Is the traditional account of Islam historical?

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Is the traditional account of Islam historical?

Postby samwise » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:36 am

On this page of the "Poisoning the well of animal welfare," I went off-topic on the history of Islam.

To allow Ibrahim, or anyone, to ventilate on the issue, I'm bringing it here. I've recreated two postings, with the authors identified in the usual manner.

samwise wrote:I've just read several of the essays in The Hidden Origins of Islam. (Prometheus Press). The opening essay, by Volker Popp, does a formidable job of interpreting the inscriptional and numismatic evidence to show that what we call "Islam" did not even begin to develop until the first half of the 8th century (a hundred years after the supposed era of Muhammad). This is a good followup to the Crossroads to Islam mentioned by Spengler. The next essay, by the pseudonymous Christoph Luxenberg, argues that the inscription in the Dome of the Rock does not refer to the putative historical Muhammad (who, according to this analysis, never existed) but to Jesus. Muhammad is not a name, but means "praised be". The traditional second half of the Shahadah, muhammad(un) 'abd(u) llah(i) wa-rasuluh(u), which is traditionally translated "Muhammad is the servant of God and his messenger" actually means "Praised be the servant ('abd) of God and his messenger." The "servant" here is Jesus; the inscription is a denial of Chalcedonian Christology, and a call to Arabic-Syrian Christians to view Jesus as "merely" God's "servant" (and not "son").


Ibrahim wrote:
samwise wrote:
Cavour wrote:Politics, in one word.


Yes. The "history" of Islam appears to be a foundational saga retrojected into the middle of the 7th century to provide an Arabic monotheism and justify the rule of the Arabs over the older civilizations of the Jews and Christians (and, to a lesser degree, the Zoroastrians).


Clearly historically false (not to mention off-topic). Only the sudden unity provided by the foundation of Islam explains the Arab conquest, and by the time the massive Muslim empire would have been "retrojecting" foundational myths on to the Arab hinterlands Arabs were no longer directing and controlling the Muslim empire.

It stands to reason that you didn't prove any evidence to support this joke of a "theory."
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Postby charleston » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:46 pm

from the Animal Welfare thread, Ibrahim, responding to Spengler, fantasizes:

Spengler wrote:
The whole incident about the Jews of Medina, like most of the Koran and the history of the Muslim conquests, well may have been invented long after the fact. The Jews are meticulous about keeping records of massacres, and we have never destroyed them--we do not forget our martyrs.
See for example Koren and Nevo, Crossroads to Islam.




More likely it was an offshoot branch of Arab Jews,

perhaps not quite as orthodox as other parts of the Jewish community,

and not formally tied to them either.

The primary issue in this case was a betrayal by a tribe,

not specifically religious animosity, though clearly it has later been misapplied to justify such.

Historically speaking we can assume a very small number of Arabs, in what was at the time a relative backwater.

I doubt Jewish scholars in e.g. Jerusalem even knew it had happened, or indeed that anything was happening until the Conquest reached them.


The primary issue in this case was the wealth of the Jews which mohammed envied, and lusted after-and the too obvious pattern of paranoia and violence integral to mohammeds' behavior.

SO following the pattern seen throughout the koran, whenever mohammed envied property or women that belonged to someone else, he found a way to become the victim of some imaginary slight by that individual, and take that property or woman from him.

Mohammed even got his stepson to divorce a wife, because mohammed want to sex her.

Then as today, it doesn't seem to change much, does it? Moslems still blame the JEws.

The 'cultural squalor' of one billion moslems,

and all the moslems can do, is blame and go after the JEws.

Not one decent world class university or hospital and all that unearned wealth from their oil fields, and all the moslems can do, is fund FOREIGN universities, to propagate more historical lies and corrupt scholarship to attack the JEws and destroy 'the west'.

Meanwhile your post above, is hilarious. Your assumptions and conclusions are just more delusion.
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Postby cassowary » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:40 pm

Of course, the traditional account of Islam is not accurate. The proof lies in the oldest mosques in Egypt, Iraq and Arabia that point not to Meccabut to a region south of Jerusalem leading some to say that they originally pointed to Jerusalem.

Image

Its so long ago. So who knows what really happened. Islam may have started as a Jewish heresy and for all we know, Mohammed might have been a Jew.

Excerpt from link:

The Qiblah of the oldest mosques in Mecca, Iraq and Egypt do not align with Mecca. Instead they align with a point in northern Arabia. This has caused some Orientalists to speculate that they may be aligned with Jerusalem, but the calculations don't work out. The Qiblah of the earliest mosques face a point south of Jerusalem but north of Mecca.

This suggests the possibility that the older mosques are aligned with a shrine in Dedan. This is likely since Abraham's ancestors controlled this area. Abraham's six sons by Keturah are the founders of the Joktanite Tribes who dwell in the region of Mecca and the Southern Arabian Peninsula.


