history of the relationship between islam and christianity.

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Bosun, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Bosun
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    War & Rivalry

    The relationship of Islam and Christianity must be understood with a context of almost constant armed conflict, cultural ignorance, and misunderstanding. For instance, in the early middle ages, some Christians did not realize that Islam was a separate religion and assumed that it was a more fundamental form of the same monotheistic religion.

    Within this context, the identity and status of Jerusalem has evolved and been contested over the centuries. Cultures and societies have continued to reinvent the past to justify the present. And, Islam has also reinvented the past to justify the needs for the present Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s importance is dictated by this conflict

    Muslim expansion through to 900

    Christianity was divided, both theologically and culturally. Many Christians were weary of the Byzantine Empire and to many Islam appeared to be more reasonable at the time. After all, considering the way many were treated by the Romans and later the Byzantine Empire, the Pact of Umar seemed more reasonable and offered some degree of autonomy. The Byzantine Empire ruled with more of iron glove, believed in tax without representation. The Muslim’s jizya tax appeared more reasonable to some Christians.

    Christians throughout the Mediterranean region spoke different languages and there were vast cultural and identity differences. The Muslims did not encourage conversion and were more apt to leave the non believers to their own desires as long as they did not violate the agreements and truces such as the Pact of Umar.

    Why did some Christians convert to Islam?

    This is a very tough question and the answers elusive. True, there were definitely disadvantages to staying true to the confession of faith, not owning property, being prevented from better jobs, and other inconveniences for remaining non-believers. One must also understand the rise of Islam, natural disasters and a sense that perhaps G_d was angry with them .

    Many who were already nominal in their faith didn’t feel that it was worth fighting against. The sometimes divided nature of Eastern and Western thoughts of Christianity may have also played a role. Remember, during this early 700 – 900 AD period, iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art and religious images, due to controversy among Christians of the Byzantine Empire in the 8th and 9th centuries. One might attribute the rise of the age of Islam to fear and crisis of faith of the non-believers.

    In 638, Umar took Jerusalem. Pact of Umar – it made Christians into a marginalized group that couldn’t advance socially. Christian men were not allowed to marry a Muslim woman. However, Christian women were allowed to marry Muslim men, and the offspring, raised Muslim. Mixed marriage always pushed toward Muslim dominance and submission.

    Iconoclastic controversy: Iconoclasts destroyed the icons and claimed that they were graven images. Muslim abhorrence for images influenced Christian Iconoclasts. In 726, when a volcano activity caused havoc in the Byzantine empire, questions arose whether sin in the church – particularly problematic were with icons and graven images were to blame. Interestingly, the controversy was a Christian response to the Muslim success / most of the victories were for Muslims up to the 11th century.
     
  2. Bosun
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    Christian attempts to bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity.

    Francis of Assisi (1181 -1226)
    Ramon de Penyaforte (1175-1275)
    Jacques de Vitry (1160 – 1240)
    Ramon Llull (1265 – 1316)

    Terms for Muslims
    Agarenes – (descendants of Hagar) /
    Saracens
    Moors
    Turks – all Muslim called Turks because so many came from there and the political power came from there
    Barbarians – pejorative term

    Peter the Venerable – tried to understand Islam – translated the Quran into Latin Eventually he wrote a book describing Islam as a sect of Christianity. In popular culture – many stories told about Muslims – really painted as charlatans.

    Some described Muslims in more derogatory terms. Muhammad – stories about him being trampled to death by pigs. Or of him putting grain in his ear so that when the pigeon came to eat it, it would look like a dove (the Holy Spirit) was speaking to him in his ear.

    On the other hand, many felt that Muslims were virtuous, courageous / a romantic, foreign, and exotic.

    Muslim view of Christians:

    Uncultured followers of a religion that has been superseded by Islam. One should research “The Book of the Categories of Nations” – written in 11th century. Muslims looked at both Europeans in the north and Africans to the south as Barbarians. During the early era, Muslims were concerned with skin color and at time could be prejudice. Muhammad and later his followers refuted Christianity through the Quran. Muslims established vast libraries and felt that they were more cultured than the Europeans. One refutation that strongly carries over to today is that Islam has the correct answer to those who have changed the religion of Christ. According to the teachings of Muhammad, G_d gave the Jews and Christians the correct text, but, Jews and Christians corrupted it. The Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad by the Archangle Gabriel to correct the text.

