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Abraha and Muhammad: some observations apropos of chronology and literary topoi in the early Arabic historical tradition1


In has long been known that the chronological scheme commonly transmitted by the early Arabic sources for events of the latter half of the sixth century A.D. poses a number of major problems. These are sufficiently important to raise serious doubts about the reliability of the traditional chronological framework for the last years of the Jāhilīya in general. A key problem is that of the date for 'Ām al-fīl, the ‘Year of the Elephant’, so called after the expedition of Abraha into the Hijāz in that year. The early Arabic literary tradition does not specifically date this event: it simply maintains, first, that Muammad was born in the Year of the Elephant, and second, that he was summoned to act as God's Prophet at the age of forty. Considered together, the many reports to this effect imply―based on the prevailing view that the mab'ath is to be dated to approximately A.D. 610―that both the expedition of Abraha and the birth of Muhammad occurred in about A.D. 570.

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2 There are, of course, various reports attempting to stabilize the date for 'Ām al-fil and the birth of Muhammad by calculating it according to other calendar systems e.g., the annus mundi, the Seleucid era, the Arabian system beginning from the Hijjat al-ghadr, and the ‘years’ of Nebuchadnezzar and Chosroes Anushirvan. See, for example, al–Tabarī (d. 310/923), Ta'rīkh al-rusul wa-'l-mulūk, ed. Muhammad Abū 'i–Fal Ibrāhīm (2nd ed., Cairo, 1968–69), II, 103:18–22, 15‘18, 155: 14–16 (from Ibn al-Kalbī, d. 204/819), ūdī al-Mas' (d. 345/956), Murūj al-dhahab, ed. de goeje M. J. (Leiden, 1894; BGA, VIII), 228: 7/231:2. But such reports appear only later. They presume the accuracy of the earlier traditions about the Prophet's birth in the Year of the Elephant, forty years before the mab'ath; and, rather than proceeeding independently they are based upon such reports. SeeTheodor NÖldeke, Geschichte des Qorâans (2nd ed. by Friedrich Schwally, Bergsträsser G.., and Bergsträsser G.Pretzl O., Leipzig, 1909–38), 1, 68 odem, Geschichte der Perser und Araber Zur Zeit der Sasaniden (Leiden, 1879), 168, 172, 205;Leone Caetani, Annali dell' Islam (Milan, 1905–26), 1, 149–50.

3 Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorâns, 68; ibid., Geschichte der Perser und Araber, 205.

4 SeeHenri Lammens, ‘Qoran et tradition: comment fut composée la vie de Mahomet’, Recherches de science religeuse, 1, 1910, 2751;ibid., ‘L’Āge de Mahomet et la chronologie de la sçra' Journal Asiatique, 10th Series, 17, 1911, 209–50. Lammens's well-known hositility to Islam is evident in both essays, particularly in the former, and neither was as well received as might evident in both essays, particularly in the former, and neither was as well reveived as might otherwise have been the case. Both, however, offer a number of useful insights.

5 Régis Blachère, Le Problème de Mahomet (Paris, 1952), 15, 28, and frequently elsewhere.

6 Montgomery W.Watt, Muhammad at Mecca (Oxford, 1953), 58. Cf.also pp. 16, 33, 39, 58–9, and his more generally optimistic views in his recent ‘The reliability of Ibn-Ishāq's sources’, in La Vie du Prophète Mahomet, ed. Toufic Fahd (Paris, 1983), 3143.

7 See Ryckmans G., ‘Inscriptions sud-arabes; dixième série’, Le Muséon, 66, 1953, 339–42; Beeston A. F. L., ‘Notes on the Mureighan inscription’, BSOAS, 25,2, 1954. 389–92.

8 Caskel Werner, Entdeckungen in Arabien (KÖln and Opladen, 1954), 30. Caskel's theory is somewhat similar to the earlier two-expedition theory of Carlo Conti Rossini. See the latter's ‘Expéditions et possessions des abašāt en ARabie’, JOurnal Asiatique, 11th Series, 18, 1921, 30–2; ibid., Storia ď Etiopia (Bergamo, 1928), 186–95.

9 J. Ryckmans, ‘Inscriptions historiques sabéennes’, 342.

10 Altheim Franz and Stiehl Ruth, ‘Araber und Sasaniden’, in Edwin redslob zum 70. Geburtstag: eine Festgabe, ed. Rohde Georg and Neubecker Ottfried (Berlin, 1955), 200–7.

