The Mecca Mystery: Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History by Peter Townsend

caballero reyes

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Nial said, reply 26:
The key take-home for me here is that 'the Muslim conquests' can't have been motivated by religion - they were initially national, then later
geopolitical/colonial in nature. Full-clothed Islam doesn't appear until the 9th century, some 2-300 years later.
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The reason for the invasion of the Arabs in Palestine I think is not clear, it was what motivated me to ask the question to
mkrnhr.
 

Laura

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What is left out of all the various sources trying to figure out Islam is the problem of environmental stresses that were probably very severe. When the Roman empire of Italy more or less collapsed, there was a vacuum in all the places where they had formerly posted their legions, including Palestine, Syria, etc.

It's rather difficult for me to see exactly what was going on, but Heinsohn suggests the insertion of a couple hundred years when, in fact, things were actually much closer together in time, if not overlapping.

Heinsohn has some interesting perspectives, but the analysis of the Koran based on Enochian Apocalyptic literature by Segovia should be given heavy weight, too.

Here's a link to a list of articles by Heinsohn that includes a couple about Islam.
Creation of the First Millennium
 

Niall

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Nial said, reply 26:
The key take-home for me here is that 'the Muslim conquests' can't have been motivated by religion - they were initially national, then later
geopolitical/colonial in nature. Full-clothed Islam doesn't appear until the 9th century, some 2-300 years later.
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The reason for the invasion of the Arabs in Palestine I think is not clear, it was what motivated me to ask the question to
mkrnhr.
The initial 'invasion' of Arabs from northern Arabian desert to Syria-Palestine is basically covered in what Laura said above: environmental stresses that were probably very severe. You can imagine that those environmental stresses were more acutely felt by peoples who were more dependent on the amenities provided by civilization and systems of trade, transport, food supplies, etc. For more Bedouin-like nomads such as the Arabs roaming the northern Arabian Peninsula, not so much.

On the other hand, even they were probably dependent on Roman civilization, and that dependency may have motivated them to 'fill in the vacuum'. The picture Townsend presents is as follows:

Nomads living in desert regions between the Roman and Persian empires had up until then habitually been enticed by each 'side' in that titanic stand-off to fight for it as 'federated mercenaries'. This was important to both Rome and Persia because whoever controlled the 'middle ground' had a beachhead from which to attack the other empire.

When Rome collapsed, or began collapsing, the Arab nomads living in the deserts closest to Rome-controlled garrison cities lost an important source of employment/income/patronage. So they began 'hijra' (migration) by moving into them and living a settled life, and gradually accruing commercial and political power. I find it interesting that this movement of people has been retroactively characterized as 'invasion' or 'conquest' after the initial trickle became a flood. Shades of today's migrants being 'an invasion'...

So what did those being 'conquered' have to say about it at the time? Townsend on p.213:

It is evident from the historical record that they did not experience the initial stages of the Arab migration as something nearly as dramatic and ground-breaking as the swift, decisive and overwhelming victories described in the Islamic traditions. [...] There is solid archaeological and documentary evidence that Rome had by the 7th century largely abandoned its Arabian possessions. So the overblown 'How we Beat the Romans' narratives of Islamic history may well have to be replaced with the rather more mundane idea of scores of desert Arabs 'moving house'...
Later on p.222:

They made the move into these areas not, in the first instance, as a conquering army, but as mercenaries invited in by the Romans to protect their interests in the region. The coming of the Arabs was therefore neither as rapid or as 'Islamic' as is commonly supposed and was not associated with a new religion called 'Islam', a prophet called Muhammad or a book called the Qur'an by those who experienced these events firsthand and wrote about what they experienced. Instead, eventual Arab dominance relied mostly on an incremental migration and the eventual realization that they could simply 'take over' from a weakened Roman Empire.
A great irony I see in this is that later 'Islamic history' reframed these initial Arab movements as 'conquest by the sword for Allah, thanks to jihad by Muhammad' in order to - as Townsend himself suggests - infuse later, actual conquests - say of Persia and Spain - with religious motivation. (Although we have to ask, given the falsification of this earliest 'Islamic' history; do we know that those too were bloody wars of conquest 'for Allah'?)

It's ironic because this false history generated by the new Arab elites in Damascus and then Baghdad was used to 'big up', and give a uniting ideology, to the pan-Arab, then pan-Islamic, empire... which critics of Islam today cite as historical evidence for the inherently war-like nature of Islam, period! I don't think Townsend realizes that, in deconstructing Islam, he deconstructed the basis on which its critics warn against its supposed designs of global conquest.
 
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Joe

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They made the move into these areas not, in the first instance, as a conquering army, but as mercenaries invited in by the Romans to protect their interests in the region. The coming of the Arabs was therefore neither as rapid or as 'Islamic' as is commonly supposed and was not associated with a new religion called 'Islam', a prophet called Muhammad or a book called the Qur'an by those who experienced these events firsthand and wrote about what they experienced. Instead, eventual Arab dominance relied mostly on an incremental migration and the eventual realization that they could simply 'take over' from a weakened Roman Empire.
That also applies to the 'Moors' move into Spain around the 7th century i.e. right in the Middle of the 'dark ages'. Historians try to emphasize battles and resistance from the locals, but the general impression is that the Moors just walked in and stayed, as if the area was rather empty, as was likely the case in most of Western Europe after the 540AD space rock(s) impact according to Mike Baillie.
 

Niall

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In his final chapter, Townsend laments the political correctness that prevents honest research into Islam, as well as the threat of violence against those who nevertheless do so. I couldn't agree more.

However, I begin to disagree with him when he confesses that:

It is my considered opinion that the classical Islamic doctrines have an overwhelmingly negative impact on communities where it is in the ascendancy.
He says he explores this in another book - Nothing to do With Islam? Investigating the West's Most Dangerous Blind Spot.

He follows with:

I believe that the world will be a much safer place if belief in Islam is fundamentally undermined in the minds of those who now affirm the Shahada [Islamic creed].
I should read his other book before criticizing his conclusive generalization about Islam, but my initial thought is that things are not so simple. By all means, conduct honest research into Islam, but I would hope that it includes research into how the most fundamentalist Islamic countries today are those that have undergone the severest traumas at the hands of external (usually Western) military-economic interference...

Townsend goes on:

[...] history represents the Achilles Heel of Islam [...] This is because of the traditional and commonly accepted account of Islamic origins cannot even begin to survive critical enquiry.
Can Judaism? Or Christianity? And once Islam is deconstructed, then what? A billion reformed Muslims will be liberated into joining Westerners in the nihilistic embrace of material scientism and postmodernism?

On the last page, Townsend writes:

Why leave unchallenged set of ideas that can conclusively be demonstrated as leading to ways of life, beliefs and attitudes that are fundamentally at odds with human rights, compassion for the rest of humanity and scientific progress?
Human rights. Are those like the human rights the Americans went to Iraq with to gift to the Iraqis?

Compassion for the rest of humanity. When the Ottoman Sultan sent ships full of food to Ireland at the height of the 'Great Hunger' in the mid-19th century - against the wishes of the British Crown, and with zero discernible geopolitical benefit for him - was he doing so in spite of being 'infected with Islam'?

As for scientific progress, the 'Islamic' caliphates were Number 1 (relative to Europe anyway) in that sphere for about a millennium, so it's dishonest to source majority Muslim countries' relative incapacity in science today to the phony narratives about how Islam came about, ignoring the rich scientific, literary, medical, etc. achievements in-between...

I don't know how familiar Townsend is with later 'Islamic' civilization (although I think we can drop the quotemarks at this point), but I've read elsewhere that a later Medieval caliphate (late Baghdad I think) underwent an enlightenment of sorts, such that the intelligentsia of the day were reinterpreting Islam as symbolic, and not to be taken literally.

It's a dynamic as old as time: the back-and-forth all civilizations undergo between 'liberal' regimes and conservative reversion to 'the fundamental principles'...
 
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Joe

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Yeah, just from reading the titles of his two other books, it's clear that he has a bias. That's not unusual, there are millions (or hundreds of millions) of people in Western nations today who have been programmed with an anti-Islam bias as a result of 17 years of the War on Muslim Terrorism and everything that has come with it. It's rather easy to take that bias and then cast it back to the origins of Islam. It's pretty clear that Islam formed in the same way Christianity did, on the basis of a 'savior' who would teach everyone how to live righteously and in that way avoid 'bad times', in fact, the need for such a savior was BECAUSE of 'bad times'. It's worth remembering Baillie's work as an example of how such 'legends' and religions are formed and why and who the 'bad times' are woven in.

Studies of tree rings going back thousands of years have shown that the world experienced a sudden and catastrophic drop in temperatures in 540 AD. The disaster led to repeated crop failures, famines and the spread of bubonic plague that may have wiped out around a third of the population of Europe, according to Professor Mike Baillie, a tree ring expert at Queen's University, Belfast.

The plague of 542, triggered by two years of famines and bad harvests, also may have hindered the attempts of the Roman Emperor Justinian I to reconquer western Europe, altering the political make-up of Europe. The blight may have even contributed to the myths of Arthur and the "wasteland" that devastated Britain in the middle of the 6th century.
It's pretty amazing to think that cataclyms like this have been the source of the world's major religions today, and all of the suffering and chaos they have produced.
 
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susy7

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Mecca was destroyed by the Takfirists, it is the Ottomans who chased them, saying that Mohamed never existed, it is strong coffee! Muslim science has been dealing with the Quran for centuries, highlighting the Quran and some hadiths that are classified in number 3, those that were verified by the witnesses of the time, those who are less reliable, and the third categories. some people at the time who were telling who was best paying for these so-called "speeches" of the Prophet. Ali, when he was the 3rd caliph, drove them away. Add to this all the hadiths enacted by people who were forced to write them in the time of the Umayyads by some of the dictators. Why do you think there were Shiites? There was indeed someone who unified these people in a religion and united them. I could ask too; does Jesus exist?
 

susy7

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there is unfortunately one of the books that Muslims, especially among Sunnis. the book Sahih Muslim, in which words of Mohamed, in the Quran, he says this: "There are men of normal appearance but who have a stone instead of the heart"; we ask him: "what should we face them?" Mohamed replies in their words: "avoid them". Out in Sahih Muslim it is written that every believer must submit to these men
 

luc

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Can Judaism? Or Christianity? And once Islam is deconstructed, then what? A billion reformed Muslims will be liberated into joining Westerners in the nihilistic embrace of material scientism and postmodernism?
Yeah, that seems to be the crux of the matter: once people realize that the main religions are frauds, they are tempted into the toxic materialistic belief system which leads to nihilism. And vice-versa - once they realize that materialism and dogmatic scientism is nonsense and soul-destroying, they go right back to the main religions, which are frauds...

It seems that there is no way around the endless task of distilling the spiritual truths that are still there in the religions while rejecting the nonsense and fabrications. Thanks btw for all the great posts in this thread :thup:
 

Voyageur

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That also applies to the 'Moors' move into Spain around the 7th century i.e. right in the Middle of the 'dark ages'. Historians try to emphasize battles and resistance from the locals, but the general impression is that the Moors just walked in and stayed, as if the area was rather empty, as was likely the case in most of Western Europe after the 540AD space rock(s) impact according to Mike Baillie.
This is what was recalled in the documentary by Bettany Hughes (narrator) When the Moors Ruled in Europe - mostly focused on architecture and the building of layers upon layers over top of each other (sometimes incorporating differences in the same structures) to what we see today. As Bettany said, the written records were destroyed during the later inquisition period.
 

thorbiorn

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There is a debate over the "Nazareans" in the Quran (Nasara in modern Arabic). It could be related. The main criticism to this possible connection is the long period between the 1st and 6th/7th century (the plague of Justinian and related phenomena must be still going on) so that the Quran redactors shouldn't know about these "un-orthodoxe Christian". If on the other hand one consider like Heinsohn that the Roman 1st century history belongs to much later...

Edit: Attached is a paper I found about the Nazorean term in the Quran
Yes, I have Heinsohn's ideas in the back of my head all the time. All of these things may be much closer to each other in time than we suppose.
There was: Session 12 July 2014
(Pierre) Maybe you can ask this question. Caesar was born roughly 2,114 years ago according to our official calendars. In reality, how many years ago was Caesar born?

A: 1635. {Difference of 479 years}
 

thorbiorn

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In my decades of observations in India, saying any thing negative of muslim religion is even dangerous. They can become very aggressive. I wonder where this sensitivity came from. I don't have experience with fundamental Christians to compare with.
The aggressiveness you mention, might explain why this topic is gaining momentum only now, after all the Christian and Jewish histories have been analyzed and deconstructed in great detail. In fact, it seems to me that one way of avoiding the aggressiveness in real life situations is to bring up aspects of the Christian narrative which then can't help but touch on the overlap of the themes and personages present in the Quran and the Bible. For instance, I might say that I don't know much about the Quran (which is actually not completely true), but I have studied the history of Christianity and some scholars are of the firm understanding that the person known to us as Jesus was at least in part based on the life and person of the Roman emperor Caesar. They have reached this conclusion based on ..... So far I have not met a Muslim wishing to defend the Christian fundamentalist view. They just keep silent.
 

seek10

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The aggressiveness you mention, might explain why this topic is gaining momentum only now, after all the Christian and Jewish histories have been analyzed and deconstructed in great detail. In fact, it seems to me that one way of avoiding the aggressiveness in real life situations is to bring up aspects of the Christian narrative which then can't help but touch on the overlap of the themes and personages present in the Quran and the Bible. For instance, I might say that I don't know much about the Quran (which is actually not completely true), but I have studied the history of Christianity and some scholars are of the firm understanding that the person known to us as Jesus was at least in part based on the life and person of the Roman emperor Caesar. They have reached this conclusion based on ..... So far I have not met a Muslim wishing to defend the Christian fundamentalist view. They just keep silent.
Here i am guessing. Is that aggressiveness is related to circumcision? Jews who does it on 8th day after birth tend to be aggressive(at least in Israel) if not in the west( may be covertly). Muslims seems to have no fixed date for circumcision( 8th day after birth to adulthood 13 yrs). But when looked at the history of circumcision, semites did widely from very antiquity - including Egyptians. It looks one third of male population now are circumcised, but they are not all aggressive.
Q: Just what was the origin of the practice of circumcision?

A: Same as all Judaic traditions hygiene.
May be just environmental stresses of the time.
 
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