The Little Known Tolerant and Humane Side of Islamic Civilisation

by Salah Zaimeche Published on: 13th October 2003

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No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post. can safely be said that no faith can show as equal sense of brotherhood between diverse colours as in Islam.

Figure 1. Door of the Moristan of Kala’oon/Qawaloon,1878 (Source)

This author completed this work around 2003, that is nearly a decade and half ago under a different title: The Little Known Tolerant and Humane Side of Islamic Civilisation. Since then hardly anything changed for the better. Rather the opposite, everything that happened since did for the worse. Muslims and Islam are disliked, hated, even more, and by even more people about everywhere one dares look. Let anyone dare read comments about any article on Islam and Muslims on the internet. And it is not acts such as the latest outrages in Manchester (22 May 2017) and in London (3 June 2017) which are going to help, are they? One would think the contrary. If, indeed, there is act as most repellent it is that of murdering those who were murdered on those days, in Britain, the nation that has been most welcoming to Muslims. The way things are evolving, there would be nobody to welcome Muslims one day, and they might find themselves being conducted to the exit doors, instead.

Of course this author is no superman in the field who is going to fix it, and one has to conclude that only Allah has the power to change the way Muslims and Islam are perceived, and one day dealt with. What this author like others who have some sense can do is to try, and most of all try to convey the facts and truth, and leave the rest to the Almighty. All that happens in this life is for a purpose, and the main thing, as far as a scholar is concerned, however modest his or her scholarship, is to aim for the best, convey the truth, calmly, without any panic, regardless of events, and regardless if the situation around changes or not. One should never compromise and be dissuaded from following the path of reason, and firm belief that the only way to alter things eventually is to stick with truth. In one’s course of action many people and forces intervene and try to dissuade one from telling the truth because it disturbs the foes of Islam and it disturbs those amongst Muslims who like to delude themselves. One of course does not listen to such forces and individuals because should one do, one remains vile and servile to the end of life. A bit of cowardice and corruption is fine but too much is unbearable. So, one does one’s bit, takes as much care as possible in the mire of this smut of world, and enjoys the good things one is fortunate to come across whilst they last and whilst one lasts. And that’s it.

Figure 2. Scholars at an Abbasid library, from the Maqamat of al-Hariri by Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti, Baghdad, 1237 AD (Source)

In performing one’s scholarly duty, one must not mislead. If one misleads, and one is believed one causes untold harm. And the more a misleading one is believed by more the more destructive one is. If we Muslims do not look at our reality face to face, and keep deluding ourselves, we will never get anywhere. We set aside for a moment the goodness of others, who just like Muslims have their great and most vile. Human nature is the same wherever you go: capable of the worst and best. None is immune of either. Humane nature and faith have nothing to do with each other. Faith, rightly understood or assimilated, only makes you less bad than you would otherwise be. One here is referring to oneself.

In looking at the subject of this article, let’s focus on Muslims. To try and convey the idea that all Muslims are great, good, constructive, fascinating, inventive, or anything that is good, is the most preposterous claim any individual can make. If we believe that because of our outer morality we are the best people on earth, we are lying to ourselves. What counts are not the rituals, which very often mask utter corruption, vileness, and depravity. What really count are goodness of the heart and soul and good deeds. The practice of the faith is just a duty. And in terms of goodness to others, if any Muslim society (Turkey excepted (but only in this field of goodness, for Turks are like other Muslims in other respects) can show the same kind of generosity and tolerance towards Muslims such as the British, one would truly define such society as great, but it does not exist (Turkey, indeed, excepted). Muslims are millions of leagues of being the admirable nation of a few centuries back when they led the world in all that was great. One is not going to dwell on what is wrong with Muslim societies of today, not because one is frightened, but simply because only an encyclopaedia is necessary for that. One must also begin to take care of one’s own faults, and this author is himself far from being a good observant of Islam however hard he tries to do one or two good things in his lifetime. So, let’s set aside the violence which characterizes most Muslim societies, ridden with wars, terror, torture, mass disappearances, mass killing and mayhem, a reality that is the main factor that breeds Muslim depraved acts everywhere. Our societies do indeed produce monsters because the ground is fertile for monsters to grow. Let’s stay away from this, for this website is the wrong venue to dig into the gore and tragedies of the Muslim land. Let’s respect its sanctity.

Figure 3. Opening ceremony of the First Ottoman Parliament at the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1876 (Source)

Let’s, however, just say in the shortest space what else is wrong with Muslim societies, and that maybe this website allows us to say, certainly with some reluctance as, unlike this author, it does not like to upset anybody. We have to say this, for unless we admit the reality we can never correct it. And if we do not correct it we will be forced to live with what makes us miserable and backward at once, for without some basics, backward we will remain, forever. Indeed, let’s explain to those who are deluded, and who know nothing about what development means: development does not consist in building more shopping malls, concreting the ground wherever it is not concreted enough, opening more so-called universities to cover up chronic unemployment, and having more cars on the road, and more plastic waste filthying the land; development is a society that functions in order, discipline, creativity, and harmony, guided by and always aiming for the best, the creative, and the beautiful. All these are alien to modern Muslim societies. Modern Muslim societies are chaotic, noisy, and fail to observe any discipline in regard to even the most basic such as taking care of their trash, or parking their vehicles properly. These societies are rabidly consumerist, obsessed with shopping malls, and their lands in places have become gigantic landfills of all that is discarded. The sight of trash in woodlands, parks, rivers, beaches, and other places is utterly revolting. Everywhere one sees a deadly assault on all that is naturally beautiful and green, mountains blasted for quarrying, woodlands rased to the ground, trees cut in their thousands where there are few thousands of them, and in their millions where there are millions of them, an utter disrespect to the environment as if it were a command to do so. Hardly any Muslim, especially in the West, knows what the pleasure of gardening or keeping a nice garden is, in fact his first duty is to concrete such a garden as soon as he buys an abode. There is nothing inventive in the Muslim world, nothing creative in institutions supposedly devoted to scholarship, and book reading is anathema amongst nearly all in such societies. Brains are drowned in shisha cafes, shopping malls, extravagant weddings and manifestations of the sort, and are drugged by football and dire television shows, some shows so cretin one wonders how any person can even nod their heads in the country that produces most of them. And we can go on.

