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ARABI. Arabs Recount Arabia Before Islam. Part III

ARABI. Arabs Recount Arabia Before Islam. Part III

Part III

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The ARABI (Arabs Recount Arabia Before Islam) series aims to investigate the narration about pre-Islamic Arabia built in the Arab-Muslim Tradition and compare it, whence possible, with the historical data resumed from direct (epigraphic and archaeological) and external sources.
Each volume introduces some short tales, both in Arabic original and English translation, as examples of how the Tradition itself recorded and re-narrated events and characters of Pre-Islamic Arabian history; these stories are selected preferably among unpublished texts or texts which are not yet translated in English. The tales are preceded by a brief critical study discussing the historical and cultural context either those same tales are framed in, or the sources narrating those tales were collected and written down.

Part III of this series deals with the shift from polytheism to monotheism in pre-Islamic Arabia. The voice of the first left little traces in contemporary sources; at the same time the voice of the latter re-shaped every narration according to its historical-religious perspective, since its main goal was to find Arab precedents of the prophecy that revealed in the 7th century CE with the coming of Islam.
This volume introduces excerpts from:
- Nihaya al-irab fi ahbar al-Furs wa-l-Arab (The final purpose on the news about the Persians and Arabs) a work preserved in several manuscripts in European libraries - ascribed to al-Asma i (d. 828), but highly suspected to be apocryphal.
- A commentary to the poem Dat al-furu fibuyut Adnan wa-qaba ili-ha wa-fadaili-ha (The leafy [poem] on the houses of the Adnan, their tribes and their qualities) by al-Nasir Muhammad b. al-Imam al-Mansur (d. 1226), found in the Arabic manuscript A 68 ar. preserved in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.
- The Wasaya al-muluk wa-abna al-muluk min walad Qahòtòan b. Hud (The testaments of the kings and the the princes of the children of Qahtan b. Hud, a work again ascribed to al-AsmaI or al-Huza i, but likely anonymous.
- The Kitab al-tigan fi muluk Himyar, (The book of crowns on the kings of Himyar) by Wahb b. Munabbih (d. 729 ca.), though remastered by Abu Muhammad Ibn Hisam al-Himyari (d. 833).

Monotheism vs. Paganism
The ignorance of ignorance 5

Sieving orthodox opinions and archaeological evidences: the sacred space 6

A wizard document (reprise) 15

Paganism and monotheism in late-antique Arabia 21

The preaching of priests, soothsayers, rabbis, monks: the foreseeing narrative 24

Conclusions 28


1. The conversion of Tubba' and the introduction of Judaism in Yemen 32

2. Tamim foresees the coming of the Prophet 42

3. The foreseeing of Hugr b. 'Amr al-Maqsurs death 48

4. Speeches by Quss b. Sa'ida al-Iyadi 53

Bibliographical references 59

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