Byzantinum and the Arabs. The Encounter Civilizations from VI to VIII Century

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Byzantium and the Arabs: The Encounter of Civilizations is an attempt at a reconstruction of complex relations between Byzantium and the Arabs from the sixth to the eighth century. The book discusses the religious and political situation in the Middle East on the eve of the Arab conquest, characterises the attitude adopted by the inhabitants of Byzantine provinces toward the Arab invaders, analyses the administrative structures of Byzantium and the Umayyad state, and presents the life of Christian Churches under the Arab rule. Written in a clear, direct style, free of scholarly jargon, this collection of essays is based on both Byzantine and Arab sources, as well as on a wide selection of scholarly literature, originating from both the Western and Middle Eastern cultural circles.


The monograph has been prepared by the scholars associated with the Waldemar Ceran Research Centre for History and Culture of the Mediterranean Area and South-Eastern Europe of the University of Łódź (Ceraneum). Among the contributors there are experts on the history of the Byzantine Empire (Sławomir Bralewski, Zofia Brzozowska, Błażej Cecota, Paweł Filipczak, Teresa Wolińska) as well as re- searchers of the Arab and Muslim world (Hassan Badawy, Marek M. Dziekan, Marta Woźniak). Their collaboration has resulted in a comprehensive picture of the encounter of the two great civilizations.



Introduction 1

Part I. Before the Conquest 7
Sławomir Bralewski, Zofi A. Brzozowska, Marek M. Dziekan, Paweł Filipczak, Teresa Wolińska
1. Geography and Environmental Conditions of Syro-Palestine. The Region’s Geopolitical Importance in Late Antiquity Paweł Filipczak 7
2. Arabs, (H)agarenes, Ishmaelites, Saracens – a Few Remarks about Naming Teresa Wolińska 22
2.1. Ishmaelites and Arabs in the Bible 24
2.2. Inhabitants of Middle Eastern Deserts in Non-biblical Sources 27
2.2.1. Skenites 27
2.2.2. Arabs 28
2.2.3. Saracens 31
2.3. Hagarenes vs. Ishmaelites 36
2.4. Other Names 37
3. The Arabs before Islam – the Birth of the New Religion Marek M. Dziekan 38
3.1. The Nabateans 42
3.2. Palmyra (Tadmur) 44
3.3. The Lakhmids 46
3.4. The Ghassānids 47
3.5. Central Arabia 48
3.6. Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abd Allāh and the Birth of Islam 51
4. The Goddesses of Pre-Islamic Arabia (Al-Lāt, Al-‘Uzzā, Manāt) Zofi A. Brzozowska 55
5. Irfan Shahîd’s Theme System or John Haldon’s Myth of Themes. A Short Review of the Two Main Ideas of Themes in Syria Paweł Filipczak 83
6. Byzantine Church before the Arab Conquest. Historical-Theological Aspects of Di- visions in Churches of the East Sławomir Bralewski 92
6.1. Christological Controversies and Ideological Divisions in the Church of Late Antiquity 94
6.2. The “Robber Council” of Ephesus (449) 111
6.3. Council of Chalcedon (451). The New Credo and Promotion of Constantinople in Ecclesiastic Hierarchy 116
6.4. Byzantine Emperors and Ecclesiastic Doctrinal Arguments (450–527) 131
6.5. Emperor-Theologian on the Throne. The Failure of Church Unity Restoration under Justinian I 144
7. Difficult Neighbours. Enemies, Partners, Allies Teresa Wolińska 150
7.1.1. Arab Attacks on the Lands of the Byzantine Empire 151
7.1.2. Trade 156
7.1.3. The Arab Allies of the Byzantine Empire 157
7.1.4. The Tanūkhids (Banū Tanūkh) 160
7.1.5. The Salīḥids (Banū Salīḥ) 162
7.1.6. The Kindites (Banū Kinda) 164
7.1.7. The Ghassānids (Banū Ghassān) 166
7.4. Would-be Allies in the South of the Arabian Peninsula 195

