Communicating Meaningfully with Muslims: An Historical Case Study

January 29, 2019
Flip Buys

Communicating Meaningfully with Muslims: Analysing the Melkite Language Shift in the Light of Christian-Muslim Relations in Northern Nigeria


Phillipus J. Buys and Samuel Nwokoro

The Melkites were one of the eastern Christian communities that came under Islamic rule following the Arab conquests. To stay in conversation with their Muslim political leaders, the Melkites were the first among the Christian groups in the East to have their theological works appear in Arabic. One of the eras of rich interfaith exchange in the history of Christian-Muslim interaction came from this period. Today, Nigerian Christians exhibit a rising level of Islamophobia due to violent Islamic practices that have gone on in recent times. It is equally true that Muslims may have their levels of suspicion about Christians in the country. In any case, the Melkite-Muslim interfaith history indicates that there could not be a more critical time for differing faith groups to stay in communication than a period of sustained tension. Keeping this in mind, what could Nigerian Christians, in a time of interreligious relational strain, learn from the Melkites about interfaith communication? This article provides an answer to this question by drawing on lessons in the evaluation of the strategic use of the Arabic language by eastern Christian-Muslim communities of late antiquity (7th to the 10th century).

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