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Patricia Crone

patricia crone, patricia crone obituary
Patricia Crone March 28, 1945 – July 11, 2015 was a Danish-American author, scholar, orientalist, and historian, specializing in early Islamic history1

Crone's lasting contribution to the field of Islamic Studies is the fundamental questioning of the historicity of the Islamic traditions about the beginnings of Islam, by which she significantly contributed as a major representative of the "Revisionist School" to a paradigm shift in Islamic Studies among the Western Orientalists


  • 1 Life and career
  • 2 Research
  • 3 Bibliography
    • 31 Sole author
    • 32 Coauthor
    • 33 Articles
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Life and careeredit

Crone was born in Kyndeløse, Roskilde, Denmark, on March 28, 19452 After taking the forprøve, or preliminary exam, at Copenhagen University, she went to Paris to learn French, and then to London where she determined to get into a university to become fluent in English In 1974 she earned her PhD at the University of London, where she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Warburg Institute until 1977 She was accepted as an occasional student at King's College London and followed a course in medieval European history, especially church-state relations In 1977, Crone became a University Lecturer in Islamic history and a Fellow of Jesus College at Oxford University Crone became Assistant University Lecturer in Islamic studies and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University in 1990 and held several positions at Cambridge3 She served as University Lecturer in Islamic studies from 1992 to 1994, and as Reader in Islamic history from 1994-97 In 1997, she was appointed to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where she was named as Andrew W Mellon Professor4 From 2002 until her death in 2015, she was a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Social Evolution & History5

She died on July 11, 2015, aged 70, from cancer6


The major theme of Crone's scholarly life was the fundamental questioning of the historicity of Islamic sources about the beginnings of Islam Crone's two most known works concentrate on this topic: Hagarism and Meccan Trade Three decades after Hagarism, Fred Donner called Patricia Crone's work a "milestone" in the field of Orientalist study of Islam7

In their book Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World 1977, Crone and her associate Michael Cook, working at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London at the time, provided a new analysis of early Islamic history They fundamentally questioned the historicity of the Islamic traditions about the beginnings of Islam They tried to produce the picture of Islam's beginnings only from non-Arabic sources By studying the only surviving contemporary accounts of the rise of Islam, which were written in Armenian, Greek, Aramaic and Syriac by witnesses, they reconstructed a significantly different story of Islam's beginnings, compared with the story known from the Islamic traditions Crone and Cook claimed to be able to explain exactly how Islam came into being by the fusion of various near eastern civilizations under Arabic leadership8 Later, Patricia Crone refrained from this attempt of a detailed reconstruction of Islam's beginnings9 Yet she continued to maintain the basic results of her work:

  • The historicity of Islamic sources on Islam's beginnings has to be fundamentally questioned
  • Islam has deep roots in Judaism, and Arabs and Jews were allies
  • Not Mecca but a different place in north-west Arabia was the cradle of Islam

In her book Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam 1987, Crone argued that the importance of the pre-Islamic Meccan trade has been grossly exaggerated Furthermore, she found that Mecca was never part of any of the major ancient trade route She also suggested that while Muhammad never traveled much beyond the Hijaz, internal evidence in the Qur'an, such as its description of Muhammad's opponents as "olive growers", might indicate that the events surrounding the Prophet took place near the Mediterranean region, and not in Mecca10

Beginning as a scholar of early military and economic history of the Middle East, Crone's later career focused mainly on "the Qur’an and the cultural and religious traditions of Iraq, Iran, and the formerly Iranian part of Central Asia"11


Sole authoredit

  • Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity 1980; ISBN 0-521-52940-9
  • Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam 1987; ISBN 1-59333-102-9
  • Roman, Provincial and Islamic Law : The Origins of the Islamic Patronate 1987, Paperback: 2002; ISBN 0-521-52949-2
  • Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World 2003; ISBN 1-85168-311-9
  • God's Rule: Government and Islam - Six Centuries of Medieval Islamic Political Thought 2004 Columbia University Press; ISBN 0-231-13290-5/ISBN 0-231-13291-3
  • Medieval Islamic Political Thought 2005 Edinburgh University Press; ISBN 0-7486-2194-6
  • From Arabian Tribes to Islamic Empire : Army, State and Society in the Near East c 600–850 2008; ISBN 978-0-7546-5925-9
  • The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism 2012 Cambridge University Press; ISBN 978-1107018792


  • with MA Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World 1977; ISBN 0-521-29754-0 Free online version at archiveorg
  • with Martin Hinds, God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam 2003; orig 1986; ISBN 0-521-54111-5
  • with Shmuel Moreh, The Book of Strangers: Medieval Arabic Graffiti on the Theme of Nostalgia 1999 Princeton Series on the Middle-East; ISBN 978-1558762152


  • Patricia Crone, "How Did the Quranic Pagans Make a Living", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol 68, No 3 2005, pp 387–399
  • Patricia Crone, "'Jihad': idea and history", Open Democracy, April 30, 2007
  • Patricia Crone, "What do we actually know about Mohammed", Open Democracy, June 10, 2008


  1. ^ "Library of Congress Authorities" Library of Congress Retrieved January 24, 2007 
  2. ^ Obituary, nytimescom; accessed July 23, 2015
  3. ^ "INSTITUTE APPOINTS NEW FACULTY MEMBERS" Archived from the original on December 8, 2004 Retrieved June 20, 2012  CS1 maint: Unfit url link; "Dr Crone, who is presently at Cambridge University, will be in residence at the Institute as of the beginning of the fall term in September 1997"
  4. ^ "Institute for Advanced Study: Faculty and Emeriti" Institute for Advanced Study Archived from the original on March 4, 2007 Retrieved January 24, 2007 Crone's work has challenged long-held explanations and provided new approaches for the social, economic, legal and religious patterns that transformed Late Antiquity 
  5. ^ Social Evolution & History website; accessed July 17, 2015
  6. ^ Profile, opendemocracynet; accessed July 17, 2015
  7. ^ 1 Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Vol 40, No 2 December 2006, pp 197-199
  8. ^ Patricia Crone: Hagarism, 1977; pp 106, 120 ff, and others
  9. ^ 2 Toby Lester: What is the Koran, in: The Atlantic, issue January 1999
  10. ^ Patricia Crone: Hagarism, 1977; p 24
  11. ^ "Patricia Crone", Institute for Advanced Study

External linksedit

  • Institute for Advanced Study: Faculty and Emeriti: Crone
  • Review: God's Rule, Columbia University Press
  • Patricia Crone, "The Rise of Islam", Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, section beginning at page 231, dealing with rise of Islam as reaction to Byzantine and Persian influence in Arabia, hosted at Fordham University

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