The first Christians to come across Islam weren't Latin-speakers from the western Mediterranean or Greek-speakers from Constantinople yet Mesopotamian Christians who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. less than Muslim rule from the 7th century onward, Syriac Christians wrote the main broad descriptions extant of early Islam. Seldom translated and infrequently passed over from glossy historic reconstructions, this massive physique of texts finds a sophisticated and evolving diversity of spiritual and cultural exchanges that happened from the 7th to the 9th century.

The first book-length research of those earliest encounters, Envisioning Islam highlights the methods those overlooked texts problem the fashionable scholarly narrative of early Muslim conquests, rulers, and spiritual perform. interpreting Syriac resources together with letters, theological tracts, medical treatises, and histories, Michael Philip Penn finds a tradition of considerable interreligious interplay within which the explicit barriers among Christianity and Islam have been extra ambiguous than designated. the variety of old Syriac pictures of Islam, he demonstrates, revolutionizes our realizing of the early Islamic international and demanding situations frequent cultural assumptions concerning the historical past of completely opposed Christian-Muslim relations.

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