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Responses to Islam in the west during the Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Pilgrims and travellers to the Holy Land and former captives of the Turks described the peculiar institutions and beliefs of Islam in an effort to raise the level of awareness of the foreign culture and religion of their Muslim neighbors. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, when Martin Luther began to address Islam, he turned almost exclusively to these works. Riccoldo's approach towards Islam was primarily polemical. Recalling his own experience in Baghdad, he informed his readers that before engaging in a religious debate one should know Muslims only acknowledged the Qurʾān to be the word of God. Riccoldo's Contra legem Sarracenorum is without a doubt one of the most important apologetic works written in response to Islam during the Middle Ages. Alongside the aggressive attacks of the apologists, perhaps the most enduring fixation medieval scholars had with the Muslim world was its place in the unfolding of history.

Keywords: Contra legem Sarracenorum; Holy Land; Islam; Martin Luther; Middle Ages; Muslim world; Qurʾān; Riccoldo; Turks



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