Saturday, January 26, 2013

In spite of Islam

Nurit Greenger
Daniel Pipes is an American historian, writer, and political commentator. He is the founder and director of the Middle East Forum and its Campus Watch project, and the editor of its Middle East Quarterly journal. I often comment on his articles posted on Middle East Forum.  This week the Forum posted an article named, Turkey, Closest to Leading the Middle East, which is the translation of the full-page interview with Pipes in the Turkish newspaper Akşam, titled "Ortadoğu liderliğine en yakın ülke Türkiye. (
My comment was: Know Islam:, which invited an exchange reply from a well informed reader named Ianus, (
I see it very important to share this exchange with broader audience.

NG wrote: "When this world fell into the hands of the Muslims-Arabs, the Arabs inherited a great culture, from Alexandria, Egypt, to Aleppo, Syria and beyond. Thus the early "Golden Age" of Islam was as a result of the good fortune of being in the "right place at the right time."
Ianus: The Arabs didn't inherit anything, they robbed, with raw force, everything, reducing a higher culture to a lower civilizational status! The question should be rather, What would the Byzantine civilization have looked like if the Moslem invasions, their wanton destructions, mass abduction of people into Moslem slavery, massacres and mass forced conversions into Islam, that accompanying them had taken place? My modest answer is: The Arabic "golden" age would have looked, by contrast, like a new stone age, an era of regress and barbarization, which it finally turned out to become.
Incidentally, the claims of "inheritance" were made by Moslems from the very beginning as Sebeos* witnesses in his "History of Emperor Heraclius":
"After this they dispatched a message to the Byzantine emperor, saying: "God gave that country as the inherited property [i kaluats zharhangut'ean] of Abraham and of his sons after him. We are the sons of Abraham. It is too much that you hold our country. Leave in peace, and we shall demand from you what you have seized, plus interest. The emperor rejected this. He did not provide a fitting response to the message but rather said: "The country is mine. Your inheritance is the desert. So go in peace to your country."
And so everybody, except the Mahometans themselves, understood clearly what the Mahometans' real inheritance was. It is every thief's dream to be recognized as "inheritor" of the victim of his misdeeds. But why shall we buy that claim? Because the thief [Islam] can start doing to us what he has done to the Byzantines?
NG: Eventually, as always with Islam, in one of its many insecure and reactionary phases, it would find these treasures stock of civilization to be "anti-Islamic" and would squander this great heritage and destroy it. That what they will do to today's Western civilization should they get a chance.
Ianus: In some parts of Europe, which they have managed - with help of a certain all-powerful Western state - to occupy, this is happening. The ruined churches of Kosovo and Northern Cyprus are a foreboding of what is going to happen everywhere else too when Moslems have it their way.
NG: Interesting fact, even the crescent moon, the symbol of Islam, originally was NOT Islamic; it was a symbol of the great 1000 year Eastern Christian Empire in Byzantium, adopted by the Muslims.... (**)
Ianus: The crescent symbol is pre-Hellenic and goes back to the ancient moon god Nannna, or Semitic Sin whose attributes, queer rites and cult Arabic Allah has fully imitated, including the lunar calendar, worshipping a meteorite stone, fasting period beginning and ending with the crescent moon, etc.
Speaking of robberies and stolen symbols, for me a much more sinister theft of symbolism is Hagia Sophia*** which the Turks are so fond of boasting, displaying it in almost every photo of Constantinople and Turkey. These barbarians could not build something better so they boast of at least having raped and Islamizing the Emperor Justinian's Temple.
What other thieves are ashamed of doing in public, the Turks enjoy to the full. To explain what I mean imagine for a moment I am a robber, without any provocation assault you, rob your house, kill you, enslave your family and then I repaint the house, add a shoddy minaret to it and advertise it as "mine", the very heart of my identity and religion! What would you say to that ? That I and my "religion" deserve respect and affection as Turks demand from us for doing exactly that, which in every civilized land brings infamy, contempt and the most severe punishments?
In spite of Islam
It has long seemed to be that if any accomplishments in the sciences or arts ever came out of any country otherwise suffocating under Islam, it was always in spite of the religion, never because of it.
*Sebeos was a 7th-century Armenian bishop and historian. The history of Sebeos contains detailed descriptions from the period of Sassanid supremacy in Armenia up to the Islamic conquest in 661.
**The crescent was in use in the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium. Subsequently, it became one of the symbols of the Byzantine Empire and especially of Constantinople. It is unclear whether the Ottomans adopted the symbol after the conquest of Constantinople or it was already in use. Indeed, during the Byzantine-Ottoman Wars, the crescent was used simultaneously by both the Byzantines and the Ottoman Sultans.
*** Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey

1 comment:

Traeh said...

I have been reading Muhammad and Charlemagne Revisited, by Emmet Scott, and it offers detailed argument and much archaeological evidence for the claim that the European Dark Ages did occur, and were a result of the Muslim takeover of North Africa and the Middle East.

Scott notes that European classical civilization had been integrated into Mediterranean civilization as a whole, and that the major centers of Mediterranean civilization were not in Europe, but in the East and North Africa -- for example Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria, and later Constantinople. When the Muslims burst out of Arabia to conquer much of the Middle East and North Africa, the massive destruction that resulted destroyed the core of Mediterranean civilization. The Islamic conquests led to a Dark Ages for two or three centuries in the lands that Islam had conquered. Consequently, Europe, though not itself conquered by Islam, soon also fell into a Dark Ages, because Europe had in many ways been dependent on the East and was a comparative backwater part of Mediterranean civilization.

Scott traces the European collapse in part to a breakdown in Mediterranean economic exchange, but emphasizes the loss of papyrus to Europe, since that source of writing material was no longer easily accessible from Egypt. That led to a loss in Europe of classical traditions, record keeping, literature and learning, and other aspects of the Dark Ages in Europe.

The notion that the Germanic "barbarians" dispatched Roman classical civilization is contradicted by a great deal of evidence. The "fall" of Rome in 476 actually did not alter classical civilization in Europe that much. The Germans remained a minority and thoroughly assimilated into and adopted the mores and ideas and practices of the classical civilization they had conquered. They sought to preserve it, not substitute their own culture in its place. They educated their children in the centers of classical education.

Archaeological records now show that economic life continued in a fairly advanced stage in classical civilization until long after the Germanic invasions of Italy and southern Europe, indeed down until some time toward the end of the 600s -- in other words, until Islam had conquered large swaths of North Africa and the East.

I don't know if Scott says why the Muslim East emerged before Europe did from the Dark Ages that followed the Muslim conquests. But I think the answer is that prior to the Muslim emergence from Arabia, the Eastern Mediterranean and Christian Middle East had a more advanced civilization culturally and economically than did Europe. So one might well expect Europe to recover more slowly from the Islamic blow to Mediterranean civilization. Europe had been dependent on the East in a number of important ways.

Also, Islam did not immediately completely penetrate into the places it conquered. The pre-Islamic culture still provided the creative possibility of a "golden age" to emerge even under the minority Muslim conquerers. But once those societies had been sufficiently Islamized over a number of generations, their creativity dried up. And so things have remained.