Fortress Press

The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective

The Emergence of Islam

Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective

Gabriel Said Reynolds (Author)


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Gabriel Said Reynolds tells the story of Islam in this brief illustrated survey, beginning with Muhammad's early life and rise to power, then tracing the origins and development of the Qur’an juxtaposed with biblical literature, and concluding with an overview of modern and fundamentalist narratives of the origin of Islam. Reynolds offers a fascinating look at the structure and meaning of the Qur'an, revealing the ways in which biblical language is used to advance the Qur'an's religious meaning. Reynolds' analysis identifies the motives that shaped each narrative—Islamic, Jewish, and Christian. The book’s conclusion yields a rich understanding of diverse interpretations of Islam’s emergence, suggesting that its emergence is itself ever-developing.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800698591
  • eBook ISBN 9781451408126
  • Dimensions 7.5 x 9.25
  • Pages 248
  • Course Level Introductions
  • Textbook Survey Texts
  • Publication Date April 1, 2012


"Reynolds' book is a lucidly written and unique contribution to the study of Islam. By highlighting scholarly perspectives on Muhammad and the Qur'an in an accessible and well-researched manner, Reynolds has provided students and general readers with a remarkable resource. His insights into Muslim discussions about Islamic faith in contemporary times provide a stimulating introduction to the relevance of history to today's world."
—Andrew Rippin
Professor of History
University of Victoria

"Reynolds has managed a veritable tour de force. He has produced an introduction to Islam that combines a solid critical approach with a genuine respect for the traditional Muslim account of Islamic origins. Reynolds offers a careful treatment of Islam's historical origins, an introduction to the literary genres of Qur'an, Hadith, history, and Sira, and the methodological interrelationships of these literatures. Reynolds effectively turns the traditional approach to Qur'an and history on its head, showing how the Qur'an becomes the historical context of the Sira's emergence rather than the latter providing the reasons for the revelation of the Qur'an. This book will undoubtedly replace one of my required readings next time I teach Introduction to Islam."
Martin Accad
Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies

"Reynolds' new book is welcome given the clear, accessible way in which he presents both the classical approach to the study of Islamic origins and the sometimes complicated ways that current scholarship revises our view of Islam. Particularly valuable is his emphasis on early Islam's interaction with other religious traditions in its milieu and with their scriptures, especially Judaism and Christianity.  It is a perfect text for introductory courses in Islam and the religions of the Middle East."
Sidney H. Griffith, S.T.
Professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures
The Catholic University of America

"Gabriel Reynolds's The Emergence of Islam is highly informative, deeply learned, and very thought-provoking, and lays out well the labyrinthine complexities of the issues surrounding Islam's origins. I especially like the way the author provides both a summary of the traditional Islamic (and Western scholarly) view of Islam's origins, and a look at the critical issues that have propelled the recent wave of revisionist work on early Islam. This book will be especially valuable as a tool for introducing new readers to this fascinating subject".
—-Fred M. Donner
Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Professor of Near Eastern History
University of Chicago
President, Middle East Studies Association of North America, 2011-2012