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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Riccoldo da Monte di Croce

(1,130 words)

Author(s): Burman, Thomas E.
Biography Little is known about Riccoldo until he joined the Dominican order in 1267. He quickly showed academic promise, and was appointed lecturer in the Dominican convent of Pisa in 1272. In 1287, he was placed provisionally in charge of the convent in Prato. He would eventually become one of the most learned scholars of Arabic and Islam in Latin Europe, and was proficient in Syriac, Hebrew and Greek as well. He was presumably educated in these Semitic languages at one of special language studia of the Dominican Order, though little about these is known in detail. In 1288, he departed fo…


(2,234 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
‘Travels’ Ibn Jubayr Date: Sometime between 1185 and 1217 Original Language: Arabic Description Ibn Jubayr’s Riḥla details the ḥajj and subsequent travels he undertook from his Andalusian homeland in 1183-85. His route took him from Granada to Ceuta, and thence by ship to Sardinia and Alexandria. Once there, he travelled south through Egypt to the pilgrim port of Aydhab on the Red Sea, and from there crossed to Mecca, where he performed the obligatory devotions. He did not then go straight back to al-Andalus, but…


(421 words)

Author(s): Fierro, Maribel
Letter Mundhir ibn Saʿīd al-Ballūṭī Date: Unknown; before 966 Original Language: Arabic Description  In the conversion document ( wathīqa) of a Christian, Mundhir ibn Saʿīd objects to the formula: ‘He witnesses that Muḥammad is the servant of God and his Messenger and that Jesus is God’s Messenger and his Word ( ʿĪsā rasūl Allāh wa-kalimatuhu)’, a partial quotation of Q 4:171. Mundhir’s argument is that, as it stands, the formula implies that if Jesus was the Word of God and also a created being, it would follow that God’s utterance is created. Thi…

 Risāla fī aʿlām al-nubuwwa

(228 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Letter on the signs of prophethood Abū l-ʿAbbās ʿAbdallāh ibn Hārūn al-Maʾmūn Date: before 833 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 129. The 13th-century Shīʿī scholar Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī ibn Mūsā ibn Ṭāwūs (d. 1266) mentions in his al-Ṭarā ʾ if fī ma ʿ rifat madhāhib al-ṭawā ʾ if, Qom, [1400] 1979, p. 424, what must be the same work with the title Kitāb a ʿ lām al-rasūl, and says that in a library in Baghdad he had examined a copy of it made in 865 (see E. Kohlberg, A medieval Muslim scholar at work: Ibn Ṭāwūs and his library, Leiden, 1992, p. 106). It was o…

 Risāla fī faḍīlat al-ʿafāf

(287 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Epistle on the merit of chastity Elias of Nisibis Date: Before 1046 Original Language: Arabic Description This treatise is a rejoinder to the 9th-century Muʿtazilī al-Jāḥiẓ’s (d. 869) (q.v.) endorsement of the pleasures of the flesh. It is divided into two parts, the first containing an exposition of the Muslim’s nine arguments in favor of fleshly pleasures, and the second refutations of these, together with examples of chaste men that support Elias’ arguments. Significance Elias shows that al-Jāḥiẓ’s arguments defy both reason ( ʿaql) and revelation ( sharʿ). The fact that he tak…

 Risāla fī ḥudūth al-ʿālam wa-waḥdāniyyat al-Khāliq wa-tathlīth al-aqānīm

(385 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Epistle on the temporality of the world, and the oneness of the Creator and threeness of the hypostases Elias of Nisibis Date: Before 1046 Original Language: Arabic Description The epistle is divided into three parts: on the existence of God (this is the longest), God’s oneness, and God’s Trinitarian nature. God’s existence is explained on the basis of indications of his activities in the natural order, and signs of his wisdom evident in various human circumstances. God’s oneness is explained by analogy with the human intellect ( al-ʿaql), by his power in the world, and by referen…

 Risāla fī iftirāq al-milal fī l-tawḥīd wa-annahum majmūʿūn ʿalā l-tawḥīd wa-kull qad khālafa ṣāḥibahu

