Christian-Muslim Relations 600 - 1500

Get access Subject: Middle East and Islamic Studies
General Editor: David Thomas, Alex Mallett
Associate Editors: Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, Johannes Pahlitzsch, Barbara Roggema, Mark Swanson, Herman Teule and John Tolan
Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History Online is a general online history of relations between the faiths. It covers the period from 600 to 1500, when encounters took place through the extended Mediterranean basin and are recorded in Syriac, Arabic, Greek, Latin and other languages. Christian Muslim Relations Online comprises introductory essays on the treatment of Christians in the Qur’an, Qur’an commentaries, biographies of the Prophet, Hadith and Sunni law, and of Muslims in canon law, and the main body of more than two hundred detailed entries on all the works recorded, whether surviving or lost.

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Abū Nūḥ ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn al-Ṣalt al-Anbārī

(635 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Abū Nūḥ al-Anbārī Date of Birth: c. 730 Place of Birth: Probably in or near al-Anbār Date of Death: Unknown; he was active in the 780s Place of Death: Unknown, perhaps in or near al-Anbār or Baghdad Biography As Cabrol has pointed out in her excellent summary of what is known about Abū Nūḥ al-Anbārī (‘Une famille’, pp. 297-302), his biography is closely interwoven with that of his fellow student and friend who later became the Catholicos Timothy I (q.v.) (728-823, catholicos from 780). They were schooled together in ecclesiastical s…

Abū l-Qāsim al-Anṣārī

(236 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Qāsim Salmān ibn Nāṣir al-Anṣārī l-Naysābūrī Date of Birth: About 1040 Place of Birth: Arghiyān near Nīshāpūr Date of Death: 1118 Place of Death: Unknown; presumably in or near Nīshāpūr Biography Born near Nīshāpūr, Abū l-Qāsim al-Anṣārī studied in Khurasān with some of the leading scholars of his day, including Abū l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī (d. 1072), under whom he studied taṣawwuf, and Abū l-Maʿālī l-Juwaynī (d. 1085; q.v.), from whom he learned Ashʿarī kalām and to whose Irshād and Al-shāmil fī uṣūl al-dīn his own theological writings are indebted. He would have studied un…

Abū l-Qāsim al-Balkhī

(466 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Qāsim ʿAbdallāh ibn Aḥmad ibn Maḥmūd al-Balkhī, al-Kaʿbī Date of Birth: Mid-9th century Place of Birth: Balkh Date of Death: 931 Place of Death: Balkh Biography Born in Balkh in Khurāsān, al-Balkhī traced his ancestry back to the tribe of Kaʿb. He studied in Baghdad under the grammarian Mubarrad (d. 898) and the Muʿtazilī Abū l-Ḥusayn al-Khayyāṭ (d. 913), and remained in the capital long enough to attract the attention of notable scholars, who reacted to a number of his works. But he spent his mature years back in h…

Abū l-Rabīʿ Muḥammad ibn al-Layth

(643 words)

Author(s): Roggema, Barbara
Ibn al-Layth Date of Birth: 1st half of 8th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: c. 819 Place of Death: Unknown, possibly Kūfa Biography Ibn al-Layth is called by Ibn al-Nadīm an ‘orator’ ( khaṭīb), ‘jurist’ ( faqīh), apologist/theologian ( mutakallim), ‘epistolographer’ ( mutarassil), and ‘secretary’ ( kātib). According to one of Ibn al-Nadīm’s sources, he was of Persian background, ultimately a descendent of king Darius. Another of his sources calls him a mawlā of the Umayyads. He held high positions under the ʿAbbasid caliphs al-Mahdī, al-Hādī and Hārūn al-Rashīd a…

Abū Sahl Bishr ibn al-Muʿtamir ibn Bishr al-Hilālī

(567 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Bishr ibn al-Muʿtamir Date of Birth: c. 750 Place of Birth: Kūfa or Baghdad Date of Death: 825 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Bishr ibn al-Muʿtamir was the founder of the Baghdad school of the Muʿtazila, and the main author of its distinctive doctrines. Unusually for his day, he wrote a number of theological works in verse. His place of birth is uncertain, though in his youth he studied in Basra under pupils of Wāṣil ibn ʿAtāʾ. When he settled in Baghdad he was imprisoned for a time by Hārūn al-Rashīd, maybe for suspected Rāfiḍī sympathies assumed …

