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A.J. Deus’s paper investigates the historicity of Prophet Muhammad and the Koran as well as the Prophet’s possible relationship with the Umayyads. By limiting the evidence to pre-692 documents and artifacts, Deus brings forth a hypothesis that Prophet Muhammad did not appear in the primary evidence until after 631 AD. He is connected to a sermon based on Mosaic Law that cannot be identified in the Koran. His first and isolated sign of having passed away appears in 691 AD in Egypt. He may indeed have still been alive in the 650s, if not in the 680s, and no evidence exists of a prophet Muhammad that died in 632 AD. In that timeframe, a shift from a MHMT institution to an individual MHMD can be observed, and the two could be distinct. There seems to have been a progression from Elijah bar Kabsha, the chief of the Tayyi’ MHMT, to Muhammad being the spiritual leader of the Mhaggraye, and later to the Tayyi’ Mhaggraye, through the MHMD Mahdi, and finally to Islam.
Nevertheless, in the 680s, the ‘adversaries’ of the Byzantine Orthodox Church were viewed as a like-Arian form of Judaic thought that reintroduced Jewish Messiahnism from an expanding territory of the Tayyi’. The Byzantines neither recognized Muhammad nor Islam.
The earlier Saracen and Ishmaelite incursions must have been unaware of Islam and the Koran. It appears that the Jews from Edessa carried the seed (Sebeos), and the Tayyi’ represent the sprout of what eventually evolved into Muhammadeans. Their goal seems to have been to occupy Jerusalem, as was of other groups, certainly also in the first wave of attacks. However, the temple building activities in Jerusalem were attributed first to Saracens from the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region, or in Sebeos to Jews who were driven away by the Ishmaelites. The next temple that went up was in Fusted under Amr, but from Mecca there was no sign of activity.
The traditional narratives might contain several parallel “histories” and perhaps more than one Muhammad or a chain of Muhammads.
The primary evidence also suggests, according to Deus, that the Muslim timescale may be connected to Heraclius’s advances and later alliance with three Persian rebel factions, establishing a growing confederation in competition with the Persian Empire.
Deus makes a case that primary evidence should not be incorporated into traditions since the latter may have been inserted into real history with an agenda. In order to avoid circular arguments, contemporary primary evidence must take precedence, and tradition can only help to support it or clarify certain aspects.