[Excerpts, with occasional modest edits, from The Real Muḥammad: In the Eyes of Ibn Isḥāq
, copyright 2013, TEI Publishing House. All quotations from the Sīrat Rasūl Allāh
(“Life of the Messenger of Allāh
”) are from the translation by Alfred Guillaume (Oxford University Press), copyright 1955. These stories are faithfully passed along from the most ancient, extant and authoritative biography of Muḥammad. All Muslims are called to imitate Muḥammad in their daily lives, and Muslim scholars know that Ibn Isḥāq is the best source for the historical Muḥammad, despite concern for various hon-historical material. The question is this: Can Muḥammad satisfy the Muslim thirst for freedom? How many people, of their own volition, would follow Muḥammad if they were free to choose otherwise? The same question is freely received by Muslims who would question Christians who follow Jesus as the Son of God]
Anti-Jewish Theme at the Outset
John C. Rankin
Thus, Ibn Isḥāq continues to argue that Muḥammad fulfills both Hebrew and Christian prophecy, but then the storyline turns anti-Jewish, as Bahīrā tells Abū Ṭālib: “Take your nephew back to his country and guard him carefully against the Jews for by Allah! if they see him and know about him what I know, they will do him evil; a great future lies before this nephew of yours, so take him home quickly.” This theme will slowly escalate and later intensify.