What is it about?

This article is about one verse in the Qur'an --- verse 37 of al-Ahzab --- that refers to Muhammad's marriage to the former wife of his adopted son Zayd ... and another verse (40) in the same chapter that identifies Muhammad as the Seal of Prophets.

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Why is it important?

I propose that the important question for historians is not the event to which the above-mentioned episode refers but rather the geo-political context for the emergence of the qur'anic proclamation that Muhammad is the Seal of Prophets. To this end, I seek to shift the reader's gaze away from a purported crisis within the household of Muhammad in Medina ca 5 AH to early Christian polemics against Islam and its prophet and to Byzantine imperial ideology about the Last Emperor.


I offer three separate conclusions, each based on a different set of assumptions about the historicity of the episode. The reader is free to choose whichever conclusion he/she/they finds most persuasive or to offer a new and different interpretation of the episode.

Prof. David S Powers
Cornell University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Sinless, Sonless and Seal of Prophets: Muḥammad and Kor 33, 36-40, Revisited, Arabica, December 2020, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15700585-12341576.
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