Mecca And Its Cube: Part 2

April 20, 2023 Category: History, Religion
Remnants of Hegra


{1  As the story goes, the final Rashidun caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib moved the capital from the holy city of Medina to Kufa in 656 because the latter was more strategically located.  This explanation makes little sense.  Transitioning the base of operations to Kufa would have cut the distance to Damascus by about 26% (from 1065 km. to 781 km.) and to Jerusalem by only about 5% (from 930 km. to 877 km.)  In any case, it was hardly better situated for the westward expansion happening at the time.  Persia had already by taken by 644; and the primary focus was hegemony into North Africa (while pushing the frontier a bit farther into Kurdistan).  So there would have been little military benefit to this change; and certainly no religious advantage.  The alternative explanation is that the base of operations transitioned from Petra—which needed to be abandoned due to its pagan affiliations—to Kufa, which had been established due to its proximity to the ancient Syriac-speaking city, Al-Hira[h].  Another point worth noting: According to Mohammedan lore, during his time in the employ of Khadijah, MoM oversaw caravans trading wares between his hometown and destinations as far as the northern Levant.  It strains credulity that he would go on these trips had the origin been present-day Mecca; and makes far more sense that his origin had been somewhere else in the Levant.}

{2  There are various accounts of the Qarmatians—led by Abu Tahir Sulayman al-Jannabi of Bahrayn—sacking Mecca c. 930.  (The Qarmations were a syncretic sect from eastern Arabia that combined Shiism and Zoroastrianism.  They endured from the late 890’s through 1077.)  Much of this lore is apocryphal; as it is largely based on the writings of Abu al-Qasim ibn Ali ibn Hawqal of Nisibis, who composed his “Surat al-Ard” [Face Of The Earth] c. 977.  Tall tales include the massacre of a caravan of 20,000 pilgrims returning from Mecca in the early 10th century—a risible claim.  Other accounts come from the 11th-century historiographer, Al-Juwayni—another dubious source.}

{3  These Kindite cities (the antecedents of Qaryat al-Faw and Jubbah) may have been populated by those who alternately ended up in Ta’if: the Banu Thaqif of the Qays Aylan (who, it seems, worshipped the goddess, Al-Uzza).  Those were a Syriac-speaking people who had broken off from the Mudar (the tribe most affiliated with the Kingdom of Kinda at the time).  The cities may have also been populated by some of those who—alternately—ended up in the Hijazi port at Jeddah: the Banu Kalb and Banu Tanukh of the Quda’a (both of whom would have spoken Syriac).  Also note the caravan town of Ha’il in the Nejd, which may have existed going back to Late Antiquity.}

{4  Note that the Nabataeans didn’t just trade minerals (iron ore, copper, and turquoise) and incense (frankincense and myrrh).  What else did they trade?  Sheep and camels.  But above all: HORSES.  In fact, they bread and sold what came to be dubbed the famed “Arabian horses”.  Given their elite pedigree, these horses became quite popular across the Roman—then Byzantine—Empire.  In other words, Arabian horses were not from the Arabian peninsula; they were, in reality, NABATAEAN horses.  For more on what the Nabataeans traded, see the “Periplus Maris Erythraei”.}

{5  Hisham ibn Al-Kalbi was originally known by his sobriquet, “Al-Mundhir”, which was an old SYRIAC name routinely used by both Lakhmid and Gassanid leaders throughout the 5th and 6th centuries.  This is telling.  Why would an icon of the Mohammedan movement, who purportedly used ARABIC, come to be known by a moniker that was distinctly Syriac, and associated with CHRISTIANS?  This is a bit odd; unless, that is, Syriac was simply the lingua franca at the time.}

{6  The three earliest Hadith collections were done by Persian hagiographers in the late 9th century: Muhammad ibn Isma’il of Bukhara (a.k.a. “Al-Bukhari”), Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj of Nishapur (a.k.a. “Muslim an-Naysaburi”), and Abu Dawood Sulayman ibn al-Ashath ibn Ishaq al-Azdi of Sistan (a.k.a. “Al-Sijistani”).  Anything they wrote about Mecca would have been based entirely on hearsay.  Indeed, it couldn’t possibly have been based on ANYTHING BUT hearsay.  The first Hadith collection is attributed to Al-Bukhari; yet the oldest full manuscript of his vaunted compilation that is available is from the early 11th century. (!)  THAT was composed in Maghrebi script (an offshoot of the Kufic script), and was reputed to have been a redaction done by the Persian mu-haddith, Abu Dharr of Herat (a.k.a. “Al-Harawi”)—a proponent of the Ash’ari school who hailed from Khorasan.  That it was done in the Maghrebi script indicates that there must have been stages of transmission from the far-eastern reaches of Persia to north Africa.  In other words, the only version of Al-Bukhari’s Hadith we have wasn’t even done by Al-Bukhari; and is from a place that was tens of thousands of kilometers away.  It is worth noting that Abu Dawood’s “Sunan” hagiography is especially favored by Deobandis; and was popularized in the 19th century by Rashid Ahmad [ibn Hidayat Ahmad] of Gangoh (a.k.a. “Ayyub al-Ansari”)…along with his disciple, Khalil Ahmad of Saharanpur.  It is the tremendous amount of intervening time that should give us pause.}

{7  Consider the notorious lackey for Al-Waleed bin Talal Al-Saud: Georgetown’s Jonathan A.C. Brown.  His delusive thinking on the topic is on full display in his “The Canonization Of Al-Bukhari And Muslim: The Formation And Function Of The Sunni Hadith Canon”.  Also note his “Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy In The Medieval And Modern World”.  Alas, the House of Saud signs Brown’s paycheck, so we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by his sycophancy; nor taken aback that he is simply toeing the line of Wahhabi fanatics.  Presumably, the check clears each month.}

{8  For more on this topic, see Robert G. Hoyland’s “Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey And Evaluation Of Christian, Jewish, And Zoroastrian Writings On Early Islam”, Michael Philip Penn’s “Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians And The Early Muslim World”, and Stephen J. Shoemaker’s “A Prophet Has Appeared: The Rise Of Islam In Christian And Jewish Eyes”.}

{9  Note that the Red Sea was referred to in early Semitic languages as “Yam Suph”.  In Syriac, it was known as “Yam[m]a Summaka”.  Its southern-most part was known in Hellenic parlance as “Erythra Thalassa” [Red Sea]; Latinized to “Maris Erythraei”.  This would later be known to medieval Europe as the Erythraean Sea.  The “red” likely stemmed from its association with the ancient Semitic toponym Edom—which literally meant “Red” (referring to the land at its northern periphery).  Hence the Hebrew moniker, “Yam ha-Adom” and the Latin rendering, “Mare Rubrum”.  The Arabic moniker, “Bahr al-Qulzum” came into fashion when the sea was named after the Roman port-city of Clysma (which corresponds to what is now Suez).}

{10  Paul’s account of going east from Damascus into “Arabia” (that is, into the eastern Levant) can be found in Galatians 1:15-17.  The term “Arabia” was effectively synonymous with Nabataea (“Arabia Petraea”), which stretched as far north as Damascus.  (Also ref. 1 Maccabees 5:25/39 and 9:35; as well as 2 Maccabees 5:8).  In Second Corinthians 11:32–33, Paul says that “King Aretas” tried to arrest him in Damascus.  This would have referred to Aretas IV, who ruled Nabataea from 9 B.C. to 40 A.D.}

{11  The city of Sa’ada seems to have been established at the end of the 9th century by the Zaydis, who were Shi’ites.  There is no evidence for its existence prior to that.  Meanwhile, according to Mohammedan lore, Zabid was the hometown of the Sahaba, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari and Amr ibn Ma’adi Yakrib.  However, there is no evidence for its existence before the 9th century—during the rule of the (Sunni) Ziyadid dynasty.  As discussed, that would be followed by other Hamdani regimes like the (Sunni) Najahids and (Isma’ili) Sulayhids; then the (Zaydi) Rasulids, who were Mamluk.  The city was likely named after the Zubayd clan.  Jibla was founded in the 12th century by Sulayhid Queen Arwa.  Remarkably, during this time, Mecca seems not to have played a prominent role in the historical events of Yemen—a peculiar absence considering it is considered the axis mundi by Muslims.}

