Sunday, July 19, 2015

Patricia Crone is dead

One may not like the work or conclusions of Patricia Crone but she can't be dismissed or ignored. I enjoyed reading her although I was put off by her methodology and her political agenda. Her hostility to Islam and Muslims became harder to mask over the years, in her essays or book reviews.  The weakness of her methodology in her studies of early Islam is this: she is highly skeptical of Arab and Islamic sources but she is not equally skeptical of non-Arab and non-Islamic sources especially if they fit her conclusions (and her conclusions sometimes appear to precede her research).  She, as is known, later admitted that Hagarism contained many mistakes, or that there was "a lot" of it and in it that was wrong.  Crone chose Bernard Lewis as her dissertation adviser and the choice, in the climate of Middle Eastern studies, is telling politically speaking.  I don't criticize Crone as an Orientalist, but as more hostile and agenda-driven (obsessed really) than the classical Orientalist.  The worst is that for someone who is so skeptical of Islamic and Arab sources on Islam, she did not dismiss out of hand nor did she refute the joke of a book by one Israeli archeologist (with a BA in archeology), Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren (she is a publicity expert, I think, but certainly not a scholar), Crossroads to Islam: The Origins of the Arab religion and the Arab State.  The book is comparable to to literature of hate of Holocaust denial, and it basically denies the historical existence of Muhammad and the Islamic conquests, and claims that the religion was invented much later.  I felt that Crone liked the book for the politically provocative message.  But she was diligent: that you can't deny.