The Critical assessment of the Armenian sources and the re-establishment of older ones - such as the Diegesis, The History of Catholicos Arsen of Georgia, and the document known as The Letter of Patriarch Photius - have brought to light historical evidence which show the important role the Armenian Church played in the political life and administration of Armenia under Arab rule. No study, up till now, has been dedicated to the study of the question of Church-State Relations in Armenia under the Arab Domination. It begins with the first Arab invasion of Armenia in AD 640, leading up to the middle of the 8th century - the beginning of the Abbasid Caliphate.
Among the problems discussed are the role the National Church played in the administration of the land; the position and authority of the head of the Armenian Church - the Catholicos - vis-a-vis the Arab governor, the indigenous Prince of Armenia and the local feudal lords; the religious policy of the Caliphate in Armenia and the attitude of the Arab settlers towards the Armenian Church and population; finally, the relations of the Armenian Church with her neighbouring Churches - the Byzantine Chalcedonian and the Syriac Jacobite Churches - and the influence of these relationships on Church-State Relations within Armenia.
Under the Umayyad Caliphate Armenia enjoyed a great degree of internal autonomy and religious freedom, as a result of which a great number of churches and monasteries were built up to the end of the 7th century. But by the turn of the century Arab control of Armenia was stronger. A new policy of Arabization was introduced. For the first time Arab governors were appointed under Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan and his brother Muhammad. This policy took two forms: firstly, there were attempts at destroying the Naxarar feudal structure of Armenia; and secondly, to isolate the Armenian Church from the Byzantine Church. There were Catholicoi who pursued pro-Arab policies to defend the rights and position of the National Church. One must say that there was a marked difference between the attitude of the Umayyad Caliphate and the Abbasid Caliphate towards the Armenian Church.
I would like to underline the fact that the Arab Caliphate - viz., the Umayyads were tolerant and well disposed towards the Armenian people and the Armenian Church. One can see a reflection of this in the great welcome the Arabs accorded to the remnants of the Armenian people after the Turkish genocide during the First World War (1914-1918). The Arab people have been very tolerant and have shown their brotherly sentiment towards the Armenians. It is with gratitude and deep appreciation of the Arab people and their hospitality that I write these lines, a testimony to the deep rooted friendship between the Arab and Armenian people.
I would like to thank the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: the head of the Armenian Communities Department, Dr. Mikhael Essayan, who is on the forefront of the defence of Armenian culture and learning in the diaspora and in Armenia proper.
I want to thank in particular Dr. Zaven Yegavian, the Director of the Armenian Communities Department, a great scholar in his own right and the editor of the series The Armenian Library of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, for including this volume in the series dedicated to the 1700"' anniversary of the establishment of Christianity as the state religion in Armenia.
I would like to thank the German Bible Society who has kindly provided the three maps placed at the end of the work.
Finally, I would like to thank and dedicate this work to my wife, Hasmig, who has stood by me and encouraged me at all times. She has spent months in typing the manuscript of the present work.
Manuel M. Jinbachian (Rev. Dr.) Strasbourg, 29 October 2000