11 Kister M. J., ‘The campaign of Hulubān: a new light on the expedition of Abraha’, Le Muséon, 78,1965, 425–8.

12 SeeCrone Patricia and Cook Michael, Hagarism:the making of the Islamic world (Cambridge, 1977), 3–9, and p. 157, 39. Cf. also Crone Patricia, Slaves on horses: the evolution of the Islamic polity (Combridge, 1980), 1417, and p. 210, 82;Cook Michael, Muhammad (Oxford, 1983), 63–4.

13 See Lammens ‘L'Âge de Mahomet’, 210, 218–19, 249–50; Grunebaum Gustave von, Der Islam in seiner Klassischen Epoche, 622–1258 (Zurich and Stuttgart, 1963), 30.

14 De bello persico, i.xx.3–8; ed. Haury Jakob in the Teubner Procopius, 2nd ed. by Wirth Gerhard (Leipzig, 19631964), 1, 107–8.

15 SeeHaury Jacob, Procopiana (Augsburg and Munich, 18911893), 1, 57;. Rubin Berthold, Prokopios von Kaisareia (Stuttgart. 1954), 25–6, 122–3;Evans J. A. S., Procopius (New York, 1972), 41; Hunger Herbert, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner (Munich, 1978), 1, 293;Cameron Averil, Procopius and the sixth century (London, 1985), 89. Cf. also Nöldeke, Geschichte der Peser und Araber, 201.

16 See Cameron, Procopius and the sixth century, p. 121, n. 65. Prokopios was prepared to become rather credulous where the exotica of distant lands were concerned. See De bello persico. i. iv. 17–31 (Haury/Wirth, I, 17–19), where he offers as ‘no tentirely beyond belief’ an allegedly Persian tale about an oyster swimming (!) in the sea, accompanied by a jealously protective shark infatuated with the oyster's pearl. But such ridiculous fables are quite the exception in his military history. On the current debate over the reliability of Prokopios for developments along the eastern frontier, there are two useful contributions by Whitby Michael in The defence of the Roman and Byzantine East, ed. Freeman Philip and Kennedy David (Oxford, 1986): ‘Procopius and the development of Roman defences in Upper Mesopotamia’, 717–35, and ‘Procopius' Description of Dara (Buildings, II. 1–3)’, 737–83,. On eht question of his reliability more generally, cf. G. Soyter, ‘Die Glaubwürdigkeit des Geschichtschreibers Prokopios von Kaisareja’, Byzantinische Zeit schrift, 44, 1951, 541–4; Robert Benedicty, ‘Vzyatie Rima Alarykhom’, vizantiyskii Vremennik, N.S., 20, 1961, 23–31; ibid., ‘Prokopios’ Berichte über die slavische Vorzeit: Beiträge zur historiographischen Methode des Prokopios von Kaesareia’, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaft, 14, 1965, 51–1, 57–9.

17 On South Arabian dating systems see Beeston J. F. L., ‘Problems of Sabaean chronology’, BSOAS, 26, 2, 1954, 3756, esp. 37–40;ibid., Epigraphic South Arabian calendars and dating(London, 1956), 35–8; Shahid Irfan, The Martyrs of Najrân: new documents (Brussels, 1971), 235 –42.

18 EI (2nd ed.), II, 895.

19 Kister, ‘The campaign of ulubān’, 427–8; Beeston, ‘Notes’, p. 391, n. 2.

20 This trend is already under way in the era of ‘Urwa ibn al-Zubayr (d. 94/712), and fully developed by the time of Ibn Isāq (d. 150/767). See Hishām Ibn (d. 218/833), Sīrat Rasūl Allāh, ed. Ferdinand stenfeld(Göttingen, 18581860), 1, 1, 102: 9–12, 108:3–4, 119:2–3, 122:8, 150:8–9, 415:10–15; al–abarī, II, 290: 7; 7–216u. It also appears to have made its way into the polemical literature of Byzantium. See Euthymios Zigabenos, Dialexis meta sarakēnou philosophou peri pisteōs, ed. Migne J. P. in his Patrologia Graeca, CXXXI (Paris, 1864), col. 33D. This work was commissioned by Alexios I Comnenos (r. 1081–1118).

21 See Duri A. A., Therise of historical writing among the Arabs, ed. and tr. Conrad Lawrence I. (Princeton, 1983), 1420.

22 See Beeston, Epigraphic South Arabian calendars and dating.

23 On the ayyām, seeCaskel Werner,‘ Aijām al–'rab:Studien zur altarabischen Epik’, Islamica, 3: Ergānzungsheft, 1930, 199; Egbert Meyer, Der historische Gehalt der Aiyām al–'Arab (Wiesbaden, 1970); 'A bd al–Jabb'r al–Bayāti, Kitāb ayyām al-'arab qabla 'l-Islām (Baghdad, 1976). Cf. also EI (2nd ed.), I, 793–4 (E. Mittwoch); Duri, Historical writing, index.

