Islam is reshaping Europe


Robert Kaplan writes: Orientalism, through which one culture appropriated and dominated another, is slowly evaporating in a world of cosmopolitan interactions and comparative studies, as [Edward] Said intuited it might. Europe has responded by artificially reconstructing national-cultural identities on the extreme right and left, to counter the threat from the civilization it once dominated.

Although the idea of an end to history — with all its ethnic and territorial disputes — turns out to have been a fantasy, this realization is no excuse for a retreat into nationalism. The cultural purity that Europe craves in the face of the Muslim-refugee influx is simply impossible in a world of increasing human interactions.

“The West,” if it does have a meaning beyond geography, manifests a spirit of ever more inclusive liberalism. Just as in the 19th century there was no going back to feudalism, there is no going back now to nationalism, not without courting disaster. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “Islam is reshaping Europe

  1. El Shaikh

    Robert Kaplan presents a view of history that appears reluctantly filtered through the lens of Huntington’s dichotomy ~ that is, one which perceives “the West” and Islam as diametric opponents. Referencing the muslim conquest of North Africa ~ one which, he alleges, “virtually extinguished” Christianity there ~ Kaplan posits this as the raison d’etre for the evolution of a cohesive European identity, one resistant to the advance of Islam. While his conclusion intimates hope for future concord between muslim and non-muslim polities, his perspective of history betrays significant errors worthy of notice:

    1. Islam did not supplant Christianity with its arrival in North Africa. While Roman occupiers of the Maghreb eventually fled with the advance of Islam, their presence did not constitute the cumulative sum of Christians in North Africa. There have been indigenous Christians in North Africa ever since the inception of muslim rule there.

    2. Andalusian Spain was north of the Mediterranean. During its Golden Age, under the auspices of Islamic political administration, Jews, Christians, muslims and others enjoyed an epoch of peace, security and prosperity known to historians of the age as “The Convivencia.” Before this, such religious pluralism and comity among people of different faith were unprecedented in European history. You can learn more about this strangely forgotten history by viewing the brilliantly produced documentary _Islam: Empire of Faith_, here:

    Peculiarly, Kaplan never references The Convivencia, wherein the seeds of the Renaissance were first sown. This is a glaring omission.

    3. Aside from ignoring entirely Andalusia’s influence upon Europe, Kaplan’s suggestion that Europe’s “Germanic people” naturally evolved from feudalism to democracy also neglects the phenomenon of capital enterprise originally introduced by Arab muslim tradesmen to a Europe economically suffocated by Vatican edicts that forbade such endeavor as “usurious.” A comprehensive historical analysis of this subject was undertaken by Professor of Islamic Studies Gene W. Heck, who published his findings in _Charlemagne, Muhammad, and the Arab Roots of Capitalism_, ISBN-13: 978-3-11-019229-2, ISBN-10: 3-11-019229-2. To ignore the effect of this enterprise upon Europe’s evolution is yet another striking omission for a serious scholar of history.

    Professor Heck’s work is available via Amazon, here:

    (Ask your local library how you might obtain a copy through an inter-library loan. It’s the much cheaper alternative and well worth it.)

    Now to the history behind the history …

    Islamic rule in Andalusia drew its inspiration from Medina, where Muhammad established the first federal constitutional republic of its kind, securing as inalienable the right of Jews, Christians, muslims and others in their persons, property and convictions. This was twelve centuries before we would know who Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were. Yes, it didn’t take long for the Arabs to lose what they had, just as America’s fledgling republic deviated from its stated ideals shortly after its founding.

    This is where the hand-wringing, yet well-meaning non-muslims concerned for the future of “the West” would do well to pay attention: As representatives of the faith, muslims with a knowledge of and respect for this history are those to whom you should listen. They know full well that The Qur’an *commands* them to protect your right to freedom of speech, assembly and religion (or from religion, should that be the case). They know that your lives, property and beliefs are inviolable as well. They are no more interested in compelling you to follow the shari’ah than they are in abandoning their faith.

    Cultivate your understanding of Islam in this manner and you will succeed in bringing about a new age of comity between yourselves and muslims, such as me. You won’t have to sacrifice anything but a little time.

    It’s just that simple.

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