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Between History and Exegesis: the Origins and Transformation of the Story of Muḥammad and Zaynab bt Ǧaḥš

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This article examines the origins of the story of the Prophet Muḥammad’s controversial marriage with Zaynab bt Ǧaḥš as well as its transformation and reinterpretation through the centuries. The fact that the story features in different genres of Islamic literature as well as in non-Muslim sources allows for a reconstruction of how and where the story emerged, how it spread and to what extent it was transformed over time. In the course of this reconstruction, the article critically assesses different approaches to the historicity of reports on the life of Muḥammad. With its analysis of later Muslim sources, it also illustrates different strategies of reinterpreting and recasting traditions and shows how societal change and different ideologies influenced the interpretation of the story.Cet article examine les origines de l’histoire du mariage controversé du prophète Muḥammad avec Zaynab bt Ǧaḥš, ainsi que sa transformation et sa réinterprétation à travers les siècles. Le fait que cette histoire se retrouve dans différents genres de la littérature islamique, ainsi que dans des sources non-musulmanes, permet de reconstruire comment et où l’histoire a émergé, comment elle s’est répandue et dans quelle mesure elle s’est transformée au fil du temps. Au cours de cette reconstruction, l’article évalue de manière critique différentes approches de l’historicité des récits sur la vie de Muḥammad. Avec l’analyse des sources musulmanes postérieures, il illustre également différentes stratégies de réinterprétation et de refonte des traditions et montre comment le changement sociétal et les différentes idéologies ont influencé l’interprétation de cette histoire.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: University of Edinburgh


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