Figure 4. Ahmet Ali Celikten is amongst the first black military pilots in history, clearly showing military diversification in the Ottoman Empire (Source)

Now, the remit of this work is not to explain how we got here, but stopping some such evils would be a good idea. Banning shisha cafes, forbidding smoking everywhere, shutting shopping malls and some smut purveying television channels, besides closing down 80% of pseudo universities, and sending their personnel to herd sheep, and making it criminal offence to cut trees, trash the land, and pollute water could be good starters indeed towards the road to recovery.

All this being said, the dire state of Muslims today and their societies is owed to many causes, but one thing it does not owe to is Islam. It is not Islam which is at the root of the sick acts by some so-called Islamist extremists, however hard they try to hide their murderous nature, their inner vileness, behind the faith. It is not Islam which is at the root of Muslim scientific and intellectual coma. It is not Islam which is at the root of Muslim onslaught on the environment. It is not Islam which is at the root of dirt and chaos, which blights Muslim towns, cities, and their outskirts, as well as the highways, and everywhere one looks, walks or goes.

We will explain this, but first let’s show how the enemies of Islam blame all evils of Muslim society on the faith, and how they are unfortunately followed in this by many supposed Muslims, who, in their own Islamic societies implement or conduct anti Islamic policies, which only add to the mayhem of such Muslim societies. On this last point briefly, in some Muslim countries, some powerful people think that by weakening Islam through encouraging alcohol consumption and lewdness, for instance, they are bringing their societies to modernity. Let’s just tell them that they are just adding filth upon filth.

Islam the target of all

A multi-volume work is required to just outline the verbal (set aside the military for a moment) onslaught on Islam over the centuries. ‘The Sword of Islam’, ‘The Islamic Threat,’ ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage,’ ‘The Green Peril,’ Islam’s New Battle-Cry’: in a veritable flood of publications with these and similar titles, various authors seek to explain Islam to us,’ says Lueg,[1] who adds:

Simplified and undifferentiated descriptions of Islam in the media fan the flames of vague fears of a supposed threat to Western culture, and create a hostile image of Islam…. Instead of knowledge or at least an unbiased examination of Islamic societies, we have clichés and stereotypes, which apparently make it easier to deal with the phenomenon of Islam. The Western image of Islam is characterised by ideas of aggression and brutality, fanaticism, irrationality, medieval backwardness and antipathy towards women.”[2]

This tradition of assaulting opinion with these and similar depictions dates centuries back. Vitkus writes:

The demonisation of the Islamic East is a long and deeply-rooted tradition in the West – spanning the centuries, from the early medieval period to the end of the 20th century.”[3]

Muslim threat, savagery, backwardness, and whatever else the Western mind and tongue have chosen to depict Islam with, somehow retreated to the background throughout much of the 20th century whilst the Cold War raged between the ex Soviet Union and the West, and whilst left wingers, the world over, especially in Central and Southern America, paid the heaviest price in blood, torture, and every form of cruelty that could be inflicted on human beings. Then, as the Soviet Union began to weaken throughout much of the 1980s (in large measure thanks to Muslims who contributed heavily to its demise,) and finally unravel towards the end of that same decade, the shift of enmity, once more, returned to the old foe: Islam.

Figure 5. President Reagan meeting with Afghan Mujahideen leaders in the Oval Office in 1983 (Source)

According to many Western commentators [Esposito wrote back in 1992] Islam and the West are on a collision course. Islam is a triple threat: political, demographic, and socio-religious. For some, the nature of the Islamic threat is intensified by the linkage of the political and the demographic.”[4]

Islam, Esposito notes:

Is portrayed as the aggressor… The West is described as defensive, responding with counterattacks, crusades, and re-conquests.. If the contemporary threat is “sudden,” then the reader will logically conclude that Muslims have a historic propensity to violence against and hatred of the West, or else that Muslims are an emotional, irrational, and war-prone people.”[5]

In De L’Islam en general et du monde moderne en particulier, the Frenchman, Jean Claude Barreau, holds:

What could be described as the “great humiliation”, and what is indeed present in the basic disposition of the Muslims, can be explained by the origins of their religion: it is warlike, conquest-hungry and full of contempt for the unbeliever.[6]

Islam as a whole is presented as the aggressor against the West. It embodies ‘a theology of conquest and victory, but no theology of defeat’.”[7]

According to the American news magazine Time,

This is the dark side of Islam, which shows its face in violence and terrorism, intended to overthrow modernizing, more secular regimes and harm the Western nations that support them.”[8]

Then, understandably, the outrage (9/11) not only confirmed all that had hitherto been attached with Islam, it further enhanced ‘the dark, vile and evil’ side of the faith, the whole and powerful Western apparatus of opinion making unleashing the most systemic onslaught on a faith never experienced in history. There is no need to dwell on this onslaught as the literature is vast, and is a daily outpouring available to anyone to consult wherever they look: internet, printed stuff, television, or wherever. Let us just look at some ways Islam is seen at fault or responsible for the woes of the modern world, and let the focus be on the learned contribution to this.

V. S. Naipaul’s depictions of Islamic society carry the legitimacy of being told by a non Westerner. In An Area of Darkness (1964),[9] and Among the Believers (1981),[10] V.S. Naipaul travels through Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.[11] In his travels all he could see was the mayhem of Muslim society: chaos, noise, filth, and all that sullies Muslim society. He narrates.[12]

Black, open drains, of exposed fried food and exposed filth; a town of prolific pariah dogs of disregarded beauty below shop platforms, of starved puppies shivering in the damp caked blackness below butchers’ stalls hung with bleeding flesh; a town of narrow lanes and dark shops and choked courtyards, of full, ankle lengthed skirts and the innumerable brittle, scarred legs of boys.”[13]

Figure 6. Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul (Source)

Naipaul ‘understood the sources of the evils of Muslim society’: Islam. Muslims’ failure in life ‘led back again and again to the assertion of the faith.’[14] Islam, in his opinion, was merely a refuge from distress,[15] that achieved nothing, but was parasitic and uncreative.[16] Islam, to him, is

A religion of fanaticism that leads to a sensation of utter futility; an archaic form of devotion in a rapidly progressing world. It is symptomatic of a renunciation of civilisation that can only marginalize those who are renouncing it by placing them in an intellectual vacuum from which there is no escape. The Islamic alternative to the Western pattern of social behaviour is an aberration, a contemptible failing in sophistication and skill.”[17]

And in the Muslims’ rejection of the West, Naipaul sees:

Their rage – the rage of a pastoral people with limited skills, limited money, and a limited grasp of the world – is comprehensive. Now they have a weapon: Islam. It is their way of getting even with the world. It serves their grief, their feeling of inadequacy, their social rage and racial hate.”[18]

For his ‘profound, erudite, and first class depiction of Islamic society,’ Naipaul earned the Nobel Prize, and the greatest literary accolades from the West.

Summing up the ‘defects of Islamic society’ are Baroness Cox and John Marks, who make the following comparison with Western society:

[In regard to social and political conditions]:

Western societies are decentralised. The political, educational, cultural, religious, and economic spheres of human life are partially separated and pluralism is encouraged and realised. There are a number of political parties and free elections by secret ballot.

Ideological traditional Islamic and Islamist societies, on the other hand, are monolithic, intolerant of dissent, and, de facto, lacking in individual freedoms. Control is attempted over all aspects of life in the name of Islam.”

[In relation to legal conditions]:

In the West, there is a diffusion of power with the partial separation of legislative, executive and judicial processes. Both statute law and common law can be modified and evolve over time as can holy or canon law.

On the Islamic side, no effective checks exist on the exercise of power by the Ulema or the ruling group. The legal system is dominated by the shari’a or Islamic Holy Law, derived from the Koran and the hadith (the Prophet’s Tradition); there is no other kind of law.”

[On the use of force]:

In the West, Governments have a monopoly in the use of force for defence against external enemies and to maintain order. This monopoly is subject to and controlled by the powers exercised by the legislature and independent judiciary.

In Ideological Traditional Islamic and Islamist Societies Jihad or Holy War is an obligation-imposed by Allah on all Muslims-to strive unceasingly to convert or to subjugate non-Muslims. Jihad is without limit of time or space and continues until the whole world accepts Islam or submits to the Islamic state. The use of force internally is subject to the shari’a.”

[With regard to inequalities]:

In the West: There are commitments to equality before the law and to political equality for all citizens. Nevertheless, inequalities of status, opportunity and reward persist.

In Islamic societies: Shari’a law requires inequalities between Muslims and: (i) Christians/Jews; (ii) all other non-Muslims; and between men and women. Slavery has been endemic in the Muslim world for centuries and still continues. Substantial inequalities of opportunity and reward persist.”[19]

Plenty more could have been added and few more extracts of such daily outpouring will be seen under different headings below. Enough has been said, though, to show that anyone, such as this author, for instance, saying anything good about Islam is not only going counter current but must truly be out of their minds.

Yet, this ‘force of darkness’ is in fact, in truth, the kindest and most humane force that has ever existed or will ever exist. This sounds an insult to good sense. Far from it, history proves it. And such unique humane side of Islam, hardly if ever publicised, has to do with the very faith itself.

The Myth of Islam as a religion of the sword:

Qu’ran III, 128: God has said;

…. and those among men who pardon others, and God loves those who act rightly.”

Figure 7. Cat resting on a pillow next to an imam in Cairo, by John Frederick Lewis (Source)

Throughout its message, all the Qur’an calls for is kindness, goodness, respect for the lives and sanctity of others, and acting fairly and humanly in all situations. It calls for fair treatment to slaves, orphans, women, the infirm, and the vanquished enemy. It calls for the protection and care for all living creatures, and all that the Almighty has created, the trees, the land, the water, the creatures in the wilderness, and those creatures that humans have tamed. It is a challenge upon any person to point to one single verse in the Qur’an that calls for harming others or anything, even a grass, or a spider, or an ant. It is a challenge upon anyone to find one single hint in the Qur’an that justifies walking randomly and slaying innocent, non fighting, citizens of any faith. It is a challenge upon anyone to find a single word in the sacred text that says that it is right to mow down, or butcher, or blowup women, children, the passers by, or anyone. These acts are only justified in the sick minds and even sicker souls of the filth who perpetrate them. Where do the enemies of Islam find the text that Islam justifies violence, and where do the scum who commit atrocities in the streets of both the Muslim and non Muslim word find justification for their deeds is the most mysterious mystery to this author, and may both parties rot in hell for distorting what is otherwise the greatest message gifted to humanity.

The sword (violence) and Islam are nearly always depicted simultaneously, yet the very opposite marked history. From the early stages of Islam, and during the history of the Caliphate, it has followed a policy of general leniency, to all, and even to the defeated foe. Hence, after the entry of the Prophet (PBUH) in Mecca, Scott says:

With a magnanimity unequalled in the annals of war, a general amnesty was proclaimed and but four persons, whose offences were considered unpardonable, suffered the penalty of death.”[20]

Davenport narrates how in the early stages of Islam, the Prophet admonished the Muslim warriors:

In avenging my injuries, said he, molest not the harmless votaries of domestic seclusion; spare the weakness of the softer sex, the infant at the breast, and those who, in the course of nature, are hastening from this scene of mortality. Abstain from demolishing the dwellings of the unresisting inhabitants, and destroy not the means of subsistence; respect their fruit trees, no injure the palm, so useful to Syria for its shade and so delightful for its verdure.”[21]

The First Caliphs after the Prophet followed exactly upon the same steps.

Be just [ran Abu Bakr’s proclamation] Be valiant; die rather than yield; be merciful; slay neither old men, nor women, nor children. Destroy no fruit trees, grain, or cattle. Keep your word even to your enemies.”[22]

Under Caliph Omar, Syria came under Muslim sway. One day, probably early in September 635, Glubb narrates:

The Muslims flooded into Damascus at dawn. The Byzantine governor surrendered on terms that all non Muslims were to pay a poll tax of one Dinar (approximately equivalent of one pound sterling or two US Dollars and fifty cents) per year and a measure of wheat for the maintenance of the army. The cathedral was divided in half by a partition wall, the Muslims in future praying in one half, the Christians in the other. There was no killing or looting. These terms were of extraordinary generosity. Cities take by storm were, in Europe, liable to be sacked, even as recently as the Napoleonic wars (1798-1815).”[23]

