Skip to main content


CSI'S Monday Majlis: Mehdy Shaddel

Universal Empire, Supersessionist Ideology: The Emergence of Islam in Umayyad Syria

The CSI Monday Majlis is a Monday evening, online event, where invited speakers present on aspects of their current research.

Event details

Register in advance for this meeting:

Alongside Christianity, Islam has been historically hailed as one of the world’s most successful two universalist, supersessionist dispensations. Yet, there is some evidence from a very early period (chiefly the Quran) that complicates this picture. My aim here is to show that the message of the Quran, while universalist, was not initially supersessionist, that is, the Quran’s messenger did not claim to have brought a new religion to supplant Judaism and Christianity. Rather, the Quran’s message was supposed to, on the one hand, address a group, namely Muhammad’s kin-community of Ishmaelites, who, according to the text, had never been recepients of divine communications heretofore and, on the other, correct the aberrations and malpractices that had crept into Judaism and Christianity for Jews and Christians. But Jews and Christians were not required to formally renounce their religious labels and start calling themselves adherents of a new religion, and Muhammad, albeit a gentile, was supposed to be just another prophet in the Israelite tradition of prophecy, belief in whom did not necessarily constitute a break with the old tradition.
Mehdy Shaddel is a historian of the Late Ancient Near East specialising in Islamic origins and the socio-economic and political history of the early Islamic empire. He has written on the historiographical tradition(s) pertaining to the early history of Islam, the Quran, the material culture of early Islam, monetary and socio-economic history, as well as on apocalypticism and eschatology and comparative empires and state formation. He is currently working on two monograph projects, tentatively entitled The Sufyanids and the Beginnings of the Second Civil War, 660-684 CE and The Rise of the Kaaba: A New History of Islam’s Holy Shrine, ca. 600-800 CE, as well as a critical edition and translation of The Book of Viziers and Secretaries (Kitāb al-wuzarāʾ wa-l-kuttāb) of Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdūs al-Jahshiyārī.