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Metaphors and Sacred History: The Genealogy of Muhammad and the Arab "Tribe"

Daniel Martin Varisco
Anthropological Quarterly
Vol. 68, No. 3, Anthropological Analysis and Islamic Texts (Jul., 1995), pp. 139-156
DOI: 10.2307/3318071
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3318071
Page Count: 18
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Metaphors and Sacred History: The Genealogy of Muhammad and the Arab "Tribe"
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Abstract

The genealogy of the Prophet Muhammad was the primary model used by medieval Muslim genealogists in defining Arab tribal structure. This article examines the credibility of both the overall genealogical template and the canonized genealogy of Muhammad's significant ancestors from Abraham. Attention is given to the derivation of tribal segment terms, especially the use of a body metaphor. It is argued that the delineation of Muhammad's genealogy represents a legitimization of his role as Prophet in early Islamic discourse on sacred history.

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