Skip to comments.Robert Spencer Asks: Did Muhammad Exist?
Posted on 04/23/2012 4:47:09 AM PDT by SJackson
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Robert Spencer Asks: Did Muhammad Exist?
Posted By Bruce Thornton On April 23, 2012 @ 12:55 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 7 Comments
Editor’s note: Robert Spencer’s acclaimed new book, Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins, is now available. To order, click here.
One of the jihadists most potent psychological weapons is the double standard Muslims have imposed on the West. Temples and churches are destroyed and vandalized, Christians murdered and driven from the lands of Christianitys birth, anti-Semitic lunacy propagated by high-ranking Muslim clerics, and Christian territory like northern Cyprus ethnically cleansed and occupied by Muslims. Yet the West ignores these depredations all the while it agonizes over trivial insults to Islam and Mohammed, and decries the thought-crime of Islamophobia whenever even factual statements are made about Islamic history and theology. This groveling behavior confirms the traditional Islamic chauvinism that sees Muslims as the best of nations destined by Allah to rule the world through violent jihad.
Even in the rarefied world of academic scholarship, this fear of offense has protected Islam from the sort of critical scrutiny every other world religion has undergone for centuries. Some modern scholars who do exercise their intellectual freedom and investigate these issues, like Christoph Luxenberg or Ibn Warraq, must work incognito to avoid the wrath of the adherents of the Religion of Peace. Now Robert Spencer, the fearless director of Jihad Watch and author of several books telling the truths about Islam obscured by a frightened academy and media, in his new book Did Muhammad Exist? challenges this conspiracy of fear and silence by surveying the scholarship and historical evidence for the life and deeds of Islams founder.
As Spencer traces the story of Muhammed through ancient sources and archaeology, the evidence for the Prophets life becomes more and more evanescent. The name Muhammad, for example, appears only 4 times in the Quran, as compared to the 136 mentions of Moses in the Old Testament. And those references to Muhammad say nothing specific about his life. The first biography of Muhammad, written by Ibn Ishaq 125 years after the Prophets death, is the primary source of biographical detail, yet it comes down to us only in the quite lengthy fragments reproduced by an even later chronicler, Ibn Hisham, who wrote in the first quarter of the ninth century, and by other historians who reproduced and thereby preserved additional sections.
Nor are ancient sources outside Islam any more forthcoming. An early document from around 635, by a Jewish writer converting to Christianity, merely mentions a generic prophet who comes armed with a sword. But in this document the prophet is still alive 3 years after Muhammads death. And this prophet was notable for proclaiming the imminent arrival of the Jewish messiah. At the height of the Arabian conquests, Spencer writes, the non Muslim sources are as silent as the Muslim ones are about the prophet and holy book that were supposed to have inspired those conquests. This uncertainty in the ancient sources is a consistent feature of Spencers succinct survey of them. Indeed, these sources call into question the notion that Islam itself was recognized as a new, coherent religion. In 651, when Muawiya called on the Byzantine emperor Constantine to reject Christianity, he evoked the God of our father Abraham, not Islam per se. One hundred years after the death of Muhammad, the image of the prophet of Islam remained fuzzy.
Non-literary sources from the late 7th century are equally vague. Dedicatory inscriptions on dams and bridges make no mention of Islam, the Quran, or Mohammad. Coins bear the words in the name of Allah, the generic word for God used by Christians and Jews, but say nothing about Muhammad as Allahs prophet or anything about Islam. Particularly noteworthy is the absence of Islams foundational statement Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Later coins referring specifically to Muhammad depict him with a cross, contradicting the Quranic rejection of Christs crucifixion and later prohibitions against displaying crucifixes. Given that other evidence suggests that the word muhammad is an honorific meaning praised one, it is possible that these coins do not refer to the historical Muhammad at all.