{12  During the Middle Ages, there was a route established which came to be known as the “Darb Zubayda”—named after the Abbasid princess, Zubaydah bint Jafar ibn al-Mansur.  (She was consort of caliph Abu Jafar Harun al-Rashid at the end of the 8th century, and into the early 9th century.)  Zubaydah—who’s name means “butterball”—became famous for her ornate tastes and hyper-opulent lifestyle.  She was celebrated for having undertaken an irrigation project around Mecca (for which there is no evidence).  As the story goes, she created clever ways to provide water to parched Hajjis during their long journey through the desert; hence the route bearing her name.  Tales of her exploits wound up in the anthology of Middle Eastern legends, “A Thousand And One Nights”—an indication of the apocryphal nature of most accounts about her.  The route-in-question began in Baghdad, went to Kufa, down through the Nafud desert, then—via Ha’il in the Nejd—continued over to Medina (the old “Yathrib”); and—finally—down to Mecca.  When, exactly, the route was ACTUALLY established is anyone’s guess.  What we DO know is that the ancient city of Duma[tha] would have played a role along the old Roman “Limes Arabicus”—a route located on the eastern frontier of Arabia Petraea.}

{13  Absence of evidence should not automatically be taken as evidence of absence; as we must always be aware of the possibility that there is evidence which has not yet been found.  But sometimes it CAN be taken as evidence of absence—particularly instances in which one cannot find any evidence precisely where one would expect to find oodles of evidence (if, that is, the narrative-in-question were true).  Once it is established that “If proposition (X) were true, then one would almost certainly find empirical clues (Y)”; then a conclusive absence of Y brings into serious question the credence of X.  This is especially the case when Y necessarily ensues from X.}

{14  During the First World War, the British forged a strategic alliance with the king of the Hijaz, Hussein bin Ali al-Hashimi (who also served as the sharif of Mecca)…pushing the Ottoman Turks out of the Arabian peninsula.  Hence the famed exploits of T.E. Lawrence (and the breakout role of Peter O’Toole in 1962).  Al-Hashimi ruled western Arabia until the House of Saud overtook the region in 1924; at which point his dynasty was granted sovereignty over the newly-designated country of Jordan.  Wahhabis—through their patrons in the House of Saud—thereby became the custodians of both Mecca and Medina.  The rest is history.}

{15  Timna was the site of famed Egyptian copper mines during the Bronze and Iron Ages.  A temple to the goddess, Hathor was erected there.  It was later occupied by the Midianites, who’s tabernacle at that location may have inspired the Abrahamic tabernacles used by the early Israelites (i.e. Judah-ites).}

{16  Duma[tha] (alt. “Dumat al-Jundal”) was originally known as “Adummatu” by the Assyrians; and was purportedly the ancestral home of the Qedarites.  Associated with the Banu Qudah, it was located in the Nafud desert.  The aforementioned oasis settlement of Tayma may have served as a way-station along the caravan route between Duma[tha] and Yathrib.}

{17  Interestingly, Ma’an seems to have been named after Lot’s son…indicating it would have been located not far from Sodom…which means it is near the place where Lot’s wife was turned to salt. In other words: It is in the vicinity of where MoM would have taken his daily strolls. To this day, some Palestinians honor an ancient tradition—inherited from days of yore—whereby Abraham is said to be buried at a location known as “Al-Khalila Allah” [friend of god].  Where might that be located?  Near Hebron (that is: NOT in the Hijaz).}

{18  It is possible that the etymology of “Gerrha” is related to “Hagar”.  In Old South Arabian, the “ha” could serve as either a prefix or a suffix.  So we find two versions of a modified “G-R”.  Other etymologies are possible.  The Semitic term for “expel” or “turn away” was “hagah”—which makes sense, as the Biblical character was, indeed, expelled.  “Hagar” could have been a variation on “Hegra”: the ancient Lihyanite—then Nabatean—city in the northern Hijaz.  Meanwhile, Dilmun in eastern Arabia was referred to as “Gerrha” by the Greeks.  This might be a variant of the name of the Dilmunite city, “Akarum” [alt. “Agarum”] in northeastern Arabia (later referred to as “Al-Ahsa” / “Al-Hasa”)—which, at the time, was occupied by the Syriac-speaking “Lakhmids”.  (The city was also known as “Pit-Ardashir”.)  The early Mohammedans may have alternately referred to that city as “Hajar”…which poses a quandary, as that is similar to the Arabic moniker for Hegra: “Al-Hijr”.}

