Nevo Crossroads to Islam Azaiez's Review (https://www.deepl.com/
Prometheus Books, New York publishing house known for the publication of critical studies
on the genesis of Islam, in particular through Ibn's impulse Warrāq, proposes with Crossroads
to Islam a non-conformist work based on the work of Israeli archaeologist Yehuda D. Nevo.
Written by his assistant Judith Koren after the death premature, this book develops a thesis
radical: the one that the birth of Islam as it was appears in Arab and Islamic sources is not
than pure fiction. As part of a process of historical revisionism, the authors put back into
causes the existence of Muḥammad and the historical reality of the Arab conquest. According to them, Islam as religion only appeared under the impetus of the late arrival of the first Arab leaders at the end of the the sixth century of the Christian era. The demonstration is organized in three parts. A first chapter is devoted to the situation of the Byzantine Empire within its borders from the 5th to the 6th century. The following section describes the seizure of power and the birth of an Arab State in Following the collapse and withdrawal of the Byzantines from their eastern regions. Finally, a final analysis is dedicated to the birth of the Islamic religion which follows the creation of an Arab state.
Entitled "The Background", Chapter I endeavours to present the political and military strategies that to the decisions of the Byzantine authorities.
These companies are demonstrating a willingness to change their relations with the indigenous people of the eastern part of the Empire (currently Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Territories and Western Syria). Their objective is thus to let these foreign populations to govern themselves. This decision results in two major difficulties: in its disengagement,
how to control the wealth produced and the wealth produced that pass through these territories? And how do you do that? conduct a political and administrative withdrawal without create possible areas that could in the future threaten the Byzantine Empire? Faced with these problems three strategies were considered:
1. Divide these regions into multiple small kingdoms
who would be under the supervision of tribal chiefs
mutually hostile to each other;
2. Entrust these political entities to a tribal elite
who became a client of the Byzantine Empire;
3. Administratively abandon these regions
without proclaiming it. It is this last option that was
chosen by the Byzantine authorities.
Between the fifteenth and twelfth centuries, faithful to this strategy
of voluntary disengagement, Byzantium goes on the
1. Replace your regular armies with
Local Arabs who defend borders and become
as well as federated (foederati). Thereafter, their
jurisdiction expands with the levying of a tax
annual; thus, from the beginning of the century, the populations are
regularly taxed by Arabs;
2. Continue its withdrawal from these regions with the
dismantling of the ghassanid kingdom divided into
fifteen tribes and with the Persian invasions that reveal
the inability of the Byzantines to defend their provinces
despite Heraclius' counter-offensive;
3. Promote the autonomy of political elites
and local clergy. Byzantium facilitates conflict
and religious persecutions to disengage from
these regions ;
4. Moving Arab tribes from the periphery
from the Byzantine Eastern kingdoms to the heart of the regions of Šām.
Chapter II, entitled "The Takeover and the the
Rise of the Arab State", is based on a reading
criticism of internal and external (Islamic) sources
and non-Islamic) in order to demonstrate that no
proof of a planned Arab invasion is not
proven. According to the authors, around 630, in the regions previously indicated at Šām, two coexist types of populations: one sedentary, Christian and Arabic, assimilated to Byzantine culture, and the other, nomadic and semi-nomadic, made up of federated soldiers in Byzantium and monitoring the files. The latter will gradually levy taxes no longer for the Empire but for their own benefit. The period following, until the beginning of the eighth century, did not provides no evidence of Arab invasions. There is no great battle proven in Syriac literature and Greek. It is evidence, according to the authors, that there has been no Arab invasion, the event on oldest related being the war between ʿAlī and Muʿāwiya in 657. Another proof is the development of of a currency, first of all of the type Arab-Byzantine, then only Arabic. This evolution marks the consolidation of Arab power first registering in a limited area, from Baysān in Homs, then over a vast region including Muʿāwiya became the leader after the battle of Ṣiffīn, asserting himself then as the first Arab leader. At the end of the In the sixth century, the withdrawal of the Byzantine presence is total. This departure leaves a huge territory struggling with upheavals that result in:
1. Internal struggles maintained by the vacuum left by the Byzantines. The cities of Syria and the North of Palestine issue their own currency. The elders Arab federated states continue to collect tributes, but this time in their own name. This levy is accompanied by war between tribal leaders;
2. The consolidation of the power of Muʿāwiya which takes control of the regions around Damascus;
3. This period ended with the triumph of Muʿāwiya on his opponents at the battle of Ṣiffīn in
657 and the establishment of its leadership in the region, then Egypt and Iraq. This established pre-eminence of sovereignty Arabic on the Šām region does not imply a break with the Byzantine entity. If Muʿāwiya governs on a tribal-type organization where it would be in a way a feudal lord, there remains none no less than this geographical area trades with Byzantium and is subject to its cultural influence as as evidenced by the Byzantine architecture of the Dome of the Rock.
These few considerations lead the authors to say that the new Arab State is in fact a client State
who pays tribute to Byzantium despite the reforms of the currency of ʿAbd al Mālik abolishing
the Byzantine influence.
Chapter III, entitled "The Arab Religion",
infers that Islam as a religion succeeds birth
of an Arab state, but does not precede it. This
belief stems from the unusual encounter of three
influences that will come together:
1. An indeterminate monotheism that rests on
only on the belief in a higher God: Allāh. The first mention of a prophet named Muḥammad dates back to 730 under the reign of Hišām ; 2. An abrahamism from Christian sources
(Sozomenus and Sebéos) inform us that this is of an ismaili monotheism. The disciples of this
belief seem to prefer a life at the borders eastern (southwestern Negev, northern Gaza);
3. A Judeo-Christianity that recognizes Jesus as a prophet and whose message would have been betrayed by Paul and his disciples. The knowledge of this current religious is known by the homilies of the pseudo-Clement in the 15th century. Similarities with Islam are many: prayer towards Jerusalem, negation of the crucifixion, high esteem of the language (original: Hebrew), belief in the corruption of the previous message (Pauline Christianity), emphasis in accordance with the law (circumcision and Sabbath), recognition of the prophets of the Tanakh. These three currents will meet in a political and administrative context framed by three protagonists: a Christian urban elite, a Christian urban elite Arab urban leaders who have embraced this form
basic monotheism and an Arab population newly arrived pagan. At the end of the 17th century,
the official religion with an Arab national prophet
is proclaimed. The late appearance of the mention
of "Muḥammad" is explained by the authors as follows
the need to compensate for the absence of genealogy
prestigious on the Arab side. ʿAbd al Mālik would thus have
decided to create a national prophet. The authors
justify their assertion by an analysis of the name
of "Muḥammad". It would be ʿAbd al Mālik that would have
passes this epithet designating an attribute of the
a messenger with a name for the prophet of Islam.
After 691 and through the Marwanid dynasty, politics
is to integrate religious formulas who name the prophet of Islam. The State also decides to dissociate itself from the Christian religion.
The Dome of the Rock is a privileged witness of this divorce.
The work is strongly influenced - without reality critical distance - through a "hypercritical" school of thought "carried by some of the great names in Islamology contemporary such as John Wansbrough, Patricia Crone and Fred Donner. The latter have in common a reading that challenges historiography classic of the beginnings of Islam and proposes through
literary analyses or external references to Islamic tradition (Syriac and Greek sources)
to reconstruct the first centuries of the Muslim religion. Like them, Nevo and Koren argue that
the cradle of Islam is to be located outside Arabia and question the very existence of Mohammed.
The Koran and the religion that will be called Islam are the products of a long history that is born of the influence of exogenous elements: Jewish Christian sects in particular (see John Wansbrough's book, The Sectarian Environment). Although an important annex provides
reproductions of epigraphic texts from the desert of the Negev, this type of document does not occupy the task of significant place in the authors' demonstration. Indeed, they only speak of epigraphy at pp. 69, 197-200, 273-274. In this case, the considerations of a numismatic nature are much more present.
This reduced place of epigraphy is all the more important more embarrassing than it actually underlies the vision that Nevo of the birth of the Islamic religion. That's the one distinction between three types of epigraphic texts in the Neguev - pre-muḥammadiens texts where
does not show the name of Muḥammad but only the divinity Allāh, texts muḥammadiens,
Islamic texts - which allows him to build his whole speech on the history of the genesis of Islam.
This religion is said to have been born of a confused belief of monotheistic nature around a divinity "Allāh" that would have evolved. Following a political decision and religious authorities, a figure of the Arab authorities prophetic - Muḥammad - would have been created in the image
of the Old Testament prophets. Finally, at the following contacts with Jewish-Christian sects,
institutional Islam has emerged. These three phases precisely match the classification
of the registrations. We then perceive the weakness, even the inanity, of such an approach that does not avoid, between others, three methodological pitfalls:
1. It extrapolates results that are derived from a limited geographical area (the Negev);
2. It eliminates Arab and Islamic sources, considering them not very credible, but accepting other sources exogenous substances that could be the subject of the same discredit. Critical analysis is sorely lacking in scientific justification; 3. It neglects the epigraphic discoveries made
in other geographical areas, in particular in the Arabian Peninsula. We will report to to the work of Saʿd b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Rašīd, Kitabāt islāmiyya min Makka al-mukarrama, Riyadh 1995. The
Islamic Awareness website reproduces some pages suggestive of this research http://www.islamicawareness
. org/History/Islam/Islam/Inscriptions/). Despite the somewhat outrageous nature of his main thesis, this revisionist approach to question, at new cost, some of the historical facts established too often on a reading servile from Arab and Islamic sources. It allows you to also to draw attention to the need to take into account external sources (Syriacs
in particular) to try to write the history of the first centuries of Islam. But, we can't follow the
authors in their reasoning for the reasons given higher up. In the future, we may wish to
an exhaustive study of Koranic inscriptions (datable) engraved on the stone throughout the
Near East. We might end up with a very suggestive mapping of the spread of Islam in the early centuries.