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The Making of the Medieval Middle East$
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Jack Tannous

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179094

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179094.001.0001

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Conversion and the Simple

Conversion and the Simple

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Chapter:
(p.353) Chapter 12 Conversion and the Simple
Source:
The Making of the Medieval Middle East
Author(s):

Jack Tannous

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691179094.003.0013

This chapter looks at the observation that a person who was actually learned in both his own religious tradition and in the Islamic tradition would never convert for anything other than nontheological reasons. Most Christians and Muslims were not learned in their own religious tradition, much less in that of a rival religion, and will have been ill-equipped or simply unable to discuss and debate religious difference at the level of sophisticated theology in a proper and informed way. For this reason, if when speaking about Christian–Muslim relations, one's focus is on difference at the level of doctrinal theology, one will gain only a distorted understanding of seventh- and eighth-century realities. One will overlook the existence of a layering and continuum of knowledge in the Christian community and fail to take into account the reality that most conversions by Christians to Islam will have been conversions of simple Christians into simple Muslims.

Keywords:   religious tradition, Islamic tradition, religious conversion, Christians, Muslims, doctrinal theology, Christian–Muslim relations, Christian community, simple Christians, simple Muslims

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