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The late Patricia Crone (d. 2015) was one of the most provocative scholars of
early Islam. She is infamous for Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World
(1977), which she co-authored with Michael Cook. That she has disavowed
some of its more skeptical conclusions may surprise many of her fiercest critics,
as well as those revisionists who still invoke them. This current volume,
however, demonstrates that while she has not disavowed any of her skeptical
approaches to the study of this field, to her great credit she remained open to
revising her views as new evidence presented itself. Reprints comprise most
of this volume, although two chapters have not previously been published.
Even the reprints, however, were selected, arranged, and in some cases revised
by Crone herself.
All of the articles are tied together by subject matter and methodology.
They focus on the mushrikūn (lit. associators), whom she calls “Qur’ānic pagans,”
and for the most part seeks to reconstruct their religion, particularly
during the Makkan period. She takes as her point of departure G. R. Hawting’s
The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam (1999), which argues that
the mushrikūn were monotheists and not idolaters (another common translation
of the term). In hoping to show that he was mistaken, Crone was prompted
to read the Qur’an systematically and, in so doing, discovered that these people
were not the pagans depicted in the Hadith, sīrah, tafsīr, or Ibn al-Kalbi’s
Book of Idols ...