Author Topic: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?  (Read 20340 times)

Online Vetus Ordo

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #255 on: March 18, 2020, 02:23:11 PM »
An intriguing documentary concerning the scholar Dan Gibson and his controversial theory that the city believed to be Mecca in the Qur'an was actually the ancient city of Petra.  I watched it because I thought it might have a focus on the theory (which I like, despite its dubiousness) that the Kaaba was originally a shrine to a Babylonian moon god.  As it turns out, it doesn't, but it's interesting in its own right.  Islam appears to have some serious questions around its geographical origins.  Tonight I intend to watch Tom Holland's Islam: The Untold Story, which I think is based around some of this same hypothesis.


Thanks for sharing this, Pon. I'm familiar with this documentary. Dan Gibson presents one of the most popular critical theories concerning the origins of Islam right now. Patricia Crone is also another renowned champion of the revisionist school of Islamic studies, along with Michael Cook, Hans Jansen and many others. Besides the theory of Petra being the birthplace of the new religion, another popular theory is that the historical Muhammad didn't really exist at all and was a later construct of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates to unify and codify their religion as they challenged the Roman Christian Empire.

Of course, all this hinges upon the rejection of the historical value of the early Islamic texts, like the Sira literature of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham, as well as the Qur'an and the Hadith corpus.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #256 on: March 18, 2020, 04:07:00 PM »
An understanding of Church History is the best answer to Islam. Islam claims Jesus was not crucified. Yet the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus in 33 A.D., when Tiberius Caesar was Emperor, when Pontius Pilate was Roman procurator of Judaea, has been called "as certain as anything historical can ever be" even by secular historians.

I'm not so sure if this refutes Islam, though, Xavier.  As I understand it, Islam's notion of the crucifixion is essentially Docetic: that there appeared to be a crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, but that the form which hung on the cross was only a similitude—something like a hollow shell, perhaps, while the actual, spiritual Jesus was off in the heavens instead.  I believe this Christology arose from the fairly sound theological contention that God, being perfect and immaterial, cannot suffer, nor even become incarnate.

In terms of how this would be recorded, however, by the Romans, the Jews, the crowds, and the two Marys and John, it would look exactly like an actual bodily crucifixion, and would be understood in that sense in the ensuing historical accounts.  As for the shroud, I'm not sure on that point, but I would assume that the similitude would behave like a body in death as much as in life.  Frustratingly, Docetism is irrefutable in terms of the history.  It's like solipsism; it can't be disproven.


« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 04:14:19 PM by Pon de Replay »
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #257 on: March 18, 2020, 04:13:29 PM »
Of course, all this hinges upon the rejection of the historical value of the early Islamic texts, like the Sira literature of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham, as well as the Qur'an and the Hadith corpus.

Gracias, Vetus.  As far as Gibson goes, though, I think he accords the texts historical value, but sees them (as all historical texts) as being potentially mistaken on points, and probably so on this one.  It would accord with there having been an actual Muhammad; he would simply have been a person who was insufficiently clear, at least for posterity's sake, in making known his town of origin.  It does reject, of course, the notion that the Qu'ran is the speech of God, who in his omniscience would presumably not be so careless.

I may have more to say after watching the BBC documentary, which draws from Patricia Crone's scholarship.
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Online Vetus Ordo

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #258 on: March 18, 2020, 05:06:49 PM »
Of course, all this hinges upon the rejection of the historical value of the early Islamic texts, like the Sira literature of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham, as well as the Qur'an and the Hadith corpus.

Gracias, Vetus.  As far as Gibson goes, though, I think he accords the texts historical value, but sees them (as all historical texts) as being potentially mistaken on points, and probably so on this one.  It would accord with there having been an actual Muhammad; he would simply have been a person who was insufficiently clear, at least for posterity's sake, in making known his town of origin.  It does reject, of course, the notion that the Qu'ran is the speech of God, who in his omniscience would presumably not be so careless.

I may have more to say after watching the BBC documentary, which draws from Patricia Crone's scholarship.

Of course. I was just trying to give you the scholarly context these documentaries draw their information from.

