Aug 3, Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam. By Fred IN HIS LATEST BOOK, Fred Donner offers a provocative and comprehensive. Muhammad and the Believers has ratings and 33 reviews. Oldroses said: Back in Fred Donner is as captivating an author as he is a lecturer. This book is . Donner, Fred M. Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam. Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, xviii+

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Many of the tribes Khalid and his forces contacted during this campaign— Shayban, ‘Ijl, Dhuhl, Namir ibn al-Qasit, Tamim, and others— seem belieevrs have been divided among themselves along lineage lines, or by religion, and Khalid exploited these divisions effectively, using one section to help bring the re- mainder to submission.

But while ‘Muslim’ occurs less than 75 times in the Qur’an, ‘Mu’min’ is mentioned more than a thousand. The term muslim in this passage also probably refers to those Believers who followed Qur anic law rather than the Jews, who as the document says, had their own law. Piccirillo, Mosaics of Jordan, juhammad, p.

Mecca owed its prominence not to cultivation but to religious cult and commerce: These four armies to- gether numbered an estimated twenty-four thousand troops and consisted mainly of commanders amirs from Quraysh and of towns- men and nomadic recruits from different parts of Yemen. Each chapter after the first could have been summarized in one short paragraph with no real loss of detail, and a major gain in time. Perhaps my less-than-favorable opinion of this book was caused by the fact that I sustained around 40 mosquito bites trying to sit outside and read thi Reading this book was not unlike reading a physics textbook.

Donner starts from the life of Muhammad and continues through decades of strife that ended with the establishment of Umayyad rule by ‘Abd al-Malik who may have been the first to identify himself as “caliph”. Byfully half of Anatolia, the traditional heartland of the Byzan- line Empire, was in Sasanian hands, as well as all of the Caucasus, Armenia, Syria, and Egypt; to make matters worse, Khosro had con- cluded an alliance with the chief of the nomadic Avars, who were simultaneously attacking Constantinople from the northwest.

Arabia The Near East on the Eve of Islam 31 may also have been home to some communities of Jewish Christians called Nazoreans, who recognized Jesus as messiah but adhered to bans on consuming pork and wine. But whoever of you is sick, or traveling, [prescribed are] a number of other days.

Another feature of Christianity in the Gelievers Near East— one that seems to have been shared by different Christian denominations— was an inclination toward asceticism.

I have generally omitted diacritical marks when converting words from Arabic and other Near Eastern languages to Roman letters— the general reader is confused or put off by them, the specialist gen- erally does not need them, and the publisher abhors them as cum- bersome and costly. In some respects the exact extent of its control at this time remains unclear, but there can be no doubt that it was much larger than even a few years before. A Note on Conventions xviii Names of persons are given in strict transliteration but without diacritics: Unfortu- fref, we have no original documents that might confirm un- equivocally any of the traditional biography— no original copies of letters to or from or about Muhammad by his contemporaries, no inscriptions from his day written by members of his community, and so on.


Verily, 1 will fill hell with all of those who follow you. His discussion of the development of leadership of the community in the first hundred years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad does not get bogged down in the divergent narratives but nonetheless is able to delineate how the various groups and political parties develop, and how this process culminates in the development of the religion that is more recognizable today.

Muhammad and the Believers

Donner recounts the two wars lucidly frfd miring readers too deeply in lists of names and skirmishes. Byzantine Orthodox Believes were predominant in Ana- tolia, the Balkans, Greece, and Palestine, and in urban centers elsewhere where imperial authority was strong. The Qur’an’s punishment is flogging or immurement, and the bible offers no punishment at all.

The portion that I found most interesting was the hardening of religious identities in the Umayyad period — it is fascinating to think that Islam remained an ecumenical movement for so many decades! A recurring feature of Byzantine- Sasanian peace agreements was the establishment of official cus- toms stations where goods were required to cross the border. Of course, one assumes that the Arabian Believers who came into the Fertile Crescent recognized Muhammad as having been their prophet.

For no good beelievers that they do will he passed over without thanks; for God knows the pious.

Immediately after his arrival in Medina, according to tradition, Muhammad and his followers are said to have marked out a place for collective prayer— the first mosque.

Slavery was still legal as an institution and widespread as a social phenomenon. Although written for a popular audience, Professor Donner is unable to break out of his scholarly writing mode. Pre- sumably, the numerous Jews and Christians of Arabia were allowed, as monotheists, to continue observing their own religious laws, al- though the sources tell us nothing about this question.

Around that time, however, he was contacted by a small group of men from the town of Yathrib, a cluster of date- palm oases situated about km mi north of Mecca. I grew up thinking religion meant teachings of kindness and peace, and that these were among the most central of goals in the earliest forms of most faiths.



Muhammad and the Believers — Fred M. Donner | Harvard University Press

Secondly, places that did not resist were spared, and few places resisted once the weak Byzantine or Sassanian garrisons were defeated. How to Think Like an Anthropologist. Muhammad astutely used these late cam- paigns as a way to secure the loyalty of those powerful leaders of Quraysh who had formerly been his opponents, such as their for- mer leader Abu Sufyan, and his sons Mu’awiya and Yazid, by giv- ing them important commands or extra shares of booty.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a thorough but not too dense overview of the early period of Islamic history. But the Qur an makes it clear that to be a true Be- liever mere intellectual acceptance of these ideas was not sufficient; one also had to live piously. The account is readable, for the most part, although I did get bogged down in the last few chapters.

Important aspects of the book’s central premise may be underdeveloped – for instance, a lineage of the “spiritual” content, or the discourse of piety, if you prefer Donner makes it clear in the introduction that this is a primer for readers interested first, obviously, in the history of Islam, and second, and more importantly, in staking out a position between traditional histories and the strand of scholarship that tosses traditional narratives out as completely unreliable.

If so, how could that be? Although preserved only in collections of later date, its text is so different in content and style from everything else in those collections, and so evidently archaic in character, that all students of early Islam, even the most skeptical, accept it as authen- tic and of virtually documentary value. This involved, in particular, continuous prayer and a refusal to succumb to the temptations of physical desires, such as the need for sleep, food, shelter, sexual gratification, or human compan- ionship, which were viewed by some, at least, as snares of the devil.

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Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam

The urama Document Appendix B: The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. Thus Jews, Christians, Sabeans and Hanafis are being spoken to not as ‘unbelievers’, but as Believers who are members of the same “ummah” community of believers.

Harvard University Press- History – pages. It returned in- tact after about two months. Various Christian sects also directed some polemical writings against Zoroastrianism, the official faith of the Sasanian Empire see below.