People of the Book

Frank Peters

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
People of the Book


The issues represented by the phrase “People of the Book” surface under a number of different headings in the Islamic context. First, there is the religious content and theological intent of the expression, which summons up the essence of the three scriptural (i.e., monotheistic) religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and their mutual relationships and dealings over the centuries. The notion of a shared tradition of ripturalism can be understood as both forging a brotherhood and grounding a rivalry. The Muslims, in fact, understood it as both, and they implemented it as policy toward the Jews and Christians who lived under their sovereignty. Thus, the concept of a “People of the Book,” a notion that goes back to the Qurʾan, lies at the heart of the Muslims' successful creation of a political society that was understood in the first instance as a community of believers but also included within its expanding frontiers significant religious diversity. The notion lives on today to confront the Islamist defenders of the traditional two-tiered society of the People of the Book and the modernist advocates of a constitutionally derived society of citizens.

Article.  7496 words. 

Subjects: Islam

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »