Christianity and Islam

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The early Islamic empire included Christians in its bureaucracies; the first language of the Umayyad administration was Greek. Early relations were good, though there is evidence of discontent (Coptic uprising, 829–30). Islam inherited the Greek intellectual tradition, translating and elaborating on scientific, philosophical, medical, and religious texts, including the Bible. Legal rights for non-Muslims were established. The Crusades (1095–1291) and Reconquista (1085–1492) resulted in sustained military engagements and an exchange of knowledge that eventually led to the European Renaissance. Christians and Jews studied with Muslims at the universities of Córdoba (established 968) and Cairo (972), perhaps influencing the development of western European universities (Paris, 1150; Bologna, 1119). Religious tolerance varied with social, political, and economic circumstances. After the Middle Ages, the religious dimension of Christian-Muslim relations became secondary to economic and political interests. The Industrial Revolution ensured military supremacy of the Western powers, whose colonial influence affected most of the Muslim world. Colonial policies and the emergence of nineteenth-century Christian missionary movements affected the social, economic, educational, cultural, and religious institutions of Muslim communities worldwide. The reaction to Western hegemony has been a struggle to create independent nation-states reflecting varied interpretations of Islamic and Western political thought. Some emphasize minimal involvement with secular society; others promote Islam's reconciliation with the contemporary world. The Islamist trend advocates the complete integration of shariah, causing intercommunal discord in places such as Nigeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Creation of the state of Israel (1948) and the subsequent displacement of Palestinians have had a profound effect on Muslim-Christian relations everywhere.

See also Muslim-Christian Dialogue

Subjects: Islam.

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