In the Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam, Vol 1-3.

Brill has completed the publication of a three-volume text titled In the Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam, presented by the editors as “the first attempt to explore the dynamics of the representation of the Prophet Muhammad in the course of Muslim history until the present.” As such, these open-access volumes promise to be indispensable reference sources for students and researchers focusing on aspects of Muslim prophetology.

The first volume, edited by Denis Gril, Stefan Reichmuth, and Dilek Sarmis is concerned with the process of the formation and later transformation of the image of the Prophet Muhammad, with a focus on Prophet–centered piety and politics. The volume offers a number of articles that collectively present a rich display of different doctrinal, literary, and artistic manifestations of Muslim scholarship on the Prophet and on prophecy. The notion of ‘prophetic presence’ emerges as an important theme in the volume.

The second volume, edited by Rachida Chih, Stefan Reichmuth, and David Jordan gravitates towards the interconnection between the figure of the Prophet and the formations of religious authority in Islam. Prophetic heritage, in the form of material culture, Muslim spirituality, or scholarly and biological genealogy, appears to be one of the key concepts in this volume. The articles comprising this volume offer diverse historical, geographical, and ideological case studies, and introduce the tension between the secularization and sacralization of the image of the Prophet, which is addressed again in volume 3.

The third and final volume of this publication, edited by Nelly Amri, Rachida Chih, and Stefan Reichmuth, is concerned with forms of prophetic-centered piety in Islam, especially with forms of veneration and devotion to the Prophet. Once again, the theme of prophetic presence emerges as a crucial thematic concept, especially as it relates to the study of Muslim praxis, and how practices are related to doctrinal contestations and scholarly community formations. The case studies in this third and final volume bring very diverse and interconnected explorations of regional and historical manifestations of the veneration practices of the Prophet in Islam.

Comparative Review of Annemarie Schimmel, Und Muhammad ist Sein Prophet - Die Verehrung des Propheten in der islamischen Frömmigkeit (Munich 1981) and of Tilman Nagel, Allahs Liebling - Ursprung und Erscheinungsformen des Mohammedglaubens (Munich 2008)

The two works are representative of two approaches to the study of the veneration of the Prophet. They interrogate this religious, historical and social phenomenon from two different perspectives, which gives an idea of how and why the research on this theme is conducted. The other interest in analyzing them lies in the fact that both authors place their research on the prophetic figure in the present day. They try to contribute to, and even influence, certain public debates about the relationship between the West and Islam. The prophetic figure is for them an essential element of these debates, which shows the importance of research on the veneration of the Prophet, not only from the point of view of scholarly knowledge, but also from a societal point of view.

Schimmel, Annemarie. Und Muhammad ist Sein Prophet. Die Verehrung des Propheten in der islamischen Frömmigkeit. 3rd ed. Diederichs Gelbe Reihe 32. Düsseldorf; Köln: Hugendubel, 1995. (English translation with some additional material: And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985).
Annemarie Schimmel (1922-2003), the internationally recognised grande dame of German Islamic Studies, taught in Turkey, Pakistan and at Harvard and enjoys great popularity in the Muslim world (Arab, Turkish and Indo-Pakistani). Given her background, she is undoubtedly a singular and original figure, but at the same time a controversial one, especially because of her attitude towards Khomeini's fatwa against S. Rushdie. Her academic culture is impregnated with two currents: on the one hand, the German orientalist tradition - represented by her two mentors Helmuth Ritter and Fritz Meier - with its philological approach as well as its literary approach which revives the fascination for the Persian world on the part of writers such as Goethe and Rückert; on the other hand, the (Protestant) phenomenology of religions in the tradition of the Marburg School (Rudolph Otto and Friedrich Heiler) where she taught. This is an attempt to understand Islam 'from the inside', i.e. from the point of view of the religious actor himself. A. Schimmel's research focuses on Sufism, a subject to which she has devoted a now classic study (Mystical Dimensions of Islam), and more specifically on Rūmī. Indo-Muslim literature, especially mystical poetry, constitutes the second strand of her research, the third being Islamic art, especially calligraphy. Overall, it can be concluded that she was interested in the forms of expression of Muslim religiosity. This is particularly apparent in her Edinburgh Lectures, where she provides a phenomenological overview of the sacred in Islam. Her works are generally characterized by an accessible writing style, which corresponds to a pedagogical and intercultural concern: With her work, she wishes to contribute to Völkerverständigung, 'mutual understanding between peoples'.
Her book “And Muhammad is His Prophet" - The Veneration of the Prophet in Muslim Piety is part of this intercultural approach. The author wants to remedy what she describes as the West's misunderstanding of Muslim veneration of the Prophet. She also states that she wants to continue the research begun in the book of the historian of religions and Protestant theologian Tor Andrae: Die Person Muhammeds in Lehre und Glaube seiner Gemeinde, published in 1918 in Stockholm. The aim is to develop certain themes of Andrae’s work and in particular to complement it with material on the poetic expressions of the Prophet's veneration. Schimmel’s book deals with the doctrinal, ritual, literary and sometimes historical aspects of the veneration of the Prophet. It discusses the soteriological value of the Muhammadan model, the miracles attributed to the Prophet, the theological conception of the Prophet's exceptional status, including the problem of the relationship between the Prophet's humanity and his metahistorical and spiritual reality, as well as Sufi conceptions of the Prophet and the role of his veneration in Muslim spirituality, the festivities dedicated to the celebration of certain events in the life of the Prophet, poetry dedicated to the praise of the Prophet, especially the vernacular poetry of the Turkish and Indo-Muslim world, the role of the veneration of the Prophet in the revival of Sufism in the nineteenth century, and the prophetology of Muḥammad Iqbal. The author explains these phenomena related to the veneration of the Prophet as an expression of the desire of believers to get closer to the Prophet after his physical disappearance.