24 See, for example, Naqā'i jarīr wa-'l-Farazdaq, ed. Bevan A. A. (Leiden, 19051912), 1, 238: 9–239: 16;II, 790:8–15, 1020:10–13;Rabbih Ibn'abd (d. 328/940), Al-'lqd(al-farīd), ed. Amad Amīn. (Cairo), (1368/1384), 5,206; 14–16, 236:11–12;Abū'l–Faraj al–I’fahānī(d. 356/967), Kitāb al-aghānī (Cairo, A.H. 1285), x 10, 8pu, 12:6;a–Maydānī (d. 518/1124), Majma' al-amthāl, ed. Muammad Muyī'i–Dīn'Abd al–amīd (Cairo, 1379/1959), 2, 433, 21; 436, no. 39;438, no. 57; 441, no. 83. Most of these cases are cited from Abū 'Ubayda (d. 211/826). Ibn al-Athīr (d. 630/1232) of course tried to provide a chronological structure for the ayyām in his Al-Kāmil fī 'l-ta'rīkh (Beirut, 1385–86/1965/66), I, 502: I/687u; but this effort was naturally a very arbitrary process and can hardly have produced results superior to those of the sources upon which it was based. Cf. the detailed treatment of chronological difficulties in Meyer, Der historische Gehalt der Aiyām al-' Arab, 8–9, 29, 37, 47, 47–8, 50, 70, 72–3, 76, 83, 91–2, 98–9; also the special cases to be considered below.

25 See the comments on this phenomenon in my ‘Seven and the Tasb’': on the implications of numerical symbolism for the study of medieval Islamic history’, JESHO, forthcoming. Cf. also Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorâns, I, p. 68, n. 2; Lammens, ‘Qoran et tradition’, 33–5; ibid., ‘L'Âge de Mahomet’, 210.

26 Al-Sakhāwī (d. 902/1497) gives us an indication of the extent to which such information was available and considered significant in late Mamlūk times (at least among the learned), when he ridicules Jalāl al-Dūn al Suyūtī (d. 911/1505), his bitter adversary, for not knowing the date of his own father's birth. See al-SakhāwFs Al-Daw' al-lāmt li–ahl al–qarn al–tasī(Cairo, A.H. 135 –55), xi, 73: 2.

27 Taymīya Ibn, Majmūa fatāwā…Ibn Taymīya (Cairo, A.H. 1326–29), I, 312: 1–10, no. 230; kitāb iqtiā al–irā al–mustaqm mukhālafat aāb al–jaīm (Cairo, 1325/1907), 141: 1–10, no. 230; Cf. also the study of Eugen Mittwoch, ‘Muammeds Geburts– und Todestag’, Islamica, 2, 1926, 397401. This was of course not the prevailing attitude at this time. Muammad ibn Muammad al–Jazarī(d. 833/1429), for example, came to Mecca on pilgrimage in 792/1390 and found the mawlid to be the town's most lavishly celebrated festival. See his 'Urf al-ta'rīf bi-'l-mawlid al-sharīf, Al-Maktaba al-Khālidīya (Jerusalem), unnumbered MS, fol. 6v: 3–6.

28 See Genesis 7:12, 7; Exodus 34: 28; Numbers 14:33;Ezekiel 29:13 I Kings 19:8; Jonah 3:4; Acts 1:3. for discussions of this symbolism in the Jewish and Christian traditions, see Knig Eduard, ‘Die Zahl Vierzig und Verwandtes’, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 61, 1907, 913–17; Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Hastings James (New York, 1901–4), III, 563–4, 565 (Eduard König); Encyclopaedia Biblica, ed. Cheyne T. K.and Black J. Sutherland (New York, 1899–1903), III. 3436, 3437–8 (G. A. Barton); Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, 19711972), III, 291–2 (Y. D. Gilat); XII, 1256–8 (Israel Abrahams).

29 Some observations on this were made by Oskar Rescher. See his articles ‘Einiges ūber die Zhal vierzig’, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenläandischen Gesellschaft, 65, 1911, 517–20; ‘Einige nachrāgliche Bemerkungen zur Zahl 40 im Arabischen, Tūrkischen und Persischen’, Der Islam, 4, 1913, 157–9.

