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 Topic: Qur'anic studies today

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  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1410 - March 15, 2017, 08:12 AM

    awkward misfire

    crone on Mecca.

    Why shouldn't chunks of the Quran be older than the 600's? From other places?

    Another vector is the process of creating religions. Sikhism has bits of Islam xianity and Hinduism.

    Xianity Judaism and the religion of the true gods.

    Islam xianity Judaism Zarathustra....

    Isn't what they assert about themselves their own marketing?

    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"
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1411 - March 15, 2017, 11:25 AM

    It's doubtful that Arabic was spoken in Yemen before the conquests, unless maybe by pastoralist tribes.

    I´m confused...the south Arabian script found in Yemen didnt represent an "Arabic" language then?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1412 - March 15, 2017, 06:42 PM

    I'm not aware of Arabic being written in South Arabian script in Yemen. I think there are inscriptions in Arabic or Arabic like languages using some form of South Arabian script found much further north in Arabia, from an earlier period. Old South Arabian languages were distinct from Arabic. Non-Arabic languages are still spoken in parts of Yemen and Oman, but these belong to a separate group of Semitic languages known as Modern South Arabian.

    Wiki on South Arabian script and Old South Arabian languages. Wiki describes Himyaritic as being distinct from Old South Arabian but I'm not sure whether this is justified or generally accepted.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1413 - March 16, 2017, 12:17 AM

    Thanks Zeca for deconfusing me!

    Here is Kerr´s article again explaining in simple words what de linguistic situation of Arabia was:


    Apparently he thinks Arabic was not the language of Mecca and Medina either beginning 7C.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1414 - March 16, 2017, 07:49 PM

    Still the best simple explanation of the linguistic situation, based on the most current scholarship, is this presentation by Al-Jallad, IMO.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1415 - March 17, 2017, 06:53 PM

    One of the earliest surviving fragments of Arabic historical writing. Papyrus, Palestine; 8th century?

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1416 - March 17, 2017, 07:01 PM

    The Qur'an Seminar is now open access.
    Quote from: Gabriel Said Reynolds
    The present volume is the work of 25 scholars who participated in the 2012–13 Notre Dame Qurʾān Seminar. The Qurʾān Seminar scholars represent various specializations important to the study of the Qurʾān, including Arabic language, comparative Semitic linguistics, paleography, epigraphy, history, rhetorical theory, hermeneutics, and Biblical studies. The 2012 – 13 Qurʾān Seminar project involved five conferences, each of which consisted of a series of ten sessions, with each session dedicated to a passage of the Qurʾān. After those conferences the editors of this work solicited written commentaries from the Qurʾān Seminar scholars. Subsequently we narrowed those commentaries down, seeking to eliminate redundancy, to the number found in the present work. A list in the opening section of this work (“Commentary Sections by Scholar”) indicates the passages for which each scholar has contributed a commentary.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1417 - March 18, 2017, 12:43 AM

    I'm not aware of Arabic being written in South Arabian script in Yemen.

    I just came across this, so there's one example at least, but from the early Islamic period:

    Said Alsaid - Early South Arabian-Islamic bilingual inscription from Najran
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1418 - March 18, 2017, 03:30 AM

    re Said Alsaid: a good article, but I don't think he's proven that the Arabic graffiti are third century. Leaving aside the script, the content looks like Nevo's Basic-Class: "o Allah, forgive xx bin yy, amin". And the one late letter in the graffito he offers as evidence is the medial ha'.

    I think it's first century. Still interesting in that it shows that South Arabian script lasted into the Basic-Class era, even if it's still Indeterminate Monotheism rather than Islam per se.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1419 - March 25, 2017, 12:49 PM

    Ian David Morris - Mecca before Islam: 2) Macaroba
    There is a consensus in academic scholarship that Mecca is Macoraba. The coordinates put it roughly in the right place, and the name seems roughly correct. Several etymologies have been proposed, but the preferred solution is that it comes from an Old South Arabian word like *mikrāb, with the meaning ‘temple’. Macoraba was therefore a noteworthy centre of pre-Islamic religion as far back as the second century CE. When you encounter Macoraba in scholarly literature you are quite likely to find this etymology, and extremely likely to find the identification with Mecca.