Related to the issue of Muhammads historical reality is the date of the Quran, supposedly dictated to the Prophet by the angel Gabriel. Yet Spencers analysis of the inscriptions inside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, with their mixture of Quranic and non-Quranic verses along with variants of canonical Quranic scripture, suggests rather that the Quran came into being later than 691 when the mosque was completed. Indeed, the inscriptions could be referring not to Muhammad but to a version of Jesus believed in by a heretical sect that denied his divinity. At any rate, the first historical inscription that offers evidence of Islamic theology dates to 696 when the caliph Abd al-Malik minted coins without a representation of the sovereign and with theshahada, the Islamic profession of faith, inscribed on them. At this same time we begin to see references by non-Muslims to Muslims. Before then, the conquerors were called Ishmaelites, Saracens, or Hagarians. This evidence, Spencer suggests, raises the provocative possibility that al-Malik greatly expanded on the nascent Muhammad myth for his own political purposes. Likewise the Hadith, the collections of Muhammads sayings and deeds that form the basis for Islamic law and practice regarding both individual religious observance and the governance of the Islamic state. They also elucidate obscure Quranic verses, providing the prism through which the vast majority of Muslims understand the Quran. Yet there is no evidence for the existence of these biographical details of the Hadith before their compilation. This suggests that those details were invented as political tools for use in the factional political conflicts of the Islamic world.
Spencer casts an equally keen critical eye over the early biographies of Mohammad to find the same problems with source authenticity and origins, and their conflicts with other Islamic traditions. These problems, along with the miraculous and folk elements of Ibn Ishaqs biography, suggest that the latter arose long after the collection of the Quran. As Spencer concludes, If Ibn Ishaq is not a historically trustworthy source, what is left of the life of Muhammad? The history of Islam and Mohammad recalls the statement of the reporter in John Fords The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: When the legend becomes fact, print the legend, particularly when the legend was so useful for conquest and the consolidation of power during factional rivalries among Muslim rulers and sects.
So too with the integrity of the Quran, the supposedly unchanging and uncreated words of Allah dictated to Mohammad, the perfect copy of the eternal book transmitted in its purity without alteration or addition. Yet apart from fragments, modern Qurans are based on manuscripts that date no farther back then the medieval period. The first mention of the Quran appears in 710, decades after it allegedly inspired Muslim conquests from Persia to North Africa. Nor is it true that the book has not changed: Even Islamic tradition shows this contention to be highly questionable, with indications that some of the Quran was lost and other parts were added to or otherwise changed. Such textual variants, revisions, lost passages, numerous influences from Jewish and Christian writings and doctrines, and the presence of words in the Syriac language (likely including the word Quran itself), along with the fact that about one-fifth of the book is simply incomprehensibleall call into question the idea of the Qurans purity unchanged since it was divinely dictated to Mohammad.
Spencers careful, detailed, well-reasoned survey and analysis of the historical evidence offer strong evidence that Muhammad and Islam itself were post facto creations of Arab conquerors who needed a political theology delivered by a warrior prophet in order to unify the vast territories and diverse religious and ethnic groups now subjected to Muslim power, and to provide a potent basis for loyalty to their new overlords. As Spencer explains, the empire came first and the theology came later.
The full truth of whether a prophet named Muhammad lived in seventh-century Arabia, Spencer concludes, and if he did, what sort of a man he was, may never be known. But it would be intellectually irresponsible not to ask the question or consider the implications of the provocative evidence that pioneering scholars have assembled. The great service Spencer provides goes beyond popularizing the critical study of one of the worlds largest religions in order to advance our knowledge and establish historical reality. At a time when the threat of jihadist violence has silenced many people and intimidated them into voluntarily surrendering their right to free speech and the pursuit of truth, Spencers brave book also demonstrates the importance of those quintessential and powerful Western ideals.
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I guess that Spencer is using research done by Sven Kalisch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Kalisch that formerly was a Muslim scholar, and since that is impossible be skipped the muslim part:
Doubt about Muhammad’s Existence Poses Threat to Islamic Religious Education 18 sept 2008
add the comments by wideawake (from 2004):
The Nabataeans were an Arabic people who lived on the eastern borders of the Jews. They spoke Aramaic and they were allies of the Romans. Their religion was apparently a mixture of Arab paganism with tinges of Judaism and Christian influences as well.
If the Koran shows as heavy an Aramaic influence as this guy suggests, it makes it pretty likely that the Koran is just cobbled-together fragments of eclectic Nabataean religious texts.
Just as many Jewish texts are written in a blend of Aramaic and Hebrew using Aramaic script, the Koran could be a blend of Arabic and Aramaic in Arabic script.