One thing I should point out, though, is that most of these revisionist scholars have no real concept or appreciation of how an oral culture like that of the Arabs worked. That's why they claim, for instance, that Ibn Ishaq's Sira, written 150 years after the Prophet lived, cannot have any credibility regarding the dating of events. The same logic can be applied to the hadiths. This is not to say that the Sira hasn't had its Muslim critics, even from among such respected Islamic scholars as Imam Malik himself, the founder of the Maliki school of jurisprudence. They operated from within the milieu, though.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #259 on: March 18, 2020, 08:22:20 PM »
This one was very well done.  I don't know if an appeal to oral transmission can rescue some of these problems, particularly as concerns the lack of archaeological and biological evidence for the descriptions of Mecca, or the absence of references and mentions to Muhammad in the early days of the Arab conquests.  One thing I wouldn't venture, though, is that Muhammad was a fictional character fabricated from whole cloth (just as I don't accept the theory of a mythological Jesus).  I think an invented Qur'an would be a very different (and probably more coherent) thing from the problematic tome that confronts us.  I suspect something, and probably some personage, must have united the Arabs and inspired them to empire.  But as this documentary suggests, we can only really guess at the specifics, and are in the dark regarding evidence.

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #260 on: March 18, 2020, 08:55:40 PM »
I don't know if an appeal to oral transmission can rescue some of these problems, particularly as concerns the lack of archaeological and biological evidence for the descriptions of Mecca, or the absence of references and mentions to Muhammad in the early days of the Arab conquests.

Without properly understanding and valuing the oral tradition of the Arabs, it is impossible to understand the Qur'an and the early dissemination of Islam. The Qur'an itself, before being a written codex, is first and foremost a recitation to be memorized. The same with the prophetic hadiths and all the stories about Muhammad.

Quote
I suspect something, and probably some personage, must have united the Arabs and inspired them to empire.  But as this documentary suggests, we can only really guess at the specifics, and are in the dark regarding evidence.

Many specifics of Muhammad's life come to us through the Sira literature, that I already mentioned, and the hadiths. The historical value of these depend entirely on the fidelity of the oral traditions entrusted to renowned narrators whose chains go back to the early Muslim community of Medina and Mecca. These stories of the Prophet were a public fact transmitted from generation to generation. It was possible to fact-check at least most of them, given the amount of different living chains that endured until the written compilation. The possibility that this huge corpus of knowledge was largely fabricated is highly unlikely.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #261 on: March 19, 2020, 02:24:36 PM »
Without properly understanding and valuing the oral tradition of the Arabs, it is impossible to understand the Qur'an and the early dissemination of Islam. The Qur'an itself, before being a written codex, is first and foremost a recitation to be memorized. The same with the prophetic hadiths and all the stories about Muhammad.

But surely scholars like Dan Gibson and Patricia Crone aren't ignorant of the Arab oral tradition.  I take it to be their contention that the oral transmission, no matter how highly the given culture values accuracy, is not itself infallible.  It relies on the talents of mortals.  If the descriptions of a certain city are found to be incorrect, given what we have come to know about its topography, arability, archaeology, &c., then wouldn't we have to conclude that the transmission failed there?  And if there, then where else? 

It's not a bias to say that we have no contemporaneous written sources verifying such things; it's just the fact.  All we have is an oral transmission showing itself to be imperfect—to which degree, we can't know.  Either that, or it's a Catch-22: the transmission was perfect, but the original content was erroneous.
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Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #262 on: March 19, 2020, 03:21:46 PM »
The image of two swine in the sty pondering over the origins of a piece of dung, whether it came from another pig or was tossed in by the farmer, comes to mind.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #263 on: March 19, 2020, 03:37:31 PM »
Don't you have an ostensibly unwarranted mass panic to angrily lecture the world about?  Your insults are needed elsewhere, and more pressingly.
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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #264 on: March 19, 2020, 03:39:00 PM »
But surely scholars like Dan Gibson and Patricia Crone aren't ignorant of the Arab oral tradition. I take it to be their contention that the oral transmission, no matter how highly the given culture values accuracy, is not itself infallible.

What type of transmission is infallible in itself?

The question here is to dismiss oral transmission as being able to provide credible information. Oral tradition, in a culture that is dependent on it like the old Arab culture, is perfectly able to transmit reliable data from generation to generation if you have multiple chains of narrators that you can crosscheck. The gist of radical revisionist theories like Hagarism, which was Patricia Crone's central piece of scholarship until she distanced herself from it in later years, disregards any reliability of the Islamic sources. If we would undertake the same enterprise in New Testament studies, we'd have to reject the historical value of the entire New Testament and early Patristic sources and replace them with non-Christian authors whose statements, in turn, would be used uncritically to revise early Christian history.

