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Christian Martyrs under Islam

Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World

Christian C. Sahner



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Princeton University Pres
01 September 2020
How did the medieval Middle East transform from a majority-Christian world to a majority-Muslim world, and what role did violence play in this process?
Christian Martyrs under Islam explains how Christians across the early Islamic caliphate slowly converted to the faith of the Arab conquerors and how small groups of individuals rejected this faith through dramatic acts of resistance, including apostasy and blasphemy. Using previously untapped sources in a range of Middle Eastern languages, Christian Sahner introduces an unknown group of martyrs who were executed at the hands of Muslim officials between the seventh and ninth centuries CE. Found in places as diverse as Syria, Spain, Egypt, and Armenia, they include an alleged descendant of Muhammad who converted to Christianity, high-ranking Christian secretaries of the Muslim state who viciously insulted the Prophet, and the children of mixed marriages between Muslims and Christians. Sahner argues that Christians never experienced systematic persecution under the early caliphs, and indeed, they remained the largest portion of the population in the greater Middle East for centuries after the Arab conquest. Still, episodes of ferocious violence contributed to the spread of Islam within Christian societies, and memories of this bloodshed played a key role in shaping Christian identity in the new Islamic empire. Christian Martyrs under Islam examines how violence against Christians ended the age of porous religious boundaries and laid the foundations for more antagonistic Muslim-Christian relations in the centuries to come.
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780691203133
ISBN 10:   069120313X
Pages:   360
Publication Date:  
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Christian C. Sahner is associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St Cross College. He is the author of Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present.

Reviews for Christian Martyrs under Islam: Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World

Finalist for the Award for Excellence in the Historical Study of Religion, American Academy of Religion This book is a real achievement. It is a fascinating read for any scholar of Christian-Muslim relations, since it deals with a sensitive topic analytically and in an academically balanced manner. . . . In addition, although the author declares that he had no intension to connect the past with the present, the book opens up a larger window of understanding for any reader who is interested in current events in the Middle East. ---Risto Jukko, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations Meticulously researched and documented. Sahner's readings of the sources reflect great skill and care for sound methodology. As a result, the book is a welcome contribution to studies focusing on medieval Christian communities and their relationships with Muslims. ---Charles Tieszen, Scottish Journal of Theology Shortlisted for the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize The Spectator's Books of the Year Christian Sahner has published an excellent study of a long-overlooked and yet extremely important topic. ---Stephen J. Shoemaker, Medieval Encounters Sahner's excellent book . . . draw[s] a detailed, bold, and colorful view of this new complex society in its formative centuries. Through minute and sensitive analysis of a wide array of martyrological stories Sahner deals with the most significant processes that forged a new society and culture during the first three centuries of Islam. ---Milka Levy-Rubin, Bustan: The Middle East Book Review

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