The relationship between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East during the Middle Ages is often typified in terms such as conflict and violent opposition. But research by a PhD student at the University of Leuven in Belgium shows how in 13th century Iraq these two communities intermingled rather than living completely separately.
Bas Snelders has recently defended his PhD dissertation and has published his book Identity and Christian-Muslim Interaction: Medieval Art of the Syrian Orthodox from the Mosul Area. Mosul, an important city in northern Iraq, witnessed a flourishing of Christian art during the thirteenth century. As Muslims were also very active as artists and patrons, a large part of Snelders’s research is dedicated to an exploration of the relationship between Christian and Islamic art. His detailed comparative analysis provides a very nuanced picture of extensive cultural interaction, in which Christians were fully integrated into their environment while still retaining their own exclusive religious and communal identity.
Snelders’s research was part of the Pionier project The Formation of a Communal Identity among West Syrian Christians (451–1300), funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and based at the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University.
Source: University of Leuven