Quote
If the descriptions of a certain city are found to be incorrect, given what we have come to know about its topography, arability, archaeology, &c., then wouldn't we have to conclude that the transmission failed there? And if there, then where else?
 

Not necessarily.

Check, for instance, Prof. David King's The Petra fallacy - Early mosques do face the Sacred Kaaba in Mecca but Dan Gibson doesn't know how / Comparing historical orientations with modern directions can lead to false results
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Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #265 on: March 20, 2020, 09:32:35 AM »
Don't you have an ostensibly unwarranted mass panic to angrily lecture the world about?  Your insults are needed elsewhere, and more pressingly.

Not when the ultimate source of that lie and the ostensible deity who is the subject of this thread are one and the same.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #266 on: March 20, 2020, 02:15:01 PM »
Don't you have an ostensibly unwarranted mass panic to angrily lecture the world about?  Your insults are needed elsewhere, and more pressingly.

Not when the ultimate source of that lie and the ostensible deity who is the subject of this thread are one and the same.

Are you saying it's the Jews?  Or Satan?
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Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #267 on: March 20, 2020, 04:12:05 PM »
Don't you have an ostensibly unwarranted mass panic to angrily lecture the world about?  Your insults are needed elsewhere, and more pressingly.

Not when the ultimate source of that lie and the ostensible deity who is the subject of this thread are one and the same.

Are you saying it's the Jews?  Or Satan?

I'm saying that the world itself is a lie, and the principalities and powers who rule it, the spiritual wickedness that oppresses us, finds its summit not in the pit with a pitchfork-waving beast but in high places.
 
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Offline Prayerful

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #268 on: March 20, 2020, 05:52:20 PM »
An intriguing documentary concerning the scholar Dan Gibson and his controversial theory that the city believed to be Mecca in the Qur'an was actually the ancient city of Petra.  I watched it because I thought it might have a focus on the theory (which I like, despite its dubiousness) that the Kaaba was originally a shrine to a Babylonian moon god.  As it turns out, it doesn't, but it's interesting in its own right.  Islam appears to have some serious questions around its geographical origins.  Tonight I intend to watch Tom Holland's Islam: The Untold Story, which I think is based around some of this same hypothesis.


Thanks for sharing this, Pon. I'm familiar with this documentary. Dan Gibson presents one of the most popular critical theories concerning the origins of Islam right now. Patricia Crone is also another renowned champion of the revisionist school of Islamic studies, along with Michael Cook, Hans Jansen and many others. Besides the theory of Petra being the birthplace of the new religion, another popular theory is that the historical Muhammad didn't really exist at all and was a later construct of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates to unify and codify their religion as they challenged the Roman Christian Empire.

Of course, all this hinges upon the rejection of the historical value of the early Islamic texts, like the Sira literature of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham, as well as the Qur'an and the Hadith corpus.

One point I see made is that Mohammed was not a personal name, that it was title perhaps for a Hagarene military leader cum Prophet, another that the description of Mecca in al-Bukhari hadiths does not match the actual settlement, whether in respect of entry to the town, activities around or near it, a mention of crops and cattle, of lieutenants of Mohammed buying land when all concern were still deep in Arabia. Also that unattested in any clear way, until several decades after Mohammed, that there nothing of high value for a trade route to sustain a city. Incense was no longer in great demand since the near demise of paganism, and was anyhow shipborne. The Zoroastarian custom of keeping teeth clean with little pieces of wood was not a likely thing deep in Arabia, and where Quran 4:15 or 24:2) counsels admonishment and confinement for adulterers, the usual Islamic custom taken from a Bukhari hadith and other similar traditions, is for stoning, which was Talmudic. Another is the repeated insistence of the purity of Quranic Arabic, loaded though it is with Syriac terms, Allah being the most notable. The case I see is the starting point for Islam was perhaps Syrian and definitely later. What emerged out of Arabia was a Hagerene force who seemed tolerant of crosses on coins and figurative decoration, is suggested. Later rulers, first in Damascus and later Baghdad, give it the form we see now.

The matter is fascinating, but it can be a dangerous fascination.
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Offline mikemac

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Re: Muhammad: A Mercy to the Worlds?
« Reply #269 on: March 22, 2020, 01:01:14 PM »
Here's an interesting song by Bugs and Daffy.  Sing along if you know the words.


I gleaned so much from this, thank you.

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