I wonder what Muslims will say if they find a star of David in Mohammed's tombin Medina.
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Postby Cavour » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:23 pm

Who's interested in the topic should read, too, the mainstream scholar Fred M. Donner's Muhammad and the Believers (2010; 200 pages easy to read). Here's an interview with prof. Donner with some fine comment, and a short book-review
http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/ ... evers.html
http://arts.monash.edu.au/publications/ ... donner.pdf

Donner is a more systematic author than the details-oriented revisionists of the Hidden Origins..., but they all could agree on the fact that the conquest of the Levant was accomplished by a multi-culti movement of muminin (=believers-raiders), and that muslims "did shake out as a separate religion" only after the decisive rout of muminin's army and navy at the siege of Constantinople (718 CE). Since then on the Arabs resumed their successful nomad-raids tactic and the Muslims (maybe with the Jews) took over the Syriac-Christians.
The main difference between Donner and the revisionists is that he "stays within the framework of the Prophet’s narrative": he affirms that the popular (oral) religiosity of the monotheist Arabs-Muslims could predate--and be the hidden thrust of--the official change that came to light after 718 CE (muminin>muslims); but he honestly admits that "we don’t really understand this change or transformation".
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Postby Spengler » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:28 pm

None of the critics (Luxenburg, Puig, Koren/Nevo,Ibn Warraq) quite gets it as well as Sven Muhammad Kalisch:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/JK18Aa01.html

Kalisch was the Protestant convert to Islam teaching theology at Muenster who argued that the historical Mohammed never existed, readers will recall. He has since abandoned Islam. But he looked at the matter through the eyes of a convert, and what he saw was a new Gnosis in the Koran whose object was to identify the Arabs as God's chosen people. That the Arabs might to do in the 7th century should not be a surprise. Everyone was doing so in the 7th century: Geoffrey of Tours in France, Isidore of Seville in Spain for the Franks and Visigoths, respectively. For the word "Chosen" simply substitute "eternal" to understand the significance.
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Postby samwise » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:41 pm

From the posting cited by Cavour:

IDEAS: Are your ideas particularly threatening to literalists because you question the Islamic narrative without attacking the faith?

DONNER: It stays within the framework of the Prophet’s narrative.


Not clear what he means by the "Prophet's narrative": "the narrative by the Prophet" or "the narrative about the Prophet"?

If the former, the short answer is: there is no narrative by by the prophet. The Qur'an is not a narrative, there is no reconstructable story line about where he was born, when and where the prophetic ministry began, etc. The Hadith are not narratives either. They are primarily anecdotal accounts that express responses to (1)different legal problems, or (2) religious questions, in a preexisting community:

If one means "narrative about the prophet," I've already pointed the problematic status this narrative holds among some Muslims.

P.S. Once one strips away the equivocal "Prophet's narrative," Donner's reconstruction is consistent with Popp, Luxenberg, Kalisch, Nevo, et. al.
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Postby Ibrahim » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:01 pm

There is almost no proper historical evidence to corroborate any of the foundational stories of Islam, but if we look only at the loose historical narrative they provide several things become clear.

First, something united the Arab tribes of the Hijaz into a potent and united force capable of creating an empire that was both conquered exceedingly quickly (unlike, say, the Roman empire) and yet also proved long-lasting in the cultural and religious sense (unlike, say, the empire of Genghis Khan). So something was brewing among the Arabs of the late 6th and early 7th centuries, and we know that it must be that early because the Arabs were already thrashing the Byzantines at Yarmuk in 636CE. Who were these Arabs suddenly challenging the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, espousing monotheism and defeating ancient empires in the early 7th century?

Second, what today constitutes Islam as a finished product certainly wasn't in existence right from the start, being based as it is upon centuries of refinement, but the easiest, and most widely accepted by scholars, means of explaining the sudden impetus of Arab organization and expansion is that of a new religious organizing principle.

Third, the existence of Judaism and Christianity in the Hijaz at this time is not disputed by anyone, and the fact that Islam borrows heavily from those religions is entirely in keeping with both secular history and Islamic theology, as Islam purports to be a continuation and correction of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

In terms of historicity, Muhammad is pretty much the same as Moses. A legendary figure who non-believers will casually assert was probably a fictitious creation with a biography combining some real events which took place over many years and undertaken by many individuals, as well as some purely mythological stories.


I don't think anyone here is even possessing a contrary theory to the accepted origin of Islam. Rather, the prevailing attitude here is anti-Muslim and several people are simply proposing that Islam is based on myths because they dislike it and found corroboration for this prejudice in the writings of some obscure authors.
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Postby Ibrahim » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:10 pm

Leaving aside the concrete history of the sudden Arab conquests, corroborated by Byzantine and other sources, if we look at the theory that Muhammad and his life were invented one must raise the question: "why invent such an odd story?"

