The Location of the Qur’anic Revelation

Patricia Crone notes:

In addition, the Qur’an twice describes its opponents as living in the site of a vanished nation, that is to say a town destroyed by God for its sins. There were many such ruined sites in northwest Arabia. The prophet frequently tells his opponents to consider their significance and on one occasion remarks, with reference to the remains of Lot’s people, that “you pass by them in the morning and in the evening”. This takes us to somewhere in the Dead Sea region. Respect for the traditional account has prevailed to such an extent among modern historians that the first two points have passed unnoticed until quite recently, while the third has been ignored. The exegetes said that the Quraysh passed by Lot’s remains on their annual journeys to Syria, but the only way in which one can pass by a place in the morning and the evening is evidently by living somewhere in the vicinity.

This is fascinating. How could these revelations have occurred in Mecca or Medina if the people hearing them passed by Sodom in the morning and evening?

3 thoughts on “The Location of the Qur’anic Revelation”

  1. I have no interest in saving the traditional account (although if it were debunked I would have to revise a lesson or two in my Middle East history course), but here is a possible solution. Since Arabs believed that Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba, could the Sodom and Gomorra story have been relocated to Arabia in Arab tales?

    1. That thought occurred to me. I wonder if they could have pointed to a different set of ruins in the same way that Joseph Smith located the Garden of Eden in Missouri? It’s possible I guess. I’d like to know more, as that seems like a stretch to me.

  2. I should probably say “may have believed” that about the Kaaba. I imagine that it’s really hard to reconstruct what pre-Islamic Arabs believed. But it seems like the Arabian peninsula was influenced by various Jewish and Christian groups before Muhammad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.