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"The Origins of Islam" Subject of Pomona College Lecture Series

Origins of Islam book cover

Historian Fred Donner will deliver two talks: “The Origins of Islam, Revisited: Old Problems, New Approaches” on Tuesday, February 28 at 11 a.m., and “Nascent Islam as an Ecumenical Movement ” on Thursday, March 1 at 11 a.m., as part of the Ena H. Thompson Lecture Series. Both talks will be held in Pomona College’s Rose Hills Theater (Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth St., Claremont).

Among other publications, Donner is the author of Muhammad and the Believers—At the Origins of Islam (2010), which explores how early Islam coalesced as a religion.

The New York Times praised it as “a learned and brilliantly original, yet concise and accessible study of Islam's formative first century...Donner's explanation of the process by which Muslims came to define themselves is both fascinating and enlightening.”

According to the Times Literary Supplement, the book is “provocative and accessible...Donner's vision of an "ecumenical Islam" is thought-provoking...Donner's overarching thesis in Muhammad and the Believers is convincing. It sheds light on a world far more fluid and confused than the one we have come to expect from the usual storyline.”

Donner is a professor of early Islamic history at University of Chicago and the president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.

For more information, contact: (909) 607-3075 or

Ena H. Thompson endowed these annual lectures in 1980 to encourage a broader understanding and appreciation of history.  The visiting lecturers are elected both on the basis of their past contributions to the discipline and of the importance of their current research in advancing the field. Generally offered in the spring semester, the lectureship brings a distinguished historian to the Pomona College campus for a week of intensive interaction with students, faculty, and alumni.