On the Religion of Pre-Islamic Arabs


Ludolf Krehl (1825‒1901) was a German Orientalist and librarian. He was born in Meissen, Saxony, and studied oriental languages at the universities of Leipzig, Tübingen, and Paris. Shown here is the first edition (1863) of Krehl’s Über die Religion der vorislamischen Araber (On the religion of the pre-Islamic Arabs), a treatise investigating the belief systems of the Arabs before the advent of Islam. Krehl states in the introduction that the book is an attempt to “explain and substantiate the inner context of some of the most salient phenomena of the pre-Islamic religion of the Arabs.” He argues that the rise of the Arab empire after Muhammad was too quick to be solely attributed to the new “strong bond of a monotheistic religion” and that the empire’s rapid expansion “proves how vital and compelling” the power of the pre-Islamic belief of the Arabs must have been. The sources Krehl used include Herodotus’s writings on the Persians, pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, Arabic genealogical tables, al-Shahrastani’s Al-milal wa al-niḥal (The book of sects and creeds), al-Qazwini’s‘Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt (The wonders of creation), and Yaqut Al-Hamawi’s Mu'jam al-Buldan (The dictionary of countries). The book contains an appendix (pages 81‒92) of quotations in Arabic from sources used in the work. Together with Reinhart Dozy, Gustave Dugat, and William Wright, Krehl was also the co-editor of Analectes sur l'histoire et la littérature des Arabes d'Espagne, par al-Makkari (Analects on the history and literature of the Arabs of Spain, by al-Makkari), an 1855 edition of the first part of Nafḥ aṭ-ṭīb (The breath of perfume), a major Arabic history of Andalusia by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Maqqari (circa 1578–1632).

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Serig, Leipzig

Title in Original Language

Über die Religion der vorislamischen Araber

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Physical Description

92 pages ; 25 centimeters

Last updated: March 17, 2016