Range of Genres

What kind of information Arabic-Islamic scholars recorded and how they presented it also depended on the literary genre. Most data on the Latin-Christian world features in works of ‘belles-lettres’ (adab). Although written by scholars infused with the doctrines of Islam, adab-literature is centred on man and thus more ‘secular’ in outlook than juridical or theological writings.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Works of adab that would not seem to contain data about Western Europe may feature miscellaneous references. In his endeavour to promote the reputation of poetry produced in the Muslim West, the Andalusian scholar Ibn Dihya (d. 633/1235) reproduced a report on the diplomatic mission of al-Ghazal, official envoy of the Umayyad amir Abd al-Rahman II to the court of a Viking ruler in the ninth century. His main reason for evoking this mission was that he regarded a poem recited by al-Ghazal to the Viking queen as a literary jewel worth preserving for posterity.34 Among this literature, we also find works that approach the world systematically from a geographical, ethnographical, or historiographical perspective.

Arabic-Islamic works of geography do not always deal with the Latin-Christian orbit. The geographer al-Muqaddas! (d. after 380/990) consciously refrained from dealing with the non-Islamic world.35 Other authors specialized on certain regions and consequently failed to mention or only dealt with certain facets of the Latin- Christian sphered6 Most geographers, however, tried to describe the known world as a whole, providing information on what they defined as Europe (Urufa), the northwestern quadrant of the inhabited world, or locations situated in the fifth, sixth, and seventh climate zone that would be classified as ‘Western European’ today.37 In most cases, they tended to enrich strictly geographical data with historical and ethnographical material. The work of Ibn Khurdadhbah (d. c.300/911), for example, combines a brief geographical definition of Europe with a list of goods imported from the lands of the Franks.[6] Ibn Rustah (d. after 300/913) provides an elaborate description of Rome, a reference to Venice, and a distorted and outdated mention of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy^[7] Al-Mas'udl (d. 345/956), whose range of vision encompassed the world between Western Europe, Africa north of the equator, and China,[8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] dedicated individual chapters to the Franks, the Galicians, the Lombards, and the Slavs.41 The work of al-Bakri (d. 487/1094) furnishes plenty of information on Western and central Europe before the crusades.42 The works of al-Idrlsl (d. c.560/1165), Ibn Sa'ld al-Maghribl (d. 685/1286), Abu l-Fida (d. 732/1331), and al-'Umarl (d. 749/1349) provide an updated description of Western Europe’s political and geographical landscape in the period of Latin-Christian expansionism.43 The geographical encyclopaedias of Yaqut (d. 626/1229) and al-Himyarl (13th-14th cent.) contain more than one lemma on toponyms generally ascribed to the Latin-Christian sphere and often touch upon the pre-Islamic history of places with a Latin past.44

Since writing history relates to questions of collective identity, Arabic-Islamic historiography generally focuses on the Islamic world. The scope of a historiographical work considerably influenced the role played therein by non-Muslim peoples and territories. Historiography with a focus on local and regional affairs obviously only mentions those aspects of the Latin-Christian sphere that were relevant to the region in question. The monumental history of al-Andalus by Ibn Hayyan (d. 469/1076), for example, deals with the pre-Islamic history of the Iberian Peninsula and depicts the relations between al-Andalus and its Christian neighbours.45 The history of Damascus written by Ibn al-Qalanisl (d. 555/1160) only contains data on the Latin-Christian sphere because it covers the first half-century of the crusading period^6 Al-Maqrizi (d. 845/1442), in turn, focuses on Egypt, a region with important political, economic, and ecclesiastical ties with the northern Mediterranean from Roman times to the early golden age of VeniceW Dynastic histories mention the Latin-Christian sphere if the respective dynasty was involved in relations with the latter. Thus, Ibn Shaddad’s (d. 632/1235) biography of Saladin as well as Abu Shama’s (d. 665/1268) history of the Zangid and

Ayyubid dynasties describe Muslim endeavours to fight the crusaders and consequently refer to the latter and their places of origin.

