Fred M. Donner
Fred M. Donner, Professor of Near Eastern History.
"Fred Donner's early interest in the role of pastoral nomadic groups in Near Eastern societies led him to write a dissertation on the role of Arabian pastoral nomadic groups in the early Islamic conquest movement in Iraq in the seventh century C.E. His first book, The Early Islamic Conquests (Princeton University Press, 1981), examined this question in more detail, particularly the relationship between pastoral nomads and the state, as well as the more general processes of state-formation and state-expansion that, he thinks, were an integral part of the early conquest movement. He has also written several articles dealing with the question of pastoral nomads and their place in the history of the region.
"Close work with the sources for this early period of Islamic history, and the profound questions about the reliability of these sources raised by revisionist scholarship that has appeared since 1977, led Donner to a long-term examination of those sources. This resulted in several shorter studies and culminated in his Narratives of Islamic Origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing (Darwin Press, 1998).
"More recently, Donner's interests have shifted to the intellectual or ideological factors that were at play in the early expansion of Islam, particularly the significance of militant piety, possibly rooted in an apocalyptic outlook. He is currently at work on a general study of Islamic origins that will attempt to sketch the outlines of this epochal historical process.
"His teaching at the University of Chicago focuses on early Islamic history, Islamic social history, and aspects of Islamic law."