Spotlight: Necronomicon – A Conversation with Prof. Isidore Rhodes

As part of our ongoing “Spotlight: Necronomicon” event, Miskatonic University is unveiling a series of interviews with esteemed faculty members who have offered their insights on individual chapters of the iconic tome. Delving deep into its labyrinthine pages, our experts share their analyses and revelations, which can be read in full by visiting the “Spotlight: Necronomicon” section on the university’s website.

For this story, the Miskatonic News team sat down with Prof. Isidore Rhodes from the Department of Ancient History. Prof. Rhodes’ thought-provoking essay, “The Hundredth Name: An Analysis of Abdul Alhazred’s Encounter with Ibn Ishaq in the Necronomicon,” offers insights into the historical and theological implications of one of the Necronomicon’s most stunning chapters.

Miskatonic News: Professor Rhodes, thank you for joining us today. Your recent essay on an explosive chapter within the Necronomicon has sparked considerable interest. Could you begin by quickly summarizing the chapter?

Prof. Rhodes: Certainly, the chapter in question from the Necronomicon is a remarkable piece that stands out for its intertwining of Islamic tradition with arcane and esoteric themes. It’s titled “The One Hundredth Name of God” and is attributed to the 8th-century figure Abdul Alhazred.

In this chapter, Alhazred narrates his encounter with Ibn Ishaq, a well-known historical Islamic scholar renowned for his biography of the Prophet Muhammad. However, the Necronomicon portrays him as a tormented figure, driven to the brink of madness by a revelation about the one hundredth name of God, a concept not found in traditional Islamic teachings.

This hundredth name, according to the Necronomicon, is “Azathoth”, a name that is completely absent from conventional Islamic discourse. It’s described as a powerful and secretive name, known only to a select few and feared even by ancient deities. The chapter vividly narrates Ibn Ishaq’s obsessive quest for this knowledge, which ultimately leads to his mental unraveling.

The chapter is significant not only for its content but also for its potential implications on our understanding of Islamic history and theology, especially considering the Necronomicon’s age and Alhazred’s authorship.

Miskatonic News: Before going deeper into the implications, let’s take a quick step back and look at Ibn Ishaq some more. Who is he, why is he important to Islamic historiography?

Prof. Rhodes: Ibn Ishaq, whose full name is Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar, was an early Islamic historian and hagiographer, born in Medina around 704 AD. He is of great significance to Islamic historiography primarily because of his work, “Sirat Rasul Allah” (The Life of the Messenger of God), which is considered one of the earliest and most comprehensive biographies of the Prophet Muhammad.

His work is crucial for a few reasons. First, it provides a detailed account of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, covering not only his personal and prophetic life but also the socio-political context of 7th-century Arabia. Second, Ibn Ishaq’s methodological approach was pioneering for his time. He collected oral traditions, eyewitness accounts, and had access to some written sources. This method laid the groundwork for future Islamic historians.

However, it’s important to note that Ibn Ishaq’s original work is not extant in its entirety today. What we know of it comes mainly through the later work of Ibn Hisham and other historians who edited and commented on his work. Ibn Hisham, living in the 9th century, admitted to excluding certain parts of Ibn Ishaq’s work that he deemed unauthentic or irrelevant.

Miskatonic News: Wait, if we know about Ibn Ishaq only through later authors like Ibn Hisham, and they didn’t write before the 9th century, does that mean that Abdul Alhazred is actually our earliest source for Ibn Ishaq?

Prof. Rhodes: Yes, that is a significant point to consider. Abdul Alhazred, the author of the Necronomicon, is believed to have written it before 738 AD, which is indeed earlier than the works of Ibn Hisham and other historians who transmitted Ibn Ishaq’s biography of the Prophet Muhammad. This means that the Necronomicon could in all likelihood be the earliest existing source that references Ibn Ishaq.

This is particularly intriguing because it suggests that our understanding of Ibn Ishaq, based primarily on later historians like Ibn Hisham, might only be a part of a larger, more complex picture. Alhazred’s account, which predates these later historians, presents a very different portrayal of Ibn Ishaq, one deeply entwined with esoteric and arcane themes.

