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

Help us improve our service

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.

Subscriptions: see

Al-Ṣafī ibn al-ʿAssāl

(1,298 words)

Author(s): Awad, Wadi
Al-Ṣafī Abū l-Faḍāʾil Mājid ibn al-ʿAssāl Date of Birth: Unknown; second half of the 12th century Place of Birth: Cairo Date of Death: Most likely between 1253 and 1275 Place of Death: Cairo Biography Al-Ṣafī ibn al-ʿAssāl was from a rich and famous family from Miṣr (Old Cairo) (and not from Sadamant [Beni Suef] as many scholars believe). Al-Ṣafī’s father's first wife died and he  remarried. Al-Ṣafī was probably a child of the first marriage. He had a full brother, al-Asʿad, and two half-brothers from his father’s second marriag…

Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Abū Muḥammad al-Bajalī

(526 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Kūfa Date of Death: 825 Place of Death: Medina Biography Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā was remembered as an agent and defender of the Shīʿī Imamate against the claims of the Sunnī caliphs and their cohorts; as a secretary for encounters between Imāms and various interlocutors; and as a respected companion of Imāms, particularly ʿAlī l-Riḍā, and ḥadīth transmitter in the Shīʿī tradition. It is primarily the ḥadīth sayings transmitted in his name that are remembered by historians and authors. The biographical references to Ṣafwān’s life do n…

 Al-ṣaḥāʾiḥ fī jawāb al-Naṣāʾiḥ

(668 words)

Author(s): Awad, Wadi
'The truths in response to The advice' Al-Ṣafī ibn al-ʿAssāl Date: Between 1238 and 1243; perhaps shortly after 1238 Original Language: Arabic Description Al-ṣaḥāʾiḥ, which is also known as Al-ṣaḥāʾiḥ fī l-radd ʿalā l-Naṣāʾiḥ (‘The truths in refutation of The advice’, implying that the Muslim original bore the title Al-naṣāʾiḥ), and simply Al-ṣaḥāʾiḥ al-Ṣafawiyya (‘The truths of al-Ṣafī’), is a response to a Muslim refutation of Christian beliefs. Al-Ṣafī does not name his opponent, saying only that he was a Christian who had become a Muslim at the age of 70 (ed. Jirjis, p. 35), though in N…

 Sāhdwātā da-nbiyē d-ʿal mdabbrānuteh da-mshiḥā

(677 words)

Author(s): Debié, Muriel
Testimonies of the prophets about the dispensation of Christ Unknown author Date: Unknown, probably c. 720 Original Language: Syriac Description In the guise of a collection of prophecies made by figures in the Hebrew Bible, this East Syrian text is a kind of vademecum of what is to be known about the dispensation of Christ and the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist. It addresses an anonymous reader and has a strong anti-Jewish flavor. At the same time, it tackles issues that are the subject of controversy with Islam, such as the di…

 Sahman ew Kanonkʿ Miabanutʿean Ełbarcʿ; Krkin Kanonkʿ ew Xratkʿ Tłayahasak Mankancʿ Ašxarhakanacʿ

(825 words)

Author(s): Dadoyan, Seta B.
‘Definitions and canons for the coalition of brothers’; ‘Further canons and advice for secular youth’'Constitution for the Brotherhoods of Erznka’ Yovhannēs Erznkacʿi Bluz Date: 1280 Original Language: Armenian Description Both written in 1280, these two short texts, totaling about 6,000 words, are commonly known as the Constitution for the brotherhoods of Erznka. On the title page Yovhannēs states that they were written at the request of the old priest Grigor Sanahnecʿi to ‘reform and guide’ the manuks, the unruly groups of youth of the city. Closely adopting his basic…

Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī

(428 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Qāsim Ṣāʿid ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Taghlibī al-Andalusī Date of Birth: 1029 Place of Birth: Almeria Date of Death: 1070 Place of Death: Toledo Biography Ṣāʿid ibn Aḥmad al-Andalusī was born in Almeria and received his first education there. His family later settled in Cordova, where he continued his studies. Ibn Bashkuwāl says that he was a pupil of Ibn Ḥazm, and the two men certainly knew each other. In 1046, he went to Toledo for further study under such reputed teachers as Ibn Khamīs, al-Waqqāshī and al-…

Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq, Eutychius of Alexandria

(976 words)

Author(s): Simonsohn, Uriel
Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq Date of Birth: 17 August 877 Place of Birth: Fusṭāṭ, Egypt Date of Death: 12 May 940 Place of Death: Fusṭāṭ, Egypt Biography Little can be established with certainty about the life and career of Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq, a 10th-century Melkite patriarch of Alexandria. The earliest source to provide some detail is a 13th- or 14th-century copy of Ibn Baṭrīq’s historiographical treatise, allegedly written by the patriarch himself (Ibn Baṭrīq, Eutychii, ed. Cheikho, Carra de Vaux and Zayyat, ii, pp. 69-70, 86-87). It is here that we are informed for the first time that Ibn Baṭrīq, the mut…

Saʿīd ibn Ḥasan al-Iskandarānī

(252 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Biography Saʿīd ibn Ḥasan was originally a Jew of the Alexandrian community. He converted to Islam in May 1298 as a result of a dramatic recovery from illness (Weston, ‘The Kitāb masālik an-naẓar’, pp. 379-80). He grew intolerant of Judaism and Christianity, and joined in the calls being made at various levels of Egyptian society for all synagogues and churches to be closed, and for those built since the coming of Islam to be destroyed. The evidence from Masālik al-naẓar is that Saʿīd had no particularly thorough education, not even in his former faith, and he was no exper…


(374 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Shams al-Dīn Abū l-Khayr Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sakhāwī Date of Birth: 1427/28 Place of Birth: Cairo Date of Death: 1497 Place of Death: Medina Biography Al-Sakhāwī was active in scholarly circles in Cairo in the late 15th century. His family originated in the village of Sakhā in the Nile Delta, and had migrated to the capital in the late 14th century. He studied under Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 1449), together with Abū l-Ḥasan Ibrāhīm al-Biqāʿī (d. 1480; q.v.), whose enemy and unrelenting critic he was to become. Al-Sakhāwī specialized in the qur’anic sciences, and was…


(149 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Faḍl ʿAbbās ibn Manṣūr ibn ʿAbbās al-Tarīmī l-Saksakī l-Yamanī Date of Birth: 1219 Place of Birth: Yemen Date of Death: 1284 Place of Death: Probably Yemen Biography Al-Saksakī was born and worked in the Yemen. He is recorded as a scholar of both the Ḥanbalī and Shāfiʿī law schools (causing al-ʿAmūsh to wonder whether he migrated from one to the other), and he served as qāḍī in the town of Taʿizz. Nothing is known of any works by him apart from the Burhān. Primary Sources of Information Al-Baghdādī, Hadiyyat al-ʿārifīn. Asmāʾ al-muʾallifīn, 2 vols, Istanbul, 1951, 1955, i, col. 438 Second…


(136 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū ʿAlī ʿUmar ibn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Date of Birth: Unknown; mid-13th century Place of Birth: Unknown; North Africa Date of Death: 1317 Place of Death: Tunis Biography Al-Sakūnī was a Mālikī jurist and theologian who was active in the Maghreb. He lived for much of his life in Tunis, where he probably died. He was known for a work on the Muʿtazilī Qur’an commentary of al-Zamakhsharī, and other works on orthodox Muslim belief. Primary Sources of Information Ḥajjī Khalīfa, Kashf al-ẓunūn, 2 vols, Istanbul, 1941-43, cols 485, 1482, 1483 Al-Baghdādī, Hadiyyat al-ʿārifīn. Asmāʾ al-muʾal…

Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā

(469 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā l-Mawṣilī Date of Birth: Unknown; late 13th century Place of Birth: Mosul Date of Death: Unknown; after 1335 Place of Death: Unknown Biography Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā is the author of an Arabic compendium to be treated below, but we are also fortunate in the preservation of a codex that probably belonged to him and in which he copied texts that interested him: MS Paris, BNF – Ar. 204, which contains a work of Christian-Jewish controversy, two texts by ʿAbdīshūʿ of Nisibis (q.v.), and a copy of the so-called Letter from Cyprus (q.v.). In a colophon at f. 48v of this codex, th…

Ṣāliḥ ibn Saʿīd al-Masīḥī; Christodoulos (monastic name)

(628 words)

Author(s): Treiger, Alexander
Ṣāliḥ ibn Saʿīd al-Masīḥī Date of Birth: About 980 Place of Birth: Jerusalem Date of Death: Unknown; about 1050 Place of Death: Probably Mount Sinai Biography Ṣāliḥ ibn Saʿīd’s life can be reconstructed as follows. He was born into a Melkite Christian family in Jerusalem, perhaps in about 980, and moved to Egypt at the age of nine when his father became a Fatimid civil servant ( fī khidma maʿa l-salāṭīn). During al-Ḥākim’s persecution of non-Muslims, Ṣāliḥ, who had initially been a secretary ( kātib) and administrator ( mutaṣarrif) in al-Ḥākim’s service, fled Egypt (probably with t…

Saracens as idolaters in European vernacular literatures

(6,643 words)

