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Corresponding across Religious Borders: Al-Bājī’s Response to a Missionary Letter from France

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Abstract “I have examined, O monk, the letter coming from you, the friendship therein proffered, the advice which you offer, and the intention which you disclose.” With these words begins the reply written by the eminent Andalusian Mālikī scholar Abū l-Walīd Sulaymān al-Bājī (d. 1081) to a letter received at the Muslim court of Saragossa from an unidentified ‘monk of France’ inviting the ruler to convert to Christianity. This letter, if authentic, is the earliest extant record of a Christian mission to Muslims in the West. After introducing al-Bājī and situating him in the socio-political and religious circumstances of the time, this article offers a review of past scholarship relating to this correspondence, which has mostly focused on the authenticity of the Christian letter and the possible identification of its author. It is argued in favor of the authenticity of the exchange, offering reasons for it. The article then turns to al-Bājī’s text, seeking to draw from it what it can tell us about him and how he viewed Christians and Christianity.

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61. FN1 1In fact, both the Christian missive and al-Bājī’s reply mention a previous epistolary exchange between the same correspondents, an exchange of which, however, no record has survived. Unsatisfied with the reply of the Muslim ruler to his first letter, the ‘monk of France’ decided to write a second time.
62. FN2 2On the merits of an approach to the study of the convivenciathat focuses on individuals rather than on religious or ethnic groups, see Jonathan Ray, “Beyond Tolerance and Persecution: Reassessing Our Approach to Medieval Convivencia,” Jewish Social Studies11 (2005), 1-18. See also Kenneth B. Wolf, “ Convivenciain Medieval Spain: A Brief History of an Idea,” Religion Compass3 (2008), 72-85.
63. FN3 3William Mac Guckin de Slane, trans., Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary, 4 vols (Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, 1842-1871), 1:593. See also the portrait of al-Bājī written by his celebrated disciple, al-Qāḍī Abū l-Faḍl ʿIyāḍ (d. 1149), in Juan Castilla Brazales, “Dos célebres maestros mālikíes del siglo XI,” Al-Andalus-Magreb7 (1999), 67-77.
64. FN4 4The sources are not in accord, however, on whether al-Bāji was born in Badajoz or in Beja. The question is discussed in José D. Garcia Domingues, “A obra jurídica e teológica de Abu’l-Walid al-Baji (o de Beja),” Ocidente59 (1960), 37-38, who inclines to the second opinion. For the opposite view, see Jacinto Bosch Vilá, “A propósito de una misión cristiana a la corte de Al-Muqtadir Ibn Hūd,” Tamuda2 (1954), 103.
65. FN5 5On this author, his work al-Tamhīd, and the important refutation of Christianity contained therein, see David Thomas, Christian Doctrines in Islamic Theology(Leiden: Brill, 2008), 119-141. As we shall see later, al-Bājī boasts about his knowledge of the different Christian sects and his aptitude for theological reasoning and dialectical argumentation, which he clearly sees to be lacking in his Christian interlocutor.
66. FN6 6The contending parties in the dispute, which had to do with juridical and theological issues, were the Mālikī jurists of Majorca on the one side, and Ibn Ḥazm, representing the Ẓāhirī school, on the other. The classical study of this dispute is that of Abdelmagid Turki, Polémiques entre Ibn Hazm et Bāǧī sur les principes de la loi musulmane: essai sur le littéralisme zahirite et la finalité malikite(Algiers: Société nationale d’Édition et de Diffusion, 1975). See also Garcia Domingues, “A obra,” 41-44.
67. FN7 7Garcia Domingues, “A obra,” 40-41. Interestingly, according to the witness of al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ, al-Bājī would have advocated the unity of the taifakings under the aegis of the nascent Almoravid movement, still in Morocco. See Hanna E. Kassis, “Muslim Revival in Spain in the Fifth/Eleventh Century: Causes and Ramifications,” Der Islam67 (1990), 91, n. 46.
68. FN8 8Bosch Vilá, “A propósito,” 104. On the Banū Hūd rule of the taifaof Saragossa, see María Jesús Viguera Molíns, Aragón musulmán(Zaragoza: Mira Editores, 1988), 185-224. The reign of al-Muqtadir is described in 188-206. See also Brian A. Catlos, The Victors and the Vanquished: Christians and Muslims of Catalonia and Aragon, 1050-1300(Cambridge, UK; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 19-120: Muslim Domination of the Ebro and its Demise.
