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Witnesses to a World CrisisHistorians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century$
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James Howard-Johnston

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208593.001.0001

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The Middle East in the Seventh Century

The Middle East in the Seventh Century

The Great Powers, Arabia, and the Prophet

(p.436) 14 The Middle East in the Seventh Century
Witnesses to a World Crisis

James Howard‐Johnston

Oxford University Press

Attention is turned first to the Persians' near‐destruction of the east Roman empire (603–26), and the Romans' near‐miraculous recovery (626–8). Arabia can be seen to have been affected in two ways: a unitary client‐management system under new leadership was introduced in the north, once the Persians were confident of gaining control of the whole of the Fertile Crescent; and eschatological anxiety percolated into Arabia. Muhammad's Prophetic career is then traced before and after the hijra (emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622). Key elements in the message which he conveyed to mankind are picked out. The spotlight is then trained on the great crisis in the early history of the umma (Muslim community) following the Meccan siege of Medina in 627 and the difficult decision to incorporate the pagan Meccan sanctuary into the new religion, taken by Muhammad as the only way to achieve a reconciliation with his home city.

Keywords:   Persians, Romans, Arabia, Muhammad, hijra, Mecca, Medina, umma, pagan, sanctuary

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