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Muhammad at Medina (William Montgomery WATT)

Muhammad at Medina (William Montgomery WATT)

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Formé à l’université d’Edimbourg et à Oxford, William Montgomery WATT a occupé le poste de chargé de cours en philosophie morale à Edimbourg de 1934 à 1938, maître de conférences en philosophie de l’antiquité 1946-1947, puis professeur de langue arabe et études islamiques à l’Université d’Edimbourg à partir de 1947 à 1979. Il a occupé des chaires de professeur invité à l’Université de Toronto, au Collège de France (Paris), et à l’Université de Georgetown. Il a également été un prêtre de l’Église épiscopale écossaise et un fervent défenseur du dialogue islamo-chrétiens. A sa mort, la presse arabe a salué en lui "le dernier orientaliste ».

Préface (la reproduction de certains mots est parfois approximative)

THE present volume is a sequel to Muhammad at Mecca, and the two together are intended to constitute a history of the life of Muhammad and of the origins of the Islamic community. The plan of the book should be clear from the table of contents. I have endeavoured to write so as to be easily understood by the historian who has no knowledge of Arabic, but I have probably often fallen short of this aim. In particular, in discussions of a pioneering character, such as those in the fourth and fifth chapters, I have necessarily written at greater length than the intrinsic importance of the topic warranted, and thereby upset the balance of the various p^rts. In such cases all I can do is to advise the non-specialist to ’skip* judiciously.

In a subject like that of this book where there, is a vast mass both of source material and of scholarly discussions, it is difficult not to overlook points here and there. I trust, however, that nothing of importance has been omitted. The exhaustive treatment of a subject is a noble ideal to have before one’s eyes, but in scholarship as in economics the law of diminishing returns is operative. A point is reached at which further heavy labour leads to a negligible improvement in the product. While few readers are likely to be as fuUy aware as I am of the places where further study is possible, I have decided that, for the moment at least, I have said my say about Muhammad, and, if I try to say more, am as likely to mar as to better the impression I have tried to convey.

It is appropriate at this point to draw attention to two gaps of which I have become aware in the course of my work, and which
the normal type of European or American orientalist is incapable of filling. One is the production of a nlap of Arabia as it was in
Muhammad’s time. For this the information to be gathered from the old Arab geographers has to be transferred to a series of large-scale modern maps of the country; and that can hardly be done without access to all the localities. An excellent beginning has been made by one Muslim scholar, 1 and it is to be hoped that others will continue the work.

The other serious gap is that the study of life in pre-Islamic Arabia has not kept pace with the development of social anthropology. I have done what I could to fill in this gap in so far as pre-Islamic conditions are necessary as a background for an understanding of Muhammad’s social reforms. From my colleague, Dr. Kenneth L. Little, head of the Department of Social Anthro-
pology in the University of Edinburgh, I received valuable help, and I am much indebted to him for enabling me to correct some
elementary mistakes. My fumbling attempts, however, have convinced me that the adequate study of pre-Islamic life demands
someone who is primarily a social anthropologist, but who is at the same time able to deal directly with the Arabic source material. The non-anthropologist inevitably overlooks the significance of many details in the material.

The transliteration of Arabic names is the same as in Muhammad at Mecca with one small exception. Where two ’letters indicate
a single Arabic sound (e.g. sh, dh), many writers place a ligature under the letters (as sh, dh). It is rare, however, to find these
combinations of letters indicating two Arabic sounds. Consequently it seems reasonable to use these pairs of letters without ligature for the single sound, and to find some other way of marking the cases where they represent two sounds. For this I suggest the apostrophe. This could not be confused with hamzah by the Arabist, and it would indicate to the non-Arabist that the letters did not coalesce. This apostrophe is only absolutely necessary in cases where neither letter has a dot (of which there are none in this book), but I have used it where there was a dot or dots, and even in a word like * Ash’haP. I hope this innovation may commend itself to fellow orientalists.

