Thomas the Presbyter was a 7th-century Middle Eastern Jacobite author whose manuscripsts are preserved in the British library of Syriac Manuscripts.
The Syriac Orthodox Church, or Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, is an autocephalous Christian church within the wider communion of Oriental Orthodoxy. It was established by Severus of Antioch in Antioch in 518 A.D., influenced by Jacob Baradaeus, while tracing its history to Antioch by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the 1st century, according to its tradition. The Church uses the Divine Liturgy of Saint James, associated with Saint James, the "brother" of Jesus and patriarch among the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. Syriac is the official and liturgical language of the Church based on Syriac Christianity. The primate of the church is the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch currently Ignatius Aphrem II since 2014, seated in the Cathedral of Saint George, Bab Tuma, Damascus, Syria.
The writings provide an eye witness account to the Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century:
Religion in pre-Islamic Arabia included indigenous polytheistic beliefs, as well as Christianity, Judaism, Mandaeism, and Iranian religions of Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and Manichaeism. Arabian polytheism, the dominant form of religion in pre-Islamic Arabia, was based on veneration of deities and spirits. Worship was directed to various gods and goddesses, including Hubal and the goddesses al-Lāt, al-‘Uzzā, and Manāt, at local shrines and temples such as the Kaaba in Mecca. Deities were venerated and invoked through a variety of rituals, including pilgrimages and divination, as well as ritual sacrifice. Different theories have been proposed regarding the role of Allah in Meccan religion. Many of the physical descriptions of the pre-Islamic gods are traced to idols, especially near the Kaaba, which is said to have contained up to 360 of them.
Saint John of Damascus, also known as John Damascene and as Χρυσορρόας / Chrysorrhoas, was a Byzantine monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus c. 675 or 676, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem on 4 December 749.
Saracen was a term widely used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages to refer to Arab Muslims. The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the Common Era, Greek and Latin writings used this term to refer to the people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and in Arabia Deserta. In Europe during the Early Middle Ages, the term came to be associated with tribes of Arabia. The oldest source mentioning the term Saracen dates back to the 7th century. It was found in Doctrina Jacobi, a commentary that discussed the event of the Arab conquests on Palestine.
Dionysius I Telmaharoyo, also known as Dionysius of Tel Mahre, was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 818 until his death in 845.
The historiography of early Islam refers to the historiogaphic study of the early history of Islam during the 7th century, from Muhammad's first revelations in 610 until the disintegration of the Rashidun Caliphate in 661, and arguably throughout the 8th century and the duration of the Umayyad Caliphate, terminating in the incipient Islamic Golden Age around the beginning of the 9th century.
The early Muslim conquests, also referred to as the Arab conquests and early Islamic conquests began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion.
Hagarenes, is a term widely used by early Syriac, Greek, Coptic and Armenian sources to describe the early Arab conquerors of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt.
The Teaching of Jacob, is a 7th-century Greek Christian polemical tract set in Carthage in 634 but written in Palestine sometime between 634 and 640. It supposedly records a weeks-long discussion ending on July 13, 634, among Jews who have been forcibly baptized by order of the emperor. One of them, Jacob, has come to believe sincerely in Christianity; he instructs the rest about why they should also sincerely embrace their new faith. Halfway through, a Jewish merchant named Justus arrives and challenges Jacob to a debate. In the end, all of the participants are convinced to embrace Christianity, and Jacob and Justus return east. In addition to several partial Greek manuscripts, the text survives in Latin, Arabic, Ethiopic and Slavonic translations.
The Battle of Dathin was a minor battle during the Arab–Byzantine Wars between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire in February 634, but became very famous in the literature of the period.
Life of Gabriel of Qartmin is a Syriac 8th-century manuscript containing the life of Mor Gabriel, Bishop of Tur Abdin, which helps to provides a glimpse into the events in the Middle East during the 7th century.
Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam from the Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam series is a book by scholar of the Middle East Robert G. Hoyland.
Hnanisho' the Exegete was a 7th-century Catholic priest in medieval Mesopotamia, whose writings give witness to the events of his time including the relationship between the Christians and the Jews and the "new folly" "spread by the sword" which was later to become Islam.
The Maronite Chronicles is a fragmentary document in Syriac language, written by Syrian Christian Maronites in the middle of the 7th century. They provide an archeologically verified record of the first stable decade of Umayyad rule over the Levant between 658 and 665 A.D., during the rule of the fifth Caliph Muawiyah I.
Saint Stephen the Sabaite, also known as Stephen the Hymnographer, was a Christian monk from Julis, a district of Gaza. He was a nephew of St. John of Damascus and spent a half-century in the monastery of Mar Saba. He is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.
The history of the Jews and Judaism in the Land of Israel is about the history and religion of the Jewish people who originated in the Land of Israel, and have maintained physical, cultural, and religious ties to it ever since. Although they had first emerged centuries earlier as an outgrowth of southern Canaanites, and the Hebrew Bible claims that a United Israelite monarchy existed starting in the 10th century BCE, the first appearance of the name "Israel" in the non-Biblical historic record is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele, circa 1200 BCE. During the biblical period, two kingdoms occupied the highland zone, the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and the Kingdom of Judah by the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Upon the defeat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire by the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great, the Jewish elite returned to Jerusalem, and the Second Temple was built.
While the existence of Muhammad is established by contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous historical records, attempts to distinguish between the historical elements and the ahistorical elements of many of the reports of Muhammad have not been very successful. Hence the historicity of Muhammad, aside from his existence, is debated. The earliest Muslim source of information for the life of Muhammad, the Quran, gives very little personal information and its historicity is debated. Next in importance is the sīra literature and hadith, which survive in the historical works of writers from the third, and fourth centuries of the Muslim era. There are also a relatively small number of contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous non-Muslim sources, which confirm the existence of Muhammad and are valuable both in themselves and for comparison with Muslim sources.
Fragment on the Arab Conquests are fragmentary notes that were written around the year 636 AD on the front blank pages of a sixth-century Syriac Christian manuscript of the Gospel of Mark. The fragment depicts events from the early seventh century conflict between the Byzantines and "the Arabs of Muhammad", particularly of the battle of Yarmouk.
Mahbūb ibn-Qūṣṭānṭīn was a 10th-century Arabic Christian writer and historian, best known for his lengthy Kitab al-'Unwan. He was the Melkite bishop of Manbij, in Syria.
The Qedarite Kingdom, or Qedar, was a largely nomadic, ancient Arab tribal confederation. Described as "the most organized of the Northern Arabian tribes", at the peak of its power in the 6th century BCE it had a kingdom and controlled a vast region in Arabia.
Robert G. Hoyland is a scholar and historian, specializing in the medieval history of the Middle East. He is a former student of historian Patricia Crone and was a Leverhulme Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is currently Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, having previously been Professor of Islamic history at the University of Oxford's Faculty of Oriental Studies and a Professor of history at the University of St. Andrews and UCLA.
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