    Of course a consensus does not have to be unanimous, and there have been dissenting opinions. The most prominent so far was from Patricia Crone (d. 2015). In a brilliant, contentious book, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (1987), Crone devotes a few pages to the evidence for Mecca in ancient literature, with negative conclusions: “The plain truth is that the name of Macoraba has nothing to do with that of Mecca, and that the location indicated by Ptolemy for Macoraba in no way dictates identification of the two.”

    Meccan Trade had a strong impact on Early Islamic Studies, but Macoraba remains a staple of academic writing on ancient Arabia. The reason, I think, is not that our interpretation is particularly sound or explanatory, but that Macoraba has become so familiar that we don’t think to reexamine it. Macoraba has been part of our thought-world for a very long time. Crone responds to literature going back to the early twentieth century, but this blog will show that Macoraba-as-Mecca goes back to the seventeenth, by way of a fire in a Vatican apartment, an Israelite invasion of the Hijaz, and E.M. Forster quietly apologising for his grandfather’s visionary nonsense.

    It is a wonderful story: the further I dug, the more I wanted to keep going. So many old Orientalist works have been digitised and freely distributed that I was able to follow new leads entirely online. There was never a citation I couldn’t follow: the trail stopped, but never went cold. Still, I hope there is more to discover. I will integrate appropriate feedback into this post, so I expect it to grow a little over time, and I think it deserves a definitive treatment in due course:  I’m planning to expand this preliminary work into an article for peer review.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1420 - March 28, 2017, 08:23 PM

    Thread: 'There are also reports that Muhammad owned a talking donkey'

    Ya`fūr wiki:ūr
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1421 - March 28, 2017, 10:31 PM

    There are also reports that Muhammad owned a talking donkey

    I've seen it. It was delivering the khutba at Mosul a couple years ago.

    ... okay, I'll see myself out
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1422 - March 28, 2017, 11:14 PM


    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1423 - March 30, 2017, 08:06 PM

    The earliest documentary evidence for the hajj apparently, from the early eighth century.

    Petra Sijpesteijn - An Early Umayyad Papyrus Invitation for the ḤajjḤajj

    Leiden | Islam interview series - Petra Sijpesteijn
    Papyri: the written residue of daily life during the formative period of Islam
    How did people experience Islam on a day-to-day basis in the early centuries of Islam? That's where the papyri come in, says professor of Arabic Petra Sijpesteijn in the fourth video of the Leiden | Islam interview series.

    Papyri are the only contemporary written material from the formative period of Islam (7th-9th century CE). In this video, Petra Sijpesteijn explains why they are so important as documents that record every aspect of daily life and reflect many levels of society, revealing the diversity of the early Islamic world.

    "They are the written residue of daily life," she says in the interview. As a researcher, they give her immediate access to people’s concerns and occupations in a world that we don’t otherwise have access to. As such, they provide an incredibly valuable source in addition to the books that were produced in the Muslim world two centuries later.

    Embedding conquest: naturalising Muslim rule in the early Islamic empire (600-1000)
    What made the early Islamic empire so successful and have we missed the story by neglecting crucial evidence? The 7th-century Arab conquests changed the socio-political configurations in the Mediterranean and Eurasia forever. Yet we do not really know how the Arabs managed to gain dominance of this vast, ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse area which had its own, long imperial traditions, and to make this a sustainable enterprise. What built the empire, and what held it together?

