Muḥammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet
David S. Powers, Ph.D. 1979
The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that the office of prophecy is hereditary but that the line of descent ends with Muhammad, who is the seal, or last, of the prophets.
While Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, he is said to have adopted a man named Zayd, and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two. Zayd b. Muhammad, also known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad to be named in the Qur'an. But if prophecy is hereditary and Muhammad has a son, David Powers argues, then he might not be the Last Prophet. Conversely, if he is the Last Prophet, he cannot have a son.
In Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men, Powers contends that a series of radical moves were made in the first two centuries of Islamic history to ensure Muhammad's position as the Last Prophet. He focuses on narrative accounts of Muhammad's repudiation of Zayd, of his marriage to Zayd's former wife, and of Zayd's martyrdom in battle against the Byzantines. Powers argues that theological imperatives drove changes in the historical record and led to the abolition or reform of key legal institutions. In what is likely to be the most controversial aspect of his book, he offers compelling physical evidence that the text of the Qur'an itself was altered.
PART I: FATHERS AND SONS
1. The Foundation Narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
2. Adoption in the Near East: From Antiquity to the Rise of Islam
3. The Abolition of Adoption in Early Islam
PART II: FROM SACRED LEGEND TO SACRED HISTORY
4. The Repudiation of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
5. The Battle of Mu'ta
6. The Martyrdom of the Beloved of the Messenger of God
7. Pretexts and Intertexts
PART III: TEXT AND INTERPRETATION
8. Paleography and Codicology: Bibliothèque Nationale de France 328a
9. Kalala in Early Islamic Tradition
1: The Opening lines of Q. 4:12b and 4:176 in English Translations of the Qur'an
2: Deathbed Scenes and Inheritance Disputes: A Literary Approach
3: Inheritance Law: From the Ancient Near East to Early Islam
“Powers's work is most impressive throughout. . . . Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men is carefully researched, meticulously documented, and cogently argued. He presents a fascinating thesis for Islamic scholars to assess for its validity.”—Review of Biblical Literature
“A vitally important contribution to scholarship on the Qur'an and early Islam.”—Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago
“Powers's ability to think through the creation of the narrative of the sonship of Zayd, his divorce, and Muhammad's marriage is truly compelling. The reader feels that the author is in total control of the material, even though it ranges so widely across the Near East and many disciplines.”—Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria