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Rendering Muhammad Human Again

Martin Riexinger has published an important article on how Muhammad Ibn ?Abd al-Wahhab's biography of the Prophet legitimizes his warfare against “idolaters.”

12.02.2013 | Mark Sedgwick

Riexinger's article, "Rendering Mu?ammad Human Again: The Prophetology of Mu?ammad b. ?Abd al-Wahh?b (1703–1792)," is published in Numen (vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 103-18). It is based on the hitherto neglected biography of the Prophet by Muhammad b. ?Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792), the founder of the puritan Wahhabi movement in Islam. This work differs markedly from other later works of this genre because the author passes over many episodes that are supposed to elevate the status of Muhammad beyond that of an ordinary human, whereas he includes episodes that show him as human, or even fallible, such as the controversial “Satanic verses.” Riexinger argues that the purpose of his selection is to demonstrate that apart from events specifically related to revelation, Muhammad was a human being whose actions can be imitated. However, the scope of Muhammad’s actions is reduced to the eradication of unbelief and idolatry. This is supposed to suggest that Muhammad b. ?Abd al-Wahhab himself is completing what Mu?ammad has begun and to legitimize the warfare of followers against the “idolaters.”

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