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The Arabs from Alexander the Great until the Islamic Conquests

Orientalist Perceptions and Contemporary Conflicts


This is not a conventional history book. It is rather a study of the sociology of historical writing about a period that, although quite distant in time (330 B.C. to A.D. 670), still influences political discourse about the Arab world, and especially the relationship between the West and the Middle East. This book focuses on the riddle of the disappearance of the Arabs from history before Islam, their sudden appearance behind the banners of the Prophet, and the powerful and traumatic effect this emergence into world history has had on the relationship between the Arabs and the West.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4285-5
  • *
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Apr 30,2021
Interior Color: Black with Color Inserts
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 284
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4285-5
$62.50
Your price: $50.00

This is not a conventional history book. It is rather a study of the sociology of historical writing about a period that, although quite distant in time (330 B.C. to A.D. 670), still influences political discourse about the Arab world, and especially the relationship between the West and the Middle East. This book focuses on the riddle of the disappearance of the Arabs from history before Islam, their sudden appearance behind the banners of the Prophet, and the powerful and traumatic effect this emergence into world history has had on the relationship between the Arabs and the West. Although the mainstream Western historical narrative does not see the Arabs before Islam as a political or cultural force, or even as members of a defined cultural unit, Arab historians and more traditional Western sources do permit a rather different picture once misguiding or obscuring labels have been removed. In this study, Arabia and the Arabs appear as a region and people that enjoyed considerable linguistic, cultural, religious, and political unity centuries before Islam. The appearance of the Prophet was, from this perspective, the culmination of a historical process that had already been long underway – perhaps delayed by Roman interference in the East and the establishment of the Roman diocese of Oriens, but also reinforced by Hellenistic-Roman culture and religious thought. In this scenario, the rise of Islam is in no way surprising or in need of explanation as a retrospective forgery, as the revisionist school would have it.

This is not a conventional history book. It is rather a study of the sociology of historical writing about a period that, although quite distant in time (330 B.C. to A.D. 670), still influences political discourse about the Arab world, and especially the relationship between the West and the Middle East. This book focuses on the riddle of the disappearance of the Arabs from history before Islam, their sudden appearance behind the banners of the Prophet, and the powerful and traumatic effect this emergence into world history has had on the relationship between the Arabs and the West. Although the mainstream Western historical narrative does not see the Arabs before Islam as a political or cultural force, or even as members of a defined cultural unit, Arab historians and more traditional Western sources do permit a rather different picture once misguiding or obscuring labels have been removed. In this study, Arabia and the Arabs appear as a region and people that enjoyed considerable linguistic, cultural, religious, and political unity centuries before Islam. The appearance of the Prophet was, from this perspective, the culmination of a historical process that had already been long underway – perhaps delayed by Roman interference in the East and the establishment of the Roman diocese of Oriens, but also reinforced by Hellenistic-Roman culture and religious thought. In this scenario, the rise of Islam is in no way surprising or in need of explanation as a retrospective forgery, as the revisionist school would have it.

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Contributor

Ayad Al-Ani

Table of Contents (v)
The disappearing Arabs before Islam: Beyond Orientalism. Preface to the international edition (vii)
Foreword to the German edition (xiii)
1. Introduction to the problem of de-Arabization (1)
2. Oriens and Arabia without Arabs? (17) 
3. In search of the Arab koine (37) 
4. Can Non-Europeans think? (51) 
5. The Hellenistic-Roman Orient: Dark design, suppression, forgetting and no explanation? (61)
   5.1 The Hellenistic Orient (63) 
   5.2 Roman Arabia and the diocese of Oriens (76)
   5.3 Rome’s Arab rulers and the problem of “Orientalization”: Julia Domna, Elagabalus and Philip the Arab as seen by historians (85) 
   5.4 Avidius Cassius, Zenobia, and Mavia: Arab resistance to Rome (97)
   5.5 Changing of the guard: The Ghassānid takeover of the limes (105) 
   5.6 Early historians on the Arabs: The origins of Orientalism and their modern echoes (112) 
   5.7 From Arabia to Europe (123)
6. Yarmūk: The mysterious end of Rome in Oriens (127) 
7. Taboos: The smooth integration of the Arabs/Semites of the Oriens into the Islamic Umma (143) 
8. The Pope of Baghdad (153) 
9. Orient and Rome? (159)
10. Demarcation, new beginnings and displacement (169)
11. Transgressions: The “Christian” Qur’an (179)
   11.1 Monotheistic trends in Arabic discourse before Islam (181)
   11.2 Christian Arab liturgy before Islam and the riddle of Jahili poetry (187)
   11.3 Political consolidation and its requirements (193)
12. Conclusion (203)
13. Appendix. Diffusion: Dilmun, Gilgamesh, al-Khidr and the Qur’an – the power of the imaginary in the Arab region (207)
14. Addendum to the German edition: The return of the Oriental (223)
Plates (227)
Maps (231)
Bibliography (235)
Index (257)

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