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Theme Changer

 Topic: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker

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  • New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     OP - September 26, 2012, 02:22 PM



    I'm just putting this here for notice and reference. But why, why, why do books like this have to be so expensive? Almost £40 for the cheapest available copy.

    Anyway, looks like one to add to the reading list one day, if I can ever afford it.

    The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam

    by Stephen J. Shoemaker







    The oldest Islamic biography of Muhammad, written in the mid-eighth century, relates that the prophet died at Medina in 632, while earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources indicate that Muhammad survived to lead the conquest of Palestine, beginning in 634-35.

    Although this discrepancy has been known for several decades, Stephen J. Shoemaker here writes the first systematic study of the various traditions. Using methods and perspectives borrowed from biblical studies, Shoemaker concludes that these reports of Muhammad's leadership during the Palestinian invasion likely preserve an early Islamic tradition that was later revised to meet the needs of a changing Islamic self-identity.

    Muhammad and his followers appear to have expected the world to end in the immediate future, perhaps even in their own lifetimes, Shoemaker contends. When the eschatological Hour failed to arrive on schedule and continued to be deferred to an ever more distant point, the meaning of Muhammad's message and the faith that he established needed to be fundamentally rethought by his early followers.

    The larger purpose of The Death of a Prophet exceeds the mere possibility of adjusting the date of Muhammad's death by a few years; far more important to Shoemaker are questions about the manner in which Islamic origins should be studied. The difference in the early sources affords an important opening through which to explore the nature of primitive Islam more broadly.

    Arguing for greater methodological unity between the study of Christian and Islamic origins, Shoemaker emphasizes the potential value of non-Islamic sources for reconstructing the history of formative Islam.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Prophet-Muhammads-Beginnings-Divinations/dp/0812243560/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348669047&sr=1-3

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #1 - September 26, 2012, 02:26 PM

    The author is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon

    Here is an interview about the work:

    +++++



    This book is an effort at the “quest for the historical Muhammad” that uses methods and perspectives borrowed from biblical and early Christian studies to investigate the beginnings of Islam.  It takes its main focus on divergent traditions about the timing of Muhammad’s death in the historical sources for the early Islamic period.

    The traditional Islamic biographies of Muhammad, which were first written more than a century after his death, relate Muhammad’s death in 632 at Medina.  Nevertheless, an alternative tradition survives in earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources, in which Muhammad was still alive when his followers entered Palestine in 634-35.  Although this discrepancy in the source materials has been known for several decades, until now, it had never been investigated.

    The purpose of this study, however, is not to determine when Muhammad really died.  Rather, these rival memories of the end of Muhammad’s life afford a valuable opening through which to explore the nature of earliest Islam more broadly.

    The tradition of Muhammad’s leadership of the campaign in Palestine seems to be earlier than the account of his death in Medina.  The question then is what developments within early Islam could explain such a transformation in the early Islamic memory of the conclusion to Muhammad’s life.  This study argues that the basis for such “re-remembering” of Muhammad’s death lies in the rapidly changing nature of the new religious movement that he founded.  Evidence suggests earliest Islam to have been driven largely by belief that the end of the world had drawn very near: Muhammad and his followers seem to have expected this event even within their lifetimes.  The final judgment of “the Hour” was anticipated, it would appear, in Jerusalem, as it largely still is today in the Islamic tradition.

    Accordingly, Jerusalem and the biblical Holy Land were of enormous religious significance for Muhammad and his earliest followers, vestiges of which can still be found in the Islamic tradition today.  There is in fact mounting evidence that Jerusalem and Palestine were at least as significant as Mecca and Medina—if not perhaps even more so—in early Islamic sacred geography.  Such a configuration would favor a memory of Muhammad’s association with the invasion of Palestine, as he led his followers to meet the final judgment in the Holy Land that was their promised inheritance as children of Abraham.

    Nevertheless, Muhammad’s followers soon grew more patient regarding the end of the world and also developed a distinctive sacred geography that significantly diminished the status of Jerusalem to focus instead on the western Arabian Peninsula.  Consequently, a new tradition of Muhammad’s death in this uniquely Islamic “Holy Land” was required.  In such a way then, one can imagine the emergence of a tradition that remembered Muhammad’s death in his own sacred city, Medina, in parallel with these other developments in earliest Islam.

