Regarding Islam, militant Islam, and the Middle East: On whom can we rely?

In an e-mail exchange with Daniel Peterson, Peterson recommended Daniel Pipes and Bernard Lewis as experts on Islam and the middle east.

I took Peterson’s advice and have since read several of Bernard Lewis’ books, including the ones Peterson recommended. Peterson states, “Keep reading Daniel Pipes. Another good writer-perhaps the greatest scholar of Islam writing in English-is Bernard Lewis, an Englishman now long retired from Princeton. All of his books are worth reading, but two short relatively recent ones are particularly and directly relevant to the current situation: What Went Wrong? and The Crisis of Islam.”

A book I will finish in the next day or so is Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes; this is one of the best books I’ve read on this topic.

Daniel Pipes and Bernard Lewis are scholars we need to pay attention to.

The Crisis of Islam Research and Study Guide

Bernard Lewis

During the Cold War, both sides possessed weapons of mass destruction, but neither side used them, deterred by what was known as MAD, mutual assured destruction. Similar constraints have no doubt prevented their use in the confrontation between India and Pakistan. In our own day a new such confrontation seems to be looming between a nuclear-armed Iran and its favorite enemies, named by the late Ayatollah Khomeini as the Great Satan and the Little Satan, i.e., the United States and Israel. Against the U.S. the bombs might be delivered by terrorists, a method having the advantage of bearing no return address. Against Israel, the target is small enough to attempt obliteration by direct bombardment.

It seems increasingly likely that the Iranians either have or very soon will have nuclear weapons at their disposal, thanks to their own researches (which began some 15 years ago), to some of their obliging neighbors, and to the ever-helpful rulers of North Korea. The language used by Iranian President Ahmadinejad would seem to indicate the reality and indeed the imminence of this threat.

Would the same constraints, the same fear of mutual assured destruction, restrain a nuclear-armed Iran from using such weapons against the U.S. or against Israel?[Read more]


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Posted on August 13, 2006, in News and politics. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I respect Lewis as a scholar, but I have read Lewis’ book, What Went Wrong and have disagreements with it. I believe the very title of the book is a bit misleading. Nothing went wrong in the Middle East in the 17th century; Europe was unique and out of nowhere pulled ahead. I believe this was partially due to the fact that war was Europe’s national pastime. War always leads to technological advances. I think Lewis should have started his book with the question, what went right for Europe?

    For about a millennium it was Europe, not the Islamic Empire, that was backwards. The West has only been caught up for about four centuries and has been significantly ahead since about The Enlightenment. I don’t think Islam can be to blame for the downfall of Middle-Eastern society since the region operated just fine for that millennium.

  2. Absolutely Islam can be blamed for its demise. It’s hatred for anything “West” or remotely “Christian” is so strong and self righteous it would rather bury its head in the sand looking to the past longing for the return of medieval glory than arrive in the modern world. Its failure to modernize falls squarely upon Islam’s shoulders and no one else’s. Its constant state of eternal victimhood, its lack of intellectual honesty, lack of determined introspection, its love and fostering of anything conspiratorial in nature, have indeed contributed to its current dismal state.

  3. So riddle me this, while the Islamic Empire was making huge strides in science, medicine, and technology was Christianity to blame for Europe’s pitiful state of being during the that one thousand year period? Save for China and possibly India, I cannot think of a longer-lasting super power. It changed leadership many times (the Caliphate dynasties, the Sultanate dynasties, the power struggle between the Shi and the Sunni) but its might was pretty consistent. Should Islam be congratulated for maintaining such a magnificent history? And what exactly, in your opinion, makes a state backwards?

    When you say, “it’s hatred…” do you really mean the religion itself or the people who follow it? I am sure you have read the Quran and while there are certain, distinct contradictions from Surah to Surah, it is easy to find elements of respect for Christians and Jews—al- Kitâb (the People of the Book). I can cite if necessary. Do you know where the Jews fled during the Christian-led Spanish Inquisition? The Ottoman Empire; in fact, they were welcomed by Muslims. Was this welcoming response a result of Islam? And of course there were the heretical Nestorians in Egypt. I believe they were quite welcoming of the Muslim army since their persecution was almost non-existent under Islam as opposed to orthodox Christian leadership. While I think today the Crusades is a subject of historic revisionism with a bias against Christianity, what was done is still a tragedy: Christians killing Muslims, Christians killing Jews, and when they tired of that, Christians killing Christians. Can an outsider read this history and say that Christianity has a hatred towards anything non-Christian? The Reformation—bloody period of history, both religiously and politically. Again, Christians killing Christians in the name of “True Christianity”. Am I to read Reformation history and again label Christianity as a religion of the violent brutes? Two religions juxtaposed….

    And what about all third-world countries that are not Muslim-majority? Is their failure to modernize a result of their religion? China is a non-theistic state and it seems to be doing quite well for itself.

    I guess we’ll have to see what the next six hundred years brings for the West.

  4. Muhammad Irfan Khan

    Please quote or refer to the distinct contradiction you are talking about in the Quran from Surah to Surah.

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