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The Face To Face Encounter Between Patriarch Sophronius Of Jerusalem And The Caliph ῾Umar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb: Friends Or Foes?

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Chapter Summary

The capitulation of Jerusalem to the Arabs, involving the encounter of Sophronius Patriarch of Jerusalem with the second caliph ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb and the alleged covenant granted to the Patriarch by ʿUmar as a way of securing for the Christians ownership of the holy sites, constitutes an interesting and intriguing footnote, and maybe a valuable chapter, in the earliest period of Christian-Muslim relations. The historical details notwithstanding, this encounter affords an opportunity to concentrate on the two personalities, and to evaluate the relationship that developed between them, speculative though this venture may appear to be. The reconstruction of the meeting between these representative men of faith, like the study of the collection of the Qurʾan, requires a synthesis of whatever historical fragments can be extracted ‘from stones and palm leaves’ and ‘from the hearts of men’, which is to say a kind of ‘psychological dissection’ of personality traits.

Keywords: Caliph ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb; Christian-Muslim relations; holy sites; personality traits; Qurʾan; Sophronius Patriarch of Jerusalem



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