Crisis of Islam

date Jul 30, 2007
authors Bernard Lewis
reading time 5 mins
  • Book Title:The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror
  • Author: Bernard Lewis
  • Year written/published: 2003
  • Book Source: Amazon
  • Summary: A history from the beginning of Islam during 600A.D till the present day. And of course an analysis of several historical situations.
  • My Comments:This is my first book on Islam and i got to know a lot about it’s rich history and the beliefs. This book definitely made me think a lot about various concepts in politics as well as religion.
  • Contents page:
  1. Defining Islam
  2. The House of War
  3. From Crusaders to Imperialists
  4. Discovering America
  5. Satan and the Soviets
  6. Double Standard
  7. A Failure of Modernity
  8. The Marriage of Saudi Power and Wahhabi Teaching
  9. The rise of Terrorism

On Nations and religions…

In the western world, the basic unit of human organisation is the nation, in American but not European usage virtually synonymous with country. This is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see not a nation subdivided into religious groups but a religion subdivided into nations.

Centre of the Islamic world…

The Prophet Muhammad lived and died in Arabia, as did his immediate successors, the caliphs, in the headship of the community. Therefore, expect for a brief interlude in Syria, the center of the Islamic World and the scene of its major achievements was Iraq, and its capital Baghdad, as the seat of the caliphate for half a millennium. For Muslims, no piece of land once added to the realm of Islam can ever be finally renounced, but none compare in significance with Arabia and Iraq.

Major religions..

Islam as a religion is in every aspect far closer to the Judeo-Christian tradition than to any of the greater religions of Asia, such as Hinduism Buddhism, or Confucianism. Judaism and Islam share the belief in a divine law that regulates all aspects of human activity, including even food and drink. … … … compared to the remote religions of the East, all Middle Eastern religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – are closely related and indeed appear as variants of the same religious traditions.

A bit of history…

In 1953, an Ottoman official who also served as a chronicler of current events, Selaniki Mustafa Efendi, recorded the arrival in Istanbul of an English Ambassador. … … …  he was much struck by the English ship … “A ship as strange as this has never entered the port of Istanbul,” he wrote. ‘It has crossed 3700 miles of sea and carried 83 guns besides other weapons… … …  The ruler of the island of England is a woman [Elizabeth 1] who governs her inherited realm… with complete power.’

Discovering America…

For a long time, remarkably little was known about America in the lands of Islam. At first, the voyages of discovery aroused some interest – the only surviving copy of Christopher Columbus’ own map of America is a Turkish translation and adaptation, still preserved in the Topkapi Paplace Museum in Istanbul.

The first recorded mention of America as a political symbol in the Islamic world was in Istanbul on July 14, 1793 when the newly arrived ambassador of the French Republic held a public ceremony culminating in a salute of guns from 3 French ships moored as the Seraglio Point.

Colonialism and imperialism…

The American Revolution, as they frequently remark, was fought not by Native American nationalists but by the British settlers, and far from being history against colonialism, it represented colonialism’s triumph; the English in North America succeeded in colonising the land so thoroughly that they no longer needed the support of the mother country against the original inhabitant.

It is hardly surprising that former colonial subjects in the Middle east would see America as being tainted by the same kind if imperialism as Western Europe. But middle Eastern resentment of imperial powers has not always been consistent.

The people’s resentment…

The people of the Middle East are increasingly aware of the deep and widening gulf between the opportunities of the free world outside their borders and the appalling privation and repression within them. The resulting anger is naturally directed first against their rulers, and then against those whom they see as keeping those rulers in power for selfish reasons. Ir is surely significant that all the terrorists who have been identified in the 911 attacks on New York and Washington cam from Saudi Arabia and Egypt – that is, countries who rulers are deemed friendly to the United States.

The terms…

Most Muslims are not fundamentalists and most fundamentalists are not terrorists, but most present day terrorists are Muslims and proudly identify themselves as such. Understandably, Muslims complain when the media speak of these terrorists movements and actions as ‘Islamic’ and ask why the media do not similarly identify the Irish and Basque terrorists and terrorism as ‘Christian’. The answer is simple and obvious – they do not describe themselves as such.

Freedom and independence….

For a while, freedom and independence were used as more or less synonymous and interchangeable terms. The early experience of independence, however, revealed that this was a sad error. Independence, and freedom are very different, and all too often the attainment of one meant the end of the other and the replacement of foreign overloads by domestic tyrants more adept, more intimate, and less constrained in their tyranny.