    I hope that readers will read the book with an open mind.  As clichéd as that may sound, this is particularly a concern given the hostility that some scholars of early Islam have expressed toward prior studies of Islamic origins that use historical-critical methods on traditional materials and approach the traditional Islamic narrative of its origins with a significant measure of skepticism.  Indeed, in comparison with other areas of religious studies, the occasional but persistent antagonism to these kinds of approaches from some scholars in Islamic studies is unusual and unfortunate.
    The wide angle

    One of the main goals of this book is to narrow the divide that exists between the study of religion in the late ancient Mediterranean and the study of Islamic origins.  Surprising as it is, there is still little scholarly activity across this divide, despite some notable recent achievements.

    The beginnings of Islam have long been studied in relative isolation from the religious history of the late ancient Near East.  Its study has proceeded almost exclusively on the basis of materials drawn from the Islamic tradition, and its formation has been conceived within the relative isolation of western Arabia, about which we know precious little during the pre-Islamic period outside of much later Islamic accounts.  Little attention has been paid to how Islam may have developed into its classical form through a process of dialogue and interaction with the other religions of the seventh-century Near East.

    The value of contemporary non-Islamic sources as evidence for the beginnings of Islam also needs to be taken more seriously.  And it is not only the case that these sources need to be studied for what they relate about early Islam, but the possibility of significant development within the Islamic tradition after sustained contact with these other religious also needs to be more fully considered.

    The book also addresses the need to bridge the study of Islam methodologically with these other Near Eastern religious traditions.  Many scholars of early Islam have long taken the witness of the Islamic historical tradition more or less at face value, despite widely acknowledged problems with these sources.  The traditional narratives of Islamic origins were very late in forming—over a century after the events in question—and they are widely recognized as presenting a highly idealized portrait of Muhammad and the beginnings of Islam that seems designed to embody the beliefs and practices of Islam during its second and later centuries.  Similar problems also beset the study of Christian and Jewish origins, but scholars in these fields have learned to treat the relevant sources with a healthy dose of skepticism.  They have also developed methods for reconstructing various models of early Judaism and Christianity despite the tendentious nature of the sources.  These approaches also hold potential to shed new light on the beginnings of the Islamic tradition.

    I began along the path to this book many years ago, back in graduate school actually.  The focus of my training was on Christianity in the late ancient and early medieval Near East, but one of my good friends was an Islamicist who had initially started out in the history of Christianity.  We often discussed the differences in approach to studying the origins of the two traditions, and especially the relative absence of the “hermeneutics of suspicion” from study of early Islam.  This same friend first introduced me to a book by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Hagarism, a highly provocative and controversial study of formative Islam based on the non-Islamic sources.  This was the first work to identify the discrepancy in the sources concerning the timing of Muhammad’s death.  I was struck by the quality of the evidence for this tradition, particularly its “multiple, independent attestation” in a variety of sources: such evidence is the “gold standard” of historical Jesus studies.  I initially intended to write a brief article noting the apparent quality of this evidence when viewed from another discipline.  But the article grew, and before long, I realized that I was writing a book.

    A close-up

    The introduction will give readers the best overview of the issues and questions that the book engages, as well as its broader intellectual context.  Nevertheless, I attempted to write the book so that each of its four chapters could be read largely on its own.

    For some readers the most interesting material may be in the third chapter, which deals with the question of imminent eschatology in earliest Islam, that is, belief that the end of the world was very near at hand.  This topic raises fundamental questions about the nature of primitive Islam and its religious outlook and invites considerable suspicion regarding the traditional narratives of Islamic origins.  It also challenges widely held contemporary views of Muhammad as primarily a social and economic reformer or the architect of a pan-Arab “nationalist” or “nativist” movement.  Moreover, this investigation of early Islamic beliefs about the end of the world proceeds in a methodologically comparative fashion, drawing comparisons to study of the historical Jesus and primitive Christianity.  This chapter thus will especially interest readers with expertise and interest in biblical studies or the comparative study of religion.

    Lastly

    Some of my primary wishes for the book’s implications and consequences are implicit in the answer to your second set of questions.  I hope that the book will spur further discussion about Islam’s development within the broader context of religion in the late ancient Near East.  We need to examine the beginnings of the earliest Islamic tradition not as something that burst into the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian world already fully formed but instead as a phenomenon that continued to develop rapidly even after it entered these new milieux.