30 e.g., Ignaz Goldziher's introduction to his edition of al-Sijistānīs Kitāb al–mu' ammarīin his Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie(Leiden, 1896–99), II, 22–3; Caetani,Annali del' Islam, IV, 175;357.

31 Ibn' Abd al–akam (d. 257/870), Futū Mir, ed. Charles C. Torrey (New York, 1922), 82:1–4. No source is cited for this, but the greater part of the information in this work comes from either 'Abd Allāh ibn Lahīa (d. 174/790) or al-Layth ibn Sa'd (d. 175/791).

32 Al–abarī, Ta'rīkh, IV, 51: 2–3, from Sayf ibn 'Umar (d. 180/796); 246: 11, from Abū MIkhanf (d. 157/774). In a recent SOAS lecture, ‘reading Between the lines of Sayf ibn 'Umar in al–abarīs Annales’, G. H. A. Juynboll made special note of the non-statistical character of many of the figures cited in accounts of early Islamic history, in this case by Sayf. His observations, which in some respects differ from my own, wil appear in the appendices to his translation of Vol. XIII(A.H. 15–21)in the al–abar translation series.

33 Al–Balādhurī (d. 279/892), Ansāb al-ashrāf, v, ed. Goitein S. D. (Jerusalem, 1936), 337:4–8, citing 'Awāna ibn al–akam (d. 147/764).

34 Al–Muqaddasī , Asan al–taqāsīm fī ma'rifat al-aqālīm, ed. Goeje M. J. (2nd ed., Leiden, 1906;BGA, 3), 12:17.

35 See I Samuel 4: 18; II Samuel 5:4, I Kings 2: 11, 11: 42; I Chronicles 29: 27; II Chronicles 24: I. Cf. also Acts 13: 21–22.

36 See Naqā'ī Jarīr wa-'l-Farazdaq, I, 86:9, 92: 108: 12; Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, Al-'Iqd (al-farīd), v, 141: 5, 151: 4–5, 152: 1–2, 260: 4, 14; aghānī, iv, 143: 10; al-Maydānī, Majma' al-amthāl, II, 439, no. 64. These accounts are for the most part taken from Abū 'Ubayda and Ibn al-Kalbī. An exceptional case of some interest is the attempt in these same circles to date Dhū Qār in terms of the chronology of Muammad's prophetic career (Aghānī, XX, 135: 26–136: 3, 138: 28–139: 1). But this appears to have occurred only because the Sasanian defeat in that battle was made the occasion for predictions by the Prophet of the imminent destruction of the Persians. This, in turn, raised the question of whether Muammad was in Mecca or Medina at the time, and resulted in a precise answer―the Prophet was in Medina, and Dhū Qār occurred between Badr and Ud.

37 dīwān al–mufaalīyāt, ed. Lyall Charles (Oxford,1921), 429:8M. The commentary by al-Anbārī (d. 304/916) cites ibn al-Kalbī for this statement. Cf. also Olinder Gunnar, The kings of Kinda of the family of Ākil al-Murār (Lund, 1927), 54, 56, 92.

38 Al-Zajjājī (d. 337'949), 'Abd al-Salām Muammad Hārŭn (Kuwayt, 1962), 171: 11–12.

39 For some ancient precedents and parallels from Persian and Turkish usage, see dictionary of the Bible III, 563.

40 Al–abarī, VII, 22: 17–19, from al-Madā'inī (d. 225/839). In the Byzantine tradition Yazīd is persuaded to destory images in theChristian churches by a Jewish magician promising him a reign of forty years if he will do so; see Theophanes (d. 202–203/818), Chronographia, ed. Boor Carl de (Leipzig, 1883), 401 pu–402: 7. Variants of the tale are very common in the Greek sources.

41 Al–abarī, Ta'rikh, VIII, 146: 1–16, from the contemporary Abū Budayl.

42 Ibn Zūlāq (d. 386/996), extracts from his Umarā' MIr ed. Rhuvon Guest in his The governors and judges of Egypt (Leiden, 1912), 554: 23–555: 9.

43 See, for example, Ibn al–Faqīh (wr. ca. 289/902), Mukhtaar kitāb al-buldān, ed. de Goeje M. J. (Leiden, 1885; BGA, 5), 1, 204: 8–9.

44 Ibn ajar al-Haytamī, Al–Fatāwā al–adīthīya (Cairo, 1356/1937), 31: 9–10.

45 In the Qur'ān, see Sūrat al-Baqara (2), vv. 51, 226, 260; Sūrat al-Mā'ida (5), v. 26; Sūrat al-Nūr (24), vv. 4, 13; Sūrat Fuilat (41), v. 10. The materials in adīth are collected in Wensinck A. J., Concordance et indices de la tradition musulmane (Leiden, 19361969), 2, 214–16.

