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For Ianus Wellhausen and the history of early Islam

Reader comment on item: How to End Terrorism:
in response to reader comment: Can you do me a favour, dhimmi no more? Eutychius on Moslem robbery to embelish Al-Haram al-Sharif with a dome.

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Dec 26, 2006 at 14:04

Hi Ianus

Thank you for your very kind remarks.

In the case of Egypt it is very difficult to define what is really the late antique period, but the way I see is: it is the period extending from about the first century CE until the year 750 CE or the end of the Umayyads and the early 3Abbasid's revolution. I'm sure you might find other definitions but notice that my interest in the origin of Islam and linking it with the past.

I have read al-Batriq or Eutychius only preserved in writings of other authors (eg: Butler). I'm not familiar with "Nazm al-gawahir" (Nazm al-gawahir really means: the "arranging of the precious" The word gawahir for sure does not not pearls. Pearls means Lu'lu' and not gawahir. Notice that the letter geem is a give away that the author was indeed Egyptian as the Arabic letter Jeem is vocalized in Egypt as geem and the g here is as in: go.

I'm sure Dr. Pipes would not mind if you post the page that you have in mind and I will be glad to povide you with a linear translation as well as a tafseer (exegesis) translation.

You must also be very careful about trying to reconstruct history and "what really happened?" based on one single text as Arabic sources by both Arabs and non-Arabs can be real traps.

As for Wellhausen: His work on literary critcism of the Qur'an did not work because the Qur'an as a flat text and it does not have the rich literary deposits that the first five books of the Bible have. Now must reading is his: "Reste arabischen Heidentums" and: "Prolegomena zur altesten Geschichte des Islams" and for sure his "Das arabische Reich und sein Sturz." He for sure makes very interesting observations but now we have better sources from another great German historian, Albrecht Noth" who through his great "Quellenkritische" (in English: "The Early Arabic Historical Tradition") provides us with a great examination of the early literary sources of Islam and a real wake up call to the student of early islam about the nature of the literary sources in Arabic.

if you are interested in modern literary cirticism of the Qur'an must reading here would be Wansbrough's "Quranic Studies."

Now if you want to read a great combination of Wellhausen's work and Noth's work in reagard to literary criticism of the ealy Arabic language sources and the issue of Mecca and Meccan trade I urge you to read Patricia Crone's great work: "Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam."

Do not hesitate to post any text you need translated from Arabic (be it Quranic, classical, middle or modern Arabic) to English. I will be glad to help.


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