John Wansbrough, SOAS University of London, History Department, Alumnus. Studies History, Semitic languages, and Comparative Semitic Linguistics. It seems that the most radical assessment was demonstrated by John Wansbrough in his exceptional works, Quranic Studies: Sources and. To launch into a discussion of John Wansbrough and his ideas is a daunting Wansbrough’s ideas deeply must be equipped with several languages in addi.

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Apart from the short biography supplied with the book and the profile on Wikipedia, I know nothing else about Wansbrough.

Review of “Quranic Studies” by John Wansbrough

The author assumes total familiarity with the language that biblical scholars use to analyse and discuss the text of the Bible; a reasonable assumption given the audience that Wansbrough was writing for. The relationship is rather more complicated, due at least in part to the origins of Muslim scripture in polemic.

Wansbrough spends a number of pages analysing what Muslims have written about the Prophet pbuh and the possible impact upon Islam of Christian attitudes to scripture and prophethood. However in this section I johnn like to give the reader an overview of the book before offering my own concluding comments. The response from God, as stated in the Quran, is that if the disbelievers considered that Muhammad pbuh was composing the Quran himself, they were challenged to compose something of equivalent literary merit.

He spends a number of pages analysing the appearance of Jafar ibn Abi Talib before the ruler of Ethiopia when the Quraysh sent a mission to secure the return of the emigrants to Mecca. Instead he mentions the eternal Quran as if this was a freestanding concept devised only to give the Quran more authority. Accordingly one has to rely wansbrouugh upon the written texts, as oral histories could not survive such a long period, especially with the disruptions that the society suffered during the period concerned.

Translating John Wansbrough…into English

Geiger’s study was motivated by the underlying thrust of post-Enlightenment work generally, which promoted a sense of curiosity to which no particular value was added over and above the desire to know the previously unknown.

He is aware that Muslims consider that the Quran fulfills and completes the prior revelations. On this basis, Wansbrough developed the theory that Islam did not come into being as a new religion on its own but derived from conflicts of various Wansbroygh sects. The birth of Islam followed by major conquests all over the Middle East and North Johh was at least as significant to Mecca and Medina as the American Civil War to the USA, and in the society of the time I would expect the major details to be preserved reasonably reliably through oral transmission for years.


One major development is seen in the work of Toshihiko Izutsu, whose books have been praised by Muslim and non- Muslim scholars alike. It is much easier to accept that when Arabs exploded out of Arabia and conquered territories to the West, the North and the East that they took with them their existing religious beliefs and their memorised religious book than to accept that a Quran composed years later in Mesopotamia could then be foisted upon everyone and passed off as having originated years earlier.

John Wansbrough | SOAS University of London –

In the Muslim exegetical literature the latter were explained, or evaded, by reference to the chronology of revelation, by means of which unmistakable repetition in the Quranic text could be justified.

However, Wansbrough’s own view was that the Quran was most probably composed around years later than the standard date, and in Mesopotamia rather than the Hijaz the area of Western Arabia that includes Mecca and Medina.

In Geiger submitted a contest entry written in Latin to the University of Bonn that was published the following year in German under the title Was hat Mo- hammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? Because of its importance, however, it is all the more regrettable that this volume is such an exceedingly cumbersome and gratuitously difficult work, one marked by impenetrable syntax and often unintelligible sequence of ideas.

Since there were Jews to the north of the Hijaz and Jews to the south of the Hijaz, I do not understand why Wansbrough regards it as incredible wansbroubh there were Jews in the Hijaz! But how many of those who express this opinion have actually managed to understand his use of jihn English language?

Muslims believe God revealed it to Muhammad pbuh while non-Muslims believe that Muhammad pbuh composed it himself. The Quran is written in a fundamentally different style which is much less narrative and in language that is more elliptical and contains many allusions. Namely, the Quran originated where people have always believed it did, the Hijaz, and at the time always believed, AD – AD, and there really was a prophet called Muhammad pbuh.


The American civil war had taken place with large losses of life, even if the casualty statistics transmitted orally had become unreliable.

Now this Qur’an could not possibly have been wansbrugh by anyone save God: Both were asserted; neither was proved. Discussion of both turned upon the form and content of kalam allah[the Word of God] which might seem to have taken on a dimension out of all proportion to its role as prophetical bona fides.

He discusses a number of different accounts of this story wansbrpugh the manuscripts wwnsbrough concludes that what is said about the chronology of the revelation of Surat Maryam cannot be relied upon. Yet Wansbrough’s theory is today considered to be too radical in detail, especially in the total separation of the emergence of the Quran from the person of Muhammad.

The simplest explanation is usually the best In my opinion, Occam’s Razor is on the side of the generally accepted view of the origin of Islam.

The sectarian milieu, content and composition of islamic salvation history (John WANSBROUGH)

As an illustration, consider the city of Medina and the tombs of the Prophet pbuhAbu Bakr and Umar which are now contained within the Prophet’s Mosque due to its enlargement with the Al Wahsbrough cemetery adjacent, possibly the most visited cemetery in the world.

This situation is illustrated by consideration of the sheer quantity of scholarship that has been produced and the number of scholarly landmarks that exist in the field.

To this effect William Graham writes:. Accordingly I found the book very tough going. There was a whole body of stories, known as the Israiliyat in Arabic, known wansbrlugh that time from which Muhammad pbuh took the themes in the Quran. The latter are both directly accessible in the text of scripture and susceptible of schematic realisation, while the very notion of biographical data in the Quran depends upon exegetical principles derived from material external to the canon.

Wansbrough devised a new theory that the Quran was composed much later and in Mesopotamia. An illustration is Surat Yusuf, often cited as a single instance of complete and sustained narrative in the Quran.