Muḥammad’s Deputies in Medina

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Michael Cook

Abstract

It would be a reasonable inference from our sources that each time Muḥammad was away from Medina he left behind a deputy. The object of this paper is to collect and interpret the information our sources provide about these deputies. After a brief introduction, the second and third sections assemble and contextualize the data. The fourth section then discusses questions of interpretation: how far we can rely on the information in our sources, what this information can tell us about the kind of people Muḥammad would appoint as deputies, and how the emerging pattern might be explained historically. The main finding is that the data, if at all reliable, indicate that deputies were frequently people with little ability to cope with emergencies, and that Muḥammad must have been giving priority to political considerations in choosing them. Readers interested only in the interpretative questions could skip the second and third sections.

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