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Encyclopedia > Historiography of early Islam

The historiography of early Islam is the study of how various historians have treated the events of the first two centuries of Islamic history. Historiography is the study of the practice of history. ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the Quran, its principal scripture, whose followers, known as Muslims (مسلم), believe God (Arabic: الله ) sent through revelations to Muhammad. ...


Western academic historians have come to believe that the tradional Islamic version of those events is problematic. The Islamic sources are from a period dating between 100 and 150 years after the events being referred to had taken place. There are very few surviving primary sources for the period. There are few surviving manuscripts and inscriptions, and only sketchy archaeological data. Islamic history seems to have been primarily transmitted orally until well after the rise of the Abbasid caliphate. Islamic scholars then sifted and recorded the traditions. They did so in an extremely politicized context, just after one dynasty, the Umayyads, had been overthrown, and when the groups that eventually became the Sunni and Shi'a sects of Islam were putting forth rival histories of Islam. In historical scholarship, a primary source is a document or other source of information that was created at or near the time being studied, often by the people being studied. ... Abbasid provinces during the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid Abbasid (Arabic: العبّاسيّون, AbbāsÄ«yÅ«n) is the dynastic name generally given to the caliph of Baghdad, the second of the two great Sunni dynasties of the Arab Empire, that overthrew the Umayyad caliphs from all but Spain. ... The Umayyad Dynasty (Arabic الأمويون / بنو أمية umawiyy; in Turkish, Emevi) was the first dynasty of caliphs of the Prophet Muhammad who were not closely related to Muhammad himself, though they were of the same Meccan tribe, the... Sunni Islam (Arabic سنّة) is the largest denomination of Islam. ... Shia Islam ( Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite or Shiite) is the second largest Islamic denomination; some 20-25% of all Muslims are said to follow a Shia tradition. ...


Modern Western scholars are much less likely than Islamic scholars to trust the work of the Abbasid historians. Western historians approach the classic Islamic histories with varying degrees of circumspection.

Contents

7th Century non-Islamic sources

There are numerous early references to Islam in non-Islamic sources, many have been collected in historiographer Robert G. Hoyland's compilation Seeing Islam As Others Saw It. One of the first books to analyze these works was Hagarism authored by Michael Cook and Patricia Crone. Hagarism concludes that looking at the early non-Islamic sources provides a much different and more accurate picture of early Islamic history than the later Islamic sources do, although its thesis has little acceptance. For some, the date of composition is controversial. Some provide an account of early Islam which significantly contradicts the traditional Islamic accounts of two centuries later : Timy is the coolest man in the world today. Robert G. Hoyland is a scholar and historian of the Middle East . ... Seeing Islam As Others Saw It by Robert G. Hoyland. ... Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, 1977, is a book by scholars and historiographers of early Islam Patricia Crone and Michael Cook. ... Michael Cook is an American historian and scholar of Islamic history. ... Patricia Crone, Ph. ...

See also: External References to Islam. The Doctrina Iacobi is a 7th century Greek tract written in the Middle East between 634 and 640 A.D. The manuscript provides one of the earliest external accounts of the origins of Islam, presenting a significantly different Islamic historiography than found in traditional Islamic texts. ... Sophronius of Jerusalem Sophronius (born 560 in Damascus - died March 11, 638 in Jerusalem) was the Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 until his death. ... PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, and the oldest dated Arabic inscription from the Islamic era, dating from 22 AH (AD 642) and found in Heracleopolis in Egypt. ... Gabriel of Qartmin was an 7th century abbot in the famous Syrian Orthodox Christian Qartmin monastery located in present day Turkey. ... The Chronicle of Fredegar (died ca 660) is the main source for Western European events of the 7th century, a formative period whose scarcity of sources in part justifies the characterization of its silence as that of the Dark Ages. In the 7th century many institutions of the Middle Ages... Martin I, pope (649 - 655), succeeded Theodore I in June or July 649. ... Ishoyahb III of Adiabene was the patriarch of Seleucia Iraq from 648 till 660. ... Sebeos (Armenian: ) was a 7th Century Armenian bishop and historian who participated in the first Council of Dvin in 645. ... Maximus the Confessor (580 - 682) was a Christian monk. ... His Holiness Benjamin was the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. ... Arculf (later 7th century), was a monk of Gaul, said by Bede to be a bishop (Galliarum Episcopus), who, according to Bedes history of the Church in England (V, 15), was shipwrecked on the shore of Iona, Scotland on his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and... George of Reshaina was a 7th century middle eastern historian who wrote a biography on the life of Maximus which provides a glimpse into the events of his time. ... Category: ... Trophies of Damascus was a 7th century anti Jewish track written between 661 and 681 AD which presents an eye-witness accounts to the events that took place around that time period in the Middle East. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... John Bar Penkaye was a 7th century East Syrian Christian monk who lived at the time of fifth caliph of the Umayyad dynasty Abd al-Malik. ... The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius is a 7th-century apocalypse that shaped the eschatological imagination of Christendom throughout the Middle Ages. ... Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem is a 7th century Syrian tract which provides a glimpse into the events that took place during its time in the Middle-East. ... John of Nikiû was a Coptic bishop of Nikiû/Pashati in the Egyptian Delta and appointed general adminstrator of the monsteries of Upper Egypt in 696. ...


