This volume examines the background to the rise of Islam. The opening essays consider the broad context of nomad-sedentary relations in the Near East; thereafter the focus is on the Arabian peninsula and the history of the Arab peoples. The following papers set out the political and economic structures of the pre-Islamic period, and are concerned to trace the evolution of religious beliefs in the area, looking in particular at the role of local traditions and the impact of Jewish and Christian influences.
'For non-specialist readers, the information available in this book may, for the most part, be an exciting discovery. For specialists in the field, reading or re-reading these studies is particularly interesting, given the focused framework of the volume… may well become a frequently-consulted reference work… All articles represent research studies by some of the finest scholars in Middle Eastern Studies…' Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam
Contents: Introduction; The nature of Arab unity before Islam, Gustav von Grunebaum; The role of nomads in the Near East in Late Antiquity (400-800 c.e.), Fred M. Donner; The bedouinization of Arabia, Werner Caskel; Trans-Arabian routes of the pre-Islamic period, Daniel Potts; Al-Hira. Some notes on its relation with Arabia, M.J. Kister; Pre-Islamic Bedouin religion, J. Henninger; Idol worship in pre-Islamic Medina (Yathrib), Michael Lecker; The origin of the Jews of Yathrib, Moshe Gil; Haram and hawtah, the sacred enclosures in Arabia, R.B. Serjeant; The pre-foundations of the Muslim community in Mecca, Fazlur Rahman; Mecca before the time of the prophet - attempt of an anthropological interpretation, Walter Dostal; The ’sacred offices’ of Mecca from Jahiliyya to Islam, Gerald R. Hawting; Hanifiyya and Ka’ba. An enquiry into the Arabian pre-Islamic background of the din Ibrahim, Uri Rubin; Pre-Islamic monotheism in Arabia, H.A.R. Gibb; Belief in a ’High God’ in pre-Islamic Mecca, W. Montgomery Watt; The Ka’ba: aspects of its ritual functions and position in pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Uri Rubin; The role played by the organization of the Hums in the evolution of political ideas in pre-Islamic Mecca, Ugo Fabietti; The campaign of Hulaban: new light on the expedition of Abraha, M.J. Kister; Index.