Secular Study of Early Islam

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The study of the origins and development of early Islam can be said to fall into two major schools of thought. The first view is the traditionalist Muslim pious view which argues that the Islam is unquestionably a work of divine origins revealed by the Islamic deity Allah to a 7th century Arab trader Muhammad. The other view is a secular scholastic view which seeks examine evidence and primary sources and apply the historical method to the study of the early origins and development of Middle Eastern religions.

This article will examine the secular scholastic aaproach to the study of early development of the Islamic religion leaving the traditionalist religious point of view to other articles.

Contents

The Challenges of historiography of Islam

Islamic chronicles and literary sources starting in the 8th century present a vast collection of anecdotal material from which pious religionist authors have drawn from in order to forge a storyline for early Islam.[1] Secular scholars at first received traditionalist narratives at face value but more recently in the last centuries they have begun apply historical methodology to the history of the Middle East and have begun the task of separating fact from fiction from traditional accounts.

The task of recovery of verifiable historical events has been made difficult by a general unwillingness of the Islamic theological community to subject its accounts to historical methodology and scrutiny. In response to the examination of its cultural roots by non traditionalistic scholars, Muslim polemicists have in many cases adopted an adversarial position aimed at discrediting and refuting any and all research that challenges traditional Islamic narration.[2]

Problems of early Islamic sources

The dates given for Mohammed's life are 570-632 AD. Ibn Ishaq who wrote the first biography of Mohammed was born about 717 and died in 767 . He thus wrote his acount over 100 years after Mohammed lived, making it impossible to have gained any information from eyewitnesses to the Sira as they would have all died themselves in the intervening century. Furthermore, no copies exist of Ibn Ishaq's work. All that survives are quotations of it in the History of al-Tabari, who himself lived over two centuries after Ibn Ishaq (he died in 992). Thus the earliest biography of Mohammed of which copies still exist was written some 350 years after Mohammed lived.

While much credence is granted to Ibn Ishaq and (al-Tabari 's accounts of the life of Muhammad by Islamic traditionalist scholars , secular scholars have argued that their late placement on the Islamic historical timeline fails to corroborate any of the early events of the nascent religion and instead can only attest to the narrative that was adopted centuries later by Arabian transmitters. [3] .

Furthermore as the earliest Islamic sources are dated between one hundred and fifty to three hundred years after the events which they purport to describe, legitimate questions can be raised as to their veracity and accuracy. [4] [5][6]

Another problem with the traditional narratives is that not only are they dated centuries after the fact, they are not supported by any archeological evidence. For instance secular scholars have argued that despite its momentous place in Islamic history no copies of the Qur'an dated from within the first century in which it was claimed to have been compiled has even been discovered. Earlier than 750 A.D. (thus for more than 100 years after Muhammad's death) there exists no verifiable Islamic documents to corroborate the origins of the Islam. [7][8]

As to the question of how were the stories transmitted , Muslim scholars posit that the foundational stories of early Islam would have been transmitted orally by storytellers allegedly over more than a century. Secular researchers argue that the oral method of transmission from storyteller to storyteller is problematic as such a medium can be reasonably expected to have been colored with local prejudices and tailored to the moods, needs, and expectations of their audiences. [9] Patricia Crone's notes that the traditions have been reshaped by a progression of storytellers over hundreds of years [10]

Skepticism about authorship of the Qur'an

One of the more contentious findings of secular scholars is that historical evidence suggests that the Qur'an as it exists today differs significantly from the text that was in existence in the late seventh century, the evidence suggesting that the text was a work still in progress over the eighth and ninth centuries [11] , for instance one of the early Arab observers in the late 7th century Ummayad court John of Damascus commented in his writings on sections of the Qur'an that existed during the age of the Umayyad caliphate which have vanished in modern versions.[12]

Secular scholars, such as John Wansbrough, Michael Cook and Patricia Crone, have challenged traditionalistic notions that the text of the Qur'an would have been collected under Uthman per traditional accounts, since the earliest surviving copies of the complete Qur'an are centuries later than Uthman. (The oldest existing copy of the full text is from the ninth century.[13])