An example of this amongst the many experienced by the Muslims is in 1098 when during the first crusade (began 1096) the crusaders took Ma’arrat an’Numan. For three days the slaughter never stopped; the Franks killed more than 100,000 people.[24]

Robert the Monk, following the taking of Ma’arrat:

Our men cut into pieces, and put to death children, the young, and the old crumbling under the weight of the years… Streams of blood ran on the roads of the city; and everywhere lay corpses.”[25]

Radulph of Caen said how:

In Maa’rra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”

To avoid such a fate, many Muslims were said by said by a Christian writer to have jumped down wells to their deaths.[26]

Figure 8. Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, 15th July 1099 (Source)

And what happened at Ma’arrat happened in every single town and city taken by the crusaders. And yet, even when Muslims were slaughtered en masse, still, they found reserves of unequalled humanity.  Finucane tells us how in 1221, the defeated Christians were visited by their (Muslim) enemies, who brought them food to save them from starvation. Such stories of Christian Muslim cooperation, no matter how transient, humane or justified the relationship, Finucane also notes, were usually received `with incomprehension in Europe.’[27]

Forster in his criticism of Joseph White Bampton’s lectures for distorting facts to comply with his preconceptions, notes how such lectures repeat (just as today) that the nations that have embraced Islam are universally distinguished `by a spirit of hostility and hatred to the rest of mankind’.[28] Yet, the style of these sermons aims too manifestly to dazzle, notes Forster who adds:

The zeal of controversy seems equally to forget the exemplary humanity of the Saracens in Spain and the merciless barbarities of the Spaniards in South America, and of the Portuguese in India. Even during the iron Middle Ages, the religion of Mahomet was distinguished by a spirit of charitable and courteous beneficence. The treatment of Christians of Jerusalem by the generous Saladin may be cited as a memorable example.”[29]

And the same contrast in other places, wherever devout Muslims led the fight of resistance. Hence during the French onslaught on Algeria, little mercy was shown towards the indigenous population. A French officer recounts:

Order was given to deliver of war of devastation… So our soldiers acted with ferocity… women, children slaughtered, homes burnt down, trees razed to the ground, nothing was spared… Kabyle women wore silver bracelets to the arms and around their ankles. Soldiers cut all their limbs, and they did not always do it to the dead only.”[30]

Figure 9. Abdul Qadir Al-Jazairi (Source)

And yet, when Emir Abdelkader (who led the resistance against the French), freeing his French prisoners said to them: `I have nothing to feed you; I cannot kill you, thus I send you back home….’ The prisoners full of admiration for the Emir, according to the French general St Arnaud: `had their minds diseased, ‘and had been `brainwashed.’[31]

Of course, not all Muslim history is free of blemish, and Muslims did not always behave as choirboys. But, it is a challenge to anyone to show that it is Islam which was responsible for two world wars (1914-1918) (1939-1945) that wiped out the flower of youth of many nations, and contributed to untold distress. It is not Muslims, whether Sunnis or Shias who engaged in the bloodiest sectarian war in history that cost possibly thirty million lives (1618-1648). It is not Islam which gave rise to Nazism or the Ku Klux Klan. It is not Islam which gave rise to Black lynching mobs. It is not Islam which is responsible for the tragedies of anyone, including the Jews who for centuries were burnt en masse wherever they could be grabbed. It is not Islam which burnt at the stake millions of men and women. It is not Islam which went out and wiped out natives in different continents; and we can go on.[32] If we looked at the victims of violence throughout history, we will find that it is in fact Muslims, Turks, in particular, who were not just the most victims, but the vast majority of those suffered, and at all times, and in all places.[33] This author defies anyone to show the contrary.

Now, if there are evil deeds by some Muslims today, Islam is not at fault. First and foremost let is be understood and clearly: faith and human nature have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Faith can impose some rules on you, and if you are a faithful you observe them, and one such rule is the sanctity of human life. Other rules impose on you not to harm others in any way, and in fact not to cause any harm of any sort whether to animals, nature, or whatever that has been created by Allah. If you are good enough you observe such rules. But, if you are intrinsically evil or destructive you will chose to ignore them, or justify them, or have them justified to you by some sheikh (in reality someone in the hands of some dark agency, or just a sick mind and/or filthy soul) and you can kill, maim, and destroy anything you like. Whilst faith, just as the law, can impose on you rules of humanity, it is your inner self which makes you act one way or the other. When there is neither faith nor law to hold or tame the worst of people, especially in circumstances of war or violence, ‘humans’ can act in ways so horrific that even the worst mind can’t fathom. When faith and the law are absent it is only the natural goodness of some individuals that makes them act kindly. And here, Muslims have no monopoly to goodness, for goodness has no frontiers in terms of creed, ethnicity, gender, or whatever divides humans on the surface. Also, not every Muslim is a moving angel. Some Muslims are so bad, so evil, so vile, so much filth that other words need to be invented to characterize them. To go and kill innocent people, Westerners-Russians-Chinese-Jews-Muslims or others for whatever reason is not a mark of courage, it is mark of utter cowardice. Go and fight an armed soldier persecuting your people, yes, that’s the act of a man. But killing an unarmed civilian, whether man, woman, child, that is the most abject act by a piece of dirt. This act is not an act for Islam, it is an act for the devil, and is mark of depravity. We cannot have a world without depraved souls, unfortunately. Moreover, most of the authors of vile acts today as we know were just petty criminals, drug dealers, pimps, and the like, educated not in the Islamic school but in the school of crime. Furthermore, and more importantly, it is a myth to believe that acts by so-called Muslims are the works of the believers. Many, if not nearly every act of sickening violence is by individuals manipulated by obscure, invisible forces that have nothing to do with Islam, but the opposite. In words, it is very easy for any Black Ops or secret service organization to dress its murderers in the garb of a Muslim fanatic, and let them murder, maim, slaughter, and do whatever, and then blame it on Islam. True, there are young Muslims, in particular, who, in mosques or wherever, come across some individuals whom they believe to be good role models who preach to them killing and mayhem, and they follow them. Here, it is modern Muslim elites who are to blame for not enlightening their youth in regard to this trickery, and Muslims in general, who are gullible, and some idiotic enough, never to learn that he who leads you into the road of mayhem and murder is far from being whom you believe, for simply, Islam categorically forbids harming others in one way or another except in self defence which is clearly defined in the text.

