IQSA members – the final Review of Qur’anic Research for 2016 is up! In the latest installment of RQR, Dr. Ilkka Lindstedt reviews Arabs and Empires Before Islam (Greg Fisher, ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2015). With contributions by over 20 leading experts of pre-Islamic Arabia, it is a formidable achievement in the field of pre-Islamic Arabian studies. It presents the history of Arabia from antiquity to the 630s CE, taking into account the subject’s diversity and presenting a variety of source materials.
Much importance is given to the surviving material evidence in the present volume. It provides, for example, interpretations of significant new inscriptions and reinterpretations of previously published ones, many of which have previously been dispersed in hard-to-access publications, and explains their worth for the study of history. It has been (and unfortunately still is) a common habit of Arabists to look first and foremost at the Arabic historiography of the Islamic era and other literary evidence when discussing pre-Islamic Arabia. This is probably a question of habit and training: Arabists and Islamicists usually know well, for example, the Arabic works of the ninth–tenth centuries by Ibn al-Kalbī (d. 206/821-22), Ibn Hishām (d. 218/833), and al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923), but they are not aware of the magnitude of the surviving pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphic record (numbering almost 100,000 known items at the moment).
© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2016. All rights reserved.