Islam’s decentralization of religious power, unlike that of Western Christiandom under the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Church in Byzantium during the Middle Ages, is in large part why you have a period under the Arab rulers where interest in mathematics science, philosophy, Greek and Roman works, and importation of Chinese, Persian, and Indian works. Early political schisms and struggles for regional hegemony prevented the concentration of power, as far as religious authority goes, in a single entity as in Europe. However, this does not mean that under the Arab and Muslim rulers that there was not military conflict or religious persecution. This is after all the medieval world where much of the warfare, criminal punishment, and laws were often reflected a cruel mindset of the people living during this period. It is only in the Modern period that world societies as whole began shedding the brutality of a time now in distant memory.
Projecting the problems of Medieval Islam on to the present does not help put into perspective conflicts in the Middle-East at the present. These are modern conflicts far removed from Saladin’s struggles with the Fatmids and the Crusader kingdoms, and Arab struggles to repel the Turkish and Mongol invasions. The trouble is there is no one Islam and much of the political conflict is secular, save for the minority of religious cults that resort to terrorism as a political statement; however, religion does intensify an already deepened bitterness between rival political factions in the region, but it does not encompass the entire conflict, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, of this conflict it is between two visions of nationalism, though neither side has one vision for their own national identity. American interventionism and European colonialism did have adverse affects on the politics within the region, but these factors alone acting on the people in the Middle-East (Arab, Muslim, Christian, Assyrian, Persian, and Jew) will not suffice to answer puzzling questions about how the region came to be politically nor where it might ahead in the future. Studying the culture and political nature of the region in the modern period is important. There are of course assumptions that must be discarded and certain narratives that will prove not to be useful.
This has been a post.
The flaw of thinking the attacks on September 11, 2001 is the Arab and Muslim response to Western imperialism lay in the fact that was carried out by minority political militant organization known as Al Qaeda. It did not have strong support in the Arab and Muslim world. We can gather from the Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan, and Afghan negative response to Al Qaeda being present in their countries that the organization is not the voice of the Arab and Muslim world. To argue that the attacks which killed 3000 Americans is a response to American imperialism makes Al Qaeda the voices of every Arab and Muslim. It ignores voices like Tariq Ramadan, Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, and others of various opinions who do not share Al Qaeda’s vision for the Middle-East. It ignores that underlying Al Qaeda’s tenets lay a authoritarian conception of Islam. The organizations targeting of Shiite pilgrims in Iraq and the killing of Christians is evident of their less than “anti-imperialist” aims.
There is not a single voice in the Arab and Muslim world but many voices. It is a culturally rich, politically diverse region undergoing a process, like all parts of the world, where choice stands on what course to take their respective societies in. The political of Islam of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other reactionary movements cannot be counted as representative of everyone in the region. It would as ridiculous as someone saying street gangs and the KKK represent all American voices.
Give more credit to the people of the Arab and Muslim world than even hint that Al Qaeda is their response to past wrong doings. It is far from it.
Ugg…this is a student ran blog. It is not even an academic journal or created by historians in the field. He also ignores the great deal of history done on the Middle-East by new waves of historians like Judith Tucker and Lelia Ahmed. This is so terrible and bad.
You are better off sticking to Orientalists and Revisionist histories than using this websites.
This is not how to counteract the portrayal of Islamic history as barbarism.