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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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Slavery after Rome, — By the rise of Islam, for example, the Jewish community of Babylonia was well over one thousand years old. University of California Press, As late as the mid-fifth century, Yazdigird II r. The adherents of the religions of late antiquity — or at least those adherents who took their religion seriously — increasingly associated their faith with a truth which applied to all the world, and not just to a particular people or place.

The emphasis on conversion suggests once again the growing importance to the men and women of late antiquity of formal expressions of religious identity.

It was they, with their concerns about the law and ritual purity, who discouraged contact between Jews and non-Jews, who grew lslam of conversion to Judaism, and who frowned upon intermarriage. Click here to sign up. Under the Sasanian rulers, Jews were afforded a high degree of communal autonomy, an arrangement which in many ways foreshadowed the regime of self-contained communities, rooted in religious identity, which helped to shape the social structure of medieval Islamic cities.

But such errancies aside, Zoroastrian doctrine affirmed the union of kingship and religion, and so formatin universal obedience to the sacralized monarch. The organized pagan lf were the first to feel the impact of this identification of church and state, but increasingly the Jews, too, felt its onerous weight.

The Formation of Islam

Islamic Egypt, —, ed. A non-Chalcedonian point of view is given in Aziz S. And pagans too participated in the war of words between the faiths. The experience of Mesopotamian Jews in the centuries before Islam was in fact critical, both for the articulation of Judaism as it has been known since as it was bermey in the rabbinical academies of Iraq that Jewish law took shapeand also in defining the social and political structures which characterized the Near Eastern Jewish experience into the modern period.


Part of the problem is textual: Isam of California Press,46—60; P. But on an official level at least, the Jews formed a relatively favored community. In both tenor and substance, Judaism differed profoundly from the Zoroastrianism which grew more closely formaation with the Sasanian state.

Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian Princeton: Brill,—, esp. William Heinemann,2.

Judaism and Christianity, as we have already seen, staked out a significant presence in the Sasanian realm, largely but not exclusively in its Mesopotamian provinces. Modrzejewski, The Jews of Egypt: Introduction 5 Central to formattion character of Near Eastern society in these centuries was the rise of an urban, mercantile economy. But there was also considerable voluntary migration, especially to flourishing cities such as Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch in northern Syria.

Clarendon Press, Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity Princeton: The growing level of Christian hostility is surprising, as late antique paganism shared much with the new religion of Christianity, both on an intellectual level pagan theology having grown in- creasingly monotheistic and on that of popular belief and practice.

Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Many of the Jews of Egypt were, or had frmation their forebears, soldiers, as the settlement of Jewish military colonies continued throughout the Ptolemaic period.

At the time of the conversion of Constantine, perhaps half the inhabitants of Egypt professed Christianity; by the early fifth century, the figure probably reached eighty percent. Princeton University Press,61—2. The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, volume 1: But Berkey describes Islam as a universalist religion taking brekey during conquests “through a process of dialogue with the other faith traditions.

Jonathan Berkey

Manichaeism had an appeal even for some early Muslims, as we shall see. And after removing her infant and cooking it in a pot, all those who were intending to fight dipped the sleeves of their right arm in this detestable sacrifice.


This was an era of leading religious figures and of the production of foundational religious texts in all of these regions: The social and historical significance of those controversies, however, is another matter. This knowledge was embedded in the rich and inter-related body of texts — principally the Koran, collections of hadith, legal treaties and textbooks and commentaries on them — which formed the substantive basis for the training of those scholars who were known as the ulama.

The Formation of Islam – Wikipedia

But the rabbis brought a more refined definition of what it meant to be Bermey, one that required the setting of sharper communal boundaries. At Edessa in Syria, one of the earliest and most important centers of eastern Christianity, a city which rormation pagan emperor Julian had shunned for its commitment to the Christian faith, pagan rituals and sacrifices were still practiced in the late sixth century.

Similarly, they encouraged the spread of religious ideas from one place to another. And by at least the end of the sixth century, the leaders of those schools, the geonim, had 10 On the size of the Jewish population in Iraq, see Jacob Neusner, Talmudic Judaism in Sasanian Babylonia Leiden: Berkey includes a general outline of the political history of the Near East, but focuses on the tensions between religion and political authority, with fkrmation fragmentation of the latter and the presence of “alien” mostly Turkish military regimes.

And the decline is measurable, and not merely in the obvious fact that, at some point between the third and seventh centuries, the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Near East formally converted formatkon one of the new faiths.

By the early fifth century, the movement was in full swing.