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Title: The Umayyad and Fātimid attitude towards Christian sacred sites in Palestine with special reference to ʻAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān and Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh
Author: Abu Assab, Nour
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
This research examined to what extent the two Muslim dynasties, the Umayyad and the Fāṭimid, applied Islamic teachings in dealing with Christian sacred places in Palestine. It also compared the two dynasties, in terms of tolerance towards Christian sacred places, with special reference to the Caliphs ‛Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwān and Al-Ḥākim Biamrillah in an attempt to explore the reasons leading to such an attitude. This research outlined a theoretical framework, which Muslims were supposed to have adopted in their dealings with Christian places based on the various opinions of the exegetes from both Sunnī and Shī‛ī interpretations of the Qur'ān besides the practice of Prophet Muḥammad and his Companions in addition to the opinions of the jurists. The outline shows that the teachings of Islamic core sources have the rules for the protection of churches and other places of worship The findings have shown that the attitude would, to a large extent, correspond with the Islamic teachings in the manner of dealing with Christian sacred places under the two different dynasties. As for the Umayyads, the historical accounts and the archaeological evidence have indicated that the old churches and monasteries were kept protected, many new churches and monasteries were erected, several of the ruined ones were rebuilt, and renovation was made. In addition, the rituals were performed publically and pilgrimage continued. The Umayyads also showed formally their respect to the Christian sacred places. However, the economic decline during that period with its natural disasters, the political situation, peaceful abandonment, and demographical changes were the main reasons behind the decline in the number of churches, rather than a passive change in the Muslims' attitude. As for the Umayyads, the historical accounts and the archaeological evidence have indicated that the old churches and monasteries were kept protected, many new churches and monasteries were erected, several of the ruined ones were rebuilt, and renovation was made. In addition, the rituals were performed publically and pilgrimage continued. The Umayyads also showed formally their respect to the Christian sacred places. However, the economic decline during that period with its natural disasters, the political situation, peaceful abandonment, and demographical changes were the main reasons behind the decline in the number of churches, rather than a passive change in the Muslims' attitude. As for the Fāṭimids, the historical accounts have proved that formally the state shared in the celebrations, permitted the Cross display and allowed the pilgrimage flow to continue. Few institutions were newly built under the Fāṭimids when compared to the number under the Umayyads. This might indicate that the Fāṭimids in particular followed a certain policy backed by the political situation. In this regard, the researcher argues that the strategic and political circumstances played a pivotal role in elevating this policy which was mainly linked to the relationship with the Byzantine Empire. Still, apart from the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre, no physical evidence showed that there was a deliberate destruction of churches and monasteries based on any formal policy. In respect to the actions of ‛Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwān and Al-Ḥākim Biamrillah, the research has revealed that the acts of both did not seem to show hostility towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the other Christian sacred places. ‘Abd Al-Malik did not consider the Holy Sepulchre as a threat. Similarly, Al-Ḥākim's action was an exception among his fellow Fāṭimid caliphs and when exploring the reasons for the destruction, it has been suggested that his personal character played a major role, which together with the political and social motivations led to his actions. The Holy Sepulchre and the other churches were rebuilt during the Fāṭimid ruling, which testified that enmity was not the attitude towards the Christian sacred places. The research has also suggested that however the two dynasties appear to be tolerant in dealing with Christian sacred places, not all the motivations that led to this attitude were very alike. It has been suggested that the Umayyads' policy in keeping the political, economic, and social stability of the Muslim state made it a necessity to keep the good relations with the influential Christian community, thus, positively deal with their sacred places. While the Fāṭimids tended to positively treat the Christians because they wanted to retain the Christians on their side as a minority supporting the Ismā‘īlī Fāṭimids who were ruling over the Sunnī majority and whom they failed to convert to the rulers' own creed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.589506  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christianity and other religions ; Sacred space ; Palestine
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