    Likewise, I hope that this study might encourage more widespread incorporation of methods and perspectives from biblical studies to the study of formative Islam.  Although scholars of early Islam have often resisted and even explicitly rejected the relevance of these approaches, they offer valuable new avenues for investigating the beginnings of Islam.  This is particularly true for methods used in New Testament and historical Jesus studies, which have been largely ignored as models to this point, despite the fact that there are important similarities in the nature of the early Christian and Islamic materials.

    By introducing historical-critical approaches developed in the study of Jewish and Christian origins we might achieve greater methodological and ultimately pedagogical unity within the discipline of religious studies.

    The pedagogical implications, although often overlooked, are significant.  Undergraduate textbooks regularly present accounts of early Judaism and early Christianity that are based on the critical discourses of scholarship that have developed around Jewish and Christian origins, and accordingly these differ significantly from the traditional accounts.  The early history of Islam, by contrast, is generally presented largely according to the traditional Islamic view, despite the significant weaknesses of the relevant sources.  As an educator, I think it would be helpful to present these traditions on a more consistent basis, and hopefully, more skeptical approaches to the early history of Islam can move us in this direction.

    http://rorotoko.com/interview/20120424_shoemaker_stephen_on_death_prophet_end_muhammad_life_begin_islam/


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #2 - September 26, 2012, 03:01 PM

    Order it via a library!

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #3 - September 26, 2012, 04:20 PM


    I want it for my own library

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #4 - September 26, 2012, 10:27 PM

    Quote
    The traditional Islamic biographies of Muhammad, which were first written more than a century after his death, relate Muhammad’s death in 632 at Medina.  Nevertheless, an alternative tradition survives in earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources, in which Muhammad was still alive when his followers entered Palestine in 634-35

    OMG I'd like to have a copy too!  Angelic
    Quote
    Muhammad and his followers appear to have expected the world to end in the immediate future, perhaps even in their own lifetimes, Shoemaker contends.


    Yes. This reminds me of my last days as a Muslim, when I believed that Islam was useful only for the Arabs who lived at that time and useless in the modern times. lol I mean I believed that Islam came from Allah but Allah didn't want us to follow Islam any longer. This belief was based on the second verse in Friday, the quranic chapter. Today as an ex-Muslim I believe Mohammed just thought that no one would follow him in the 21th century  Tongue
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #5 - September 26, 2012, 11:38 PM

    Shit Billy this book sounds fascinating! I am especially intrigued by this:

    an alternative tradition survives in earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources, in which Muhammad was still alive when his followers entered Palestine in 634-35.


    Are there really Islamic sources that say that he was still alive during the conquest of Palestine?

    It's a shame the book is so expensive, anyone fancy splitting it?
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #6 - September 27, 2012, 12:05 AM


    Read the interview, he says these discrepancies were alerted to by the work Crone did on Hagarism.



    Quote
    This same friend first introduced me to a book by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Hagarism, a highly provocative and controversial study of formative Islam based on the non-Islamic sources.  This was the first work to identify the discrepancy in the sources concerning the timing of Muhammad’s death.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #7 - September 27, 2012, 12:53 PM


    Ah fuck it. I've only gone and bought it. Forty quid. I'll just take a pass on the next night out.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #8 - September 27, 2012, 01:51 PM

    Yeah some academic books do cost a bit.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #9 - September 27, 2012, 10:37 PM

    Sounds very interesting. The sort of book that I might end up reading gradually at the bookstore and taking pictures of and printing very interesting parts.

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #10 - September 27, 2012, 10:43 PM

    Patricia Crone and Michael Cook have backed away from Hagarism now.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #11 - September 27, 2012, 10:46 PM

    But they uncovered fertile seams and discrepancies during their research that has birthed this book and opened new possible vistas of enquiry.

    Knowledge advances incrementally and in zig zag snakes and ladder ways.

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #12 - September 27, 2012, 11:10 PM

    Fascinating, but not that surprising in some ways. Belief in an iminent, or almost iminent, end of the world is not that uncommon with religions. IIRC there is a fair amount of evidence that this applied to JC and his disciples too, and later medieval Christians were expecting the world to end in 1000 AD because of the Bible's hoo-ha about the millennium.