Toleration of Difference:

In the words of Daniel: The notion of toleration in Christendom was borrowed from Muslim practice.[34] And Davenport puts it:

As nothing in the world can cause an Osmanli to renounce his religion, so he never seeks to disturb the faith of others…. To the Muslim doctors, conversions of souls belong to God.”[35]

During the Muslim advance, there was not one single example, as was the case elsewhere, of any forceful conversion, even in regions such as North Africa, which is often raised as a case of such conversions by force of the sword. Forster, as had Sale (the translator of the Qur’an) pointed out, in North Africa, Islam flourished apart from reliance on `political domination’ and that its `votaries’ were `unshackled’ by restraints of a Muslim government’.[36] Equally, Voltaire, although no friend of Islam, still recognised that `it was not by the force of arms that Islam established itself in half of our hemisphere, but instead did so through enthusiasm and persuasion.’[37]

Glubb finds that in religious toleration, the Muslims of the 7th century

Had abstained from persecution and had permitted Jews and Christians to practise their own laws and to elect their own judges. Nearly a thousand years later, people in Europe were still being tortured and burned alive for their faith. And in general, the Ottomans continued the policy of religious toleration which they had inherited from the Arabs.”[38]

This toleration was also practiced in Muslim Southern Europe, where the existing religion was scarcely interfered with. ‘No counts were appointed to govern or oppress the conquered,’ Scott points out.[39]

In North Africa, seat of the supposedly fanatic Berber as many Western historian label them, the same tolerance was shown. In the year 1233, which followed the death of Al-Ma’mun, and the advent of his son al-Rachid, Gregory IX wrote to the Emir thanking him for his goodness towards Agnello, the Vicar of Fes, and for other Minor brothers living in his states. After a few years, under the same ruler, the Pope self congratulated himself with the faithful of Mauritania for the happy advance made by Christianity in the country.[40]

As for the survival of Christian and Jewish minorities under Islam, contrasting with the disappearance of Muslims in Western Christendom, Bernard Lewis, who cannot be said to be a friend of Islam, observes:

Muslims were willing to tolerate significant differences in practice and even belief among themselves; they were also willing to concede a certain place in society to other, approved religions … There is no equivalent to this tolerance in Christendom until the Wars of religion finally convinced Christians that it was time to live and let live. During the eight centuries that Muslim ruled part of the Iberian Peninsula, Christians and also Jews remained and even flourished. The consequences of the Christian re-conquest, for Jews and Muslims alike, are well known.”[41]

Araya Goubet, too, notes how `religious tolerance-Islamic in inspiration- permitted the harmonious coexistence of Christians, Moors, and Jews until the end of the 15th century. The dominance of the Christian caste over the others led to the exclusion, subjugation, and expulsion of the other two, starting in 1492. Ultimately the history of the Peninsular people can be summed up in the results generated by this `living togetherness’ of the earlier centuries and by its breaking apart beginning in the fifteenth century.’[42]

As for Ottoman so called barbarism and inhumanity, Glubb notes how modern writers in the West have lavished criticisms on the Ottoman Empire, normally basing their remarks on its condition in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is only just to record, he says, that until the 17th century at least, it was so much in advance of most European governments, and during the reign of Sulaiman the magnificent, ‘the Christian villagers of Southern Greece preferred Turkish rule to that of the Venetians. Some Christian villages in Hungary voluntarily chose Turkish government in preference to that of their fellow country-men.’[43]

In fact all accounts by contemporaries, who travelled through the Ottoman realm noted the tolerance of the Ottoman state.  Othman (1281-1326), the founder of the Ottoman nation, gained the reputation of a ruler who might be safely followed, and under whose protection Christians found security both from other Turks and from the exactions of their own emperor.[44] Succeeding him, Orkhan (1326-1359) had to rule over large numbers of Christians, and many of the peasants from neighbouring territories sought his protection, for, as the Greek writers record, his Christian subjects were less taxed than those of the Empire.[45] He saw that it was wise to protect these rayahs, leaving them the use of their churches, and pursued a policy of reconciliation during all his reign.[46] When they reached the Orient after conquering the Balkans, the Ottomans strengthened confessional dialogue, allowing a revival, as unexpected as spectacular, of Arab Christianity.[47] The Ottomans tried to control not to possess, or to demean, say Courbage and Fargues.[48] And as soon as they entered Constantinople, they recognised the collective existence of religious minorities, instituting them into nations, giving them the autonomy in religious matter, judicial, cultural, and health care.[49] Following the taking of Constantinople, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch was established at the head of the first of the Christian Millet of the empire, this high personality weighing with all his spiritual and temporal authority on all Orthodox of the Empire, from the Adriatic Sea to the Persian Gulf.[50] `Unlike the period under the Byzantine, the Patriarch was no longer a humble servant of the emperor, but a recognised and respected member of the Sultan bureaucracy, with all powers over his faithful.’[51] The Ottomans sought the participation of their former enemies; officially Muslim, the Empire transformed itself, into a Greco-Turkish Diarchy which was to last until the rising and the independence of Greece (1821-1830).[52] The famed Janissaries were recruited amongst the Christians of the empire, and some military corps were entirely in the hands of Christians: Greeks, Armenians, Serbs, Bulgars and others.[53] A century of Turkish Muslim rule made Istanbul not just the first metropolis in the world, 700, 000 inhabitants,[54] but also, paradox of history, one of the three largest Christian cities. In Istanbul, and in an Anatolia profoundly Islamised, the Christian and Jewish populations emerged very strongly. Christianity experienced a revival from 8% in the census of 1520 and 1570, to 16% in the 19th century.[55] And Christian and Jewish religious authorities had the exclusive control of the cult, of schools and the judicial system.[56] Until the First World War, Istanbul kept about 40% of non Muslims, Christians and Jews.[57] Whilst on the Jews, it was amongst the Turks that they found not just acceptance, even promotion, and more importantly for them, asylum after being expelled from Spain in the late 15th.[58]

Figure 10 Manuscript page by Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of Al Andalus, born in Córdoba. Arabic language in Hebrew letters (Source)

