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Christendom and Islam

Christendom and Islam

Chapter:
(p.15) [1] Christendom and Islam
Source:
Neighboring Faiths
Author(s):
David Nirenberg
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226169095.003.0002

This chapter explores the various dynamics of the interaction between Christendom and Islam during the High Middle Ages and addresses three interrelated questions: 1) what did Christians know about Islam? 2) how did their thinking about Islam affect the formation of the concept of Christendom itself? and 3) how did Islam experience Christendom? Covering a period from the earliest Christian responses to the Arab conquests in the seventh century through the more specific Christian-Muslim interactions in late fifteenth-century Iberia, it underscores the diversity of Christendom’s approaches to Islam and Muslims, showing how the idea of Christian war against Islam developed during the early crusades, giving medieval Europe a much more unified and self-conscious sense of historical mission. It also demonstrates that Christian ideas about Islam were as much the product of the Christian theological imagination as they were of any knowledge of “real” Islam. Nor were these ideas necessarily made more accurate by Christian contact with or knowledge of living adherents to Islam. The chapter concludes with a consideration of Muslims living under Christian rule in Iberia as a specific example of how Christian ideas about Islam and the presence of living Muslims interacted to produce particular possibilities for co-existence.

Keywords:   Christendom, Christian-Muslin relations, diasporic Islam, Crusades, Mudéjar, polemics

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