The Christians make Jesus the literal son of God, herald his coming with angels and celestial phenomena, and his mother is painted as a paragon of virtue. Muhammad, by contrast, is the son of nobody in particular, soon finds himself orphaned, it only saved from penury and possibly slavery by an uncle, and only gains social and economic acceptance in Mecca due to his marriage with Khadija, who was the main agent in creating the marriage.

Now, imagine an arrogant Arab conqueror in the 8th century. He is looking to create a fictional account of the origins of his imperial monotheism (which was arrived at some other way that has yet to be suggested) and place that origin in the Hijaz.
Would he invent a story in which the hero is basically an orphaned nobody, totally reliant on the goodwill of others, most notably a wealthy female merchant? I doubt I need to impress upon anyone here how unusual the case of Khadija is at all, even before she becomes instrumental in the revelation of the Quran.

Then, when you script this revelation, have the people initially dismiss the Prophet as a mad poet and fanatic (Kahin) and drive him out of town. This doesn't seem like the narrative the people who just conquered the entire Middle East and beyond would "retroject" as their foundational myths.
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Postby charleston » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:38 pm

Spengler wrote:None of the critics (Luxenburg, Puig, Koren/Nevo,Ibn Warraq) quite gets it as well as Sven Muhammad Kalisch:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/JK18Aa01.html

Kalisch was the Protestant convert to Islam teaching theology at Muenster who argued that the historical Mohammed never existed, readers will recall. He has since abandoned Islam. But he looked at the matter through the eyes of a convert, and what he saw was a new Gnosis in the Koran whose object was to identify the Arabs as God's chosen people. That the Arabs might to do in the 7th century should not be a surprise. Everyone was doing so in the 7th century: Geoffrey of Tours in France, Isidore of Seville in Spain for the Franks and Visigoths, respectively. For the word "Chosen" simply substitute "eternal" to understand the significance.


Kalisch was 15 year old when he converted.

One can almost say he was a muslim since he began to 'think' and abandoned islam when he learned how to think......lol
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Postby Cavour » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:18 am

Ibrahim wrote:
In terms of historicity, Muhammad is pretty much the same as Moses. A legendary figure who non-believers will casually assert was probably a fictitious creation with a biography combining some real events which took place over many years and undertaken by many individuals, as well as some purely mythological stories.


Not only Moses was Muhammad's model: Abraham, king David and Jesus were, too. And the following story is not only a myth, but also a crime, justified by Allah... A religious thriller, I'd say. :twisted: Dig it very attentively!
http://www.rorotoko.com/index.php/article/david_powers_book_interview_muhammad_not_father_men_making_last_prophet/P0/
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Postby samwise » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:37 pm

Cavour wrote:
Ibrahim wrote:
In terms of historicity, Muhammad is pretty much the same as Moses. A legendary figure who non-believers will casually assert was probably a fictitious creation with a biography combining some real events which took place over many years and undertaken by many individuals, as well as some purely mythological stories.


Not only Moses was Muhammad's model: Abraham, king David and Jesus were, too. And the following story is not only a myth, but also a crime, justified by Allah... A religious thriller, I'd say. :twisted: Dig it very attentively!
http://www.rorotoko.com/index.php/article/david_powers_book_interview_muhammad_not_father_men_making_last_prophet/P0/


In my original "Reading the Qur'an" thread on Dunedain.net, Collingwood gave a thorough analysis of the The Zaid ibn Harithah account from precisely this political point of view. Zaid was the purported adopted son of Muhammad. According to Surah 33, (al-Ahzah, "The Confederates") Zaid is the prophet's adopted son. The prophet sees Zaid's wife in a moment of unguarded intimacy, and wants her. He knows he can't have her (marrying one's son's ex-wife is incest). But he receives a revelation declaring that (a) adopted sons are not "real" sons and therefore (b) he can marry Zaid's wife, after he divorces her, which (of course) he does.

This account, more than any other in the Qur'an, convinced me there was a person behind the generic prophet. But it is very problematic from a moral standpoint. The prophet comes across as another religious leader who manipulates his authority to satiate his carnal appetites. (The clearest analogies in American religious history are Joseph Smith and John Henry Noyes.) {P.S.: that should be John Humphrey Noyes, who founded the Oneida Community to resolve his own romantic-sexual frustrations. Joseph Smith, I assume everyone knows, was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormons; he used his status as a prophet to authorize polygamy, in spite of the opposition of his own wife, understandably.}

Collingwood's summary shows it can be read, not as a literal account, but as a allegorical description of the political shifts in proto-Islam:

you might view the problematic marriage of Surah 33 less as a real event between two individuals, and more as part of a symbolic narrative account of the formation of a political alliance between the earliest Muslims or proto-Muslims of the Hijaz and the Kalb tribe of the Syrian frontier. If you're going to deconstruct the Medinan Surahs ... much of what passes for the details of the Prophet's marriages and adoptions may well be about tribal relationships ... and you can't tell the players without a scorecard. Studying the Qur'an in isolation from Hadith and Sirah has serious limitations.