Christian Pilgrims confirmed this openness. A 14th century account by the Irishman, Simon of Semeon and his companion, Hugh the Illuminator, who was destined to die en route in Cairo, set out from Ireland in 1323.[59] In Alexandria Simon noted that `Saracens, Christians, Greeks, Schismatic (Copts) and perfidious Jews’ dress all much alike.[60] A cursory reading of the Saint Voyage by Ogier and his fellow pilgrims travelling in the 14th century, saw that the Muslim rulers were not hostile to the pilgrims who came in large numbers to Palestine and Cairo.[61] Ogier and his company passed freely through Palestine at a time when the Turkish sultan received notice that the Christians of the West were assembling their forces in Hungary against him, and with the conquest of Jerusalem as one of their eventual objectives.[62] As long as Christians paid the tax and did not quarrel amongst themselves, as their various sects were always on the point of doing, and did not profane by their unhallowed feet the shrines of Islam, Savage notes, pilgrims worshiped in peace by the full rites of their perspective churches, and came and went as they pleased.[63] Bertrandon de la Broquiere, who was sent by Philip of Burgundy East in 1432 to study the situation with a view for the Crusade, wrote his impressions.[64] Passing through Ottoman territory and through Serbia, he noted prosperity and good cultivation of the land; and also noted that towns and cities have a mixed population of Greeks and Turks, the latter described as thrifty and clean and hardworking.[65] 16th century travellers also commented upon the prosperity and happiness of Ottoman society. Christian peasants in the conquered territories were not dispossessed of their lands, and their rights and privileges were protected by Ottoman laws.[66]

All religions are to be found side by side in the vast pacific dominion of the Sultan, and Catholicism is freer in Constantinople and at Smyrna than at Paris and at Lyons; no law restraining its outward practice.”[67]

Figure 12. 1911 Ottoman calendar in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, French and Bulgarian (Source)

And it was the same in the late seventeenth as observed by the Frenchman De la Croix, an interpreter at Constantinople, who witnessed none of such barbaric cruelty.[68] De La Croix recognised in his unpublished Memoires, how the Ottomans allowed the same freedom of worship for Christians just as they could find in France; and that Christian ceremonies were not hindered by the Turks by any means. Equally, De La Croix was impressed by the treatment of slaves, noting that their spiritual needs were not at all neglected, benefiting of chapels inside the prisons where they can pray in all liberty. He even noticed three Roman Catholic churches.[69] He adds that:

We should agree, it is better to fall in the hands of the worst Bey (Turk) galley, than in the hands of the Viceroy of Naples.”[70]

Indeed, so it seems in this respect from a variety of contemporary sources such as Emmanuel d’Aranda, a student from Flanders, who was caught in the sea in 1640, and remained captive in the Regency of Algiers for two years (1640-2), and who narrated his experience, telling of the exceptional humanity of the Turks.[71]

Many examples of tolerance, notes Davenport, yet, then he asked himself:

Yet, how many people in France believe, upon the faith of the Augsburgh gazette, and the Athens Observer, that in Turkey they every day torture and impale those `dogs of Christians,’ as they believe on the faith of the writers of dramas and comic operas, in the handkerchief thrown by the Sultan to his favourite slave, or in the women sewn up alive in sacks and thrown into the Bosphorus.”[72]

Here, Davenport has raised over a century ago the crucial issue of the chasm that exists between claims and reality. This is indeed where the problem lies to this day. With few exceptions, Turks just as other Muslims, have shown an incredible level of ineptness in highlighting historical reality. On top of their ineptness they lack directness, i.e they always meander left and right in putting their own case, so careful to sound good and moderate that their style makes you sick. They, indeed, don’t understand what is direct talk/writing, frank, yet scholarly. They switch from the lousy weak to the extreme violent rhetoric in the blink of the eye, when direct, frank, cool facts are made to show historical reality. But for that erudition, passion, self confidence, trust in the intelligence of the foe or the other, and minimal levels of honesty, are needed but they are horrendously lacking in a scholarship that is everything but that.

The Fate of Women

In the literature of the 19th century Romantics movement, the ‘bestiality’ of the Eastern, Muslim, male is contrasted with the ‘civilised’ behaviour of the Western male. One tied women up and sold them at slave auctions; the other revered them and placed them on pedestals.[73] Thus, the French writer, Alexandre Dumas, writes:

Woman in our life is a wife, a sister, a friend, in theirs (the Muslims) she is a slave, the most unfortunate of all slaves. Her life is that of a prisoner, none other than her master comes near her. The more attractive she is, the more unhappy, because then her life is suspended on a thread, she raises her veil, and her head falls.”[74]

The woman for the fanaticised, brutal Muslim is a prize of war and piracy; the Muslim prowling upon her and ravaging her.[75] Helena, heroine of a poem by the Frenchman Alfred de Vigny is violated brutally by the Turks; an act de Vigny dwells upon in every single, morbid detail. As for her women folk, in the Orientales of Victor Hugo, another Frenchman, they are all prisoners at the Seraglio, and are offered to the beastly delectation of the Sultan. Of course, all these women are young virgins.[76] The victims of Turkish beastly desires are generally convent girls kidnapped by (Muslim) pirates, and taken to the Harem of the Sultan.[77]

Figure 13. From an adjacent room, women attend the preaching of Shaykh Baha’al-Din Veled in Balkh, Afghanistan (Source)

Similar themes were expressed in contemporary Western paintings. Generally, they depict scenes from a supposed Muslim slave market, where naked women are exhibited and sold. Kabbani looks at a number of such paintings.[78] John Faed’s ‘Bedouin exchanging a slave for armour’, dating from 1857 shows the Bedouin with an almost entirely naked slave-girl exhibited in the stall of a sword merchant. The girl’s body is inspected in such a meticulous, very searching manner, her worth assessed in armour. Her expression, Kabbani notes, ‘is a piteous one, … completely helpless; naked, bound, female, and a slave.’ The oriental man is predatory, lecherous, gross, and loathsome.

Another famous slave-market scene is Gérôme’s ‘Le Marché d’ Esclaves,’ where the slave girl is in the midst of would-be purchaser men. The girl, again, is naked, offered to the gaze of her captors and would-be buyers. The Muslim owner, holding her head veil is ‘a ghoulish-looking man,’ just as Muslims are always depicted: frightening with their gross, dark complexions, their hairy faces, big, bulging eyes, thickened lips… Four other victims await their turns for inspection, still huddled in their veils.[79] In every scene, the delicate features of the woman contrast with the beastly, monstrous appearances of her Muslim male captors and traders.

