By Michael Philip Penn
The 1st Christians to come across Islam weren't Latin-speakers from the western Mediterranean or Greek-speakers from Constantinople yet Mesopotamian Christians who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. lower than Muslim rule from the 7th century onward, Syriac Christians wrote the main wide descriptions extant of early Islam. Seldom translated and infrequently passed over from glossy old reconstructions, this enormous physique of texts unearths a classy and evolving variety of non secular and cultural exchanges that came about from the 7th to the 9th century.
The first book-length research of those earliest encounters, Envisioning Islam highlights the methods those overlooked texts problem the fashionable scholarly narrative of early Muslim conquests, rulers, and spiritual perform. analyzing Syriac assets together with letters, theological tracts, medical treatises, and histories, Michael Philip Penn unearths a tradition of considerable interreligious interplay within which the specific limitations among Christianity and Islam have been extra ambiguous than precise. the range of historic Syriac pictures of Islam, he demonstrates, revolutionizes our figuring out of the early Islamic international and demanding situations frequent cultural assumptions concerning the heritage of completely adversarial Christian-Muslim family.
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Additional resources for Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World
And the South will prosper. They will trample Persia with the hooves of their armies’ horses and subdue it. And they will devastate Rome. None will be able to stand before them because [this] was commanded them by the holy one of heaven. Brought to you by | New York University Bobst Library Technical Services Authenticated Download Date | 6/30/15 1:05 PM 32 C ha pter 1 This fourth kingdom consisting of the people of the South would cause the people of the North to suffer greatly, especially under constant demands for tribute.
Like many Syriac authors of the previous generation, John wrote in the genre of a chronicle. Nevertheless, John’s chronicle focused not on what happened during the conquests but on why the conquests happened in the first place. Just one sentence into his conquest narrative, he presented the explanatory framework that would dominate his understanding of the rise of Islam: Indeed, we should not consider their coming to be ordinary. For it was a divine deed. Prior to summoning them, He had previously prepared them to hold Christians in honor.
96 Nevertheless, several long-term developments in the early Abbasid period shaped the fortunes of all Syriac communities between 750 and the mid-ninth century. The most important of these was greater contact between Syriac Christians and early Muslims. These interactions took place on a number of levels. In 767, the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur moved the capital of the Islamic empire from Damascus to the newly constructed city of Baghdad. This move was particularly advantageous for East Syrian Christians because Baghdad was located just a few kilometers from Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the traditional seat of their catholicos.
Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World by Michael Philip Penn