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Reader comment on item: Islam and Islamism in the Modern World

Submitted by GK (United States), Feb 3, 2013 at 17:13

Dr. Pipes,

I know you know your Muslim history, but the battles between Europeans and Muslims has an ancient history. Omar defeated the eastern Roman Empire in Syria right at the beginning of the Muslim conquests outside of Arabia. Only Charles Martel was able to stop the March of Muslim invaders into Western Europe in the battle at Tours (8th C.). In the meantime, the Eastern Roman Empire struggled on the seas and on land to contain the Muslim conquest of Sicily and the Mediterranean.

The Crusades, badly planned and eventually abetted the eventual collapse of Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire. Eventually, Saladin pushed back the invading Crusaders and extinguished the short-lived Kingdom of Jerusalem. And the struggle between Muslim leaders and Europeans continued apace for centuries afterward.

If it hadn't been for the strictness of the Al-Mohads from North Africa, I speculate that the Cordoba Caliphate might have remained an international meeting place of ideas. But the Al Mohads with their tortuously strict Islamism persecuted those who were less orthodox or of different views. Therefore a brain drain caused non-Muslim notables like Maimonades to leave Spain, and incited disruption within Spain. Eventually, the likes of El Say'd (El Cid) and other warlords defeated the hated Al Mohads, and the Islamist government of Spain collapsed. Then came Ferdinand and Isabella and the Reconquista of Spain.

The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, to capture the city of Vienna, Austria. It failed, but the struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire continued through 1699. Most notably, the Battle of Vienna took place September 11-12, 1683. It was a battle of the Hapsburg Empire and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Holy League) against the Ottoman Empire. This battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Habsburgs dominated parts of Europe that had been once ruled by Ottoman forces.

During the late 1700s, would-be European colonizers were pushed out of Arabia by the royal allies of Sheik Wahab, and the move toward a revolutionary conservative interpretation of Islam was sowed in Arabia and promoted by the House of Saud.

So, no scholar of History would say that the European resurgence was "unexpected" or like Eskimos coming from the Arctic and conquering Europe.

But, I have a few different takes of why secular Islam has receded and Islamism has gained strength. (Note, these are speculations, based on other data.)

1. Say'd Qtub in the 1950s inspired a whole move against the nationalists in the Middle East and the NSC (influenced by the Dulles brothers) wanted to see Islamism challenge the nationalist movements. The movement toward internal rebellion was in part fueled by the West's own fear of Communism.

2. Secular-leaning Turkey was still the most influential power in the Muslim world during the early days of the Cold War, but Wahabbist Saudi Arabia gained considerable ground over the Muslim world as oil wealth accelerated, and as Arabian money funded global "da'wah" and funded the Salafist point of view over the Turkish version of Islam's more moderate and modern views.

3. Population shifts and political shifts have played further parts. As Saudi funded charities opened cultural centers and madrassahs around the world, both within and outside of the Muslim world, Salafist Islam began gaining momentum. Meanwhile, Turkey's influence over new Imams and over Muslims began to wane.

4. The 1973 War led to the Qtubists and Muslim Brotherhood to renounce competing with the West and Israel on their terms. They said that the Quran was the path to victory over Israel and the "morally corrupt" forces of modernism. from this point on, the Islamist movement took on a life of its own.

5. US support of the muhajadeen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets, and US support for Huq al Zia, set the path for Pakistan and the ISI to become "Islamist"-leaning, and for Al Qaida to establish its command center in Afghanistan. And left unfettered, all of these forces led to the movement to militarize and jihadize Islam.

Islam is still divided between Shiites and Sunnis and each of those are divided between moderates, and radicals and disillusioned followers. What Mali proves is that the radically religious are not initially thrilled to be forced to submit to harsh interpretations of Islam. The counterpoint is that unless the wedge is forced to make Muslims decide between freer society or repressive Islam, repression and coercion will eventually win the day.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

You state that "no scholar of History would say that the European resurgence was 'unexpected'" to Muslims.

Bernard Lewis makes this argument the centerpiece of his Muslim Discovery of Europe. See a summary athttps://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/bernard-lewis/the-muslim-discovery-of-europe/

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Reader comments (35) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1The Dark Ages of Islamic countries [273 words]AlexandrosFeb 28, 2013 11:08203934
They wont accept the facts and the logic. [123 words]AtheistFeb 14, 2013 02:18203484
1It is about grabbing more land [122 words]PrashantFeb 13, 2013 09:07203448
Advocating a Betrayal of Conservatism? [280 words]Ali BabaFeb 5, 2013 16:25203214
2More gems from our dear Ali Baba [294 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 6, 2013 07:37203214
Fact check please [278 words]Ali BabaFeb 7, 2013 19:58203214
1Scripture comparison is simplistic and narrow [162 words]saraFeb 7, 2013 20:20203214
Facts ARE always simplistic [101 words]Ali BabaFeb 7, 2013 22:15203214
Does the goalpost shift for Islam? [184 words]Ali BabaFeb 7, 2013 22:33203214
3Our dear Ali Baba is saying that Islam is violent and as if we did not know [937 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 8, 2013 06:52203214
1Our dear Ali Baba quotes the Bible to prove a point which means that he disagrees with Allah astaghfirullah [129 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 8, 2013 06:59203214
Dhimmi makes a good point [41 words]Ali BabaFeb 9, 2013 00:24203214
3Our dear Ali Baba is saying that Islam is violent and as if we did not know part two [765 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 9, 2013 06:20203214
Certainly... [177 words]Ali BabaFeb 10, 2013 03:45203214
3Teaching one tablighee at a time [1710 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 10, 2013 08:02203214
2Lost tablighees [381 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 11, 2013 07:17203214
More simple facts [141 words]JeffFeb 15, 2013 13:34203214
A few corrections [158 words]Ali BabaFeb 16, 2013 17:56203214
Sharia law [131 words]stanley bFeb 16, 2013 18:20203214
1Our dear Ali Baba says that anyone who is fasting during Ramadan in Tennessee will end in jail for 15 years! [497 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 17, 2013 08:10203214
Let us have a deal our dear Ali Baba al-tablighee [173 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 17, 2013 09:25203214
A few more corrections [268 words]JeffFeb 17, 2013 11:02203214
... FELLOW MUSLIMS & ALL [28 words]Nur el Masih Ben HaqFeb 18, 2013 22:48203214
8Oppose the islamists ! Always ! [97 words]Phil GreendFeb 4, 2013 18:57203167
1Authentic and authoritative commentary. [47 words]Beverly McCaffreyFeb 4, 2013 18:53203166
America's distorted view of Islam and the Saudi Sunni Lobby [776 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Martin H KatchenFeb 4, 2013 15:01203156
1Islamic Lobby [91 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Ali BabaFeb 6, 2013 12:34203156
1The Saudi Sunni Lobby (or should we say the Wahabi Lobby?) [415 words]Martin H KatchenFeb 6, 2013 22:53203156
Learning curve [77 words]William EastFeb 4, 2013 13:42203154
Secularism will NOT solve the problem [192 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Rabbi Yeshayahu HollanderFeb 4, 2013 09:21203139
Islam and Islamism in The Modern World [98 words]JudithFeb 4, 2013 00:18203123
Aid to Egypt [47 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Jack WaltersFeb 3, 2013 23:17203117
3More to the story than reported here! [765 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
GKFeb 3, 2013 17:13203102
As much as I respect Bernard Lewis, I think his comment was hyperbole. Certainly history refutes him. [718 words]GKFeb 3, 2013 23:39203102
Bernard Lewis's hyperbole [427 words]Martin H. KatchenFeb 5, 2013 00:26203102

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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