69. FN9 9For an overview of al-Bājī’s intellectual career in Saragossa including that of his most important disciples, Abū Bakr al-Ṭurtūshī (d. 1126) and Abū ‘Alī al-Ṣadafī ibn Sukkara (d. 1120), see George T. Beech, The Brief Eminence and Doomed Fall of Islamic Saragossa: A Great Center of Jewish and Arabic Learning in the Iberian Peninsula during the 11th Century(Zaragoza: Instituto de Estudios Islámicos y del Oriente Próximo, 2008), 108-110.
70. FN10 10 Ibn Khallikan, 1:593. A more complete bibliography is found in Francisco Vidal Castro, “al-Bājī, Abū l-Walīd,” Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, eds Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=ei3_COM-24281. See also Maribel Fierro, “Abu l-Walid al-Bayi,” Diccionario de autores y obras andalusíes, tomo I (A-Ibn B), eds. J. Lirola Delgado and J.M. Puerta Vílchez (Seville: Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía/Granada: Fundación El Legado Andalusí, 2002), 121-123.
71. FN11 11Maribel Fierro, “La religión,” in Los reinos de taifas: Al-Andalus en el siglo XI, ed. M.J. Viguera Molíns (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1994), 412. Al-Bājī’s initiation to this new discipline may well have taken place in Baghdad under the guidance of the above-mentioned al-Shīrāzī, an acknowledged master in the realm of juridical controversy.
72. FN12 12Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, 2nd edn (Leiden: Brill, 1943), 1:534.
73. FN13 13Abū l-Walīd al-Bājī, Al-minhāj fī tartīb al-ḥijāj, L’art de la polémique, ed. A. Turki (Paris: G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose, 1978); idem, Iḥkām al-fuṣūl fī aḥkām al-uṣūl, ed. A. Turki (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-islāmī, 1986).
74. FN14 14Abdelmagid Turki, “Lettre du ‘Moine de France’ à al-Muqtadir billāh, roi de Saragosse, et la réponse d’al-Bāy̑ī, le faqīh andalou,” Al-Andalus31 (1966), 82-83.
75. FN15 15For this section, particularly in regard to the religious situation, I draw extensively on Maribel Fierro’s contribution to Los reinos de taifas: Al-Andalus en el siglo XI. See also, by the same author, “Proto-Malikis, Malikis, and Reformed Malikis in al-Andalus,” in The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution, and Progress, ed. P. Bearman, et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 57-76; Dominique Urvoy, “The ʿ Ulamā’of al-Andalus,” in The Legacy of Muslim Spain, ed. S.K. Jayyusi (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 849-877; David Wasserstein, The Rise and Fall of the Party-Kings: Politics and Society in Islamic Spain 1002-1086(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985); and Peter Scales, The Fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba: Berbers and Andalusis in Conflict(Leiden: Brill, 1994).
76. FN16 16On this Mālikī scholar, see Castilla Brazales, “Dos célebres,” 77-81.
77. FN17 17See Vincent Lagardère, “Une théologie dogmatique de la frontière en al-Andalus aux XI eet XII esiècles: l’aš‘arisme,” Anaquel de estudios árabes5 (1994), 82-90.
78. FN18 18Fierro, “La religión,” 423-425.
79. FN19 19For instance, Fierro mentions al-Bājī’s recommendations to his children in his ‘Testament’ ( Waṣiyya li waladayhi), exhorting them to moral uprightness and warning them against having recourse to astrology, wine drinking, playing chess and singing. Kassis translates an extract of this work in which the Andalusian scholar admonishes his children to remain devoted and attached to this religion which God, be He exalted, has given us of His bounty. Let none of the affairs of this world cause you to slide away from it. Offer even your lives in return for it and sacrifice for it all worldly things. Without it, expect eternal Hell, and with it, the hope of eternal bliss . . . If you die maintaining this faith, which God has selected and preferred—while He has forbidden all other religions—then I hope that we shall meet where we shall neither fear separation nor anticipate an ending. God well knows how I yearn for this. (Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 93)
80. FN20 20Fierro, “La religión,” 495. Hereafter, all translations into English are mine.
81. FN21 21See Moshe Perlmann, “Ibn Ḥazm on the Equivalence of Proofs,” The Jewish Quarterly Review40 (1949-1950), 279-290.
