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Theme Changer

 Topic: Qur'anic studies today

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  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1650 - November 13, 2017, 05:27 PM

    Ahmad Al-Jallad - The Arabic of the Islamic Conquests: Notes on Phonology and Morphology based on the Greek Transcriptions from the First Islamic Century
    Transcriptions are crucial to the understanding of the pronunciation of a dead language. Our knowledge of second millennium Canaanite was greatly enhanced by spellings in Egyptian and cuneiform, Ugaritic by cuneiform transcriptions, and Greek transcriptions played a major role in our understanding of the historical phonology of Aramaic. Greek transcriptions of pre-Islamic Arabic (Old Arabic) are abundant and have also played an important role in forming our picture of that language’s phonology (Al-Jallad 2017). However, until recently, the integration of transcriptions into the reconstruction of the Arabic of the early Islamic period has not enjoyed the same attention. Descriptions of the language by eighth-century Arabic Grammarians formed the lens through which all material from this period has been viewed. Yet several important studies on the Arabic pre-dating the grammatical tradition raise questions about the validity of this approach, and my work on Old Arabic, I believe, has revealed a language that is in many ways significantly different to that to which the Grammarians were witnesses. There is, therefore, no reason to assume that the language spoken by the Arab conquerors was identical to the register studied and codified over a century later. Thus, the Greek transcriptions of Arabic during the first century of the Arab Conquests represent a precious source of data for the pronunciation, and even some aspects of the grammar, of Arabic before the establishment of a normative grammatical tradition.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1651 - November 15, 2017, 11:52 PM

    Averil Cameron - Late Antique Apocalyptic: a Context for the Qur’an?
    There is no question that fears of the coming of Antichrist, or predictions of the end of the world, are common in late antique sources, as are concerns about divine justice and providence. But the many such passages commonly cited in discussions of late antique apocalyptic are striking above all for their variety, and for their very varied literary contexts. I have not tried in this paper to make the necessary critical comparison between these and the eschatology we find in the Qur’an, but indeed the latter does indeed seem different, whether from the political-historical apocalypses and from the more diffuse Christian anxieties of the age. I would also like to emphasise yet again the sheer variety in the Christian material; pace Magdalino, cited above, not even the elements remained the same. Furthermore the apocalyptic works as such often have no clear context, even if we can agree that beyond them lay a complex and wide-ranging area of Christian hope and Christian anxiety. Given such a situation, identifying possible lines of influence in any more precise way between these highly fluid texts and ways of thinking and the Qur’anic message seems to be just as difficult as the other manifold problems with which the latter is surrounded. Yet it is easy to see the level of bewilderment and uncertainty which many Christians must have felt, as well as what must have seemed to many the overall lack of a clear message. Perhaps the idea of Islam as a reform movement against this confused background is a better explanation for its eschatological message than generalization about the possible influence of an ‘apocalyptic spirit’ that was somehow characteristic of ‘late antiquity’.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1652 - November 15, 2017, 11:54 PM

    Aaron  Butts - North Arabian Features in the Nabataean Aramaic Inscriptions from Madāʾin Ṣāliḥ: A Contact-Linguistic Analysisʾin_S_a_lih_A_Contact-Linguistic_Analysis
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1653 - November 17, 2017, 12:50 AM

    Butts establishes that the Nabataeans were (North) arabophones ; a very interesting paper.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1654 - November 17, 2017, 01:13 AM

    He is an outstanding scholar.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1655 - November 19, 2017, 05:50 PM

    Robert Hoyland responds to recent critiques of his recent work on the Islamic conquests by Fred Donner and Peter Webb in the most recent issue of al-`Usur al-Wusta
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1656 - November 19, 2017, 10:15 PM

    Also from al-`Usur al-Wusta

    Philip Wood’s review of Peter Webb’s Imagining the Arabs

    The rest of the current issue of al-`Usur al-Wusta is here:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1657 - November 20, 2017, 11:01 AM

    Forthcoming book

    Carlos Segovia - Blood Sacrifice and Ritual Violence in the Bible and the Qur'an
    While present-day Jews, Christians, and Muslims put their emphases on the alleged peaceful nature of their respective faiths, their foundational texts directly and indirectly witness to, codify, and justify, the performance of ritual (i.e. non-circumstantial) violence, particularly blood sacrifice, in different contexts. The corresponding strategies thus set forth for the performance of ritual violence aim, respectively, at the ritual rejection of the other and both the ritual cleansing and the ritual transformation of oneself – including the core transformation of mortality into immortality in the New Testament, which is based on the elsewhere semantically unmatched, if formally paralleled in late-antique religion, death of a god. Equidistant from apologetic vindications and anti-religious denunciations alike, the present study uses an anthropology-of-religion approach in an attempt to typologyse and analyse such strategies and clarify their textual and contextual setting. Additionally, it shows that, their present-day claims notwithstanding and regardless of the adequacy and legitimacy of such claims in today’s world, where countering violence is undoubtedly an urgent need, Jews, Christians, and Muslims must responsibly reflect on, so as to better cope with, the violence inherent in the origins, the thought-word, and the practice of their own religious traditions.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1658 - November 20, 2017, 03:53 PM

    Robert Hoyland responds to recent critiques of his recent work on the Islamic conquests by Fred Donner and Peter Webb in the most recent issue of al-`Usur al-Wusta

    The reviews of In God’s Path that Hoyland is responding to:

    Fred Donner:

    Peter Webb:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1659 - November 20, 2017, 06:53 PM

    From al-`Usur al-Wusta again

    Fred Donner - The Maturing of Medieval Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1660 - November 21, 2017, 08:28 PM

    death of a god.

    Is that a new idea? The immortal becoming mortal?

    This is what xianity is about - death where is thy sting? And then the converse becoming possible, the mortal becoming immortal by going through various rituals.

    A claim of Islam is that it is the final revelation, how did it assert it is more important than xianities dying resurrecting god myth?

    Is it claiming it is a final revelation of Judaism and xianity is a wrong path?

    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 #1661 - November 21, 2017, 10:13 PM

    Fred Donner’s tribute to Günter Lüling:

    Ian David Morris having trouble with the umlaut:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1662 - November 21, 2017, 11:42 PM

    Is that a new idea? The immortal becoming mortal?

    A god dying, or dying and being reborn? I’m not sure whether there’s anything comparable in other Near Eastern religions.

    Edit: actually there’s Osiris and various others so it wasn’t such a new idea after all.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1663 - November 22, 2017, 12:15 AM

    Free online course from Holger Zellentin

    The Qur'an Between Judaism and Christianity:
    Explore the relationship between the Qur'an, Judaism and Christianity

    This online course will illustrate how the Qur’an situates itself as part of, and as a correction to, the religious discourse of the Jewish and Christian communities of Late Antique Arabia.

    The course will use the Qur’an, as well as Jewish and Christian historical documents, to reconstruct the religious landscape to which the Muslim scripture reacts in a pointed, precise and nuanced way.

    This will give you a historically more informed understanding of nascent Islam, and will allow you to reconsider many of theological and cultural tenets of Late Antique Judaism and Christianity.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1664 - November 22, 2017, 12:29 AM

    Interview with Mun’im Sirry - Early Islam may not have been the same as today’s Islam
    In 2015, Mun’im Sirry, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in the US, who has been teaching over the past months at the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, published a book in Indonesian titled Kontroversi Islam Awal (Controversies over Early Islam). As the title already suggests, it is about debates on the early history of Islam.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1665 - November 24, 2017, 03:49 PM

    Ahmad Al-Jallad w. Younis al-Shdaifat, Zeyad al-Salameen, and Rafe Harahsheh - An early Christian Arabic graffito mentioning ‘Yazid the king’
    This article is an edition and commentary on an early Christian Arabic inscription discovered near Qaṣr Burquʿ in northeastern Jordan. The text mentions a certain yzydw ʾl-mlk ‘Yazid the king’ and could date to the sixth or seventh century. We discuss the text’s palaeography, its relevance for the history of the Arabic script, and attempt to identify the historical figure to which it refers.

