"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Islamic Jerusalem's Christians

The monstrous barbarity of ISIS, especially its persecution and slaughter of Christians in Syria and Iraq today, has only confirmed for many the violent, intolerant side of Islam. But it was not always and everywhere so. At times, in places, for a variety of reasons and with a variety of expressions, Muslims were prepared, after a fashion, to tolerate Jews and Christians--in ways which, sometimes, were rather enlightened in their context but which many if not most of us today would find unacceptable. Still, considering the alternatives, this was the best non-Muslim monotheists could hope for. A book recently reprinted last year reminds us of one slice of this history of tolerance--of dhimmitude:Maher Abu-Munshar, Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions (I.B. Tauris, 2013), 264pp.

About this study we are told by the publisher:
Islamic Jerusalem has a special place in the hearts of the three monotheistic religions. Throughout its history it has been the site of tolerance and tensions. Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians presents a critical look at historical events during the time of two key figures in the history of Islam: firstly Caliph 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who played a critically important role in the birth and spread of Islam. Secondly Sultan Salah al-Din, the legendary 'Saladdin' of Western Crusader lore, whose peace negotiations with Richard the Lion-Heart, King of England Abu Munshar brings to life here. This pioneering study uses extensive original research to explore Muslim treatment of non-Muslims in the 7th Century and in the Middle Ages. A valuable source of reference for all interested in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, Religion and Medieval History, Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians establishes and develops new evidence for academic debate.

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