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A Misplaced "Cri de Coeur"

Reader comment on item: Muslims and the Making of Modern Europe

Submitted by Renox (United States), Jun 4, 2022 at 17:42

Eastern Europe, including South-Eastern Europe has always been for me, mostly from pictures I'd seen, a "land" where elderly, hunched over, scarfed women, holding what seemed to be loaves of bread and hauling a backpack of some kind, were basically shoved onto and squeezed into large open-aired trucks and driven off somewhere in a flight to safety.

That, along with an official 4 month non-family status assignment my father was given to a place called Dubrovnik in what was once Yugoslavia on the Adriatic coast – and whose beauty he raved about for the rest of his life – have been my only "contacts" with this part of the world. So my comments on Professor Emily Greble's book reviewed by Dr. Pipes in this discussion will offer no new insights on the Balkans as such but will be limited to other considerations.

To begin with, the title of the book is misleading, as suggested by Dr. Pipes. When I read "Muslims and the Making of Modern Europe" I immediately harkened back to the 1200s hoping that one of my historical heroes, Raymond Llull, would at least be mentioned ... but no such luck. What I had hoped for, was 900 years in the past and of no consequence in this book.

But if ever there was a time when Muslims could be said to have been a significant element in the "making" of Europe, (including modern Europe), it was then, 900 years ago, give or take 100 years. But the author limits her time frame to between 1878 and 1949 – less than a hundred years – a drop in the bucket in historical terms, and almost 1,000 years beyond the halcyon days of Islam.

Also, Dr. Grebel uses "Europe" in her title, while her locus of attention and concentration in her book is really only the Balkans ... an interesting area and so forth, but far from being at the center of European history, writ large.

One more thing I'd like to bring up here, though I vacillated ... but anyway ... I've always appreciated Amazon's Book Section where it often shows its "Look Inside" feature (probably not free) on a book so that customers can look at a few pages inside the book to get a better idea of what they're getting and, no doubt, boosting sales.

Grebel's book has this feature and one can see the Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, and so on and about 15 pages, including maps, of the Introduction section, so it's quite useful in this respect. But the Acknowledgments page is a doozy. Let me explain.

First of all, it's a 4 page long journey of tiny font presentation. resembling Hans Wehr. I had a headache by the time I finished reading it – by page 3, I was really only "scanning".

On page 1, she begins by lauding her "partner". That's the first name to appear. Names continue (I'll make this short)......she mentions children, aunts and uncles from both extended families. A dog. School, the "pandemic", a wheelchair and so on. (You get the picture).

Page 2 paragraph 2 has 28 names – Page 3 paragraph 1 has 16 and Page 3 last paragraph (which runs into and ends on Page 4) has a whopping 46 distinct names....for a grand total of 90 names mentioned in the Acknowledgments – and I'm sure I missed a few.

This wasn't an "Acknowledgments" page.... it was an "Exhortation", a "Cri de Coeur" of some sort. I can't figure out why this got past the editors and was allowed to be printed. It is weird, actually.

To end. The author's contention that Islam and "Muslims" are really indigenous to Europe and all that implies, cannot be taken seriously. It simply holds no water. Centering her study on the Balkans weakens her thesis even more, as she totally eschews any mention of areas in Europe where Islam indeed had a great influence ... 1,000 years ago.

But even then, it's important to remember – at that time and in those places - Islam was in alien territory and could never find a permanent home in Europe. It had strayed too far from its desert origins and could never blend into the nascent civilization that was crystallizing in Europe.

Insisting that Islam has always been a part of Europe, and, in fact, is its future, is pure fantasy, as much now as it was in 1492. It was a dream then, and it is a dream now.

Submitting....

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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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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