    If the conquest of Palestine was motivated by a perceived necessity to be in control of Jerusalem before God pulled the plug, that would certainly explain its occurrence. Just another bunch of religious nutters going on a rampage. Seems like that is one of the pillars of Islam. parrot

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #13 - September 28, 2012, 04:54 AM

    Not surprising at all. I wondered about this possibility, well not this exact possibility, but that islam or some branch  there of had a different or greater interest in the last days for some reasons that seemed apparent to me from what i know of Islam. Some Muslims, as do some Christians and Jews, have stronger more detailed last day teachings. I find last day teachings interesting. As time allows me i spend more time then the average person in the persuit of information about last day teachings. There are  anyhow many Muslims that hold the Dome of the Rock as sacred there for the Jersalem problem with the Jews who hold the Temple Mount sacred (not exactly where the Dome of the Rock is) but close enough that they cause each other problems. It's interesting how that sometimes the most interesting information gets covered up in a useless mess of tradition.

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #14 - September 28, 2012, 10:45 PM

    IIRC, the Jehovah's Witnesses have changed their proposed end of the world date several times in the last century or so. The elders like to keep that information to themselves, though. Cheesy

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #15 - September 28, 2012, 11:42 PM

    Umm, the Dome of the Rock is on the Temple Mount!  It is where the Temple was!

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #16 - September 29, 2012, 01:29 AM

    IIRC, the Jehovah's Witnesses have changed their proposed end of the world date several times in the last century or so. The elders like to keep that information to themselves, though. Cheesy

    Not really. It's no big secret. Every thing is right there in print for any one who wants to take the time to read it. The only thing that can be determined by Bible prophecy is the beginning of the end. That hasn't changed. Ideas about what that means has. Oh well. There is something to be said for contintually looking at the prophecies and world events to see how they fit.

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #17 - September 29, 2012, 01:40 AM

    Umm, the Dome of the Rock is on the Temple Mount!  It is where the Temple was!


    Perhaps. Isn't actual it the mosque that is at the other end of area that occupies the Temple site. I'm aware there's are different schools of thoughts on this matter. Personally I don't care it is oniy of historical interest.

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #18 - September 29, 2012, 03:06 AM

    hmm I should check to see if my uni library has a copy of this and/or Tom Holland's books

    There is an afghan guy in my class who tries to debate with me about Islam and i need more ammo.      Headsman


    In my opinion a life without curiosity is not a life worth living
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #19 - October 06, 2012, 08:40 PM


    I'm still waiting for this book to be delivered......in the meantime I received the book "Twenty Three Years: A Study Of The Prophetic Career Of Mohammad" by an Iranian writer called Ali Dashti, anyone heard or read of it?



    Quote
    In the book, 23 Years, Dashti chooses reason over blind faith:

    "Belief can blunt human reason and common sense, even in learned scholars. What is needed is more impartial study."
    Dashti strongly denied the miracles ascribed to Muhammad by the Islamic tradition and rejected the Muslim view that the Quran is the word of God himself. Instead, he favors thorough and skeptical examination of all orthodox belief systems. Dashti argues that the Quran contains nothing new in the sense of ideas not already expressed by others. All the moral precepts of the Quran are self-evident and generally acknowledged.

    The stories in it are taken in identical or slightly modified forms from the lore of the Jews and the Christians, whose rabbis and monks Muhammad had met and consulted on his journeys to Syria, and from memories conserved by the descendants of the peoples of Ad and Thamud.

    Muhammad reiterated principles which mankind had already conceived in earlier centuries and many places.

    "Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, Moses, and Jesus had said similar things. Many of the duties and rites of Islam are continuous practices which the pagan Arabs had adopted from the Jews."


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Dashti

    He was born in 1896 and died after the revolution in 1982. He was arrested and incarcerated and beaten up by Khomeini's men and died soon after.

     This book 23 Years was published anonymously around 1974 in Beirut. Seems like a remarkable man.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #20 - October 06, 2012, 10:45 PM

    This book by Shoemaker. I want to read it, but I'm going to wait till it's on the Kindle.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #21 - October 06, 2012, 11:49 PM


    I'm just putting this here for notice and reference. But why, why, why do books like this have to be so expensive? Almost £40 for the cheapest available copy.

