Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom.Within 100 years of the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, an Arabian empire extended from India and the borders of China to the south of France.
Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom.Within 100 years of the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, an Arabian empire extended from India and the borders of China to the south of France.In the aftermath of the horrific murder of 50 Muslims in Christchurch by an Australian right wing nationalist, the conservative Australian politician Fraser Anning declared (straight out of the West’s medieval playbook), “The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader, which justifies endless war against anyone who opposes it and calls for the murder of unbelievers and apostates.” Any violence against Muslims, he suggested, was therefore their own fault.
Militarily, early Islam was undoubtedly successful. Since that time, for the Christian West, regardless of the Islamic precept and practice of religious tolerance (at least as long as non-Muslims did not criticise the prophet), Islam has remained often threatening, sometimes enchanting, but ever-present.
Indeed, the West created its own identity against an Islam that it saw as totally other, essentially alien, and ever likely to engulf it.
The image of a vibrant, active, progressive West against a passive, inert Islam was congenial to colonial enterprise.
Ironically, the religion of aggressive action now came to be viewed as passively stagnant, decadent and degenerate, ripe for domination by an assertive West.
Even at its most benign, it is perceived as threatening Western values by virtue of the Muslims in its midst, stubbornly refusing to acquiesce to Western values. In December 2015, to the outrage of many Americans, then presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the US.
Better the enemy kept outside the wall than the enemy within.
Philip Almond does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Less than a week after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, US President George W.
Thus, from the 8th century to the middle of the 19th, it was the virtually unanimous Western opinion that Islam was a violent religion whose success was due to the sword.
That Islam is, at its core, a violent religion is an attitude still present among some today.