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Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 16:49:18 -0400
Sender: H-NET List on Islamic Lands of the Medieval Period <H-MIDEAST-MEDIEVAL@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
Subject: Pre-Islamic Arabs [Jay Bisno]

Pre-Islamic Arabs

A dialog from the H-Mideast-Medieval list, July 1998

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 16:04:12 EDT
From: BisnoCC@aol.com

I know this is a bit off the subject, but can anyone recommend a good book or articles on the arabs before Islam?

Thank you,

Jay Bisno
Culver City

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 04:04:06 -0400
From: Basil Lourie <byzros@infopro.spb.su>

F. Altheim, R. Stiehl. Die Araber in der Alten Welt. 5 Bde. Berlin 1964--69

J. S. Trimingham. Christianity Among the Arabs in Pre-Islamic Times. London--New York: Librairie du Liban, 1979

I. Shahid. Byzantium and the Semitic Orient before the Rise of Islam. London: Variorum, 1988 (Variorum Reprints. Collected Studies Series, 270)

I. Shahid. Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century. Washington, 1989 (a multi-volume monography, next part of which has been published in 1997 or so)

In these books the previous bibliography (especially important are works by Th. Noeldeke) is available.


St.Petersburg Society for Byzantine and Slavic Studies

RUSSIA 194356
pr.Engelsa 135-132
Fax 7(812) 559 7777

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 18:32:32 -0400
From: Michael Zwettler <zwettler.1@osu.edu>

Mr. Bisno,

Not off the subject at all--especially inasmuch as medieval is a very ambiguous western-centric term in the context of the Near/Middle East.

One of the best concise presentations on the subject in English may be found in the opening chapter(s) of Fred Donner's Early Islamic Conquests, and the bibliography cited there is as good as any and better than many. [NOTE TO FRED: I still think that extracting, revising (and/or slightly expanding), and perhaps updating that section and publishing it as a kind of textbook introduction to the Jahiliyya would be an immense service to the field and to our students!] Furthermore, any and all of the articles by M.J. Kister (now collected together in the first two of three Variorum reprint editions. Then, too, depending on how far back you want to go, what particular aspects of the question you want to explore, and what languages other than English you would be comfortable handling, there is a pretty huge bibliography to deal with. E.g., I. Eph`al's The Ancient Arabs : Nomads On The Borders Of The Fertile Crescent, 9th-5th Centuries B.C.; Franz Altheim & Ruth Stiehl, Die Araber in der alten Welt (5 vols.); Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth/Fifth/Sixth Century (3 vols.) and Rome and the Arabs in the Third Century; Encyclopaedia of Islam (new ed.), arts. `Arab and al-`Arab (Djazirat), Badw; etc. All of these works have their own bibliographies.

If you are interested in pursuing the subject in greater detail, feel free to contact me at my e-mail address.

Happy day.

Michael Zwettler
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
The Ohio State University
203 B & Z Building / 1735 Neil Avenue
Columbus OH USA 43210
Office: 614-292-9255 (Department) /614-292-4399 (Private)
FAX: 614-292-1262 / Home: 614-258-8866

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 20:49:01 +0300
From: ATTARTVL <ATTARTVL@cyberia.net.lb>

Dear Members

I would like to suggest the following article and thesis on the subject of pre-Islamic Arabs.The article is entitled: al-Jahiz92s view of Arabic in relation to the Qur92an, paper presented at the 1992 Annual Conference of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK, pp. 20-33. al-Jahiz's Arabic is reflecting here a unique taste of an anthropological,socio-cultural,literary and theological sense of the term.

As for the thesis, it is in Arabic and discusses The Views of al-Jahiz Concerning Nations: an Expose and a Critique; unpublished 1989 M.A. Thesis,American University of Beirut, in 132 pages, constitutes an original documented reconstruction of a Classical (8th-9th century) portrait of the cultural and religious virtues and vices of Nations, of which can be drawn how the Arabs viewed themselves - and equally significant - how was the 91Other92 perceived in their minds, as seen by a Medieval ('Abbasid) man of letters. I am not sure if a copy of this thesis has been archived in the relevant section of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology,USA).

There are of course several books and other articles and theses.You may contact Edinburgh University Main Library from http://www.ed.ac.uk, and have a look at the 1994 / 1995 theses submitted to the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. A colleague has written on the relation of 'Urf (pre-Islamic practise) to Islamic Shari'a. I am sorry I don't recall the exact title, but good luck for your search.

Jamal Fou'ad el-'Attar, Ph.D,(Edin.)
FAX: BEIRUT-LEBANON, 00961 1375636

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 16:57:36 -0500
From: Michael Bates <bates@amnumsoc.org>

One should note G. W. Bowersock's excellent Roman Arabia (Harvard U.P., 1983). It is about the Roman province Arabia, not the whole peninsula, but it is an important chapter in the history of the Arabs, from the fourth century B.C. to the age of Constantine.

Michael Bates
Curator of Islamic Coins
American Numismatic Society