Byzantium and Islam

Collected Studies on Byzantine-Muslim Encounters

Arabs and the Middle East were among the first to embrace Christianity, leaving their print on its culture. Thus Byzantium, by geography and culture, encountered Islam at its birth. No wonder that many saw and treated Islam as a contemporary Christian “heresy” – whatever the word may connote. Radical events fill the history of Byzantium (330-1453) encountering the world of Islam: conquests, wars, cultural and diplomatic relations, manifestations of mutual admiration – and exclusion! Their story makes for a fascinating branch of either Byzantine or Islamic studies; the literature about each other forming a distinguished section in either field.
This collection of studies is a sample of Byzantine perspectives of Islam offering, hopefully, expressions and solutions rather than creating impressions or illusions.

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Daniel J. Sahas Ph.D. (1969), Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies, University of Waterloo (Canada). Author of John of Damascus on Islam(Brill, 1972), Σπέρμα Αβραάμ (Iolkos, 2011), Το άλλο Ισλάμ (Herodotus, 2014) and many articles on Byzantine Christianity and Islam.
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part 1: Mental and Theological Predispositions for a Relationship, or Conflict

1 The Notion of “Religion” with Reference to Islam in the Byzantine Anti-islamic Literature
 1 Ethnic Identity as Religion
 2 Religion as an Expression and Measure of Culture
 3 Θρησκεία. The “Non-European” Concept

2 Βυζάντιο, Ισλάμ και αντι-Ισλαμική γραμματεία (7ος–15ος αι.)

3 The Christological Morphology of the Doctrine of the Qurʾān
 1 On Christian and Islamic Biblicism
 2 The Logos Theology
 3 The Islamic “Word of God”
 4 Theological Positions on the “Word of God”
 5 The “Word of God” in the Tradition and in the Praxis of Islam
 6 The “Qurʾān in the Qurʾān”: A Self-Understanding
 7 The Qurʾān in Muslim Practice and Spirituality
 8 As a Conclusion

4 The Formation of Later Islamic Doctrines as a Response to Byzantine Polemics: The Miracles of Muhammad
 Summary and Concluding Remarks

5 Monastic Ethos and Spirituality and the Origins of Islam

6 The Art and Non-Art of Byzantine Polemics: Patterns of Refutation in Byzantine Anti-Islamic Literature
 1 Introduction  2 The Setting of Byzantine Refutations
 3 A War of Words against Islam
 4 Theological Treatment of Islam
 5 Islam as a Christian Heresy
 6 Diplomacy and Dialogue
 7 The Mystical Approach
 8 Anonymity
 9 The Effectiveness of Polemics
 10 Conclusion

7 The “Oriental” Character of the Byzantine-Islamic Relations: One Essence – Various Expressions

part 2: Historical Preambles under the Sting of the Arab Conquests

8 The Face to Face Encounter between Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem and the Caliph ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb: Friends or Foes?

9 Patriarch Sophronius, ʿUmar, and the Capitulation of Jerusalem
 1 The Fall of Jerusalem to the Persians and to the Arabs
 2 Sophronius and ʿUmar
 3 The Covenant between ʿUmar and Sophronius, and the Jews

10 The Covenant of ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khattāb with the Christians of Jerusalem

11 Anastasius of Sinai (c. 640–c. 700) and “Anastasii Sinaitae” on Islam

12 “Saracens” and the Syrians in the Byzantine Anti-islamic Literature and Before

13 Saracens and Arabs in the Leimon of John Moschos

14 Why Did Heraclius Not Defend Jerusalem, and Fight the Arabs?

15 The Demonizing Force of the Arab Conquests: The Case of Maximus (ca. 580–662) as a Political “Confessor”
 1 Ep. 10 to John the Chamberlain (PG 91:449A–453A)
 2 Ep. 43 to John the Chamberlain (PG 91,637B–641C)
 3 Ep. 13 to Peter the Illustrious, Strategos of Numidia, against the Teachings of Severus” (PG 91:509B–533A)
 4 Ep. 14 to the Same (Peter), “A Dogmatic Epistle” (PG 91,533B–544C)
 5 Ep. 12 to John the Chamberlain (PG 91: 460A–509B)
 6 Ep. 1 to Lord George, Eparch of Africa (PG 91: 364A–392D)
 7 Ep. 44 to John the Chamberlain (PG 91:641D–648C)
 8 Ep. 45 to John the Chamberlain (PG 91:648D–649C)
 9 The Vita [PG 90, 68A–109B] and the Relatio Motionis [PG 90, 109C–129D], or Ἐξήγησις τῆς κινήσεως (= Record of the Trial Proceedings)
 10 The Relatio Motionis (PG 90, 109C–129D)

16 The Seventh Century in the Byzantine-Muslim Relations: Characteristics and Forces
 1 Rising Arab Consciousness, and Independence from Byzantium
 2 Christological Divergence and Consolidation of Islam
 3 Christian Awareness of Islam, or Lack of It
 4 Apocalyptic Treatment of Islam
 5 Capitulation of Christian Cities to the Arab Muslims

17 Eighth-Century Byzantine Anti-Islamic Literature: Context and Forces
 Concluding Remarks

part 3: Damascenica

18 John of Damascus on Islam. Revisited
 1 Who is John of Damascus?
 2 John of Damascus on Islam
 3 The Treatment of Islam as a Christian Heresy

19 Islam in the Context of John of Damascus’ Life and Literary Production

20 Cultural Interaction during the Umayyad Period: The “Circle” of John of Damascus
 1 A “Circle” of Independent Thinkers
 2 A “Circle” of Hymnographers-Systematic Theologians
 3 A Monastic “Circle”
 4 A “Circle” of Apologists-Dialecticians
 5 A circle of Arab Intellectuals
 6 A Reform-Minded “Circle”
 7 Concluding Remarks

21 The Arab Character of the Christian Disputation with Islam: The Case of John of Damascus (ca. 655–ca. 749)
 1 John of Damascus as a Syrian Arab
 2 Life in the Umayyad Court
 3 Treatment of Islam
 4 Concluding Remarks

part 4: On or Off the Path of the Damascene

22 Bartholomeus of Edessa on Islam: A Polemicist with Nerve!

23 What an Infidel Saw That a Faithful Did Not: Gregory Dekapolites (d. 842) and Islam
 Summary of Remarks

24 Ritual of Conversion from Islam to the Byzantine Church

25 “Holosphyros”? A Byzantine Perception of “the God of Muhammad”
 1 “Holosphyros” in the Byzantine Polemics
 2 The Holosphyros Controversy

26 Hagiological Texts as Historical Sources for Arab History and Byzantine-Muslim Relations: The Case of a … “Barbarian” Saint

27 Arethas’ “Letter to the Emir at Damascus”: Official or Popular Views on Islam in 10th-century Byzantium?
 Political Experience and Involvement

28 Gregory Palamas (1296–1360) on Islam
 1 The Events of the Captivity
 2 The Point and Counterpoint

29 Captivity and Dialogue: Gregory Palamas (1296–1360) and the Muslims
All interested in Byzantium and its relations to the Arabs and Islam (4th-15th c.), the evolution of theological thought, culture, trends in anti-Islamic literature and different types of inter-religious apologetics.
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