Islamic World Renaissance

Category: Americas, Articles, Faith | Topic: islamic world | Views: 3,741

Too many observers look at Iraq as if it were a boxing match. Invasion-one up for the West, well at least for the United States and Britain. Sabotage an oil pipeline-one down for the West. And so it will go on. Only one thing is clear: In the cold, searching light of history, each of these incidents that absorb us will not even rank as footnotes.

Whatever one thinks of political scientist Samuel Huntington’s book “The Clash of Civilizations,” a competition of civilizations it nevertheless is and has long been. And we need to know that history, if only to absorb its greatest lesson: Military success on either side has never determined the direction of the civilization in question for more than a century or two. That is the lesson of the Crusades and it is also the lesson of the great Ottoman Empire, which started to lose intellectual momentum in the 15th century when its military reach was at its zenith.

Yet even if the Christian West is now in the ascendancy, it has never come to terms with how much it owes Islamic civilization. It was the Abbasid dynasty, founded after an internal Muslim coup in the year 750, that absorbed the Hellenic legacy at a time when, under Charlemagne, Europe intellectually withered. 

In Charlemagne’s Europe, reading and writing were not highly regarded, as they were in the Islamic world. The scientific, medical and philosophical learning of classical antiquity was almost entirely forgotten. Christian culture was backward and conservative, and intellectual life was dominated by the Bible and the Latin fathers of the church.

The Western world didn’t begin to regain its intellectual luster until the 12th and 13th centuries, when it borrowed back from the Islamic world the scientific and intellectual knowledge it had forgotten about. Then the rise of the West took the Islamic world by surprise.

Once the 15th century was underway, Europe started to find its pace. This was the age of printing, exploration and Western hegemony. Even though the Ottoman Empire was emerging as the most powerful state in the world, after the conquest of Constantinople, Islam started to regress intellectually. Historians find it difficult to explain this contradiction, but it should act as a warning to Western hubris.

The West, particularly the United States, is militarily strong today, yet it seems not to have the political leverage of only a generation or so ago.

It does not help our standing in the world to say that Islam is not a religion of the sword, as George W. Bush and Tony Blair have, in a mistaken attempt to fudge history and appear conciliatory. In part it is. Muhammad himself became a warrior, and within 20 years of his death the Muslims had captured much of the Roman and Persian empires.

Neither does it help to imply, as both Bush and Blair have done, that the West is motivated by its Christian principles. Christ, in marked contrast to Muhammad, was a man of nonviolence, as were his early followers.

It was only when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire after the conversion of Constantine in 312 that it changed its philosophy. Then it became, and has long continued to be, as much a warrior religion as Islam. Bush’s and Blair’s breath would be better spent educating electorates as to the likelihood of the Islamic world regaining its foothold in history and becoming again a mighty intellectual, scientific and, inevitably, military force. In fact, this is what Saddam Hussein in his own idiosyncratic, violence-infused way was trying to bring off.

These are today’s missteps, but this renaissance of Islam will come to pass in one not-too-distant day, if only because the roots of civilization in the Islamic world run deep. The brainpower is certainly there. It is just a question of the right political structures. In the modern world perhaps democracy can be the key to unlock the stored-up potential, as modern Turkey seems to be demonstrating.

And the West should unreservedly welcome it.

The West should take its cue from scholars of 15th century Renaissance humanism, especially the Spaniard John of Segovia and the German Nicholas of Cusa, as Richard Fletcher has suggested in his new book, “The Cross and the Crescent.” John argued that it was important to find points of contact between Christianity and Islam-convergence, not divergence. Nicholas, who became a cardinal, argued that despite the differences between the two faiths it had to be realized that human knowledge could never be more than conjectural. If there is a truth, it can be understood only by means of mystical intuition.

These eternal questions of civilization are the ones we should be concentrating on. Which side is up and which is down in Iraq are, by comparison, truly ephemeral.




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  1. The author could use more data to substantiate the titke of his title and basic message. However, I personally feel, he deserves an appreciation.

