A Re-orientation of Perspective for the 21st century: Was the Church of the East Involved in Mission Activities among Muslims in Ninth Century Asia?
An important yet often neglected and largely unknown story in Christian-Muslim relations is the connections, functions and roles of Church of the East monasteries in the early Abbasid period of the ninth century. This article describes monastic mission activities that took place in the early and middle ninth century under Muslim rule with a similarity to prior centuries. These activities were also focused on the Muslims around them in Mesopotamia and were able to be sustained in the early ninth century even under Muslim rule. This is important because it offers the story of a period when the Church in Asia lived without political power yet had a history of involvement in witness. The role of a Church subject to Muslim rule yet engaged in mission and learning activities within and beyond the regions of that rule provides a different historical paradigm than usually envisioned. A similar context is still relevant in several ‘contact zones’ of the world today, where Christians struggle to understand what mission means in their context of living as minorities under Muslim role and at times are facing existential issues of survival.