“The Making of the First Caliph: Early Narratives about Abū Bakr’s (d. 13/634) Conversion to Islam”
Dr. Mehmetcan Akpınar
(Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Meeting ID: 924 2305 2710
Abstract: Abū Bakr (d. 13/634) is regarded by the majority of Muslims as one of the most preeminent companions of the Prophet Muḥammad. In the Islamic tradition he is noted for his early conversion to Islam, his close companionship with the Prophet, his service to the Islamic cause, his exemplary generosity, his participation in the major early battles of Islam, and his caliphate. Yet all these aspects of Abū Bakr’s life were not arranged into a coherent biography immediately upon his death. Rather, they circulated in dispersed and contested, mostly oral accounts for about two centuries. The lecture focuses on the emergence of Abū Bakr’s image as the best Muslim after the Prophet, and the superior qualities attributed to him. Special attention will be given to the narratives about Abū Bakr’s conversion to Islam and the controversy around the identity of the first Muslim.
Bio: Mehmetcan Akpınar is a Junior Research and Teaching Fellow (Nachwuchswissenschaftler/Habilitand) at the Department of Oriental and Islamic Studies, the University of Tübingen, researching and teaching various subjects in Islamic Intellectual History. He received his doctorate with honors from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, with a dissertation entitled “Narrative Representations of Abū Bakr in the 2nd/8th century.” His study, one the first monographs on Abū Bakr (d. 634), critically investigates the Islamic narrative material about the first caliph of Islam and offers a novel methodological approach to examine the often conflicting reports about the prominent figures of Early Islam. His work has been recently awarded the second prize of the Gorgias Press International Classical Islamic World Book Prize, and received the mention award of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) – De Gruyter International Prize in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World.