American University of Sharjah
Department of Arabic
The Maghazi Literature
July 21, 2011
Arabic was chiefly a spoken language with an oral literature of elaborate poetry and, to a lesser extent, prose. It is certainly known that the revelation of Quran had an important impact on the development of the Arabic literature. In the pre-Islamic era, both poetry and prose dealt with a restricted range of topics; however with the rise of Islam and the revelation of Quran, the range of topics had expanded dramatically to encourage for developments in prose and poetry. In this paper, I provide a historical overview about the development of the Maghazi literature in Islamic prose between the first/seventh century and second/eighth century. This paper also discusses the different styles and characteristics in a comparison context between three of the most recognized compilers of maghazi in the Islamic prose; Musa b. ‘Uqba, Ibn Ishaq, and al-Waqidi. It also discusses the different issues which exist in this genre of literature.
Table of Contents
2. Historical overview:
3. Characteristics of Maghazi literature:
3.2 Chronological framework:
4. Issue of plagiarism:
5. Issue of authenticity:
The word maghazi means raiding expeditions. As a literature, it is specifically applied to the accounts of the early Muslim military expeditions in which the Prophet took part, as Kritzeck states in his book Anthology of Islamic Literature: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times (1975). In other words, it is a literature that has signified the expeditions and raids organized by the Prophet Muhammad after the hijra. As literature, the Maghazi literature goes under the Sirah literature as it forms a sub-category within the Sirah of the Prophet. 2. Historical overview:
As this kind of literature falls under the Sirah, many scholars related them to each other and used them in the same context to talk about the life of Muhammad and the historical events which includes the Muslims expeditions during his life; moreover, they refer to the compilers of this literature as “the compiles of maghazi and sirah” such as Ibn Ishaq, as Kritzeck (1975) explains. However, other scholars identified the maghazi literature as a separate literature of its own. Al-Waqidi, who is regarded as the most authoritative by Malik b. Anas and Ibn Hanbal, compiled his own book, named Kitab al Maghazi which exists in a short fragment of twenty extracts with chains of narrators. It is not certainly indicated when the Maghazi literature did begin specifically but Kritzeck clarifies that Urwa b. al-Zubayr was recognized to be the first to classify a material on the maghazi because of the link between him and al-Zuhari, who was known as an important authority on maghazi and sirah, referred to him as an “inexhaustible sea of information,” also scholars as Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi referred to him and his accounts in their books. It is believed that this literature first began during the seventh century when the Islamic material came to be written. Three of the most important compilers of maghazi literature who came in the beginning of the second/eighth century and worked on gathering as much credible accounts about the maghazi of the Prophet as possible are: Musa b. ‘Uqba, Ibn Ishaq, and al-Waqidi. As mentioned earlier, al-Waqidi’s book was the most recognized among all due to the number of compilers who referred to it in their writings about maghazi. For example, Ibn Ishaq in his section about the maghazi in his book about the sirah of the Prophet corresponds very directly to Kitab al Maghazi for al-Waqidi and to the accounts of Musa b. ‘Uqba. Different writings came after the writings of Musa b. ‘Uqba, Ibn Ishaq, and al-Waqidi and continued to be based on the second/eight...
References: Kritzeck, J. (ed.), Anthology of Islamic Literature: From the Rise of Islam toModern Times. New York: Meridian, 1975.
Rizwi S. Faizer. The Issue of Authenticity regarding the Traditions of al-Wāqidī as Established in His Kitāb al-Maghāzī. Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 58, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 97-106
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