82. FN22 22On this expedition against Barbastro, which Ramón Menéndez Pidal famously described as “a crusade before the crusades,” see Joseph F. O’Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain(Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 24-7; Beech, The Brief Eminence, 231-233; and more in detail Philippe Sénac, “Un château en Espagne: Notes sur la prise de Barbastro (1064),” in Liber Largitorius. Etudes d’histoire médiévale offertes à Pierre Toubert par ses élèves, eds D. Barthélemy and J.-M. Martin (Geneva: Droz, 2003), 545-562. For echoes of the fall of Barbastro in Muslim sources, see Manuela Marín, “Crusaders in the Muslim West: The View of Arab Writers,” The Maghreb Review17 (1992), 95-102. According to her analysis, the fall of Barbastro differs from other narratives of sieges and loss of territory. Several Arab writers express their horror and consternation at this event. They are aware that the attackers came from beyond the Pyrenees and describe them as treacherous, ferocious, and thirsty for booty. Among the witnesses collected, we find the following fragment by Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr describing the situation after the fall of Barbastro: What can be your opinion, O Muslims, when you see mosques and oratories, that once were witness to the recitation of the Qur’ān and the sweetness of the call to prayer, immersed in polytheism and slander, loaded with bells and crosses in place of the followers of the Merciful: imāms and pious men, vergers and muezzins . . . are dragged away by the infidels like animals for sacrifice, they are brought to the butcher, they prostrate themselves humbly in the mosques which are then burnt and reduced to ashes while the infidels laugh and insult us, and our religion wails and weeps. (96, modified)
83. FN23 23Fierro thinks that the French missive was probably a fiction. I will argue later that we do not need to posit a fictitious origin of the letter—in fact, internal evidence exists that points to the authenticity of the exchange—to retain her view that al-Bājī’s main purpose was to strengthen the Islamic community in the face of the crisis of confidence caused by Christian military success.
84. FN24 24In addition to the already quoted “Muslim Revival,” see also his articles: “Arabic-speaking Christians in al-Andalus in an Age of Turmoil (Fifth/Eleventh century until A.H. 478/A.D. 1085,” Al-Qantara15 (1994), 401-422; and “Some Aspects of the Legal Position of Christians under Mālikī Jurisprudence in Al-Andalus,” Parole de l’Orient24 (1999), 113-128.
85. FN25 25Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 78.
86. FN26 26Ibid., 82. See also Fierro, “La religión,” 401.
87. FN27 27Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 83.
88. FN28 28It should be noted, however, that fears about the “corruption” of Islam through assimilation of non-Islamic beliefs and practices, as well as concern for the isolation of the Muslim community of al Andalus, had been raised by Andalusian religious scholars long before the eleventh century, as shown by Janina M. Safran in “Identity and Differentiation in Ninth-Century al-Andalus,” Speculum76 (2001), 573-598.
89. FN29 29Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 89-90.
90. FN30 30See, for instance, the critical remarks of Dominique Iogna-Prat in Order and Exclusion: Cluny and Christendom Face Heresy, Judaism, and Islam (1000-1150)(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), 323-329.
91. FN31 31Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 92.
92. FN32 32As Beech rightly notes ( The Brief Eminence, 94-95), it is unthinkable that al-Muqtadir would have contemplated conversion to Christianity out of personal conviction. However, it is not impossible, given the dangerous game of shifting alliances among local Christian and Muslim powers in which he engaged, that he might have authorized the exchange of letters and messengers with Christians north of the Pyrenees with a view to establishing friendly relations with them. Catlos ( The Victors, 73) reminds us that Aḥmad ibn Sulaymān ibn Hūd took the sobriquet al-Muqtadir, ‘the Powerful,’ after defeating his brother Yūsuf and that he was at various times during his reign under the protection of Christian lords. “The practice of dividing the family lands at the death of each ruler ensured a state of more or less continuous conflict within the clan, a situation which the Christian powers endeavored to exploit, resulting in a web of crisscrossing alliances between the Christian kingdoms and rival Hūdid factions” (ibid., 13). See also Clay Stalls, Possessing the Land: Aragon’s Expansion into Islam’s Ebro Frontier under Alfonso the Battler, 1104-1134(Leiden: Brill, 1995), 9-24.
