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Ibn Ishaq

From Academic Kids

Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 768), was an Arab historian, the author of a book now known as Sirat Rasul Allah or The Life of the Apostle of God. The bulk of the work is a history of the early battles and raids that established Islam in Arabia, but the book also gives much information about the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Ibn Ishaq lived in Medina, where he gathered the reminiscences on which he based his history. He consequently left Medina in 733, and went to Alexandria, then to Kufa and Hira, and finally to Baghdad, where the caliph Mansur provided him with the means of writing his great work.

Ibn Ishaq's work survived only as it was quoted by the later historians Ibn Hisham and Tabari. In 1955, A. Guillaume reconstructed the work and published it in English as The Life of Muhammad.

The work has been attacked by some Islamic historians as untrustworthy – particularly for its mention of the so-called "Satanic Verses". However, Ibn Ishaq himself would have been the first to insist that he was collecting oral traditions, not necessarily vouching for their truth. In some instances he gives two versions of an event, then concludes that only Allah knows which is true.

Ibn Ishaq's work is of great historical interest as the earliest surviving biography of Muhammad.

References

The Life of Muhammad, A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press, 1967 revision, printed in 2003. ISBN 0196360331.de:Ibn Ishaq

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