Abraha, the year of the elephant, and the location of Mecca in Tom Holland’s “In the Shadow of the Sword”

So I've finished reading Holland's book on the origins of Islam and I have to say I am not very impressed. I've revised my goals a bit and I will no longer be doing a point-by-point refutation of his book since much (as Holland himself admits) is speculatory, far too broad to refute directly and simply … Continue reading Abraha, the year of the elephant, and the location of Mecca in Tom Holland’s “In the Shadow of the Sword”

A new Arabic papyrus dating within 12 years of the Prophet Muhammad

بسم الله In 2014 Islamic historian Fred Donner gave a talk on an very curious papyrus page dating from the very early Islamic era. The letter is of tremendous interest for reasons I will mention in this post. Papyrus E17861 The text is a personal letter talking about the distribution of a sum of money among relatives. It … Continue reading A new Arabic papyrus dating within 12 years of the Prophet Muhammad

Understanding the Sana’a manuscript find.

بسم الله Perhaps the most intriguing discovery in the field of Qur'anic studies in the last several decades is the Sana'a manuscript finding. This is because they represent a Qur'an that is uniquely non-Uthmanic, that is, one of the manuscripts that does not descend from the text that the third Caliph Uthman (ر) had compiled. In other words, … Continue reading Understanding the Sana’a manuscript find.

The Hadith Critical Methodology: A brief look at how Hadith are authenticated in the Islamic tradition.

Some time after the death of the Prophet, a need arose among the Muslims for an authentic source for the beliefs and ritual practices of the Prophet Muhammad (ص). The Qur'an, which was undoubtedly considered authentic and authoritative among all Muslims, did not provide much information about Muslim practice and Law. Indeed, it is the Hadith, that is, … Continue reading The Hadith Critical Methodology: A brief look at how Hadith are authenticated in the Islamic tradition.

Are the variant readings of the Qur’an caused by the lack of dots in the Uthmanic Qur’an?

It is a well known phenomenon among scholarship, both Muslim and non-Muslim, that the Qur'an today contains several well recognized variants in the text itself. For example, in Surah Baqarah, Ayah 85, we see a difference in the last word between the "Qaloon" reading and the "Khalaf" reading [1]. There are many more examples to … Continue reading Are the variant readings of the Qur’an caused by the lack of dots in the Uthmanic Qur’an?