(314 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Epistle on the difference between the communities about divine oneness and that they all accept divine oneness even though they all disagree with each other Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī Date: Mid-9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost. Its title, which is listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 319, indicates that it was a demonstration of the underlying unity of religions despite the apparent disagreement between them. It very probably included a discussion about the Trinity and how this was at base an expression of d…

 Risāla fī ithbāt ʿaqāʾid al-dīn al-Masīḥī

(323 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Lumaʿ ʿajib (sic) min al-umūr al-sharʿiyya wa-nukat gharība min al-milal al-dīniyyaDemonstration of the beliefs of the Christian religion Hibat Allāh ibn al-Tilmīdh Date: 12th century Original Language: Arabic Description This (for the greater part) unedited work deals with various general theological subjects, which can no longer be specified. Cheikho ( Chresthomathie, pp. 282-83) published an extract from one chapter on the abrogation of the Mosaic law, the law of justice, as opposed to the final and universal character of the law of Christ, …

 Risāla fī l-kanāʾis wa-l-biya

(567 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Treatise on synagogues and churches’ Ibn al-Rifʿa Date: 1301 Original Language: Arabic Description According to Ḥajjī Khalīfa, Ibn al-Rifʿa wrote a fatwā entitled Risāla fī l-kanāʾis wa-l-biya in 1301 (a ‘fine work’ in his estimation), and then in 1307 an abridgement entitled Al-nafāʾis fī hadm al-kanāʾis (‘Items of value concerning the demolition of religious buildings’), also known as Kitāb al-nafāʾis fī adillat hadm al-kanāʾis. He presents his arguments in five points, on which see Ward, ‘Ibn al-Rifʿa on the churches and synagogues of Cairo’, pp. 79-82. In the first, Ibn al-R…

 Risāla fī l-Khāliq

(190 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Treatise on the Creator Elias of Nisibis Date: Before 1046 Original Language: Arabic Description This tract focuses on God as a substance ( jawhar) who subsists in himself ( qāʾim bi-nafsihi). In response to the Muslim accusation that Christians are ‘associators’ ( mushrikūn), Elias explains that the meaning of the statement that God is three hypostases ( thalāthat aqānīm) is that He is subsistent in himself, living by Life and articulating by a Word ( nāṭiq bi-nuṭq). The three hypostases are not simply divine accidents, but three actualities, Essence, Life and Word. Significance Elias …

 Risāla fī maʿānin saʾalahu ʿanhā baʿḍ ikhwānihi

(230 words)

Author(s): Monferrer Sala, Juan Pedro
Epistle on the meanings about which one of his brothers asked him Ibn Zurʿa Date: 989 Original Language: Arabic Description This letter or treatise, which is addressed to a Muslim friend, is concerned with God's essential attributes of knowledge and power, as well as his active attributes ( ṣifāt al-fiʿl) and the transcendent mystery of God. Significance As in his other works, Ibn Zurʿa readily resorts to the use of theological and philosophical analogies to explain the Christian concept of the Godhead. Manuscripts MS Vat - Ar. 127, fols 5r-15r MS Aleppo, Fondation Georges et Mathild…

 Risāla fī nubuwwat Muḥammad

(984 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Letter on the prophethood of Muḥammad Abū ʿĪsā Aḥmad ibn al-Munajjim Date: Just before 908 Original Language: Arabic Description This work has not survived, and while there are good reasons to think that it was actually written as part of a protracted correspondence between members of the al-Munajjim family and the Christians Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (q.v.) and Qusṭa ibn Lūqā (q.v.), its existence is confirmed mainly by circumstantial evidence. The one accessible manuscript that contains the surviving correspondence of which this was probably a part relates that a Muslim…

 Risāla fī l-qaḍā’ wa-l-ḥisba

(784 words)

Author(s): de la Puente, Cristina
Epistle on the office of judge and market inspector Ibn ʿAbdūn al-Ishbīlī Date: Possibly before 1125 Original Language: Arabic Description The Risāla fī l-qaḍā’ wa-l-ḥisba belongs to the genre of works on ḥisba, which were practical books written to serve as guides for market inspectors, who were officers in charge of regulating commercial transactions and the conduct of merchants and shop-keepers and were also responsible for the proper use of public baths, cemeteries and mosques. It was probably written before 1126, when muc…