  2. Regarding Hitler, what do you think might have inspired the term “1000-Year Reich?” Also, if one might be interested in such topics, one might wish to visit “” and related pages (at the “” site).

    For whatever it might be worth, from the New Testament (as well as from Hadith), I have received the impression that Jesus (peace be upon him) will not be returning to mankind for the purpose of preaching. In addition (according to him) the power and the glory are Allah’s – are they not? Finally, the religion of the messengers and the other prophets of Allah (peace be upon them all) is that of submission to Allah (who has honored servants and powerful slaves but not partners) – or so I have come to understand, according to the will of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

    Peace be with you.

    –Yahya Bergum

  3. Well Map, its a fact that Christianity is in retreat. In Europe it has declined to the point to the point of near irrelevance. In the US, it has started to decline after being static for roughly 3 decades. Yes, Christianity is a dying religion.

    Mark Glenn’s work is not to found on Christian websites for obvious reasons – he defends Islamic civilization, which most Christians are taught to vilify. Glenn’s work is not based on watered down polecism but solid scholarship and a style of bluntly stating harsh realities. His particular attention at showcasing Christian zealots and zionists in their campaign to start a third world war in the Middle East is but one of many examples.

    Your respect for the peoples of the Middle East is admirable, but unfortunetly a minority opinion for an American, a citizen of a nation which has no respect for freedom and human dignity.

  4. I wouldn’t say that Christianity is a dying religion, it may not be the fastest growing, but it’s not dying. After all it’s been around for 2000 years. Jesus said in Mt. 22:14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen” Christianity isn’t about practicing a religion because in that sense it would be a form of idolatry. It’s about a personal relationship with Jesus who is our Savior. Unfortunately, many Christians have failed to be Christlike through out the centuries. The Inquisition was a disgusting era inwhich many protestants were murdered at the command of the Roman Catholic Pope. The crusades (just as evil) were in response to holy wars(evil begets evil) waged against Christians and their lands. As for the Holocaust it was not of Christian doing. Granted, Hitler was born Catholic but it doesn’t mean that he exterminated Jews (others as well) in the name of Christ. From what I’ve heard and read many influential Muslims worked alongside with the Nazis.

    I don’t believe anyone is trying to “exterminate the peoples and culture of the Middle East” This is the first I’ve heard of such a claim.

    Personally, I think the peoples of ME descent are a handsome group and the culture is intriguing. ME folks that I’ve met are kind and gracious.

    I did do a google search on Mark Glenn. Yes, he says he is Catholic and of Lebanese background. However, I’ve read some of his works on the web and notice that his writings are only on Islamic websites (some secular sites) but not on Catholic or Christian websites. I found that interesting and made me wonder why he’s not Muslim (or is he one?). Humm.

    May His Peace be upon you.

  5. this is to my fellow christians “Bethany

    ” it is not right to be judgemental our opinion it just that and not to be forced apon anyone else and openminded christian would know that everyone has free will to believe whatever they wish. the point is that we cannot brand a religious group for the transgressions of a few.

    plus if you look back in history you will find that christians have killed more in the name of god than anyother religion thats some food for thought

  6. Some of the comments posted really do show the root of the problem…ignorant and malicious individuals who have zero knowledge of history and feel their racist bile qualifies to have a relevent opinion on the issues.

    Bethanys comments are that of a typical American…biligerent nonsense. “Christianity rocks” she states. Really? Christianity is a dying religion one which is barely practiced by its alleged adherets. Christians do not have a code of life despite the many references to Chriist(s), nor do they emulate his works, instead most of todays Christians are really athiests who selectively cite God when its in their favor to do so. Pretty much hypocrites of the highest order.

