Book

Christian Martyrs under Islam

Christian C. Sahner

Published by Princeton University Press

Published in print August 2018 | ISBN: 9780691179100
Published online January 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780691184180
Christian Martyrs under Islam

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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? This book 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, the book 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. The book 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. The book 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.

Keywords: medieval Middle East; violence; early Islamic caliphate; martyrs; Muslims; Christians; Islamic empire; Christian identity; bloodshed

Book.  360 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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Table of Contents

Christian Martyrs under Islam in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Converting to Islam and Returning to Christianity in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Converting from Islam to Christianity in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Blaspheming against Islam in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Trying and Killing Christian Martyrs in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Creating Saints and Communities in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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Making of the Muslim World in Christian Martyrs under Islam

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