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21st January 2017

Writing in the nineteenth century, French philologist Ernest Renan famously declared, "[Islam] was born in the full light of history; its roots are on the surface. The life of its founder [Muhammad] is as well known to us as that of any sixtheenth-century reformer.” Renan could not have anticipated the scholarly impasse this seemingly innocuous statement would generate among western scholars, where intense debate regarding the quest for the historical Muhammad shifts back and forth between those who believe in the general validity of the Islamic historical sources and those who do not.

Easily forgotten in such scholarly criticism are two types of source that can help bridge the divide between the western quest for the historical Muhammad and early Islamic historical sources, namely external reports and non-scriptural Muslim texts mentioning Muhammad. Quite simply, we have identified and reproduced virtually every known source that mentions Prophet Muhammad directly or indirectly in our article, Dated And Datable Texts Mentioning Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE.

Even though we purposefully exclude any texts from scriptural Muslim sources encompassing the following genres of early Arabic literature, sīra / maghāzī, ḥadīth / athar, taʾrīkh / akhbār and tafsīr, it will be seen there is still much that can be learnt regarding Prophet Muhammad and that the kind of unwarranted pessimism that furthers the self-fulfilling prophecy that we can never know anything useful about Muhammad and first century Islam is damaging and ultimately self-defeating.

A very rare Experimental Aniconic Silver Coins Minted By The Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, 78 AH / 697-698 CE is now added. This coin fetched £20,000 in a recent auction. Since this was an exceptionally early issue it was struck before the precise format of the design had evolved. This might also explain why the legends are placed differently on this specimen. What was obverse margin in the experimental Umayyad dirham became reverse margin in the "reformed" dirham.

Folio-by-folio breakdown of contents of the text is now available for the famous Qur'an at the British Library Codex B. L. Or. 2165 – A Qur'ānic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra. Total number of folios are 128 = 121 (B. L. Or. 2165, British Library, London) + 6 (Arabe 328e, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) + 1 (LNS 19 CAab (bifolio), Dār al–Athar al–Islāmiyyah, Kuwait). These 128 folios contain about 57% of the total text of the Qur'an, thus making it the largest extant ḥijāzī codex.

Addition of Codex Arabe 326a – A Qur'ānic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra At The Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Written in the ḥijāzī script. Total number of folios are 75 = 6 (Arabe 326a, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) + 36 (Rennes Encheres 2011, Lot 152) + 32 (Marcel 9, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 1 (KFQ34, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London).


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