This potential precedence of the Necronomicon as a source for Ibn Ishaq’s life and work could have profound implications for the study of early Islamic historiography and the origins of some of the traditions and narratives within it. It challenges us to reconsider the historical context in which these figures lived and the breadth of their intellectual and spiritual explorations.

Miskatonic News: You have previously said that the account from the Necronomicon mentions a 100th name of God. In what way would that change our understanding of Islamic history?

Prof. Rhodes: The mention of a 100th name of God in the Necronomicon could have significant implications for Islamic history and theology. In Islamic tradition, it is widely held that Allah has 99 names, each reflecting a different attribute of God. These names are well-documented and form a fundamental part of Islamic devotional practice.

The introduction of a 100th name, particularly one as esoteric as “Azathoth” as mentioned in the Necronomicon, challenges this long-standing belief. It suggests a hidden dimension to Islamic theology that has been overlooked or perhaps intentionally obscured throughout history.

From a historical perspective, if the Hadith about the 100th name in the Necronomicon is authentic, it indicates that early Islamic scholars like Ibn Ishaq were engaged in theological and metaphysical explorations far beyond what traditional narratives have told us. It implies that there might have been elements within early Islamic thought that delved into more arcane and mystical realms, which were later marginalized or lost in the mainstream Islamic discourse.

Furthermore, if this 100th name, “Azathoth”, a name with no grounding in Islamic tradition, were to be integrated into Islamic theology, it would represent a paradigm shift. It would introduce the notion that Islam, at its very core, might have connections to ancient, cosmic deities, fundamentally altering our understanding of the faith and its practices.

Such a revelation would not only be a matter of theological significance but also of historical and cultural importance, reshaping our understanding of the evolution of Islamic thought and its interaction with other, perhaps older, belief systems. It suggests that Islam, at its core, could be a cult of the Great Old Ones, with followers unknowingly serving their purpose. It would open up new avenues of research into the origins and development of Islamic theology and its relationship with the broader spectrum of religious and metaphysical thought in the ancient world.

Miskatonic News: What strikes me is that 99 is such an odd number, almost as if something was missing in order to get to a nice, round 100. But apart from this subjective feeling, in your professional opinion, do you believe that the story within the Necronomicon is authentic? Do we have to rewrite history?

Prof. Rhodes: Your observation about the number 99 is quite astute and has been a subject of curiosity in both religious and academic circles. In Islamic tradition, the number 99 is significant and is often seen as symbolic, reflecting the multifaceted nature of God. However, the idea of a ‘missing’ name to round it to 100 is an intriguing proposition and certainly adds a layer of mystery.

Regarding the authenticity of the Necronomicon’s narrative, as an academic, I approach such matters with a healthy balance of skepticism and open-mindedness. The Necronomicon, particularly the chapter in question, presents a narrative deeply infused with esoteric and mystical elements that starkly contrast with mainstream Islamic teachings.

The authenticity of such a narrative is challenging to ascertain. There are several factors to consider, such as the historical context of Abdul Alhazred, the textual integrity of the Necronomicon, and its alignment or divergence from known historical and religious texts. The lack of corroborating sources from the same period further complicates the matter.

Yet, based on my research, it seems plausible that Abdul Alhazred’s account is indeed authentic. The structure of the Hadith, its narrators, and the depth of esoteric knowledge it contains all point to a level of authenticity that warrants serious consideration. This certainly opens up new avenues for inquiry and could potentially lead to a re-evaluation of certain aspects of Islamic history.

Miskatonic News: Thank you, Professor Rhodes, for this enlightening discussion. Your work certainly invites us to reconsider the depths of historical knowledge.

Prof. Rhodes: You’re very welcome, and thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure discussing these intriguing aspects of history and theology with you. If there’s one thing my research into the Necronomicon and its narratives has taught me, it’s that history is a vast and often untapped well of knowledge, filled with mysteries waiting to be explored. I encourage everyone to approach history with an open mind and a healthy curiosity. Who knows what new understandings we might uncover in our quest for knowledge? Keep exploring, and thank you again for this engaging conversation.

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