{19  Tayma was located roughly between the port-city of Leuke Kome and the settlement of Ha’il (at the southern edge of the Nafud)—that is: about 230 kilometers southeast of Tabawa [Tabuk].  The Kedarites ruled from Tayma for well over a millennium; and spoke Aramaic—as attested by inscriptions there from the 6th century B.C.  During Classical Antiquity, they were frequently in conflict with the Lihyanites of Dedan (located slightly to their south).  The Arab city played a prominent role in Biblical lore.  For example, Isaiah invited the people of Tayma to provide water and food for the diaspora of Judah-ites during the Exilic Period (Isaiah 21:13-14).  During Late Antiquity, Tayma was predominantly Jewish.  The famed (Arab) Jewish poet, Samaw’al ben Adiya lived there in the early 6th century; and the early Mohammedans would surely have been familiar with his (Syriac) material.  Note that Duma[tha] (located at the southern end of the Wadi Sirhan) was also considered a Kedarite capital at certain times.  Heading south from Duma[tha], the Tayma oasis would have been a stop on the caravan route to Hegra [Mada’in Salih]: about 275 kilometers to Tayma, then another 130 kilometers to Hegra.  The route would have then led down to Dedan [Al-Ula] (just 23 kilometers farther south), and then to another Jewish settlement at Khaybar (210 kilometers more).  Caravans could have ventured even farther south, to yet another Jewish settlement: Yathrib (which was 160 kilometers from Khaybar).  Tayma’s location is quite telling; as it shows Aramaic—then Nabataean Syriac—was used by Arabs as far southeast as the Nafud.  In fact, there is a temple from the 2nd century with Nabataean Syriac inscriptions at “Ruwafa” (located about 110 kilometers south of Tabawa).  For more on these incredible archeological discoveries, see “Arabs And Empires Before Islam”, edited by Greg Fischer.}

{20  Another thing archeologists have found: The residents of Petra believed in an afterlife, as bounty was left in their tombs. In 1993, scrolls were discovered that date back to the pre-Islamic period.  Their content has yet to be divulged.  God only knows how much has been found that has never been disclosed to the public; or was even destroyed by those who preferred that certain things never be brought to light.}

{21  The town was founded by the Nabataeans in the 4th century as “Khalus” (rendered “Chellous” in Greek), variants of which included “Elusa”, “Halasa”, and “Haluza”.  It was then Arabized to “Al-Khalasa”.  I explore the Syriac etymology of the names of several Ishmaelite cities in “The Syriac Origins Of Koranic Text”.}

{22  By then, archaic port cities like Dor and Ugarit had long before fallen into ruins. Palestinian port-cities located more to the south, in the central part of the Levantine coast—like Caesarea Maritima, Sozusa Palaestina (Arsuf), Yapu (Jaffa), Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ganza (Gaz[z]a)—had a more complex history; as I discuss in my essay, “The Land Of Purple”.  The same goes for other ancient Canaanite cities like Saphed, Gezer, Gath, Gibeon, Ebla, Eglon, Aphek, Arpad, Beth-El / Luz, Ekron, Rakisha / Lachish, Timna[t]h, Megiddo, Samaria, Hebron, and Jericho / Ariha.  Hazor (now Tel Waqqas) was perhaps the largest Canaanite city in the Bronze and Iron Ages, yet it is hardly accounted for in Islamic lore.  (Why not deliver the final revelation THERE?) Jerusalem’s history is probably the MOST complex, as I discuss in my essay, “City Of The Beloved”. For the present purposes, what we’re focused on is the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages: the demise of the Nabataeans qua Nabataeans and the emergence of the Mohammedan movement (i.e. early Islam).}

{23  The “Jabal an-Nmayr” is a gigantic, buried structure that was discovered in 2016 using satellite imaging technology.  It is a reminder of how much about Rakmu / Petra still has yet to be known.  The problem is that archeology in Dar al-Islam is as tried-and-true as the Tibetan coast guard.  Indeed, (genuine) scholars must navigate the myriad constraints of Middle Eastern monarchies to get anything done.  Meanwhile, those in power—beholden as they are to religious precedent—hold sway in what does and doesn’t see the light of day.  If something brings into serious question the credence of the traditional Islamic narrative, it is likely to be (re-)buried.  So we’re left scavenging for table-scraps, hoping an insight leaks through here and there.}

