Dan Gibson believes that four times in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs united and burst forth from the deserts conquering other nations. The first is described in the Qur'an as the people of 'Ad. The Bible describes these as an alliance of tribes led by the Edomites, living in the land of 'Uz. The Egyptians described them as Hyksos, or shepherd kings who invaded Egypt. By combining these three identities together, Gibson sees evidence of this powerful alliance from archeological remains in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen and Oman. In the end the Egyptians crush the alliance and the remaining tribes disperse and become small, isolated tribes in the desert.
Eventually Arabia unites again, this time under the leadership of the Midianites. The Qur'anic and the Biblical records clearly remember when the tribes united under Midianite leadership and challenged the nations outside of the peninsula. This time they meet their defeat in the Levant.
Many centuries later, the tribes of Ishmael take leadership, this time under the direction of the Nabataean tribe, descendants of the eldest son of Ishmael. This empire would be different, for the backbone of this empire was trade not military force. The Qur'an calls them the people of Thamud, meaning after 'Ud. The Jews called them Nabataeans, and the Romans simply refer to them as Arabs. In 106 AD the northern part of their kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire and eventually they faded from view.
It was not until 600 AD that the Arabian Peninsula was again united, this time under the flag of Islam. Once again the tribes of Arabia burst from the deserts challenging the surrounding nations. This time they will not be easily defeated, and their armies march to China in the east, Spain in the west, and Vienna in the north.
But there is more to this book than a study of the four times
when the Arabs demonstrated their greatness. This book also examines
the geographical references in the Qur'an cross-referencing them
with historical locations. The surprise comes when Gibson examines
the Holy City of Islam, known as Mecca. Here Gibson finds evidence
that the original Holy City was in northern Arabia in the city
of Petra. He theorizes that during an Islamic civil war one hundred
years after Muhammad, the Ka'ba was destroyed and the Black Rock
was moved to its present location. Gibson examines archaeological,
historical and literary evidence that support this theory and
addresses many questions and objections that readers may have.
This book contains many references, as well as some useful appendices including a 32 page time line of Islamic history from 550 AD - 1095 AD, and a 20 page annotated selected bibliography of early Islamic sources in chronological order from 724 AD - 1100 AD plus a list of many early Qur'anic manuscripts. Over 470 pages, highly illustrated with index. Hard cover (no dust jacket)
This remarkable work investigates in great detail the history and evolution of many of the tribes and cultures of Arabia and adjacent lands and their contact and trade with regions as distant as China. Gibson presents new, but well-researched, theories on many historical events which still affect our world today. These range from the development of navigation, overland and maritime trade routes and, perhaps, most controversially, his convincingly argued proposal that Petra was the original Holy City of Islam which was later shifted to Mecca. His careful use of Biblical and Islamic literature, historical and archaeological data, is wonderfully informed by some thirty years of study and travel in the Middle East. With his family, he lived some years among the Bedouin in the desert near Petra, where he got to know the people and the region intimately. This well-presented book is generously illustrated with excellent photos, maps, diagrams and tables, which are of great assistance to following and clarifying the text. .... John E. Hill, author of Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE, Cooktown, Queensland, Australia