7th Century Islamic sources

Timmy is the coolest kid in the world today Events The Quinisext Council (also said in Trullo), held in Constantinople, laid the foundation for the Orthodox Canon Law The Arabs conquer Armenia. ... The Qurān [1] (Arabic: ‎ , literally the recitation; also called The Noble Quran; also transliterated as Quran, Koran, and Al-Quran), is the central religious text of Islam. ... The Dome of the Rock in the center of the Noble Sanctuary The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: مسجد قبة الصخرة, translit. ...


7th Century ambigous sources

Events Births Deaths Paulinus of York, bishop of Northumbria November: Omar, Second caliph of Islam by assassination. ... For other uses, see Umar (disambiguation). ...

Traditional Islamic sources for early Islamic history

See also: List of Islamic texts

// Quran Text Surahs Ayah Commentary/Exegesis Tafsir ibn Kathir (by Ibn Kathir) Tafsir al-Tabari (by Tabari) Al Kordobi Tafseer-e-kabir (by Imam Razi) Tafheem-al-Quran (by Maulana Maududi) Sunnah/Hadith Hadith (Traditions of The Prophet) The Siha-e-Sitta al-Bukhari (d. ... The Qurān [1] (Arabic: ‎ , literally the recitation; also called The Noble Quran; also transliterated as Quran, Koran, and Al-Quran), is the central religious text of Islam. ... Hadith ( translit: ) are traditions relating to the words and deeds of Muhammad. ... For the river and also village in Norway named Sira, see Sira, Norway. ... Ghazw (plural ghazawāt) (Arabic: غزو) is an Arabic word meaning an armed incursion for the purposes of conquest, plunder, or the capture of slaves and is cognate with the terms ghāziya and maghāzī. In pre-Islamic times it signified the plundering raids organized by nomadic Bedouin warriors against... A tafsir ( (Arabic: تفسير )tafsīr, also transliterated tafseer, Arabic explanation) is Quranic exegesis or commentary. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Futūh (Arabic script فتوح, singular fath فتح) is an Arabic word with the literal meaning of openings. When appearing in classical Islamic literature it signifies the early Arab-Muslim conquests which facilitated the spread of Islam and Islamic civilization. ... Numismatics is the scientific study of money and its history in all its varied forms. ... Oxyrhynchus (Greek: Οξύρυγχος; sharp-nosed; ancient Egyptian Per-Medjed; modern Egyptian Arabic el-Bahnasa) is an archaeological site in Egypt, considered one of the most important ever discovered. ... PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, and the oldest dated Arabic inscription from the Islamic era, dating from 22 AH (AD 642) and found in Heracleopolis in Egypt. ...

The Islamic versions, in outline

Sunni

Sunni Islam (Arabic سنّة) is the largest denomination of Islam. ...

Shi'a

Shia Islam ( Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite or Shiite) is the second largest Islamic denomination; some 20-25% of all Muslims are said to follow a Shia tradition. ...

Ibadi

Al-Ibāḍiyyah (Arabic الاباضية) is a form of Islam distinct from the Shiite and Sunni denominations. ...