    Anyway, looks like one to add to the reading list one day, if I can ever afford it.

    The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam

    by Stephen J. Shoemaker




    It sounds like a good book.. well let me put that what he says on his book


    Quote
    In a nutshell

    This book is an effort at the “quest for the historical Muhammad” that uses methods and perspectives borrowed from biblical and early Christian studies to investigate the beginnings of Islam.  It takes its main focus on divergent traditions about the timing of Muhammad’s death in the historical sources for the early Islamic period.

    The traditional Islamic biographies of Muhammad, which were first written more than a century after his death, relate Muhammad’s death in 632 at Medina.  Nevertheless, an alternative tradition survives in earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources, in which Muhammad was still alive when his followers entered Palestine in 634-35.  Although this discrepancy in the source materials has been known for several decades, until now, it had never been investigated.

    The purpose of this study, however, is not to determine when Muhammad really died.  Rather, these rival memories of the end of Muhammad’s life afford a valuable opening through which to explore the nature of earliest Islam more broadly.

    The tradition of Muhammad’s leadership of the campaign in Palestine seems to be earlier than the account of his death in Medina.  The question then is what developments within early Islam could explain such a transformation in the early Islamic memory of the conclusion to Muhammad’s life.  This study argues that the basis for such “re-remembering” of Muhammad’s death lies in the rapidly changing nature of the new religious movement that he founded.  Evidence suggests earliest Islam to have been driven largely by belief that the end of the world had drawn very near: Muhammad and his followers seem to have expected this event even within their lifetimes.  The final judgment of “the Hour” was anticipated, it would appear, in Jerusalem, as it largely still is today in the Islamic tradition.

    Accordingly, Jerusalem and the biblical Holy Land were of enormous religious significance for Muhammad and his earliest followers, vestiges of which can still be found in the Islamic tradition today.  There is in fact mounting evidence that Jerusalem and Palestine were at least as significant as Mecca and Medina—if not perhaps even more so—in early Islamic sacred geography.  Such a configuration would favor a memory of Muhammad’s association with the invasion of Palestine, as he led his followers to meet the final judgment in the Holy Land that was their promised inheritance as children of Abraham.

    Nevertheless, Muhammad’s followers soon grew more patient regarding the end of the world and also developed a distinctive sacred geography that significantly diminished the status of Jerusalem to focus instead on the western Arabian Peninsula.  Consequently, a new tradition of Muhammad’s death in this uniquely Islamic “Holy Land” was required.  In such a way then, one can imagine the emergence of a tradition that remembered Muhammad’s death in his own sacred city, Medina, in parallel with these other developments in earliest Islam.

    I hope that readers will read the book with an open mind.  As clichéd as that may sound, this is particularly a concern given the hostility that some scholars of early Islam have expressed toward prior studies of Islamic origins that use historical-critical methods on traditional materials and approach the traditional Islamic narrative of its origins with a significant measure of skepticism.  Indeed, in comparison with other areas of religious studies, the occasional but persistent antagonism to these kinds of approaches from some scholars in Islamic studies is unusual and unfortunate.

    The wide angle

    One of the main goals of this book is to narrow the divide that exists between the study of religion in the late ancient Mediterranean and the study of Islamic origins.  Surprising as it is, there is still little scholarly activity across this divide, despite some notable recent achievements.

    The beginnings of Islam have long been studied in relative isolation from the religious history of the late ancient Near East.  Its study has proceeded almost exclusively on the basis of materials drawn from the Islamic tradition, and its formation has been conceived within the relative isolation of western Arabia, about which we know precious little during the pre-Islamic period outside of much later Islamic accounts.  Little attention has been paid to how Islam may have developed into its classical form through a process of dialogue and interaction with the other religions of the seventh-century Near East.

    The value of contemporary non-Islamic sources as evidence for the beginnings of Islam also needs to be taken more seriously.  And it is not only the case that these sources need to be studied for what they relate about early Islam, but the possibility of significant development within the Islamic tradition after sustained contact with these other religious also needs to be more fully considered.

