History and legend in the origins of Islam (I): Since the first half of the 19th century, philologists and historians have been examining the extant evidence about the origins of Christianism and Judaism, particularly studying the books of the Bible with the methods applied to any other old document. Though this research faced strong opposition both from most Christian denominations and from some of the most conservative layers of European and American societies, it is now commonplace (save perhaps within some stubborn Protestant and Jewish sects still attached to the dogma of inerrancy) to assume that the Bible was written by fallible and far from disinterested people, usually a very long time after the events narrated in it: e.g., several centuries in the case of the Pentateuc or Torah, and at least between four to eight decades in the case of the New Gospel. Contradictions, mix of different authors within the same ‘books’, falsifications or mere recollection of previous mythologies, and so on, are now taken as part of the established philological knowledge about the Bible, no matter what moral or religious significance each reader is free to assign to such a fundamental work.
In the case of Islam, however, the situation is completely different, because two reasons that may seem to go in opposite directions. On the one hand, the resistance to take the Qur’an as an object of scientific study has been stronger in more than an order of magnitude in Islamic societies than what Biblical research was in the western countries. The persecution of Nasr Abu Zayd in Egypt, or the fact that some Islamic scholars (like Ibn Warraq 1) have to write under a pseudonym when expressing critical views about the literal truth of the muslim Scripture, are a proof of how difficult still is to advance academic research on the Qur’an, not only in those countries, but everywhere else. But, on the other hand, there is the traditional belief that, contrarily to the case of the Gospels, written by disciples one or two generations after Jesus Christ’s death, Islam was born “under the full light of history” (to use the famous phrase of mid-19th century philologist Ernest Renan): we seem to have a record of the life of Muhammad almost day by day, and of the whole circumstances under which the suras of the Qur’an were transcribed, collected and disseminated through the Islamic world within the following decades. This knowledge was orally transmitted by means of the so called hadiths: sayings about the Profet, recollecting his deeds or words, and certified by a faithful chain (the isnad) of transmitters from some original witnesses.
– por Jesús Zamora Bonilla- mapping ignorance
– Tags: historia, islam, origen –
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