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Patricia Crone

Abstract

This article is a contribution to the question how far there was continuity between ancient Near Eastern and Islamic culture. It focuses on the practice of using lot-casting to allocate inheritance shares, conquered land, and official functions, and briefly surveys the history of this practice from ancient through Hellenistic to pre-Islamic times in order to examine its Islamic forms as reflected in historical and legal sources. It is argued that the evidence does suggest continuity between the ancient and the Islamic Near East, above all in the first century of the hijra, but also long thereafter, if only at a fairly low level of juristic interest. The article concludes with some general consideration of the problems involved in the study of the two disconnected periods of Near Eastern history.

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Patricia Crone

Abstract

This article argues that Enoch and the ancient Near Eastern figure Atraḫasīs became indistinguishable at a popular level in pre-Islamic Iraq and that this is why Enoch came to be known as Idrīs, explained here as an Arabised version of a still unattested Aramaic form of Atraḫasīs. The exegetes may have been right when they identified the Qurʾānic Idrīs as Enoch, and they were at least half right when they identified Moses’ mysterious companion in sura 18 as al-Khiḍr, long recognised as another version of Atraḫasīs. In both cases they seem to be exhibiting a familiarity with the traditions behind the Qurʾān that they often lack in their interpretation of other Qurʾānic material.

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Patricia Crone

Abstract

This article examines the cosmological theories of the so-called Dahrīs and Zindīqs from their pre-Islamic roots until the fourth/tenth century, when they and their Muʿtazilite opponents ceased to be the predominant exponents of what we call natural science. Both Dahrīs and Zindīqs were empiricists, some in a dogmatist and others in a sceptical vein; both drew on ideas of pre-Islamic Greek and Iranian origin; and both left a deep imprint on the cosmology and epistemology of the Muʿtazilites (to whom we owe practically all our knowledge about them). Their beliefs can be followed well past the fourth/tenth century, but henceforth it was mostly as components of philosophy and (at least in post-Mongol Iran) of Sufism that they attracted attention.