    Scholarship to date has overwhelmingly relied on ‘literary’ sources in Arabic (e.g. chronicles, legal treatises, theological tracts), composed centuries after the conquests and shaped by court politics at their time of writing. This has created a false impression of the embedding of Muslim rule as a top-down process, directed from the centre, built on military coercion and control through administrative systems. Now, however, ‘documentary’ sources in multiple languages on papyrus, leather and paper from all over the empire (e.g. letters, contracts, fiscal accounts, petitions, decrees, work permits) are becoming increasingly available. These sources, whose impact has been limited by linguistic and disciplinary boundaries, offer a direct, contemporary view of how the empire worked on the ground, and how political and social structures were experienced, modified and appropriated by its subjects.

    This project will uniquely incorporate all available documents reflecting Muslim rule from the first 400 years of Islam, to reconstruct the system of social relations that enabled the crucial transition from a conquest society to a political organism that survived the breakdown of central caliphal control, and remains the region’s benchmark model today. It will critically advance our understanding of a world historical event, make a radically new contribution to empire studies, and connect and synergise area studies and disciplinary inquiry.

    The art of control without repression
    How did the Arabs manage to maintain an empire based on Islamic principles for three hundred years? Arab expert Petra Sijpesteijn and her team will be examining this question over the coming five years, focusing on the correspondence of ordinary people. The research is being funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant.

    Difficult to control
    After the death of Mohammed in 632, his successors managed to expand the Arab Empire to cover an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to India. It was a huge area to control, particularly because of its enormous ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. Nonetheless, the empire remained intact for three hundred years. How did the Arabic rulers manage to achieve such a feat?

    Value system
    Sijpesteijn wants to find out what held the Islamic Empire together. We already know a lot about the Arab Empire in the period from 600 to 1000 AD, but that knowledge is mainly about the upper strata of society. What Sijpesteijn wants to know is what daily life was like under the rule of the Arabic conquerors, and how the Muslims managed to keep all the different ethnic, linguistic and religious groups together by making them part of the empire. There were revolts, but not serious enough to affect the cohesion of the empire.

    Raising taxes
    We know that the Arabs raised taxes among Christians, Jews and converts (who were not regarded as fully Muslim). For these groups, paying taxes was a way of buying their religious freedom. Muslims also had to pay taxes, in their case alms tax. The giving of charitable donations to the poor and less well off is one of the five core tenets of Islam. Who should collect the taxes and who should  be responsible for distributing the alms - the government or the taxpayers themselves - was a hotly debated issue. There was some conflict between local and central interests, but the discussion ultimately resulted in a shared interest that even contributed to the solidarity of the empire. 

    New material
    The time is ripe for this research, Sijpesteijn believes. 'In recent years a lot of letters and fragments have turned up from the time of the Islamic Empire, particularly in Egypt, Afghanistan and Iran, often on rubbish tips in dry parts of these countries: arid conditions are ideal for keeping the material intact. With irrigation techniques extending the usable land area, these rubbish tips are now being exposed. The letters often contain requests from ordinary people to more senior members of society. The arguments used by the writers reflect a particular value system that is related to social expectations. Just like today, arguments were put forward that were expected to have a particular effect.'

    Garrison cities
    We already know that garrisons that had conquered an area stayed there in army camps to make sure that the region remained under Arab control. The soldiers were paid from the taxes. As everyone needed at least food and clothing, the local economy flourished, particularly once traders from outside the garrison cities found their way to the army camps. 'The assumption is that the Arabs just acted randomly,' says Sijpesteijn, 'but I don't believe that. I think that, as well as being good politicians and warlords, they were also good organisers. They had to keep all those different groups  of people together, without resorting to repression.'

    Sijpesteijn mentions a couple of examples. 'A mother whose son has been imprisoned writes to an official. Besides God, there is no one to whom I can turn, apart from yourself... The writer of the letter raises the official almost to the position of a god in order to cajole him into helping her. Another letter is from a prisoner asking the governor to take another look at his case. I work day and night to maintain my wife, my children and my slaves, and still I am unsuccessful. This person expects his hard work to have an effect on the governor's attitude towards him.'

