Maghazi, al:-                

       These are the earliest 'historical' reports about the PIRATICAL raids conducted by, and at the orders of Muhammad against his own tribe as well against the Jews, Christians and others in the Arabian Peninsula.

       The most important among them is al Maghazi (also maghazi 'l-nabi, maghazi rasul allah)  ascribed to al-Waqidi (d. 207/823)


1.        Aban b. `Uthman al-Bajkali (ca. 20/640-100/718), son of the murder caliph who wrote a book on maghazi which has not survived, nor has it been cited by Ibn Ishaq or al-Waqidi.

2.        `Urwa b. al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam (23/643-94/712) the cousin of Muhammad and referred to the founder of Islamic history. There is doubt that he authored anything, but there are many traditiions that have been handed down in his name.

3.        Shurabil b. sa`d (d. 123/740), who wrote a maghazi, but this book was considered unreliable and thus seldom used by later historians.

4.        Wahb b. Munabbih (34/654-110/728), who wrote the Kitab al-Mubtada, which inspired many Muslim versions of the lives of the prophets. However, much was attributed to him for which he was not responsible, and the earliest fragment is 228/842, and several early writers did not use him.

5.        Ibn Ishaq (ca 85/704-150/767), a main authority on the life and times of Muhammad. He is credited with the Sira and also A History of the Caliphs, and a book of Sunan. His reputation varied considerably among the early Muslim critics: some found him very sound, while others regarded him as a liar in relation to Hadith. His Sira is not extent in its original form, but is present in two recessions done in 218/833 and 199/814-15, and these texts vary from one another. Fourteen others have recorded his lectures, but their versions differ.

6.        Al-Waqidi (130/747-207/822-23), who worte over twenty works of an historical nature, but only the Kitab al-Maghazi has survived as an independent work. His reputation is mared by the fact that he relied upon story tellers; viz., those who embellished the stories of others. Al-Waqidi did such embellish, such as by adding dates and other details onto the account of Ibn Ishaq.

       From "The Quest for the Historical Muhammad" edited and translated by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197, 2000.

        "It was the storytellers who created the tradition: the sound historical traditons to which they are supposed to have added their fables simply did not exist. . . . Nobody remembered anything to the contrary either. . . . There was no continuous transmission.
Ibn Ishaq, al-Waqidi, and others were cut of from the past: like the modern scholar, they could not get behind their sources. . . (p102). Finally, it has to be realized that the tradition as a whole, not just parts of it as some have thought, is tendentious, and that that tendentiousness arises from allegiance to Islam itself.

        The complete unreliability of the Muhammadan Muslim tradition as far as dates are concerned has been demonstrated by Lawrence Conrad. After close examination of the sources in an effort to find the most likely birth date for Muhammad--traditionally `Am al-fil, the Year of the Elephant, 570 C.E.--Conrad remarks that:

        'Well into the second century A.H. scholarly opinion on the birth date of the Prophet displayed a range of variance of eighty-five years. . . ." Indeed, it appears that the only secure date anywhere in the whole saga of the origins of Islam is 622 C.E., which has been confirmed from dated coinage as marking the beginning of a new era. . . .

       .....As we have seen, the important Islamic concept of Sunna, the right or established way of doing things, began as generalized idea. There was Sunna of a region, the Sunna of a group of persons, or the Sunna of some particular distinguished person, such as David or Solomon or the Caliph, even the Sunna of Allah. It was not until the manufacture of Hadiths (Prophetic traditions) got under way in the second Islamic century that all these vague notions were absorbed and particularized in the detailed sunnat al-nabi (Sunna of the Prophet). . . . Muhammad, as Prophet and mouthpiece for the universal diety Allah, is an invention of the ulama of the second and third centuries A.H.
(at pages 102-05).

       Non-Arab contemporary accounts: We conclude that the local sources written before the early eighth century provide no evidence for a planned invasions of Arabs from the Peninsula, nor for great battles which crushed the Byzantine army; nor do they mention any caliph before Mu`awiya, who by contrast is clearly a historical figure fully attested from several works. The picture the contemporary literary sources provide is rather of raids of the familiar type. And the raiders stayed because they found no military opposition. We suggest, on this and other evidence, that what took place was a series of raids and minor engagements;, which gave rise to stories among the Arab newcomers of How We Beat the Romans; these were later selected and embellished in late Umayyad and early ~Abbasid times to form an Official History of the Conquest. The Ayyam nature of these accounts explains why the written versions of the Traditional Muslim account disagree with each other concerning the names of battles, of commanders, the number of participants and casualties, and so on.

        Furthermore, if we are to judge from this literature, we must conclude that the mass of Arab tribesman were pagan at the time of their influx into the Fertile Crescent, and remained so throughout the seventh century; the governing elite adopted a simple form of monotheism, basically Judaeo-Christian, which may be discerned in an account of official Christian dealings with Arab governors during the early years of Mu`awiya's rule (the 640s/20s) (at pages 433).

       Archaeological evidence: archaeological evidence thus indicates that Byzantium began to withdraw militarily from al-Sham already a hundred years before the Sassanian forays started in 604 C.E. (at 435). This section of the book goes on to describe additional archaeological evidence that conflicts with the official-religious account. Coinage, for example, does not until 71 A.H. contain "either the name Muhammad or any specifically Islamic phrases." (p436)