The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad’s Life in Christian and Early Islamic Sources


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies


This study presents the first investigation of the contradictory traditions about the end of Muhammad’s life in Christian and early Islamic sources. The Islamic tradition relates Muhammad’s death at Medina in 632, while earlier and more numerous Christian sources suggest that he survived to lead the conquest of the Near East, beginning in 633-4. Using methods from Biblical Studies, the study concludes that the traditional date and circumstances of Muhammad’s death are uncertain. This recognition raises larger questions about the reliability of traditional narratives of Islamic origins, which scholars of Islam have often taken for granted. The project also advocates greater methodological unity between the study of Christian and Islamic origins.