The Christian-Muslim Frontier: A Zone of Contact, Conflict, or Cooperation

The Christian-Muslim Frontier: A Zone of Contact, Conflict, or Cooperation

The Christian-Muslim Frontier: A Zone of Contact, Conflict, or Cooperation

The Christian-Muslim Frontier: A Zone of Contact, Conflict, or Cooperation

Synopsis

An examination of the civilisational interface between Christianity and Islam from the unique perspective as a zone of contact rather than a distinct boundary.

Excerpt

The idea of writing this book was born in 1998. At that time I was finalizing my doctoral thesis on religious minorities and security in the Balkans and the Middle East. The thesis contained a short section that ran through my initial idea of the Christian-Muslim frontier as an element of order in an increasingly globalized society, where each cultural community had its place, and frontiers between communities served as both a divide and a bridge. Although the subject fascinated me, I felt that it was not realistic to plan more detailed research. Nevertheless, one day I came across a short message in the students’ newsletter of my institute in Geneva about a fellowship for research, promoting the idea of world society. My immediate reaction was that there was hardly anything that would better fit the objectives of this fellowship than my study on the Christian-Muslim frontier. A quick glimpse at the relevant website, with names of former and current fellows and topics of sponsored research, confirmed my idea. And I was right. The foundation attributed to my project exactly the amount I had requested. This allowed me to carry out one of the most rewarding endeavours in my life. It gave me the time and resources to undertake research on a topic that fascinated me, and to carry out field studies in the Balkans and the Middle East: the heart of the Christian-Muslim zone of contact.

The results of my research took the form of a manuscript, which I offered to the publishers in 2000. I was happy to receive a prompt and very positive response from one of the editors at Routledge. A couple of months later, however, a certain scepticism from a marketing perspective eliminated the chances of accepting the book. Would any reasonable person buy and read a book on such a subject as the Christian-Muslim frontier in the year 2000? The topic seemed obsolete in comparison with works on the problems of economic liberalism, e-business or the information society, for example. Moreover, at the beginning of the twenty-first century people seemed to have accepted unquestioningly the Hegelian understanding of the world, which recognized the (nation) state as the finest, and probably final, product of social evolution. Hardly any alternative in the form, for example, of religious identity would have seemed . . .

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