46 The most detailed account of the abdāl, based on a very broad range of informants, is in Ibn 'A;sākir (d. 571/1176), Ta'rīkh madīnat Dimashq, I, ed. alā al–dīn al–Munajjid (Damascus, 1371/1951), 227: 1–u. Cf. aslo wensinck, Concordance, I, 153; EI (2nd ed.), I, 94–5 (Ignaz Goldziher).

47 Hanbal Ahmad ibn, Musnad Cairo, (A.H.), (1311), II, 166:18.

48 This is discussed in detail by al–Jālhiz (d. 255/868) in several of his essays; see Rasā'il al-Jāhiz, ed. ‘Abd al–Salām Muammad Hārūn (Cario, 1384–99/1964–19), 1, 91; 91–92u, 294: 5

49 e. g. Joshua 14: 7; II Samuel 2: 10.

50 SeeHirzel Rudolf, ‘Über Rundzahlem’, Berichie ülber die Verhandlungen der Königlich S00E4;chischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu leipzing, Phil-hist. kl., 37, 1885, 6–62, and esp. 7–14, on the conceptof akm Marcus Aurelius voices this concept when hen proclaims (meditaions, XI,1)that a man of forty is the one who ‘possesses the most moderate intelligence’.

51 See al–jāhiz, Rasā’il, I, 300: 10–13; al-Azraqī (d. 250/767); Ibn Durayd (d. 321–933), Kitāb al-ishtiqāq, ed. ‘Abd al–Salām Muammad Hārūn (cario, 1378/1958), 155: 7–8; al-Zubayr ibn Bakkālr (d. 256/870), Jamharat nasab Quraysh wa-akhbārihā ed. Muhmūd Muammad shākir (Cairo, A.H. 1381), 354: 5–7. 376: 4–6, from Quraysh mashyakha of the late second century and from al-Dahhāk ibn ‘Ubayd (Damascus A.H. 1329–51), IV, 421u–422: 2.

52 Al–Wāqidī (d. 207/823), Kitāb al–maghāzī, ed. Marsden Jones (London, 1966), II, 560: 20–561; I;III, 1079: 4–7; Abū Hātim al-Sijistānī (d. 255/869), Kitāb al-mu' ammarīn ed. Ignaz in his Abhandlungen zur arabischen philologie, II (Leiden, 1899), 19:13, the citation from al–Madā'inī; al–Buhturī (d. 284/897), kitāb al–hamāsa, ed.: pios Cheikho in Mélanges de la Faculté Orientale (université Saint–Joseph, 4, 1910, 55, no. 1079); Aghānī, x, 10: 29, from Abū ‘Ubayda; Wensinck, Cpmcprdance, IV, 348–9;Dozy R. P.A., Dictionnaire détaillé des noms des vētements chez les Arabes (Amsterdam, 1845), 306–7. Al–Bayān wa–' l–tabyīn, ed ‘Abd al–Salām Muammad Hārūn (Cario, 1367–701948–50), III, 105: 3–5, in elucidation of some early verse; Lammens, ‘L’Āge de Mahomet’, 227. It was based on this Arabin tribal custom that the ‘imāma became an important symbol of the authority of the caliphate; see al–Buhturī Dīwān, ed. Hasan Kāmilal-Sayrafi (Cairo, 1963–78), II 676, no. 268, v. 16;902, no. 357, v, 993, no. 389, vv. 14–15, III, 1546, no. 600, vv. 3–4; 2019, no. 771, v. 7.

53 SŪrat al-Ahqāf (46), v. 15.

54 See the report from ‘Urwa ibn al-Zubayr in Ibn Hishām, 1. 2., 1006: 15–1007: al-Wāqidī, Maghāzī, III, 1118: 6–1119: 10; Ibn Sa'd (d. 230/844), kitāb al-tabaqāt al-kabīr, ed. Eduard Sachau et al. (Leiden, 1904–40), IV. 1, 45: 19–48: 17;also al-Tabarī, Ta'rīkh, III, 225pu–L 226: 16, from al-Hassan al-Basrī (d. 110/728); al-Jāhiz, Rasā'il, I, 24: 7–8, 296: 12–13; Ei (1st ed.), Iv, 1548–9 (V.Vacca). Ghulā is the term frequently used in the ayyām lore to denote a man of fighting age, but too young to lead or to merit consultation in serious matters.