Crone and Cook co-authored a book called Hagarism (1980), which was extremely controversial at the time, as it challenged not only Muslim orthodoxy, but the prevailing attitudes among secular Islamicists. They alleged that Islam was formed slowly, over the centuries after the Muslim conquests, as the Islamic conquerors elaborated their beliefs in response to Jewish and Christian challenges..[14]

Thus the general consensus is that the Qur'an was could not have been revealed to just one individual, but rather was a compilation of later redactions formulated by a group of authors, over the course of a few hundred years[15] [16] [17]

Evolutionary hypothesis

In 1972, during the restoration of the Great Mosque of San'a, in Yemen, laborers stumbled upon a "paper grave" containing tens of thousands of fragments of parchment on which verses of the Qur'an were written. Some of these fragments were believed to be the oldest Quranic texts yet found.

The European scholar Gerd R. Puin has studied these fragments and published some preliminary findings:

"My idea is that the Koran is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. Even within the Islamic traditions there is a huge body of contradictory information, including a significant Christian substrate; one can derive a whole Islamic anti-history from them if one wants. The Qur’an claims for itself that it is ‘mubeen,’ or clear, but if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Qur’anic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Qur’an is not comprehensible, if it can’t even be understood in Arabic, then it’s not translatable into any language. That is why Muslims are afraid. Since the Qur’an claims repeatedly to be clear but is not—there is an obvious and serious contradiction. Something else must be going on.” [18]

The variations from the received text that he found seemed to match minor variations in sequence reported by some Islamic scholars, in their descriptions of the variant Qur'ans once held by Abdallah Ibn Masud, Ubay Ibn Ka'b, and Ali, and suppressed by Uthman's order.[19][20]

Birth of the Islamic identity

Secular scholars pinpoint the actual beginnings of the classical Islamic identity to the ninth century, thus the formative stage of Islam, was not within the lifetime of Muhammad but evolved over a period of two to three centuries [21].

The Dome of the Rock

It was built by Abd al-Malik in 691 and still is an imposing structure even by nowadays standard. First, we have to notice that the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque since it hasn't any prayer's direction, suggesting it was built as an octagon with eight pillars to walk around.

Muslims contend that it was erected to commemorate the night when Muhammad went up to the heaven to speak with Moses and Allah concerning the number of prayers required for the believers. But, according to the researches made by Van Berchem and Yehuda Nevo, the inscriptions found there say nothing about the Mi'raj but rather attest the messianic status of Jesus, the acceptance of the prophets, Muhammad's receipt of revelation, and the use of the terms Islam and Muslim. Why, if it was erected to commemorate the Mi'raj does it say nothing about it ? This imposing structure built so early suggests that this and not Mecca became the first sanctuary and the center of nascent Islam until at least the late 7th century.

According to Islamic tradition, the caliph Suleyman, who reigned as late as 715-717, went to Mecca to ask about the HAJJ. He was not satisfied with the response he received there, and so chose to follow Abd al-Malik (i.e. travelling to the Dome of the Rock). This fact alone, points out Dr. Hawting, indicates that there was still some confusion as where the sanctuary was to be located as late as the early 8th century. One can understand why, according to the tradition, WALID I, who reigned as Caliph between 705 and 715 wrote to all regions ordering the demolition and enlargement of the mosques. Could it be that at this time the Qiblas were then aligned towards Mecca ? If so it points to a glaring contradiction in the Quran.

The Dr. John Wansbrough, an absolute authority on early Islamic tradition, found interesting observances as to this man Muhammad was. The best non-Muslim sources on this period which we have are those provided by the Arabic rock inscriptions scattered all over the Syro-Jordanian deserts and the Peninsula , especially the Negev desert. The late Yehuda Nevo, from the University of Jerusalem, made extensive research and published his results in 1994 book Toward a Prehistory of Islam, which I'll refer.

Nevo has found in the Arab religious texts, dating from the first century and a half of Arab rule (7th to 8th century) a monotheist creed demonstrably not Islam, but a creed from which Islam could have developed.

He also found in all Arab religious institutions during the SUFYANI period (661-684) a complete absence of reference to Muhammad or any Mohammedans formulae that he is the prophet of God. This is true, until around 691, whether the main purpose of the inscription is religious or simply commemorative, such as the inscription at the dam near Ta'if, built by the Caliph Muâwiya in the 660's. How come that Muhammad's name is absent on all early inscriptions, is significant.

