Patricia Crone Michael Cook - Hagarism The Making of Islamic World.pdf

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HAGARISM
THE MAKING OF THE
ISLAMIC WORLD
PATRICIA CRONE
SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW. THE WARBURG INSTITUTE
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
MICHAEL COOK
LECTURER IN ECONOMIC HISTORY WITH REFERENCE
TO THE MIDDLE EAST.
SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
CAMBRIDGE
LONDON. NEW YORK· MELBOURNE
Published by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 I RP
Bentley House, 200 Euston Road, London NWI 2 DB
32 East 57th Street. New York. NY 10022, USA
296 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park, Melbourne 3206, Australia
© Cambridge University Press 1977
First published
in 1977
Printed in Malta by
Interprint (Malta) Ltd.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Crone. Patricia, 1940-
Hagarism: the making of the Islamic world.
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
I . Islam-History. I. Cook, M. A., joint author.
II. Title.
BP 55.C76 909'.09'7671 7l-41714
ISBN 0-521-21133-6
CONTENTS
Preface
vii
PART I: WHENCE ISLAM?
1 Judeo-Hagarism
3
2 Hagarism without Judaism
10
3 The Prophet like Moses
16
4 The Samaritan calques
21
5 Babylonia
29
Appendix I: The Kenite; Reason and custom
35
PART II: WHITHER ANTIQUITY?
6 The imperial civilizations
41
7 The Near-Eastern provinces
47
PART III: THE COLLISION
8 The preconditions for the formation of Islamic civilisation
73
9 The fate of Antiquity: I. The Hagarisation of the Fertile Crescent
83
10 The fate of Antiquity: II. The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 92
11 The fate of Antiquity: III. The intransigence of Islamic civilisation
107
12 The fate of Hagarism
120
13 Sadducee Islam
130
14 The austerity of Islamic history
139
Appendix II: Lex Fufia Caninia and the Muslim law of bequests
149
Notes to the text
152
Bibliography
237
Indices
259
PREFACE
Islamic civilisation is the only one in the world which went through its
formative period later than the first millennium B.C. Its emergence thus
constitutes an unusual, and for a number of related reasons a peculiar, historical
event. This book is an attempt to make sense of it.
In making the attempt we have adopted an approach which differs
appreciably from that of more conventional writing in the field. First, our
account of the formation of Islam as a religion is radically new, or more
precisely it is one which has been out of fashion since the seventh century: it is
based on the intensive use of a small number of contemporary non-Muslim
sources the testimony of which has hitherto been disregarded.* Secondly, we
have expended a good deal of energy, both scholastic and intellectual, on taking
seriously the obvious fact that the formation of Islamic civilisation took place in
the world of late antiquity, and what is more in a rather distinctive part of it.
Finally, we have set out with a certain recklessness to create a coherent
architectonic of ideas in a field over much of which scholarship has yet to dig
the foundations.
It might not be superfluous for us to attempt a defence of this enterprise
against the raised eyebrows of the specialist, but it would certainly be pointless:
it is in the last resort by specialists that our work will be judged, and the
judgment of specialists is not open to corruption by prefaces. What has been said
should also suffice to warn the non-specialist what not to expect: this is a
pioneering expedition through some very rough country, not a guided tour.
There is however one particular group of readers who are in a special position.
For although the characters who appear in our story are all of them dead, their
descendants are very much alive.
In the first place, the account we have given of the origins of Islam is not
one which any believing Muslim can accept: not because it in any way belittles
the historical role of Muhammad, but because it presents him in a
role quite different from that which he has taken on in the Islamic
*It follows, of course, that new discoveries of early material could
dramatically confirm, modify or refute the positions we have taken up.
vii
Preface
tradition. This is a book written by infidels for infidels, and it is based on what
from any Muslim perspective must appear an inordinate regard for the testimony
of infidel sources. Our account is not merely unacceptable; it is also one which
any Muslim whose faith is as a grain of mustard seed should find no difficulty in
rejecting.
In the second place, there is a good deal in this book that may be disliked
by the Muslim who has lost his religious faith but retained his ancestral pride.
What we wish to stress for such a reader is that the strong evaluative overtones
of the language in which we have analysed the formation of Islamic civilisation
do not add up to any simplistic judgment for or against. We have presented the
formation of the new civilisation as a unique cultural achievement, and one to
which the maraudings of our own barbarian ancestors offer no parallel whatever;
but equally we have presented the achievement as one which carried with it
extraordinary cultural costs, and it is above all the necessary linkage between the
achievement and the costs that we have tried to elucidate.
In the course of our research we have been helped by a number of
scholars and institutions. Dr Sebastian Brock, Mr. G. R. Hawting and Dr M. J.
Kister were kind enough to give us their comments on an earlier draft of Part
One. Dr Brock, Dr P. J. Frandsen and Professor A. Scheiber assisted us over
queries in areas of their specialist competence. Consultation of a rather
inaccessible Syriac manuscript was made possible by a grant from the British
Academy and greatly facilitated by the kindness of Father William Macomber
and Dr J. c. J. Sanders. Professor Bernard Lewis was good enough to make
available to us his translation of a Jewish apocalyptic poem prior to publication.
The completion of our research was greatly helped in different ways by the
Warburg Institute and the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Over and above these debts of execution, we would also like to put on
record what we owe to two influences without which this book could hardly
have been conceived. The first was our exposure to the sceptical approach of Dr
John Wansbrough to the historicity of the Islamic tradition; without this
influence the theory of Islamic origins set out in this book would
never have occurred to us. † The second is the powerful and
We also benefited from an exchange of views with Dr Wansbrough in a seminar held
in the spring of 1974, and have made use of what we learnt then at a number of points
in our argument. These debts are acknowledged in their proper places; such
acknowledgements should be taken to indicate that the substance of the idea is not to be
credited to us, not that the form in which it appears can be debited to Dr Wansbrough.
Cf. his forthcoming Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation .
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