In this meticulously researched work, Anthony distinguishes between “first-order sources” and a “second-order source” for our knowledge of the origins of Islam. By “first-order sources” he means “the Qur’an, material and documentary evidence from the sixth to seventh centuries CE, and non-Muslim sources from the seventh century” (235). By a “second-order source” he means the sīrah-maghāzī literature. Anthony’s description of the sīrah-maghāzī literature as a “second-order source” reflects his position, illustrated among other things by a careful study of the call to prophethood account (what he calls the “Iqraʾ narrative”), that this literature cannot always offer “what really happened” or granular details from the life of the historical Muhammad. Nevertheless, Anthony argues forcefully that it should not be dismissed entirely...

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