    Then theres the claim that by some Islam needs a reformation like Christianity does. These sad folk obviously have little history to work with and figure the answer rests in “monkey see, monkey do.” Islam IS the reformation simply put. Unlike Christians, Muslims were not burning woman at the stake, nor did they set aflame their libraries, nor did fragment into hundreds of sects which were trying to exterminate each other. Nor were Muslims enslaving each other as Christians from Europe fanatically colonized entire continents without regard for the conquered, Christian or not. The Crusades, Inquisition and Holocaust are the tip of the iceberg. Self-declared North American Christians today are involved in ethnic cleansing in the Holy Land through Ashkenazi rejects from Europe who have destroyed much of Christian heritage of Palestine.

    But hey, so what, they’re just “sand-niggers.” Armageddon fantasies abound indeed.

    Tim claims that people just race to the West. This is really nothing but a weak assumption based on immigration, it has nothing to do with benevolence. Most of the Immigrants who come to America are usually people who come from countries which were the recipient of carpet bombings and economic exploitation. They also make for cheap labor.

  7. I would respectfully recommend that Christians see for themselves what the Quran says about Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), instead of changing the subject whenever a Muslim tries to explain how Christ was nothing more than a messenger – from the Lord (reigning over all) of the worlds (Quran 1:2). To me, telling Christians that Jesus (peace be upon him) was just another messenger seems potentially misleading, if Christians are unlikely to hear anything more on the subject – as if Allah’s instructions (for this particular world) were just another message.

    Was Christ’s conception immaculate? Through Christ (John 5:19) – did Allah (who is unequalled) will that miracles be performed? Was Christ the Messiah, as was foretold? The Quran answers these (and similar) questions. Incidentally, Jesus (peace be upon him) is, as far as I am aware, the only person the Quran identifies by providing his mother’s, rather than his father’s, name – as in, the son of Mary (with whom, the Quran reports, THE LORD is well pleased).

    I apologize for any offensive remarks I have made. Allah willing, I would welcome correction. Regardless, my mistakes are my own, as Allah has willed.

    Peace be with you.

    –Yahya Bergum

  8. I don’t understand what you are trying to say really. Talking about how the Christian west owes Islamic civilization for whatever, but i don’t think they owe islamic civilization anything and remember America is the land of the free so Bush can be budist and you can’t say a word and I think he is doing the right thing going to war with Saddam!Don’t like it go back to THE MIDDLE EAST! CHRISTIANITY ROCKS!

    ” I am the Alpha and Omega, the begining and the End,” says the Lord “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”

    Revelation 1:8

  9. The fact that Islam had a glorious past is fact. Islam is going through the pain that every ancient religion goes through and this is modernizing their creed to fit the modern world without losing its soul. Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc. have all faced change with mixed success.

    The fact remains that Islam is in its Dark Ages, because like in the “Christian” Middle Ages, clerics run the country and brutally suppress all opposition. In Islam this is perhaps most clear among Wahabbis, many of whom it appears would like to live life as it was 1400 years ago.

    Islam today is trying to find its unified soul and the process isn’t always pretty. But I believe that they will suceed in the end. Don’t be too quick to predict the fall of the West. Many Muslims vote with their feet and emigrate from Mslim countries to the West which speaks for itself.

  10. I thought the article was poorly written and not totally accurate in it’s facts of history. I guess not too surprising coming from a secular newspaper, the LA Times. What else is new?

    However, the author’s assessments that there is a contrast between Muhammad and Jesus is correct. Jesus taught us by word and actions to love our enemies. What a challenge of submission for anybody since it goes against our human nature for revenge. But by the grace of the Good Lord he can mold our hearts to be more like His.

    Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” Mt 22:37-39.

    May His Peace rest upon you.

  11. We have beliefs, freedom of speech, rights, laws, love, religion, culture, we are human beings. We have the right to stand up for what we belive in and we have to right to choose what we believe in, and sometimes I think about what has happened to our world. What has gone so wrong that religions are fighting over religions, and no one respects anyones beliefs, everyone has the right to do what they feel is right for them, it’s not up to anybody else. I feel that some people don’t respect that, for example… BUSH and BLAIR, what they are doing to Muslims I believe is horrible, I have lost all respect for these two leaders and am loosing respect for John Howard. Something has gone wrong with the world today and all we can do is pray for a better day, and pray that Lord Jesus Christ will give us the strength to move on and be strong. I believe in Christianity, and I am open to other peoples beliefs, as long as they are open to mine, acceptance is ALL this world needs.