    Of the four candidates for our Yaz"ıd, there are basically two choices: one of the Yaz"ıds of Kindah or Yaz"ıd I.30 The first option is challenged by a geographical mismatch — both of these men would have ruled territory in south-central Arabia, over 1000 km away. While it is possible to attribute authorship to a travelling subject, no parallels of this have yet been attested in Arabia. The second option, Yaz"ıd I, fits the bill perfectly but has rather large historical implications, both for the history of Arabic writing and for early Islam. Thus, it should be suggested with utmost caution and full awareness of the problems. The first issue is palaeographic. The present inscription has several features that side it with sixth-century Arabic texts rather than Islamic inscriptions from the seventh. This objection, however, has been discussed in detail and we have concluded that the two cannot be directly compared. Moreover, the present inscription is unique even from a sixth-century perspective, as the use of dots on the d"al and the Proto-Hamza are unknown in the small corpus that survives from that century. While the palaeographic objections may not be that strong after all, the Yaz"ıd I hypothesis requires us to posit a separate Christian Arabic writing tradition in the seventh century, which is certainly plausible but only supported by the present text. Nevertheless, Yaz"ıd I is our best candidate in terms of geography and title, and given that we can suggest a plausible historical scenario for the production of this inscription and its palaeographic features, this suggestion should be considered most probable. The implications of a Christian subject of Yaz"ıd I asking ʾl-ʾlh, the Arabic name of the Christian god, to bless the caliph will certainly be the subject of continuous debate. Yet, if we are correct, it may suggest that Christians, or at least Christian Arabs, would have viewed the caliph as their own.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1666 - November 26, 2017, 11:55 AM

    Thread: Ian David Morris responding to a question on Dan Gibson’s theory about Petra and Mecca
    @iandavidmorris is there anything to the theory that Petra was the original mecca?

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1667 - November 26, 2017, 12:53 PM

    do you trust their history dear zeca?  
    Thread: Ian David Morris responding to a question on Dan Gibson’s theory about Petra and Mecca

    Waja Hassan .....Ian D. Morris
    gibberish   tweets....

    .At best  they are  rehashing  good old harry-potter   Islamic stories ...sorry to say that    ...

    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1668 - November 26, 2017, 05:31 PM

    Yeez - you’re writing nonsense again.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1669 - November 27, 2017, 01:44 PM

    Yeez - you’re writing nonsense again.

    Off course I write nonsense quite often and often I don't realize and many who interact with me don't realize that.,  I agree   and I understand  Ian Morris  is great speaker great historian(NON-ISLAMIC) great anthropologist,  .. great professor ....whatever.,   But I operate  on the basic principle that "NO ONE IS UNQUESTIONABLE"

    Now Answers  at those tweets from  him on the questions of Waja Hassan.,   I say his answers   are simply rehashing what   is there in hadith ...

    PLEASE  READ THEM AGAIN..  for..e.g.

    WH :  is there anything to the theory that Petra was the original mecca?

    IDM: Not really, but some of the argumentation can still be instructive:

    IDM:  1) Muhammad’s society probably did have strong social and economic ties with North Arabia and the Levant.

    on that

    What is this "Muhammad’s society"  ..which historical book/historical proof    gives him  the information on  Muhammad"  and his  society?

    From  Aisha (RA)??    ................."most truthful..... daughter of the most truthful one...... most devout...... Most beautiful  wife of Prophet Muhammad??

    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1670 - November 27, 2017, 06:35 PM

    No traces of Mecca before Islam.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1671 - November 28, 2017, 10:12 AM

    do you trust their history dear zeca?  
    Waja Hassan .....Ian D. Morris
    gibberish   tweets....

    .At best  they are  rehashing  good old harry-potter   Islamic stories ...sorry to say that    ...

    Yeez - you’re writing nonsense again.

     zeca  I just realized  we are talking about  two different people here  .  Now I am pretty sure i was  confused your Ian d. Morris  with

    that very smart guy  Prof. Ian Morris of  Stanford  who wrote that famous book   ""War! What Is It Good For?""  ..

    Sorry  about  that..  Nevertheless  ........your twitter link  of  your Ian d. Morris  answers to those loaded questions in  Waja Hassan  tweets are still silly  and  Amateurish     Cheesy

    I HATE THESE TWITTER ...FACEBOOK..CHATBOOK...  etc..etc... SOCIAL MEDIA discussing important subjects with superficial  Q&A

    with best regards


    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1672 - November 28, 2017, 09:34 PM

    zeca  I just realized we are talking about two different people here. Now I am pretty sure i was confused your Ian d. Morris with

    that very smart guy  Prof. Ian Morris of  Stanford  who wrote that famous book   ""War! What Is It Good For?""  ..
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1673 - November 28, 2017, 10:01 PM

    well  that cake wins the prize over my confusion cake.. anyways   let me add these links here

    and I stick to my guns .."that stories of multiple actors  of unknown  fellows  was put together and told as Story  of Muhammad ..The prophet of Islam" Author/ mutterer  of Quran..  

    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1674 - November 30, 2017, 06:11 PM

    Quote from: Sean Anthony
    Recently I’ve been revisiting the issue of the Ḥajj and the Kaʿbah in early Islam, and I started collecting the earliest historical attestations to Muslim reverence for the Kaʿbah and the Ḥajj. Here’s some of the results...

    Edit: thread continued here:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1675 - November 30, 2017, 07:57 PM

    well let me read it again......  i read that 2008 stuff from this site

    Dated And Datable Texts Mentioning Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE

    Islamic Awareness  © Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

    First Composed: 26th January 2008

    Last Modified: 24th January 2017

    Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

    1. Introduction

    The history of the quest for the historical Muhammad in the modern Western literature has its origins from the time (c. 1850 CE) of Sir William Muir[1] and Alois Sprenger.[2] Both of them suspected that much of the Islamic traditions on Muhammad, which were accepted by Muslims as authentic, were in fact forged. Their views were given a further impetus by Ignaz Goldziher who became convinced that the tradition literature had grown up after the Arab conquests, i.e., the aḥādīth did not reflect the life of Prophet Muhammad; rather they reflect the beliefs, conflicts and controversies of the first generation of Muslims.[3] In other words, the aḥādīth reflect reality, but not the reality of seventh century Arabia but of Umayyad and early Abbasid empires. About half a century after Goldziher, Joseph Schacht applied the former's methodology and came up with what is called the backward growth of isnāds. Isnāds, he argued, tended to grow backward with time. In other words, traditions with worse isnāds are likely to be earlier and the ones with perfect isnāds betray their late development. Therefore, the legal rules formulated during later times were enshrined in ḥadīth and projected back to the life of the Prophet in order to give them an Islamic justification.[4]

    Following the earlier scepticism, albeit charting a new direction, John Wansbrough argued that ḥadīth literature is exegetical in origin, i.e., the bulk of the tradition literature is closely tied to the interpretation of the Qur'an, which he believed did not take its final form/canonised until the late eighth / early ninth century. Ḥadīth literature is not rooted in history but it originated due to the propensity of the early Muslims to tell stories related to the Qur'an.[5] A variation of Wansbrough's position was put forth by John Burton who suggested that the origins of ḥadīth had nothing to do with real life and everything to do with the problem of interpreting the Qur'an.[6]

    Following the footsteps of Wansbrough, a different approach was taken by Judith Koren and Yehuda Nevo to study Islamic history. They contend that any Muslim source must be checked against a non-Muslim source (preferably material, e.g., archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics), and if the two sources conflict, the non-Muslim source is to be preferred.[7] Concerning Muhammad, they claim:

    [Brock] points out that there are no details of Muhammad's early career in any Byzantine or Syriac sources which predate the Muslim literature on the subject.[8]

    While commenting on the Islamic sources, Nevo claims that "neither the Prophet himself nor any Muhammadan formulae appear in any inscription dated before the year 71 / 691" and that the earliest occurrence of the phrase Muhammad rasūl Allāh is on an Arab-Sassanian coin of Khālid bin ʿAbdullāh from the year 71 AH / 691 CE.[9] It will be seen later that Nevo and Koren were wrong on both accounts, not in keeping with their most surprising claim that it is the revisionists and not the "traditionalists" who pay close attention to the findings of archaeology, epigraphy and numismatics.[10] Perhaps the situation can be summed up no better than the recent analysis by Jeremy Johns. He said,

    The polemical style permitted historians to dismiss this article as not worth an answer, while Nevo's unorthodox interpretation of material evidence embarrassed archaeologists into silence (Fig. 1). What, it was widely asked, could have persuaded Der Islam to waste space in this manner?[11]

