From Publishers Weekly
In the consensus view of early Muslim history, the Arab tribes, united and inspired by Muhammad's teachings, embarked on a military jihad that wrested Syria and Palestine from a weakened Byzantine Empire in the years after 630 A. D. But according to this radical revisionist treatise by the late Israeli archaeologist Nevo and Koren, an "information specialist," every particular of this orthodoxy is wrong. Basing their arguments on a detailed examination of archaeology, contemporary texts, linguistic analyses and evidence from coins, the authors arrive at a thesis that will surely be incendiary to Islamic believers. The authors argue that Byzantium voluntarily transferred her eastern provinces to Arab client states in continuance of an imperial policy stretching back for centuries. The Arabs who took over the region after 630 A.D. were not Muslims, but a mixture of pagans and adherents of a Judeo-Christian "indeterminate monotheism" from which Islam evolved over succeeding decades. Muhammad was not a historical person, they argue, but a mythical figure who became, starting in the 690s, a "National Arab Prophet" of a new official religion for the consolidating Arab state. In addition to the Muslim ire that the authors' religious debunking will raise, specialists in the field may have objections to their treatment as well. Especially unconvincing is their rational-actor account of Byzantine policy towards the eastern provinces, where, they assert, the Byzantine government deliberately fomented and then persecuted heresies, stoked hatred of the emperor himself and left its territories open to military incursions by rival powers, all in order to reconcile the inhabitants to their long-planned abandonment by the empire.
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"informative survey of the origins of the Arab religion and state; an important addition to the literature on Arab-American history" -- The Bookwatch, November 2003