  12. I am niether for, or against what Muslims or Cristians say, I favour Christianity over Islam, because it is what “I” believe in. I just don’t thihnk that it is right that Muslims can have such spitefullness in their hearts for other religions, I think that it is appalling. Why don’t you let people think for themselves, be open-minded, I believe that it is wrong for a religion to be so hypercritical. I’m not saying that Christians don’t do it either, because I know that their are people out there that do that, I just want to say that it is terrible the way that Mulsims treat non-muslims. I am doing research for an assignment at the moment and I have chosen to do the Islamic religion, and all I have found on the internet is blasphemous slander about my religion. I’m just trying to keep an open mind about other religions, this is why I chose a different religion besides christianity. I’m only 15 and I have other htings to do with my time than write things like this, but I thought that it is very awful the way you treat Christians and people of other religions. I think that the sooner Muslims inherit an open mind, the sooner the world wil be a bit more of a safer place.

  13. The fall of Christian society in the “middle ages” was due to Christian fundamentalists. Christian Priests dictated the way people lived and learned and it caused a dark age. Europe was almost forced into the stone age until individuals started thinking for themselves and stopped listening to what their governments told them Christianity was.

    The people of the west finally started dictating their own futures. They advanced science, culture, and military power and became the most influential and powerful force on earth.

    God willing, Islam as a whole will leave the fundamentalist dark age they are in and become the world power their history dictates they are capable of.

    I, as an American Christian, pray to see the merciful power that Islam once was, come to it’s rightful place.

    History shows that Muslims were technologically advanced and treated Christians righteously even during the atrocities of the crusades.

    I personally see the roles of Christians and Muslims totally reversed in modern times. Christian technology is permeating the Islamic world just as Muslim technology once took hold on the Christian world. Islamic conquerors took their place in southern Europe and Spain just as the Christian conquerors are taking Afghanistan and Iraq now. Christians learned from the advanced Muslims. Muslims are learning from the advanced Christians. It’s a cycle that hopefully will end soon. If God wills that Islam becomes the world power again, then so be it. But don’t let a Priest or an Ayatollah tell you what God wants. It has all been written, no matter what your religion is. Don’t let humans change God’s words.

  14. Numerous instructions of Christ, while still obeyed by Muslims, generally appear ignored by Christians. The author seems to be denying that Islam is founded on the teachings of Christ. (A’uzzo billahi minash-shaitanir-rajeem.)

    The Bible would seem to be telling us that Jesus (peace be upon him) would not be returning to this world “to preach” to the masses. But what sayest thou – regarding Christ’s instructions to fear Allah, obey the Commandments, do good works and generally attempt to avoid being cast into the fire? Also, without Allah – who is the One who alone is good (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19) – Christ Jesus (peace be upon him) testified that there was nothing that he, himself, could do (John 5:19).

    With respect to Christ’s teachings, do Christians believe that Allah (THE LORD) simply excuses our “trespasses” against others? The answer appears to be yes. However, Matthew 5:25 seems to indicate we shall be accountable for complaints against us, during some sort of judgement (presumably by the one who told us about this). Furthermore, Matthew 5:26 would appear to support the concept of Purgatory – would it not?

    With all do respect, I think the author (may peace be with him) should perhaps consider praising THE GOOD LORD for having been willed to have a closer look at what is written in the Bible. I praise Allah for being willed by Allah to do likewise.

    Finally, may Allah (THE GOOD LORD) reward the author for good deeds and intentions. Ameen.

    Assalamu alaikum.