P ar t II. The Conquest 205
Błażej Cecota, Teresa Wolińska
1. Byzantium on the Eve of the Arab Expansion. Some Aspects of Government during the Reign of Heraclius I (610–641) Teresa Wolińska 205
2. Arab Expansion on Byzantine Territory (632–718) Błażej Cecota 223
2.1. Conquest of Syria and Palestine 224
2.2. Covenant of ‘Umar 227
2.3. The Conquest of Egipt 229
2.4. Muslim Armed Forces – from Militia to a Professional Army 233
2.5. Continuation of Expansion against Byzantium – Arab Expeditions in Asia Minor 238
2.6. Arab Navy in the Mediterranean 250
2.7. The Sieges of Contantinople 255
Alleged Siege of 654/655 255
Alleged Siege of 660s 257
Siege of Constantinople of 674–678 229
Siege of Constantinople of 717–718 263
3. The Character of the Invasion. A Discussion of the Causes and Immediate Effects of the Muslim Expansion Teresa Wolińska 270
4. Resistance, Passivity or Collaboration? Christians in Syria and Egypt Facing the Arab Conquest Teresa Wolińska 288

Part III. After the Conquest 315
Hassan Badawy, Błażej Cecota, Marek M. Dziekan, Teresa Wolińska, Marta Woźniak
1. Administration of the Arabic World: from Tribalism to the Umayyad Caliphate Hassan Badawy, Błażej Cecota 315
1.1. Pre-Muslim Power Structures in the Arabian Peninsula 315
1.2. The Influence of Islam. From a Religious Community to the Muslim State 318
1.3. Management of the Umayyad Caliphate 328
2. Economic Institutions of Early Islam. The Creation of Bayt al-Māl ( ).
From Tribal Treasury to the “Ministry of Finance” Hassan Badawy 338
2.1. The Creation of the Muslim State and Its Major Economic Institutions 339
2.2. Th Creation of Bayt al-Māl – a Central Financial Institution of the Country345
2.3. Headquarters of Bayt al-Māl 347
2.4. Management of Bayt al-Māl 348
2.5. Revenues of Bayt al-Māl 349
2.6. Public Spending 352
3. Christian Communities in the Territories Conquered by the Arabs (Seventh– Eighth Centuries) Marta Woźniak 356
3.1. Christians in the Ḳur’ān and in the Teachings of Muḥammad 359
3.2. The Muslims’ Attitude towards the Christians in Muḥammad’s Lifetime 364
3.3. The Muslims’ Attitude toward the Christians after Muḥammad’s Death 366
3.4. The Christian Response to the Advent of Islam 370
3.5. The Arabization of the Language of the Christians in the Middle East 374
3.6. The Syrian Churches 375
3.6.1. The Jacobite Church 378
3.6.2. The Nestorian Church (the Church of the East) 380
3.7. The Coptic Church 384
3.8. The Armenian Church 386
4. The Byzantines in the Context of the Ḳur’ān Marek M. Dziekan 390
4.1. The Byzantines in the Ḳur’ān 391
4.1.1. Sūra 30. The Byzantines (Al-Rūm), the verses 2–4 391
4.1.2. Sūra 3. Imran’s Family (Al ʽImrān), verse 64 399
4.2. The Prophet’s Letter to Emperor Heraclius 406
4.3. The Letter to Al-Muḳawḳis 411
5. The Arabs and Islam in the Eyes of the Byzantines Teresa Wolińska 418
5.1. The Arabs in Byzantine Eyes 418
5.2. Intellectual Argument with Islam 425
6. A Byzantine Heritage? Outline of Art and Architecture of Early Islam (Seventh– Eighth Centuries) Marta Woźniak 439
6.1. Characteristic Features of Islamic Art 441
6.2. Architecture and Art after the Rise of Islam 444
6.3. Examples of Religious Architecture: The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque in Damascus 446
6.4. “Desert Castles” as an Example of Umayyad Secular Architecture 453
6.5. Decorative Art in the Time of the Umayyads 458
6.6. Coins 459

Sources – a Brief Overview Błażej Cecota, Marek M. Dziekan, Teresa Wolińska 463
A Short Review of Arab Sources Marek M. Dziekan 463
Greek, Syrian and Coptic Sources for the History of Byzantine-Arabic Relations in Sixth–Eighth Century Błażej Cecota, Teresa Wolińska 471

Abbreviations 485
Sources 493
Modern Scholarship 515
Index of People 567
Index of Ethnic and Geographic Names 583
Illustrations 593



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