Works of larger geographical and chronological scope do not automatically contain more information. The early universal histories of al-Ya'qubl (d. after 292/905) and al-Tabari (d. 310/923), for example, deal extensively with the Roman Empire, but only provide basic information about the Latin-Christian regions that had become known in the course of the Arabic-Islamic expansion.[16] Al-Dhahabi’s (d. 748/1348 or 753/1352) history of Islam focuses on the development of the umma and only deals with Latin Christians when their impact on the Islamic world could not be ignored^[17] Although designed as a universal history, the monumental work of Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) fails to include even the standard information on pre-Islamic and non-Islamic peoples known from other authors.5° Other works of historiography are of truly universal scope. Al-Mas'udl (d. 345/956), Ibn al-Athir (d. 630/1233), and Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406) deal with the history of Western Europe from the Roman period up to the author’s times.51

Chancery manuals as produced by al-Qalqashandi (d. 821/1418) also contain chapters dedicated to history and geography. Aiming at introducing official scribes to their tasks, al-Qalqashandi’s manual contains a geographic and historical overview on the polities in touch with the Mamluk realm, an extensive discussion of the titles used in official correspondence with foreign rulers, as well as specimens of official documents such as treaties with Latin-Christian powers. 52 Since the objective of writing history is subordinate to his aim of educating future scribes, historical data often lacks coherence^3

Thus, authors of geo-, ethno-, and historiographical literature dealt with Latin- Christian Europe, as one might expect from the intellectual elite of a neighbouring cultural sphere. Certain scholars have claimed that the first historical monograph on Latin Christendom written by a Muslim was not produced until the fourteenth century, when Rashid al-Din (d. 718/1318) wrote a history of the Franks, at the order of an Ilkhanid ruler, in Persian. 54 However, Rashid al-Din’s history of the Franks constitutes one extensive chapter on the history of Western Europe from Roman to medieval times that makes up volume 2 of his Collection of Chronicles.55 The chapter depends on a source that was not available to Rashid al-Din’s earlier or contemporary Arabic-Islamic peers7[18] [19] Consequently, it offers a fresh perspective. However, a comparison with the histories of Ibn al-Athir or Ibn Khaldun shows that Rashid al-Din did not know or write more about the Latin-Christian sphere than they did.

Leaving the field of adab, Latin Christendom also features in Arabic-Islamic juridical literature. More than once, the demands of their profession compelled specialists to find solutions to problems of Islamic law involving persons and objects from Western Europe. The jurist Sahnun b. Sa'ld (d. 240/856) gave an opinion on the legitimacy of attacking Christian merchant ships trading with Muslim North Africa.57 In his manual for notarial scribes, Ibn al-Att ar (d. 399/1009) provides a standard sale contract and discusses juridical problems related to the sale of female Frankish and Galician slaves.58 The compilation of al-Wansharlsl (d. 914/1508) contains opinions on various points of law, issued by Andalusian and North African jurisconsults between the ninth and the fifteenth century. They deal with questions arising from the presence of Christian and Muslim captives in the respective enemy’s territory^9 the legality of Muslim residence in territories under Christian rule,57 58 59 [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] commercial cooperation between Muslims and Christian business partners,61 * * * 65 66 67 * the use of Christian ships for travelling^ and the status of objects imported from the Latin-Christian world^3 etc.

Forming an opinion on these juridical issues necessitated background knowledge and could even provoke active research. In Alexandria, Muslim merchants asked the Malikl jurisconsult al-Turmshl (d. 520/1126), originally from al-Andalus, if the import and consumption of ‘Christian cheese’ (al-jubn al-rumt) was in accordance with religious law.64 In the resulting fatwa, al-Turmshl describes how he obtained information on the subject. He consulted the Qur’an, the sayings of the prophet,65 and discussed the precepts laid down by earlier jurisconsults.66 Moreover, he interviewed Muslim government officials and interpreters who had entered Christian ships upon their arrival in Alexandria^7 a Muslim pilgrim from Sicily, former Muslim captives, as well as compatriots from al-Andalus who had observed the production and the shipping of cheese in Christian territory.68 He seconded all this with personal observations.69 Thus, a Muslim jurisconsult conducted active research on the fabrication and transport of a Christian export product.