Islamic historians

Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri was an Arabian historian, a Persian by birth, though his sympathies seem to have been strongly with the Arabs, for Masudi refers to one of his works in. ... Ibn Ishaq (or ibn Ishaq), (d. ... Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (Arabic الطبري, AD 838-AD 923), was an author from Persia. ... al-Waqidi الواقدي (d. ...

Western-style secular scholarship

The earliest Western scholarship on Islam tended to be Christian translators and commentators. They translated the easily available Sunni texts from Arabic into European languages including German, Italian, French, or English, then summarized and commented in a fashion that was often hostile to Islam. Notable Christian scholars include: Sunni Islam (Arabic سنّة) is the largest denomination of Islam. ... The Arabic language ( ), or simply Arabic ( ), is the largest member of the family of Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic. ...

All these scholars worked in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sir William Muir (April 27, 1819–1905), was a Scottish Orientalist. ... Reinhart Pieter Anne Dozy (February, 1820 - May, 1883), Dutch Arabic scholar of French (Huguenot) origin, was born at Leiden. ... David Samuel Margoliouth (October 17, 1858 - March 22, 1940) was the UK orientalist. ... William St. ... Leone Caetani (1869-1935) was born into Italian family, a very prominent one. ... Alphonse Mingana circa 1930 Alphonse Mingana (1878 Sharansh, village near Zakho, Ottoman Empire (present day Iraq) - 3 December 1937 Birmingham, England) was a Assyrian theologian, historian, orientalist, and a former priest. ...


Another pioneer of Islamic studies, Abraham Geiger (1810–1874), was a prominent Jewish rabbi and approached Islam from that standpoint in his "Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?" (1833). Geiger's themes were continued in Rabbi Abraham I. Katsh's "Judaism and the Koran" (1962) This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. ... For the town in Italy, see Rabbi, Italy Rabbi (Sephardic Hebrew רִבִּי ribbÄ«; Ashkenazi Hebrew רֶבִּי rebbÄ« or rebbÉ™; and modern Israeli רַבִּי rabbÄ«) in Judaism, means teacher, or more literally great one. The word Rabbi is derived from the Hebrew root-word RaV, which in biblical Hebrew means great or distinguished (in...


Other scholars, notably those in the German tradition, took a more neutral view. The late 19th century scholar Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) is a prime example. They also started, cautiously, to question the truth of the Arabic texts. They took a source critical approach, trying to sort the Islamic texts into elements to be accepted as historically true, and elements to be discarded as polemic or pious fiction. These scholars might include: Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 - January 17, 1918), was a German biblical scholar and Orientalist. ... Source Criticism is an aspect of historical criticism, a method of literary study used especially in the field of biblical criticism that seeks to understand a literary piece better by attempting to establish the sources used by the author and/or redactor who put the literary piece together. ...

In the 1970s, what has been described as a "wave of sceptical scholars" (Donner 1998 p. 23) challenged a great deal of the received wisdom in Islamic studies. They argued that the Islamic historical tradition had been greatly corrupted in transmission. They tried to correct or reconstruct the early history of Islam from other, presumably more reliable, sources such as coins, inscriptions, and non-Islamic sources. The oldest of this group was John Wansbrough (1928-2002). Wansbrough's works were widely noted, but perhaps not widely read. Donner (1998) says: Michael Jan de Goeje (1836 - May 17, 1909), Dutch orientalist, was born in Friesland. ... Theodor Nöldeke (March 2, 1836 - 1930), German Semitic scholar, was born at Harburg, and studied at Göttingen, Vienna, Leiden and Berlin. ... Ignaz Goldziher (June 22, 1850 - 1921), was a Jewish Hungarian orientalist and is widely considered among the founders of modern Islamic studies in Europe. ... Henri Lammens (1862-1937), was a Belgian born well-known Jesuit Orientalist. ... Arthur Jeffery (1892–1959) was a professor of Semitic languages at Columbia University, at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and in Cairo. ... Media:Example. ... Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), Schact was professor of Arabic and Islamics at Columbia University in New York. ... William Montgomery Watt is a English Islamic scholar. ... John Edward Wansbrough (19 February 1928, Peoria Illinois - 10 June 2002, Montaigu-de-Quercy France) was a historian of Islam who taught at SOAS in London. ...

