Daniel 1–6 in Classical Islamic Culture and the Gospel According to Ibn Hishām

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A. J. Silverstein



This article assesses the importance of the biblical book of Daniel in the first four Islamic centuries, focusing in particular on the legendary materials contained in Daniel 1–6. The article is divided into three sections. In the first section the treatments of Daniel 1–6 in Isrāʾīliyyāt works are examined, and it is shown that summaries of Daniel 1–6 in these works display evidence of oral transmission. Additionally, it is shown that some authors’ familiarity with Daniel legends led them to insert this character into “biblical” narratives that do not otherwise relate to him. In the second section it is argued that Daniel’s exploits were so widely known that they served as a sort of yardstick for judging the relative importance of some other “heroic” figures who are described in classical Islamic sources. In the third section it is postulated that the introductory sections of Ibn Hishām’s Sīra consciously relate stories with Danielic associations in order to bring the Sīra into line with the Christian Gospels.

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