With regard to the form of Arabic names also I have tried to avoid puzzling the non-specialist. A brief explanatiqn here may be
of value, however. An Arab’s name has several parts. Thus Muhammad could be called Abu Qasim Muhammad b. ’ Abdallah
al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, that is, the father of Qasim, Muhammad, son of ’Abdallah, of (the clan of) Hashim, of (the tribe of) Quraysh. Any part of this name that is sufficiently distinctive may be used by itself. With a few exceptions (such as Ibn Ubayy for ’Abdallah b. Ubayy) I have kept to one form for each man. The last part of the name is often a nisbah or relative adjective, formed by adding T, and usually indicating at this period the tribe or clan to which a man belonged. Both Christian and Muslim dates have generally been given, the Muslim months being indicated by Roman numerals since the names would convey little to most readers. Muslim dating is convenient when dealing with the sources, but the Christian dating is essential in order to understand the relation of Muhammad’s career to Byzantine and Persian history.

The Qur’anic quotations are normally from Richard Bell’s Translation, by kind permission of the publishers, Messrs. T. &
T. Clark. For help of various kinds my thanks are due to the Reverend E. F. F. Bishop and Glasgow University Library, to
Professor J. Robson, to Professor G. H. Bousquet, to Mr. J. R. Walsh and to Dr. Pierre Cachia. For the compilation of the index
and other secretarial assistance I am greatly indebted to Miss Elizabeth Whitelaw.

W. M. W. ,Edinburgh, 1955

Table des matières



  • 1. The Situation at the Hijrah i
  • 2. The Earliest Expeditions 2
  • 3. The First Fighting 5
  • 4. The Battle of Badr 10
  • 5. The Situation after Badr 141


  • 1. Muhamrr^ad prepares for the impending Struggle 17
  • 2. Meccan Reactions to Badr 19
  • 3. The Battle of Uhud 21
  • 4. The Rousing of the Nomads 29
  • 5. The Siege of Medina 35


  • 1 . The Expeditions of the Year after the Siege 40
  • 2. The Expedition and Treaty of Al-Hudaybiyah 46
  • 3. After Al-Hudaybiyah 52*
  • 4. Meccan Reactions to Muhammad’s Successes 55
  • 5. The Submission of Mecca 65
  • 6. The Battle of Hunayn 70
  • 7. The Consolidation of Victory 73


  • 1. The Tribal System confronting Muhammad 78
  • 2. The Tribes to the West of Medina and Mecca 82
  • 3. The Tribes to the East of Medina and Mecca 87
  • 4. The Tribes to the North 105
  • 5. The Tribes to the South of Mecca 117
  • 6. The Tribes in the Rest of Arabia 130
  • 7. The Success of Muhammad’s Policy 142


  • 1. Social and Political Groupings before Muhammad 151
  • 2. Muhammad’s Supporters 174
  • 3. The Muslim Opposition 180


  • 1. The Jews of Yathrib 192
  • 2. The Jews at the Hijrah 195
  • 3. Muhammad’s Attempts to Reconcile the Jews 198
  • 4. The Intellectual Attack on the Jews 204
  • 5. The Physical Attack on the Jews 208
  • 6. Conclusion 219


  • 1. The Constitution of Medina 221
  • 2. The Position of Muhammad 228
  • 3. The Character of the Ummah 238
  • 4. Finance 250


  • 1. Security of Life and Property 261
  • 2. Marriage and the Family 272
  • 3. Inheritance 289
  • 4. Miscellaneous Reforms 293
  • 5. Conclusion 3^0


  • 1. The Religious Institutions of Islam 303
  • 2. Islam and Arab Paganism 309
  • 3. Islam and Christianity 315


  • 1. Appearance and Manner 321
  • 2. The Alleged Moral Failures 324
  • 3. The Foundations of Greatness 334


  • A. Further Remarks on the Sources 336
  • B. List of Expeditions and Dates 339
  • C. Slaves and Freedmen among the Emigrants at Badr 344
  • D. Muhammad’s Letters to the Princes 345
  • E. ’Those whose hearts are reconciled* 348
  • F. Text of Selected Treaties 354
  • G. The Treaties with Dumat al-Jandal 362
  • H. List of Administrators sent out by Muhammad 366
  • I. Zakdt and adaqah 369
  • J. Marriage and the Family in pre-Islamic Times 373
  • K. The technical terms in Surahs 4. 24/28, 5. 5/7, and 24. 33 389
  • L. Muhammad’s Marriages 393


View online : lire l’ouvrage intégral (éd. 1956)