Muslim-Christian Polemic during the Crusades

The Letter from the People of Cyprus and Ibn Abī Ṭālib al-Dimashqī’s Response


Editors: Rifaat Ebied and Thomas David
This volume comprises an edition and English translation of the response in Arabic made by the fourteenth century scholar Ibn Abī Ṭālib al-Dimashqī to a Letter sent to him by anonymous Christians from Cyprus. The Christian letter was also sent to al-Dimashqī’s contemporary Ibn Taymiyya, and this response is thus a parallel to Ibn Taymiyya’s Al-jawāb al-ṣaḥīḥ.
In their Letter the Christians subtly suggest that the Qur’an supports Christian doctrines. Al-Dimashqī replies with a comprehensive series of elaborate and wide-ranging arguments that incorporate not only themes familiar from earlier polemical works but also his own original points. His response is thus an important source of information about the development of Muslim interfaith attitudes, and a significant example of polemic in the later medieval period.
The edition presents the two parts of this correspondence in parallel Arabic and English versions, together with an extensive introduction, textual notes and commentary.


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Biographical Note

Rifaat Ebied is Foundation Professor of Semitic Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published extensively in the field of Semitic Studies generally and on Christian Arabic and Syriac studies in particular, most recently Petri Callinicensis Patriarchae Antiocheni: Tractatus Contra Damianum (Louvain 1994/1996/1998/2003). David Thomas, Ph.D. (1983) in Islamic Studies, University of Lancaster, is Reader in Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham. He has published extensively on Christian-Muslim relations, most recently Early Muslim Polemic against Christianity (Cambridge, 2002) and Christians at the Heart of Islamic Rule (Brill, 2003).

Table of contents

Preface - The Letters and their Authors - The Manuscripts of the Letters - The Language of the Letters - The Letter from the People of Cyprus - Al-Dimashqī’s Response to the Letter from the People of Cyprus - Introduction - Sections 1-13 - Bibliography - Index


Students and researchers interested in the history and development of Christian-Muslim relations, and in the history of medieval Islam, theologians, historians and Islamicists, both those who are and those who are not acquainted with classical Arabic.