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Religion and Society in the Near East, | Berkey’s focus in The Formation of Islam is on ideas and institutions and their social and political context. Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, – (Themes in Islamic. Berkey is an Associate Professor of History at Davidson College. He describes Islam as having developed across generations, and he writes of various religious .

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The Abbasid revolution tapped “a complex and still-evolving welter of religious ideas and expectations”. Of course it did eventually become universalist; the existence and permanence of a territorially enormous and explicitly Muslim state probably made that transformation inevitable.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East,

Many pagans could not fathom or appreciate the resolutely aniconic character of the Jewish understanding of God, which made it difficult to fit him into the flexible and expandable pantheon of recognized deities.

The Formation formattion Islam. Brown, Religion and Society, Polytheistic religious systems by their very nature acknowledge a multiplicity of paths to truth, or salvation, or whatever is the goal of the religious enterprise. Not only did Islam evolve in an existing religious context, but there was a long period in which influences ran in both directions: Their frustration and anger with the imperial church had a profound impact on the Christian identity of those who professed a Monophysite creed.

Jonathan Berkey

And pagans too participated in isoam war of words between the faiths. Here as elsewhere, those formally con- verted to Christianity may have, more or less secretly, preserved their ancient temples and altars, which they might then frequent at night, and there under the cover of darkness replay their pre-Christian rites.

In Egypt, for example, thaumaturgy and oracular functions had always played an important role in local manifestations of paganism. See Simon, Verus Israel, —8.


Slavery after Rome, — Two general trends among the religions of the end of the classical and the late antique worlds deserve special mention.

Princeton University Press,54—5f. Cyril Mango and Roger Scott Oxford: The cultures produced in this region, and in those territories around its periphery including Anatolia, formatiom peninsula of Arabia, and Iran as far as the Oxus River which played such critical roles in its historical development, mingled productively if not always entirely freely.

The Formation of Islam | Jonathan Berkey –

That claim is certainly a pious fiction, but the Koran does contain a number bekrey verses that can legitimately be read as expressing support for certain principles, such as asceticism, which came to be hallmarks fkrmation the Sufi tradition.

Islamic Egypt, —, ed. Moreover, what became the principal medieval image of Mary — suckling the infant Jesus — can be traced back iconographically to Egyptian depictions of the goddess Isis nursing her infant son Horus.

Significantly, the competition grew sharper in the early years of the seventh century, just before the Arab invasions, as churches and monasteries purged their ranks of nonconforming members. It was out of Judaism that Christianity first arose, fformation at least partly through a bitter dispute with its mother faith that the new religion defined itself.

The process was probably sharpest in the territories of the newly Christianized Roman Empire. Routledge and Kegan Paul,— Berkey mentions the rise of towns and a mercantile economy as having had an impact on religious developments, including Christianity and Islam. Christianity continued to grow down to and even into the Islamic period, at the expense of Jews, pagans, and Zoroastrians; by the late sixth century, it constituted probably the single largest confessional community in Iraq.

The Shia, on the other hand, “insisted that the Prophet, as the lslam of God’s guidance,” had named Ali ibn Abi Talib as “the divinely-inspired Imam who was to formagion him.


Many of the Jews of Egypt were, or had as their forebears, soldiers, as the settlement of Jewish military colonies continued throughout the Ptolemaic period. Lying just beyond the easternmost Roman provinces, it provided a natural refuge for Jews fleeing Roman persecution; and Jews, in their wake, brought Christianity.

Liverpool University Press,1—24, esp.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800

In the Roman Empire, as is well known, Manichaeism was a potent force, which at one point held a powerful attraction for St Augustine. From monotheism, it is but a short step to an explicit, and potentially militant, universalism.

It comes as no surprise that the missionary activities of several of the religions of late antiquity — Manichaeism, for example, and later Islam — were closely associated with merchants. The flexibility and syncretistic potential of Mediterranean paganism are well known, and need no comment here. Despite the rise in the level of rhetorical hostility and its accompanying violence, and despite a corresponding emphasis on formal professions of faith — developments which left a profound mark on the world Islam inherited — a dialogue between the religious traditions persisted through the end of late antiquity.

Bantam, These tensions and mis- understandings led to accusations that the Jews harbored a deeply-rooted indifference, or even hostility, to non-Jews, and at times to outbursts of anti-Jewish violence. Monotheistic passages in Zoroastrian texts may have served as an apologetic response to Jewish and Christian polemic. For the early period there are problems with sources which were mostly written in the context of later debates and divides.