    The book also addresses the need to bridge the study of Islam methodologically with these other Near Eastern religious traditions.  Many scholars of early Islam have long taken the witness of the Islamic historical tradition more or less at face value, despite widely acknowledged problems with these sources.  The traditional narratives of Islamic origins were very late in forming—over a century after the events in question—and they are widely recognized as presenting a highly idealized portrait of Muhammad and the beginnings of Islam that seems designed to embody the beliefs and practices of Islam during its second and later centuries.  Similar problems also beset the study of Christian and Jewish origins, but scholars in these fields have learned to treat the relevant sources with a healthy dose of skepticism.  They have also developed methods for reconstructing various models of early Judaism and Christianity despite the tendentious nature of the sources.  These approaches also hold potential to shed new light on the beginnings of the Islamic tradition.

    I began along the path to this book many years ago, back in graduate school actually.  The focus of my training was on Christianity in the late ancient and early medieval Near East, but one of my good friends was an Islamicist who had initially started out in the history of Christianity.  We often discussed the differences in approach to studying the origins of the two traditions, and especially the relative absence of the “hermeneutics of suspicion” from study of early Islam.  This same friend first introduced me to a book by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Hagarism, a highly provocative and controversial study of formative Islam based on the non-Islamic sources.  This was the first work to identify the discrepancy in the sources concerning the timing of Muhammad’s death.  I was struck by the quality of the evidence for this tradition, particularly its “multiple, independent attestation” in a variety of sources: such evidence is the “gold standard” of historical Jesus studies.  I initially intended to write a brief article noting the apparent quality of this evidence when viewed from another discipline.  But the article grew, and before long, I realized that I was writing a book.

    A close-up

    The introduction will give readers the best overview of the issues and questions that the book engages, as well as its broader intellectual context.  Nevertheless, I attempted to write the book so that each of its four chapters could be read largely on its own.

    For some readers the most interesting material may be in the third chapter, which deals with the question of imminent eschatology in earliest Islam, that is, belief that the end of the world was very near at hand.  This topic raises fundamental questions about the nature of primitive Islam and its religious outlook and invites considerable suspicion regarding the traditional narratives of Islamic origins.  It also challenges widely held contemporary views of Muhammad as primarily a social and economic reformer or the architect of a pan-Arab “nationalist” or “nativist” movement.  Moreover, this investigation of early Islamic beliefs about the end of the world proceeds in a methodologically comparative fashion, drawing comparisons to study of the historical Jesus and primitive Christianity.  This chapter thus will especially interest readers with expertise and interest in biblical studies or the comparative study of religion.

    Lastly

    Some of my primary wishes for the book’s implications and consequences are implicit in the answer to your second set of questions.  I hope that the book will spur further discussion about Islam’s development within the broader context of religion in the late ancient Near East.  We need to examine the beginnings of the earliest Islamic tradition not as something that burst into the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian world already fully formed but instead as a phenomenon that continued to develop rapidly even after it entered these new milieux.

    Likewise, I hope that this study might encourage more widespread incorporation of methods and perspectives from biblical studies to the study of formative Islam.  Although scholars of early Islam have often resisted and even explicitly rejected the relevance of these approaches, they offer valuable new avenues for investigating the beginnings of Islam.  This is particularly true for methods used in New Testament and historical Jesus studies, which have been largely ignored as models to this point, despite the fact that there are important similarities in the nature of the early Christian and Islamic materials.

    By introducing historical-critical approaches developed in the study of Jewish and Christian origins we might achieve greater methodological and ultimately pedagogical unity within the discipline of religious studies.

    The pedagogical implications, although often overlooked, are significant.  Undergraduate textbooks regularly present accounts of early Judaism and early Christianity that are based on the critical discourses of scholarship that have developed around Jewish and Christian origins, and accordingly these differ significantly from the traditional accounts.  The early history of Islam, by contrast, is generally presented largely according to the traditional Islamic view, despite the significant weaknesses of the relevant sources.  As an educator, I think it would be helpful to present these traditions on a more consistent basis, and hopefully, more skeptical approaches to the early history of Islam can move us in this direction.

    That is what he says on his book . well it is clearly in the similar lines  of what Patricia Crone and Michael Cook  said..  it was actually Patricia Crone's Ph. D. thesis' She makes lot sense on the origins of Quran and hadith
     

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #22 - October 15, 2012, 11:22 AM


    OK, this book took ages to get delivered but I finally got it over the weekend.