This legal perspective also has important restrictions. Rarely dealing with Latin- Christian territories as such, it focuses on persons and objects impinging on the social order envisaged by Islamic law. Juridical opinions were not generally unfair or intolerant, and occasionally even defended the rights of Christians.[31] Nonetheless, most references deal with the Latin-Christian sphere as a problem. The jurists’ main objective was to lay down norms that concurred with Qur’anic precepts. The nature of their reasoning led them to distinguish between a Muslim in-group and a non-Muslim out-group. The terminology used for Latin Christians and the areas inhabited by them clearly emphasizes their alterity/[32] [33] [34]

This also applies to theological treatises dealing with Christianity. The latter obviously tend to emphasize the religious divide between Christianity and Islam, even if they occasionally point to parallels/2 Several tracts unmistakably react to Christians from the Latin-Christian orbit, among others the works of Ibn H azm (d. 456/1064),73 al-Qarafi (d. 6 84/12 8 5),7[35] [36] an anonymous Imam of Cordoba (13th cent.),75 and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328).'[37] [38] [39] [40] However, neither these nor other Arabic-Islamic writings of the medieval period clearly distinguish between Latin and other forms of Christianity. They generally classify Latin Christians as Melkites, thus grouping them together with Byzantine Christians following the lead of Constantinople.77 A lack of knowledge about Christianity as such cannot be held responsible. In their polemics, Arabic-Islamic theologians focus on the fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam. As opposed to the general features of Christianity that were regularly subject to theological criticism, i.e. certain contents of the gospels, the Trinitarian dogma, the cult of saints, etc., the specific variants of Christianity were of secondary importance/8 Consequently, Muslim scholars interested in Christian theology were rather well informed about the early formation of Christian dogma in the ecumenical councils of the fourth to sixth centuries/9 but comparatively ignorant of later developments. Since they highlight that none of these early councils declared the pope—as opposed to

Arius, Nestorius, and others—anathema,[41] [42] [43] [44] they probably believed that he and his flock belonged to mainstream, that is ‘Melkite’ Christianity. Only in the later Middle Ages does information about a theological-dogmatical division between Byzantine and Roman orthodoxy seem to have seeped into the Arabic-Islamic world.8i

In conclusion, Arabic-Islamic sources cover a wide range of topics and provide an insight into various ways of perceiving the Latin-Christian world. Rather than a supposed ‘Muslim’ manner of perceiving the non-Muslim ‘Other’, the historical constellation, the individual author’s personal outlook, but also the demands and constraints of the genre chosen by the respective writing professional, shaped these modes of perception.

