Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

04.30 Freddie Gray's housing complex still plagued by poor conditions and abuse

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

05.02 People love Chris Packham because he isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.02 The Astonishing Creativity of Your Genes

05.02 Armed guards at India's dams as drought grips country

05.02 The innovators: desalination unit brings clean water on wheels

04.30 Surprise, the pundits were wrong: poll shows huge support for Leap Manifesto

04.30 Daytime cooking ban in India as heatwave claims 300 lives

04.30 Obama administration warns of ‘climate refugees’ due to rapid Arctic warming

04.29 Greens are often critical of the status quo. No wonder the police monitor us

04.29 Rowan Williams calls on Cambridge University to divest from fossil fuels

04.29 It's time to end juvenile solitary confinement, once and for all

04.29 Obama administration urges states to curb use of solitary confinement

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.02 Sam Brownback gutted Kansas: How America’s worst governor and an ultra-conservative ideology wrecked an entire state

05.02 Bill Moyers in Conversation: Eddie Glaude Jr. on America’s Racial ‘Value Gap’ [audio clip]

05.02 Bernie Sanders vows a contested convention despite 'tough road' ahead

05.01 'Mad as hell' middle class independents shape presidential race on their terms

05.01 A New Way to Map the Spread and Decline of Slavery in the U.S. [animated graphic]

05.01 Clintonism screwed the Democrats: How Bill, Hillary and the Democratic Leadership Council gutted progressivism

05.01 'You're a sinner': how a Mormon university shames rape victims

04.30 Story of cities #29: Los Angeles and the 'great American streetcar scandal'

04.30 Donald Trump forced from his motorcade amid chaotic protests at California convention

Justice Matters

05.02 The movement to end mass incarceration is still too weak to win big [private prisons must be kept at near-full occupancy by contract, so...]

04.30 Louisiana prisoner freed after 41 years of controversial sentence

High Crimes?

04.30 How the car industry trumped banking for sociopathic corporate behaviour

Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.02 Greenpeace Leak Exposes Big EU-US Rifts, US Thuggishness, in TTIP “Trade” Negotiations

05.02 TTIP Documents Revealed

05.01 Buffett Says Derivatives ‘Time Bomb’ May Elude Auditors' Reviews

04.29 Trump, Cruz aides advised Guatemalan candidate vowing televised executions

04.29 Obama: Republican candidates' economic policies are pure 'fantasy'

04.29 Sluggish US growth forms part of a worrying global trend

International

05.02 The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System [Like Red states only contracting business with Red contractors]

05.02 The reluctance of Joseph Kabila to cede power could push Congo to the brink

05.01 How Hyperconnected Cities Are Taking Over the World

05.01 Japan's Growing Poverty Defies Glib Explanations

05.01 Dozens of Syrians forced into sexual slavery in derelict Lebanese house

05.01 'Anyone could become a target’: wave of Islamist killings hits Bangladesh

05.01 Humanoid diving robot hunts for sunken treasure in French shipwreck

05.01 Baghdad state of emergency declared after protesters storm parliament

05.01 ‘We’ve had massacres all week’: Aleppo on fire again as Assad consigns ceasefire to history

04.30 President Trump fills world leaders with fear: 'It's gone from funny to really scary'

04.30 End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile

04.30 'You are left with no choice but to leave' – your stories of long-term gentrification

04.30 Los Angeles to get on-demand 'driverless buses'

04.30 Netherlands to hand out iodine pills in case of nuclear accident

04.30 China refuses US carrier permission for port call in Hong Kong harbour

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Hagarism: The Story of a Book Written by Infidels for Infidels

COMMENTARY:

Hagarism: The Story of a Book Written by Infidels for Infidels

by Dr. Liaquat Ali Khan
Scholarly decency demands that the authors of the 1977 book Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World officially repudiate a scandalous thesis, one in which they no longer believe and one that maligns the faith of more than a billion people.
The book titled Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World questions just about everything Muslims believe as historical truths. It challenges the common belief that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad over a period of 22 years (610-632) in Mecca and Medina. Instead, the book contends that the Quran was composed, possibly in Syria or Iraq, more than fifty years after the Prophet’s death, projected back in time, and attributed to the Prophet. The Quran, according to the book, was fabricated during the reign of Caliph Abdul Malik (685-705) to legitimize an expanding empire. The book also contends that the word "Muslim" was invented in the 8th century to replace the word Muhajirun (immigrants), which was the original name of the Arab community that conquered Palestine and built the Dome of the Rock. The book itself prescribes a new name for early Muslims. It calls them Hagarenes, that is, the biological descendants of Abraham by Hagar. This racial naming of early Muslims is employed to distinguish them from Jews, who are the descendants of Abraham by Sarah. Hagarism, the book’s title, is a quasi-pejorative, and possibly a racist, label to describe the historical phenomenon of early Muslims.

In the authors’ own words, the book is written “by infidels for infidels.” Attacks on the Quran’s authenticity, the Prophet’s integrity, or Islamic history are not new. The Quran itself acknowledges similar attacks the unbelievers made while the Quran was being revealed. For more than a thousand years, Western scholarship has been determined to expose what it considers to be the “fraudulent foundation” of Islam. In this sense, Hagarism is yet another book in the large dump of attack literature.

However, what distinguishes this book is the fact that its authors, Michael Cook and Patricia Crone, no longer subscribe to its critical findings. On April 3, 2006, I had a phone conversation with Michael Cook and we talked about Hagarism. He said to me the following, which he later confirmed by means of an email:"The central thesis of that book was, I now think, mistaken. Over the years, I have gradually come to think that the evidence we had to support the thesis was not sufficient or internally consistent enough." On April 6, 2006, I interviewed Patricia Crone, as well, to see what she now thinks about the book. She was even more candid in repudiating the central thesis of the book. She agrees with the critics that the book was "a graduate essay." The book was published in 1977 when the authors lived in England. "We were young, and we did not know anything. The book was just a hypothesis, not a conclusive finding," said Crone. "I do no think that the book's thesis is valid."

Many Western scholars, Christians and Jews, have dismissed Hagarism as a “thin argument” rather than “credible research.” One historian who appears to admire the book is Daniel Pipes, who has taught at Chicago and Harvard universities. Pipes, an embittered Zionist known for his ugly utterings against Islam and Muslims, argues that while Western scholars like Crone and Cook “in the role of termites” are eating away at the magnificent Islamic edifice, Muslims are “acting as though the beams and joints were as strong as ever.” Even Pipes, however, describes the book as “wild.” Notwithstanding scholarly repudiations, Internet websites continue to rely on the book to malign Islam, assuming that the book’s thesis is derived from credible research.

Even online Wikipedia features the book, citing a large quotation from Daniel Pipes. The article concludes: “Although this line of research is discounted by Islamic traditionalists, Western scholars have generally applauded Crone and Cook's advances in tracing the origins of Islam.” When I insisted that Wikipedia provide a source to support the above conclusion, the editor added “citation needed” to the conclusion. As of today, no citation to support the conclusion has been furnished.

Part of the confusion arises from the fact that Cook and Crone have made no manifest effort to repudiate their juvenile findings in the book. The authors admitted to me that they had not done it and cater no plans to do so. Repudiating scholarly work is not easy because sometimes errors are intertwined with valid findings. No scholar is obligated to rewrite books to correct errors. Scholarly decency, however, demands that the authors officially repudiate a scandalous thesis, one in which they no longer believe and one that maligns the faith of more than a billion people.

It appears however that the authors do not wish to discount a book that launched their careers and brought to them contacts and fortune. Patricia Crone teaches at the Institute for Advanced Studies, the academic home of Albert Einstein, an institute that proclaims itself as “one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.” Michael Cook is a chaired professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, who in 2002 (a few months after 9/11 terrorist attacks) received a $1.5 million Distinguished Achievement Award from the Mellon Foundation “for significant contribution to humanities research.”

One needs no brains to write against Islam in the Western world. After 9/11, anti-Islamic literature has become a big business that even acclaimed academics have generously exploited for self-promotion. In this milieu, repudiating even a false anti-Islamic book will be condemned as apostasy. We need not burn the book. Crone and Cook themselves must muster the courage and put out the brushfire they started three decades ago, albeit in youthful excitement.


Ali Khan is a professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. This excerpt is taken from his forthcoming law article, "The Externalist Scholarship on Islamic Law," which will be published in Michigan State Law Review. Send comments to ali.khan@washburn.edu.

Read more:


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 26, 2006.

 


Public Service Ads: