Follow Us

RSRC Public Lecture

The Religion and Society Research Centre invites you to attend a public lecture:

‘The Arab Historical Memory and Muhammad’s Prophetic Consciousness: A Sociological Exploration

Speaker:  Emeritus Professor Riaz Hassan, Flinders University

Date:     Monday 22 April, 2013

Time:    10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Venue: Bankstown Campus, University of Western Sydney, Australia, Building 23 Room 41


The premise of this paper is that prophets are social creations. From this perspective, explanations of Muhammad’s prophethood and his prophetic consciousness were a product of his social and religious milieus. In other words, the key elements that shaped Muhammad’s prophethood and his prophetic consciousness embodied in the Quran were Arab religious traditions and, more specifically, those that prevailed in the Meccan society and social factors such as intellectual mentoring and support of Khadija and Muhammad’s primordial ties. The traditions suggest that Muhammad’s reaction to the first revelation was one of fear and doubt. He lacked self-confidence and was afraid and uncertain about the significance and meaning of the first revelation he received. It was Khadija’s support and the reassurance of his inner circle that assuaged his anguish and fear. Without this support, the prophetic history of Islam may have followed a very different trajectory. The paper will also discuss the nature of prophetic consciousness and revelation using autochthonous thought as an explanatory framework. It is argued that the Quran is an account of the Arab ‘historical memory’, incorporating the intellectual and spiritual outlook of Muhammad.

Riaz Hassan is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Flinders University  and a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies National University of Singapore . From 2005-2009 he was an ARC Professorial Fellow. His new book, entitled Islam and Society: Sociological Explorations, will be published by Melbourne University Press in June 2013. His other recent books include: Suicide Bombings (Routledge), Life as a Weapon: The Global Rise of Suicide Bombings (Routledge), Inside Muslim Minds (Melbourne University Press) and Faithlines: Muslim Conceptions of Islam and Society (Oxford University Press). He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and member of the Order of Australia.