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hagarism the making of the islamic world, hagarism download
Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World is a 1977 book about the early history of Islam by the historians Patricia Crone and Michael Cook Drawing on archaeological evidence and contemporary documents in Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and Syriac, Crone and Cook depict an early Islam based on Christian and Jewish origins different from traditional mythology The book has been hailed as a controversial but seminal work in its branch of Islamic historiography123


  • 1 Hagarism explained
  • 2 Synopsis
  • 3 Influence
  • 4 Reviews
    • 41 Later disavowal
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links

Hagarism explainededit

The word "Hagarism" relates to the 7th-century Arabian Peninsula Hagarene tribes, ie the descendants of the Egyptian servant girl Hagar, who bore Abraham their son Ishmael

According to the book Hagarism, the Arab conquests and the formation of the caliphate were a peninsular Arab movement inspired by Jewish messianism In alliance with the Jews, the Arabs attempted to reclaim the Promised Land from the Byzantine Empire The Qur'an was a product of 8th-century edits of various materials drawn from a variety of Judeo-Christian and Middle-Eastern sources while Muhammad was the herald of Umar "the redeemer", a Judaic messiah4


Hagarism begins with the premise that Western historical scholarship on the beginnings of Islam should be based on contemporary historical, archaeological and philological data, as is done for study of Judaism and Christianity, rather than Islamic traditions and later Arabic writings The tradition expresses dogma, and tells historically irreconcilable and anachronistic accounts of the community's past By relying on contemporary historical, archaeological and philological evidence, the authors attempt to reconstruct and present what they argue is a more historically accurate account of Islam's origins

In summary:

"Virtually all accounts of the early development of Islam take it as axiomatic that it is possible to elicit at least the outlines of the process from the Islamic sources It is however well-known that these sources are not demonstrably early There is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century, and the tradition which places this rather opaque revelation in its historical context is not attested before the middle of the eighth The historicity of the Islamic tradition is thus to some degree problematic: while there are no cogent internal grounds for rejecting it, there are equally no cogent external grounds for accepting it In the circumstances it is not unreasonable to proceed in the usual fashion by presenting a sensibly edited version of the tradition as historical fact But equally, it makes some sense to regard the tradition as without determinate historical content, and to insist that what purport to be accounts of religious events in the seventh century are utilizable only for the study of religious ideas in the eighth The Islamic sources provide plenty of scope for the implementation of these different approaches, but offer little that can be used in any decisive way to arbitrate between them The only way out of the dilemma is thus to step outside the Islamic tradition altogether and start again"5

According to the authors, 7th century Syriac, Armenian and Hebrew sources depict the formation of Islam as a Jewish messianic movement known as Hagarism, which migrated into the Fertile Crescent It drew considerable influences from the Samaritans and Babylonian Judaism Around 690 AD the movement shed its Judaic identity to develop into what would later become Arab Islam6 The surviving records of the period describe the followers of Muhammad as Hagarenes, because of the way Muhammad invoked the Jewish god in order to introduce an alien monotheistic faith to the Arabs

Muhammad claimed biological descent for the Arabs from Abraham through his slave wife Hagar This united the ancestors of the tribe with the religion, in the same way as the Jews claimed descent from Abraham through Sarah and their ancestral faith During this early period, the Jews and the Hagarenes united under a faith loosely described as Judeo-Hagarism, in order to recover the holy land from the Christian Byzantines The scholars believe that the early manuscripts from eyewitnesses suggest that Muhammad was the leader of a military expedition to conquer Jerusalem, and that the original hijra referred to a journey from northern Arabia to that city

As time went on, the Hagarenes concluded that the adoption of Judaism and Christian Messianism did not provide them with the unique religious identity that they desired They feared that being too influenced by Judaism might result in outright conversion and assimilation Thus the hagarenes contrived to create a religion of their own and decided to splinter off from Judaic practices and beliefs

Driven by a quest for theological legitimacy, they developed a version of Abrahamic monotheism It evolved from a blend of Judaism, Samaritanism and Christianity to become what became recognized as Islam The authors propose that Islam was thus born and fashioned from Judaic mythology and symbology, that is; the creation of a sacred scripture similar to the Jewish Torah: the Qur'an, and identification of a Moses-like prophet; along with a sacred city of Mecca, modeled on the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem, adjacent to a holy mountain

As late as the eighth century, some mosques have prayer niches oriented to the north - to Jerusalem, rather than to Mecca, which ultimately replaced it as Islam's holy city