The first occurrence of the phrase Muhammad rasul Allah (Muhammad is the prophet of Allah) is found on an Arab-Sassanian coin of Xalib ben Abdallah from the year 690, which was struck in Damascus . The Triple Confession of Faith, including the Tawhid (God is one), the phrase setting that Muhammad is His prophet and the human nature of Jesus (rasul Allah wa-abduhu) is found in Abd al-Malik's inscription in the Dome of the Rock, dated 691. BEFORE THIS, THE MUSLIM CONFESSION OF FAITH CANNOT BE ATTESTED AT ALL. After that, through the MAARWANID dynasty (until 750), Muhammad's name usually occurs whenever religious formulae are used, such as coins, milestones and papyrus protocols. Yet, the first Arabic papyrus, an Egyptian receipt for taxes paid, dated 642, written in both Greek and Arabic is headed by the BASMALA, yet it is neither Christian nor Muslim in character.

Rock inscriptions, though bearing religious texts, never mention the prophet or the Mohammedan's formulae, a full 30-60 years and more after the death of Muhammad, though they contained a monotheist form of belief developed with a Judaeo-Christian literary style. What's more, when the formulae is introduced during the MARWANID period (after 684) it is carried almost overnight. Suddenly, it became the state's only form of official religious declaration. Then again, they were not accepted by the public so promptly.

According to Y. Nevo, the Mohammedan's formulae only began to be used in popular inscriptions sometime during the reign of Caliph Hisham (724-743). EVEN THESE, THOUGH THEY ARE MOHAMMEDANS, ARE NOT MUSLIM. For that, Nevo believes, we must wait until the beginning of the 9th century (around 822), coinciding with the first written Quran, as well as the first traditional Muslim accounts. It thus seems that it was not during his lifetime that Muhammad was elevated to the position of a universal prophet and, EVEN THEN, THE FORMULAE WHICH WAS INTRODUCED WAS STILL NOT EQUIVALENT WITH THAT WHICH WE HAVE TODAY

Missing first century evidence

Crone, Wansbrough and Nevo argue that all the primary sources which exist are from 150-300 years after the events which they describe, and thus are chronologically far removed from those events [22] [23][24]

The absence of any Islamic corroborating material for the first century of the alleged time line of Islam has raised numerous questions as to the authenticity of the material provided by traditionalist sources. Secular scholars point out that the earliest account of Mohammad's life by Ibn Ishaq was written more than a century after Muhammad died and all later narratives by Islamic biographers contain far more details and embellishments about events which are entirely lacking in Ibn Ishaq's text. [25]

Examination of Non Muslim sources

Another school of secular study of the origins of the Qur'an has focused on the examination of the vast body of the Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Coptic accounts of non-Muslim neighbors the 7th and 8th centuries which in many cases contradict the traditional Islamic narratives. Historian Patricia Crone for instances argues that the consistency of the non-Muslim sources spread over a large geographic area would tend to rule out a non-Muslim anti-Islamic motive to these sources.[26]

Of course these sources are hostile, and from a classical Islamic view they have simply got everything wrong; but unless we are willing entertain the notion of an all-pervading literary conspiracy between the non-Muslim peoples of the Middle East, the crucial point remains that they have got things wrong on very much the same points. That might not, it is true, have impressed the medieval Muslims who held the Jews and Christians capable of having maliciously deleted from their scriptures precisely the same passages relating to the coming of Islam; but as the Jews and Christians retorted, given their wide geographical and social distribution, they could scarcely have vented their anti-Muslim feelings with such uniform results. It is because there is agreement between the independent and contemporary witnesses of the non-Muslim world that their testimony must be considered; and it can hardly be claimed that they do not help: whichever way one chooses to interpret them, they leave no doubt that Islam was like other religions the product of a religious evolution..[27]

The anti-traditionalist banner dropped by Crone and Cook has been taken up by scholars such as Christoph Luxenberg, who supports claims for a late composition of the Qur'an, and traces much of it to sources other than Muhammad. Luxenberg in particular is well-known for his claims that the Qur'an is merely a re-working of an earlier Christian text, a Syriac lectionary. See also Gerd R. Puin.[28]

