Full Text

Islam, Orthodoxy and

TIMOTHY J. BECKER


Subject History » Religious History
Religion » Christianity, Islam

Period 1 - 999 CE, 1000 - 1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


Extract

Orthodoxy has existed alongside Islam since the time of Muhammad. From the 7th century to the 21st, from Arabia and Anatolia to America, the two faiths have played decisive roles in each other's histories. From the outset, Christians were influential. Arab Christians introduced the Arabic writing used in the Qur'an and it was interactions with Ethiopian and Arab Christians in south Arabia that shaped Muhammad's conception of what Christianity was. When Islam emerged from Arabia in 632 ce it encountered an Orthodox Byzantine Empire extending east to Armenia and south to Egypt. Within a decade, Islamic armies had gained control of the major centers of the Middle East, including such major Christian centers of learning as Damascus, Jerusalem, Antioch, Caesarea, Edessa, Ctesiphon, Dwin, and Alexandria. Much of the conquest came through negotiated terms of peace rather than physical destruction, as the cities lacked necessary defenses. The Byzantine army, unprepared for the organized Arab Muslim force, had retreated to Asia Minor. What remained was the long pilgrimage under Islamic rule of the Orthodox patriarchates of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch, and that of the Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East. Life for Christians under Islam was a mixed reality. As fellow monotheists and “People of the Book” ( ahl al-kitāb) with the Jews, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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