{24  There are myriad candidates for the Nabataean offshoots that served as the kernel for the Mohammedan movement—from the Banu Kalb to the Banu Amilah; and perhaps even the Banu Judham.  The man referred to as “Mu-H-M-D” may have come from the Banu Tayy—a tribe that might or might not have been Nabataean.  Those affiliated with the Banu Tayy [alt. “Ta’i”] were referred to as the “Tayyaye” in Syriac—an ethnonym that seems to have been used as a synecdoche for all Ishmaelites.  The provenance of the Ghassanid dynasty is murky; so their relation to Nabataean heritage remains unclear.  We know that in the late 5th / early 6th century, the Ghassanid leader, Al-Harith IV hailed from Hegra (“Al-Hijr”).  He is known for defeating the Salihids (an Arab tribe to the east) and converting from Miaphysite to Chalcedonian Christianity.  Prior to that, the genealogy disappears into a haze; as virtually all of their leaders—going back to c. 220—are referred to as “Al-Nu’man”, “Al-Mundhir”, or “Al-Harith” (with a few men named “Jabala” thrown into the mix).  They may have ALSO come from the Banu Tayy.  But what of their relation to the (Syriac-speaking) Tanukhids?  And what of the Palmyrene rulers, Odaenathus and Zenobia (c. 260-272)?  This is all shrouded in the mists of history.}

{25  What of the black stone?  This was a meteorite that was worshipped by pagan Bedouins long before the advent of Islam.  It was eventually incorporated into the Islamic repertoire of veneration.  According to the legend, it was originally a WHITE stone, but became increasingly tarnished as menstruating women touched it over the years; which is why it is now black (ref. the tafsir of Zamakhshari).}

{26  The Syrian philosopher, Yamliku of Khalkis (a.k.a. “Iamblichus”), who taught in Apamea in the late 3rd and early 4th century, was an Arab; as was his teacher, Anatolius of Laodicea.  Being Romans, they would have spoken Greek and Latin.  They are a reminder that ethnic Arabs—as well as Armenians and Kurds—resided in the Levant through Late Antiquity.  At the time, when someone mentioned “Arabs”, people did not think of anything south of Midian; they thought of Nabataeans.}

{27  Those at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula (“Arabia Felix”) were characterized in a variety of ways.  Whether “Sabaeans”, “Himyarites”, “Kahtanites”, or “Minaeans”, they were likely descendants of the “Katabanians”.  Note that many of these ethnonyms were derived from Biblical figures.  For example, “Sabaean” is attributed to Saba, son of Yashjub ben Ya’rub.  Ya’rub’s father was “Kahtan”; hence the “Kahtanites”.  Saba’s son was Himyar; hence the “Himyarites”.  Meanwhile, the term “Minaeans” stems from an affiliation with the Sabaean ruler of Ma’in: Karib-El Watar (son of  Damar-El Yanuf III) from the 7th century B.C.  The “El” in his name likely referred to the deity, Almakah—variously associated with the sun, the moon, and bulls (possibly a spin-off of the archaic moon god, Amm).  Karib-El Watar was mentioned in the Sabaean inscription on the Great Temple at Sirwah.  (The original name of Ma’in was “Karnawu”.  Recall that the other major Yemeni cities at the time would have been Ma’rib, Nasha’an, Najran, Nashak, Zafar, Timna, and Azal / Sana’a.)  The history of this region is shrouded in the mists of ancient Arabian folklore—including an array of fabricated genealogies having to do with the Tayy, Judham, Kindah, Madhhaj, and Azd (esp. the Khazraj, Aws, and Khuza’a).  For example, Kahtan was said to be a son of [h]Eber…who was re-named “Hud” and identified as an Ad-ite (rather than as the eponymous patriarch of the Hebrews).  Ad was purportedly the son of Uz ben Aram.  Aram would have been the eponymous patriarch of the Aramaeans; and was said to have been one of the sons of Shem ben Noah…which would make Aram’s progeny Semites.  The Ishmaelites were supposed to have come INSTEAD from the progeny of Adnan…who correspond to the people who came to be known as “Kedarites”…who, in turn, were dubbed “Edomites” and/or “Midianites” in Judaic lore (spec. when hailing from the southern frontier of the Levant, in contradistinction to Arabs in trans-Jordan who dwelled in the Biblical lands of Aram, Ammon, and Moab).  The denizens of Edom (which simply means “Red”) were believed to be the progeny of Jacob’s brother, Esau.  Meanwhile, Ammonites and Moabites were seen as the progeny of Lot (via incest with his daughters).  Much of this ancient folklore tends to elide more than illuminate.  For more on these genealogical shenanigans, see my essay, “Genesis Of A People”.}

