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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines the trends, methodological approaches, and developments pertaining to the relation between the biography of Muḥammad (sīra), and Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr). It starts with a survey of the main trends in modern scholarship offering a critical examination of present academic discourses. The endeavours undertaken by early compilers of sīra narratives aimed at articulating the attempts of the early community to constitute itself as a post-Prophetic community, whose emerging consciousness was shaped not only by the word of God, but also within the concrete historical events of the hierophanic time. Perceived as such, the sīra does not represent a scheme of salvation history, but rather reveals a communal cultural memory which took on the form of a historical narrative. Since these events are congruent with both the life of the community and its social fabric, some sīra narratives are intended to explain the setting in which the communicative act took place. The chapter accentuates the function of tafsīr as a tool for sīra. Occasionally, a narrative comes to serve exegetical purposes, especially when a certain Qur’anic word or expression remains vague and needs to be explained in relation to other literary genres or life situations.

Keywords: sīra, narrative, early Islamic history, cultural memory, early exegesis

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