    However, even as Muhammad received the channeled recitations, he abrogated what he received. And corrected what he received.

    Pilgrimage to the Holy Land always a big deal – even when the Muslims had control of it in the Middle Ages / Christians would often visit / even from England they’d make pilgrimage. It was not until 691 that the Muslims saw a significance to Jerusalem to honor Muhammad’s night trips. In 691, the Dome of the Rock built on the Temple Mount. It’s not a Mosque, but, a shrine to honor Islam. Currently it is the oldest Muslim building in existence. The Ka’aba in Mecca was destroyed and rebuilt.

    In the middle ages, it is fair to say that Christians were tolerated in general, but some exceptions. The Caliph al-Hakim was generally recognized that he was insane. Caliph al-Hakim decreed that the souks (سوق), markets of you will, must stay open 24 hours a day. Caliph al-Hakim ordered thousands of his people executed. Al-Hakim also was famous for destroying thousands of churches. After Caliph al-Hakim destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this act helped to spark the Crusades.

    Europe for the first time is starting to heat up economically – so now the will is there and preachers started preaching the cause of the crusade. Muslims and apologists may say that the crusades were economically driven. But that appears to be untrue, as, the Crusades cost families and cities considerably to send out their warriors.

    The 1st Crusade retook the city of Jerusalem in 1104. Christians saw this as a huge miracle. They set up European states (Crusader States) around the holy land. In truth, the Christian Crusaders were lucky because the Muslims didn’t have their best armies there.

    In 1187 Saladin (during 3rd crusade) retook Jerusalem for Islam. After this, the Muslims held the city. In 1187, Jerusalem started to be asserted as the 3rd most holy site. By 1291, Muslims completely take over the Middle East.
     
  3. Bosun
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    Perhaps we can also discuss the Ottoman Empire...

    The Ottoman Empire expanded through the 16th century.

    At the height of its power (16th–17th century), it spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It stretched from the Strait of Gibraltar (and in 1553 the Atlantic coast of Morocco beyond Gibraltar) in the west to the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf in the east; and from the edge of Austria, Hungary and parts of Ukraine in the north to Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen in the south. The Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces, in addition to the tributary principalities of Moldavia, Transylvania, and Wallachia. The empire also temporarily gained authority over distant overseas lands through declarations of allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, such as the declaration by the Sultan of Aceh in 1565; or through the temporary acquisitions of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, such as Lanzarote (1585), Madeira (1617), Vestmannaeyjar (1627) and Lundy (1655).

    The empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. With Constantinople (Istanbul) as its capital city, and vast control of lands during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent which largely corresponded to the lands ruled by Justinian the Great exactly 1000 years earlier, the Ottoman Empire was, in many respects, an Islamic successor to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Numerous traditions and cultural traits of this previous empire (in fields such as architecture, cuisine, music, leisure and government) were adopted by the Ottomans, who elaborated them into new forms and blended them with the characteristics of the ethnic and religious groups living within the Ottoman territories, which resulted in a new and distinctively Ottoman cultural identity.


    By 1529, the Turks advanced to the door to Europe, the Gates of Vienna, and south to North Africa. The Ottoman Empire lasted until WW1. Muslims enjoyed fancing themselves as the dominant power.

    The period of Ottoman decline (loss of huge territories) is typically characterized by historians also as an era of modern times. The Empire lost territory on all fronts, and there was administrative instability because of the breakdown of centralized government, despite efforts of reform and reorganization such as the Tanzimat. During this period, the Empire faced challenges in defending itself against foreign invasion and occupation. The Empire ceased to enter conflicts on its own and began to forge alliances with European countries such as France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Russia. As an example, in the Crimean War the Ottomans united with the British, French, and others against Russia.

    courtesy of Wikipedia.
     