Abū Sulaymān al-Sijistānī

(556 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Sulaymān Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir ibn Bahrām al-Manṭiqī al-Sijistānī Date of Birth: Unknown; about 912 Place of Birth: Sijistān Date of Death: Uncertain; about 985 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Abū Sulaymān was born in the Persian province of Sijistān sometime in the early 10th century. From the little that is known about him, it seems that his first experiences of learning were in the provincial royal court, but as a young man he travelled to Baghdad where he studied under the Christian Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (q.v.) and, according to some acco…

Abū ʿUthmān ʿAmr ibn Baḥr al-Fuqaymī l-Jāḥiẓ

(413 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-Jāḥiẓ Date of Birth: c. 776 Place of Birth: Basra Date of Death: 869 Place of Death: Basra Biography Al-Jāḥiẓ was born and brought up in Basra, and there learnt the Arabic language and literary skills for which he became celebrated. In kalām he was a student of Ibrāhīm al-Naẓẓām, though he did not always agree with his master’s views. Even while still a student in the early 800s, al-Jāḥiẓ wrote works that brought him to the attention of the Caliph al-Maʾmūn. He spent long periods in Baghdad and Samarra, though he always returned to his home town. He made a living by his li…

Abū Yaʿlā ibn al-Farrāʾ

(494 words)

Author(s): Yarbrough, Luke
Abū Yaʿlā Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad ibn Khalaf ibn Aḥmad ibn al-Farrāʾ Date of Birth: 27 or 28 April 990 Place of Birth: Iraq? Date of Death: 14 August 1066 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Abū Yaʿlā is one of the great historical authorities of the Ḥanbalī madhhab of Sunnī law, to whose adherents he has often been known simply as ‘the qadi’. Born into a scholarly family – his father had been a Ḥanafī jurist and notary – he was trained in Ḥanbalism by the renowned jurist Ibn Ḥāmid (d. 1012). As his reputation for intelligence and d…

Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī

(406 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijzī Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Sijistān Date of Death: Unknown, after 971 Place of Death: Sijistān Biography Personal information about Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī (or al-Sijzī) is very scanty. He was an Iranian and belonged to the Ismāʿīlī Shīʿā, of which he was a leading dāʿī and theologian in the mid-10th century. It is known that he became involved in a feud between leading Ismāʿīlīs in the earlier decades of the century, when he wrote a refutation of Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī (d. 934) (q.v.), who had questioned a work of his fr…

Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥabīb al-Anṣārī l-Kūfī

(425 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb Date of Birth: Unknown, approx. 740 Place of Birth: Kūfa Date of Death: 798 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Abū Yūsuf's origins are obscure, though it is known that he studied under leading legal experts of his day, including Abū Ḥanīfa and Mālik ibn Anas. Since the former died in 767, it is plausible to suppose that Abū Yūsuf was born 20 to 30 years earlier in order to have been old enough to be his student. He was made qāḍī in Baghdad under one of the early ʿAbbasid caliphs, and he came to the notice of Hārūn al-Rashīd (r. 786-809), whose high regard is indicated by the title of qāḍī l…

Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī

(357 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-Kindī Date of Birth: c. 800 Place of Birth: Kūfa or Basra Date of Death: c. 870 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Al-Kindī traced his ancestry back to the Kinda tribe of Arabia and a Companion of the Prophet Muḥammad. Although born in the south of Iraq - his father was governor of Kūfa - he was educated in Baghdad, and entered the caliphal service while still young. He rose to prominence under al-Muʿtaṣim as tutor to the caliph's son, and he addressed many of his works to one or other of these. He lost favor under…

Abū Zakkār Yaḥyā ibn Nuʿmān

(414 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Biography Nothing certain is known about Abū Zakkār Yaḥyā ibn Nuʿmān apart from what is briefly mentioned by ʿAlī l-Ṭabarī (q.v.) in Kitāb al-dīn wa-l-dawla. ʿAlī says that Abū Zakkār was his paternal uncle and a Christian, and that he was known in Iraq and Khurāsān for his intellectual acumen and had a following of disciples (ed. Mingana, pp. 124, 129). Since ʿAlī was originally from Marw, that must also have been Abū Zakkār’s original home, though there is no way of knowing whether he remained there. Like his nephew, he must have belonged to the Church of the East. ʿAlī himself died in about…

