Hanna Kassis

(Seminar, 2 credits) Tuesday, 11:00-12:40

Against the background of general reading on the attitude of Christendom towards Islam, in the first part of this seminar we will examine a selection of texts (in translation) that demonstrate the legal position of Christians living under Muslim rule in the Middle Ages. Such texts include relevant passages from the Qur'an and the Traditions (Hadith), treaties of surrender, legal opinions (fatwas), apologetics, etc. Inasmuch as Muslim Spain had a great influence on shaping the history of Muslim-Christian relations in the Middle Ages, attention will focus in the second part of the course on this region.

On completion of this course, students will have developed an understanding of the legal foundations of Muslim toleration of Christianity (and Judaism) and the historical factors (such as the Crusades) that brought about a gradual change in the interpretation and application of these tenets.

A major essay will be required at the end of the term for assessment.

Outline: The following topics will be discussed:

Part 1: Foundations

Christians in the Qur'an: ahl al-dhimmah and ahl al-Kitab

The Christians the Traditions of the Prophet (Hadith)

Christians in the legal formulations of Islam

Treaties of surrender

The legal formulations of the schools of jurisprudence

Part 2: Islam and the Christians in Muslim Spain (al-Andalus)

Phase 1 (A.D. 711-1030): From the conquest to the end of the period of the Caliphate

Phase 2 (A.D. 1030-1086): The Taifa rulers

Phase 3 (A.D. 1086-1155): The First Berber Dynasty ¾ Almoravids

Phase 4 (A.D. 1155-1492): The Age of Intolerance ¾ The Almohads and the Nasrids

Phase 5 (A.D. 1492-1614): Vanquished Muslims and Christian Intolerance


Readings: In addition to translations from Arabic sources, the following texts will be used:

R.W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978)

Colin Smith, Christians and Moors in Spain, 2 vols. (Warminster, 1988-89)

Bernard F. Reilly, The Medieval Spains (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks, 1993) background reading