3. (August, 1991), pp. 291-315.
It might well be a prelude to the
unfolding of the “greater signs” as Mustafa Badawi has pointed
out in his insightful
Man and his Universe
, for most of the “minor signs have alreadymanifested”. See, Mustafa Badawi,
Man and his Universe
(Amman: Iqra publishers, 2006).