{28  Lo and behold, the language in which the Koran was first composed was referred to as “Arabiyyah” by the authors of the Koran.  This was NOT Classical Arabic.  Note that the general term for Aramaic was “Aramaya” and for Syriac was “Suryaya”.  The Mesopotamian dialect was dubbed “Nahraya” (as Mesopotamia was known as “Nahra-in”, meaning “between rivers”); while the literary style that would be developed in Urhay [Edessa] would come to be known as “Urhaya”.  There were also a Samaritan and Babylonian variants of Old Aramaic…from which Hebrew was derived.  Classical Arabic derived from Nabataean Syriac (i.e. the “Arabiyyah” referred to in the Koran.)  The term “Nabataean Arabic” is misleading.  The Nabataeans spoke—and wrote—in SYRIAC.  Hence it was Nabatean SYRIAC…which eventually led to Classical Arabic.  I explore this philology further in my essay on “The Syriac Origins Of The Koran”.}

{29  Note that, according to Mohammedan lore, the Kedarites were the progeny of Ishmael’s son, Nebayot[h]…who bore Kedar.  Specifically, they were the progeny of Kedar’s son, Ad[a]b-El [grief of god].  The names of subsequent descendants reflect archaic Arab cities like Tayma [alt. “Tema”] and Duma[h].}

{30  The subtitle of the book was “Wa Ma Jaʼa Fi-ha Min Al-Athar”, which roughly translates to “And That Which Came From (One) Who Is Pious”.  The work was supposedly transmitted in the 10th century by an amanuensis named Al-Khuzai.  However, the earliest manuscripts are from the Late Middle Ages.  So god only knows who actually first wrote it; or when.  The book was purportedly referenced by Ibn Abbas, Wahb ibn Munabbih, and Ibn Ishaq…though there is no hard evidence of this, as their writing—insofar as it may have really existed—is long lost.  All we have are redactions of their work from long after they lived.}

{31  The progenitor of the Quraysh was purportedly Qusayy ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka’b ibn Luay ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik, reputed custodian of the pre-Islamic Meccan cube.  This puts Qusayy ibn Kilab in line with another fabled figure: Fihr ibn Malik, who was the son of Al-Nadr ibn Kinana ibn Khuzayma ibn Mudrika ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar.  (Nizar was the reputed son of Ma’ad ibn Adnan.)  Fihr ibn Malik was ALSO said to have been a custodian of the pre-Islamic Meccan cube in the 230’s.  Other tribes likewise had fabricated provenance—notably: a Kindite offshoot that came to be dubbed the Banu Mudar (named after the son of Nizar).  As the story goes, the Mudar begat the Qays ibn Aylan—which yielded a panoply of tribal offshoots that are encountered in Mohammedan lore.  The conflation of Kedarites and Yemenis was thereby instantiated.  The result of this is an ethnographic concoction that sets the stage for the geo-political fictions on which Mohammedan lore is based.}

{32  Again, the Nabataeans—who thrived primarily in what was also known as the “Arabah”—were sometimes referred to as the “Kedarites”.  This area correlated with what was known as “Se’ir” in Biblical nomenclature. The Amalekites (the progeny of Amalek, himself a descendent of Esau) dwelled on the Sinai peninsula and in the Negev. They pre-dated the Edomites (seen as OTHER progeny of Esau), who were supposedly vanquished by Joshua.  Per Biblical accounts, other precursors to the Edomites were “Horites” and “Kenites”. To make matters more complicated, such pre-Edomic peoples also included the “Shasu” and “Apiru”…who were likely the first Yah-weh-ists (that is: progenitors of the Israelites / Hebrews; see Footnote 34 below). ALL these people dwelled in what came to be known as Edom / Idumaea and Midian–that is: what would eventually be land of the “Nabatu” (Nabataea). When expositors of Classical and Late Antiquity refer to “Arabs”, THAT is who they were talking about. The irony is that those Arabs were originally of the same (Edomic) peoples as the progenitors of the Israelites / Hebrews.}

