Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (Anglais) Relié – 20 juillet 2004
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Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam is an incredibly detailed study of what pre-Islamic trade 'might' have been like. Crone explains that there are too many uncertainties and far too little written or archaeological data to draw any definite conclusions, but what we do know is that the traditional narrative about a prosperous trading city in the middle of the desert simply do not add up. Not only was Mecca located in a barren valley devoid of agriculture, but also not on any plausible ancient trade route. Trade with India and Africa was indeed conducted by sea, not land, so Mecca should really have been located on the coast. Furthermore Crone explains that there are no written records that mention a city called Mecca at all prior to the Rise of Islam. Crone explains that in the Islamic Era, the city of Mecca was only able to feed so many Muslim pilgrims because regular grain imports from Egypt were established, and these imports were brought in by boat via the Red Sea, not by land.
The only drawback to this work is that it is perhaps too detailed and meticulous for the casual reader. There is a huge amount of detailed study on what trade goods the Arabs may or may not have traded in and Crone references many concepts that only well read Islamologists/Arabists will understand without explaining what they are.
I would be very interested to read a well researched critique of Crone's thesis. The only one that I have found thus far is by R.B. Serjeant which can be read on Jstor here:
This critique is so pathetic that it only strengthens Crone's ideas. Serjeant begins with an ad hominem attack on Crone's character and what he perceives are her motivations, and then dedicates the rest of his critique to showing the reader that he knows more Arabic than her and then brags about all the times he has spent living with Bedouins in the desert without bothering to explain how any of that is relevant to what trade in Pre-Islamic Arabia might have been like. Surely someone in the field of primitive Islam must have written a better critique of this work? And if they haven't then why not?
Beware of reviewers here who, rather than dispute the evidence presented, instead launch into personal character assassination of Crone, otherwise known as an ad hominem argument. Such desperate measures only demonstrate the inability to argue against the facts as they have been presented.
Written with vigor and some tart comments on some sloppy historians (Lammens for one.)
"Its author starts, with deep-seated prejudices, to produce a confused, irrational and illogical polemic, further complicated by her misunderstanding of Arabic texts, her lack of comprehension of the social structure of Arabia, and twisting of the clear sense of other writing, ancient or modern, to suit her contentions. The present article, basing itself on the Arabic sources, treats a limited number of salient issues, mostly historical, and demonstrates the book's serious fallacies. It offers logical interpretation of the data, including rectification of errors in translations from Arabic passages cited in support of her arguments." Read the full article: R. B. Serjeant, `Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam: Misconceptions and Flawed Polemics', Journal of the American Oriental Society, [...]
Note that using the method of historical revisionism for the Holocaust is illegal - why the double standard? David Irving, for example, was sentenced to three years in prison for his on the Holocaust!
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