Understanding the shift is complicated by the presence of two contrasting extremes: 1) the gullible popularizations of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito and their ilk who, if they are aware of the new scholarship, prefer to speak of it as little as possible; and 2) at the opposite pole, the inflammatory comments of such anti-jihadists as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who seek to highlight any defects that may be found in Islam.
At the risk of boring everyone to extinction, I append a very short bibliography of the new scholarship, scholarship that is gradually upending the “just-so” stories of the traditional account. One need scarcely add that this scholarship is proceeding only in the West, with some authors judging it best to use pseudonyms. Even to mention such views in Muslim-majority countries is, to say the least, dangerous to one’s health. All the same, the truth will out.
Crone, Patricia, and Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
Hoyland, Robert G. Seeing Islam as Others Saw It. Princeton: Darwin Press, 1997.
Ibn Warraq, ed. The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1998.
Jeffery, Arthur. The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an (Texts and Studies on the Quran). New ed. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
Lüling, Günter A Challenge to Islam for Reformation. Delhi: Motilal, 2003.
Luxenberg, Christoph. The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran. Berlin: Verlag Hans Schiler, 2007. (use with caution).
Ohlig, Karl-Heinz, and Gerd R.-Puin, eds. The Hidden Origins of Islam: New Research Into Its Early History. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2010.
Reynolds, Gabriel Said, ed. The Qur’an in Its Historical Context. London: Routledge, 2007.
---. The Qur’an and Its Biblical Subtext. London: Routledge, 2010.
Wansborough, John. The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History. New ed., Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2006.