Front Page Titles (by Subject) I.: For the Life of Mohammad - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8
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I.: For the Life of Mohammad - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 8.
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For the Life of Mohammad
(1) For the life of Mohammad the only contemporary sources, the only sources which we can accept without any reservation, are: (a) the Koran29 (for the early traditions of the text, see below, vol. ix. p. 41-3). The order of the Sūras has been thoroughly investigated by Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorâns, 1860, and by Weil; and (from the character and style of the revelations, combined with occasional references to events) they can be arranged in periods, and in some cases assigned to definite years. (Periods: (1) written at Mecca, (α) early, (β) late: (2) Medina, (α) early, (β) middle, (γ) late.)30
(b) A collection of treaties: see below.
(2) The other source for the life of Mohammad is tradition (Hadīth). The Ashāb or companions of Mohammad were unimpeachably good authorities as to the events of his life; and they told much of what they knew in reply to the eager questions of the Tābiūn or Successors, — the younger generation who knew not the Prophet. But it was not till the end of the first century of the Hijra or the beginning of the second that any attempt was made to commit to writing the knowledge of Mohammad’s life, which passed from lip to lip and was ultimately derived from the companions, few of whom can have survived the sixtieth year of the Hijra. The first work on Mohammad that we know of was composed at the court of the later Omayyads by al-Zuhri, who died in the year 742. It is deeply to be regretted that the work has not survived, not only on account of its relatively early date, but because a writer under Omayyad patronage had no interest in perverting the facts of history. Zuhri’s book, however, was used by his successors, who wrote under the Abbāsids and had a political cause to serve.
The two sources which formed the chief basis of all that is authentic in later Arabic Lives of the Prophet (such as that of Abū-l-Fidā) are fortunately extant; and, this having been established, we are dispensed from troubling ourselves with those later compilations. (a) The life by Mohammad ibn Ishāk (ob 768, a contemporary of Zuhri) has not indeed been preserved in an independent form; but it survives in Ibn Hishām’s (ob. 823) History of the Prophet, which seems to have been practically a very freely revised edition of Ibn Ishāk, but can be controlled to some extent by the copious quotations from Ibn Ishāk in the work of Tabarī. Ibn Ishāk wrote his book for Mansūr the second Abbāsid caliph ( 754-775); and it must always be remembered that the tendency of historical works composed under Abbāsid influence was to pervert tradition in the Abbāsid interest by exalting the members of the Prophet’s family, and misrepresenting the forefathers of the Omayyads. This feature appears in the work of Ibn Ishāk, although in the world of Islam he has the reputation of being an eminently and exceptionally trustworthy writer. But it is not difficult to make allowance for this colouring; and otherwise there is no reason to doubt that he reproduced truthfully the fairly trustworthy tradition which had been crystallised under the Omayyads, and which, in its general framework, and so far as the outer life of the Prophet himself was concerned, was preserved both by the supporters of the descendants of Alī and by those who defended the claims of the family of Abbās. [The work of Ibn Hishām has been translated into German by Weil, 1864.]
(b) A contemporary of Ibn Hishām, named (Mohammad ibn Omar al) Wākidī (ob. 823), also wrote a Life of Mohammad, independent of the work of Ibn Ishāk. He was a learned man and a copious writer. His work met with the same fortune as that of Ibn Ishāk. It is not extant in its original form, but its matter was incorporated in a Life of Mohammad by his able secretary Ibn Sad (Kātib al-Wākidī, ob. 845) — a very careful composition, arranged in the form of separate traditions, each traced up to its source. But another work of Wākidī, the History of the Wars of the Prophet (Kitāb al-Maghāzi), is extant (accessible in an abbreviated German version by Wellhausen, 1882), and has considerable interest as containing a large number of doubtless genuine treaties. The author states that he transcribed them from the original documents.31 Like Ibn Hishām, Wākidī wrote under the caliphate of Mamūn ( 813-833) at Bagdad, and necessarily lent himself to the perversion of tradition in Abbāsid interests.
Al-Tabarī (see below) included the history of Mohammad in the great work which earned for him the compliment of being called by Gibbon “the Livy of the Arabians.” The original Arabic of this part of the Annals was recovered by Sprenger at Lucknow. It consists mainly of extracts from Ibn Ishāk and Wākidī, and herein lies its importance for us: both as (1) enabling us to control the compilations of Ibn Hishām and Ibn Sad and (2) proving that Ibn Ishāk and Wākidī contained all the authentic material of value for the Life of the Prophet, that was at the disposal of Tabari. The part of the work (about a third) which is occupied by other material consists of miscellaneous traditions, which throw little new light on the biography.
[For a full discussion of the sources see Muir, Life of Mahomet; essay at the end of edition 2 — introduction at the beginning of edition 3. For the life of the prophet: Weil, Mohammed der Prophet, 1840; Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre Mohammads, 1851; Wellhausen’s sketch in the Encyclopædia Britannica (sub nomine). For his spirit and teaching: Stanley Lane-Poole, The Speeches and Table-talk of the Prophet Mohammad, 1882. Observe that Mr. E. W. Brooks has collected and translated the notices in Arabic writers bearing on Saracen invasions of Asia Minor between 641 and 750 (including some notices on Syria and Armenia): The Arabs from Asia Minor, from Arabic Sources, in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, xviii. p. 182 sqq., 1898; and in the same Journal, xix. p. 19 sqq., 1899, he has given under the title: The Campaign of 716-718 from Arabic Sources, translations of two accounts of the siege of Constantinople (see Gibbon, vol. ix. p. 242 sqq.) (1) that in the Khitab al-Uyun (an 11th century source); and (2) that of Al-Tabari.]
[29 ]For translations see below, vol. ix. p. 41, n. 96.
[30 ]A translation of the Koran has been published with the Sūras arranged in approximately chronological order (by Rodwell, 2nd ed., 1876).
[31 ]The other works of Wākidī, which are numerous, are lost, including the Kitāb al-Ridda, which related the backslidings of the Arabs on Mohammad’s death, the war with Musailima, &c.