R. Kevin Jaques

Kevin Jaques is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University.

He is a specialist in classical Islamic biography, Islamic law, and theology as well as religious hermeneutics and comparative religions. He has written two books,  Authority, Conflict, and the Transmission of Diversity in Medieval Islamic Law (Brill, 2006) and Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (Oxford, 2010), as well as numerous articles.

Jaques is currently working on reconstructing the various versions of Muḥammad b. Isḥāq’s Sīrah Rasūl Allāh, the earliest biography of the Prophet Muḥammad and one of our most important sources for understanding how Muslims in the 2nd/8th century viewed Muḥammad within the context of the rapidly expanding Muslim world. Ibn Isḥāq (d. 150/767) lived during a time of great change and produced different versions of his work as he traveled across the late Umayyad and early ʿAbbāsid Empires. Jaques’ project is to reconstruct those different versions as a window onto how Muslim worldviews developed over this period and in the different regions in which Ibn Isḥāq traveled. He is in the process of completing a collection of over 60 different witnesses to the work that he plans to publish together with a five volume series on the author and the Sīrah.

The first volume, The Captives of ʿAyn al-Tamr, will examine the first two centuries of Islam through the lens of those captured and enslaved at the Battle of ʿAyn al-Tamr (12/633), and how they and their descendants became contributors to the early Muslim tradition. Ibn Isḥāq’s grandfather, Yasār, was a child when he was enslaved at the battle and later manumitted. The lives and experiences of manumitted slaves (mawālī sing. mawlā) is the central theme of the volume and will serve as a means of understanding many of the religious, social, economic, and political issues that helped form Ibn Isḥāq’s understanding if the world.

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