This book originated in a Dutch symposium on Late Antiquity and early Islam organized by the Zenobia Foundation in 2015: “Mohammed en het einde van de Oudheid.” The Zenobia Foundation presents scholarship on East and West in Antiquity to a wider Dutch audience; the editors of the book you are holding have all been connected at some point to this foundation. Several scholars from Dutch universities presented at the 2015 symposium, among them Ahmad Al-Jallad, Petra Sijpesteijn, and Joanita Vroom, all at the time working at Leiden University. Kevin van Bladel from Yale University presented his contribution to the current volume as the English-language keynote lecture.
A Dutch-language publication resulted from this symposium entitled Mohammed en de Late Oudheid (Hilversum: Verloren, 2018). Harald Motzki (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Clare Wilde (University of Groningen) contributed additional chapters for the publication. Mohammed en de Late Oudheid and the present volume were funded by Stichting Oosters Instituut, Stichting Boekenfonds Elisabeth Grent, Stichting Sormani Fonds, the Zenobia Foundation, and various individual donors.
The Dutch book laid the foundation for an academic version in English. Some contributions to the Dutch book were intended as an introduction to various aspects of the field of study to a wider audience, while others presented cutting-edge scholarship. It is the latter that we have selected for this volume. Together, these contributions cover a broad range of subfields with regards to research matter, source material, and geography. We have asked two more scholars, focusing on yet other aspects, to contribute as well: Peter Webb (Leiden University) and Constanza Cordoni (Utrecht University).
During production of this book the sad news reached us that Harald Motzki passed away on 8 February 2019. Trained in Germany, Motzki had worked at Radboud University Nijmegen since 1991, where he held the chair Methodology of Research in Islamic Studies from 2001. Motzki acquired fame for his innovative isnād-cum-matn analysis. Commenting on his legacy, his Nijmegen colleague Kees Versteegh wrote that perhaps the most important lesson Motkzi taught us was that “rejecting the [Arabo-Islamic] evidence about the early Islamic period out of hand is mistaken, unwarranted, and counterproductive.”1
Josephine van den Bent, Floris van den Eijnde and Johan Weststeijn
Kees Versteegh, “Harald Motzki (1948–2019).” Hadis ve Siyer Araştırmaları: Hadīth and Sīra Studies 5 (2019): 397–99.