First-Century Sources for the Life of Muhammad? A Debate

Andreas Goerke, Harald Motzki, Gregor Schoeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In a recent issue of Der Islam, Stephen R. Shoemaker has contributed an extensive article in which he challenged the processes and findings of a number of studies conducted by Gregor Schoeler, Harald Motzki, and Andreas Görke. The following article offers a response to his findings. Whereas the three authors argued the case for the possibility that authentic traditions of the first century of the Hijra can be reconstructed, Shoemaker holds the contrary point of view, as already stated in the abstract of his study: “While az-Zuhri and occasionally other authorities of his generation can often be persuasively linked with the tradition in question, the reach back to 'Urwa is generally not convincing …” Yet he is not entirely consistent in his views. In his study several statements are to be found that in fact support the views of the authors whose studies he critically examines. Overall, Shoemaker makes more concessions towards the possible authenticity of some of the material traced back to the first century than any “sceptic” prior to him. Unfortunately, Shoemaker’s criticism and rendering of the three authors’ studies is fraught with misunderstandings and inconsistencies. They are the focus of attention in this critical review. In addition, hitherto unknown traditions as well as sources that Shoemaker mentions without quoting or paraphrasing them will be presented. This material also challenges a number of Shoemaker’s key conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-59
Number of pages58
JournalDer Islam
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Muhammad
  • Historiography
  • Early Islam
  • Urwa ibn al-Zubayr


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