Celebrating Mo’s Birthday in Algeria—What to Leave In, What to Leave Out

As per this classic Islamic miniature, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s modern sermon, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model



March 16th, Algerian Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, representing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, inaugurated the tenth national week of the Holy Koran in Algiers. As Belkhadem stated, the religious event is “is now a tradition for Algeria,” organized during the third month of the Islamic calendar, Raba El Aouel, as part of the Mouloud festivity, which highlights the anniversary of the birth and death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. And the week’s scheduled activities, promoted by the Algerian minister of religion,


…will include subject meetings, conferences on the various aspects of the life of the Prophet.


The mind boggles at what “aspects” will be conveniently ignored, or whitewashed.


To complete the actual biography (as opposed to the treacly Muslim hagiography), one is reminded, in our era, of Robert Spencer’s excellent recent biography of Muhammad (which I reviewed here)—based exclusively on the pious Muslim sources, or this trenchant comment made more than 50 years ago by the great modern scholar of Islam, Arthur Jeffery, in his review of  “The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah” by A. Guillaume, from : The American Historical Review, Vol. 61, No. 4 (July, 1956), pp. 946-947, published shortly after the release of this seminal work:


Years ago the late Canon Gairdner in Cairo said that the best answer to the numerous apologetic Lives of Muhammad published in the interests of Muslim propaganda in the West would be an unvarnished translation of the earliest Arabic biography of the prophet. In this present volume such a translation is put into our hands in a beautifully printed and produced book.


…Byzantine, Syriac, and Armenian writers who mention him say only that he was a merchant who appeared as a prophet and sent the Arabs out on their wars of conquest



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