Crone and Cook's work was part of revisionist history arising from several scholars associated with the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS, beginning in the 1970s They introduced methods from biblical studies as a new way of analyzing the history of the Koran and Islam, for instance, the use of contemporary texts in languages other than that used in the holy text, and incorporating evidence from archeology and linguistics Their work has presented the Koran as "a scripture with a history", as Patricia Crone said in a 1999 interview in The Atlantic Monthly

In 1995, Michael Lecker proposed more conservative theories of early Jewish/Islamic relations in his articles "The conversion of Himyar to Judaism and the Jewish Banu Hadl of Medina"7 and "Judaism among Kinda and the 'ridda' of Kinda"8 His 1997 article "Zayd b Thabit, 'a Jew with two sidelocks': Judaism and literacy in pre-Islamic Medina Yatrib" continued this approach9

In 1997, Robert G Hoyland described the legacy of Hagarism this way:

"Almost two decades ago Patricia Crone and Michael Cook followed French historian Claude Cahen's advice in their reconstruction of the rise of Islam, which they attempted to write on the basis of testimony external to Islamic tradition Yet, with a few notable exceptions Conrad and Morony for example this line of inquiry has not been pursued This is unfortunate  surely if one wishes to gain a proper understanding of the events and developments of this age, one must elicit the opinions of all those who participated in them  It is this belief and the example of the aforementioned scholars referring to Crone & Cook that have inspired this book Seeing Islam as Others Saw It"10

He characterized hagarism as evolving into a wider inter-disciplinary and literary approach, and said that additional studies would be published in the Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam SLAEI Series in which his book appears Since then the "SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies"11 has also published a selection of authors who are continuing to produce work related to a modified form of this theory

In 2002, David Cook, in discussing the A'maq Cycle of historical apocalypses, says that this genre of Islamic literature "could in fact be based on some historical kernel, since  the Muslims shared with the Jews the desire to build the Third Temple"12


Their work was acknowledged as raising some interesting questions and being a fresh approach in its reconstruction of early Islamic history, but it was described by Josef van Ess as an experiment13 He argued that: " a refutation is perhaps unnecessary since the authors make no effort to prove it the hypothesis of the book in detail  Where they are only giving a new interpretation of well-known facts, this is not decisive But where the accepted facts are consciously put upside down, their approach is disastrous"13

Steven Humphreys criticised the authors for their " use or abuse of its Greek and Syriac sources "14 The controversial thesis of Hagarism is not widely accepted15

R B Serjeant claimed that: "Hagarism  is not only bitterly anti-Islamic in tone, but anti-Arabian Its superficial fancies are so ridiculous that at first one wonders if it is just a 'leg pull', pure 'spoof'"16

Eric Manheimer concluded his review with the comment that, "The research on Hagarism is thorough, but this reviewer feels that the conclusions drawn lack balance The weights on the scales tip too easily toward the hypercritical side, tending to distract from what might have been an excellent study in comparative religion"17

David Waines, Professor of Islamic Studies Lancaster University states: "The Crone-Cook theory has been almost universally rejected The evidence offered by the authors is far too tentative and conjectural and possibly contradictory to conclude that Arab-Jewish relations were as intimate as they would wish them to have been"18

John Wansbrough, who had mentored the authors, reviewed the book, specifically the first part, in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies He begins by praising the book claiming, "the authors' erudition is extraordinary their industry everywhere evident, their prose ebullient" But, he says that, " most, if not all, of the sources have been or can be challenged on suspicion of inauthenticity" and that "the material is upon occasion misleadingly represented  My reservations here, and elsewhere in this first part of the book, turn upon what I take to be the authors' methodological assumptions, of which the principal must be that a vocabulary of motives can be freely extrapolated from a discrete collection of literary stereotypes composed by alien and mostly hostile observers, and thereupon employed to describe, even interpret, not merely the overt behaviour but also intellectual and spiritual development of the helpless and mostly innocent actors Where even the sociologist fears to tread, the historian ought not with impunity be permitted to go"19

Oleg Grabar described Hagarism as a "brilliant, fascinating, original, arrogant, highly debatable book" and writes that " the authors' fascination with lapidary formulas led them to cheap statements or to statements which require unusual intellectual gymnastics to comprehend and which become useless, at best cute" and that " the whole construction proposed by the authors lacks entirely in truly historical foundations" but also praised the authors for trying to "relate the Muslim phenomenon to broad theories of acculturation and historical change"20 Norman O Brown wrote that Hagarism, "illustrates in an ominous way the politics of Orientalism", and citing Grabar's review, added that, "The Western tradition of urbane condescension has degenerated into aggressive, unscrupulous even, calumny"21