  • [1] Gabrieli, ‘Adab’ (I960), pp. 175-6.
  • [2] Ibn Dihya, al-mutrib, ed. Seippel, p. 20; Ibn Dihya, al-mutrib, ed. al-Ibyar! et al., p. 146; cf.Jacob, Berichte (1927), p. 42.
  • [3] al-Muqaddasi, ahsan al-taqaslm, ed. de Goeje, p. 9, trans. Collins and Alta i, pp. 7-8.
  • [4] 36 al-Hamdarn (d. c.334/945), sifat jazlrat al-Arab, ed. Muller, concentrates on the ArabianPeninsula and only mentions Europe in the work’s Introduction (vol. 1, p. 32). Geographic works onal-Andalus rarely treat locations outside the Iberian Peninsula, but provide information about itsRoman and Visigothic history, see Chapter 5.2.2. and 5.3.2.
  • [5] Konig, ‘Historiographers’ (2012), pp. 431-2; Ducene, ‘Sources’ (2012), pp. 119-31. On thevarious genres, see Miquel, Geographie (2001), 4 vols.
  • [6] Ibn Khurdadhbah, al-masalik, ed. de Goeje, pp. 90—2, 153—6.
  • [7] Ibn Rustah, al-a4aq al-naflsa, ed. de Goeje, pp. 85, 128—30.
  • [8] Cf. Shboul, al-Mas udi (1979), pp. 151—226; Hermes, Other (2012), pp. 39—70.
  • [9] al-Masc udi, muruj, ed./trans. Pellat.
  • [10] 42 al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre.
  • [11] al-Idrisi, Opus geographicum, ed. Bombaci et al., fasc. V-VIII, pp. 523—963, trans. Jaubert, vol.2, pp. 1—430; Ibn Sa id, al-jughrafiya, ed. al-Arabi, pp. 166—9, 178, 180—2, 192—4, 199—200; Abul-Fida, taqwlm, ed. Reinaud and de Slane; al- Umari, masalik al-absar, ed. Sezgin. See Chapter 8.1.2.and 8.1.3.
  • [12] Yaqut, mu jam, ed. Wustenfeld; al-Himyari, al-rawd al-mitar, ed. Abbas.
  • [13] Ibn Hayyan, al-muqtabis II-1, ed. Makki; Ibn Hayyan, al-muqtabis II-2, ed. Makki; Ibn Hayyan,al-muqtabis III, ed. al- Arabi; Ibn Hayyan, al-muqtabis V, ed. Chalmeta and Corriente; Ibn Hayyan,al-muqtabis VII, ed. al-Hajji.
  • [14] 46 Ibn al-Qalanisi, dhayl, ed. Amedroz, trans. Gibb.
  • [15] 47 al-Maqrizi, al-suluk, ed. Ata; al-Maqrizi, al-mawaciz, ed. Sayyid.
  • [16] al-Ya'qubl, tarikh, ed. al-Muhanna; al-Tabari, tarikh, ed. Ibrahim.
  • [17] al-Dhahabl, tarikh, ed. Tadmurl.
  • [18] 5° Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya, ed. al-Turkl, fails to mention the Romans in the sections dedicated to preIslamic history. After the rise of Islam, he mainly deals with the history of the Islamic world. Only inthe centuries preceding his own lifetime, his work contains references to the crusaders.
  • [19] al-Mas udl, muruj, ed./trans. Pellat; al-Mas udl, al-tanbih, ed. de Goeje; Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil,ed. Tornberg; Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada.
  • [20] Talbi, ‘Interet’ (1956), pp. 289—93.
  • [21] Ibn al- Amir, al-watha iq, ed. Chalmeta and Corriente, pp. 33—6.
  • [22] Lagardere, Histoire (1995), fatwa no. 36, pp. 24—5; no. 198, p. 54; no. 199, p. 54; no. 141, p. 406; no. 142, p. 406; no. 256, p. 170; no. 216, p. 58; no. 241, p. 64; no. 250, pp. 65—6; no. 275,p. 68; no. 326, p. 365; no. 291, p. 72.
  • [23] Ibid., fatwa no. 51, p. 436; no. 68, pp. 128—9; no. 121, p. 38; no. 182, p. 48; no. 284, p. 70; no.290, p. 71.
