Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey

Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey

Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey

Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey

Synopsis

Since its inception, Islam and its civilization have been in continuous relationships with other religions, cultures, and civilizations, including not only different forms of Christianity and Judaism inside and outside the Middle East, Zoroastrianism and Manicheism, Hinduism and even Buddhism, but also tribal religions in West and East Africa, in South Russia and in Central Asia, including Tibet. The essays collected here examine the many texts that have come down to us about these cultures and their religions, from Muslim theologians and jurists, travelers and historians, and men of letters and of culture.

Excerpt

In recent years, the ways in which artists, authors, and scholars have described people from cultures other than their own or in which one culture has viewed another one have been attracting increasing scholarly interest. This interest is twofold: first to establish which aspects of the other culture were seen and described, and second, to determine the extent to which the views of that other culture reflect particular values and ways of thinking that are specific to the author's own culture or society.

The underlying question here is to what extent a certain openness toward people from other cultures exists among given groups or individuals, if they are willing and able to learn from these other cultures, and what exactly they are prepared to learn. The attention paid to other cultures, of course, is not only a matter of the mind. It also has to do with intersocietal relations generally, including economic and political relations. But it is connected, too, with man's fundamental need for communication and with his gift of imagination.

Whereas Western views of Islam have received increasing scholarly attention during the last decades, this is much less the case with Muslim views of other cultures and religions. Yet since its inception the Muslim civilization has been in continuous relationship with other cultures and civilizations. It extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and through regions which have long been carriers of culture. As a consequence, Muslims have come into contact with many religions. One may think not only of various forms of Christianity and Judaism inside and outside the Middle East but also of Zoroastrianism and Manicheism, Hinduism, and even Buddhism, not to speak of nonliterate religions in many parts of Asia and Africa.

A number of texts have come down to us about these cultures and their religions, written by Muslim theologians and jurists, travelers and historians, and men of letters, as well as other people of imagination. These texts testify to voluntary and involuntary meetings that have taken place between Muslims and other peoples. They are the sources of this book.

Part I, “Muslim Studies of Other Religions,” is meant to open up this area as a field of research. Jacques Waardenburg surveys the field's broad outlines and supplies information especially on those issues that are hardly treated in the more specialized essays of Parts II and III.

Part II, “Medieval Times,” treats specific subjects from the very beginnings of Islam to the sixteenth century. Jane McAuliffe examines the way in which the Christians are viewed in the Qur'ān and specific Qur'ānic commentaries. To a large extent, these texts have conditioned the ways in which Muslims perceived and perceive Christians. Ahmad Shboul gives an account of early medieval Arab-Muslim perceptions of Byzantine Christian religion and culture, whereas . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.