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The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran
Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism

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  • Author: Patricia Crone, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107642386


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About the Authors
  • Patricia Crone's book is about the Iranian response to the Muslim penetration of the Iranian countryside, the revolts subsequently triggered there and the religious communities that these revolts revealed. The book also describes a complex of religious ideas that, however varied in space and unstable over time, has demonstrated a remarkable persistence in Iran across a period of two millennia. The central thesis is that this complex of ideas has been endemic to the mountain population of Iran and occasionally become epidemic with major consequences for the country, most strikingly in the revolts examined here and in the rise of the Safavids who imposed Shi'ism on Iran. This learned and engaging book by one of the most influential scholars of early Islamic history casts entirely new light on the nature of religion in pre-Islamic Iran and on the persistence of Iranian religious beliefs both outside and inside Islam after the Arab conquest.

    • Casts new light on the nature of religion in pre-Islamic Iran and the persistence of Iranian beliefs both outside and inside Islam after the Arab conquest
    • A sophisticated and fluently written book by one of the most influential scholars of early Islamic history
    • For Islamicists, Iranianists, comparative historians and sociologists of empire, historians of early Christianity and Gnosticism
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    • Winner of the 2013 James Henry Breasted Prize, American Historical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'What needs to be stressed about The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran is that it is a book of rare intellectual courage. It is written in such a way that we are left in no doubt as to the momentous issues that were at stake in this procession of seemingly bizarre creeds and persons, in a land which, for most outsiders of the time (Arab Muslims quite as much as Byzantine Christians), was as distant and majestic as the face of the moon … Patricia Crone's book has made this battle intelligible and vivid to us, and as real and urgent, in its wider implications, as if it had happened only yesterday.' Times Literary Supplement

    'The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran is the story of an immense and mysterious landscape, intermittently rocked, throughout the late antique and early Islamic periods (effectively from around 250 to 850 AD), by detonations of religious fervor sparked by social unrest … The thrill of this book is that it brings the Iranian world into the mainstream of late antique history. Iran is seen as yet another participant in the religious and intellectual upheavals of the time.' The New York Review of Books

    'One of Patricia Crone's achievements in her magnificent book on Iran in the aftermath of the Islamic conquest is to shed new light on sex on the Iranian plateau … using sources, besides Herodotus, that range from hostile Muslim missionaries to Buddhist pilgrims, she establishes that polyandry, the lending of wombs, and the renting of inseminators were not uncommon and that incestuous marriage was encouraged under Zoroastrian law.' Christopher de Bellaigue, Common Knowledge

    'Crone's Nativist Prophets is a tour de force of data collection from primary sources and scholarly publications. It presents much fascinating information about localized discontents, specific beliefs, and marginal practices.' Jamsheed K. Choksy, Journal of the American Oriental Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107642386
    • length: 586 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. The Revolts:
    2. The Jibal: Sunbadh, the Muslimiyya
    3. Azerbaijan: Babak
    4. Khurasan: Muhammira, Khidashiyya, Rawandiyya, Harithiyya
    5. Sogdia and Turkestan: Ishaq
    6. Sogdia: al-Muqanna and the Mubayyida
    7. South-eastern Iran: Bihafaridh, Ustadh Sis, and Yusuf al-Barm
    8. The nature of the revolts
    9. The aftermath
    Part II. The Religion:
    10. God, cosmology, and eschatology
    11. Divine indwelling
    12. Reincarnation
    13. Ethos, organisation, overall character
    14. Khurrami beliefs in pre-Islamic sources
    15. Regional and official Zoroastrianism: doctrines
    16. Regional and official Zoroastrianism on the ground
    Part III. Women and Property:
    17. 'Wife-sharing'
    18. The Mazdakite utopia and after
    Part IV. Conclusion:
    19. Iranian religion versus Islam and inside it

  • Author

    Patricia Crone, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
    Patricia Crone is Mellon Professor of Islamic History, School of Historical Studies, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton. Her numerous publications include Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (1980, 2003), God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam, coauthored with Martin Hinds (1986, 2003), Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World (1989, 2003) and God's Rule: Government and Islam: Six Centuries of Medieval Islamic Political Thought (2005).


    • Winner of the 2013 James Henry Breasted Prize, American Historical Association
    • Winner of the 2013 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle Eastern Studies Association
    • Winner of the 2013 Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award, Middle Eastern Studies Association
    • Winner of the 2013 CESS Book Award, Central Eurasian Studies Society

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