According to the TA, Muhammad's adopted son, Zaid ibn Harithah, was his only male son; Muhammad had no biological sons who survived childhood. Zaid reportedly had not only a son but also a grandson. Inheritance preference being given to the male line, not Ali but Zaid and his progeny would have been the Shi'ite candidates for Caliph, but for surah 33:4-5, which is the basis for sharia reduction of inheritance rights of adopted sons to less than that of natural children. Daughters have inheritance rights; adopted sons can be left nothing. However, wives have inheritance rights from their husbands, and sons have inheritance rights from their mothers. Thus the Prophet's remarriage to the mother of the son of his son would destroy the claim of the Fatamid line (Ali, candidate of the Shi'ites) to exclusive inheritance rights. If you read about Muhammad's children, you will see that the Shi'ites systematically view all daughters of Muhammad's wives save Fatimah as not having been fathered by Muhammad, whereas the Sunnis take the opposite view. Anything the Qur'an says about Muhammad's family may have large political consequences, especially for the Shi'ite claim for biological inheritance of the caliphate.

So the story of Zaid and his wife appears both (1) to legitimate an Umayyad political alliance by projecting it back into the Prophet's family as an adoption, and (2) to undermine Shi'ite political theory by destroying the exclusive Fatamid claim to the Caliphate through Islamic inheritance laws. This may be our best indicator yet of who wrote the Medinan surahs, and when, and why.
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Postby cassowary » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:48 pm

Ibrahim wrote:

Now, imagine an arrogant Arab conqueror in the 8th century. He is looking to create a fictional account of the origins of his imperial monotheism (which was arrived at some other way that has yet to be suggested) and place that origin in the Hijaz.
Would he invent a story in which the hero is basically an orphaned nobody, totally reliant on the goodwill of others, most notably a wealthy female merchant? I doubt I need to impress upon anyone here how unusual the case of Khadija is at all, even before she becomes instrumental in the revelation of the Quran.



I agree, Ibby. I too think the basic outline of Mohammed's career is true. His story sounds so bad (raping, plundering, murdering) that it must be true. Nobody would want to make that all up. But I do think that a few details got distorted along the way.

As mentioned above, the original kibla of the oldest mosques in Araba, Egypt and Iraq point not to Mecca but to a region in the NW corner of Saudi Arabia. It must be there where it all began. Let me give you the linkand map again.


Image

It must have been here where Mohammed truly came from and not Mecca. My theory of what really happened is this.

The Dedan region is where the Joktanite descendents of Abraham and his wife Keturah lived. So we have an intriguing possibility that Mohammed was a Jew, albeit a heretical one. Mohammed claimed to be a Prophet initially in Dedan but the location was later changed to Mecca. More on that later.


Image
The ruins of Dedan

His claim of Prophethood was rejected by the people of Dedan and he migrated to Medina with his few followers. In Medina, he achieved more success but had to reinvent himself. Dedan was more civilized and had trading relations with the Roman empire. But the people in the interior of Arabia were more barbaric and given to raiding other tribes. In Dedan, Mohammed's teachings were peaceful but that soon changed on his arrival in Medina. Soon he was preaching holy war against the Meccans and raided their caravans.

The rest, as they say, was history. He conquered Mecca and Arabia. After his death, his successors expanded is empire beyond Araba and the capital moved to Damascus in Syria. Power passed into the hands of the Ummayads. While technially Uthman was the first Ummayad, the Ummayad Caliphate was started by Muawiya, son of Abu Sufyan. Abu Sufyan was Mohammed's implacable enemy and 'converted' at the last moment to save his skin.

He was the main leader of the Quarish tribe in Mecca. I have no doubt that he and his son, Muawiya were not true believers. Conversion to save one's life is not convincing. So to acquire more legitimacy, someone from Abu Sufyan's line changed the story of Mohammed's life - perhaps Muawiya himself. When this happen, I do not know but it happened during the Ummayad caliphate. Instead of Dedan, Mohammed was said to have come from Mecca and also a member of the Quarish tribe. All the events of his life that supposedly took place in Mecca actually took place in Dedan. Having pilgrims going to Mecca was also rewarding to the Quarish for pilgrims bring in money. Thus the kibla was changed from Dedan to Mecca.

Islam, as Patricia Crone and other scholars believed, did not come fully formed from Arabia. Instead it took many generations to develop in Syria. It is the greatest irony that the ultimate victors of the power struggle were the descendents of Abu Sufyan, Mohammed's greatest enemy from Mecca.
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response to Ibrahim

Postby samwise » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:48 am

Ibrahim wrote:There is almost no proper historical evidence to corroborate any of the foundational stories of Islam, but if we look only at the loose historical narrative they provide several things become clear.