19th century and subsequent Western colonial thrusts into the Muslim world, and the accompanying Christian mission, were apparently conducted in an effort to bring about changes to Muslim society, including doing away with its ‘inhuman treatment of women.’ Amongst the countless accounts which express this ‘salutary work’ is the following article from the leading missionary organ The Moslem World, which speaks of ‘the good work’ done by France in defeating Islam in Algeria, and in the same process liberating women from its shackles. J.T.C. Blackmore (from Fort National, Algeria), in his article: ‘France: A Disintegrator of Islam’, writes:

Recently a French friend of some years standing, now risen to an important official position, said to me: ‘I want to tell you now that I am coming to see more and more that the French cannot advance very far in North Africa unless we overthrow the Moslem religion.”

Then, the author (Blackmore) goes on to describe the trial of a Kabyle/Berber who beat his wife, and how he appealed against the tribunal that decided in favour of his wife. His appeal was rejected, and the following is an extract of the decision:

Mankind throughout Kabylia are beginning to tingle with indignation. Womankind are beginning to laugh discreetly. But the law goes on in its might.

Thus, France gently but surely is overthrowing Islam.”[80]

Western views of women are summed up by Lueg:

There is little variation in the image of the Islamic woman offered by the media: she serves man and is oppressed by him, be it (based on past ideas about harems or polygamy) as one among many other wives, or as the cleaning lady in the West who must always walk three steps behind her husband, or even as the woman who lives the spoilt ‘life of luxury’ in the Arab ruling houses so beloved by the tabloids – she remains passive and dependent. From the gossip column to the feminist magazine, Islamic women are mainly this: victims. As such, they are merely objects of reporting, never allowed to speak for themselves.

Under the title ‘A Stick in the Back, a Child in the Belly’ Der Spiegel describes the ‘quiet and hidden martyrdom’ of Turkish women in Germany, ‘whose billowing robes and old-maid scarves’ have made them a laughing-stock.[81] ‘They are terrorised and beaten, and live in constant fear of their violent husbands, brothers or male relatives who have total power over everyone in the family who wears a dress.’[82]

‘Women’s refuges in Germany’, writes Der Spiegel, ‘are full of Turkish women.’ Instead of Turkish women themselves, it is a sociologist from Frankfurt, ‘Mrs Konig, expert on the Turks’, who tells us all about the conditions in Turkish families. The title of a special issue of the feminist magazine EMMA-WOR (The Effects of Male Madness and how Women Offer Resistance) is adorned by the picture of a Muslim woman veiled in black from head to toe, with a blood red crown of thorns placed on her head by a photo montage, the symbol of Jesus, who, according to Christian tradition, sacrificed himself on the cross.”[83]

Betty Mahmood’s bestseller Not Without My Daughter drew in its wake a wave of publications on the life of women in Islamic countries or married to Muslims.[84] The more dramatic and brutal the story the better. The women allowed to give their accounts in these publications had to be ‘Prisoners in their own country’, ‘Sold into slavery by their own fathers’ or ‘Sentenced to death by their own families’.[85]

Of course, we can indulge in more depictions of the sort, but this is needless. So let’s move straight on the refutation of the smut said about Islam in this field.

First and foremost, it is a lie to try and say that all is rosy in the Muslim world, and that such a world is heaven for womanhood. Far from it, many men, and in fact women, too, treating women, just as their men, with utter vileness. Violence, intimidation, black mail, disrespect, and a countless other forms of mistreatment are the lot of women (and men) day after day.

Figure 14. Painting of Queen Amina of Zaria by Floyd Cooper. (Source)

This being said, let’s address the issue at hand, letting Kabbani proficiently explain to us the origin of this madness in some Western quarters about the status of Muslim women. Kabbani writes:

One of the reasons I wrote this book was to disprove the commonly held and oppressive assumption that Western culture is superior to other cultures; that it is somehow more humane, civilised or tolerant, less violent and less misogynistic. Such assumptions formed the bedrock of nineteenth-century imperialist thought, and provided the intellectual justification for colonizing other peoples’ societies.

But imperial ideas did not perish with empire. They serve as much of a manipulative political function today as they did a hundred years ago. In the decade that has elapsed since the book was written, I have observed nineteenth-century ideas about the superiority of the West’s treatment of its women superimposed on the heated debate about the nature of Islam and its treatment of women. Islam, at the end of the twentieth century, has been made into the religion the West loves to hate; a seething cauldron of sexism, and a dumping ground for all blame.

In the nineteenth-century, the colonial view was that Islam should be thrown off by Muslims so that they would become easier to rule. Muslim women in particular were the focus of this call. Lord Cromer, British Viceroy of Egypt, a lifelong hater of female suffrage in Britain, nevertheless championed emancipation for Egyptian women. In seeking to ‘liberate’ Muslim women from their religious culture, he was hoping to break the back of the anti-colonial resistance, which had strong religious overtones.

Today, the imperial torch has been passed to a new group of Orientalists, a great many of them American feminists. It has become intellectually fashionable for American women-writers – with little or no experience of the Muslim world, with no knowledge of Muslim history – to spew forth, in books and articles, on the ‘pathetic’ state of women under Islam. What is worrying about this growing literature, which is always popular with a Western readership that can never get enough about the ‘horrors’ of Islam, is that it re-establishes the old racial stereotypes at a time when it is quite disastrous to do so, given an already taut situation between the Muslim world and the West.

This literature also builds on some very dubious foundations:

That Western women have it all, and Muslim women have nothing; that, for Muslim women to earn status and respect from Western feminism, they must denature themselves by throwing off their religious culture in its entirety. These assumptions are real traps for feminism, as they pander to patriarchy, and assure Western men that they are superior in the way they have managed things. They also reek of a paternalism that is as infuriating as it is blinkered.”

(Then Kabbani relates a very interesting personal experience, where the Western ‘expert’ on Muslim women only contributed by her writing to distort the picture further):

When the article appeared it was one more unrelieved catalogue of horrors about Islam. It was illustrated with a huge blow-up photograph of ghostlike women, veiled from head to foot. It ignored any of the important debates within Islam about the rights of women….

