Islam and Its Past

Jāhiliyya, Late Antiquity, and the Qur'an

Islam and Its Past

Islam and Its Past: Jahiliyya, Late Antiquity, and the Qur'an brings together scholars from various disciplines and fields to consider Islamic revelation, with particular focus on the Qur'an. The collection provides a wide-ranging survey of the development and current state of Qur'anic studies in the Western academy. It shows how interest in the field has recently grown, how the ways in which it is cultivated have changed, how it has ramified, and how difficult it now is for any one scholar to keep abreast of it. Chapters explore the milieu in which the Meccan component of the Qur'an made its appearance. The general question is what we can say about that milieu by combining a careful reading of the relevant parts of the Qur'an with what we know about the religious trends of Late Antiquity in Arabia and elsewhere. More specifically, the issue is what we can learn in this way about the manner in which the "polytheists" of the Qur'an related to the Jewish and Christian traditions: were they Godfearers in the sense familiar from the study of ancient Judaism? It looks at the Qur'an as a text of Late Antiquity--not just considering those features of it that could be seen as normal in that context, but also identifying what is innovative about it against the Late Antique background. Here the focus is on the "believers" rather than the "polytheists." The volume also engages in different ways with notions of monotheism in pre-Islamic Arabia. This collection provides a broad survey of what has been happening in the field and concrete illustrations of some of the more innovative lines of research that have recently been pursued.

Muhammad and the Empires of Faith

The Making of the Prophet of Islam

Muhammad and the Empires of Faith

In Muhammad and the Empires of Faith, Sean W. Anthony demonstrates how critical readings of non-Muslim and Muslim sources in tandem can breathe new life into the historical study of Muhammad and how his message transformed the world. By placing these sources within the intellectual and cultural world of Late Antiquity, Anthony offers a fresh assessment of the earliest sources for Muhammad’s life, taking readers on a grand tour of the available evidence, and suggests what new insights stand to be gained from the techniques and methods pioneered by countless scholars over the decades in a variety of fields. Muhammad and the Empires of Faith offers both an authoritative introduction to the multilayered traditions surrounding the life of Muhammad and a compelling exploration of how these traditions interacted with the broader landscape of Late Antiquity.

Aspects of Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium

Papers Read at a Colloquium Held at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul 31 May-5 June 1992

Aspects of Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium


The Quest for the Historical Muhammad

The Quest for the Historical Muhammad

More than one hundred years ago Western scholars began to investigate the origins of Islam, using the highest standards of objective historical scholarship of the time. Their aim was to determine what could be known about Muhammad and the rise of early Islam quite apart from the pious and totally unobjective traditions preserved by the Muslim religious community. In some ways this research was inspired by a similar investigation of Christianity made famous by Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus. Today although much has been learned about early Christianity, little comparable progress has been made in the field of Islamic Studies. Here objective historical research has long been severely handicapped both by the resistance of Muslim societies to Western analysis of their sacred traditions and by the apologetic approaches of many Western scholars, who have compromised their investigations for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities. It is in this context that Ibn Warraq presents this important anthology of the best studies of Muhammad and early Islam ranging from the very beginnings of Islamic Studies in the nineteenth century to contemporary research. In his selection and in an introductory essay, Warraq makes it clear that some very serious scholarly controversies lie at the heart of Islam. First, the Koran itself, the Muslim sacred scripture and the foundation of Islamic culture, is called into question as the basis for objective historical knowledge of Muhammad. Some scholars have also questioned the reliability of most of the other early Arabic documents that supposedly attest to events in the life of Muhammad and his followers. Was the Koran dictated by Muhammad at all? Was it actually compiled any earlier than a hundred years after the Prophet's death? How much of Muslim sacred tradition, in the light of objective historical analysis, must be dismissed as unreliable hearsay? Were the motives of the first Muslim conquerors during the Jihad truly religious in nature or largely mercenary? These disturbing questions, long suppressed throughout the history of Islamic scholarship, are here raised again in these erudite and thoroughly researched essays by noted scholars.

The Eye of the Beholder

The Life of Muḥammad as Viewed by the Early Muslims : a Textual Analysis

The Eye of the Beholder

The earliest surviving Islamic texts are examined as records not of events in Mohammed's life, but of how the writers constructed his life in the cultural and religious traditions they knew. Particularly shows how the stages of a prophetic career inherited from Jews and Christians--attestation, preparation, revelation, persecution, and salvation--were adapted to an Arabian context. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Ethics and Poetry in Sixth-Century Arabia

Ethics and Poetry in Sixth-Century Arabia

The poetry of pre-Islamic Arabia is a neglected tessera in the mosaic of Late Antiquity. It is the only literary corpus of that time that embodies the voices of the Arabs, and is, thus, a critical complementary resource for understanding the history not only of Arabian poetry, but also of Arabian ethos and ideology. Yet, as such, it remains little exploited for reasons large among which loom the ‘question of authenticity’, belief in the myth of ‘the empty Hijaz’, and indefensible assumptions of a primitivity that precludes self-awareness and abstract thought, let alone anything truly ethical or religious. By adopting a transparent approach that addresses these negative assumptions and more, this study demonstrates what is implicit in its title: that the ethics and poetry of sixth-century Arabia are an inseparable equation. Offering, first, a critical overview of key figures from the last hundred years – from Goldziher to Izutsu – who have substantially exploited this corpus to advance views on early Arabian ethos and religion, and, then, an analytic survey of recent major approaches to interpreting its meanings and forms, the study proceeds to a graded semantic analysis of select poems to build a ‘vocabulary’ that elucidates both the mechanisms of the poetry’s content and structure, and its profoundly psychological character. The poetry emerges as a stylized, common discourse, based in an organicist system of ethics that exploits concepts of gender, health and commerce, to reflect a distinct cosmology: one where the heart and body of the individual man is the micro-universe of a greater macrocosm. Weighed against the revolutionary vision of the Qurʾan, the language and figures of this world-view allow us to observe seminal details of a transformation that recasts a universe governed by chance, where virtue is to ‘gamble’ communal resources to ‘purchase’ life for generations to come, as a quasi-commercial investment of belief and striving, which may ‘purchase’ life in a world hereafter.

Between past and present

archaeology, ideology, and nationalism in the modern Middle East

Between past and present


Die Entstehung Einer Weltreligion III

Die Heilige Stadt Mekka - Eine Literarische Fiktion

Die Entstehung Einer Weltreligion III


The Concise Encyclopædia of Islam

The Concise Encyclopædia of Islam

The first edition of the Encyclopaedia won worldwide acclaim. As a western scholar of the Islamic faith, Cyril Glassé straddle both cultures and has a respect for and an understanding of both the currrent Islamic world and its complex past. This unique single-volume work covers the contemporary Islamic scene, which includes a substantial entry on the Taliban. This new edition also contains an extensively revised chronology which spans the history of Islam, from its origins through developments in the Muslim world today.