55 Ibn Sa'd, VI, 70: 22–5, al–5; al-Fasawī (d. 277/893), T'rīkh, ed. Shukr Allāh ibn Ni'mat Allāh al-Q’chānī (Damascus, 1400/1980), I, 659: 6–8. These report all originate with Ismā'l ibn Abī Khālid (d. ca. 146/763).

56 Al–Tabarī , Jāmi al–bayān ‘an ta'wīl āy al-qu'ān (Cairo, A. H., 1330), XXVI, 12: 1213.

57 Al-Jāhiz, Al-Bayān wa-' l-tabyīn, I, 274: quoting ‘the sages’ (al-hukamā'). The literary compendia frequently take up this theme. See, for example, Ibn 'Abd Rabbin, Al-'Iqd (al-farīd). III, 185: 17–18; Ibn hibbā al-Bustā (d. 354/965), Rawdat al-‘uqalā' wa-nuzhat al-fudalā’, ed. Muammad Muhyī'I-Dīn 'Abd al-Hamīd (Cairo, 1368/1949), 31: 17/19; Aghānī, XVI, 45: 1–12.

58 Al–Tabarī , Jāmī al-bayān IX, 51: 1618; XXVI, 12: 8–10.

59 Al-Muqaddasī, Ashsan al-taqāsīm, 8u-9: I.

60 Al-Mas'ūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, I, 92pu.

61 Yāqūt, Mu'jam al-buldān, ed. Ferdinand Wütenfeld (leipzig, 1866–73), III, 449: 1–2.

62 This theme has been elaborated in detail in John Wansbrought's important (albiet, in my view, overly sceptical) study, The sectarian milieu: content and composition of Islamic salvation history (Oxford, 1978).

63 See, for example, Muqātil ibn Sulaymān (d. 150/767), Tafsīr, Topkapi Sarayi Müzesi Kütüphanesi (Istanbul), MS AHmet III, 74, I, 164r: 16; Ibn Sa'd, I. I, 126: 25–7, from Sufyān al-Thawrī (d. 161/687); al-Tabarī Jāmi al-bayān, XI, 68: 6–9, Qatāda; Blachėre, Le probleème de Mahomet, 15. For Ibn Khaldū (wr. 779/1377), the length of an 'umur, Which he defines as one generation, is a topic of considerabale interest and importance. See his Muqaddima, ed. E. M. Quatremėre (Paris, 1958), I, 257: 6–8, 306: 2– On 'umur, cf. also Lammens, ‘Qoran et tradition’, 34; ‘L'Âge de Mahomet’, 221–2, 226–7.

64 See the discussion in Altheim and Stiehl, ‘Araber und Sasaniden’, 203–5 also Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser und Araber, 205; Kister, ‘The campaign of Hulubān’, 427–8; Sulaymān Bashīr, Muqaddima fi' l–ta'rīkh al-ālkhar (Jerusalem, 1984), 159–60.

65 Khalīfa ibn Khayyālt (d. 240/854). Ta'rīkh (MS), I, 202r: 4–8 = Badrān and 'Ubayd, I, 282: 4–5; al-Dhabī (d. 748/1348). Al-Sīra al-nabawīya ed. Hisām ak-Din al-Qudsī(Beirut, 1401/1981), 6: 14–15; Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373), Al-Bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 262,: 12.

66 Ibn 'Asākir, Ta'rīkh (MS), I, 201vpu-202r: 4; = Badrāln and 'Ubayd, I, 282, 4; al-Dhahabī. Sīra, 6: 8–9; Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 262: 12.

67 Bar Hebraeus, Ta'rīkh mukhtasar al-duwal, ed. Antoine Sālihānī (Beirut, 1890), 160: 3–4.

68 Bayāln mā waq'a min al-hawādith min 'am wilādat [al-nabī] …ilaā zamān wafātihi, Bibliothėque Nationale (Paris), MS Arabe no. 5051, fol. 17v: 8–9. On this MS, a majmū'a of six short works, see Blochet E., Bibliothéqye Nationale: Catalogue des manuscrits arabes des nouvelles acquisitions (1884–1924) (Paris, 1925). 54.

69 Al-Th'labī (d. 427/1035), ‘Arā'is al-majālis (Cairo, A.H. 1295), 995: 26' al-Tabarsī (d. 548/1153), Majma' al-bayā fi tafsīr al-qur'ān (Tehran, A.H. 1373–74), X, 542: 13–14; Ibn 'Asākir, Ta'rīkh (MS), I, 199v: 27–31; = Badrī and 'Ubayd, 1,281: 12– al-Khāzin (d. ca. 741/1340), Lubāb al-ta' wil fi ma' ānīl'l-tanzīl (Cairo, A. H. 1328), IV, 440: 4–5; al-Dhahabī, Sīra, 6: 10–13; Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 261: 7, 262: 12–13.

