26 November, 2015

Episode 001 - Pre-Islamic Arabia I [Episode Guide]


Before Julius Caesar was assassinated in the senate, he had plans to go and conquer the Parthians. What would the world look like today if Julius Caesar had managed to add Persia to the Roman Empire the same way he conquered Gaul?

The beginning of the end for Napoleon Bonaparte was the ill fated invasion of Russia and the infamous march on Moscow in 1812. If Napoleon had won, he would have united the majority of Europe. What would the world look like today if we had a united Europe that early in the 19th century, the possibilities are endless! Firstly, would we have witnessed the World Wars? Would America be the runaway, dominant, rival less, superpower that it is today? Would de-colonisation have occurred? The World Wars were a huge factor in disassembling the world's empires. A little food for thought...


Click on any image to enlarge it, a collection of all images posted on the site can be found on the gallery page.

Satellite Image of the Arabian Peninsula 

Map of the Arabian and surrounding tectonic plates

Map showing  the cultivated land in Arabia.
(History of The Arabs - Philip K. Hitti)


The quote used in the podcast was from a book published in 1900 called: Arabia, The Cradle of Islam. It was written by an America missionary called Samuel M. Zwemer, regardless of the obvious bias his accounts of his and others travels through Arabia are a fascinating read that I was surprised by. So for that I would recommend for any of you that are interested in giving it a read, it is available for free on Archive.org (link below).


For those of you who have never witnessed a flash flood it quite easy to dismiss the raw power that they possess, and it is really quite incredible the way a small trickle of water can quite quickly turn into a raging torrent. Here are a few exhibits of their strength:


This site http://nabataea.net/marib.html has some pretty good photos of the ruins of the old Ma'rib Dam.


Here are some useful maps of Arabia and the surrounding regions.

Arabian Peninsula, its geographical features and major settlements (The Early Islamic Conquests - Fred M. Donner)

Arabian Peninsula (The War of the Three Gods Romans, Persians, and the Rise of Islam - Peter Crawford)

Great map that allows you to see the elevation of the land and the contrast between the East and the West of the Arabian Peninsula (Fortune Magazine 1951 - Richard E. Harrison)

The Near East, indicating the 200mm rainfall line anything below this line is considered desert (Greg Fisher - Between Empires)

Geography of Mediterranean and Near Eastern world showing elevation (The New Cambridge History of Islam Vol.1)
This map was produced using accounts of mainly Greek writers, so the areas highlighted are where the Arabians were said to have inhabited (Arabs and Empire before Islam)


This is the book I mentioned in the footnotes/appendix segment in relation to the hip-hop bit in the introduction of the episode:

The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-hop and the Gods of New York by Michael Muhammad Knight




  1. Hello sir, I have just listened to the first two episodes - well, the introduction and the first episode - and I am really impressed!
    Your style is already very polished, and the first episode is very interesting (although I confess that I loved the THOR episodes that discussed the everyday life and other aspects of the Romans other than advancing the story).
    I'll be anxiously waiting for the next episodes.

    PS. Though I must agree with the person on reddit (where I found about the show) about the player. For some reason, when I am listening to the episode using the player Firefox simply freezes, apart from the player. Well, I'll just download the episodes then.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      All I can do is recommend Google Chrome, as this seems to be an issue only on Firefox.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi, could you tell us all of your readings ? Like what books/articles did you use ? Thank you!

    I also liked the episode. Good job!

    1. Hi, thank you for your comment and for listening!

      As I said in the introduction episode, as we go a bit deeper into the podcast I'm going to add a bibliography that will list all the books used in my research and books I recommend. Right now I just need to figure out how I'm going to design the menu bar on the blog as there are too many pages and not enough space.

      If there is anything specific from the episode that you want to know what source I got it from, send me a message on the contact page and I'll let you know.

  4. First - I love the podcast - I've been waiting for something like this for years, and I'm really glad you're embarking upon it. Thank you for putting in so much effort.

    My reason for commenting - I'm not sure if this is a shared sentiment, but I feel that using biblical stories as historical evidence is wrong. If there's literally no other source for the value of frankincense and myrrh - perhaps the bible is better than nothing - but I'm sure you're aware that the events surrounding Jesus' birth are disputed, and so the Wise Men's gifts may never have been given. In my opinion, religious texts should be treated as examples of prevalent attitudes at the time of writing, but not as literal accounts - and I hope that'll be your stance going onward.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I will answer your comment in the footnotes section of the next episode. By the way in the future if you have a query that you would prefer a quicker answer to, message me on the contact page so I can reply to you directly via email.

    2. I believe questions and answers are better placed here in the comments so everyone cab read and benefit from them.

  5. Hello! I just started listening to this podcast. I've wanted to learning more about the Middle East for a while now, and this seems like a great place to build a good foundation of knowledge about, well, its foundations. I liked your descriptions about the land and about Octavian's struggles with conquering Arabia. I felt like I was there watching everything, and it also put in perspective the harshness of the climate. I find it fascinating that although we usually hear how humans have a strong impact on the earth, we don't often hear how climate, resources, and topography have such a strong cultural impact on us. Long story short, I'm enjoying myself and I'm looking forward to learning more!

  6. Hey, Thanks for doing this. I've just completed this and listened to some of the intro, im excited to see whats ahead.

    maybe some critiques, nothing harsh. I'm enjoying the content.

    When you read the letter of someone describing something... the echo/reverb on your voice took away from what you read, the echo specifcally lasted too long. The storm in the background with great.
    ~ after the letter was read, i didnt get back on track with what you were talking about.

    I think thats it, I enjoyed listening to this to say the least.
    It's great to have this kind of content in a podcast, are these published on youtube/ have you thought about it?


    1. Thank you for your feedback, I will definitely keep it in mind for the future.

  7. I just want to say how very helpful these podcasts are to me in my endevour to understand Islam. I just jumped in and listened to all episodes to catch up. Now I am going through a second time to be sure that I didn't miss one valuable second. The maps and notes on the blog are exceedingly helpful as well. Thank you so much for providing these resources

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, I am glad you enjoyed the podcast!
      Also, thank you for your generous donation, really appreciate the support.

  8. Very nice work. I learnt more about Islam history from this Podcast than my entire schooling in Arab countries ! Anyway , we always referred to Likhmads in current day Iraq as Manatherah. Also, there was no mention anywhere throughout my school years or afterwards of Waraqah Ibn Nofel n his possible Christian faith. First I heard of him was watching a series on MBC called Omar (highly recommended ).

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  11. Episode 001 - Pre-Islamic Arabia I [Episode Guide] ... for free on Archive.org (link below). Arabia, the Cradle of Islam - by Samuel M. Zwemer ...