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Muhammad and Christianity

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Part of a series of articles on

Muhammad callig
Prophet of Islam
Muhammad


Life
Family tree · In Mecca · In Medina · Conquest of Mecca · The Farewell Sermon · Succession


Career
Diplomacy · Family · Wives · Military leadership


Succession
Farewell Pilgrimage · Ghadir Khumm · Pen and paper · Saqifah · General bay'ah


Interactions with
Slaves · Jews · Christians


Perspectives
Muslim (Poetic and Mawlid) · Medieval Christian · Historicity · Criticism · Depictions

Interactions

Muhammad's nature toward Jews and Christians started to become a conflict. They did not accept Muhammad for his religion and spiritual path. When Muhammad encountered contradiction, ridicule and rejection from the Christian scholars in Medina, he came to adopt a radically more negative view of the People of the Book who had received earlier scriptures. This attitude was already evolving in the third Meccan period as Muhammad became more aware of the antipathy between Jews and Christians and the disagreements and strife of him amongst members of those religions. The tension felt by Muhammad and some of his contemporaries was doubtless due ultimately to this contrast between men's conscious attitude and the economic basis of their life.[1][2]

Pre-Islamic

Before Muhammad started preaching Islam, many Jews and Christians did not accept Muhammad's religion and refused his preaching. At the age of nine, he went to Syria with his uncle and had interactions with Christians. One important contact was with the Nestorian monk Bahira in Bosra, modern Syria who foretold to the adolescent Muhammad his future prophetic career.

Waraqah ibn Nawfal was a Nestorian monk,[3] Mecca's priest or preacher according to some sources.

Meccan period

Waraqah is said to have believed in Muhammad as a prophet, but died as a Christian. After the early Sahaba ("Companions") faced intense persecution, Muhammad sent 90 of his followers to Abyssinia. There the Muslims were received by the Christian king Aṣḥama ibn Abjar.

Medinian period

In 630 AD Muhammad received a Christian delegation from Najran in Medina. Debate with Christians ensued some days. Finally the Christians asked Muhammad for peace and he accepted. Muhammad extended the hand of friendship towards them, a treaty was signed and both parties left on friendly terms.

Another Christian delegation this time from Iraq by Jesujab II was heading to Medina but Muhammad died before it arrived.[4]

Byzantines

According to traditional Islamic sources, in 628 Muhammad sent a letter to Heraclius inviting him to Islam. The Byzantine emperor received it while on a pilgrimage in Jerusalem and called upon a person who belonged to Muhammad's tribe Quraysh. According to Sunni tradition, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb came forward and a discussion between them took place.[5] At the end of the discussion the emperor said,

If what you say should be true, he will very soon occupy the earth under my feet, and if I knew that I would reach him definitely, I would go immediately to meet Him; and were I with him, then I would certainly wash his feet.[6]

In 629 according to tradition, Muhammad sent a force of 3,000 men to fight 100,000 Byzantines near Al Karak. The Battle of Mu'tah ended when both sides retreated.

See also

Notes

  1. William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p.19-20
  2. Gerhard Endress, Islam, Columbia University Press, p.29
  3. Al-Jibouri (2007)
  4. Bat Yeʼor,Miriam Kochan‏ Islam and Dhimmitude: where civilizations collide p.39
  5. Siddiqui (2007)
  6. Sahih Bukhari 4:52:191

References

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