Islam and the war against modernity

Cliff May:

The war being waged against the West also is a war against modernity. For nearly a thousand years, Islam reigned supreme in much of the world. But with the coming of the modern era — generally seen as beginning in the 18th century — Christendom outpaced the Muslim world by almost every measure. Islamists believe the destruction of modernity is necessary if Islam is to regain the power to which it is entitled.

“Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war,” the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni wrote back in 1942. “Those [who say this] are witless. Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.”

More than three decades later, Khomeini would put theory into practice, leading a revolution not just against the Shah of Iran, but also against America and other modern liberal democracies.

Modernity went hand-in-and with the Industrial Revolution — the development of a vast array of mechanical, technological, and scientific inventions. Islamic societies did not demonstrate great aptitude in this area. That was among the reasons they were left behind economically, with the notable exception of those regimes that had oil underfoot. It was the Industrial Revolution that made oil valuable. Westerners found it, pumped it, refined it, and have used it to fuel Western-produced machines ever since.

An important component of the Industrial Revolution was mechanized weaponry: guns, cannons, tanks, and missiles. Initially, this also advantaged the West. Early in his career, Winston Churchill battled a variety of radical Islam in the Sudan. In 1899, he wrote that this “militant and proselytizing faith” should be seen as a grave threat, and “were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science . . . the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

Recent acts of terrorism — a passenger plane manufactured in America becomes an Islamist missile, a cell phone made in Europe detonates an explosive device in Afghanistan — have turned the technological tables; to what extent, it’s too soon to predict.

Throughout most of history, war was seen as glorious — at least by kings, generals, and others who wielded power. No one expressed this view more eloquently than Genghis Khan, who conquered many Islamic lands in the 13th century, and who rhapsodized: “Man
s highest joy is victory: to conquer his enemies; to pursue them; to deprive them of their possessions; to make their beloved weep; to ride on their horses; and to embrace their wives and daughters.”

There is another element that should not be ignored in the decline of the Islamic world. The discovery of America. It changed the course of the conflict. The reason Columbus was looking for a new trade route to India was because the Muslims were in the way on the land routs.

There had been over a 1000 years of conflict at the point where Europe joins Asia in the Middle East.

The age of sail made ships a better form of transport for trade, and the discovery of America opened doors to discovery that had been closed by Islam. It also provided the Spanish with gold with which to resist the Muslim attempt to dominate the Mediterranean.

They were able to build ships and put together a fleet along with the other Europeans that led to the defeat of the Ottoman-Turks at Lepanto at about the time that May sites as the turning point.


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