Muslim-Christian Polemics across the Mediterranean

The Splendid Replies of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. 684/1285)

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In Muslim-Christian Polemics across the Mediterranean Diego R. Sarrió Cucarella provides an exposition and analysis of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī’s (d. 684/1285) Splendid Replies to Insolent Questions (al-Ajwiba al-fākhira ‘an al-as’ila al-fājira). Written in response to an apology for Christianity by the Melkite Bishop of Sidon, Paul of Antioch, the Splendid Replies is among the most extensive and most important medieval Muslim refutations of Christianity, and the primary significance of this study is to provide detailed access to its argumentation and intellectual context for the first time in a western language. Moreover, the Introduction and Conclusion creatively situate the work within the challenges of modern-day Christian-Muslim dialogue.
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Biographical Note

Diego R. Sarrió Cucarella received his PhD in 2014 from the Department of Theology at Georgetown University. His publications have focused on the intellectual history of Christian-Muslim relations. He lectures at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI),
Rome.

Review Quotes

'We have to thank Diego Sarrió Cucarella for having devoted his academic skill and theological reflexion to the study of al–Aǧwiba l–fāḫira ‘an al–as’ila l–fāǧira. Certainly, “al–Qarāfī’s Splendid Replies is among the most extensive and the most important medieval Muslim refutations of Christianity, and the primary significance of this study is to provide detailed access to its argumentation and intellectual context
for the first time in a western language”, the English one'.

Maurice BORRMANS in Islamochristiana 40 (2014)

Table of contents

Some Matters of Usage
Acknowledgements

INTRODUCTION
1. Islam, Irrelevant for Christianity?
2. The Church Has Also a High Regard for the Muslims
3. The Exclusionary Dimension of Religious Identity
4. Carl Schmitt and the Inescapability of the Political
5. Freeing Religion from Social Antagonism
6. The New Comparative Theology and Christian-Muslim Polemics
7. The Mirror of the Other
8. Outline

CHAPTER ONE: A SCHOLARLY LIFE IN DEFENSE OF ISLAM
1. The Political Context: A World in Convulsion
2. Muslim-Christian Interaction in Egypt during the Thirteenth Century
3. A Scholarly Life
3.1. Primary and Secondary Sources
3.2. Biographical Data, Education, and Teaching Posts
3.3. In Defense of Islam
4. Al-Qarāfī’s Contacts with the People of the Book
5. Al-Qarāfī in Previous Scholarship
5.1. The Jurist and the Theologian
5.2. The Polemicist
6. Concluding Remarks

CHAPTER TWO: A HANDBOOK FOR POLEMICS
1. Date of Composition
2. A Christian Argumentation from the Qurʾān
3. Structure and Contents: A General Overview
4. A Handbook for Polemics
5. Written Sources
5.1. Paul of Antioch’s Risāla ilā baʿḍ aṣdiqāʾihi alladhīna bi-Ṣaydā min al-muslimīn
5.2. Al-Jaʿfarī’s Takhjīl man ḥarrafa al-Tawrāh wa-l-Injīl
5.3. Al-Qurṭubī’s al-Iʿām bi-mā fī dīn al-Naṣārā min al-fasād wa-l-awhām
5.4. Al-Khazrajī’s Maqāmiʿ al-ṣulbān
5.5. Al-Samawʾal al-Maghribī’s Ifḥām al-Yahūd
6. Concluding Remarks 135

CHAPTER THREE: AL-QARĀFĪ’S REPLY TO THE LETTER TO A MUSLIM FRIEND
1. A Blind Nation and an Ignorant Sect
2. Theology of Religions: Faith among Faiths
2.1. Muḥammad: A Prophet for the Pagan Arabs
2.2. The Law of Justice and the Law of Grace
3. Theology of the Word of God: The Qurʾānic Proof for Christianity
3.1. Jesus the Messiah: A Spirit of God and His Word
3.2. The Qurʾān and Christian Liturgy
3.3. That Is The Book, Wherein There Is No Doubt
3.4. Christians Should Not Be Considered Polytheists
4. Theology of Divinity: Philosophizing about God
4.1. If Muslims Knew What We Mean
4.2. Human Language and God
4.3. A Substance Not Like Created Substances
5. Concluding Remarks

CHAPTER FOUR: APOLOGIA PRO RELIGIONE ISLAMICA
1. Jesus the Messiah, the Prophet Who Did Not Die
1.1. Crucifixion: Reality or Delusion?
1.2. The Probative Value of the Miracles of Jesus
1.3. The Incarnation: An Ontological Impossibility
2. The Qurʾān under Fire
2.1. Errors in the Qurʾān
2.2. Muslim Disputes about the Qurʾān
3. The Abrogation and Falsification of the Torah
3.1. Can God Change His Mind?
3.2. The Falsification of the Torah
4. Miscellanea
4.1. The Ḥadīth of the Pen and Paper
4.2. The Physical Pleasures of Paradise
4.3. Fighting for God’s Cause: Virtue or Vice?
5. Concluding Remarks

CHAPTER FIVE: CHRISTIANITY AND THE INNOVATION OF A WRETCHED GOD
1. The Christian Creed: Viler than Treachery
2. Christian Innovated Practice and Behavior
2.1. Christians and Circumcision
2.2. Consumption of Pork
2.3. The Offering of Bread and Wine
3. An Islamic Theologoumenon: The Corruption of Early Christianity
3.1. Paul’s Self-Immolation and the Ploy to Divide the Christians
3.2. The Cunning Jewish King
3.3. State-Manufactured Christianity
4. Christian Liturgical Prayers
5. Sin, Repentance, and Salvation
5.1. Repentance and the Obliteration of Sins
5.2. The Individual Nature of Sin
5.3. Purification by Good Deeds
5.4. What Salvation?
6. The Christian God: A Philosophical and Theological Non-starter
7. Concluding Remarks

CHAPTER SIX: THE PROPHET FORETOLD
1. The Proofs of Prophecy
2. Muslims and the Bible: An Abiding Tension
3. The Arabicization of Biblical History
4. The Falsification of Previous Scriptures
5. Whose Name Will Be Aḥmad
6. Solutions to a Paradox
7. Imagine a Pagan Arriving in Our Land
8. Structure and Sources of Chapter Four
9. Exegetical Themes
9.1. Prediction of the Islamic umma
9.2. Prediction of Muḥammad
9.3. The Promised Paraclete
9.4. Muḥammad’s Name and Description
9.5. Abrahamic Descent through Ishmael and Hagar
9.6. Universality of Muḥammad’s Mission
9.7. Subjugation of the Nations
9.8. Muḥammad’s Fight against Error and Unbelief
9.9. The Finality of Islam and the Abrogation of Prior Religion
9.10. Mecca’s Role and Elevated Status
9.11. Biblical References to Islamic Rituals
9.12. The Original Arab Character of Islam and the Desert Motif
10. Concluding Remarks

CONCLUSION: THE PROSPECTS OF CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE

APPENDIX A: AL-QARĀFĪ’S LITERARY PRODUCTION
APPENDIX B: THE ARGUMENTS FROM THE LETTER TO A MUSLIM FRIEND
APPENDIX C: THE CORRUPTION OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY
APPENDIX D: BIBLICAL PREDICTIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Main Primary Sources: Editions and Translations
2. Other Primary Sources: Editions and Translations
3. Secondary Sources
Biblical References
Qurʾānic References
General Index

Readership

All interested in the intellectual history of Christian-Muslim relations, the role of polemics in the construction of religious identity, and anyone concerned with the theological challenges of modern-day Christian-Muslim dialogue.