Perhaps there’s a reason why the Jews and Christians would not convert unless under threat of death.
Firstly, some background from wikiislam.net:
…the whole Arab world translates about three hundred books annually–one fifth the number that Greece alone translates; investment in research and development is less than one seventh the world average; and Internet connectivity is worse than in sub-Saharan Africa.
With an average adult literacy rate of 71.7% in 2010, OIC
countries as a group lagged well behind the world average of 80.1% and also the other developing countries’ average of 82.5%.
So why do Islamic rulers prefer illiteracy?
Quite simply, being highly educated themselves, Muslim rulers understand that if the masses knew what they knew, they would lose their own authority and control. The Koran was created to control already literate populations, something it never quite achieved. If it’s common knowledge it was created for this reason, modern Islamic rulers lose control.
One hundred years ago most of the West was also illiterate. But things have changed as technology has advanced. And in the last 100 years, the same academic enlightenment that put Christianity under the microscope 200-150 years ago has also started to examine the history of Islam. Naturally, the OIC world’s leaders know the results, that is why they have been so desperately trying to concrete over Mecca in the last decades.
So what difference does literacy make to the Islamic story of today’s Muslim leaders?
Western scholars have long known that a large percentage of the Koran was constructed from the stories of heretical Christian sects; passages of The Seven Sleepers, Mariam and the Virgin Mary, Childhood of Jesus, The Heavenly Table, The Paraclete, The Balance and Abraham’s Ascent to Heaven are examples of heretical Christian material in the Koran. But now scholars are even finding they have Syriac and Arabic copies of this heretical material that pre-date the Quran. What format was this material in? It’s in the same format used in the prior centuries in synagogue and church worship – a mix of lectionary recitations and liturgical chant. The poetry which today’s Muslims claim is proof of divine inspiration (and it is the ONLY proof they can offer) was around long before Mohammed heard it from the angel. The Arabic word quran comes from a Syriac loan word for lectionary.
The Nabatean empire, based in Petra was close enough to one of it’s larger trading partners, Jerusalem, to have all these stories, as well as the Jewish Targams and Mishna, also in Arabic by the time the Koran was said to have been compiled, that those in Damascus making the decisions about what to include in their holy book wouldn’t be able to tell exactly where it came from.
Where is the evidence of what scholars have found? Well, it is published in books of course, like the ones below. Here is a selection of recent academic publications that question the official narratives of Muhammad’s life and the early rise of the Saracen empire.
UPDATE: While this knowledge had previously been limited to academic print, in June 2020, Yasir Qadi, a self confessed “idiot” according to his own words in this youtube video, has introduced what was only accessible to scholarship to an illiterate audience. It’s now common knowledge that “the standard narrative has holes in it”.
In the Hot Seat Muḥammad Hijāb Interviews Dr. Yasir Qadhi
A very good video by Abdullah Sameer: HOLES IN THE QURAN-TEXTUAL VARIANTS AND LOST VERSES. These links will take you through to Amazon which has large sections of many of these books with sections available to be read for free on their site.
- Karl-Heinz Ohlig & Gerd-R Puin: The Hidden Origins of Islam: New Research into Its Early History
On the basis of datable and localizable artifacts from the seventh and eighth centuries of the Christian era, many of the historical developments, misconceptions, and fallacies of Islam can now be seen in a different light.
- John Wansbrough & Andrew Rippin Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation
A technical work where Wansbrough concluded that the canonization of the text that we today call the Quran, and even the emergence of the concept of “Islam,” probably did not occur till the end of the eighth century, more than 150 years after the death of Muhammad.
- GR Hawting The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750
The standard work on this complex period in Arab history is available once again with the addition of a new introduction by the author which examines recent significant contributions to scholarship in the field.
- Tom Holland In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire
Holland describes how the Arabs emerged to carve out a stupefyingly vast dominion in a matter of decades, overcoming seemingly insuperable odds to create an imperial civilization aspects of which endure to the present day.
- Patricia Crone The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt And Local Zoroastrianism
Patricia casts entirely new light on the nature of religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and on the persistence of Iranian religious beliefs both outside and inside Islam after the Arab conquest.
- Patricia Crone God’s Rule – Government and Islam: Six Centuries of Medieval Islamic Political Thought
A fundamental reconstruction and analysis of Islamic political thought focusing on its intellectual development during the six centuries from the rise of Islam to the Mongol invasions. This book is based on a wide variety of primary sources―including some not previously considered from the point of view of political thought.
- Patricia Crone Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam
Crone reassesses one of the most widely accepted dogmas in contemporary accounts of the beginnings of Islam, the supposition that Mecca was a trading center thriving on the export of aromatic spices to the Mediterranean. Pointing out that the conventional opinion is based on classical accounts of the trade between south Arabia and the Mediterranean some 600 years earlier than the age of Muhammad, Dr. Crone argues that the land route described in these records was short-lived and that the Muslim sources make no mention of such goods.
- Teresa Bernheimer & Andrew Rippin Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices
Combining core source materials with coverage of current scholarship and of recent events in the Islamic world, Bernheimer and Rippin introduce this hugely significant religion, including alternative visions of Islam found in Shi’ism and Sufism, in a succinct, challenging, and refreshing way.
- Andrew Rippin & Jan Knappert Textual Sources for the Study of Islam
Attention has understandably been focused on what might be called the religious aspects of Islam, such as scripture, theology, sects, law, ritual and mysticism, but within those limits the texts chosen are marked by substantially of content, by geographical, chronological and social diversity, and by an intelligent use of less well known authors. An excellent starting point for a systematic and analytical examination of Islam.
- Andrew Rippin Defining Islam (Critical Categories in the Study of Religion)
For scholars and critics, the issue of what constitutes or defines ‘Islam’ – whether examining the history of the religion, its specific traditions, sectarian politics, or acts of terrorist – is central to any understanding of issues, cultures and ideas. ‘Defining Islam’ brings together key classic and contemporary writings on the nature of Islam to provide student readers with the ideal collection of both primary and critical sources.
- Robert Hoyland Seeing Islam as Others Saw It
Because this work views Islamic history with the aid of non-Muslim texts and assesses the latter in the light of Muslim writings, it will be essential reading for historians of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Zoroastrianism – indeed, for all those with an interest in cultures of the eastern Mediterranean in its traditional phase from Late Antiquity to medieval times.
- Robert G. Hoyland In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire
While exploiting the rich biographical and geographical information of the early Muslim sources, this groundbreaking work delivers a fresh account of the Arab conquests and the establishment of an Islamic Empire by incorporating different approaches and different bodies of evidence.
- Robert G. Hoyland The ‘History of the Kings of the Persians’ in Three Arabic Chronicles: The Transmission of the Iranian Past from Late Antiquity to Early Islam
This book translates the sections on pre-Islamic Persia in three Muslim Arabic chronicles, those of Ahmad al-Ya’qubi (d. ca. 910), ‘Ali al-Mas’udi (d. ca. 960) and Hamza al-Isfahani (d. ca. 960s).
- Venetia Porter, Robert Hoyland et el. Arabic and Persian Seals and Amulets in the British Museum
This catalogue is the first on the outstanding collection of Arabic and Persian seals and amulets in the British Museum, by a specialist in the field.
- Robert G. Hoyland & Carl Wurtzel Khalifa ibn Khayyat’s History on the Umayyad Dynasty (660-750)
Khalifa ibn Khayyat is the author of the earliest extant Arabic chronicle. The work principally deals with fighting between Arab groups, external conquests, and administrative matters. After the death of each caliph it lists the persons who held office (as governors, judges and secretaries) during his reign; it also notes who led the pilgrimage in each year, the death of prominent persons (included those who died in major battles), and natural phenomena.
- Michael Philip Penn When Christians First Met Muslims: A Sourcebook of the Earliest Syriac Writings on Islam
The first Christians to meet Muslims were not Latin-speaking Christians from the western Mediterranean or Greek-speaking Christians from Constantinople but rather Christians from northern Mesopotamia who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. Living under Muslim rule from the seventh century to the present, Syriac Christians wrote the first and most extensive accounts of Islam, describing a complicated set of religious and cultural exchanges not reducible to the solely antagonistic.
- Robert G. Hoyland Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam
Using a wide range of sources – inscriptions, poetry, histories, and archaeological evidence – Robert Hoyland explores the main cultural areas of Arabia, from ancient Sheba in the south, to the deserts and oases of the north. He then examines the major themes of: the economy, society, religion, art, architecture and artefacts, language and literature, Arabhood and Arabisation.
- Dan Gibson Early Islamic Qiblas: A survey of mosques built between 1AH/622 C.E. and 263 AH/876 C.E.
For the first time in history Dan Gibson has undertaken a comprehensive survey of Islamic mosques from the first two centuries of Islam. Using this data, Gibson demonstrates that Muhammad and the first four caliphs all prayed towards a different place! This location was also the focus of their pilgrimage. Gibson believes that Muslims are disobeying their prophet by focusing their prayers on a Black Stone in Saudi Arabia, when the Quran commands them to face the original location.
- Dan Gibson Quranic Geography
This book covers historical records of the four known times when peoples of the Arabian peninsula united and burst out of the Arabian deserts to conquer other nations (topics such as: The People of ‘Ad, People of Thamud, Midianites, etc.). The book also examines the geographical references in the Qur’an cross-referencing them with historical locations.
- Dan Gibson The Nabataeans: Builders Of Petra
This book examines the city of Petra, the ancient capital of the Nabataean Empire. Here massive monuments have been carved out of the ancient Jordanian mountains. Hundreds of magnificent tombs looked down on a city complete with colonnaded streets, coliseums, baths, temples, gardens and pools. Who were the people who carved this city into the red rose, sandstone mountains of Arabia? Why did they hide their city in a cleft in the rock? Why did they come here and why did they leave this spectacular site?
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