This would explain the thousands of words and phrases in the Koran that are obscure and that have provoked endless commentary. It would also explain why the Koran is so disorganized and shuffled. It is the least coherent, in terms of narrative structure, of any major Near Eastern text.
and we have a pretty good idea of the beginning of the problem.
sorry, this is the link http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1277705/posts?page=10#10
“I guess that Spencer is using research done by Sven Kalisch “
Among others. I wonder if there’s really anything new in his book, or he just needed a bigger payday?
Also, there are no pictures of him.
Perpetual outrage can be exhausting.
Here’s the real reason for the Arab “explosion” out of the peninsula: the tribes along the Levant were nominally Christian - Monophysites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophysitism - the Ghassanids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghassanids guarded the trade routes. Eventually, the Byzantines attacked the leadership as heretical and Islam was welcoming. Once they became oppressed by Byzantium they decided to switch and depredate the trade routes themselves. Hence Islam, the religion of predation, was a perfect match.
You’ll note that once other people’s money runs out Islam slows down quite a bit.
Muhammad will be returning as the Mahdi with one hundred million post apocalyptic zombies and vampires
The Byzantines had for a century or two been persecuting Jews and “heretical” Christians all through the Levant, Egypt and North Africa.
For most of these people, the switch from orthodox Christian to Muslim rule really was an (initial) improvement, economically and for religious freedom, etc.
1500 years later it hadn’t really worked out that way.
Spain had also been indulging in religious persecution of minority groups, who reasonably enough felt little loyalty to their persecutors.
It is interesting that Muslim expansion more or less ran into a brick wall and stopped for centuries when it bumped up against united Christian populations in Italy, France, Anatolia, etc.
Obviously, if worship of Jesus as the Son of God was acceptable to “Moslems” then it would be an easy leap from defender to plunderer of the trade routes.
(1) The evidence for Jesus of Nazareth and the evidence for Muhammad of the Quraysh are two separate discussions. We have four canonical biographies of the former within less than a century of his recorded death. For the latter we have one accepted biography from almost 150 years after his recorded death.
(2) Various movements of conquering peoples have occurred in history without having a distinct religious motive or a clear originator. The Khamag Mongols had no religious agenda and had already begun their enormous empire building project before Genghis Khan was born. Likewise the French conquest of Europe had begun before Napoleon's name was known. The Roman Empire had no clear progenitor or religious basis and the Persian conquest of most of the known world was also spontaneous and non-ideological.
History shows that peoples conquer first because they can, and invent supporting ideologies and align behind leaders later on in order to consolidate and legitimize their gains.
I am not saying that Spencer's case is unassailable, only that your objections are not well-supported.
The Mongols, and all related people of the steppe, showed a continuous history of raids, invasion and conquest for thousands of years.
The Arabs had a history similarly thousands of years old. Lots of raids, but few or no successful conquests. Then a century with one of the greatest conquests in history, then a return to centuries of no conquest. For that matter, a history of being invaded.
My question is simply what can account for the discrepancy.
I think the simplest explanation is the birth of a new religion.
I agree the evidence for Jesus is not identical to that for Mohammed. I merely pointed out that similar objections to whether he really existed have been made. Which they have.
I plan to read the book. However, my initial impression is that of the old science saw, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
IOW, the lack of evidence does not prove he didn’t exist, only that the evidence he existed is minimal.
Scientists and historians have for centuries now been claiming that all sorts of mythical characters had no basis in fact. Quite often as additional evidence is found it shows the guy really existed and may have been exaggerated. But very seldom that there was no basis in a real person.
The Xia and Shang dynasties in China, for instance.
The Arabs of the 600s had a similar population explosion and it occurred when the Byzantine empire was weak.
Patricia Crone has pointed out that before the canonical text of the Koran was established, the Caliphs of the Muslim empire called themselves khalifa allaha "God's deputy" and the title did not change until a generation after the canonical text was disseminated into khalifa rasul allaha or "deputy of God's prophet."
In the case of Christianity, the doctrines and history were well-established traditions among believers long before Christianity had any political or military significance. In the case of Islam, the doctrines and history seem to have been elaborated long after the movement had become a powerful force in geopolitics.
Interesting point about the Northmen.
However, the Normans, after their period of rapid expansion, did not turn into a passive people.
