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The Islamic Baḥīrā

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Chapter Summary

According to the historical picture of the world at the dawn of Islam that emerges from the Qur҆an and early Muslim literature, there were virtually no true Christians left in the early seventh century who had preserved the Gospel and lived rightly guided by the teachings of Christ. One of the most famous of these 'true Christians' is Baḥīrā, who appears in both Muslim sources and the Christian Legend which is the subject of this chapter. The chapter gives an overview of the various Islamic traditions about the monk and analyzes their historiographical topoi and apologetic messages. In a final discussion of how the Muslim stories relate to the Christian Legend, the author dispels some of the unfounded conclusions about the historicity of the encounter between a monk and the Prophet and the interrelation between the Islamic and Christian stories.

Keywords: Islamic Baḥīrā; Islamic traditions; prophet; true Christians



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