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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter indicates that the period covered in this book, 600-900, is the most important period in relations between Christianity and Islam, because in these centuries Christians and Muslims first became acquainted with one anothers beliefs and religious claims. The beginnings of Christian-Muslim relations are found in the Qurʾān and life of the Prophet Muḥammad. In the two centuries or so before the time of Muḥammad the Byzantine Empire had been split by differences over Christology that the church councils of the fifth century had not only failed to settle but had actually exacerbated. The complexity of early Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt is reflected in the wide range of Christian assessments of the Arabs in the Coptic texts surveyed in the book, from fairly positive to apocalyptically negative. Knowledge of Islam among Christians outside the Muslim world was limited.

Keywords: Byzantine Empire; Christian-Muslim relation; Coptic text; Egypt; Prophet Muḥammad; Qurʾān



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