93. FN33 33On the fall of Toledo, see Joseph F. O’Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975), 204-207.
94. FN34 34On the connection between Gregory VII and the Spanish re-conquest, see O’Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade, 27-31; Herbert E.J. Cowdrey, Pope Gregory VII, 1073-1085(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 468-480; and Tomaž Mastnak, “Epistolae et privilegia,” Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. General Editor David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=CMR_COM-24931.
95. FN35 35Epalza claims to have found another manuscript of al-Bājī’s letter in Istanbul. He does not say, however, whether it also contains the French missive. See Míkel de Epalza, “Notes pour une histoire des polémiques anti-chrétiennes dans l’Occident musulman,” Arabica18 (1971), 101, n. 4.
96. FN36 36Douglas M. Dunlop, “A Christian Mission to Muslim Spain in the 11th Century,” Al-Andalus17 (1952), 259-310. Hereafter, I shall adopt Dunlop’s division of the text into paragraphs and give a revised version of his translation.
97. FN37 37Turki, “Lettre.” Turki’s edition differs in numerous points from Dunlop’s. This is, in fact, the reason that led him to publish his work, as he explains in n. 11. There are two more recent editions by Muḥammad ‘Abd Allāh al-Sharqāwī, Risālat rāhib Faransā ilā al-Muslimīn wa-jawāb al-Qāḍī Abī al-Walīd al-Bājī ‘alayhā(Cairo: Dār al-Ṣaḥwa, 1406/1986); and by Maḥmūd Khiyārī, “Risālat rāhib Faransā ilā al-Muqtadir bi-llāh al-Andalusī,” Al-Tabyīn: Thaqāfiyya Ibdā‘iyya27 (2007), 83-97.
98. FN38 38Dunlop, “A Christian Mission,” 261. Indications of the position of authority enjoyed by the ‘monk of France’ are found in §§2, 8, 9, 15, 37, 39.
99. FN39 39On this key figure in the introduction of Arab medicine in Europe, see Danielle Jacquart, “Constantinus Africanus,” Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, eds Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=ei3_COM-24414.
100. FN40 40Dunlop, “A Christian Mission,” 262.
101. FN41 41See, for instance, John Tolan, “Istoria de Mahomet,” Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. General Editor David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=CMR_COM-23720. English translation by Kenneth B. Wolf in Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources, ed. by O.R. Constable (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), 48-50. This is one of the earliest polemical treatments of Muḥammad in Latin, presenting him as a false prophet and precursor of the Antichrist: “The spirit of error appeared to him in the form of a vulture and, exhibiting a golden mouth, said it was the angel Gabriel and ordered Muḥammad to present himself among his people as a prophet” (48). See also the references given by Benjamin Z. Kedar in his Crusade and Mission: European Approaches toward the Muslims(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 22, n. 48.
102. FN42 42Jean-Marie Gaudeul, Encounters and Clashes: Islam and Christianity in History(Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica, 2000), 1:136, n. 39. Parallels and possible connections between Eastern Nestorian writings on Islam and Mozarabic views are discussed in Dominique Urvoy, “La pensée religieuse des mozarabes face à l’Islam,” Traditio39 (1983), 419-432.
103. FN43 43Bosch Vilá, “A propósito,” 98. In his opinion, this exchange should be considered not only as being probably the first Western Christian mission to Muslims, but also “the first example of religious polemical literature between Christian Europe and the Muslim West” (99). It is not clear to me precisely what Bosch Vilá means by that last observation. If he is suggesting that the ‘Letter of the Monk of France’ was the first case of Christian anti-Islamic polemics in the West, then he is obviously mistaken. If, however, he means that the exchangebetween the anonymous monk and al Bājī was the first such polemical exchange between Christian Europe and the Muslim West, then his observation could very well be accurate.
104. FN44 44Allan Cutler, “Who was the ‘Monk of France’ and when did he write? A note on D.M. Dunlop’s ‘A Christian Mission to Muslim Spain in the 11th Century’,” Al-Andalus28 (1963), 249-269.
105. FN45 45According to his biographer, Anastasius, while in Spain, offered to prove the truth of the Christian religion by undergoing an ordeal by fire, an offer which, however, was rejected. See Matthieu Arnoux, “Un Vénitien au Mont-Saint-Michel: Anastase, moine, ermite et confesseur († vers 1085),” Médiévales28 (1995), 64-65. See also Cowdrey, Pope Gregory, 491; O’Callaghan, A History, 312; and Kedar, Crusade, 45.