  • [24] 61 Ibid., fatwa no. 86, p. 33; no. 242, p. 167; no. 196, pp. 418—19; no. 370, p. 194.
  • [25] Ibid., fatwa no. 86, p. 33; no. 122, p. 38. 63 Ibid., fatwa no. 150, p. 42.
  • [26] 64 The editor of al-Thrmshl, risala, ed. ai-Turkl, p. 128 n. 1, remarks that references to places in the
  • [27] text only concern Sicily and al-Andalus. Later geographers such as Ibn Said (d. 685/1286),al-jughrafiya, ed. al-Arabi, p. 170, and Abu l-Fida (d. 732/1331), taqwlm, ed. Reinaud and de Slane,p. 195, mention that cheese and honey were exported to Alexandria from Cyprus, ruled by the Lusignanfamily since 1192.
  • [28] al-Turtushi, risala, ed. al-Turkl, § 2, p. 126; § 19, p. 136; § 21, p. 137; § 28—30, pp. 140—1.
  • [29] Ibid., § 3-5, pp. 126-8; § 13, p. 133; § 18-21, pp. 135-7; § 23, p. 138; § 27, p. 139; § 31,p. 142.
  • [30] Ibid., § 6-7, pp. 128-9. 68 Ibid., § 8-9, pp. 129-30; § 18, p. 135. 69 Ibid., § 11, p. 132.
  • [31] Cf. Lagardere, Histoire (1995), fatwa no. 251, p. 66, on the right of deported Mozarab Christians to build new churches in exile. Cf. Lagardere, ‘Communautes’ (1988), pp. 99—120.
  • [32] Abou El Fadl, ‘Law’ (1994), pp. 141—87; Safran, Boundaries (2013), pp. 18—23.
  • [33] 72 Cf. al-Ghazall, ihya, ed. Tabbana, vol. 4, p. 70, on the shared ideal of forgiveness.
  • [34] Ibn Hazm, al-fasl, ed. Nasr and Umayra, vol. 1, pp. 109—11; vol. 2, pp. 2—77. On Ibn Hazm’sinvolvement in Christian-Muslim discourse, see: Ljamai, Ibn Hazm (2003); Asm Palacios, Aben-hdzam, 5 vols (1928—32); Behloul, Evangelienkritik (2002); Aillet, Mozarabes (2010), pp. 215—17.
  • [35] 74 al-Qarafi, al-ajwiba, ed. al-Shahawi, pp. 25, 148—9; cf. Fritsch, Islam (1930), p. 149.
  • [36] al-Qurtubi, al-i lam, ed. Hijaz! al-Saqqa, p. 43. On the author and his involvement in contemporary Christian-Muslim polemics, see: Burman, Polemic (1994), pp. 71, 77, 80^; Tieszen, Identity(2013), pp. 202-12.
  • [37] 76 Ibn Taymiyya, al-jawab al-sahlh, ed. b. Hassan b. Nasir et al., vol. 2, p. 343; vol. 3, p. 500; vol. 6,p. 423.
  • [38] Konig, ‘Perception(s)’ (2010), p. 33; Griffith, Church (2008), p. 139.
  • [39] As highlighted by Aillet, Mozarabes (2010), pp. 215-16, in connection with Ibn Hazm.
  • [40] Cf. al-Yaqubl, tarlkh, ed. al-Muhanna, vol. 1, pp. 195-8; Ibn Hazm, al-fasl, ed. Nasr and' Umayra, vol. 1, pp. 109-11; vol. 2, pp. 2-77.
  • [41] Konig, ‘Ausstrahlung’ (2010).
  • [42] 81 Konig, ‘Perception^)’ (2010), p. 41. In a letter written to Innocent IV in December 1245, theAyyubid governor in Homs, al-Mansur Ibrahim assures him that he will not interfere in agreementsbetween the pope and representatives of the Greek church of Antioch. Cf. Lupprian, Beziehungen(1981), pp. 166—7. Al-Maqrlzl, al-suluk, ed. Ata, vol. 7, AH 843, p. 446, writes that Byzantines andFranks met to reach an agreement on dogmatical issues at the council of Ferrara-Florence.
  • [43] 82 See Chapter 7.3.1.
  • [44] al-HazIml, haraq (2003). On archiving conditions in the Arabic-Islamic world, see also Guich-ard and Marin, ‘Avant propos’ (1995), p. 12 n. 40.
 
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