David Barr (Committee Member), Awad Halabi (Committee Chair), Mark Verman (Committee Member)
Master of Arts (MA)
Both Western studies of Islam as well as Muslim beliefs assert that the Islamic holy text, the Qur'an, endeavored to inaugurate a new religion, separate and distinct from the Jewish and Christian religions. This study, however, demonstrates that the Qur'an affirms a continuity of beliefs with the earlier revealed texts that suggest that the revelations collected in the Qur'an did not intend to define a distinct and separate religion. By studying the various historical groups named in the Qur'ān-such as the Yahud, Sabi'un, and Nasara-we argue that the use of the term "islam" in the Qur'an relates more to the general action of "submission" to the monotheistic beliefs engaged in by existing Jewish and Nazarene communities within Arabia. To ascertain the religious approach of the Qur'an, this thesis surveys the historical-critical approaches already applied to Historical Jesus Research, and discusses why these methodologies can and should be applied to the study of Islamic Origins. Through this research, a picture emerges of the socio-religious contexts of Muhammad that was consistent with the bulk of the Biblical religious communities named within the Qur'an, rather than in contrast with them. This research situates itself in a broader study of the "Historical Muhammad" and Islamic Origins. Its conclusions lend to some of the Revisionist approaches and theories of the earliest religious orientation of Muhammad's community.
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