jThe issue of “Makkan Trade and the Rise of Isalm”


  1. The Historiographic Challenge
  2. The Methodological Confrontation.

Crone’s work theorized that Arabian trade, based on the spice trade did not follow the coventional thinking about trade during the sixth and seventh centuries. “both composition and direction of Hijazi-Najdi trade in the era leading up to the rise of Islam were not as they have been commonly portrayed.” P. 547 paragraph 1. So, how was it commonly portrayed before that?  The argument against Crone was mainly based on the theory that the absense of references about trade meant that there was no trade, probably since Arabic traders were fairly careful to write down and keep logs of their businesses. P. 547

Negative evidence.

Seventy five per cent of modern Saudi governmental revenues come from the oil business.

She is accused by Serjeant misinterpreting sources, misunderstanding and at times using incorrect translations of Arabic. P.547 content note.

Heck regards early Islamic sources as “anecdotal” because they are based mostly on oral traditions handed down. These sources cannot be trusted by the serious historian to be accurate unless these are the only sources that are available. Therein lies the problem. They are the only ones available. P. 548 1st paragraph

Heck explains the problem of fragmentary sources referring to Crone and Serjant. Both researchers describe the available sources as less than adequate. Heck tends to agree calling the method of extracting history this way as “recreating the elephant by feeling the dimensions of the trunk.” Heck makes the point that engaging in history using limited trade data  can lead to false conclusions. In other words speculation in history is not reliable.. p. 548 paragraph two.

“It is not what early Makkan trade as not but what it was, that merits further scrutiny. Yet comprehending its composition also requires as understanding of the economic base from which it wa derived. For what the sources do describe as indicated, is a substantial ,., economically consequential, trade in fundamental staples: consumer and industrial goods that the contemporary Hijaz unquestionably did produce.” P. 550. possible thesis. End of first paragraph.

Sources during this period are sometimes so sketchy that differing sources create overlaps in the historical narrative. He uses two engagements to make his point, al-Qaradah and al-Is which took place in 6 A.H. Several of the sources are not together on who was where exactly but they all agree that certain historical individuals did take some role in these large caravans. Sketchy but when one looks at it with scrutiny it is not hard to see how a reasonable narrative can take shape. P. 203-204.

  1. the Issues in Question and the Tools Needed to Address Them

Crone uses recurring themes to justify evidence. P. 553 paragraph 3


The Preeminence of Precious Metals p.554.

Heck agrees with Crone’s assertion that by the sixth century Meccan trade had lost the vitality that it had in earlier centuries since the advent of Christianity. However Heck insists that she is not seeing the other side of the picture. While the spice trade might have been dwindling it was being replaced Heck argues by prescious metals.


The Question of An “Arabia without Spices” ( instead with gold and silver)

  1. The Framework for Debate.

Heck argues that “scientific evaluation must transcend historiographic revisionism” in order to complete an historical picture that is as accurate as possible. P. 558 paragraph 2.


Defining the Economic Dynamic of the First/seventh-century Hijaz.

  1. the Productivity of Agriculture.
  2. The Output of Manufacturing.
  1. Jewelry smithing
  2. Blacksmithing
  • Tanning and Leather-Making
  1. Textiles and Weaving
  2. Perfumes

Unraveling the  “Coals to Newcastle” Enigma

  1. The role of Multi-directional Trade in Forging the Medieval Hijazi Economic Dynamic.


The sources make clear that expansive early medieval Hijazi trade was my no means a myth. Heck asserts productivity expanded through all the trades and industries listed above and farming. P. 573 paragraph 2.

2.The role of POilfrimage in Shaping Makkan Trade.

Mobile oil corporation –joke

Play on words for the trade movement of oils from Syria by caravan.

The Haj was a great motivator in driving the economy. During the off season Heck describes the economy as more or less holding its own but during the season of the Haj more voluminous imports were required to accommodate the large numbers of consumers now in the area.

Crone ends her book by adding modestly: “this is a book in which little has been learnt and much unlearnt.”

Crone and others have called for new analytic tools to examine the extant body of finite evidence. P. 562 paragraph 4.

The story of the raids at qurada and Is;

Crone contends that the two primary documents from Ibin ishaq and al-waqidi constitutes a doublet. Crone’s word for a first rate documentary evidence. P. 552 content quote. Heck disagrees asserting that the evidence shows two different incidences. P. 553 paragraph 3

Crone details compelling evidence of miracle stories attributed to the prophet Mufhammad. Heck agrees with it. P. 553 paragraph 3

Oral traditions characteristically common p. 548 paragraph  1.


Jewish community examiner

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