July 24, 2006

Myths of Eurabia

Along with all the other great writing at Brussels Journal and Gates of Vienna, the consistently interesting posts by Norwegian blogger Fjordman keep me coming back. If you are interested in the history of Islam, you'll want to read The Twin Myths of Eurabia in full. And make these two very good blogs a habit. Here's a taste:

We often hear that “Islamic culture” was superior to Western culture in the Middle Ages, and that Westerners owe much of our technological progress to Muslims. If we say that the “Middle East” and the Eastern Mediterranean were culturally and economically superior to Europe in the Middle Ages, then this is true. However, this had been the case for thousands of years before Islam entered into history. The oldest civilizations know to mankind originated in a belt stretching from today's Egypt via Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq to Pakistan. It is not a coincidence that the first European civilizations began in countries that were geographically close to the Middle East: The island of Crete, later mainland Greece and the Balkans, then Rome. Even in the Roman Empire, the Eastern part of the empire was stronger and more urbanized than its Northern and Western regions, which is one of the reasons why the Eastern half proved much more durable while the Western half collapsed in the 5th century.

When the Arab Muslims, a collection of backward, nomadic warrior tribes who did not even have a fully developed script, conquered Egypt, Syria and Iran, they took control over some of the world’s largest centres of accumulated knowledge. To say that “Muslims” or “Islamic culture” created the civilizations of the Middle East can be compared to an illiterate person storming into the planet’s largest library, killing all the librarians and then claiming to have written all the books there. The cultural superiority of the Middle East in relations to Europe did not begin with Islam’s entry into the area. In fact, it ended with it.

Posted by dan at July 24, 2006 9:48 AM