70 Khalīlfa ibn Khayyārīkh, 52u; Ibn 'Asākir, Ta'rīkh (MS), I, 201V: 12–15, 202r: 8–9; = Badrīn and 'Ubayd, I, 282: 2, 5; Ibn Kathīr, Al-bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 262: 13–14; al-Jazarī, 'Urf al-ta'rīf, fol. 3v: 11–15. Cf. al-Dhahabī, Sīra, 6: 3–5.

71 Muqātil, Tafsī (ms), II, 252v: 8–9; Khalīfa ibn Khayyāt, T'rīkh, 53: 1; al-Tha'labī, 'Arā' is al-majālis, 444: 21–22; al-Baghawī, Ma'ālim al-tanzīl, 994: 26; al-Tabarsī, Majma' al-bayān, X, 542: 14; Ibn 'Asīkir, Ta'rīh (MS), I, 202r: 9–10 al-Khāzin, Lubāb al-ta'wīl, IV, 440: 4; Ibn Kathiī, Al-Bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 262: 14.

72 Ibn Sa'd i. 1., 151: 5; al-Tabarīl, Ta'rīkh, II, 292: 10–18; III, 215: 17–20; al-Dhahabī Sīra, 65: 3–4.

73 Khalīfa ibn Khayyāt, Ta'rīkh, 54: 3.

74 On him, See Ibn Sa'd, VII. 1, 109: 5–20. Bruno Meissner's reading of the death date on line 15 must be corrected from 73 to 93: the statement that 'Zurāra ibn Awfā died suddenly in the year 73, in the caliphate of al-Waliī ibn ‘Abd al-Malik’ is impossible, since this caliph ruled from 87/705 until 96/715. See also Ibn Hajar (d. 852/1449), Tahdhīb al-tahdhī (hyderabad, A. H. 1325–27), III, 332: 12–323: 6, no. 598, where Ibn sa'd isquoted correfctly.

75 On the imprecise usage of quarn, see Goldziher, Abhandlungen, II, 22–4 in the Anmerkungen (no. 6).

76 Ibn sa'd I. 1, 127: 25–7. Cf. Eugen Mittwoch's proposed correction of the passage in his Ammerkungen to this volume, p. 41.

77 Nu'aym ibn Hammād (d. 228/843), Kitā;b al-fitan, British Library (London), MS Or. 9449, fol. 24V: 1–2 Cf; also the portrayal of Yazīd in the Continuatio Byzantia Arabica (Wr. ca. 123/741), ed. Theodor Mommsen in hisChronica minora saec. V. VI. VIII. (Berlin, 1894; Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores antiquissimi, XI. 2), 345a: 14– no. 27. In an Epimetrum to this text (pp. 368–9), Theodor Nöldeke concludes that such information comes from a Syrian Arabic source, probably written in Damascus. On Yazīd more generally, seeGoldziher Ignaz, 'Tod und Andenken des Chalifen Jezīd I’, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 66, 1912, 139–43; Henri Lammens, 'Le Califat de Yazīn Ier’, Mélanges de la Faculté Orientale (université Saint-Joseph), 6, 1913, 449–63; Jibrā'il Jabbür, 'Yazīd ibn Mu'āwiya’, Al-Abhāth, 18, 1965, 115–15.

78 Khalīfa ibn Khayyā, Ta'rīkh, 53: 1–2. Cf. also al–abarī, Ta'rīkh, II, 290: 14–15, where it is explicitly conceded that earlier generations (al-salaf) had disagreed on the age of the Prophet at the maf'ath.

79 Ibn‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Istīāb fī ma'rifat al–a āb, ed. 'AlīMuammad al-Bijawi (Cairo, n.d.), i,30: 13.

80 Al–Dhahabī, Sīra, 6: 9, 10, 13, 16, 8: 3–4; Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa-'l-nihāya, II, 262: 15, 17. Al–Dhahabī proposes that the error of those who say that Muammad was born 30 or 40 years after the Year of the Elephant arose because what they really meant to say was ‘days’ (yawman), not ‘years’ ('āman).

81 Peloponnesian War, v.26; tr. Warner Rex (Middlesex, 1954), 364.

82 Nodes atticae, xv.23; ed. Hosius Carl (Leipzig, 1903), II, 150.

83 Richmond Lattimore makes some valuable observations about this practice in the introduction to his translation of the Oresteia (Chicago, 1953), 2.

