skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Email address: 
Start date : 
October, 2020
Thesis Topic: 
Early Muslim-Jewish Relations through Late Texts: An Analysis of Al-Tabari's Tafsir on the Medinan Period
Research Summary: 
Mohammed’s PhD research focusses on tafsīr/exegetical literature. Analysing the role of Jews in tafsīr literature can uncover the key method in which attitudes towards Jews (presented as a knowledgeable but misguided people) develops within the Islamic tradition. To this end, his research evaluates three key tafsīr works, Muqātil (the earliest known tafsīr), al-Ṭabarī (the first encyclopaedic tafsīr) and Ibn Kathīr (the most popular tafsīr currently), in order to examine developing religious attitudes towards Jews. His main thesis posits that Jews were a 'non-exemplar' group in Islamic literature (and tafsīr literature more specifically). In other words, Qur'anic exegetes used Jews as a literary scapegoat in order to demonstrate 'what not to do' to the Islamic audience. Jews fulfilled the role of being sufficiently similar to Muslims (in their monotheistic and prophetic beliefs), but also sufficiently different from Muslims (in their rejection of the prophecy of Muhammad) in order to fulfil this role of the ‘non-exemplar’. Mohammed’s research has thus far won the Bernard Lewis Prize, Marguerite Plate and the Gibb Memorial Trust Award, and has been noted for its originality and lone voice in an untapped niche of early Islamic studies. Forthcoming publications include: Muslim-Jewish Harmony: A Politically Contingent Reality, Islam and Judaism: Religious Identity in the Early Islamic Era, Judaeo-Islamic Scriptural Heritage: 'Isma and Sharaf in Ibn Kathir's Stories of the Prophets.