 Risāla fī l-radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(855 words)

Author(s): Tilmans, Nico
'Treatise in refutation of the Christians' Yūsuf al-Lubnānī Date: 1226 Original Language: Arabic Description Judging from the imbalance of the structure of the text, the single manuscript containing the treatise has not come down intact, with the exposition of the prophethood of Muḥammad ending abruptly and taking up only a small fraction of the whole. It is not an autograph: some marginal sigla indicate a comparison by the copyist with an exemplar. Whether the colophon, which is in different handwriting from…

 Risāla fī l-radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(526 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Letter of refutation against the Christians Ibn Jazla Date: Unknown, but soon after 1074 Original Language: Arabic Description The letter is lost. According to a description given by Ibn Khallikān ( Wafayāt, v, p. 310), who says he had read it and thought it an excellent work, the letter contained praise of Islam and criticism of both Christianity and Judaism. In particular, it presented evidence for the truth of Islam, and predictions from the Torah and Gospel for the sending of Muḥammad, which Jews and Christians hid and refused to bring to light. Arguments of this kind, apparently ba…

 Risāla fī tathbīt waḥdāniyyat al-bāriʾ wa-tathlīth khawāṣṣihi

(821 words)

Author(s): Holmberg, Bo
Epistle on the confirmation of the Unity of the Creator and the Trinity of his properties Israel of Kashkar Date: Mid-9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The treatise covers 11 folios (22 pages) in the oldest manuscript and 70 pages in the modern edition. In the following, paragraph numbers refer to the edition. The treatise may be divided into three major parts. While the first two parts are provided with headings in the manuscripts, the third is introduced without any heading. After the title (§§ 1-5), which does not really belong to the author’s text, and the int…

 Risāla fī l-tathlīth wa-l-ittiḥād

(146 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Trinity [of God] and the Union [of divinity and humanity in Christ] ʿAfīf ibn al-Makīn ibn Muʾammal Date: Possibly 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description The title of this currently inaccessible treatise suggests a work of apologetic theology defending the core Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Significance This work may be added to a long list of works with similar titles, which together bear witness to the energy Christians invested in explaining fundamental Christian doctrines in the Arabic language and within the Islamic milieu. M…

 Risāla fī l-tawḥīd wa-l-tathlīth

(96 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Unity and Trinity [of God] Naẓīf ibn Yumn Date: Unknown Original Language: Arabic Description We know nothing of this work beyond its title. Significance Apparently Naẓīf, like many other philosophically sophisticated Christians of his time, wrote an apology for the Christian doctrine of God. Manuscripts MS Aleppo, Qusṭanṭīn Khuḍarī Collection (MS in private collection, now lost; see Sbath, Fihris i, p. 66, no. 534) Editions & Translations - Studies - Keywords Chronological Category: 900-1000 Dynasty/Ruling elite: Buyids Genre & Source Type: Apologies Theme: Monot…

 Risāla fī l-tawḥīd wa-l-tathlīth

(125 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Treatise on the unity of God and the Trinity Ibn al-Mu’ammal Date: 12th century Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived, and nothing is known about it except its title. This suggests that it comprised a comparison of the Muslim and Christian portrayals of God, no doubt to the detriment of the former. Significance Nothing can be said about the significance of the work. Manuscripts MS Aleppo - 'Abdallah Gerro Collection (inaccessible MS in private collevtion; see Sbath, Fihris, p. 48, no. 362) Editions & Translations - Studies Landron, Chrétiens et musulmans, p. 128 G…

 Risāla fī l-tawḥīd wa-l-tathlīth, raddan ʿalā l-Muslimīn

(107 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Treatise on the [divine] Unity and Trinity, in refutation of the Muslims Yūḥannā Yūshaʿ ibn Shūshān Date: Second half of the 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description Beyond what can be gathered from the title, nothing is known about the contents of this work. Significance It is not possible to say what the significance of the work was. Manuscripts MS Aleppo, Rizqallāh Farrā Collection (inaccessible MS in private collection; see Sbath, Fihris i, p. 36, no. 259) Editions & Translations Studies Keywords Chronological Category: 1000-1100 Genre & Source Type: Apologies, Refutat…
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