  4. Bosun
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    The relationship of Islam and the Western world continues to be misunderstood within the context of almost constant armed conflict, cultural ignorance, and misunderstanding. Take for instance three elections held in the Palestinian areas led to radical groups being elected to the dismay of the west. When we went into Iraq, we naively thought that democracy would be embraced and follow the "liberation." Unfortunately the outcome was not what we expected and the process has been slow and tedious. The follies are reinacted with t Afghanistan, the developments in Egypt and the revolt in Libya (and the rise of radical islam peppered throughout the middle east.

    The challenge of westernization under colonialism and during the transition to modern Muslim states gave rise to two not completely dissimilar Islamic movements—Modern and Neorevivalist. Both had a great part in shaping the modern Muslim world.

    Lets face it, there are some in the Islamic world who do not like the west due to the legacy of colonialism and imperialism.

    In the 19th century, we saw almost all of the Muslim countries came under the power of the west. This brought new possibilities into Muslim cultures: Liberalism; Possibilities of divorce and more rights for women; Moderate moral standards.

    Background in westernization and colonialism and Muslim nationalism

    There appeared a movement of intelligencia. A significant number of the best and brightest scholarly Muslims went for education in the West. Western Universities were planted in Muslim countries.

    There appeared middle positions on things western and a scorn of traditions. Western thought introduced westernized legal standards (contract law, etc.). There appears a revelation of reason and the "Gates of Ijtihad" began to swing open.

    The goal of the the westernizing of the middle east —synthesis of Islam with modern science and learning. Colonialism brought on a a concept that government was responsible for everything and religious groups were regulated with increasing frequency.

    However, the legacy was short lived. Westernization did not catch on on the popular level. As the Europeans left, authoritarian dictatorships replaced the colonial governments. Racism and other isms seemed to rise.

    Neorevivalist and Islamic Movements began to gain traction. Islamists rejected leaders like the Shah of Iran and were against the status quo of secular governments.

    We may want to study Hasan al Banna (1906 - 1949) who started to Muslim Brotherhood and Mawlana Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903 - 1979) who started the Jamaat i Islami (Islamic Society). Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900 - 1989) and his movement to restore Islam to Iran brought down the Shah of Iran.

    Turkey is the last of the secular Islamic countries left. UAE and Iraq may be on the rise. However most of the Arab countries remain elusive for democratic freedoms.
     
  5. Bosun
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    Spiritualism of rising Islam in the 20th and 21st century

    Saudi Arabia began to use its wealth all around the world to establish maddrasas and religious centers. Saudi Arabia came out of the Wanhabi movement – so strong religious orientation.

    Islam began to strong rejection of western materialistic values. That critique is something that we as Christians can certainly agree with. Christians and secular westerners live with a degree of impurity around us that is exceptional.

    A major movement has started to reconstruct Muslim countries along Islamic values.
     
  6. High_Gravity
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    To be honest I think the Saudis are one of the biggest problems in Islam, they fund radical madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and they also give money to terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah etc. They were one of the few countries to recognize Taliban run Afghanistan not mention most of the hijackers from 9/11 were Saudi Nationals! I don't know what its going to take for us to wake up and see this!
     
  7. Bosun
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    there are many who would agree with you.. in particular, the wahabbi faith and the madrases and schools that have sprung up over the world including fairfax county, virginia..... but, radicalism and fundamental islam can be found promulgated by others besides the saudis...

    we have sunni and shia, both have some problematic areas..... the reason for the season is Muhammad and his Companions....

    christian apologists and appeasers, and the question of faith has caused much throughout history....
     
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    The dangerous thing is the Saudis are so rich their reach is very far, they even build and fund mosques and religious schools here in the US.
     
  9. Bosun
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    you are absolutely right, bro....
     
  10. High_Gravity
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    The problem with us Americans is we act too much like whores, we take money from whoever is willing to give it, even Bin Ladens fucking family had investments in the US, Ghaddafis son was here on an internship.:doubt:
     

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