First, something united the Arab tribes of the Hijaz into a potent and united force

Greed, and the will to escape the harshness of the desert environment. There is evidence that some natural and/or economic catastrophe struck the western Arabian communities somewhere around 600 CE. I'm not aware, however, of any documentation that the Arabs who came into Syria 620-640 CE necessarily came from the Hijaz.
…capable of creating an empire that was both conquered exceedingly quickly (unlike, say, the Roman empire) and yet also proved long-lasting in the cultural and religious sense (unlike, say, the empire of Genghis Khan). So something was brewing among the Arabs of the late 6th and early 7th centuries, and we know that it must be that early because the Arabs were already thrashing the Byzantines at Yarmuk in 636CE.
Nevo & Koren (Crossroads to Islam) account for this process by showing that Byzantium was already withdrawing from Syria and Palestine; the Arabs simply moved into the vacuum. Volker Popp confirms the general picture in "The Early History of Islam," The Hidden Origins of Islam, pp. 25-27. One does not have to accept Nevo & Koren's claim that this withdrawal was a matter of deliberate policy to recognize that there was no decisive "victory" of the Arabs over Byzantium or Persia.

Who were these Arabs suddenly challenging the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, espousing monotheism and defeating ancient empires in the early 7th century?

They were simply moving into the vacuum left by (1) The final defeat of the Sassanid Empire by Byzantium in 622 and 627, and (2)the withdrawal of Byzantium from direct imperial protection and oversight of its eastern provinces.
Popp, 'Early History of Islam', p. 26 wrote:The {Byzantine} military's abandonment of the areas formerly occupied by Iran {Persian, Sassanid Empire}, as well as the presence of the previously Sassanian Arabs, now rulers in their own right, enabled the church officials of the Easter to effect a total withdrawal of Byzantium from the Byzantine east.


Second, what today constitutes Islam as a finished product certainly wasn't in existence right from the start, being based as it is upon centuries of refinement, but the easiest, and most widely accepted by scholars, means of explaining the sudden impetus of Arab organization and expansion is that of a new religious organizing principle.
But the critical history shows no "sudden impetus". So there is no need to postulate some "new religious organizing principle." Arabs conquered/moved into the Syria/Palestine, became "monotheized," and needed to justify and explain their new political, and eventually religious, authority.

Third, the existence of Judaism and Christianity in the Hijaz at this time is not disputed by anyone, and the fact that Islam borrows heavily from those religions is entirely in keeping with both secular history and Islamic theology, as Islam purports to be a continuation and correction of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Actually, the existence of Christianity in the Hijaz is disputed according to Richard Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment:
From the south {of Arabia, in what is now Yemen}, Christianity does not seem to have made much headway; from the northeast it spread down the shores of the Persian Gulf. From the north-west it spread into the northern centre of the peninsula and southward to the shores of the Red Sea, but—and this is important—in spite of traditions to the effect that the picture of Jesus was found on one of the pillars of the Ka'ba, there is no good evidence of any seats of Christianity in the Hijaz or in the near neighbourhood of Mecca or even of Medina.


In any case, the Muslim borrowings from Judaism and Christianity does not "prove" the traditional account, since there are other, simpler ways of accounting for the totality of the story. Arabs moved into Syria/Palestine from Persia and western Arabia, adapted and adopted the stories of Judaism and Christianity, etc.

In terms of historicity, Muhammad is pretty much the same as Moses. A legendary figure who non-believers will casually assert was probably a fictitious creation with a biography combining some real events which took place over many years and undertaken by many individuals, as well as some purely mythological stories.

Agreed

I don't think anyone here is even possessing a contrary theory to the accepted origin of Islam. Rather, the prevailing attitude here is anti-Muslim and several people are simply proposing that Islam is based on myths because they dislike it and found corroboration for this prejudice in the writings of some obscure authors.

For the record, I both thought and taught the "standard history" of Islam for perhaps 10 years: Arab paganism in the Hijaz, Muhammad's early life, first revelations, Mecca, Medina…, and have old lecture notes to prove it. Then I began to read the limited critical history, and realized that if I applied the same critical method that I already used with regard to other world religions (esp. ancient Israelite history and religion, and the gospels) to Islam, that the "standard history" was without foundation. So your psychologized explanation is simply wrong.

I can trace the origins of my thinking here to ]this posting on the old Edge forum on "Jesus, the origins of Islam, and critical history" (Unfortunately, many of the postings, including my initial entry, were mangled in the crash and reconstruction of the old Edge forum.) I only post the link to document the date: "5 years and 11 months ago," which would take us back to August of 2005. I might have been reading on the problem for about 6 months at that time. (BTW, that thread was, I think, the grand champion of the Spengler Forum on the Edge, eliciting over 900 responses, 97 pages in current formatting, and continuing for almost a year.)
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Postby Apollonius » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:57 am

Gee, samwise, I'm a little surprised to hear that your opinions on this matter date from so recently.

My interest in Islam coincides with the Rushdie affair. Before that I had never really seriously considered it because I although always interested in religion, I just never accepted Islam in the same category as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Christianity. The shabby character of Muhammad (as portrayed in the sira), that abominable travesty called the Qur'an, Islam's lack of a Golden Rule, its intellectual torpor, and its relentless militarism, all conspired to keep me away.

You know me. Ever critical of the generally accepted stories in the Bible and histories of early Christianity, I was certainly not going to give Islam a free ride. The more I investigated, the more ludicrous the whole thing seemed to me.

Always appreciated your commentary, and mainly responded here to thank you for that.
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Postby samwise » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:33 am

Apollonius wrote:Gee, samwise, I'm a little surprised to hear that your opinions on this matter date from so recently.

My interest in Islam coincides with the Rushdie affair. Before that I had never really seriously considered it because I although always interested in religion, I just never accepted Islam in the same category as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Christianity. The shabby character of Muhammad (as portrayed in the sira), that abominable travesty called the Qur'an, Islam's lack of a Golden Rule, its intellectual torpor, and its relentless militarism, all conspired to keep me away.

You know me. Ever critical of the generally accepted stories in the Bible and histories of early Christianity, I was certainly not going to give Islam a free ride. The more I investigated, the more ludicrous the whole thing seemed to me.

Always appreciated your commentary, and mainly responded here to thank you for that.


I thank you, and you are most welcome.
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Postby Spengler » Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:38 am

Kalisch provides the motive to invent "such an odd story:" Mohammed is a re-casting of Moses, and the Arabs become the Chosen People. It is suggestive that this occurs about a century after Geoffrey of Tours identifies the Franks as the new Chosen People, and Isidore of Seville does the same for the Visigoths.
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Postby charleston » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:17 am

What was the Kaaba originally? Where do the hajj rituals come from?

At first glance, they manifest an impressive similarity to Hindu rituals: bowing and prostrating, shaving the hair, wearing a white robe, circumambulating around a square cosmological symbol (Mandala), counting holy names (dhikr) with a rosary (the tasbih or masbaha, sibha, sousha), kissing a stone, revering sacred water -- all the distinctive Meccan rituals have Hindu counterparts.

The Muslim historian Firishta writes, “Before the advent of Islam, the Brahmans of India were always going on pilgrimage to the Ka’aba, for the worship of the idols there.”

And historically, Arabia has many connections with the Indus Valley. The presence of India in the region, up to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, is well documented. Some have speculated that even the Arabic language as such has many Sanskrit roots. The very word “Arab” may derive from ara-vat or arva, meaning a horse in Sanskrit. The “land of the horses” gives us Aravasthan, from which may come Arabia.

There are records of Arabo-Indian trade with Egypt as far back as 2743 B.C. There were, for instance, land routes through Basra or along the sea that appear to have gone through Arabia. Klaus K. Klostermaier states that “for several centuries a lively commerce developed between the ancient Mediterranean world and India, particularly the ports on the Western coast. The most famous of these ports was Sopara, not far from modern Bombay, which was recently, renamed Mumbai. Present day Cranganore in Kerala, identified with the ancient Muziris, claims to have had trade contacts with Ancient Egypt under Queen Hatsheput, who sent five ships to obtain spices, as well as with ancient Israel during King Solomon’s reign. Apparently, the contact did not break off after Egypt was conquered by Greece and later by Rome.”

Even now, ruins of a shrine to Shiva have been discovered on Socotra, an island belonging to Yemen. Hindu Yemenites are still there, and they are not Indian emigrants. In a very recent statement, Maulana Nabiullah Khan of Jamaat-e-Islamia complains: “We were surprised to discover that there are some Hindus in Yemen. These ancient Yemeni Hindus are not Indians. In my opinion, these Hindus are descendants of traders from India in ancient times. I was also surprised to learn that they have a Shiva temple in Yemen. Qazi was very unhappy over this. When he talked to the Yemen leaders, he broached this subject. But the Yemeni leaders refused Qazi’s suggestion of forced conversion of these people to Islam.”

Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq, provides evidence that the Hindu presence in Arabia on the eve of Islam was fairly strong. When Yemen was invaded by the Abyssinians, Sayf b. Dhû Yazan, a chief of the dominant Himayrite clan of Arabs, went to Chosroes (Khusrû), the king of Persia, for help. “He said: ‘O King, ravens have taken possession of our country.’ Chosroes asked, ‘What ravens, Abyssinians or Sindhians?’ ‘Abyssinians,’ he replied.” “Ravens” meant black people, who were identified with Indians and Abyssinians in the minds of Arabs and Persians at that time.

