The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam: From Polemic to History

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Overview

Why and under what circumstances did the religion of Islam emerge in a remote part of Arabia at the beginning of the seventh century? Traditional scholarship maintains that Islam developed in opposition to the idolatrous and polytheistic religion of the Arabs of Mecca and the surrounding regions. In this study of pre-Islamic Arabian religion, G. R. Hawting adopts a comparative religious perspective to suggest an alternative view. By examining the various bodies of evidence which survive from this period, the Koran and the vast resources of the Islamic tradition, the author argues that in fact Islam arose out of conflict with other monotheists whose beliefs and practices were judged to fall short of true monotheism and were, in consequence, attacked polemically as idolatry. The author is adept at unravelling the complexities of the source material, and students and scholars will find his argument both engaging and persuasive.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Hawting has accomplished his task with deep learning and with sharp, detailed arguments. All students of Arabia and early Islam will do well to read this book." Meas Bulletin

"The book is original and challenging and should be read by all scholars interested in the Quran, Islamic origins, and how religions imagine their origins." Religious Studies Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface; Note on transliteration and dates; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Religion in the jãhiliyya: theories and evidence; 2. Idols and idolatry in the Koran; 3. Shirk and idolatry in monotheist polemic; 4. The tradition; 5. Names, tribes and places; 6. The daughters of God; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
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