The Hidden Origins of Islam looks at numerous scholars whose studies include early religious era of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The book was reviewed and edited by Karl-Heinz Ohliq who at the time of publishing was a professor emeritus of Religious Studies and the History of Christianity at the University of Saarland, chairman of the Inarah Institute for Research into the Early History of Islam. The other editor was Gerd-R. Puin, a retired research associate at the University of the Saarland, who is an expert on the historical orthography of the Quran.
The book puts forth that despite the belief in Muhammad and the creation of Islam, that there is little known on the person and that the origins of the Quran have an ASTOUNDING lack of verifiable biographical material. In fact the only history that can be attributed to him occurred nearly two centuries after his death at a time when a powerful, expansive empire had become synonymous with his name and vision resulting in an exaggerated and often artificial characterization of the prophetic figure coupled with many questionable interpretations of the holy book of Islam.
Many of the artifacts can now be seen in a different light which embraces the Syrian Arabic theology which has Christian roots. Even the pre-Islam coins and the Inscription in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem utilizes symbols that have a basis in Christian theology.
In Chapter One: The Early History of Islam Following Inscriptional and Numismatic Testimony by Volker Popper it discusses the fiction of a unified history of early Islam. This chapter discusses several notable issues such as the Building inscriptions, the Titulatures , the system of dating, the Religious Formulae, The Servant of God, the understanding of the formation of a new movement of Islam.
In the Building Inscriptions it is found that they their function as the ruler was the leader of the protectors and is the highest guarantor of tribal justice with the title having no religious meaning whatsoever.
As for the coins the title Khalifat Allah (“Speaker of God”) first appears in inscription at the time of Abd-al-Malik. The title was to function as an answer to the Byzantine imperial protocol of the time which had began to emperor as “servus Dei.” It was during Al-Ma’ mun that the title next appears in coin inscription in the year 201 AE (Arabian Era) or 817 CE (Common Era) and he had also taken on the title of Iman 194 AE or 810 CE. there was no title of Caliphs at this time and this reference appears to be later retrojected (sent backwards) into a mythical early period.
Now the system of dating shows there is an impossibility that the dating was changed after the Arabian festival calendar which ushered in the era of the prophet of the Arabians. This is due to the fact that the Hijra of the prophet is not mentioned in the inscriptions. Also discussed is the inscriptions of Muawiya from the years 42 AE to 58 AE that no religious formulae was used and that Basmala does not appear as an opening formula. The first datable reference to a change in the religious state of affairs is in the Dome of the Rock at the year 72 AE under Abd al-Malik but it discussion is upon Jesus as an apostle of God.
In this region of the Syrian theology during Abd-al-Malik reign , no one was talking at all about narrowing the Christological discourse to focus on the question of whether Jesus was Muhammad, this is, on praised/chose among humans, and consequently also “abd Allah”, a servant of God. Jesus was just Muhammad. However outsiders might have thought that the dawa for the recognition of Jesus as Muhammad (a title) was an issue between two brothers and posed a conflict. Now during the reign of Abd al-Malik’s sons, the mission concept of Jesus as the Muhammad was already an element of the past in Syria while those still working to carrying the banner of this originally eastern dawa were still working to establish their ideas in the western portion of the Arabian Empire and so the split is posed. In 125 AE the last of the sons of Abd al- Malik dies about 741 CE. This lead to the erosion of the theocratic authority which further developed “The chosen one” (Muhammad) as a noble (Ali) and there begins the myth. It should be noted that even in the year 135 AE that it was found on the shrine of Medina that would later be called the grave of the prophet shows the text of this inscription that again mentions Jesus as a Muhammadan and it repeats the definition of Jesus as “servant of God and apostle” from the inscription on the Dome of the Rock . At this point the movement which stood for the establishment of an understanding of Jesus as the “chose/praised servant of God” disintegrated. During the rule of Abbasid caliph al Ma’mun, around 217-218 AE or 832-833 CE, the conception of a Muhammad bn “Abd Allah” (the Praised One, son of the Servent of God” ) as a messenger of God became anchored in the realm of a new national-religious movement of the understanding of Islam.
So it begins… in the next chapters more points of views will be discussed. However I think for now this is a good place to stop and think about what this book in this first chapter postulates.