In various ways and different degrees Russia, France, the British Empire and the United States are Norman in their origins and character.
The Swedes even had a later episode of being a Great Power for more than a century.
The Arabs have nothing like this. They flared up, died down and never came back to life.
Also the Normans were never anything vaguely resembling a unified state. Their raids and conquests were private ventures, as can be seen in its most extreme form in the conquest of S. Italy and Sicily.
The Arab Empire, OTOH, within about a century had spread as a more or less unified state from China to France.
It doesn’t matter if Mo existed or not.
The fact that over a billion moslems believe he did is the point.
Trying to disprove that Mo existed to moslems is akin to trying to put out fire with gasoline.
Besides, Mo’s (alleged) disciple “Umar” did exist. We know that from historical accounts of Iran’s invasion by bedo Arabs. “Umar” is/was said to be one of Mo’s immediate disciples, but when Umar & his army attacked Iran, Mo wasn’t in the picture (he had already died, several yrs earlier).
By all accounts, Mo or his disciples were bedo Arabs and were illiterate.
As for the Quran, it has been rewritten several times, since Mo & Umar’s time, over the centuries. It couldn’t have been originally written by Mohamad.
Plus the Quran is a mish mash of preceding ‘holy’ books. IMO, that’s why in parts it is disjointed, fragmented, and just doesn’t make sense.
The original Arabic version was written in Egyptian arabic, I read somewhere a while ago - this was written a couple of centuries, I think, after Mo’s death (anyhow it was definitely written *after* Mo’s death).
The Saudi only accept the version written in Saudi arabic as the “official” one. Then again, the Saudi Royal family are the “official” custodians of the “holy” cities of Mecca & Medina. And, Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Mo... well, allegedly.
But, I do believe Mohamad did exist & declared himself a “prophet”, once upon a time.
Have you heard about an ancient koran found in Germany which shows different passages from the officially accepted koran of today?
Yes! Was also thinking about that.
Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code (published in 2008):
Just one example of how the Quran, generally Mo, Islam & Islamic traditions have been influenced by preceding religions, religious books & customs:
The “Lost Archive” in #68 says “Islamic tradition emphasizes oral transmission” in reciting the Quran, because Mo was illiterate & his followers had to memorize his words as revealed to him by Allah....
Well, the Avesta and the Gathas in Zoroastrian tradition are orally transmitted as well, particularly by Zoroastrian priests (mobeds). Of course Zoroastrian text and religion are by far older than Islam.
Post Arab-Islam invasion of Iran oral transmission & reciting the Avesta from memory became necessities, because the Moslem-Arabs burned as many Zoroastrian texts as they could find.
But, prior to that, it was also the tradition because the Gathas (17 hymns believed to be spoken by Zoroaster himself) are in rhythmic poetic verse form, in ancient Prakrit & Sanskrit (old Aryan languages). The root word for the Gatha is “gai”, which means speak, sing, recite or extol.
An interesting connection between the “rhythmic poetic verse form” of the Gathas and Persian (Iranian tradition) is when one looks at Iranian literature over the centuries, even post-Islam. Iranians are not good at prose, but excel in poetry, with numerous fairly famous poets right up to present day.
Most notably, Ferdowsi’s famous Shah-Nameh (Book of Kings) which is about reviving the Persian language and pre-Islamic history (written around 10th century AD), is mostly written in “rhythmic poetic verse”, rather than prose.
I think you're focusing on West of today's Saudi Arabia, rather than East.
In relation to Mohamad & his followers, take a look at the section entitled "Raids on Caravans - Caravans & Trade as a Source of Wealth in this page
Completely agree w/ opportunistic nature of Islam, etc...
Imo, Mo did exist, but his "prophethood" was a myth. To be precise, in Arabic "Rasul" means "messenger", not "prophet". So, in Arabic, Mohamad is known as "Rasul Allah" (messenger of Allah).
The other incentive was about economics or the acquisition of wealth - link in #70.
I don’t think that’s correct. Omar Sharif was born a Maronite Catholic Michel Dmitri Shalhoub and then converted to Islam
Correct. it's like they got a momentary jolt and then returned to somnolence. Of course to add to what you said -- "Arab" truly means just the Nejd and Hejaz Bedouins. The Semitic tribes of Yemen, Syria including the Canaanites etc are/were not 'Arab' in that sense, neither were/are the Egyptians.
I don't believe the Soviets could have struck back. the Germans were just too strong. They swept straight into the European half of Russia with next to no issue. Only American arms and support kept Russia propped up.
If that had not been there and if (I know, many "ifs") the Japanese had hit Russia in the back in Syberi, the Nazis would have ridden rough-shod straight into Central Asia.
What would have happened then is the same with any over-stretched Empire, especially one that over-stretches so quickly -- it would have broken.
Good analogy. The Duchy of Lithuania came about when the Mongols had destroyed Kievan Rus and the Poles were not strong enough to take advantage.
It's like a civilizational virus -- destroying civilizations. Look at Yemen, Egypt, Persia -- centers of civilization once and now.... While India's cancerous part (pakistan) was removed, it still causes problems...
Not really. The majority of the Spanish population was Orthodox/Catholic while the Visigoth rulers were initially Arian. This wasn't a big gap at the time the moors came over.
Not completely. The Mongols were not united before Genghis Khan. There were various groups: naimans, Kara-khitan etc. Chinghiz Khan did unite them under the idea of the sky-Lord and battle against the decadent city-dwellers.
Likewise the French conquest of Europe had begun before Napoleon's name was known. -- the French conquest of Europe was quasi-religious in the Republican sense, they had a mission. Also, France at that time was 25% of the population of Europe, and heavily militarized due to the revolution. Even a highly militarized, but small state like Prussia could not stand up to this rag-tag army that used unconventional tactics.
incidently from 1800 to 1900 the population of France remained nearly stagnant while England's population nearly quadrupled and Germany's quadrupled. Some suggest this was due to the French learning different methods of birth-control in their travels east.
True, I've been lately reading up on Heracles who strangely enough shows the same basis in a real person of the 2nd millenia BC
"Accretion" is right.
But, have to point out that the so-called "Persian Empire" has a distinct history before Cyrus, and even the Median Empire. It just isn't well-known to even the Persians Iranians) themselves. This is before the neo-Assyrian Empire..
As you point out, Cyrus (Kourosh) the Great, was the grandson of of the Median Emperor (Cyrus' mother, if am not mistaken, was a Median herself), and Cyrus, actually married a Median Princess, himself. That union helped, later, with uniting the Medians (current kurds) with the Persians. Both being of Aryan roots, but different tribes, at the time.
However, in strictly Aryan terms/history (Iran in particular), that history (or pre-history) began with the Pishdadians Dynasty. Remember "Jamshid" and Norooz or as the Parsee Zoroastrian community in India call it "Navroz" Jamshidi?
While I am on this subject, it is fascinating to find out more about it.
Even Ferdowsi's Shah-Nameh (Book of Kings), which is a very significantly piece of literary & historical work (written circa 10th century AD), explicitly goes well beyond Cyrus the Great "Persian Empire" and talks about other Aryan Dynasties of Iran, namely, the Pishdadians and Kianians.
Well worth reading if interested in history: Pre Cyrus the Great Aryan Dynasties of Iran - Epic Cycles
As far as I know, Khalifa allaha means "successor of Allah (or God's successor or "deputy"). Khalifa is just the arabic word for what we usually spell or pronounce as "Caliph" in English. It means "Successor". Or, possibly, "deputy", depending on context.
But, "Rasul" is also an arabic word, originating from "resalat" meaning to bear messages or be a medium.
Khalifa rasul allaha, presumably spelt per arabic pronunciation, does not mean "deputy of God's prophet". It literally would mean "Successor or deputy, messenger of Allah".
Unless I am corrected, or given a more accurate translation (meaning), by a native Arabic speaker, I believe what I just said is the most precise/accurate translation into English, but more importantly, the *meaning* of the mentioned words.
significantly piece = significant piece
You are quite correct that we tend to pay more attention to the Muslim conquests west rather than east. Perfectly logical, since the western conquests moved into areas with which we have a historical and civilizational connection. They were Christian and Western in character (at least sort of) up to the Muslim conquest. Persia and Central Asia were, and are, the Other.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Arabs raided into Syria and Iraq all down through history whenever the got the chance. Given the inherent disparity between the populations and military potential of the settled areas versus the deserts, large raids only took place when the settled areas were in great disarray. Which probably in all history were never greater than when the Byzantines and Persians had battered each other into exhaustion after centuries of intermittent war and 30 years of continuous war. Each contender had invaded and devastated the other’s heartland. The effects were probably right up there with those of the 30 Years War on Germany, or possibly even worse.