Michael G Morony remarked that "Despite a useful bibliography, this is a thin piece of Kulturgeschichte full of glib generalizations, facile assumptions, and tiresome jargon More argument than evidence, it suffers all the problems of intellectual history, including reification and logical traps"22

Fred M Donner writing 30 years after the book had been written comments on the negative press the book initially received "Hagarism came in 1977 as a very loud wake up call to the then rather sleepy field of early Islamic studies, like most wake up calls its arrival was not exactly welcomed Not many traditionally minded Muslims, but also much Western scholarlarly establishment that dealt with early Islam which was also quite traditionally minded viewed the authors methods and, in particular, their attempted reconstructions and conculsions with downright horror Yet now more than 30 years later we can see that the publication of Hagarism was a milestone in the study of Isamic studies The author's started by reminding us of something that everybody already knew: that the generally accepted picture of the origins of Islam was not based on contemporary documents but rather on various narrative sources that had been compiled by Muslims years, sometimes many years, after the events they described The authors therefore proposed that since the narrative sources were so problematic, scholars should leave them aside and try to see what could be said about Islam origins by relying on soley contemporary evidence"23

Later disavowaledit

In 1991, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook disavowed the views that they presented in this book181514not in citation given

See alsoedit

  • Historiography of early Islam
  • In the Shadow of the Sword book
  • The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran


  1. ^ Donner, Fred M 2010 Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam Belknap Press of Harvard University Press p 126 ISBN 978-0-674-05097-6 
  2. ^ Shoemaker, Stephen J "The Death of a Prophet The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam" University of Pennsylvania Retrieved August 22, 2012 
  3. ^ Stille, Alexander 2 March 2002 "Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran" The New York Times Retrieved August 22, 2012 
  4. ^ Ibn Warraq, The Origins of The Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book, 1998
  5. ^ P Crone and M Cook, Hagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World, 1977, Cambridge University Press, p 3
  6. ^ Oleg Grabar, Speculum, Vol 53, No 4 Oct, 1978, pp 795–799
  7. ^ Michael Lecker, "The conversion of Himyar to Judaism and the Jewish Banu Hadl of Medina", Die Welt des Orients 26, Gottingen, 1995
  8. ^ Michael Lecker, Judaism among Kind and the ridda of Kinda, Journal of the American Oriental Society 115, New Haven, 1995
  9. ^ Michael Lecker, "Zayd b Thabit, 'a Jew with two sidelocks': Judaism and literacy in pre-Islamic Medina Yatrib", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 56, Chicago, 1997
  10. ^ Robert G Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam, Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam Series; Darwin Press, 1998; pp 2–3
  11. ^ SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press
  12. ^ David Cook, Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic, Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam; Darwin Press, 2002
  13. ^ a b van Ess, "The Making Of Islam", Times Literary Supplement, 8 September 1978, p 998
  14. ^ a b Stephen Humphreys, Islamic History, Princeton, 1991 pp 84–85

    "Unsurprisingly, the Crone-Cook interpretation has failed to win general acceptance among Western Orientalists, let alone Muslim scholars  The rhetoric of these authors may be an obstacle for many readers, for their argument is conveyed through a dizzying and unrelenting array of allusions, metaphors, and analogies More substantively, their use or abuse of the Greek and Syriac sources has been sharply criticised In the end, perhaps we ought to use Hagarism more as a 'what-if' exercise than as a research monograph"

  15. ^ a b Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report Los Angeles, California: University of California Press 1997 p 47 
  16. ^ R B Serjeant, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society 1978 p 78
  17. ^ Eric I Manheimer "Review" The American Historical Review, Vol 83, No 1 Feb, 1978, pp 240–241
  18. ^ a b Introduction to Islam, Cambridge, Eng: Cambridge University Press, 1995 ISBN 0-521-42929-3, pp 273–274
  19. ^ J Wansbrough "Review", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol 41, No 1 1978, pp 155–156
  20. ^ Grabar, Oleg Speculum, Vol 53, No 4 Oct, 1978, pp 795–799
  21. ^ Norman O Brown, Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis, 1991, University of California Press, p 65
  22. ^ Morony, Michael G Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol 41, No 2 Apr, 1982, pp 157–159
  23. ^ 1 Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Vol 40, No 2 December 2006, pp 197-199

Further readingedit

  • Coster, Marije, "Hagarism", in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God 2 vols, Edited by C Fitzpatrick and A Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol I, pp 236–239

External linksedit

  • Full text of Hagarism; The Making Of The Islamic World Crone, Cook

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