    –Yahya Bergum

  15. The difference between Islamic and Christian minds is that the Christians after medieval ages became open minded and ready to learn and absorb what they wanted to from other regions and religions. It continues to this day. But the same is not the case with Islamic minds. As their prophet has ‘completed his mission’, the quron is teh final word now even though it is subject to so many misinterpretations and has been teh cause of many muslim-muslim discords whatto talk of muslim-non muslim ones. They are too mired in religious ideology which doesn’t really serve their needs and actually pulls them backwards into darkness and narrow thinking. As a consequence, they not only don’t grow themselves with time within their own socio-political world, but they feel jealous of others existance and wish to bring them down. They continue to make themselves weaker vis-a-vis the ‘outside’ world (comprising of all other communities) and become easy targets of conquer and use.

    Once the Islamists realize that the world is not static, they will begin to make changes in their thinking and living and yes, then it will be time for the world communities to take Islam seriously and learn new things from it.

  16. The west is generally scared of Islam, so it tries to stop people by whatever means necessary and the result has been the opposite, if the west leaves it alone then people wouldn’t be even interested in it, in the muslim countries the rate of islam being accepted by non mulsim citizens is nominal whereas in the West it spreads as wild fire! Take the scarf issue for example, they have made it such a big issue, and now every girl wishes to wear it in the West and sees it as an islamic identity. Its the west’s intollerance that has caused the reaction. the more time money the west spends on islam bashing the faster it grows.

  17. I agree with most of the article except the part when the author labels islam as a “warrior” religion. The problem is that islam was born into warring nations. Islam did not create a violence which was already there to begin with.

  18. I realy wish people on this board could understand that before the Crusades ever occured the Muslims were attacking Christians and taking Christian land. Also before the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition occured they went on and invaded Spain in 711 AD. They also invaded Eastern Europe.

  19. I just want to underscore my agreement with Mr Marcus. Both prophets taught peace. Turkey is a failure. The strength of a country is not in its military but in the ideology. Civilizations rise and fall. Baa’th means resurrection. The conquest of Iraq may be beginning of a great awakening.

  20. i liked your article not because that i am a muslim but it reflect the true answer in this current situations where one super power is making the others to obey him through force.and making false propagation against islam. but no matter how much they make allah willl reverse the situation against them.

  21. The author’s inquisitiveness into Arab and Islamic history is appreciated by this American-Muslim. Colleges in America and Europe naively “teach” their Liberal Arts History courses courses on Greek and Roman Empires, then conveniently flash forward to the apparently “enlightened” European Rennaisance.

    The story not told is that scholars and philosophers during the time of the Islamic Empire — some of whom converted to Islam and some who were non-Muslims — contributed greatly to human civilization. Mathematics, Medicine, Astrology, Physics, Literature, Philosophy and the list goes on.

    Modern day politics is very much self-fulling for the Americans and Europeans. After all, they are the ones who “set up” the Middle Eastern countries (and their dictators) with their boundaries, following WWI. What about that history? I don’t remember reading about that in high school or college history courses?

  22. >>Neither does it help to imply, as both Bush and Blair have done, that the West is motivated by its Christian principles. Christ, in marked contrast to Muhammad, was a man of nonviolence, as were his early followers.

    What in the world blazes is this author talking about? He’s as guilty of ignorance and “pro-Western” hubris as he is accusing the pro-war, flag-waving Americans. But Mr. Power’s arrogance lies not in the fact that he is pro-Western or even pro-American; but rather in his pro-Christian ego. This little fact is made abudantly clear when he calls our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessing be upon him) a ‘warrior’ without asserting the reasons, context, and circumstances on why our Prophet even carried a ‘sword’. But the outrageous part about this whole thing is that he directly and purposefully contrasts Prophet Muhammad with that of Prophet Jesus ibn Maryam. (allahe was salaam) I would have appreciated if he would expound on the two completely different peoples and their environmental mindset that Jesus and Muhammad (p.b.u them all) were sent to by God. Jews, to whom Prophet Jesus was sent to were fairly educated and tended to rely less on warfare to settle disputes/conflicts whereas the Jahiliyee Arabs were, well, JAHILS (ignorants)! They always carried a sword in an environment where swords was a necessary tool for defense and survival!!! Where a simple ethnic inter-tribal argument could quickly erupt into a civil war that would engulf all of Arabia (because of various allegiances/pacts of each tribe). Additionally, Prophet Jesus’ task (peace of Allah be with him), as the last of many in a chain of Israelites prophets PRIMARILY was to call Bani Israel back to the worship of God who had strayed away from the message. Whereas the Prophet Muhammad’s job (saws) was the same but to a people whose very livelihood and identification was tied down to the belief and worship of the idols. Thus, Mr. Powers in essence compares apples to oranges…