Fred Donner has argued for an early date for the collection of the Qur'an, based on his reading of the text itself. He points out that if the Qur'an had been collected over the tumultuous early centuries of Islam, with their vast conquests and expansion and bloody incidents between rivals for the caliphate, there would have been some evidence of this history in the text. However, there is nothing in the Qur'an that does not reflect what is known of the earliest Muslim community.[29]

Early influence on the Qur'an

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,[30] and modern secular scholars [31]the text in the Qu'ran is traced to six sources:

  • The Old Testament canonical and apocryphal and the hybrid Judaism of the late rabbinical schools. During Muhammad's time the Jews were numerous in many parts of Arabia, especially around Medina. Later Judaism and Rabbinism are equally well represented. Geiger finds parallels between parts of the Koran and Jewish Agadot including Medrashim such as the Medrash Tanchuma. He posits that some of the other parts of the Koran may come from Medrashim that were lost. He cites stylistic connections between the Medrashim and the Koran [32][33]
  • Zoroastrianism. One suggestion of Zoroastrian influence on Islam is based on the conclusion by the Jewish orientalist, Ignaz Goldziher, in his book "Islamisme et Parsisme",[34] that the incident of Isra and Mai'raj in Islam (Muhammad's ascension to the heavens) resembles the Iranian "Divina Commedia" called Arda Wiraz Namag. Ibn Warraq quoted the Christian missionary, Tisdall, on this, claiming that the book Arda Wiraz Namag was composed 400 years after Muhammad.
However, in this regard, Encyclopaedia Iranica states that: "The Arda Wiraz-namag, like many of the Zoroastrian works, underwent successive redactions. It assumed its definitive form in the 9th-10th centuries AD".[35] Gignoux says the following about the same: "It is known that the whole of the Pahlavi literature was written tardily, roughly speaking after the Muslim conquest, and that it however transmitted extremely old traditions to us, from Sassanide and even pre-Sassanide times".[36]
  • Hanifism, the adherents of which, called Hanīfs, must have been considerable in number and influence, as it is known from contemporary Arabian sources that twelve of Mohammed's followers were members of this sect.[Citation Needed]
  • Native ancient and contemporary Arabian polytheistic beliefs and practices. Wellhausen has collected in his "Reste des arabischen Heidentums" (Berlin, 1897) all that is known of pre-Islamic Arabian religious belief, traditions, customs, and superstitions, many of which are either alluded to or accepted and incorporated in the Qu'ran. From the various sects and creeds, and Abul-Fida, the well-known historian and geographer of the thirteenth century, it is clear that religious beliefs and practices of the Arabs of Mohammed's day form one of the many sources of Islam. From this source Islam derived the practices of polygamy and slavery, which Mohammed sanctioned by adopting them.[Citation Needed]

Similarities to the Bible

For a more detailed treatment, see Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an.
Skeptical scholars account for the many similarities between the Qur'an and the Jewish and Hebrew scriptures by saying that Muhammad was teaching what he believed a universal history, as he had heard it from the Jews and Christians he had encountered in Arabia and on his travels. These scholars also disagree with the Islamic belief that the whole of the Qur'an is addressed by God to humankind. They note that there are numerous passages where God is directly addressed, or mentioned in the third person, or where the narrator swears by various entities, including God.

Textual Evidence

The Qur'an has much common theology, narratives, and commands as the Bible as well as non-canonical Jewish and Christian documents that have no historical validity. (See Legends and the Qur'an.) Critics write that Muhammad did not know these documents were faulty and used them. Because they are not historically accurate, the Qur'an cannot be historically accurate.

Oldest copy known today

Several manuscripts, including the Samarkand manuscript, are claimed to be the original copies sent out by Uthman[37] in the 7th century AD. Some non-Muslim scholars, however, doubt that any of the Uthmanic originals remain.

