The Origins of Islam in the Arabian context
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This thesis investigates the origins of Islam, and their relations with the Arabian context, with the help of two types of materials - the Qur'an and Muslim tradition, and the archeological finds. First, I analyze the external and internal situations of pre-Islamic Arabia. Then, I discuss the conditions of Mecca and pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism, and their roles in the emergence of Islam. After that, I examine various monotheistic elements in Arabia that may form the origins of Islam, as well as the origins of God's names. Finally, I focus on the condition of Yathrib and the relation between the old monotheisms (Judaism and Christianity) and Islam. Mecca and Yathrib were two crucial places for the emergence of Islam. Due to the differences of their milieus, the early Muslims were persecuted by polytheists in Mecca, while Yathrib (later Medina) became an arena for polemics with the old monotheisms according to the Qur'an and Muslim tradition. Based on the simple Abrahamism that was once popular in northwest Arabian peripheries, Muhammad's new proposition of Abraham's religion and the Hanifiya may have played a key role in the emergence of Islam, producing a connection between his new monotheism and pre-Islamic Arabian history. The establishment of the Ka'ba in a central position in Islam, signalled the independence of early Islam from the old monotheisms. Later, the Arab Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia and the cultural and religious integration that followed added to the final shape of Islam. All these elements contributed to the origins of Islam.