Later, a deputation from the Banu al-Harith waited on Muhammad. “When they came to the apostle he asked who the people who looked like Indians were, and he was told that they were the B. al-Hãrith b. Ka’b.” Muhammad, it seems, was quite familiar with Indians -- or at least his eighth-century biographer was.

There is also a good deal of evidence, by the way, that muhammad was not a name, but a title usually given to victorious warlords, just as Mahatmat (great soul) was not the name of Gandhi, but his title. Sanskrit etymology offers an elucidation of this: Muhammad comes from Mahan Madah: “a person of great inspiration.” But it can also be understood in a hostile sense, implying “a person of a proud and haughty temperament.”

The “kaaba” is usually translated as a dice or a cube, as derived from the Greek “kubos.” It is less commonly linked to the Sanskrit word Gabha (Garbha + Graha), which means Sanctum. Even in the Tamul (or Tamil) language, which is part of the most ancient Dravidian civilization of the Indus Valley, a similar word exists: Kabaali, one of Shiva’s names. Shiva temples in South India are still called Kabaalishwaran.

There is more.


http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/07/spenc ... stasy.html
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Postby Cavour » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:15 pm

samwise wrote:
Cavour wrote:
Ibrahim wrote:
In terms of historicity, Muhammad is pretty much the same as Moses. A legendary figure who non-believers will casually assert was probably a fictitious creation with a biography combining some real events which took place over many years and undertaken by many individuals, as well as some purely mythological stories.


Not only Moses was Muhammad's model: Abraham, king David and Jesus were, too. And the following story is not only a myth, but also a crime, justified by Allah... A religious thriller, I'd say. :twisted: Dig it very attentively!
http://www.rorotoko.com/index.php/article/david_powers_book_interview_muhammad_not_father_men_making_last_prophet/P0/


In my original "Reading the Qur'an" thread on Dunedain.net, Collingwood gave a thorough analysis of the The Zaid ibn Harithah account from precisely this political point of view. Zaid was the purported adopted son of Muhammad. According to Surah 33, (al-Ahzah, "The Confederates") Zaid is the prophet's adopted son. The prophet sees Zaid's wife in a moment of unguarded intimacy, and wants her. He knows he can't have her (marrying one's son's ex-wife is incest). But he receives a revelation declaring that (a) adopted sons are not "real" sons and therefore (b) he can marry Zaid's wife, after he divorces her, which (of course) he does.

This account, more than any other in the Qur'an, convinced me there was a person behind the generic prophet. But it is very problematic from a moral standpoint. The prophet comes across as another religious leader who manipulates his authority to satiate his carnal appetites. […]

Collingwood's summary shows it can be read, not as a literal account, but as a allegorical description of the political shifts in proto-Islam:

you might view the problematic marriage of Surah 33 less as a real event between two individuals, and more as part of a symbolic narrative account of the formation of a political alliance between the earliest Muslims or proto-Muslims of the Hijaz and the Kalb tribe of the Syrian frontier. If you're going to deconstruct the Medinan Surahs ... much of what passes for the details of the Prophet's marriages and adoptions may well be about tribal relationships ... and you can't tell the players without a scorecard. Studying the Qur'an in isolation from Hadith and Sirah has serious limitations.

According to the Traditional Account, Muhammad's adopted son, [the Syrian] Zaid ibn Harithah, was his only male son; Muhammad had no biological sons who survived childhood. Zaid reportedly had not only a son but also a grandson. Inheritance preference being given to the male line, not Ali but Zaid and his progeny would have been the Shi'ite candidates for Caliph, but for surah 33:4-5, which is the basis for sharia reduction of inheritance rights of adopted sons to less than that of natural children. Daughters have inheritance rights; adopted sons can be left nothing. However, wives have inheritance rights from their husbands, and sons have inheritance rights from their mothers. [...]
So the story of Zaid and his wife appears both (1) to legitimate an Umayyad [Syrian] political alliance by projecting it back into the Prophet's family as an adoption, and (2) to undermine Shi'ite political theory by destroying the exclusive Fatimid claim to the Caliphate through Islamic inheritance laws. This may be our best indicator yet of who wrote the Medinan surahs, and when, and why.



The figure of Zayd [formerly a Syrian-Christian child, kidnapped by Arab nomads], as it was later concocted by the later bio-hagiographers of the Prophet, has greater relevance as:
1) the only one Muslim whose name is mentioned in the Qur'an, Sura 33:37ff, which in turn is the only Sura where "Muhammad [ibn Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Muttalib]" is undisputably mentioned as as a proper name. In other three loci, 3:144, 47:2 and 48:29, muhammad could be translated simply as "the praised" and related to Jesus (according to the German "revisionist" Karl-Heinz Ohlig.
3) in the Qur'an, Zayd is reported as an adopted son and as the husband of a woman from whom he (Zayd) was compelled to divorce in 625 CE because the Prophet desired her and wanted to marry her.

Now, says David S. Powers
in order to prevent the Prophet from committing a sin [incest], God [in Q. 33:37] introduces a distinction between the wives of natural sons and the wives of adopted sons. Henceforth, a marriage between a man and the former wife of his natural son was forbidden, whereas a marriage between a man and the former wife of his adopted son was licit.

In short: adoption is abolished by God, Muhammad repudiates Zayd, who divorces from his wife and finally, as the hagiograpers purport, dies in battle on 629 CE (i.e. three yers before Muhammad's death: 632) as the first martyr of Islam. And he dies exactly in south-Syria, bravely and nobly fighting against Byzantines & Arab foederati, i.e. against the same tribes of his biological parents...

Hagiographers apart, Qur'an 33:39 solemnly concludes:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets.


Given the fact that, according to the Quran,
1) the Prophet had no sons, either biological or adopted, nor siblings, only a paternal cousin (Ali ibn Abi Tālib ibn Abd al-Muttalib) and a paternal uncle (Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib) who were forbidden to marry his many widows (like with Jewish levirate or Persian cagar) by the Qur'an itself: "It's not for you […] to marry his [the Prophet's] wives, ever" (33:53) and "his wifes are mothers to the believers"(33:6);
2) the prophecy in the Qur'an is strictly male-hereditary (from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Isaac and Ishmael, from Joseph to Moses, from king David to Jesus…)
3) previous prophets had committed sins or were related to sins (Adam: apple; David: adulterer, Jesus: uncertain origin…), while Allah always prevented Muhammad's sins.

the fundamental theo-logical consequece is that Muhammad is the Seal, i.e. the Perfect prophet and the Last, and therefore he has ended both the spiritual "office" and the family-kinship (no more descendants of Abd al-Muttalib).



On the other hand, given the fact that
1) "Seal" as a theological concept (and "Muhammad" as a proper name, too) is to be found only in Sura 33;
2) Sura 33 is said to have been deeply manipulated by later editors;
3) the story of Muhammad, the "Syrian" Zayd and his wife is apparently modeled od the biblical story of king David, Huriah the Hittite and Bathsheba…
David Powers concludes:
Although Zayd may have been an historical figure, the narratives about him are best seen, in my view, as artful literary compositions. In these narratives, Zayd’s primary function—indeed, one might say, his sole function—is to make it possible for Muhammad to become the Last Prophet.
Nota Nota bene: Powers is not a revisionist:
The notion that the early Muslim community might have revised the text of the Qur’an is unthinkable, not only for Muslims but also for most Islamicists—including, until recently, myself.


If we assume the revisionist stance, held by the Inarah school (a group of scholars—Ohlig, Gross, Popp, Puin, Luxenberg and, recently, Kalisch--who are linked to the Saarland University, Germany), things get much worse: we should say that the mention of the name Muhammad in Sura 33 is even faker than all the other three loci above mentioned (3:144, 47:2, 48:29), and that the story of the repudiated son Zayd is merely a legitimation of the dinasty of the Marwanids (since Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, 685, to Marwan II, 750), who ruled Islam from Damascus and Jerusalem at the time when the Qur'an were edited and the Zayd-story was taken from its biblical model…

Moreover, Ohlig & C. affirm that the Marwanids did not come from Mekka, but from the big city of Merv (ancient Khorasan; today Turkmenistan) on the Silk road, from which came also the "Abbasid revolution".

Merv was one of the most wealthy and powerful towns of the first millennium, with a multicultural population (Buddhists, Zoroastrians, various Christians, Jews…): the only one town where the complex text of the Ur-Qur'an could have been conceived and written…
A text whose main tenets are that Jesus is only a man―the praised (Muhammad) and noble (Ali) servant of God (abd-Allah)―eager to sacrifice himseld in the name of the only one existent God, eager to nobly fight against the un-believers, who are gnostically doomed to non-existence and... who belong to his former "tribe": the Jews & Christians.
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Postby cassowary » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:11 pm

and that the story of the repudiated son Zayd is merely a legitimation of the dinasty of the Marwanids


How does the story of Zayd legitimizes the Marwinids?
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Postby Cavour » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:06 pm

cassowary wrote:
and that the story of the repudiated son Zayd is merely a legitimation of the dinasty of the Marwanids


How does the story of Zayd legitimizes the Marwanids?


Adoption implies non-kinship, spiritual ties. On the contrary, the so called Umayyads established a ruling dinasty.
But a Shi'a rumor about the first branch of the dinasty (the Syriaq-Christian Maavia/Mu'awiya & descendants, 661-684) affirmed that its eponimous ancestor Umayya ibn Abd-Shams was in fact an adopted son with blond hairs... This rumor further explains the Marwanids's (685-750) reject of adoption.
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