  23. I like the author being honest enough to declare the Muslim world finds its strength in warrior philosophy, not passivism. It works, and will continue to prosper as the West continues to decay from within.

  24. Yes, the United States is now declining just like all other great civilizations, we have reached our apex. Our country is turning it’s back on the Christian values that made it a great nation. Where the Islamic world clings and protects it believes. However, Christains and Muslims do not tell the truth about each other or events. I am Christian, my husband Muslim from Egypt we just shake our heads in shame at both sides when we hear all the from lies and see all the pain and suffering cause to the innocent people. The truth must find away its way to the people and the world. We have to learn to live together. I do not have a quick solution but to stop telling lies about each other would be the first thing to do.


  25. There is valid concern amongst many whether religiosity hampers intellectual curiosity or not. Matthew Arnold called it Hellenism and Hebraism. The spontaneity of conscioussness of the Greeks allows the mind to be creative and seek pleasure in beautiful things. The strictness of conscience of the Jews works in opposition to this, seeing that morality will promote censorship, which hinders creativity. My point is that the more the West lost religion, the more it progressed. To call it the “Christian West” is simply ignorance and wishful thinking. “The Secular West” is advancing rapidly, but the problem with Hellenism, is that because it lacks the conscience of Hebraism, the mind will eventually create things that will destroy humanity itself. The Muslims consider material benefit as a favor from God, and thus are greatly grateful to their Lord for how He has subjected nature for the benefit of human beings. Muslims know that God gives to those who disobey Him for a wise purpose, for He is wise. Life has been made a test to see if people submit to God in all circumstances. God allows the unbelievers to succeed only to mislead those who associate truth with material success. Needless to say, the prophets were often followed by the poor. Life has been made a prison for the believer, and in Paradise he will be free. The Secularist wants to have the joys of paradise immediately, and thus becomes an epicurean whose sole purpose is to find pleasure. Surely, pleasure is a good thing and we should love God for it, but in comparison with the great life of the hereafter, it is less in value than the wing of mosquito, whose value is the one second it takes to end its life. Lastly, wordly benefit comes at with exploitation of others, which then permits military expansion. The Christians should think that the West succeeded by doing the opposite of what the Gospels tell them to do. To own property, to engage in war, to use violence, to seek material benefit.AtleastIslam is honest.

  26. Islam could also serve the world by taking a long look at is past imperialist history and issue some apologies. Until that happens, the West will always view Islam with a great deal of suspicion

  27. An admirable effort, yet one marred by self-serving myths. While the author is correct to point out that the West has never come to terms with what Islamic world bestowed upon it, he fails on several key points.

    Suggesting that the Prophet(s) was in contrast to the message of Christ is a fallacy. Both messengers of the supreme preached the same message of peace, neither violent, one who finished his mission, and one who has yet to return.

    “Modern” Turkey is really quite backward, masquerading as a democratic state, while its run by secular army zealots who for over 80 years have tried to destroy Turkeys Islamic heritage. Turkey is a prime example of a failed state, one which Muslim nations ought not to emulate.

    The writer also failes to recognize that much of the crusader mentality still persists in the minds of many Westerners who feel that the world can by run by gunpoint forever. Sadly these predatory societys have learnt little from the past, and seem determined to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors.