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Christian Sahner
1/ I've recently been reading the work of Josef van Ess, the great German scholar of Islamic Studies. Here's an accessible interview he did in English, in which he spells out his views of the origins of Islam. Some quotes below (see esp. the last point!)
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
2/ Q. Is it even true that Islam has never had a Reformation? A. "I consider the Koran itself to be a reformative text [with] a reformative intention, to the extent that the older religions are dismissed as wrong paths, and the basic intention is simply to go back to the roots"
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
3/ Q. You said that you have your own ideas about how the new religion [of Islam] developed. A. "[Islam was not one thing at the beginning but] a conglomerate of different nuclei, primarily in the new garrison cities – Basra and Kufa, Fustat in Egypt, Hims in Syria ...
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
4/ "... So in these places there are a couple of so-called companions of the Prophet, who are later also revered and around whom a sort of Islam configures. But I’m convinced that it was quite different in Kufa to Hims or Fustat"
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
5/ Q. Why? Were these areas completely isolated from one another? A. "The communication between the centres was weak. Of course people travelled, and of course they had some kind of Koran[ic] text that they adhered to ...
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
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6/ "... [But] the question is whether the Koran was even central to the religion at this time. From my point of view: no, it wasn’t ..."
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
7/ "What united the congregation was far more the manner of their communal prayer. The peculiar gymnastics they perform in the process – the proskynesis – it’s quite unique. And everyone else noticed it...
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
8/ "Significantly, prayer was led by the governor, or by whichever general was present at the time – almost as a military discipline."
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
9/ Q. Does that mean that each city developed its own school of Islam? A. "Yes. Even in places like Kufa, or later Baghdad, I would not assume that there was one unified Islam...As far as Kufa is concerned, we have reports from those crazy Gnostics from the early Islamic period"
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner
10/ Q. You’re painting an almost atomistic image of Islam. A. "Or I’m inverting the established image. In the beginning there is plurality – unity comes later… A fundamentalist would see it as the exact reverse ..."
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Merle Eisenberg Jul 7
Replying to @ccsahner @gypsy_heart6
Since you're reading van Ess anyway, why not expand upon his plague work? Just saying someone needs to do it...
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Christian Sahner Jul 7
I confess I don’t know what van Ess said about the history of plague. What’s the précis?
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