UMAYYA IBN ABĪ AL-SALT, one of the "true seekers of God" (Ḥanīf, pl. Ḥunafāʾ) who are mentioned several times in the koran . Umayya was an older contemporary of muhammad . According to Muslim tradition, he desired to be the apostle, the prophet to the Arabs. Muhammad, however, regarded him as a deviationist who led others astray and did not accomplish his mission. There is an allusion to him in Sura 7:174–5, which, according to most commentators, refers to balaam . Many long and short extant fragments of ancient Arabic poetry deal with the same biblical subjects that are found in the Koran. Scholars differ as to the originality of these poems and their independence from the narratives of the Koran. Undoubtedly, many came from the Jewish and Christian legends used by Muhammad and therefore there is neither plagiarism nor borrowing from the Koran. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Umajja b. Abi ṣ-ṣalt: die unter seinem Namen ueberlieferten Gedichte, tr. by F. Schulthess (1911); J.W. (= H.Z.) Hirschberg, Juedische und christliche Lehren im vor-und fruehislamischen Arabien (1939), 34ff., and passim; idem, Yisrael be-Arav (1946), index. (Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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