84 See The Babylonian Talmud, ed.Epstein I.(London, 1935–48), Aboth, 75–6. Cf. also the significance attributed to the age of forty in Shabbath, II, 774, 775.

85 See Ibn Sa'd, I.1, 84: 1–85: 11; VIII, 7: 23–11:17, where many of the early reports about this are collected. Also Cf. Caetani Annali dell' Islam, i, 169–73; Lammens, ‘L'Âge de Mahomet’,212, 241; Watt, Muammad at Mecca, 38; Von Grunebaum, Der Islam, 31. The tenacious credibility of such claims is illustrated by a later case cited by Keith Thomas for Elizabethan England. The Ealing ‘census’ of 1599 includes a woman who ‘has two children aged four and one, plus a nurse child of nine months, yet is herself aged 67’. See Thomas's Age and authority in early modern England’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 62, 1976, 206.

86 Aghānī, I, 36: 29–30, from Muhammad ibn al–a ak(d. ca. 190/805). See the detailed discussion of these matters in Jibrā'īl Jabbūr, Umar ibn Abī Rabīa (Beirut, 1935–71), ii, 181–95.

87 unayn ibn Isāq, Risāla ilā 'Allibn Yayā, ed. and tr. G. Bergsträsser in his unain ibn Is āq ūber die syrischen und arabischen Galen-Übersetzungen (Leipzig, 1925; AKM, XVII.2), 45, no. 3.

88 See Gardet Louis and Anawati M.–M., Introduction à la théologie musulmane (Paris, 1948), 53.

89 As Nöldeke observed (Geschichte der Perser und Araber, 205), this leaves insufficient time for other events prior to the Persian occupation.

90 See Lammens, ‘L’Âge de Mahomet’, pp. 231–9. It is at least worth noting that according to the thirteenth-century Byzantine polemist Bartholomaios of Edessa, Muammad was 32 at the time of the first revelations and spent 15 years preaching the new faith before his death: i.e., he died at the age of 47. See his Elegchos Agarenou, ed. Migne J.-P. in his Patrologia Graeca, IV (Paris, 1860), col. 1388A-B, D. It is unfortunately impossible to determine whether these statements are based on reliable early sources, on the one hand, or baseless anti-Islamic slander, on the other.

91 See Duri, Historical writing, 27–30, 95–121, and the further works cited therein.

92 Kister's translation and glosses. See his ‘The campaign of Hulubān’, 427.

93 See Ibn Hishām, i.l, 117pu–118: 1, 118u–119: 3; Ibn Sa', i.i, 80: 17–82: 2; Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih, Al–'Iqd(al–farīd), v, 253: 7–10; Aghānī, xvi, 75: 11–16; xix, 73: 26–75: 3; Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil, I, 588: 9–595: 11.

94 On 15 as the age of majority, see my ‘Les Âges de la vie dans l'lslam classique’, forthcoming in Annales. Cf. also Harald Motzki, ‘Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung im frühen Islam’, in Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung, ed. Müller Ernst Wilhelm (Munich, 1985), 481–97; ibid., ‘Das Kind und seine Serialisation in der islamischen Familie des Mittelalters’, in Zur Sozialgeschichte der Kindheit, ed. Martin Jochen and Nitschke August (Munich, 1986), 423–4.

95 See Crone, Slaves on horses, 3–17, where this position is argued at length.

96 Wansbrough, The sectarian milieu, esp. 116–19. For a useful introduction to his hypotheses, see Rippin Andrew, ‘Literary analysis of Qur'ān, Tafsīr, and Sīra: the methodologies of John Wansbrough’, in Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, ed. Martin Richard C. (Tucson, 1985), 151–63.

97 Frend W. H. C., The rise of the Monophysite movement (Cambridge, 1972), 351–2, 354.

98 Chronicon miscellaneum ad annum Domini 724 perlinens, ed. Brooks E. W. in Chronica minora, II (Paris, 1904: CSCO, 3; Scriptores syri, 3), 147: 25–148: 3.

99 See Theophanes, Chronographia, 307: 24–25, 316: 13–15, 337: 10–12, 338: 9–10. It should also be noted that in classical and Byzantine Greek, the term bears the meaning not just of ‘a thousand’, but also of ‘many’. A number like ‘40,000’ may therefore signify nothing more precise than ‘very many’.

1 This study is based upon presentations made at the 195th Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 15 April 1985, and at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, 29 May 1986. I am grateful to the participants at these meetings for their comments and suggestions.

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