    Contemporary letters
    Some of the letters are surprisingly contemporary. It was usually women who wrote the letters, or who had someone else write the letters for them. Widows with children, or families with children asking for attention to be paid to their precarious situation. We have no clothes to wear and there isn't even a single morsel of food to eat. 'My first thought was that it all sounded exaggerated,' Sijpesteijn commented, 'but, of course, it's meant rhetorically. There's also an interesting letter from a caliph to a steward who has apparently run off.  The caliph wants him to return. I've helped you so many times. 'The caliph could have resorted to threats: if you don't come back I'll have your head chopped off, a punishment that was by no means uncommon at the time. The way that people tried to persuade one another to do something says a lot about what their expectations were of one another, how society was structured and how citizens were expected to conduct themselves. This pattern of mutual expectations and the behaviour it led to is what held society together.' 

    Work enough for five years
    Sijpesteijn started her research in January, with the help of three PhD candidates and two postdocs. They can start their work in the University Library where there is a small collection of letters. Larger collections can be found in Berlin and Vienn, although in some countries, such as Afghanistan and Iran, access to the material is difficult. Sijpesteijn wants to go to Egypt herself to be present at an excavation.  At the moment her desk is full of material from all kinds of sources. There's enough information here to fill five years of research.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1424 - April 04, 2017, 09:09 AM

    another paper that argue for the importance of  Yemen in the rise of Islam
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1425 - April 04, 2017, 07:37 PM

    Thread: a 7th-century Muslim military register from the Nessana papyri?

    Phil Booth - The Muslim Conquest of Egypt Reconsidered
    Despite the central economic and strategic importance of Egypt within both the Roman and the Islamic Empires, modern accounts of the Muslim conquests have tended to marginalise the province, recapitulating the territorial biases of the great Arab historians on whom such accounts depend. Thus Fred Donner, in his seminal The early Islamic conquests, outlines the Egyptian campaign on a single page, while Walter Kaegi, in his later Byzantium and the Islamic conquests, excuses its exclusion with the explanation that the conquest of the Levant, and the subsequent isolation of Egypt, had rendered the province’s capitulation inevitable. While the monographs of Donner, Kaegi and others have thus made considerable contributions to our understanding of the Muslim expansion elsewhere, modern conceptions of the conquest of Egypt still depend upon research which predates the First World War.

    In light of recent debates upon the status of later Islamic accounts of the period of conquest, the neglect of Egypt is all the more surprising. For the Egyptian evidence offers a unique and thus far unexploited opportunity to assess the Islamic historiographical tradition, not only through the existence of an ever-increasing amount of papyrological evidence (in Greek, Coptic and Arabic), but also through the survival of an unusually full and contemporary account of the conquest in the Chronicle of John, bishop of Nikiou, composed ca. 650-700.

    Phil Booth - The Last Years of Cyrus, Patriarch of Alexandria (†642)élanges_Jean_Gascou_Travaux_et_Mémoires_19_Paris_2016_509-558
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1426 - April 06, 2017, 08:57 PM

    Jonathan Jarrett - Conquering Egypt by the back door
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1427 - April 07, 2017, 05:17 PM

    Podcast: Francois Déroche - Towards a History of the Qur’anic Codex in Umayyad Times
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1428 - April 08, 2017, 07:22 PM

    Manfred Kropp - Orientalism and Dialogue of Cultures: Orientalism and Arabs before Islam
    We do not know how the prophet would have reacted to being called an Arab; he did not call himself so nor was he called...

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1429 - April 10, 2017, 05:31 PM

    Robert Hoyland - Insider and Outsider Sources: Historiographical Reflections on Late Antique Arabia
    It is common to characterize our sources for the history of pre-Islamic Arabia as either internal—chiefly inscriptions—or external— principally observations in ethnographical and historical writings. But do all the relevant texts fit neatly into one of these two categories or are the lines between them sometimes blurred? Should we always prefer the testimony of an insider to that of an outsider? And do we accord Muslim sources insider status or assume that they are cut off from the pre-Islamic past by the Arab conquests and the rise of an Islamic empire? In the course of this paper I will offer some reflections on these questions via examination of a few pertinent examples.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1430 - April 10, 2017, 05:44 PM

    Robert Hoyland - The Earliest Attestation of the Dhimma of God and His Messenger and the Rediscovery of P. Nessana 77 (60s AH/680 CE)
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1431 - April 10, 2017, 06:08 PM

    Luke Treadwell - Symbolism and meaning on the early Islamic copper coinage of Greater Syria
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1432 - April 10, 2017, 07:49 PM

    moi, I've never been impressed with Bowersock. He does know the Late Antique Red Sea, so I give him credit for that. Unfortunately when he drifts into Islamic studies he shows his ignorance.

    Here is Tom Holland having to correct Bowersock's hot-headed review of Holland's Shadow:

    What are the odds a media-friendly buzzword like "Orientalism" or, worse, "Islamophobia" enters into Bowersock's new book? I'm guessing, I'll not lose money.

    Zimriel's review (he isn't impressed):
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1433 - April 10, 2017, 08:18 PM


    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1434 - April 11, 2017, 12:06 AM

    Zimriel's review (he isn't impressed):

    I nearly spit out my Albarino laughing when I saw Zim's title for that review.  That was an awesome write-up.    Cheesy

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1435 - April 11, 2017, 12:29 PM

    Nicolai Sinai - Unlocking the Medinan Qur’an (conference report: workshop at Pembroke College, Oxford, 19–21 March)

    This looks like a useful report but, as a complete non-expert, I'd still say it begs some questions. The continued use of the term 'Medinan' seems to imply assumptions about when and where these parts of the Qur'an were composed. There's maybe also an implicit assumption about authorship. If they weren't in fact composed in Medina during Muhammad's lifetime then it makes it hard to see how they can actually be attributed to Muhammad.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1436 - April 11, 2017, 01:16 PM

    Thread on inscriptions in Saudi:

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1437 - April 11, 2017, 02:17 PM


    An investigation along these lines into the idea of dividing the Qur'an into 'Meccan' and 'Medinan' surahs might turn out to be interesting. Does anyone have an explanation of the history of the idea?

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1438 - April 14, 2017, 08:32 AM

    Carlos Segovia - Asceticism, Binitarianism, and the Early Quranic Milieu [2017] / Upcoming Conference Paper & Book Chapter (abstract only)
    Abstract. Upon close scrutiny, the theology of the earliest quranic layers displays a puzzling characteristic: it is overtly binitarian. Yet such theology was soon replaced by the combination of a human prophetology and a more strictly monotheist theology that entailed not only a “epistemological rupture,” but also the “foreclosure” of the Qur’ān’s early binitarianism. My purpose is to reconstruct the latter and explore its plausible historical setting by analysing several quranic terms and expressions against the east-Syrian monastic crisis of the early 7th century. In this way, through the interplay and alignment of quranic discourse analysis, structuralist-Marxist epistemology, and Lacanian psychoanalysis, I aim at deciphering, moreover, the components of an “event” (in a Badiounian sense) that implied the reversal of the notions of centre and periphery in the context of late-antique religious identity formation. All this in the conviction that the study of emergent Islam must prove today theoretically challenging and methodologically sophisticated.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1439 - April 15, 2017, 01:53 PM

    Nicolai Sinai - Unlocking the Medinan Qur’an (conference report: workshop at Pembroke College, Oxford, 19–21 March)

    This looks like a useful report but, as a complete non-expert, I'd still say it begs some questions. The continued use of the term 'Medinan' seems to imply assumptions about when and where these parts of the Qur'an were composed. There's maybe also an implicit assumption about authorship. If they weren't in fact composed in Medina during Muhammad's lifetime then it makes it hard to see how they can actually be attributed to Muhammad.

    I read Nicolai Sinai, he is not assuming anything about Medina or authorship, he is just using it as a "placeholder", he is arguing that that sub corpus present some unity and it is definitely quite different from the other corpus commonly called "meccan" 
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