Having studied early Quran manuscripts John Gilchrist states: "The oldest manuscripts of the Quran still in existence date from not earlier than about one hundred years after Muhammad's death." ("Jam' Al-Qur'an", page 153) He comes to this conclusion because two of the oldest manuscripts, the Samarqand and Topkapi codices are both written in the Kufic script. It "can generally be dated from the late eight century depending on the extent of development in the character of the script in each case." (Ibid. page 146)

As for the copies that were destroyed, Islamic traditions say that Abdallah Ibn Masud, Ubay Ibn Ka'b, and Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, had preserved versions that differed in some ways from the Uthmanic text. Muslim scholars record certain of the differences between the versions; those recorded consist almost entirely of orthographical and lexical variants, or different verse counts. All three (Ibn Masud, Ubay Ibn Ka'b, and Ali) are recorded as having accepted the Uthmanic text as authoritative.

Uthman's version was written in an older Arabic script that left out most vowel markings; thus the script could be interpreted and read in various ways. This basic Uthmanic script is called the rasm; it is the basis of several traditions of oral recitation, differing in minor points.The Quran is always written in the Uthmanic Rasm(Rasm al Uthman). In order to fix these oral recitations and prevent any mistakes, scribes and scholars began annotating the Uthmanic rasm with various diacritical marks indicating how the word was to be pronounced. It is believed that this process of annotation began around 700 AD, soon after Uthman's compilation, and finished by approximately 900 AD. The Quran text most widely used today is based on the Rasm Uthmani(Uthmanic way of writing the Quran) and in the Hafs tradition of recitation, as approved by Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 1922. (For more information regarding traditions of recitations, see Quranic recitation, below.)

References

  1. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia "Mohammed and Mohammedanism "The sources of Mohammed's biography are numerous, but on the whole untrustworthy, being crowded with fictitious details, legends, and stories. None of his biographies were compiled during his lifetime, and the earliest was written a century and a half after his death. The Koran is perhaps the only reliable source for the leading events in his career. His earliest and chief biographers are Ibn Ishaq (A.H. 151=A.D. 768), Wakidi (207=822), Ibn Hisham (213=828), Ibn Sa'd (230=845), Tirmidhi (279=892), Tabari (310-929), the "Lives of the Companions of Mohammed", the numerous Koranic commentators [especially Tabari, quoted above, Zamakhshari 538=1144), and Baidawi (691=1292)], the "Musnad", or collection of traditions of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (241=855), the collections of Bokhari (256=870), the "Isabah", or "Dictionary of Persons who knew Mohammed", by Ibn Hajar, etc. All these collections and biographies are based on the so-called Hadiths, or "traditions", the historical value of which is more than doubtful.
  2. Ibn Warraq The Need for Qur’anic Criticism "In recent years, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries (for example, Brunei) have established chairs of Islamic Studies in prestigious Western universities, which are encouraged to present a favorable image of Islam. Scientific research, leading to objective truth, no longer seems to be the goal. Critical examination of the sources or the Qur’an is discouraged. Scholars such as Daniel Easterman have even lost their posts for not teaching about Islam in the way approved by Saudi Arabia."
  3. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800 By Jonathan Porter Berkey Published 2003 Cambridge University Press p59 The earliest surviving Muslim sources are comparatively late, and so reflect less what happened than what later Muslims wanted to remember as having happened. This is a point which has been a staple of at least Western scholarship since lgnai Goldzihcr’s pioneering study of hadish (i.e., the “traditions” which purport to record the deeds and words of Muhammad and his companions), in which he demonstrated that many hadith were later fabrications, although the degree of the material’s unreliability has always been a matter of some debate. The point may be illustrated by a later and more precise, although more limited, discussion of one particular aspect of the narrative of Islamic origins. in which Crone pointed out how much of that narrative was a product of traditions which served to explain Koranic verses which, to later Muslim audiences, seemed opaque. In other words, the Koran and the exegetical problems it poses in some sense generated the stories that were used to explain them
  4. Yehuda D. Nevo "Towards a Prehistory of Islam," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, vol.17, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1994 p.108
  5. John Wansbrough The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1978 p,119
  6. Patricia Crone Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, Princeton University Press, 1987 p.204
  7. John Wansbrough The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1978 p,58-59
  8. Francis Edwards Peters "Methodological Approaches to Islamic Studies" Since external evidence is necessary to corroborate a view derived solely from the Muslim literary account, lack of such corroboration is an important argument against that account's historicity. This approach is therefore more open than the 'traditional' to acceptance of an argumentum e silentio. For if we are ready to discount an uncorroborated report of an event, we must accept that there may be nothing with which to replace it: that the event simply did not happen. That there is no evidence for it outside of the "traditional account" thus becomes positive evidence in support of the hypothesis that it did not happen. A striking example is the lack of evidence, outside the Muslim literature, for the view that the Arabs were Muslim at the time of the Conquest.
  9. Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam The sound historical tradition to which they are supposed to have added their fables simply did not exist
  10. Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980 pg 3
  11. John Wansbrough, Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1977 pg.160-163
  12. John of Damascus "Concerning Heresy" (peri aireseon) – (Chapter 101) On the Heresy of the Ishmaelites. Circa 720 AD Then there is the book of The Camel of God. [112] About this camel he says that there was a camel from God and that she drank the whole river and could not pass through two mountains, because there was not room enough. There were people in that place, he says, and they used to drink the water on one day, while the camel would drink it on the next. Moreover, by drinking the water she furnished them with nourishment, because she supplied them with milk instead of water. Then, because these men were evil, they rose up, he says, and killed the camel. However, she had an offspring, a little camel, which, he says, when the mother had been done away with, called upon God and God took it to Himself. Then we say to them: ‘Where did that camel come from?’ And they say that it was from God. Then we say: ‘Was there another camel coupled with this one?’ And they say: ‘No.’ ‘Then how,’ we say, ‘was it begotten? For we see that your camel is without father and without mother and without genealogy, and that the one that begot it suffered evil. Neither is it evident who bred her. And also, this little camel was taken up. So why did not your prophet, with whom, according to what you say, God spoke, find out about the camel—where it grazed, and who got milk by milking it? Or did she possibly, like her mother, meet with evil people and get destroyed? Or did she enter into paradise before you, so that you might have the river of milk that you so foolishly talk about? For you say that you have three rivers flowing in paradise—one of water, one of wine, and one of milk. If your forerunner the camel is outside of paradise, it is obvious that she has dried up from hunger and thirst, or that others have the benefit of her milk—and so your prophet is boasting idly of having conversed with God, because God did not reveal to him the mystery of the camel. But if she is in paradise, she is drinking water still, and you for lack of water will dry up in the midst of the paradise of delight. And if, there being no water, because the camel will have drunk it all up, you thirst for wine from the river of wine that is flowing by, you will become intoxicated from drinking pure wine and collapse under the influence of the strong drink and fall asleep. Then, suffering from a heavy head after sleeping and being sick from the wine, you will miss the pleasures of paradise. How, then, did it not enter into the mind of your prophet that this might happen to you in the paradise of delight? He never had any idea of what the camel is leading to now, yet you did not even ask him, when he held forth to you with his dreams on the subject of the three rivers. We plainly assure you that this wonderful camel of yours has preceded you into the souls of asses, where you, too, like beasts are destined to go. And there is the exterior darkness and everlasting punishment, roaring fire
  13. The Qur'an, bbc.co.uk, retrieved February 17, 2007