Nagel, Tilman. Allahs Liebling: Ursprung und Erscheinungsformen des Mohammedglaubens. München: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2008.
Tilman Nagel (b. 1942) is also an important figure in German Islamic Studies. Heir to a research tradition linked to Rudi Parret, he follows a philological and doctrinal approach and a historical-critical perspective. According to some of his statements, he challenges the validity of the social sciences (i.e. sociology and anthropology) to understand the Muslim world. Unlike Schimmel, Nagel has spent his entire academic career in Germany. He has dealt with a multitude of topics, including the relationship between politics and community, the history of Muslim theology and law, and rationalism in Islam in the eleventh century. In 2008, a year after his retirement from the University of Göttingen, he published two books on the figure of the Prophet Muhammad: a biographical study of more than 1000 pages, and a study of the history of the Sunni understanding of the Prophet, the Mohammedglauben ('belief in Muhammad').
Nagel also wishes to complement T. Andrae's work, but from a different perspective than that of A. Schimmel. His critical and historical analysis of the Sunni literature on the Prophet aims to trace the process of a gradual de-historicization of the prophetic figure. What he claims to be an idealization is explained as a desire to transform the prophetic figure into a purely dogmatic reality, even metaphysical in the case of Sufism, beyond the reach of any critical questioning. The study Allahs Liebling - Ursprung und Erscheinungsformen des Mohammedglaubens (The Beloved of Allah - Origin and Modalities of Belief in Muhammad) aims to clarify in this way “why the Muslim refers more to the Prophet than to God in everything he does”. The book is divided into two parts. The first part examines the theological foundations of the "belief in Muhammad". The author attempts to show that the Prophet monopolizes access to knowledge of the divine order and that this central and mediating function of the Prophet is intrinsic to the very structure of Islam. It then discusses the theological argument used to prove the legitimacy of this prophetic monopoly. The 'belief in Muhammad', and thus in his monopoly of the divine word, is intended, according to the author, to affirm the believer in the conviction of the primacy of Islam and of the Muslim community vis-à-vis other religions and communities. The second part deals with the various forms of the 'omnipresence of the Prophet' in Sunni Islam. The author identifies the famous Kitāb al-Shifā of Qāḍī ʾIyāḍ as the work that succeeded in imposing on Muslim thought a dogmatic conception of the Prophet and of the believer's duties towards him. The next phase of the "belief in Muhammad" would be to emphasize the metahistorical, i.e. cosmological and metaphysical, dimension of the Prophet in devotional and Sufi literature. This literature would demand an unconditional imitation of the prophetic model and would affirm a conception completely detached from the historical reality of the Muhammadan figure. As in A. Schimmel's book, T. Nagel's book is explicitly situated in the current debates on the integration of Muslims in Western societies. T. Nagel postulates that integration is only possible if Muslims accept, through a re-historicization of the prophetic person, to relativize and rationalize its normative authority. By linking the 'belief in Muhammad' to the idea of a presumed religious exclusivism of Islam, the author sees this belief as the reason for what he sees as Islam's inability to reform and adapt to a secular context.
In conclusion, it remains to say that both authors stress the importance and contemporary relevance of research on the veneration of the Prophet. For one, it is a matter of clearing up the Western misunderstanding of the veneration of the Prophet Muhammad, and for the other, it is a matter of pointing out, in the spirit of a historical-critical Aufklärung, the significance of the dogmatization of the Prophetic figure for the integration of Muslims in Europe.
Both approaches constitute a particular interest for Islamic Theology in a European and Western context. They represent the two major perspectives on Muslim’s relations to the Prophet Muhammad in Western academia, and in public discourse, too. On the one hand, the effort to understand how Muslims perceive the founding figure of their religion, and on the other hand a critical assessment of this Muslim perception. Islamic Theology can contribute in a considerable way to academically reflect both approaches and to the bring them in dialogue with the Muslim community: it disposes of the theoretical and methodological means to articulate a clearer understanding of how Muslims relate to their Prophet and why they do so; but Islamic Theology also allows for a critical engagement with the thesis that the veneration of the Prophet is the product of a manipulative dogmatization, and for developing alternative concepts to the argumentation derived from this, according to which a home for Islam in secular and plural societies would only be possible under the condition of relativizing the significance of the Prophet in the religious life of Muslims. A theological perspective can argue that, at the contrary, a secularization of the prophetic figure, instead of opening the way for a genuine European Islam, opens the way for its ideologization – and that the resulting alienation of the Muslim community from its vital source has dramatic consequences as the example of jihadism demonstrates. The task of Islamic Theology in this respect is to academically reflect on how the Muslim’s community’s connection to the Prophet Muhammad can be articulated within a secular context in a meaningful and intelligible way.
(Prof. Dr. Ruggero Vimercati Sanseverino)

