Fjordman’s latest post at Dhimmi Watch is a review of a book that touts the positive civilizational effects that the Islamic conquests had on Europe.
Here are some excerpts:
This text is written in response to God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis, an American historian and two-time winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. In my opinion the book is largely a waste of money. This essay is not made to review the book as much as it is to refute it. It overlaps to some extent with the text The Truth About Islam in Europe, which I have published at the Brussels Journal before.
Briefly summed up, God’s Crucible laments the fact that Charles Martel, “the Hammer,” halted the advancing Islamic Jihad at the Battle of Tours or, Battle of Poitiers, in 732:
“Had ‘Abd al-Rahman’s men prevailed that October day, the post-Roman Occident would probably have been incorporated into a cosmopolitan, Muslim regnum unobstructed by borders, as they hypothesize — one devoid of a priestly caste, animated by the dogma of equality of the faithful, and respectful of all religious faiths. Curiously, such speculation has a French pedigree. Forty years ago, two historians, Jean-Henri Roy and Jean Deviosse enumerated the benefits of a Muslim triumph at Poitiers: astronomy; trigonometry; Arabic numerals; the corpus of Greek philosophy. ‘We [Europe] would have gained 267 years,’ according to their calculations. ‘We might have been spared the wars of religion.’ To press the logic of this disconcerting analysis, the victory of Charles the Hammer must be seen as greatly contributing to the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized, fratricidal Europe that, in defining itself in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of religious persecution, cultural particularism, and hereditary aristocracy.”
Mr. Lewis is clearly sympathetic towards this view, and writes that the Carolingian order, established Charles Martel (Carolus in Latin) and his grandson Charlemagne, was “religiously intolerant, intellectually impoverished, socially calcified, and economically primitive.” Curiously, he mentions in passing that there was continuous “out-migration to the Christian kingdoms” from al-Andalus. Why did they move to the Christian lands, whose economy was “little better than late Neolithic,” if life was so sweet in al-Andalus? Lewis states that: “At the end of the eighth century, Europe was militarily strong enough to defend itself from Islam, thanks in part to Charlemagne and his predecessors. The question was whether it was politically, economically, and culturally better off for being able to do so.”
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The Age of Exploration during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was undertaken in order to get away from Muslims and re-establish contact with the civilizations of Asia without hostile middlemen. Norman Davies puts it this way in his monumental Europe: A History: “Islam’s conquests turned Europe into Christianity’s main base. At the same time the great swathe of Muslim territory cut the Christians off from virtually all direct contact with other religions and civilizations. The barrier of militant Islam turned the [European] Peninsula in on itself, severing or transforming many of the earlier lines of commercial, intellectual and political intercourse.”
When it comes to learning, there were no universities in the Islamic world. I have encountered few if any institutions outside of Europe that I would call “universities” in the Western sense before modern times. Among the best candidates is the Great Monastery of Nalanda in India, which was a Buddhist institution. It was not built by Muslims, it was destroyed by Muslims.
Read the rest at Dhimmi Watch.