The problem is that the mindset needed for effective conquest is very different from that of raiders, who seldom set up governments that last very long. As Napoleon said, you can do anything with bayonets except sit on them. Conquest requires structure, and smash and grab bandits aren’t big on structure.
However, as far as I can tell, these stories are mythical in nature rather than historical.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t dismiss myth as inherently untruthful, but I prefer to see it backed up with some genuine historical evidence from archaeology, etc. King Arthur is probably based on a historical figure, but the Camelot of the stories never really existed.
Did some research and you are correct that by the time of the Muslim invasion the Christians of Spain were reasonably united, though in previous centuries there had been a lot of religious dissent.
However, the Visigoths were among the most anti-semitic of all the Christian nations of the time and persecuted the Jews with great enthusiasm. Hence, it is recorded that the Jews opened the gates of Toledo to the Muslims, accurately seeing them as likely to treat them with greater lenity than did the Christians.
In any case, it is obvious something was wrong with the Spanish of the time. They were conquered in just a few years by a small army at the end of a very long supply line.
800 years or so before the Romans needed a couple of centuries to conquer Iberia, and of course Napoleon learned just how hard it was to control the peninsula against the wishes of its people.
Very little of this resistance by the people occurred when the Moops (pop culture reference) invaded. Religious disaffection may not have been the reason, but obviously the people were not willing to fight and die against the invaders. This is probably because the Visigoths, something like 1% or 2% of the population, had retained all power and privilege in their own hands for several centuries. The people saw little reason to be concerned which group held this power. Which just goes to show that tyranny and oppression often sows the seeds of its own destruction.
Possible. However, the Japs tried it on with the Red Army in 1939 and got absolutely smashed.
The Japs were set up to fight the obsolete Chinese forces and were in no shape to deal with mechanized land warfare in open country. Banzai charges didn't work any better against Soviet tanks than against American marines.
That's what moslems & more than a few moslem scholars also say about Jerusalem - that King Solomon's Temple never existed, it is a myth.
At the very least, I have FULL belief in Ferdowsi's Shah-Nameh (Book of Kings).
As I've said before, he wrote his book, after 30 (laborious) yrs, in the 10th century AD in Iran. Even though he does segment his book in to 3 sections, one being the "mythical" one, I doubt it is *entirely* mythical; he spoke the truth. I will tell you why, later. It is late at night here at my end right now.
Mean time, tell me why you think it is "mythical", in your opinion ??
For now, I can only tell you that Ferdowsi did his research (be it surreptitiously) as was required, for his time, extremely well.
I am largely familiar with the legend of King Arthur & Camelot - however, I can comfortably say: No comparison with Camelot and King Arthur, At All, in this case. The history & circumstances, in & for England, were completely different.
The peoples of the steppe had a several thousand year history of conquest down into the settled areas of China, India, Persia and the Middle East by the time Genghis came along. Intermittently a great leader would arise on the steppe, unite the tribes and conquer down into one or more of the areas. Genghis was not an innovator, only the most successful of all the leaders to arise from the steppe.
The steppe peoples lived a similar lifestyle from Hungary to Korea. Tribes coalesced and splintered easily. There was nothing resembling "nations" in the sense we use the term. A long period of good rains would result in significant growth in the herds and population of the nomads. When drought inevitably returned, they fought each other for pasture or turned outward for conquest of the farmers.
The settled nations on the perimeter of the steppe defended themselves primarily by divide and conquer, bribing the tribes to fight each other rather than unite and attack the civilized areas.
The basic military fact was that before the introduction of effective firearms mounted archers properly used were invincible, at least on reasonably suitable terrain. Any force powerful enough to defeat them was too slow to catch them.
My point is that the Arabs had no such history of conquest. This is probably at least partially because the Arabian peninsula is not nearly as large or as suitable for supporting large tribes of nomads as the Eurasian steppe. Much of it is true desert, not steppe.
Napoleon was a complete failure, never mind Waterloo.
