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The origins of Islam

Reader comment on item: Study the Koran?
in response to reader comment: Thanks for the References, Plus Some Thoughts

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Oct 8, 2014 at 16:25

ALK you wrote

Thanks for the citations Dhimmi, I'll check into them.

Good check also the article by Alba Fedeli's great article about "Early evidence of variant readings in Quranic manuscripts" and you will be able to see Quranic fragments with Syriac script covered with the Arabic script

As to your points, I agree about the significance of Syriac terminology; my own sense is that many base Qur'anic texts were likely composed in the Aramaic-influenced dialects of Syria/Palestine -- certainly they were written in a derivative of the Nabatean script, and I believe they likewise record the Nabatean Arabic dialects as well (which we are just beginning to understand -- check out the recent work of Ahmad al-Jallad if you have not already done so)

May be this does not change the fact that the Qur'an has its share of Syro-Aramaic

Check Q69:47 فما منكم من احد عنه حاجزين and it really has no meaning what so ever

Noldeke tells us that this is really Syriac and not Arabic because this is very strange Arabic c but this grammatical construct occurs very often in Syriac and this is only an example


In other words, late Nabatean script, late Nabatean language, late Nabatean theology, late Nabatean geography .... produced the base Qur'an texts, which is why examining them as a product of Syriac/Aramaic culture is so fruitful.

I agree and I happen to believe that if Muhammad existed then he must have lived in the area of the Nabataean Kingdom or southen Palestine and for sure not in al-Hijaz

What's clear enough, as I think you point out, is that classical Islamic exegesis had a deeply inadequate understanding of the conditions in which the Qur'an manuscripts had slowly emerged centuries before.

I agree otherwise al-Tabari would have known the meaning of the words the likes of let us say the strange words Kalala and Ilaf and Samad but in the 3rd century he had no clue and why is that?

The reason Luxenberg's method works surprisingly well is because he exploits the fact that much of the Qur'an was composed in a context that was more deeply suffused with Aramaisms (semantic, orthographic, and Christian-theological) and Northern Arabic dialect than the later exegetical tradition had recognized, concerned as it was to locate its prophet deep within a mythical pagan Hijazi background.

I agree however I do not buy the claim by the Islamic historical tradition about the origin of Islam in Mecca and Medina and all I believe that these are all late constructs after all and as was pointed out by Wansbrough there are no extant papyri, monuments epigraphy ostraca that support the claims by the Islamic historical tradition and all we have is no more than literary sources written by non Arabs in distant Mesopotamia 250-300 after the death of Muhammad

I doubt this was because the Qur'an is a strict translation of Syriac originals -- more likely it was the product of a culture in which Syriac and Aramaic traditions had defined the religious terminology and background, and the early Qur'anic texts were Arabic vernacular commentary on that background.

I do believe as i wrote before that the Arabic language was still evolving and in 632CE it was still this hybrid of Arabic and Syriac and contiuned to be so until the Abbassids revolution in 750CE

More and more, I believe, recent scholarship is converging on this picture from multiple angles. At any rate, I look forward to your future posts on these subjects.

Thank you


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