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Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs

Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs

Nadia Maria El Cheikh

ISBN 9780932885302

Publication date: 09/15/2004

This book studies the Arabic-Islamic view of Byzantium, tracing the Byzantine image as it evolved through centuries of warfare, contact, and exchanges. Including previously inaccessible material on the Arabic textual tradition on Byzantium, this investigation shows the significance of Byzantium to the Arab Muslim establishment and their appreciation of various facets of Byzantine culture and civilization.

The Arabic-Islamic representation of the Byzantine Empire stretching from the reference to Byzantium in the Qur’an until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 is considered in terms of a few salient themes. The image of Byzantium reveals itself to be complex, non-monolithic, and self-referential. Formulating an alternative appreciation to the politics of confrontation and hostility that so often underlies scholarly discourse on Muslim–Byzantine relations, this book presents the schemes developed by medieval authors to reinterpret aspects of their own history, their own self-definition, and their own view of the world.


  • The achievement of this book is to have made a wide-ranging, theoretically informed, and useful introduction to an important subject. It has succeeded in signaling the most important periods and themes of its subject, cutting a new trail for future Arabist scholarship and giving specialists from other fields a view of the treasures that can be found in this one.

    —Kevin van Bladel, Bryn Mawr Classical Review


  • Nadia Maria El Cheikh is Professor of History at the American University of Beirut.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University

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