Wansbrough's awkward prose style, diffuse organization, and tendency to rely on suggestive implication rather than tight argument (qualities not found in his other published works) have elicited exasperated comment from many reviewers. (Donner 1998 p. 38)

Wansbrough's scepticism influenced a number of younger scholars, including:

In 1977, Crone and Cook published Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, which argued that the early history of Islam is a myth, generated after the conquests of Egypt, Syria, and Persia to prop up the new Arab regimes in those lands and give them a solid ideological foundation. According to their theory the Qur'an was composed later, rather than early, and the Arab conquests may have been the cause, rather than the consequence, of Islam. The main evidence adduced for this thesis was based upon a contemporary body of non-muslim sources to many early Islamic events. If such events could not be supported by outside evidence, then (according to Crone and Cook) they should be dismissed as myth. Martin Hinds 1941-1988 was a scholar of the Middle East and historiographer of early Islam . ... Patricia Crone, Ph. ... Michael Cook is an American historian and scholar of Islamic history. ...


Hagarism has not been reprinted. Crone and Cook's more recent work has involved intense scrutiny of early Islamic sources, but not total rejection of those sources. (See, for instance, Crone's 1987 publications, Roman, Provincial, and Islamic Law and Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, both of which assume the standard outline of early Islamic history while questioning certain aspects of it; also Cook's 2001 Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, which also cites early Islamic sources as authoritative.) One writer claims that they have in fact disavowed the work ([1] [2]) but in the absence of direct comment from Crone and Cook, it is difficult to know what to make of his claims.


In her book Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam, Crone states: Meccan Trade And The Rise Of Islam is a book written by scholar and historiographer of early Islam Patricia Crone. ... Patricia Crone, Ph. ...

If one storyteller should happen to mention a raid, the next one would tell you the exact date of this raid, and the third one would furnish you even more details. Waqidi (d. 823), who wrote years after Ibn Ishaq (d. 768), 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 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 Waqidi, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and Ibn Ishaq. [2]

Claims for the late composition of the Qur'an have also been reinforced by the 1972 discovery of a cache of ancient Qur'ans in a mosque in Sana'a, Yemen.The German scholar Gerd R. Puin has been investigating these Qur'an fragments for years. His research team made 35,000 microfilm photographs of the manuscripts Puin has not published the entirety of his work and but he has stated that there were 2 versions of the text in the manuscript, one written over the other, thus putting into the question the Muslim beliefs in the invariancy of the Qur'an, and he has dated the documents to the early part of the 8th century.[3]. Gerd Rüdiger Puin is a European scholar and the world foremost authority on Quranic paleography, the study and scholarly interpretation of ancient texts. ...


Contemporary scholars have begun to turn to the study of the Islamic sources in a sceptical mood. They tend to use the histories rather than the hadith, and to analyze the histories in terms of the tribal and political affiliations of the narrators (if that can be established), thus making it easier to guess in which direction the material might have been slanted. Notable scholars include:

Fred M. Donner is an Islamic scholar, professor of Near East Studies at the University of Chicago. ... Wilferd Madelung is the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford. ... Gerald R. Hawting (b. ... Dr. Jonathan Berkey is Professor of History at Davidson College. ... Andrew Rippin is Professor of History and Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. ...

Bridging the divide

A few scholars have managed to bridge the divide between Islamic and Western-style secular scholarship.[citation needed] They have completed both Islamic and Western academic training.

Fazlur Rahman Malik (September 21, 1919 - July 26, 1988) was a well-known scholar of Islam, perhaps the most respected Muslim scholar in Western academia. ... Suliman Bashear Ph. ... Javed Ahmed Ghamidi (Urdu: جاوید احمد غامدی) (b. ...

References

  • Donner, Fred Narratives of Islamic Origins: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing, Darwin Press, 1998
  • Hoyland, Robert G. Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam, Darwin Press, 1997

External links

  • [3] and following; an Islamic view of the development of the academic study of Islam
  1. ^ Twenty-three new inscriptions on Memory of the World Register of Documentary Collections - UNESCO, inscription reads "In the name of God (Bismillah), I Zuhair wrote the date of the death of Umar the year four and twenty (AH)"
  2. ^ Patricia Crone, Mecan Trade and the rise of Islam, (1987), pp. 223-224
  3. ^ Atlantic Monthly Journal, Atlantic Monthly article: What is the Koran ,January 1999

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