This book is the record of a debate that took place in the early tenth century between the famous Ismaili missionary Abu Hatim al-Razi and the even more celebrated Abu Bakr al-Razi, a physician and philosopher who was kwn to medieval Europe as Rhazes. These two were towering figures of premodern Islamic thought, and their debate over the dogmatic lines between Sunni and Shi'i theological positions serves to illuminate some of the most intellectually exciting topics of medieval Islamic culture. Abu Hatim, in particular, marshals evidence for his position from the Quran, the hadith, and pre-Islamic Arabic poetry as well as from the Jewish and Christian scriptures. This fresh, vivid debate still holds excitement for modern readers who are interested t merely in medieval Islam but in Christian thought as well.
Tarif Khalidi is the Sheikh Zayid Chair in Islamic and Arabic Studies at the American University of Beirut. He previously held positions at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.