    Having read through the intro its gone straight to the top of the pile of books by my bedside.


    TonyT, its a big price, but all I'll say is that if you want to drop some hints to your loved ones about what to buy you for Christmas, get on this. Seriously.



    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #23 - October 15, 2012, 11:39 AM


    From the dustjacket, discovered another intriguing looking book:

    Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet by David S. Powers

    Quote
    The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that the office of prophecy is hereditary but that the line of descent ends with Muhammad, who is the seal, or last, of the prophets. While Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, he is said to have adopted a man named Zayd, and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two. Zayd b. Muhammad, also known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad to be named in the Qur'an. But if prophecy is hereditary and Muhammad has a son, David Powers argues, then he might not be the Last Prophet. Conversely, if he is the Last Prophet, he cannot have a son. In Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men, Powers contends that a series of radical moves were made in the first two centuries of Islamic history to ensure Muhammad's position as the Last Prophet. He focuses on narrative accounts of Muhammad's repudiation of Zayd, of his marriage to Zayd's former wife, and of Zayd's martyrdom in battle against the Byzantines. Powers argues that theological imperatives drove changes in the historical record and led to the abolition or reform of key legal institutions. In what is likely to be the most controversial aspect of his book, he offers compelling physical evidence that the text of the Qur'an itself was altered.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Muhammad-Not-Father-Any-Your/dp/0812241789/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350301063&sr=1-1-spell


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #24 - October 15, 2012, 02:45 PM


    The Shoemaker book is brilliant. Seriously.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #25 - October 15, 2012, 09:38 PM



    Basically this is what he explores.

    (1) Following some research that came out of Hagarism, several non Muslim sources suggest that Muhammad was alive when the Arabs conquered Palestine.

    (2) There are other suggestive things that open this possibility that he did not die when tradition suggests he did.

    (3) The non Muslim sources are separate and unconnected which heightens the credibility of them.

    (4) Islam may have begun not with Muhammad being 'the final prophet' but a movement of monotheism that loosely included Jews and Christians under its umbrella.

    (5) Muhammad was just a kind of apostle figure, not the 'seal of the prophets' he was turned into.

    (6) Islam in its origins was totally focused on the belief in the immediate coming of the apocalypse, Judgment Day. A cult for the end of the world.

    (7) Therefore its sacred geography was Jerusalem - not the Hijaz.

    ( 8 ) A hundred years or so after Muhammad died, the Arab empire began to change what Islam was.

    (9) The whole end of the world focus became diluted, and Islam turned from a belief in the end of the world into one that wanted to justify ruling the world.

    (10) This internal change involved an assertion of Arab tribal supremacy and sensibility.

    (11) The chronology, timeline and narrative was engineered to fit this new need. Scripture, Quran, historical narrative were altered to this end.

    (12) Finally, to represent this, the sacred geography of Islam was re-oriented to serve this need of Arab tribal power and centrality, and Mecca and Medina were made the sacred space of Islam.

    That is a general summary of what he outlines the scope of the book from the introduction.

    Get the book if you can, ladies and gentlemen.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #26 - October 15, 2012, 09:42 PM

    Quote
    (9) The whole end of the world focus became diluted, and Islam turned from a belief in the end of the world into one that wanted to justify ruling the world.

    Sounds much like Christianity. Smiley

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #27 - October 22, 2012, 01:00 PM


    Tony, are you going to get this book? Its a beauty, believe me.

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #28 - October 22, 2012, 01:03 PM

    Yes I am definately going to get it at some point.
  • Re: New book on beginnings of Islam by Stephen J. Shoemaker
     Reply #29 - October 22, 2012, 10:04 PM

    (12) Finally, to represent this, the sacred geography of Islam was re-oriented to serve this need of Arab tribal power and centrality, and Mecca and Medina were made the sacred space of Islam.


    Thanks for the whole bullet point list, it has me very interested. However, it is the above that bothers me a little. When the Arabs were ruling various bits of the world in the name of Islam they never really had either of those two cities as their established bases of operations, so why and how did they settle on those particular places out of all the others? They set up shop in Baghdad, Damascus, etc. didn’t they?

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