• The Long Shadow of Sasanian Christianity: The Limits of Iraqi Islamization in the Abbasid Period

    Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations (view group) , Thomas A. Carlson
    Michael Pregill
    Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations
    Iran, Area studies, Islam--Study and teaching, Islam, History
    Item Type:
    Christianity in Iraq, Abbasid Caliphate, Religious Conversion, Conversion to Islam, Oriental Christianity, Iranian studies, Islamic studies, Sasanian Empire, Islamic history
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    The Islamic conquest of the Sasanian Empire inaugurated, among many other transformations, the progressive Islamization of the region. The pace and mechanisms of this transformation remain poorly understood. Yet the progress of Islamization in the capital province of the Abbasid caliphate is a significant hidden variable in the study of Muslim relations with non-Muslims and the Abbasid state’s interactions with its subject populations. This paper adopts a geographical approach to Islamization, looking for differential developments in different areas within Iraq, especially the distinctions between newly founded and pre-Islamic cities, and between urban and rural society. The study compares Muslim geo-graphical sources (such as al-Balādhurī, Ibn Ḥawqal, and al-Muqaddasī) with Arabic Christian sources (including Ilyās b. ʿUbayd al-Dimashqī and ʿAmr b. Mattā). Rather than attempting a quantitative approach on such uneven data, this paper offers a contextually sensitive reading of relevant literary passages, anecdotes which often unselfconsciously reveal what each author presents as normal or unusual, not only among reports of multi-religious presence, but also the changing distributions of mosques, bishops, and monasteries. This paper argues that Islamization was slightly more rapid in southern Iraq than in the north, but as late as ca. 400/1000, substantial areas of the countryside had been only lightly influenced by Islamization. This suggests that we must explain mass Islamization by forces relevant to the period of Abbasid disintegration or later, rather than to that of Abbasid dominance as scholars have heretofore assumed.
    This is a stable archival PDF of an open-access, peer-reviewed journal article originally published at www.mizanproject.org/journal/.
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    2 years ago


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