David PowersMay 15, 2012
Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men
The Making of the Last Prophet
University of Pennsylvania Press 2009
Muslims scholars for centuries have unequivocally asserted the finality of the prophetic message as it was revealed to Muhammad. This is often discussed in the context of the Qur'anic pronouncement that Muhammad was the "Seal of the Prophets" (khatam al-nabiyyin). David S. Powers, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University, reexamines the theological implications of this position in relation to the first half of the same verse, which declares, "Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but rather the Messenger of God" (33:40). This pairing of prophecy and parenthood led Powers to explore the circumstances for which these words were revealed in his though provoking book Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). This story unfolds within the narrative of Zayd, Muhammad's adopted son, and his wife Zaynab. Powers traverses a number of interrelated narratives and themes, including familial relationships in the Near East, myth making and scriptural intertexuality, and the consonantal reconstruction of the Qur'an, among many others. Whether you welcome his argument or not Powers has provided a detailed and stimulating examination of myth, scripture, and tradition.