Muslim Challenge

Sources: Annemarie Schimmel, Islam: An Introduction (SUNY Press, 1992); Marshall G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 3 vols. (University of Chicago, 1974); Alexander Murray, "The Later Middle Ages" and Kallistos Ware, "Eastern Christianity" in Richard Harries and Henry Mayr-Harting, Christianity: Two Thousand Years (Oxford, 2001); Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2001); Bat Ye'or, The Dhimmi (Fairleigh Dickinson, 1985).


The Beginnings of Islam
Arabia had pagans, Jews, some Christians, and the monotheistic hanif
Muhammad (570-632), a hanif, receives angelic messages of God's unity (tawhid) starting ~610
Moses and Jesus are 'Muslim' prophets; their unfaithful followers corrupt the tawrah and injil
Muhammad proclaims submission (islam) to God by 613, is forced to flee Mecca (622 AD =1 AH)
In Medina the umma is organized; later Muhammad and his companions return to Mecca in 630

Muhammad subdues his Quraysh tribe (breaking a treaty?) in 630
Arabia is unified under Islam by 634
Conquests spread Islam rapidly: Damascus 635, Jerusalem 638, Egypt 639-644, Iraq and Persia 640-644, North Africa 647, Cypress 649 ...
Uthman (third caliph 644-656) finalizes the Quran
The Quraysh are enormously enriched by the conquests, divide over succession in fitnas
Charles Martel and Charlemagne reverse Muslim expansion in Gaul to mid-Spain by 759

Muslim lands stretch by 786 from Spain across northern Africa to India, from Turkey to Nubia
Islam spreads peacefully through traders into central Asia, south Asia, sub-Saharan Africa

Christians Subdued
Weary of Byzantine politics/taxation/persecution, many Christians welcome Muslim rule
Muslims persecute Christians and Jews until they accept rule as dhimmi (subject peoples)
Dhimmitude levies special taxes (jizya) and prohibits new churches, evangelism, public crosses
Muslims employ Christians and Jews as cultural translators and teachers; dhimmis suffer socially
Christian/Jewish women may marry Muslim men, but not vice versa; children become Muslim
Numbers of Christians decline quickly, stabilizing in a few lands (Egypt, Syria)
Neglect, passivity, and counterattack become characteristic Christian responses to Islam

Christians in an Islamic Centrifruge
Henri Pirenne: Muslim conquests split the Mediterranean economy in half
North African Christianity goes extinct
Western Christian attention looks north
Eastern Christian attention looks northeast
Assyrian (Church of the East, misnamed "Nestorian") Christian attention looks east
Oriental (Egyptian Coptic) Christianity goes into survival mode or looks south
Muslim areas remain the least evangelized and most resistant societies in the world

A Few Theological Consequences
Efforts to reconcile Romans, Byzantines, Nestorians, and Copts slow or cease
These traditions grow apart culturally, liturgically, theologically, politically, economically
Eastern Christianity rejects Iconoclasm at Second Council of Nicea, 787
Eastern Trinitarianism stresses God's threeness
Western Christianity creates a theology of crusade