Zayd

David S. Powers, Cornell University, attempts to restore Zayd to his rightful position at the center of the narrative of the Prophet Muḥammad and the beginnings of Islam. Although Muḥammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, Islamic sources report that he adopted a man named Zayd shortly before receiving his first revelation. This “son of Muḥammad” was the Prophet’s heir for the next fifteen or twenty years. He was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muḥammad whose name is mentioned in the Qur’an. Eventually, Muḥammad would repudiate Zayd as his son, abolish the institution of adoption, and send Zayd to certain death on a battlefield in southern Jordan. Curiously, Zayd has remained a marginal figure in both Islamic and Western scholarship. David S. Powers is Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University

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