Graham, William A. Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam: A Reconsideration of the Sources, with Special Reference to the Divine Saying or Hadîth Qudsî. Berlin ; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1977.

Der Religionswissenschaftler William Graham liefert mit dieser Studie einen essenziellen Beitrag zu den Hadith-Studien, aber auch zur Islamischen Theologie im Allgemeinen. Die bisher in der Forschung vernachlässigte und missverstandenen ḥadīth qudsī/ilāhī oder „heilige bzw. göttliche Hadithe“ Überlieferungen werden in dieser Studie auf umfassende und erkenntnisreiche Weise untersucht. Aber über die Frage der Bedeutung dieser Kategorie von Hadithen hinaus, versteht es Graham, anhand der ḥadīth qudsī das islamische Verständnis von Offenbarung zu reflektieren. Der Autor legt anschaulich dar, wie von einem „einheitlichen Verständnis“ der Offenbarung Gottes an Muhammad in der islamischen Frühgemeinde ausgegangen werden muss. Demnach wurde Offenbarung von den Zeitgenossen des Propheten dynamisch als sich-Ereignen von Gottes Offenbarungshandeln erlebt, das mit der Person und dem Handeln des Propheten Muhammad unzertrennbar verwoben ist. Damit liefert die Studie auch einen wichtigen Beitrag zu unserem Verständnis der islamischen Prophetologie. Freilich ist Grahams Interpretation der früh-islamischen Offenbarungsbegriffs zuweilen von Fazlur Rahmans Thesen beeinflusst. Damit erhalten die Betrachtungen des Autors einen gewissen und vermutlich unbeabsichtigten reformistischen Unterton. Dennoch lassen sich durchaus auch andere Schlussfolgerungen aus dem gesammelten Material und den Betrachtungen von Graham ziehen. Und nicht zuletzt liefert die Studie jenes Grundlagenwissen, von dem aus wichtige Anfragen an zeitgenössische Offenbarungstheorien, wie sie in den Qur’an-Studien zur Debatte stehen, gestellt werden können. Die von Nasr Abu Zayd, Angelika Neuwirth, Mouhanad Khourchide und Anderen auf die ein oder andere Weise formulierte These, der Qur’an sei als göttliche Offenbarung/Inspiration/Kommunikation zu verstehen, dessen Wortlaut letztlich von Muhammad stammt, erscheint vor dem Hintergrund von Grahams Studie in einem neuen bzw. anderen Licht: Wird der Qur’an hier nicht mit dem ḥadīth qudsī verwechselt? 
(Prof. Dr. Ruggero Vimercati Sanseverino)