Patricia Crone & Michael Cook HAGARISM The Making of the Islamic World HAGARISM THE MAKING OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD PATRICIA CRONE SENIOR . A classic revisionist work on the formation of Islam. Hagarism; The Making Of The Islamic World Crone, Cook. by Patricia Crone. Publication. This is a paperback edition of a controversial study of the origins of Islamic civilisation, first published in By examining non-Muslim sources, the authors.

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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 92 1 1 The fate of Antiquity: Its emergence thus constitutes an unusual, and for a number of related reasons a peculiar, historical wlrld. This book is an attempt to make sense of it. In tne the attempt we have adopted an approach which differs appreciably from that of more conventional writing in the field. First, our account of the th of Islam as a religion is radically new, or more precisely it is one which has been out of fashion since the seventh century: Finally, we have set out with a certain recklessness to create a coherent architectonic of ideas in a field over much of which scholarship has yet to dig the foundations.

It might not be superfluous for us to attempt a defence of this enter- prise against the raised eyebrows of the specialist, but it would certainly be pointless: What has been said should also suffice islamc warn the non-specialist what not to expect: There is however one particular group of readers who are in a special position.

Hagarism; The Making Of The Islamic World Crone, Cook

For although the characters who appear in our story are all of them dead, their descendants are very much alive. In the first place, the account we have given of islammic origins of Islam is not one which any believing Muslim can accept: This is a book written by infidels for infidels, and it is based on what from any Muslim perspective must appear an inordinate regard for the testimony of infidel sources.

Our account is not merely unaccept- able; it is also one which any Muslim whose faith is as a grain of mustard seed should find no difficulty in rejecting. In the second place, there is a good deal in this book that may be dis- liked by the Muslim who has lost his religious ot but retained his ancestral pride. What we wish to stress for such a reader is that the strong evaluative overtones of the language in which we have analysed the forma- tion of Islamic civilisation do not add up to any simplistic judgment for or against.

We have presented the formation of the new civilisation as a unique cultural achievement, and one to which the maraudings of our own barbarian ancestors offer no parallel whatever; but equally we have pre- sented the achievement as one which carried with it extraordinary cultural costs, and it is above all the necessary linkage between the achievement and the costs that we have tried to elucidate.

Dr Sebastian Brock, Mr G. Hawting and Dr M. Kister were kind enough to give us their comments on an earlier draft of Part One. Dr Brock, Dr P. Frandsen and Professor A. Scheiber assisted us over queries in areas of their specialist competence. Consultation of a rather inaccessible Syriac manuscript was made possible by a grant from the British Academy and gready facilitated by the kindness of Father William Macomber and Dr J.

Professor Bernard Lewis was good wkrld to make available to us his translation of a Jewish apocalyptic poem prior to publication.

Full text of “Hagarism; The Making Of The Islamic World Crone, Cook”

The completion of our research was gready helped in different thd by the Warburg Institute and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Over and above these debts of execution, we would also like to put on record what we owe to two influences without which this book could hardly have been conceived. The first was our exposure to the sceptical approach of Dr John Wansbrough to the historicity of the Islamic tradi- tion; without this influence hzgarism theory of Islamic origins set thd in this book would never have occurred to us.

These debts are acknowledged in their proper places ; such acknowledgements should be taken to indicate that the substance of the idea is not to be credited to us, not that the form in which it appears can be debited to Dr Wansbrough. Souras and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation. Finally, we would like to thank Professor J. Segal for teaching us Syriac, and Dr D.

Kamhi for introducing us to the Talmud. What goes without saying should in this case be said: For a helpful survey covering most of the Syriac sources used in this worpd, see now S.


For an occurrence of the phrase ahl al-islam in an inscription dated a h. For a dating of the earliest Koran fragments which, though for our purposes not sufficiendy precise, should maling been cited at p. Grohmann, The problem of dating early Qur’ans’, Der Islam It is however well-known that these sources are not demon- strably early.

There is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century, and the ,aking which places this rather opaque revelation in its historical context is not attested before the middle of the eighth. The historicity of the Islamic tradition is thus to some degree problematic: In the circumstances it is not unreasonable to pro- ceed in the usual fashion by presenting a sensibly edited version of the tradition as historical fact.

But equally, it makes some sense to regard the tradition as without determinate hagqrism content, and to insist that what purport to be accounts of religious events in the seventh century are utilisable only for the study of religious ideas in the eighth. The only way out of the dilemma is thus to step outside the Islamic tradition altogether and start again.

If we choose to start again, we begin with the Doctrina lacobi, a Greek anti- Jewish tract spawned by the Heraclean persecution. I, Abraham, went off to Sykamina and referred the matter to an old man very well- versed in die Scriptures. Do the prophets come with sword and chariot?

Truly these happenings today are works of disorder. But you go off, Master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared.

One is the doctrine of the keys. It is not of course Islamic, but there are some slight indica- tions that it was a doctrine which the Islamic tradition had been at pains to repress: Of greater historical significance is the fact that the Prophet is represented as alive at the time of thf conquest of Palestine.

This testimony is of course irreconcilable with the Islamic account of the Prophet’s career, but it finds independent confir- mation in the historical traditions of the Jacobites, Nestorians and Samari- tans; 1 the doctrinal meaning of the discrepancy will be taken up later. That is to say the core of the Prophet’s message, in the earliest testimony available to us outside the Islamic tradition, appears as Judaic messian- ism. The idea is hardly a familiar one, but again it is strikingly confirmed by independent evidence.

He raises up over them a Prophet according to His will and will conquer the land for them makung they will come and restore it in greatness, and there will be great terror between them and the sons of Esau. But when he, the rider on the camel, 14 goes forth the kingdom will arise through the rider on an ass. This interpretation makes sense when set alongside the testimony of the Doctrina that the Prophet was in fact proclaiming the advent of the messiah, and at the same time provides islmaic confirmation of its authenticity.

It may of course seem strange that Jews should accept the credentials of a presumably Arabian prophet as harbinger of the messiah; but there was good Judaic precedent for the performance of an Arab in this role. When eventually the original Aramaic sense of the term had been successfully forgotten, it acquired a harmless Arabic etymology and was held to have been conferred by the Prophet himself. An earlier view at- tempted a historical rather than an etymological evasion: For if there is contemporary evidence that the Prophet was preaching the coming of the messiah, it can hardly be for- tuitous that the man who subsequendy came bears even in the Islamic tradition a transparendy messianic tide.

We have so far confined our attention to the messianic aspect of the con- quest of Palestine; but as might be expected, the sources provide indica- tions of a wider intimacy in the relations of Arabs and Jews at the time. The warmth of the Jewish reaction to the Arab invasion attested by the Doctrina 25 and exemplified by the ‘Secrets’ is far less in evidence in later Jewish attitudes.

The converted Jew of the Doctrina protests that he will not deny Christ, the son of God, even if the Jews and Saracens catch him and cut him to pieces.

What the materials examined so far do not provide is a concrete picture of the way in which this Judeo-Arab involvement might have come about. For this we have to turn to the earliest connected account of the career of the Prophet, that given in an Armenian chronicle written in the 66os and ascribed to Bishop Sebeos.

They set out into the desert and came to Arabia, among the children of Ishmael; they sought their help, and explained to them that they were kinsmen according to the Bible.


Although they [the Ishmaelites] were ready to accept this close kinship, they [the Jews] nevertheless could not convince the mass of the people, because their cults were different. At this time there was an Ishmaelite called Mahmet,- 17 a merchant; he presented himself to them as though at God’s com- mand, as a preacher, as the way of truth, and taught them to know the God 6 Judto-Hagarism of Abraham, for he was very well-informed, and very well-acquainted with the story of Moses.

As the command came from on high, they all united under the authority of a single man, under a single law, and, abandoning vain cults, returned to the living God who had revealed Himself to their father Abraham. Now you, you are the sons of Abraham and God fulfills in you the promise made to Abraham and his posterity.

Only love the God of Abraham, go and take possession of your country which God gave to your father Abraham, and none will be able to resist you in the struggle, for God is with you. They divided among their tribes the twelve thousand Israelites, a thousand per tribe, to guide them into the land of Israel. They set out, camp by camp, in the order of their patriarchs: These are the tribes of Ishmael All that re- mained of the peoples of the children of Israel came to join diem, and they con- stituted a mighty army.

Then they sent an embassy to the emperor of the Greeks, saying: It is also manifestly ahistorical in its admixture of Biblical ethnography and de- monstrably wrong in the role it ascribes to the Jewish refugees from Edessa. This role, quite apart from its geographical implausibility, is in effect chronologically impossible: In contrast to the standard Islamic account of the relations between Muhammad and the Jewish tribes of Medina, the Jews appear in the document known as the ‘Constitution of Medina’ as forming one community umma with the believers despite the retention of their own religion, and are distributed nameless among a number of Arab tribes.

Sebeos can therefore be accepted as 7 Whence Islam? What Sebeos has to say is also of considerable doctrinal interest in its own right.

In the first place he provides a clear statement of the Palestinian orientation of the movement, a feature implicit in the messianic scenario and independendy attested in the Jacobite historical tradition; 42 it is of course in some tension with the insistence of the Islamic tradition that the religious metropolis of the invaders was, already at the time of the conquest, identified with Mecca rather than Jerusalem. Equally the exodus into the desert with which the story begins can plausibly be seen as the enactment of a well-established messianic fantasy.

Thus Sebeos, without direcdy attesting the messianic theme, helps to provide a doctrinal context in which it is thoroughly at home. But Sebeos also offers something entirely absent from the sources examined so far: This rationale consists in a dual invocation of the Abrahamic descent of the Arabs as Ishmaelites: Neither invocation was without precedent. There is no good reason to suppose that the bearers of this primitive iden- tity called themselves ‘Muslims’.

The earliest datable occurrence of this term is in the Dome of the Rock of 69 if; 49 it is not otherwise attested outside the Islamic literary tradition until far into the eighth century. This designation appears in Greek as ‘Magaritai’ in a papyrus ofand in Syriac as ‘Mahgre’ or ‘Mahgraye’ from as early as the s; 51 the cor- responding Arabic term is mubdjirun. The first, rather lost in the Islamic tradition, 53 is genealogical: S4 But alongside this ascribed status there is also an attained one which is fully preserved in the Islamic tradition: But no early source attests the historicity of this exodus, 56 and the sources examined in this chapter provide a plausible alternative in the emigration of the Ishmaelites from Arabia to the Promised Land.

Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World by Patricia Crone

Two points are worth adducing here in favour of this alternative. But when the Jewish messianic fantasy was enacted in the form of an Arab conquest of the Holy Land, political success was in itself likely to prove doctrinally embarrassing. Sooner rather than later, the mix- ture of Israelite redemption and Ishmaelite genealogy was going to curdle. For inherent in the messianic programme was the question once put to Jesus of Nazareth: