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Sounds Fishy to a (semi-)Specialist

Reader comment on item: Uncovering Early Islam

Submitted by Alex (United States), May 17, 2012 at 16:42

I must point out that Dr. Pipes is leaving out the works of three seminal scholars who also question the traditional history of Islam, namely John Wansbrough with his Qur'anic revisionism, and Fred Donner and Moshe Sharon with the their alternative accounts of early Muslim history (Donner's identification of Muhammad's loose connection to a more ecumenical movement of monotheists sounds similar to Spencer's new ideas).

Without having read Robert Spencer's new book, I am also a bit surprised that Dr. Pipes would lend credence to the theory that al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf's strongman role institutionalized martial virtues into Isla so indelibly that it began the path towards modern jihadism (I don't know if this is Soencer's argument, but it sounds like his typical simplistic and ahistorical trope). I agree with Spencer that the late 7th/early 8th Century was a time when we see the first documentary evidence (coins, the Dome of the Rock and other lesser inscriptions and artifacts) of Islam's current political-religious makeup, but I think the central figure from early Islamic history who played the biggest role here was obviously the Caliph 'Abd al Hakim b. Marwan (pardon me for suspecting that Spencer just replaced him with al Hajjaj to serve the "Islam is inherently violent" narrative).


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Daniel Pipes replies:

My article summarizes a full-length book. Please read Spencer's account for the arguments and their justifications.

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