{33  Midian is mentioned in passing in a few other places (20:40, 22:44, and 28:44-45).  Many verses mention A[a]d and Thamud without mentioning Midian.  The identity of “A[a]d” is indeterminate.  In 26:128, the Koran mentions that it boasted structures erected on high places.  It is often correlated with the fabled “Iram dhat al-imd” [Iram, settlement of the pillars]; and is where the prophet “Hud” was sent.  Thamud is described as the place where people carved out the rocks in the valley (89:9, likely referring to Dedan and/or Hegra); and is where the prophet “Saleh” was sent (7:73, 11:61, and 27:45)…which was, indeed, to “Al-Hijr” (Hegra), per 15:80-84.  We are told over and over again that A[a]d and Thamud were peoples who rebuffed god and/or the Abrahamic prophets, so were punished—as in 14:9-10, 22:42, 25:38, 26:141, 29:38, 38:12-13, 40:30-31, 41:13/17, 50:12, 51:41-43, 53:50-51, 69:4-5, 89:6-9, and 91:10-11.  Clearly, the authors of the Koran wanted to disassociate themselves from their (pagan) Nabataean forebears. Shared provenance would have belied the justification for diverging theological paths. The giveaway, of course, is that the (Mohammedan) Ishmaelites never account for the Nabataeans in their historiography…which would be inexplicable had the Nabataeans been OTHER THAN. The trick, then, was not to distinguish the Banu Kinana (of which the Quraysh were a part) from the Nabataeans; but to erase the latter from the official record altogether. Hence the very existence of the Nabataeans aren’t even acknowledged in Islamic historiography.}

{34  The Midianites and Edomites may have been the first people to worship Yah-weh.  Indeed, the “Shasu” of the Jezreel Valley were likely the progenitors of the first Israelites.  The original denizens of (what came to be called) Jerusalem were the Jebusites. The Midianite tent-shrine at Timna seems to have been a precursor to the Hebrew tabernacle. And other than the Shasu, a prime candidate for the progenitors of the Israelites were the “Apiru” (alt. “[h]Abiru”). This ethnonym shares the same early Semitic root with “Hebrew”: [h]E-B-R[u]. Note that Edomic peoples were alternately dubbed “Zam-zum-ites”, which may have been the source of the Islamic tales of the “Zam-zam well”. What does all this mean? It turns out that those who came to be the “Israelites” / “Hebrews” and those who came to be dubbed “Ishmaelites” / “Saracens” may have originated as the same (Edomic) people…at some point during the Iron Age. Over time, ethnic divisions prompted the need for fabricated genealogies (ensuring feuding tribes did not have a common provenance). Shared bloodlines would have made it more difficult to account for separate ethnicities. How else to explain conflicting tribal agendas? To legitimize disparate destinies; it is necessary to concoct disparate legacies. Hence the progeny of Jacob vis a vis the progeny of Esau to distinguish between “Israel” and the dreaded “Edomites”…a more palpable genealogical bifurcation than that of Isaac vs. Ishmael.}

{35  The statement is from his book, “Al-Muktafi fi Al-waqf wa Al-ibtida fi Kitab Allah [Aza wa Jalla]”.  This roughly translates: “The Adequacy Of Pausing And Commencing [with respect to] The Book Of God”.  The subtitle’s two words are a bit complicated.  “Aza” has several connotations—including consolation, gratitude, triumph, and rejoicing.  “Jalla” means reverence / exaltation / praise. The fact that none of the four (fabled) Uthmanic manuscripts was not sent to Mecca is quite telling. Was there a Mecca to send it TO?}

{36  I explore the onomastic and linguistic backgrounds of relevant peoples in my essay, “The Syriac Origins Of Koranic Text”.  To characterize any of these languages as an “early form of Arabic” is erroneous. Prior to Mohammedan hegemony, those who dwelled in southern Arabia had a difference provenance than those who dwelled in northern Arabia. Therefore, categorizing them both as pre-Islamic “Arabs” is misleading.}

{37  The only ETHNIC link between the two peoples would have been long before the relevant timeframe.  It would have occurred via the Minaeans: a somewhat theoretical Yemeni kingdom that ended in the early 2nd century B.C.  That archaic people operated out of a long-lost city known as Karnawu; and would have spoken an early incarnation of Old South Arabian.  They would have primarily interacted with the Sabaeans to the west (in Abyssinia) as well as the Hadhramites (who’s capital was an archaic city known as Shabwa[t]) to the east. They would have known the Lihyanites only through maritime trade up and down the Red Sea.  Evidently, the Minaeans exported not only frankincense and myrrh; they exported the worship of a deity known as “Wadd[um]” (alt. “Wadd-Ab”) to the Lihyanite city of Dedan.}

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 - 2010-2019 -
Developed by Malagueta/Br
Note to readers: Those reading these long-form essays will be much better-off using a larger screen (not a hand-held device) for displaying the text. Due to the length of most pieces on our site, a lap-top, desk-top, or large tablet is strongly recommended.


Download as PDF