Author(s): Kinoshita and Siobhain Bly Calkin, Sharon
Muslims frequently appear in the vernacular literatures of medieval Latin Europe, never named as such but usually called ‘Saracens’ or ‘pagans’. They are portrayed as polytheists and idolaters, worshipping their gods in the form of idols that can be desecrated and abused. In the Chanson de Roland (late 11th or early 12th century), one of the earliest and by far the most celebrated of the Old French epics ( chansons de geste), the Saracens of Saragossa worship a trinity of gods, Mahumet, Apollin, and Tervagant – the first clearly referring to the Prophet Muḥammad, a…

Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ

(1,466 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Sāwīrus, bishop of al-Ashmūnayn Date of Birth: Uncertain; about 910 or 915 Place of Birth: Probably Miṣr (Old Cairo) Date of Death: After 987 Place of Death: Unknown; possibly al-Ashmūnayn or Miṣr Biography Sāwīrus (or Sawīrus, = Severus), bishop of al-Ashmūnayn, known as Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, was the first major Coptic Orthodox theologian (or at least the first known to us) to write in the Arabic language. Hailing from Miṣr (Old Cairo), he was a government bureaucrat ( kātib) known as Abū Bishr ibn al-Muqaffaʿ before becoming first a monk and later a bishop. Four points in Sāwīrus’ life are…

Sayf ibn ʿUmar

(142 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Biography Nothing is known about the life of Sayf ibn ʿUmar al-Tamīmī, except that he is associated with southern Iraq, and was a writer of historical works. These were used as a main source by Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭabarī for his Taʾrīkh al-rusul wa-l-mulūk, although their accuracy and objectivity were doubted from early times. Primary Sources of Information Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 106 Secondary Sources of Information E. Landau-Tasseron, ‘Sayf ibn ʿUmar in medieval and modern scholarship’, Der Islam 67, (1990), 1-26 M. Hinds, ‘Sayf b. ʿUmar’s sources on Arabia’, in Studies on the history …

Al-sayf al-murhaf fī l-radd ‘alā l-Muṣḥaf

(754 words)

Author(s): Demiri, Lejla
Unknown author Date of Birth: Late 12th-early 13th century Place of Birth: Unknown (probably Egypt) Date of Death: 13th century Place of Death: Unknown (probably Egypt) Biography Al-sayf al-murhaf fī l-radd ʿalā l-Muṣḥaf is referred to by two Muslim authors in their works, Najm al-Dīn al-Ṭūfī (d. 1316) (q.v.) and his contemporary Ghāzī ibn al-Wāsiṭī (d. 1312) (q.v.). Although al-Ṭūfī does not provide any information about the author beyond describing him as ‘one of the Christian scholars’ (al-Ṭūfī, Taʿlīq, ed. Demiri, §§ 3, 25, 52; al-Ṭūfī, Intiṣārāt, ed. Qarnī, i, p. 227), al-Wā…

 Al-sayf al-murhaf fī l-radd ʿalā l-Muṣḥaf

(629 words)

Author(s): Demiri, Lejla
Al-sayf al-murhaf‘The whetted sword in refutation of the Scripture’ Al-sayf al-murhaf fī l-radd ‘alā l-Muṣḥaf Date: 13th century Original Language: Arabic Description Regarding the quality of ‘truthfulness’, the author presents instances, mainly related to the qur’anic tales of the prophets, which, in his view, contradict those of the Bible, such as the stories of Mary (ed. Qarnī, i, pp. 300-1), Zachariah (ed. Qarnī, i, pp. 305-6; ed. Demiri, §§ 218-20, 491), Joseph (ed. Qarnī, i, pp. 312-24; ed. Demiri, §§ 217, 550,…

Sebēos, pseudo-Sebeos

(833 words)

Author(s): Greenwood, Tim
The history of Sebeos Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, after 655 and probably after 661 Place of Death: Unknown Biography Nothing is known for certain about the anonymous author of the History attributed to Sebeos. Given the repeated recourse to biblical imagery and vocabulary, as well as the apocalyptic apprehensions evident within the text, it is highly likely that he was a cleric. It used to be argued that the author should be identified as Sebeos, bishop of the Bagratunik', a signatory to th…

Second ritual of abjuration

(120 words)

Author(s): Rigo, Antonio
Unknown author Date of Birth: Unknown; possibly mid or late 10th century Place of Birth: Unknown; probably Asia Minor Date of Death: Unknown; probably mid-11th century Place of Death: Unknown; probably region of Sivas Biography Little is known about the author of this short ritual of abjuration. From the ritual itself it can be inferred that he was active in the region around Sivas in the early 11th century, was hostile to Christians who disagreed with his own Chalcedonian faith as well as to Muslims, and had more than a passing knowledge of Islam. Primary Sources of Information See below Sec…
▲   Back to top   ▲