106. FN46 46Cutler, “Who was the ‘Monk of France’,” 263. Elsewhere Cutler conjectures that Anastasius’s attempt to convert al-Muqtadir might have inspired Peter the Hermit’s idea to convert Kerbogha, the Turkish military ruler of Mosul who besieged the crusaders at Antioch in June 1098 (see Allan Cutler, “The First Crusade and the Idea of Conversion,” The Muslim World58 (1968), 65-71).
107. FN47 47James Waltz, “Historical Perspective on ‘Early Missions’ to Muslims: A Response to Allan Cutler,” The Muslim World61 (1971), 183. Waltz remains unconvinced, however, that related claims for missionary interests by Popes Gregory VII and Urban II can be sustained. According to him, the eleventh-century reform Popes “sought to reunite separated Christians and to defend present and reconquer former Christian territories, desiring the ‘driving out’ and ‘extermination,’ rather than the conversion, of Muslims there” (182). Waltz also rejects much of Cutler’s interpretation of the alleged attempt at converting Kerbogha by Peter the Hermit. As he sees it, conversions do not prove the existence of “missions” and it cannot be demonstrated that the First Crusaders held the idea of converting Muslims, concluding that “the Cluniac conversion efforts of the 1070s appear isolated and unproductive of further such efforts prior to the thirteenth century” (185).
108. FN48 48Kedar, Crusade, 54.
109. FN49 49Kedar ( Crusade, 55) refers to the account of the rise of “Mohomat” in the Passionof the martyr sisters Nunilo and Alodia, daughters of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, who were beheaded in Huesca in 851. For the passion narrative of these two martyrs, see Ann Christys, Christians in Al Andalus, 711-1000(Richmond: Curzon, 2002), 68-79.
110. FN50 50Kedar, Crusade, 55.
111. FN51 51See §§9, 10, 15, 17, 38.
112. FN52 52Kedar, Crusade, 56.
113. FN53 53Viguera Molíns, Aragón, 195-197.
114. FN54 54Kassis, “Muslim Revival,” 91.
115. FN55 55Ibid., n. 44.
116. FN56 56Gaudeul, Encounters, 1:134-135.
117. FN57 57Beech, The Brief Eminence, 89-98.
118. FN58 58Ibid., 95.
119. FN59 59It is also the view, but without further discussion, of Amalia Zomeño in her entry “Jawāb al-qāḍī Abū l-Walīd al-Bājī ilā risālat rāhib Faransā ilā al-Muslimīn,” Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. General Editor David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=CMR_COM-23362.
120. FN60 60Two Iberian examples of Muslim anti-Christian epistolary exchanges of this genre are Aḥmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ṣamad al-Khazrajī’s (d. 1187) Maqāmiʿ al-ṣulbān(Mallets for [Hammering] the Crosses), written in the mid-1140s in refutation of a letter by an anonymous Mozarabic priest from Toledo, and Aḥmad ibn ʿUmar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Anṣarī al-Qurṭubī’s (d. 1258) al-I ʿlām bi-mā fī dīn al-naṣāra min al-fasād wa’l-awhām(Information about the Corruption and Delusions of the Christian Religion), also written in response to a Christian tract supposedly sent from Toledo to Cordoba. On these works, see Thomas E. Burman, Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, c. 1050-1200(Leiden: Brill, 1994), 62-84; and Abdelilah Ljamai, Ibn Ḥazm et la polémique islamo-chrétienne dans l’histoire de l’Islam(Leiden: Brill, 2003), 145-168. Still, that the epistolary exchange became a genre of interreligious polemic does not preclude the historicity of some of these exchanges. See in this respect Sidney Griffith’s remarks on a genre of medieval Christian apologetics which also raises questions about history and literary form, a genre which he calls “the monk in the emir’s majlis” (with its Muslim counterpart: “the mutakallimin the emperor’s majlis”). After analyzing several examples, he concludes that, in the end, “nothing much can usefully be said in general about these matters. Each account must be considered individually” (Sidney H. Griffith, “The Monk in the Emir’s Majlis: Reflections on a Popular Genre of Christian Literary Apologetics in Arabic in the Medieval Period,” in The Majlis: Interreligious Encounters in Medieval Islam, eds H. Lazarus-Yafeh et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999), 62. While particular accounts lack all historical verisimilitude, it is not inherently improbable to imagine some historical basis behind other accounts, allowing for embellishments and later accretions for ideological purposes. The intertwining of history and literature in all of these texts is such that, “it seems highly unlikely that they shall ever be successfully disentangled” (ibid., 65).