  14. P. Crone and M. Cook, Hagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World, 1977, Cambridge University Press
  15. Andrew Rippin , "Literary Analysis of Qur'an, Tafsir, and Sira, the Methodologies of John Wansbrough", Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, Richard C. Martin (ed.), Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 1985 pg 155
  16. Andrew Rippin Muslims, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, vol. 1, London, Routledge, 1990 Pg 60
  17. John Wansbrough, Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1977 pg 160-163
  18. Atlantic Monthly 1999 What is the Koran "My idea is that the Koran is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. Even within the Islamic traditions there is a huge body of contradictory information, including a significant Christian substrate; one can derive a whole Islamic anti-history from them if one wants. The Qur’an claims for itself that it is ‘mubeen,’ or clear, but if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Qur’anic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Qur’an is not comprehensible, if it can’t even be understood in Arabic, then it’s not translatable into any language. That is why Muslims are afraid. Since the Qur’an claims repeatedly to be clear but is not—there is an obvious and serious contradiction. Something else must be going on.” [1]
  19. Observations on Early Qur'an Manuscripts in San'a
  20. The Qur'an as Text, ed. Wild, Brill, 1996 ISBN 90-04-10344-9
  21. R. Stephen Humphreys Islamic History, a framework for Enquiry, Princeton, 1991 pg.83-89
  22. Yehuda D. Nevo "Towards a Prehistory of Islam," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, vol.17, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1994 p.108
  23. John Wansbrough The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1978 p,119
  24. Patricia Crone Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, Princeton University Press, 1987 p.204
  25. Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam, pp. 203-30), where she argues that much of the classical Muslim understanding of the Koran rests on the work of storytellers and that this work is of very dubious historical value. These storytellers contributed to the tradition on the rise of Islam, and this is evident in the steady growth of information: "If one storyteller should happen to mention a raid, the next storyteller would know the date of this raid, while the third would know everything that an audience might wish to hear about it." 53 Then, comparing the accounts of the raid of Kharrar by Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi, Crone shows that al-Waqidi, influenced by and in the manner of the storytellers, "will always give precise dates, locations, names, where Ibn Ishaq has none, accounts of what triggered the expedition, miscellaneous information to lend color to the event, as well as reasons why, as was usually the case, no fighting took place. No wonder that scholars are fond of al-Waqidi: where else does one find such wonderfully precise information about everything one wishes to know? But given that this information was all unknown to Ibn Ishaq, its value is doubtful in the extreme. And if spurious information accumulated at this rate in the two generations between Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and Ibn Ishaq."
  26. Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses, pp. 15-16. All the while that Islamic historians have been struggling with their inert tradition, they have had available to them the Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Coptic literatures of non-Muslim neighbors and subjects of the Arab conquerors, to a large extent edited and translated at the end of the last century and the beginning of the present, and left to collect dust in the libraries ever since. It is a striking testimony to the suppression of the non-Islamic Middle East from the Muslim sources that not only have these literatures been ignored for questions other than the chronology of the conquests and the transmission of Greek philosophy and science, but they have also been felt to be rightly ignored. Of course these sources are hostile, and from a classical Islamic view they have simply got everything wrong; but unless we are willing entertain the notion of an all-pervading literary conspiracy between the non-Muslim peoples of the Middle East, the crucial point remains that they have got things wrong on very much the same points. That might not, it is true, have impressed the medieval Muslims who held the Jews and Christians capable of having maliciously deleted from their scriptures precisely the same passages relating to the coming of Islam; but as the Jews and Christians retorted, given their wide geographical and social distribution, they could scarcely have vented their anti-Muslim feelings with such uniform results. It is because there is agreement between the independent and contemporary witnesses of the non-Muslim world that their testimony must be considered; and it can hardly be claimed that they do not help: whichever way one chooses to interpret them, they leave no doubt that Islam was like other religions the product of a religious evolution.
  27. Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses, pp. 15-16
  28. The Syro-Aramaic Reading Of The Qur'an 2007 English edition
  29. Narratives of Islamic Origins: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing, Donner, Darwin Press, 1998, p. 60., ISBN 0-87850-127-4
  30. Koran, by Gabriel Oussani, The Catholic Encyclopedia, retrieved April 13, 2006
  31. Martin Bright The great Koran con trick The new Statesment Dec 2001 With no contemporary Muslim sources to refer to, a group of young historians working under the brilliant linguist Professor John Wansbrough at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the Seventies developed new scholarly techniques, drawing heavily on earlier biblical scholarship. Following Wansbrough's lead, they decided to look at the Koran as a literary text, to compare it to other devotional writings of the period and to look at internal clues to its origin. They found that it owed much to Judaism, especially the Talmud, a collection of commentaries and interpretations of the Hebrew Bible
  32. Geiger, "Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthum aufgenommen?", Wiesbaden, 1833; tr. Judaism and Islam, Madras, 1898
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  35. "Arda Wiraz", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1987, Volume II, Routledge & Kegan Paul: London & New York, p. 357.
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Sources

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  • Quest for the Historical Muhammed, edited and translated by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2000, hardcover, 554 pages, ISBN 1-57392-787-2
  • Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book, edited by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 1998, hardcover, 420 pages, ISBN 1-57392-198-X
  • Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, Patricia Crone (1980)
  • M. M. Azami, The History of the Qur'anic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments, UK Islamic Academy, 2003 pp. 12
  • What is the origin of man?: The answers of science and the Holy Scriptures, by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, Publisher: A.S. Noordeen, ISBN B0007-C9WF-A

Template:Sourcesend

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