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. Jerusalems 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 Muslims 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 didnt 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 couldnt 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.