    The implications here are quite startling. If the sceptics are right then the life of Muhammad as seen in the Islamic literature is not historical. The tradition literature may have grown out of the political and theological debates of the first generation Muslims, as Goldziher argued, or out of the legal debates, as Schacht suggested, or simply out of the need to interpret the Qur'an, as Burton claimed, but it cannot be confidently traced to any real events of the Prophet's lifetime. Therefore, Ibn Ishaq's Sīra along with the corpus of ḥadīth literature may be of limited use for discovering what Muhammad himself said, did or believed.[12] However, such extreme views have been somewhat alleviated by, firstly, the availability of new sources that are "pre-canonical" such as the Muṣannafs of ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Ṣanʿānī and Ibn Abī Shayba or ʿUmar bin Shabba's Tārīkh al-Madīnah (Schacht had no access to earlier sources); and secondly, the development of isnād and matn analysis of the aḥādīth that resulted in the investigation of textual variants of the aḥādīth. Using this technique, aḥādīth have been shown to have very early origins going back to the first century of hijra.[13] Availability of new Muslim sources and a careful analysis of non-Muslim accounts have re-invigorated the Western quest for the historical Muhammad.[14]

    The most comprehensive work in recent times dealing with the Muslim and non-Muslim accounts relating to the rise of Islam and Muhammad is by Robert Hoyland, the first person to systematically collect all the non-Muslim evidence bearing on the rise of Islam. His methodical approach in dealing with Muslim and non-Muslim texts has established that they "furnish us with an enriched and expanded version of the Middle East in the early Islamic times".[15] This is also true even for Muhammad, as to how he was perceived among the Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

    The aim of this essay is modest. We want to present dated and datable non-scriptural Muslim and non-Muslim texts[16] mentioning Prophet Muhammad from the first century of hijra and see how they perceive him. Do the non-Muslim texts provide some form of corroboration for the Muslim accounts? If yes, then to what extent? How should these texts be utilised in light of authentic early Muslim testimony?

    2. Dated And Datable Texts Mentioning Prophet Muḥammad From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE

    Below is a listing of dated and datable Muslim and non-Muslim sources mentioning Prophet Muhammad. To put Muslim and non-Muslim accounts in a chronological perspective, the death of the Prophet happened in Rabī al-Awwal, 11 AH / June, 632 CE. Excluding multiples of certain objects such as milestones, coins and papyrological corpora, in total there are thirty five separate texts. Twelve of these are Christian literary texts, eight were written in Syriac, two in Coptic, one in Greek and one in Armenian. The remaining twenty three items are dated documentary Muslim texts, twenty are written in Arabic, two in Middle Persian and one in Arabic-Greek. With regard to the presentation of the texts, they are ordered chronologically irrespective of type, language or genre.[17]

    List Of Dated And Datable Texts Mentioning Prophet Muḥammad From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE

     Doctrina Iacobi Nuper Baptizati, 13–20 AH / 634–640 CE.

    Written by a Christian apologist, this anti-Jewish tract illuminates the story of the forced conversion of a Palestinian Jewish merchant named Jacob to Christianity. After reading the scriptures, instead of resenting his forced baptism, he recognises the truth of his newly found faith and is eager to share his experience with other Jews. Though it is quite clear this is a fictitious account designed for apologetic purposes, the historical details of contemporary events accurately recounted by the anonymous author reveals some quite startling information - the appearance of a new Prophet among the Saracens.

    When the candidatus was killed by the Saracens, I was at Caesarea and I set off by boat to Sykamina. People were saying "the candidatus has been killed," and we Jews were overjoyed. And they were saying that the prophet had appeared, coming with the Saracens, and that he was proclaiming the advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come. I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: "What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?" He replied, groaning deeply: "He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword. Truly they are works of anarchy being committed today and I fear that the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead are preparing to receive the Antichrist. Indeed, Isaiah said that the Jews would retain a perverted and hardened heart until all the earth should be devastated. But you go, master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared." So I, Abraham, inquired and heard from those who had met him that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of men's blood. He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible.[18]

    This source vies with the following two texts detailed below, viz., A Record Of The Arab Conquest Of Syria, 637 CE and Thomas The Presbyter, c. 640 CE, as being amongst the very earliest non-Islamic sources to mention Prophet Muḥammad. Furthermore, this is the earliest text to ascribe to his teachings an explicit religious motivation.[19]

     A Record Of The Arab Conquest Of Syria, 15-16 AH / 637 CE.

    This much faded note is preserved on folio 1 of BL Add. 14,461, a codex containing the Gospel according to Matthew and the Gospel according to Mark. This note appears to have been penned soon after the battle of Gabitha (636 CE) at which the Arabs inflicted a crushing defeat of the Byzantines. Wright was first to draw attention to the fragment and suggested that "it seems to be a nearly contemporary notice",[20] a view which was also endorsed by Nöldeke.[21] The purpose of jotting this note in the codex appears to be commemorative as the author appears to have realized how momentous the events of his time were. The words "we saw" are positive evidence that the author was a contemporary. The author also talks about olive oil, cattle, ruined villages, suggesting that he belonged to peasant stock, i.e., parish priest or a monk who could read and write. It is worthwhile cautioning that the condition of the text is fragmentary and many of the readings unclear or disputable. The lacunae are supplied in square brackets.

    ... and in January, they took the word for their lives (did) [the sons of] Emesa [i.e., Ḥimṣ)], and many villages were ruined with killing by [the Arabs of] Muḥammad and a great number of people were killed and captives [were taken] from Galilee as far as Bēth [...] and those Arabs pitched camp beside [Damascus?] [...] and we saw everywhe[re...] and o[l]ive oil which they brought and them. And on the t[wenty six]th of May went S[ac[ella]rius]... cattle [...] [...] from the vicinity of Emesa and the Romans chased them [...] and on the tenth [of August] the Romans fled from the vicinity of Damascus [...] many [people] some 10,000. And at the turn [of the ye]ar the Romans came; and on the twentieth of August in the year n[ine hundred and forty-]seven there gathered in Gabitha [...] the Romans and great many people were ki[lled of] [the R]omans, some fifty thousand [...][22]

    There are certain observations to be made here. The phrase "turn of the year" signifies that the beginning of the note refers to the year 634-5 CE. The people of Emesa "took the word for their lives", an expression for surrendering on terms of tolerance, confirmed by oaths. Then there was a battle in Palestine with the "Arabs of Muhammad" in which many villages were ruined and people from the region of Galilee and Beth Sacharya(?), south west of Jerusalem were taken captive. Then the Arabs laid siege to Damascus (as read by Nöldeke).[23] In May, 635 CE, a Byzantine general of the rank of sakellarious was in the region of Emesa. His name according to the Byzantine sources was Theodor.[24] Apparently, he was unable to lift the siege. The next battle took place in Gabitha, a town to the north of the river Yarmuk in the Golan massif. The date of the battle is 20th August AG 947 = 636 CE / Rajab 15 AH, which agrees with the best Arab date for the battle of Yarmuk.[25] As mentioned earlier, the fragmentary nature of this note has resulted in scholars advising caution.[26]

    Thomas The Presbyter, 19 AH / 640 CE.

    The 8th century BL Add. 14,643 was published by Wright who first brought to attention the mention of an early date of 947 AG (635-6 CE).[27] The contents of this manuscript have puzzled many scholars for apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature.[28] In relation to Islam and Muslims, there are two important dates mentioned in this manuscript.

    AG 945, indiction VII: On Friday, 4 February, [i.e., 634 CE / Dhul Qa‘dah 12 AH] at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Muḥammad [Syr. tayyāyē d-Mḥmt] in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician YRDN (Syr. BRYRDN), whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.

    AG 947, indiction IX: The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in [the monasteries of] Kedar and Benōthō. There died the blessed man Simon, doorkeeper of Qedar, brother of Thomas the priest.[29]

    It is the first date above which is of great importance as it provides the first explicit reference to Muhammad in a non-Muslim source. The account is usually identified with the battle of Dathin.[30] According to Hoyland, "its precise dating inspires confidence that it ultimately derives from first-hand knowledge".[31] This means that the time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) is slightly over a year and half!

     Sebeos, Bishop Of The Bagratunis, 40’s AH / 660’s CE.

    One of the most interesting accounts of the early seventh century comes from Sebeos who was a bishop of the House of Bagratunis. From this chronicle, there are indications that he lived through many of the events he relates. He maintains that the account of Arab conquests derives from the fugitives who had been eyewitnesses thereof. He concludes with Mu‘awiya's ascendancy in the Arab civil war (656-61 CE), which suggests that he was writing soon after this date. Sebeos is the first non-Muslim author to present us with a theory for the rise of Islam that pays attention to what the Muslims themselves thought they were doing.[32] As for Muhammad, he has the following to say:

    At that time a certain man from along those same sons of Ismael, whose name was Mahmet [i.e., Muḥammad], a merchant, as if by God's command appeared to them as a preacher [and] the path of truth. He taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially because he was learnt and informed in the history of Moses. Now because the command was from on high, at a single order they all came together in unity of religion. Abandoning their vain cults, they turned to the living God who had appeared to their father Abraham. So, Mahmet legislated for them: not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsely, and not to engage in fornication. He said: 'With an oath God promised this land to Abraham and his seed after him for ever. And he brought about as he promised during that time while he loved Ismael. But now you are the sons of Abraham and God is accomplishing his promise to Abraham and his seed for you. Love sincerely only the God of Abraham, and go and seize the land which God gave to your father Abraham. No one will be able to resist you in battle, because God is with you.[33]

    Sebeos was writing the chronicle at a time when memories of sudden eruption of the Arabs was fresh. He knows Muhammad's name and that he was a merchant by profession. He hints that his life was suddenly changed by a divinely inspired revelation.[34] He presents a good summary of Muhammad's preaching, i.e., belief in one God, Abraham as a common ancestor of Jews and Arabs. He picks out some of the rules of behaviour imposed on the umma; the four prohibitions which are mentioned in the Qur'an. Much of what he says about the origins of Islam conforms to the Muslim tradition.

    A Chronicler Of Khuzistan, 40’s AH / 660’s CE.

    This is an anonymous and short Nestorian chronicle that aims to convey church as well as secular histories from the death of Hormizd son of Khusrau to the end of the Persian kingdom. Because of its anonymity, it is known to scholars as the Khuzistan Chronicle, after its plausible geographical location or Anonymous Guidi, after the name of its first editor. Amid his entry on the reign of Yazdgird, the chronicler gives a brief account of the Muslim invasions:

    Then God raised up against them the sons of Ishmael, [numerous] as the sand on the sea shore, whose leader (mdabbrānā) was Muḥammad (mḥmd). Neither walls nor gates, armour or shield, withstood them, and they gained control over the entire land of the Persians. Yazdgird sent against them countless troops, but the Arabs routed them all and even killed Rustam. Yazdgird shut himself up in the walls of Mahoze and finally escaped by flight. He reached the country of the Huzaye and Mrwnaye, where he ended his life. The Arabs gained countrol of Mahoze and all the territory. They also came to Byzantine territory, plundering and ravaging the entire region of Syria. Heraclius, the Byzantine king, sent armies against them, but the Arabs killed more than 100,000 of them.[35]

    In summary, concerning Muhammad, the chronicler says that he was the leader of the sons of Ishmael, whom God raised against the Persians.

    The Maronite Chronicle, After 44 AH / 665 CE.

    The anonymous author of this chronicle self-identifies himself as a Maronite and probably belonged to the Maronite community. It covers historical events from Alexander the Great down to the 660’s CE.

    AG 971 (=660 CE): "Many Arabs gathered at Jerusalem and made Muʻāwiya king and he went up and sat down on Golgotha and prayed there. He went to Gethsemane and went down to the tomb of the blessed Mary and prayed in it. In those days when the Arabs were gathered there with Muʻāwiya, there was an earthquake;" much of Jericho fell, as well as many nearby churches and monasteries.

    "In July of the same year the emirs and many Arabs gathered and gave their allegiance to Muʻāwiya. Then an order went out that he should be proclaimed king in all the villages and cities of his dominion and that they should make acclamations and invocations to him. He also minted gold and silver, but it was not accepted because it had no cross on it. Furthermore, Muʻāwiya did not wear a crown like other kings in the world. He placed his throne in Damascus and refused to go to the seat of Muḥammad."[36]

    In the notice for the year AG 971, whilst describing intra-Muslim conflict, of which he seems very well acquainted, the author mentions Muḥammad by name.

     P. Nessana 77 - Earliest Papyrus Mentioning Dhimma, 60s AH / 680s CE.

    ... li-ahli Nessana dhimmat Allāhi wa dhimmat rasūlihi.

    ...[ ] due to him payment, and the people of Nessana have the protection of God and the protection of His mess[eng]er.

    Along with a drachm of ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Zubayrid Governor of Bīshāpūr, 66 AH / 685-686 CE, this piece of evidence is amongst the earliest datable documentary texts to mention Muhammad indirectly.

     A Lead Seal In The Name Of Caliph ʿAbd Al-Malik Ibn Marwān, 65-86 AH / 685-705 CE.

    Lā ilāha illa-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīka lahu Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ...

    There is no god but God alone without partner and Muhammad is the Messenger of God ...

     Seven milestones on the Damascus-Jerusalem road from the reign of ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwan, 65-86 AH / 685-705 CE. Some of them can be seen here. They start with the typical formula of

    Bism Allāh al-raḥmān al-raḥīm lā ilāha illa-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīka lahu Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ...

    In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful. There is no god but God alone without partner and Muhammad is the Messenger of God ...

     Drachm Of ʿAbd al-Malik Ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Zubayrid Governor Of Bīshāpūr, 66 AH / 685-686 CE.

    Obverse margin: bism Allāh / Muḥammad rasūl / Allāh ("In the name of God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God").

     John bar Penkaye, 67-68 AH / 687 CE.

    Little is known about John bar Penkaye. He was a native of Fenek in north-western Mesopotamia and a resident of the monastery of John Kamul. It was in this monastery he wrote Ktābā d-rīš mellē ("Book of the Salient Points") and dedicated it to a person called Sabrisho‘, the abbott of this convent.[37] In his book John bar Penkaye wrote the chronicle of the world from Creation to his present day which he calls as the "severe chastisement of today".[38] His work seeks to treat the salient points of history in a brief fashion. For the issue which concerns us here, it is discussed in the fifteenth and the last chapter, where the Arab conquests and the devastating famine and plague of 67 AH / 686-67 CE are mentioned.[39] Concerning Muhammad, John bar Penkaye says that:

    Having let their dispute run its course, after much fighting had taken place between them, the Westerners, whom they call the sons of ’Ammāyē, gained the victory, and one of their number, a man called M‘awyā [i.e., Mu‘awiya], became king controlling the two kingdoms, of the Persians and of the Byzantines. Justice flourished in his time, and there was great peace in the regions under his control; he allowed everyone to live as they wanted. For they held, as I have said above, an ordinance, stemming from the man who was their guide (mhaddyānā), concerning the people of the Christians and concerning the monastic station. Also as a result of this man's guidance (mhaddyānūtā) they held to the worship of One God, in accordance with the customs of ancient law. At the beginnings they kept to the traditions (mašlmānūtā) of Muḥammad, who was their instructor (tā’rā), to such an extent that they inflicted the death penalty on anyone who was seen to act brazenly against his laws.[40]

    John bar Penkaye presented Muhammad as the "guide" and "instructor" whose "traditions" and "laws" the Arabs fiercely upheld. The term "tradition" (Syr. mašlmānūtā) implies that something is handed down, which suggests that the Muslims adhered to and enforced the example of Prophet Muhammad.[41] Concerning the term mhaddyānūtā, Brock points out that:

    There is, however, one interesting term used for Mụhammad that terms up in both Monophysite and Nestorian sources, namely mhaddyana, "guide", a term that has no obvious ancestry, although the related haddaya is a Christological title in early Syriac literature.[42]

     Anonymous Arab-Sassanian Coin From Kirmān, 70 AH / 689 CE.

    Obverse field: Typical late Arab-Sassanian bust without the name of governor. Instead it is occupied by Middle Persian legend MHMT PGTAMI Y DAT ("Muhammad is the Messenger of God").

     An Arab-Sassanian coin of the Umayyad governer of Basra Khālid ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Bīshāpūr, 71 AH / 690-91 CE.

    The legend reads bism Allāh Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ("In the name of God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God").

     Tombstone Of ʿAbāssa Bint Juraij, 71 AH / 691 CE.[43]

    ... ahl al-Islām muṣībatahum bi al-nabī Muḥammad ṣallā-Allāhu alayhi wa-sallam... wa tashhadu lā ilāha illā-allāh waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu wa anna Muḥammadan ‘abduhu wa rasūlahu, ṣallā-Allāhu alayhi wa-sallam.

    The greatest calamity of the people of Islām is that which has fallen them on the death of Prophet Muhammad, may God grant him peace.... [she died] confessing that there is no god but God alone without partner and that Muhammad is His servant and His apostle, may God grant him peace.

     Transitional Arab-Sassanian Coin Of Governor ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn ʿAbd Allāh Ibn Āmir, 72 AH / 691-92 CE.

    Reverse field: The legend in Middle Persian reads - YZDT’ -I BR’ ‘LH ’HRN YZDT’ L‘YT’ MḤMT’ PTGMBI Y YZDT’ ("One God, but He, another god does not exist. Muhammad is the Messenger of God").

     Anonymous Arab-Sassanian Coinage Of Syrian Origin Under ʿAbd al-Malik, 72 AH / 691 CE.

    Obverse field: Written in Arabic to downwards to the right of the bust: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ("Muhammad is the Messenger of God").

     The Arabic Islamic Inscriptions On The Dome Of The Rock In Jerusalem, 72 AH / 692 CE.

    Outer Octagonal Arcade

    Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ṣallā-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam... Muhammad rasūl Allāh inna allāha wa malā'ikatahu yusallūna ʿala al-nabīyi yā ayyuhā al-ladhīna āmanū ṣallū ʿalayhi wa sallimū taslīman... Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ṣallā-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa malā'ikatahu wa rusulu wa al-taslīman ʿalayhi wa raḥmat Allāh... Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ṣallā-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa taqabbal shafāʿatahu yawm al-qiyamah... Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ṣallā-Allāhu ʿalayhi.

    Muhammad is the Messenger of God, may God grant him peace... Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Verily God and His Angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe, bless him and salute him with a salutation!... Muhammad is the Messenger of God, the blessing of God be on him and the angels and His prophets, and peace be on him, and may God have mercy... Muhammad is the Messenger of God, the blessing of God be on him. May He accept his intercession on the Day of Judgment [on behalf of his people]... Muhammad is the Messenger of God, the blessing of God be on him.

    Inner Octagonal Arcade

    Muḥammad ʿabd-Allāhi wa rasūluhu inna allāha wa malā'ikatahu yusallūna ʿala al-nabīyi yā ayyuhā al-ladhīna āmanū ṣallū ‘alayhi wa sallimū taslīman ṣallā-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam ʿalayhi wa raḥmat Allāh.

    Muhammad is the servant of God and His Messenger. Verily God and His Angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe, bless him and salute him with a salutation! The blessing of God be on him and peace be on him, and may God have mercy.

     The Copper Plaque Inscriptions At The Dome Of The Rock In Jerusalem, 72 AH / 692 CE.

    Northern Portal

    Muḥammad ʿabd-Allāhi wa rasūluhu arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn. Āmannā billāhi wa mā unzila ila Muḥammad wa mā ūtiya al-nabīyūna min rabbihim lā nufarriqu bayna aḥadin minhum wa naḥnu lahu muslimūn. ṣallū ʿalayhi Muḥammad ʿabduhu wa nabīyahu wa al-salām ʿalayhi wa raḥmat Allāhi wa barakātuhu wa magfiratuhu wa riḍawānahu.

    Muhammad is the servant of God and His Messenger whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse. We believe in God and that which was revealed unto Muhammad and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. The blessing of God be upon Muhammad, His servant and His prophet, and peace be upon him and the mercy of God and His blessing and His forgiveness and His acceptance.

    Eastern Entrance

    ... an ta-ṣallī ʿala Muḥammad ʿabdika wa nabīyika wa tataqabbala shafā'atahu fī ummati ṣallū ʿalayhi wa al-salām ʿalayhi wa raḥmat Allāhi wa...

    ... that You bless Muhammad Your servant, Your prophet, and that You accept his intercession for his people, the blessing of God be upon him and peace be upon him and the mercy of God and...

     The Arab-Byzantine “Three Standing Imperial Figures” Dīnār From The Time Of Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, 72-74 AH / 692-694 CE.

    bism Allāh lā-ilaha il-Allāh waḥdahu Muḥammad rasūl Allāh.

    In the name of God. There is no god but God alone. Muḥammad is the Messenger of God.

     Fragments Of The Chart Of Jacob (= James) Of Edessa, 73 AH / 692 CE.

    Jacob (also called James) of Edessa (19-90 AH / 640-708 CE) was a bishop of Edessa. He composed a set of chronological charts intended to continue those of Eusebius. Only fragments from 10th or 11th century remain, covering the 7th century only down to 631 CE.[44] Elias of Nisbis (975-1050 CE) informs us that Jacob of Edessa composed his chronicle in 1003 AG / 692 CE and this is confirmed by Michael the Syrian (12th century) who cites Theodosius of Edessa.[45] Brooks has convincingly demonstrated that this chronicle was a work of Jacob's but with a qualification that it "is not the full work of Jacob but only a series of extracts from it".[46]

    The manuscript is arranged in three columns. A central column counts off the years since Constantine and the regnal years of the Byzantine and Persians emperors; historical notices are placed on either side.

    In the central column, giving the dates of the rulers, there are entries for the following years:

    [296 = 932 AG / 622 CE] Muhammad, the first king of the Arabs, began to reign, 7 years.


    [303 = 939 AG / 629 CE] No. 2 of the Arabs, Abu Bakr, 2 years, 7 months.[47]

    On the left hand side of the column are the following notices:

    [Beside years 293 and 294] and Muhammad goes down on commercial businesses to the lands of Palestine and of the Arabias and of Phoenicia of the Tyrians.

    There was a solar eclipse.


    Beginning of the kingdom of the Arabs whom we call Tayyōyē, while Heraclius, king of the Romans, was having his eleventh year and while Chosroes, king of the Persians, was having his thirty first year [i.e., 620-21 CE].

    [Beside years 301 and 302] The Arabs began to carry out raids in the land of Palestine.[48]

    Muhammad's trading is placed beside years 293 and 294 = 929 AG / 617-18 CE and 930 AG / 618-19 CE, but before the mention of the solar eclipse. The start of the "kingdom of Arabs" is tied to the rulership of kings of Byzantine and Persians empires and is placed in 620-21 CE. The Arabs' raids are placed beside the year 301 and 302 = 937 AG / 625-26 CE and 938 AG / 626-27 CE.

    It is interesting to note that Jacob of Edessa gives an accurate date for the start of the Arab era. He seems to have assumed that the Arab era like the ones during his time such as Byzantine and Persian eras must have been reckoned from the first year of the rule of a king, presumably their first king. Since the Arabs reckoned from 622 CE, i.e., the start of hijra calender, Jacob might have assumed that their first king, i.e., Muhammad, must have started to rule that year.

     The ʿAqabah Inscription From The Time Of ʿAbd al-Malik, 73 AH / 692-693 CE.

    Bism Allāh al-raḥmān al-raḥīm lā ilāha il-l-allāh waḥdahu la sharīka lahu Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ...

    In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful. There is no god but God alone without partner and Muhammad is the Messenger of God ...

     Aniconic Silver Coins ("Reformed Coinage"), Minted By The Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, From 77 AH / 696 CE.

    Reverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn

    Muhammad is the Messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse.

     Experimental Aniconic Silver Coins Minted By The Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, 78 AH / 697-698 CE.

    Obverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn

    Muhammad is the Messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse.

     An Inscription Mentioning The Rebuilding Of Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām, 78 AH / 697-698 CE.

    shahida al-Rayyān bin ʿAbd Allāh innahu lā ilāha il-l-allāh wa shahida anna Muḥammadan rasūl Allāh

    Al-Rayyān b. ʿAbdullāh testifies that there is no god but God and he testifies that Muḥammad is the Messenger of God.

     The Gospel Of The Twelve Apostles, 72 - 87 AH / 692 - 705 CE.

    Though attributed to the apostle John, this is a pseudonymous apocalyptic work containing four distinct sections the last of which deals with Islamic rule, covering the conquests and the beginnings of the Umayyad dynasty.

    God shall send forth a mighty wind, the southern one, and there shall come forth from it a people of deformed aspect and their appearance and manners like those of women. And there shall rise up from among them a warrior and one whom they call a prophet, and they shall be brought into his hands....And the South shall prosper, and by the hooves of the horses of its armies it shall trample down and subdue Persia and devastate Rome.[49]

    In keeping with several other Christian texts of this period, Muhammad is described as a warrior whom his followers call a prophet.

     Chronicle Of John Of Nikiou, c. 80-81 AH / c. 700 CE.[50]

    This chronicle apparently written by John, bishop of Nikiou, relates the events from Creation until the conclusion of the Arab conquest of Egypt. Presented with a strong Christian view, the chronicle is considered one of the main independent and reliable sources of information regarding the conquest of Egypt and its aftermath.

    Many of the Egyptians who had been false Christians denied the holy orthodox faith and life-giving baptism, and embraced the religion of the Muslims, the enemies of God, and accepted the detestable doctrine of the beast, this is, Muḥammad.[51]

    Despite describing Muhammad in unflattering terms, the author notes he possessed a distinct doctrine.

     Arab-Sassanian Fals From Veh-az-Āmid-Kavād (Arrajān), 83 AH / 702-703 CE.

    Obverse margin: Muḥammadun rasūlu’llāhi wa’lladhīna yatlūna maʿahu ashiddāʾu ʿalā’l-kuffāri ruḥamāʾu baynahum

    Muḥammad is the Messenger of God, those who recite with him are severe [in their dealings] with the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves.

     Arabic-Greek / Greek-Arabic and Arabic protocols, mostly from the time of al-Walid I (85-97 AH / 705-15 CE) to Yazid II (101-106 AH / 720-24 CE). Examples from the time of al-Walīd and Sulaymān b. ʿAbd al-Malik are available. They all begin typically with the example given below for Arabic. Bilingual texts contain the translation in Greek of Arabic text and conclude with the name of the caliph / governor and the date.

    Arabic: Bism Allāh al-raḥmān al-raḥīm lā ilāha il-l-allāh waḥdahu la sharīka lahu lam yalid wa-lam yulad wa-lam yakun lahu kufūwan aḥad Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq ...

    In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful. There is no god but God alone without partner. He did not beget and was not begotten. And there is none like unto Him. Muhammad is the Messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth ...

    Greek: ... maamet apostolos theou ...

    ... Muhammad is the Messenger of God ...

     Inscription In A Mosque In Damascus, Built By Caliph Walīd, 86-87 AH / 705-706 CE.

    ... rabbuna-Allāhu waḥdahu wa dīnunā al-islām wa nabīyyunā Muḥammad ṣallā-allāhu alayhi wa sallam.

    ... Our Lord is God alone, and our religion is Islam and our prophet is Muhammad, may God grant him peace.

     Aniconic Gold Coins (“Reformed Coinage”), From The ‘Mine Of The Commander Of The Faithful’, 89 AH / 708 CE.

    This unique historic coin is of the highest rarity and the earliest known dīnār to bear the legend ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’. The reverse margin bears the same legend as what is seen on the aniconic silver and gold coins issued by Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik.

    Reverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn

    Muhammad is the Messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse.

     Ad Annum 705, 86-96 AH / 705-15 CE.

    It is list of Arab rulers found in a late 9th century manuscript with an unknown provenance and presumably incomplete since the promised statistics regarding Muslim occupied lands do not appear. The dating of this manuscript is done using the accession date of Walid mentioned in the chronology, who reigned from 705-15 CE. The relevant text states:

    Again a report giving the information about the kingdom of Arabs and how many kings they produced and how much land each of them held after his predecessor previous to his death.

    Muhammad came upon the earth in 932 of Alexander, son of Philip the Macedonian [i.e., 620-21 CE]; he reigned for seven years.

    After him Abu Bakr reigned for 2 years...[52]

    This chronicle also provides similar dates just as what we have seen in the case of the chart of Jacob of Edessa.

     The History Of The Patriarchs Of Alexandria, c. 96 - 97 AH / c. 715 CE.

    This collection was written by George the Archdeacon and contains a wealth of information regarding Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt in the decades after the conquests.

    And in those days Heraclius saw a dream in which it was said to him : «Verily there shall come against thee a circumcised nation, and they shall vanquish thee and take possession of the land». So Heraclius thought that they would be the Jews, and accordingly gave orders that all the Jews and Samaritans should be baptized in all the provinces which were under his dominion. But after a few days there appeared a man of the Arabs, from the southern districts, that is to say, from Mecca or its neighbourhood, whose name was Muhammad; and he brought back the worshippers of idols to the knowledge of the One God, and bade them declare that Muhammad was his apostle; and his nation were circumcised in the flesh, not by the law, and prayed towards the South, turning towards a place which they called the Kaabah. And he took possession of Damascus and Syria, and crossed the Jordan, and dammed it up. And the Lord abandoned the army of the Romans before him, as a punishment for their corrupt faith, and because of the anathemas uttered against them, on account of the council of Chalcedon, by the ancient fathers.

    After fighting three battles with the Romans, the Muslims conquered them. So when the chief men of the city saw these things, they went to Amr, and received a certificate of security for the city, that it might not be plundered. This kind of treaty which Muhammad, the chief of the Arabs, taught them, they called the Law; and he says with regard to it : «As for the province of Egypt and any city that agrees with its inhabitants to pay the land-tax to you, and to submit to your authority, make a treaty with them, and do them no injury. But plunder and take as prisoners those that will not consent to this and resist you». For this reason the Muslims kept their hands off the province and its inhabitants, but destroyed the nation of the Romans, and their general who was named Marianus. And those of the Romans who escaped fled to Alexandria, and shut its gates upon the Arabs, and fortified themselves within the city.[53]

    The author notes Muhammad originated from Mecca or its environs, that he told his followers he was a prophet and invited them to worship one God and cast aside their idolatrous practices. They were circumcised in the flesh and prayed in the direction towards the Kaʿaba. Muhammad was the chief of the Arabs and initiated a form of legislation for them to practice.

     Arab-Latin Coinage - Bilingual Gold Solidus From Africa, 98 AH / 716-717 CE.

    Reverse field: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh

    Muḥammad is the Messenger of God.

     Arab-Latin Coinage - Bilingual Gold Solidus From Spain, 98 AH / 716-717 CE.

    Reverse field: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh

    Muḥammad is the Messenger of God.

     An Arabic Inscription From Khirbat Nitil, 100 AH / 718-719 CE.[54]

    ... wā qimhu ʿala ḥawḍi Muḥammad ...

    ... and s[et him on] the pool of Muhammad ...

    3. Prophet Muhammad In The Dated And Datable Muslim And Non-Muslim Sources From The First Century AH: An Appraisal


    What can we know about Muhammad and Islam in the first century AH? With respect to the historical sources the answer will always be – never enough. Historians of this period will always be frustrated by the apparent lack of texts, the disjointed nature of the texts we do have and the slow pace of mostly unremarkable archaeological discoveries.[55] What we do have is not unimportant, especially when utilised in a careful and considerate fashion. In what direction should we travel? One approach is to deny that we can learn anything useful. Stephen Shoemaker says,

    Despite frequent assertions to the contrary, our historical knowledge concerning Muhammad and 1st-century Islam is far more limited and uncertain than is the case with respect to Jesus and 1st-century Christianity.[56]

    Being a specialist in early Christianity, Shoemaker is of course intimately acquainted with the sources. But we would like to address the negative generalisations and remove some of the spin contained in this overarching assessment. What makes this situation particularly bizarre is that Western scholars have access to what can be called a treasure-trove of documentary evidence when compared with other major world religions. Judaeo-Christian scholars studying the earliest Christian artefacts are presently unable to call forward a single item of documentary evidence from the first one hundred years of Christianity and beyond.[57] In contrast, the number of dated documentary texts concerning Muhammad and/or earliest Islam in its first century number more than one hundred and fifty individual items.[58] From the foregoing data it is clear Shoemaker cannot be talking about dated documentary texts. What about external references to Muhammad/Islam and Jesus/Christianity in their respective first centuries? With regard to just Syriac texts alone, Penn informs us,

    Scholars of early Christianity face a somewhat similar dilemma to that of early Islam scholars. There is only a small corpus of surviving first- and early second-century Christian writings, primarily found in what later became the canonical New Testament. Most surviving early Christian texts were not written until the mid-second and early third centuries. Scholarship thus often turns to early non-Christian sources.

    For example, there is hardly an undergraduate class offered on early Christianity whose syllabus does not include the two pages that the early second-century pagan author Pliny the Younger wrote about Christians. Virtually every New Testament textbook includes a discussion of the one paragraph referring to Jesus found in the late first-century Antiquities of the Jews. New Testament scholars continue to vigorously debate whether these few sentences were actually written by the Jewish historian Josephus or were a later Christian interpolation. So too the handful of sentences by the Roman historian Tacitus that speak of Christianity remains central to all scholarship on Roman persecution of Christians.

    The sum total of these early, outsider references to Christians is less than five pages. In contrast, there are almost two hundred pages’ worth of very early Syriac references to Islam. Historians and students of early Islam must use such passages with great care. Outsider literature is no less biased than insider literature. Syriac authors had their own agendas and vary substantially in their historical reliability. Nevertheless, one can only imagine the impact a similar quantity of material would have on the study of early Christianity.[59]

    Again, it is clear that Shoemaker cannot be talking about external references to Muhammad and/or Islam. We are now left with scriptural texts and other literary texts written by their respective followers. Even on these grounds, from a strictly historico-critical standpoint, it is difficult to justify Shoemaker's level of skepticism. Advanced western methods of ḥadīth criticism (isnād-cum-matn analysis) applied to different genres of written Muslim literature have produced fruitful results,[60] not to mention the actual text of the Qur’an itself which undoubtedly dates to the first century hijra, based on an increasingly abundant level of manuscript evidence.[61]

    So just what are Shoemaker's terms of reference? One gains the sense he is aggrieved by the apparent lack of historical criticism applied to the early Islamic sources - perhaps even double standards - when compared to early Christian sources, and it is on this comparative basis he feels what we do know is limited and uncertain.[62] Even if he believes that to be the case, one is not excused from identifying and using the primary sources.[63] As scholars are already well acquainted with Prophet Muhammad's depiction according to early Islamic religious sources we wish to adopt a different approach. In what follows we have purposefully excluded any texts from scriptural Muslim sources encompassing the following genres of early Arabic literature, sīra / maghāzī, ḥadīth / athar, taʾrīkh / akhbār and tafsīr. With this approach it will be seen there is still much that can be learnt and that the kind of unwarranted pessimism that furthers the self-fulfilling prophecy that we can never know anything useful about Muhammad and first century Islam is damaging and ultimately self-defeating.


    From the listings of the dated and datable texts, it is clear that the name of Prophet Muhammad appears very early in the non-Muslim texts. The time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) in the writings of Thomas the Presbyter (writing c. 640 CE / 19 AH), is slightly over a year and half! Interestingly enough, one of the earliest indications of stirrings in Arabia comes from the Doctrina Iacobi ("Teachings of Jacob"), a Greek anti-Jewish apologetic work which was presumably composed in Africa in July 634 during the Heraclean persecution. Although Muhammad is not mentioned by name in this tract, he is called a (false) Prophet, who has appeared among the Saracens [i.e., the Arabs] and has the keys of Paradise.

    Non-Muslim writers (read Christian) of the first century hijra depict Muhammad variously as a Prophet/Preacher with a spiritual motivation (Doctrina Iacobi Nuper Baptizati, Sebeos Bishop of the Bagratunis, The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria), a King/Leader (A Chronicler Of Khuzistan; Fragments Of The Chart Of Jacob (= James) Of Edessa; Ad Annum 705), a warrior (The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles), a Guide/Instructor (John bar Penkaye), a trader/merchant (Fragments Of The Chart Of Jacob (= James) Of Edessa; Ad Annum 705), whom the Arabs derived their authority from (Maronite Chronicle), especially when battling their opponents (A Record of the Arab Conquest of Syria; Thomas, the Presbyter) or negotiating treaties (The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria). He originated from Mecca or its environs and was an instructor who instituted a definite kind of legislation and tradition which his followers were to adhere to, including prayer in direction towards the Ka’ba (The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria). The early Arabs were the followers of Muhammad (Thomas the Presbyter; Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis; Chronicler of Khuzistan), who was their ‘guide’ and ‘instructor’ (John bar Penkaye) whose ‘traditions’ and ‘laws’ they fiercely upheld (John bar Penkaye; The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria) and who prescribed for them abstinence from carrion, wine, falsehood and fornication (Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis). Furthermore, the non-Muslim sources of the first century hijra also attest that the religion of the followers of Muhammad was strictly monotheistic (Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis; John bar Penkaye; The History Of The Patriarchs Of Alexandria) and of Abrahamic associations (Chronicler of Khuzistan).[64] Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis points out that Muhammad legislated the law proscribing carrion (Qur'an 5:3), wine (Qur'an 2:219, 5:90), falsehood (Qur'an 39:3, 16:116, 33:24) and fornication (Qur'an 17:32, 24:2). More importantly, it shows that early Muslims adhered to a religion that had definite practices and beliefs and was clearly distinct from other currently existing faiths. The Syriac sources from the middle until the end of the first/seventh century constitute the majority of the literary texts and emphasize Muhammad's centrality for the Muslims, just like the Muslim sources from the same period.

    The earliest dated documentary Muslim source to mention Prophet Muhammad is a drachm minted by ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Zubayrid governor of Bīshāpūr, in 66 AH / 685-86 CE. The legend on the coin reads Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ("Muhammad is the Messenger of God"), which would become a common phrase in many of the dated texts in the rest of the first century AH. The Muslim sources from this period describe Muhammad as a ‘messenger’, ‘prophet’, ‘servant of God’, ‘sent with guidance and the religion of truth’ and an ‘intercessor on the Day of Judgment’ for his people. Supplications are made to God to send His ‘peace’ and ‘mercy’ upon Muhammad. His death is depicted as the ‘greatest calamity’ to fall on Muslims. Also mentioned is the ‘pool’ of Muhammad in Paradise from which the believers would drink on the Day of Judgment. Muhammad's earliest followers derived authority from him and were able to grant protective covenants to non believers in his name. The dated Muslim texts also depict the deity which Muhammad and Muslims after him worshipped as monotheistic.

    Recently, Christoph Luxenberg suggested that the Dome of the Rock was a Christian Church built as a memorial to Jesus containing Christian inscriptions which record, amongst other things, the theological disputes between the camps of the Hellenised and Syrian Christians regarding the divinity of Jesus. The phrase muḥammadun ʿabdullāhi wa rasūluhū on the Dome of the Rock does not mean ‘Muhammad is the slave of God and his Messenger’, rather it means ‘Praised be the slave of God and His Messenger’ which Luxenberg considers as a plain unambiguous reference to Jesus.[65] Contradicting the claims of Luxenberg, numerous first century hijra Arabic-Greek bilingual papyri from the time of Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan[66] (65-86 AH / 685-705 CE) as well as later ones such as Egyptian National Library Inv. No. 67 (90-91 AH / 709-710 CE), PER Inv. Ar. Pap. 3976 (98-99 AH / 716-717 CE) among others[67] clearly translate the Arabic phrase muḥammad rasūl Allāh in Greek as ‘maamet apostolos theou’ i.e., ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’, thus confirming that ‘Muhammad’ was considered as a proper name and not ‘praised’ or ‘praiseworthy’. There is also an anonymous Arab-Sassanian coin from 70 AH / 689 CE that contains the Middle Persian legend MHMT PGTAMI Y DAT, “Muhammad is the Messenger of God”, again confirming that ‘Muhammad’ was considered as a proper name and not ‘praised’ or ‘praiseworthy’. One might also add that ‘Muhammad’ is mentioned as a nasab (patronym) on a coin dated 80 AH containing the Arabic name legend of the Umayyad general ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad in Middle Persian APDARMAN Y MHMTAN. Both he and his father Muḥammad (d. 41 AH / 661 CE) were prominent historical figures and well known from Islamic sources.[68] Furthermore, as we have seen, the non-Muslim sources from the middle until the end of the first/seventh century emphasize Muhammad's centrality for the Muslims and depict the early Muslims as the followers of a living person named Muhammad, certainly not some other ‘Muhammad’ born around six hundred years earlier in a different land who is no longer on earth.

    Now we are left with the issue of the relative value of the ‘insider’ versus ‘outsider’ accounts of Muhammad. In the various reviews of Crone and Cook's Hagarism one criticism recurs often: could the ‘outsiders’, i.e., the external observers have known better than the ‘insiders’, i.e., the Muslims? In the words of Josef van Ess:

    ... we cannot demand that an observer from outside, who could even less evaluate the radical novelty of the event, should have had a clearer concept of what was really happening. We should rather expect the he tried to describe the phenomenon with his own categories.[69]

    The answer to be the above question is clearly no. It is undeniable that Christians presented their information regarding Muhammad, Islam and Muslims in their own terms, which inevitably had some amount of distortion. However, it is important to note that this information is either based on personal observation or ultimately derived from the Muslims themselves.[70] As for the value of Christian accounts, it is two-fold. Firstly, they are often precisely dateable which can't be said of early Muslim writings and secondly, the Christian sources often preserve information which Muslims passed over.[71] Nevertheless, there should be no axiomatic principle of preferring the external source simply because they are observers out with the realm of the group being represented. With regards to Muhammad, Christian writings from the first century of hijra divulge nothing new about his biography when compared with the Islamic sources, but they do reinforce the Islamic accounts about him, albeit with polemic overtones. The situation is best summed by Wansbrough, who notes with regard to the earliest Christian apocalyptic texts and supposedly neutral chronicles bearing on the rise of Islam,

    Material of this sort might be described as the property of a ‘minority historiography’: the sum of stereotyped literary reactions to political change, to the presence of a new and alien authority.[72]

    He then goes on to say,

    What they do not, and cannot, provide is an account of the ‘Islamic’ community during the 150 years or so between the first Arab conquests and the appearance, with the sīra-maghāzī narratives, of the earliest Islamic literature.[73]

    Agreeing with Wansbrough's viewpoint, Hoyland neatly encapsulates what is now considered the standard rigorous approach when writing about early Islamic history. He says,

    I would certainly agree that non-Muslim sources cannot provide a complete and coherent account of the history of Early Islam, even less can they support an alternative version of its development. But what I hope to have achieved in this book is to demonstrate that the testimony of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian writers can be used alongside that of Muslim authors to furnish us with an enriched and expanded vision of the history of the Middle East in Early Islamic times, to offer us new perspectives on its character and to suggest to us new directions for its study.[74]

    In fact, when properly considered this procedure is relatively straightforward in as much as it is devoid of any novelty. Looking sideways at historical Jesus scholarship, after devoting a considerable amount of research into weighing the evidence of Jesus in non-Christian sources, Craig Evans reduced non-Christian sources which mention Jesus into three categories: ‘dubious’, ‘minimal’ and ‘important’, dependant on the source's independence from Christian tradition and the closeness to the events being described.[75] In the category of ‘important’ sources, he mentions the Annals of Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56 - c. 118 CE) and the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus (37 - sometime after 100 CE).[76] Apart from the reasons given above, Evans emphasises the primary importance of these sources is due to their corroboration of certain New Testament accounts.[77] In any case Evans considers the Christian sources to possess enough information in and of themselves as to negate the need for excessive attempts at modelling Jesus based on non-Christian sources.[78] Likewise similar conclusions can be drawn regarding Prophet Muhammad. Should one seek to enforce an exclusively Christian reading of Muhammad and early Islam? The testimonies of non-Muslim accounts should not be automatically preferred over those Muslim accounts which provide more accurate and detailed information, necessitated by the circumstances of their recording. That is not to say one must ignore what is said about the earliest Muslims by others, merely that the application of common sense take place in order to reach logical and balanced conclusions.

    4. What Can A Rock Tell Us About The Biography Of Muhammad?

    Some may hasten to interpret certain epigraphic trends in isolation from other historical information, in a kind of vacuum so to speak, but is this the best way to proceed and will it provide the most fruitful results? It seems the question of the non-appearance of the name ‘Muhammad’ in an Arabic inscription during Islam's first 50 years or so has vexed a number of modern scholars. Of course, any kind of inscription from this period is exceedingly rare, though comparatively, with let’s say Christianity, one could say there are an abundance of epigraphic texts! Should we infer the non-existence of a person because someone did not engrave their name into a rock as early as we think it should have been? The exclusive application of this principle could lead one to conclude the overwhelming majority of people from ancient times never actually existed.

    At present there is not a single mention of Jesus in an inscription from the first 200 years of Christianity.[79] In fact, with perhaps one or two exceptions, there are no Christian inscriptions at all in this period.[80] Nevertheless, no New Testament scholar we are aware of would consider the non-existence of Jesus solely on this basis. To be sure there are very vocal mythicists but they are not taken seriously. These are of course separate issues with different historical circumstances, but certain methodological principles can be similarly applied in both cases.

    It is important to examine the underlying assumptions of those who insist there must be an almost contemporaneous inscription containing the name ‘Muhammad’. Why must it be so and why is it so important to them? Of the more than 77,000 words in the Qur'an, four of them mention Muhammad by name. The Qur'an has many key themes and concepts that one may presume its earliest followers paid attention to. One of the contributing factors may be the majority of western scholars primary exposure is in Judaeo-Christian religion, history and culture and resultantly certain assumptions are imported by some regarding how an individual traversing a desert 1400 years ago should have interacted with a rock. Forgiveness and mercy are key concerns registered in these very early inscriptions, also key central themes in the Qur'an. By their very nature these are short pietistic invocations mentioning God and are not intended to be complete manuals of faith and doctrine. Later on as the Islamic state gained a new dynamic under ʿAbd al-Malik, propaganda efforts intensified and one finds the increasing mention of ‘Muhammad’, including in polemical contexts, starts to establish itself.[81]

    5. Conclusions

    The time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) in a non-scriptural source is slightly over a year and half. Indeed, Muhammad is the only founder of a world religion to be mentioned in external sources that are nearly contemporaneous with his life. When all of the aforementioned texts are considered as a whole, in their language of original composition, Muhammad is mentioned in no fewer than six different languages: Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, Greek, Armenian and Middle Pers

    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1676 - December 01, 2017, 01:49 PM

    the kurrah papyri from aphrodito in the oriental institute by  Nabia Abott..  1938...

    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
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1677 - December 01, 2017, 10:19 PM

    Quote from: Sean W. Anthony
    However, Mecca is mentioned by name in the Syriac Edessene Apocalypse (ca. 690s), and  John bar Penkāyē (wr. ca. 687 CE) writes in his Syriac chronicle about Ibn al-Zubayr rising up out of zeal for “the house of God (byt ʾlhʾ|ܒܝܬ ܐܠܗܐ)”

    S. Anthony pretending not to understand that It is not after the "conquest" that evidence of Mecca must be search to validate the traditional account. But in the 5 and 6th c. He can bring whatever he wants as inscriptions scribal allusions, etc., all of these are post "conquest". I'm still yawning...
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1678 - December 02, 2017, 03:42 AM

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1679 - December 03, 2017, 06:23 PM

    Emran El-Badawi - The Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions
    This book is a study of related passages found in the Arabic Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospels, that is, the Gospels preserved in the Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic dialects. It builds upon the work of traditional Muslim scholars, including al-Biqā‘ī (d. ca. 808/1460) and al-Suyūt.ī (d. 911/1505), who wrote books examining connections between the Qur’ān on the one hand, and Biblical passages and Aramaic terminology on the other, as well as modern western scholars, including Sidney Griffith, who argues that pre-Islamic Arabs accessed the Bible in Aramaic.

    The Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions examines the history of religious movements in the Middle East from 180 to 632 CE, explaining Islam as a response to the disunity of the Aramaic speaking churches. It then compares the Arabic text of the Qur’ān and the Aramaic text of the Gospels under four main themes: the prophets; the clergy; the divine; and the apocalypse. Among the findings of this book are that the articulator as well as audience of the Qur’ān were monotheistic in origin, probably bilingual, culturally sophisticated, and accustomed to the theological debates that raged between the Aramaic speaking churches.

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