Muhammad and the Supernatural
Medieval Arab Views
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FolkloreNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network February 3, 2014 Matthew Long
Rebecca Williams‘ book Muhammad and the Supernatural: Medieval Arab Views (Routledge, 2013) is one of the newest additions to the Routledge Studies in Classic Islam series. Despite the Qur’anic proclamation that the only “miracle” which served as proof of Muhammad’s propethood was the Qur’an itself, miracles and supernatural events have been ascribed to Muhammad in numerous Islamic literary and intellectual genres. Professor Williams, of the University of South Alabama, delivers a unique and fresh look at the supernatural in Islam.
Restricting her analysis to the works of Qur’anic exegesis and the biography, she focuses on four events in the life of Muhammad. Muhammad’s conception, his first occasion of public preaching, a vignette concerning a warning sent by one of Muhammad’s followers to the residents of Mecca prior to an attack, and a failed assassination attempt upon Muhammad’s life each contain some type of supernatural occurrence. Each of these events is connected to an important theme for Muslims in the medieval era, sex, politics, betrayal, and wrath, respectively. Professor William’s fascinating comparative investigation of the treatment of these supernatural occasions demonstrates important similarities and differences between these two scholars. Moreover, the reader becomes conscious of the milieu in which each scholar constructed their texts. While this is a significant contribution to the field of the study of Islam, the topics addressed are of great benefit to scholars of literature and folklore and its contents are accessible to a wide spectrum of readers.