The Religion and Rituals of the Nomads of Pre-Islamic Arabia

A Reconstruction Based on the Safaitic Inscriptions


This book approaches the religion and rituals of the pre-Islamic Arabian nomads using the Safaitic inscriptions. Unlike Islamic-period literary sources, this material was produced by practitioners of traditional Arabian religion; the inscriptions are eyewitnesses to the religious life of Arabian nomads prior to the spread of Judaism and Christianity across Arabia. The author attempts to reconstruct this world using the original words of its inhabitants, interpreted through comparative philology, pre-Islamic and Islamic-period literary sources, and the archaeological context.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad, Ph.D. (2012), Harvard University, is Universitair Hoofddocent in Islamic Origins at the University of Groningen. He has published on inscriptions, writing cultures, and religions of Ancient Arabia and their reception in Islamic-period literary sources, as well as on the comparative grammar of the Semitic languages.
List of Illustrations

1 Introduction
 1 Religion and the Inscriptions of the Pre-Islamic Nomads: From Thamudic B to Safaitic
 2 Scope and Methodology

2 Rites
 1 Animal Sacrifice
 2 Erection of the nṣb Stone
 3 The Ritual Shelter
 4 The Pilgrimage
 5 Ritual Purity
 6 Offerings
 7 Vows and Oaths
 8 Sacred Water

3 Divinities and Their Roles in the Lives of Humans
 1 Location of the Deities
 2 The Gadds
 3 The Gods and Their Worshippers
 4 Sin, Obedience, and Repentance?
 5 Malignant Magic

4 Fate

5 Afterlife
 1 Burial Installations
 2 Invoking the Names of the Dead

6 Visual Representation of Deities and the Divine World

7 Amplification and Why Write

8 Worldview—A Reconstruction

Appendix 1: Glossary of Divinities
Appendix 2: Previously Unpublished Inscriptions
Anyone interested in the religion and culture of pre-Islamic Arabia and the ancient Near East.
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