121. FN61 61Fierro, “La religión,” 475.
122. FN62 62On this work, whose authorship and the exact dating of its writing are still disputed, see Laura Bottini, “Risālat ‘Abdallāh ibn Ismā‘īl al-Hāshimī ilā ‘Abd al-Masīḥ ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī yad‘ūhu bihā ilā l-Islām wa-risālat al-Kindī ilā l-Hāshimī yaruddu bihā ‘alayhi wa-yad‘ūhu ilā l-Naṣrāniyya,” Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. General Editor David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2011), available online at: http://0-www.brillonline.nl.library.lausys.georgetown.edu/subscriber/entry?entry=CMR_COM-23659. Al-Kindī’s apology was translated into Latin in Toledo in the early 1140s and included in the Collectio toledanacommissioned by Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny from 1122 until his death in 1156. For the influence of this and other Oriental polemical works against Islam on the Mozarabs of Spain, see Burman, Religious, 95-124, and Urvoy, “La pensée.”
123. FN63 63For Gaudeul ( Encounters, 1:136), contrary to the view of Cutler and others, this is an indication that this letter and the so-called ‘pre-crusades’—that is, the military expeditions against Iberian Muslims that French and Spanish noblemen carried out during this period—did not come from the same quarters. In his view, Pope Gregory VII and Abbot Hugh of Cluny, whom he takes to be the inspirers of the ‘Letter from the Monk of France,’ cannot be thus associated with the pre-crusades.
124. FN64 64For a contemporary negative characterization of Christians which includes, inter alia, the charge that Christians are stupid and irrational, see Theodore Pulcini, Exegesis as Polemical Discourse: Ibn Ḥazm on Jewish and Christian Scriptures(Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1998), 134-142.
125. FN65 65Ibid., 45-54.
126. FN66 66See, for instance, John V. Tolan, Sons of Ishmael: Muslims Through European Eyes in the Middle Ages(Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008), 19-34. According to Tolan, the polemical Christian biographers of Muḥammad denigrate Islam by portraying him as a scoundrel: “He is variously shown to be a pervert, drunkard, epileptic, magician, heretic, swindler, murderer, Machiavellian political schemer, and intimate of Satan” (19). See also Christys, Christians, 62-68.
127. FN67 67Gaudeul, Encounters, 1:138.
128. FN68 68As Gaudeul remarks (ibid.), the theme of “returning” here does not refer to the return of the convert to his former Islamic faith, but rather the return of Christianity to the true Abrahamic religion.
129. FN69 69Epalza, “Notes,” 100-102. See also, by the same author, Fray Anselm Turmeda (ʾAbdallāh al Tary̑umân) y su polémica islamo-cristiana: edición, traducción y estudio de la Tuḥfa, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Hiperión, 1994), 67-68.
130. FN70 70Abdelmajid Charfi, “Polémiques islamo-chrétiennes à l’époque médiévale,” in Scholarly Approaches to Religion, Interreligious Perceptions and Islam, ed. J. Waardenburg (Bern: Peter Lang, 1995), 264-273. The other four functions of Muslim anti-Christian polemics are: to redress the demographic imbalance in favor of the Christians by seeking to convert them to Islam; the integration of neophytes, thus avoiding the risk of syncretism; as an exercise of theological elaboration; and the search for the biblical origins of Islam, by which Charfi means the biblical predictions of Muḥammad and the question of his miracles.
131. FN71 71Epalza, Fray Anselm, 67.
132. FN72 72Kedar, Crusade, 54. According to Kedar, the main deterrent to Christian mission to Muslims in the West was the early awareness of the Muslim prohibition of proselytism against their religion and the consequent risk of death for both apostates and missionaries. This explains the otherwise puzzling fact that Western Christians abstained for centuries from any organized attempt at evangelizing Muslims while such missionary activities abounded in the northern and eastern European fronts.
133. FN73 73Cowdrey, Pope Gregory, 489-494.
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006712x634549
2012-01-01
2015-07-07

Affiliations: 1: >Department of Theology, Georgetown University 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20057 USA

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