Abū Zayd Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq al-ʿIbādī

(1,499 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq Date of Birth: 809 Place of Birth: al-Ḥīra Date of Death: 873 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography As can be inferred from his nisba, al-ʿIbādī, Ḥunayn’s father belonged to the Arab Christian community of the ʿIbād in the southern Iraqī town of al-Ḥīra, the provincial capital of the Lakhmids. Ḥunayn started the practice of medicine with his father, who was a druggist. He learned Syriac in al-Ḥīra and was ordained deacon ( shammās) of the East Syrian church in that city. He moved to Gundishāpūr, where he learned Persian. Then he went to Baghdad and studied…

A chronicle fragment

(53 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Unknown author Date of Birth: Unknown; 10th or 11th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown; 10th or 11th century Place of Death: Unknown Biography - Primary Sources of Information - Secondary Sources of Information - Works on Christian-Muslim Relations A chronicle fragment Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala

 A chronicle fragment

(300 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
A chronicle fragment A chronicle fragment Date: 10th or 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description The fragmentary 14th-century copy of this chronicle, a mere 18 folios long, relates the first 18 years (912-929) of the reign of the Spanish Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (912-61), the period during which the muwallad (convert from Christianity) ʿUmar ibn Ḥafṣūn and his sons led an uprising. The rebels took possession of the fortress in Bobastro (Malaga), and made it their capital. They abandoned their new faith and returned to Christianity. The account seems to be origin…

 Adbreviatio de gestis imperatorum

(415 words)

Author(s): Tolan, John
Abbreviated history of the emperors William of Malmesbury Date: 1129 Original Language: Latin Description This manuscript, a good part of it in William’s own hand, contains William’s digest of Roman imperial history, essentially an annotation, and in many cases a reworking, of chronicles from Dares to Hugh of Fleury (q.v.). It relates Roman history from the sack of Troy to the medieval empire, concluding with regnal lists of Byzantine and Ottonian emperors and French kings. William recopies Hugh of Fleury’s brief biography of Muḥammad, and says that ‘Muameth’ is the ‘…


(72 words)

Author(s): Tolan, John
Biography Nothing is known about Adelphus beyond what can be surmised from the text with which he is connected.  He claims to have heard the call of the muezzin and to have spoken with Greeks about Islam; it is possible that he accompanied the troops of the First Crusade. Primary Sources of Information Vita machometi (see below) Secondary Sources of Information - Works on Christian-Muslim Relations Vita Machometi John Tolan

Ademar of Chabannes

(758 words)

Author(s): Frassetto, Michael
Biography Ademar was born in 989 to a well-connected family of the lesser nobility of the Limousin in Aquitaine. As a boy, he was professed a monk at the monastery of St Cybard in Angoulême, where he began his education and first revealed his talents in the arts of the scriptorium. He continued his education at St Martial of Limoges, studying under the tutelage of his uncle Roger and, in the year 1010, experienced a vision of Christ in the night sky and witnessed numerous other prodigies. Returning to St Cybard, Ademar continued his career in the scriptorium and sought advancement…

 Adillat al-waḥdāniyya fī l-radd ʿalā l-milla l-Naṣrāniyya

(588 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Proofs of divine unity in refutation of the Christian community’ Al-Khaṭīb al-Iskandarī Date: Between 1218 and 1237 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not been edited or even studied closely since the time of Fritsch. This description must, therefore, rely on what he says (pp. 18-20). After an introduction in which al-Iskandarī explains the circumstances in which he wrote, the work is divided into four parts. In the first, where Christian mouthpieces are employed, he sets out the main Christian topics he intends to refute: t…

 Adillat al-waḥdāniyya fī l-radd ʿalā l-Naṣrāniyya

(462 words)

Author(s): El Kaisy-Friemuth, Maha
‘Proofs of divine oneness in refutation of Christianity’ Al-Qarāfī Date: Before 1238 Original Language: Arabic Description This book was ostensibly presented to the Ayyūbid Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil (d. 1238), who was known as a patron of education and learning. The prologue explains that, when its author saw scholars competing for the ruler’s favor, he thought of a book on comparative religion, concentrating on dubious forms of monotheism and particularly Christianity. He must also have assumed that a refutatio…
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