Just finished rereading Herodotus. Lots about the establishment of the Persian Empire by Cyrus. Admittedly, Herodotus was an enemy, but he very obviously admired Cyrus even if he considered the Persians enemies.
There is not a trace in Herodotus of a long history of Persian magnificence prior to Cyrus. The idea you get is of a hard-living primitive more or less tribal people moving in on more effete civilizations and taking them over.
AFAIK, Cyrus, Darius and the other Achaemenids made no claim of ancient lineage, which they certainly would have had there been any way for them to do so.
For instance, in the Behistun Inscription (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_translation_of_the_Behistun_Inscription), Darius the Great (probably a successful usurper) did everything he could to portray his rule as legitimate. But he only claimed 9 generations of kingship, which was probably a lie in itself. If he could have done so with any credibility at all, no doubt he would have claimed great antiquity for his kingdom.
The recorded Persian documents in the Bible also make no claim of great antiquity. The Persians do not appear in the Bible till after the Babylonian Conquest, making it very unlikely, IMO, that they had been major players previously.
I'm no expert, but the surviving Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian records generally portray the area of what is now Iran as primitive and tribal, not the home of powerful contending empires. At this point we're getting back something like 5000 years, leaving little time for the great Persian empires of the Shahnameh to exist.
This is not a historical Muslim contention. Muslim legend is historically loaded with stories about Solomon, for instance.
The Koran, I believe, originally referenced Jerusalem as The holy city precisely because it was where the Temple originally stood. Only after the Jews rejected him did Mohammed go with Mecca.
No doubt some Muslims of today claim there was no Temple as a way of dissing the Jews, but this is not the historical Muslim tradition. They claim not that David and Solomon did not exist, but rather that they were great Muslim prophets as well as kings.
Many scholars of today are skeptical of the Bible stories of the great empire of David and Solomon, but that is because remarkably little archeological evidence of its existence has been found. Which I must admit I find a little disturbing myself.
Napoleon eventually lost a war against overwhelming odds when the entire rest of Europe turned on him.
I fail to see how this qualifies him as a complete failure. Unless you consider RE Lee to be “a complete failure” because he was eventually defeated by overwhelming force.
Napoleon was perhaps the greatest general and strategist of all time. Probably would have set up an empire over all Europe if not for the existence of that pesky English Channel. And of course his apparent inability to get beyond French chauvinism which eventually encouraged the growth of nationalism in the subject peoples and the disintegration of his empire.
Good point, however I meant specifically the Achaemenids, not the overall Aryanic realm. it's interesting that Jamshid is the iranic version of the Indic Yama -- who is the Indic god of death who rides a buffalo and who bears much of the aspects of an Asura (and I think is named as such along with Varuna and Agni in the Rigveda)
The older extant Korans have a Hebrew inscription at the end, saying that “this is all nonsense”. We have a tradition that that was snuck in by Mo’s Jewish secretary. I believe he was a specific person, suffering from epilepsy and fed up with the idiotic beliefs of Arabs at that time, and enamored with Christian and Jewish stories and theology. He was also an egomaniacal mass murderer. Presently reading Twilight Over Delhi by a distinguished Muslim of letters, contemporary of Ghandi, and he is quite right that imperialistic interference with native cultures leaves irreversible harm in its wake. The same goes for the most imperialistic religion of all, Islam, destroying indigenous cultures for 1,400 years and counting.
Robert Spencer interview on Janet Mefford (Christian) radio show.
INCREDIBLE! States at end “Mo” never existed.
Good differentiation between the Achaemenids and the overall Aryanic realm. Re Jamshid, Kianians & Pishdadian, I was referring to the “Aryanic realm” (as does that link I gave), which is not necessarily & only the “Persian” or “Median” one.
Interesting about Indic god you mention. Didn’t know that.
Also, “Persepolis” is the Greek name, a you know, for Takht_e Jamshid. Unfortunately, even many Iranians refer to it as Persepolis, instead of its true name Takht_e Jamshid.
Sherman Logan: Meant to get back to you yesterday on that earlier post, but got too busy w/ other things. Am getting ready for work now, but will try later today.
Takht_e Jamshid means Seat or Throne of Jamshid.
So, even from Cyrus’ time it must have had direct connection or at least influence on ancient Persians and Medians.