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 No Historical Evidence in the Seventh Century on the Origins of Islam?

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PostSubject: No Historical Evidence in the Seventh Century on the Origins of Islam?   Sun May 19, 2013 4:36 am




This claim cannot be sustained in light of the contemporary non-Islamic as well as material evidence. For instance, early Christian chronicles in the seventh century elaborate on the origins of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and some of the laws practised by the early Muslims. Below are some examples of these chronicles:
Doctrina Jacobi written in 635 CE

A document called Doctrina Jacobi written only two years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) clearly mentions that a prophet had appeared amongst the Arabs:

"I, Abraham, went off to Sykamina and referred the matter to an old man very well-versed in the Scriptures. I asked him: “What is your view, master and teacher, of the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens”.(1)

Here it can be clearly seen that a prophet among Saracens [i.e. the Arabs] is mentioned. The questions is: who was this prophet among Arabs? And what does a prophet do? The Prophet of Arabs was non other than Muhammad (peace be upon him) and it appears that the meaning of the term “prophet” was clearly understood by the author of this narrative. A prophet, in a Judeo-Christian sense, leads his people and teaches them about God and this is exactly what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did. A Christian chronicler couldn't have understood the term differently. Holland’s claim that there is no evidence of Islam before the early Islamic conquests is anachronistic. If there is evidence of a prophet among Arabs, why then one should doubt the existence of the teachings of that prophet?

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A Record of the Arab Conquest of Syria written in 637 CE

A record of the Arab conquest of Syria written in 637 CE, just 5 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), clearly mentions him by name. Interestingly, the date of the document agrees with the best Arab date for the battle of Yarmuk:

"...and in January, they took the word for their lives did the sons of Emesa, and many villages were ruined with killing by the Arabs of Mụhammad and a great number of people were killed and captives were taken from Galilee as far as Bēth." (2)

In this record, the name of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is clearly mentioned. Holland’s claim that the Prophet does not appear in records until 60 years after his death is historically obnoxious.

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Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis (Writing c.660 CE)

A mid seventh century account of Islam comes from Sebeos who was a bishop of the House of Bagratunis. This chronicle suggests that he lived through many of the events he relates. As for Muhammad (peace be upon him), he had the following to say:

"At that time a certain man from along those same sons of Ishmael, whose name was Mahmet [i.e., Mụhammad], a merchant, as if by God's command appeared to them as a preacher [and] the path of truth. He taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially because he was learned and informed in the history of Moses. Now because the command was from on high, at a single order they all came together in unity of religion. Abandoning their vain cults, they turned to the living God who had appeared to their father, Abraham. So, Mahmet legislated for them: not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsely, and not to engage in fornication. He said: with an oath God promised this land to Abraham and his seed after him forever. And he brought about as he promised during that time while he loved Ishmael. But now you are the sons of Abraham and God is accomplishing his promise to Abraham and his seed for you. Love sincerely only the God of Abraham, and go and seize the land which God gave to your father Abraham. No one will be able to resist you in battle, because God is with you." (3)

This narrative by Sebeos clearly undermines Holland's assertion that there are no historical records elaborating on the life, teachings and mission of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In fact this particular narrative suggests that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had taught his companions about Islam and the tenets of this faith were well established and understood by the time Sebeos was writing his chronicle. Holland, for some reason, failed to notice these important non-Muslim testimonies as to the established existence of Islam as a way of life in the mid seventh century.

Some more evidence of the early mention of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) can be seen here:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/earlysaw.html.

There are no “black holes” and there is no missing information. There is plenty of material evidence available to substantiate the accuracy of the Islamic narrative on the early history of Islam. For instance, there are thousands of inscriptions on rocks in Saudi Arabia confirming the chronological accuracy of the Islamic historical records such as Hadith and Sira/Maghazi literature. One such inscription can be found here:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/kuficsaud.html.

This inscription states ‘In the name of Allah, I, Zuhayr, wrote [this] at the time Umar died in the year four and twenty (i.e. 24 AH)’. This dated early text confirms the established existence of the Islamic Hijri calendar, the truth of the event of Hijrah (migration) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the existence of Umar bin Khattab (the second Caliph of Islam), and the accuracy of the Islamic chronology, as according the Islamic historical records, the second Caliph of Islam died in the year 24 AH (644 CE). Also, there is an undated early seventh century inscription, which documents the Islamic
Shahadah proclamation. It can be found here:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/hamid3.html.

There is also plenty of Papyri evidence available to confirm the chronological as well as the factual accuracy of the Islamic narrative. Some of this papyri evidence can be witnessed here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Papyri/.

------------------------

1. Doctrina Jacobi, Readings in Late Antiquity: A Sourcebook, Routledge, 2005, p. 354.

2. A. Palmer (with contributions from S. P. Brock and R. G. Hoyland), The Seventh Century In The West-Syrian Chronicles Including Two Seventh-Century Syriac Apocalyptic Texts, 1993, Liverpool University Press: Liverpool (UK), pp. 2-3; Also see R. G. Hoyland, Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey And Evaluation Of Christian, Jewish And Zoroastrian Writings On Early Islam, 1997, op. cit., pp. 116-117.

3. R. W. Thomson (with contributions from J. Howard-Johnson & T. Greenwood), The Armenian History Attributed To Sebeos Part - I: Translation and Notes, 1999, Translated Texts For Historians - Volume 31, Liverpool University Press, pp. 95-96. Other translations can also be seen in P. Crone & M. Cook, Hagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World, 1977, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 6-7; R. G. Hoyland, Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey And Evaluation Of Christian, Jewish And Zoroastrian Writings On Early Islam, 1997, op. cit., p. 129; idem., "Sebeos, The Jews And The Rise Of Islam" in R. L. Nettler (Ed.), Medieval And Modern Perspectives On Muslim-Jewish Relations, 1995, Harwood Academic Publishers GmbH in cooperation with the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, p. 89.

[Source: Islamic Education and Research Academy]

http://www.iera.org.uk/press_29aug2012.html

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