Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present by Christian Sahner

By Christian Sahner

As a civil conflict shatters a rustic and consumes its humans, historian Christian C. Sahner deals a poignant account of Syria, the place the earlier profoundly shapes its dreadful current. one of the Ruins blends heritage, memoir and reportage, drawing at the author's vast wisdom of Syria in old, medieval, and sleek instances, in addition to his reports dwelling within the Levant at the eve of the warfare and in the middle of the "Arab Spring". those plotlines converge in a wealthy narrative of a rustic in consistent flux - a spot renewed via the very shifts that, within the close to time period, are proving so damaging.

Sahner specializes in 5 issues of curiosity to someone intrigued and dismayed by way of Syria's fragmentation considering 2011: the position of Christianity in society; the coming of Islam; the increase of sectarianism and competing minorities; the emergence of the Ba'ath occasion; and the present pitiless civil battle.

Among the Ruins is a brisk and illuminating learn, an available advent to a rustic with an drastically wealthy prior and a sad current. For someone looking to comprehend Syria, this ebook may be their place to begin.

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Syria’s Roman masters—by dint of their long stay in the region—had a stake in practically every one of these fights. Therefore whenever their will clashed with those of the locals, control invariably suffered. ” They were savvy rulers, and learned the Syrian terrain well. But on the crucial questions that had long divided the region and foiled Roman hegemony—the politics of Christian theology, in particular—the Muslims had no stake in the fight. It helped them rule with an efficient impartiality toward the 11 AMONG THE RUINS concerns of their Christian subjects, who continued to form a demographic majority in the region deep into the Middle Ages.

4 Mu‘awiya was a pious and sober man, a scion of the aristocracy of the city of Mecca and a longtime secretary of the Prophet. His family, the Banu Umayya (meaning “the Tribe of Umayya”), were formerly leaders of the pagan resistance against Muhammad (indeed, Mu‘awiya’s mother, Hind, is said to have eaten the liver of the Prophet’s uncle after he was killed in battle in 625). But after Muhammad captured Mecca in 628, the family fell into line and converted to the new religion. Appointed governor in Damascus in 638, Mu‘awiya ruled Syria with relative independence for the next twenty years, building his power base as war and dissent simmered elsewhere in the empire.

Scholars believe that the blocked doorway mentioned above served as an entrance for both groups, with Christians turning left and Muslims right into their respective sections of the complex. This arrangement was not so unusual: we know about similar arrangements at other sites from the early Islamic period, where the first generation of Muslims prayed in spaces borrowed from their Christian subjects. â•… Whether this arrangement reflected the ecumenism, magnanimity, or pragmatism of the conquerors is tough to say.

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