But the whole Western debate about Muslim women is a dishonest one…. The study of the Muslim world by the West has never been a neutral and scholarly exercise.”[86]

Lueg, for her part, insists:

Islamic women should speak for themselves, and we should accept them as individuals. We will not be doing the situation justice as long as we continue to take cover behind the cliché of the Islamic woman as victim. We must analyse discrimination against women by taking into account the real social conditions, as we do for women in the West, instead of assuming we ‘know’ in advance that this is due to mainly religious reasons. A more equal dialogue could be achieved in this way.”[87]

There is no better way to highlight the contradiction that exists between Western rhetoric which rants about the Muslim barbaric treatment of women, and reality itself, which shows the true barbaric treatment of women in the West. One is not referring here to the past burning of millions of women as witches in the Christian West.[88] A piece of news on the BBC in 2002 reported that a club to train American women to use fire arms was opened in Oregon. The aim was to teach women to shoot their male partners when the latter attacked them. The reason: 3,000 American women are killed every year by their husbands or partners.[89]

Figure 15. Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick (Source)

Historically speaking, no woman was ever burnt alive in Islam for witchcraft or whatever. They were burnt in their millions in the West. During the so-called Western Renaissance (15th-17th centuries), millions of women were burnt alive for their ‘heresies or witchcraft.’[90] One can cite briefly, at random, how in the 16th century, Jean Bodin, prosecutor for the King of France, and Nicolas Remy, judge and general prosecutor of Lorraine, both wrote on demons, the latter sending to the stake, as a judge, about three thousand sorcerers and sorceresses.[91] Between 1590 and 1597, 1,500 women were executed for witchcraft in Scotland alone.[92] By the 17th century, the number of trials for witchcraft increased to mad proportions.[93] There was hardly any region in France, where famous trials cannot be evoked, whether Loundun, Louviers, Nancy, in Normandy, and other parts.[94] It was the same in most parts of the continent, with the mass exterminations of ‘witches’ that resulted from such trials.[95] Andrea Dworkin writes:

Although statistical information on the witchcraft persecutions is very incomplete, there are judicial records extant for particular towns and areas which are accurate: In almost every province of Germany the persecution raged with increasing intensity. Six hundred were said to have been burned by a single bishop in Bamberg, where the special witch jail was kept fully packed. Nine hundred were destroyed in a single year in the bishopric of Wurzburg, and in Nuremberg and other great cities there were one or two hundred burnings a year. So there were in France and in Switzerland. A thousand people were put to death in one year in the district of Como. Remigius, one of the Inquisitors, who was author of Daemonolatvia, and a judge at Nancy boasted of having personally caused the burning of nine hundred persons in the course of fifteen years. Delrio says that five hundred were executed in Geneva in three terrified months in 1515. The Inquisition at Toulouse destroyed four hundred persons in a single execution, and there were fifty at Douai in a single year. In Paris, executions were continuous. In the Pyrenees, a wolf country, the popular form was that of the loup-garou, and De L’Ancre at Labout burned two hundred.[96] It is estimated that at least 1, 000 were executed in England, and the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish were even 130 Woman Haling fiercer in their purges. It is hard to arrive at a figure for the whole of the Continent and the British Isles, but the most responsible estimate would seem to be 9 million. It may well, some authorities contend, have been more. Nine million seems almost moderate when one realizes that The Blessed Reichhelm of Schongan at the end of the 13th century computed the number of the Devil-driven to be 1,758,064,176. A conservative, Jean Weir, physician to the Duke of Cleves, estimated the number to be only 7,409,127. The ratio of women to men executed has been variously estimated at 20 to 1 and 100 to 1. Witchcraft was a woman’s crime.”[97]

And if we think these were centuries old malpractices, let’s set aside the killing and rape of 200,000 Muslim women in Bosnia (1992-1995) because they were Muslim, let’s just cite one single instance to highlight who truly hates women: an event away from the Muslim scene. Indeed, even the worst Muslim dictatorship never inflicted on women what Central and South American dictatorships of the 1970s-1980s inflicted on tens of thousands of female left wing activists, the forms of torture and liquidations they inflicted on them being so horrific only matched by the equally horrific treatment of their male colleagues or activists. Do we ever hear of that? Instead, those who inflicted such woes were feted, and in some quarters are still feted, as liberators and friends of freedom and democracy.

Islam and Race:

On Islam view of races, it can safely be said that no faith can show as equal sense of brotherhood between diverse colours as in Islam. No need to dwell on all the well known points how in Islam the difference between humans is put clearly in terms of their deeds but not of the colour of their skin. Or that the first caller to prayer in Islam was black. Or that Islam called for the freeing of all slaves, and so on and so forth. On this, and again, it is a challenge to anybody to show the same treatment by Islam, and even by the worst amongst Muslims, of coloured slaves, as others did. None of that.

Figure 16. Malcolm X photographs Cassius Clay after Clay became the world heavyweight champion (1964). (Source)

Of course it is easy, convenient, and part of the usual dose of flack at Islam, for Channel Four in its program on Empire to ignore all mass evidence, and history itself, and just pick on the accounts of Livingstone a rabidly anti Muslim missionary, to blame the worst of African slavery upon Islam.[98] These days, Islam, as the French say: `a bon dos’ (that is anything can be blamed upon it).

Here, though, are a few facts to remind everyone of the following. Not just a product of our modern politically correct times, when by law people refrain from airing their virulent racial prejudice, in Islam, simply, and for fourteen centuries, a person was not stigmatised for their colour. The offspring of a Black mother and white father was admitted to full equality;[99] and Blacks were not excluded from high office. From 946 to 968, Egypt was governed by Kafur, a Black person born in Slavery.[100]  Whether in 10th century, or today, says Levi Provencal, there is no lack of coloured people in the ranks of aristocracy, or the bourgeoisie; this is the great merit of Muslim culture, where prejudice of colour has never existed, whether in the Middle Ages or today.[101] The Black Shuubiyya emphasised the hospitality enjoyed by the first Muslim emigres in Abyssinia. The Prophet is visited by an Abyssinian who addresses him with this question: `You Arabs excel us in every respect; you are more shapely, and of more gainly colour; also the Prophet has risen amongst you. Now, if I believe in your mission shall I be awarded a seat in Paradise alongside of the believing Arabs?’ `Yes,’ the Prophet assures him. `And the black skin of the Abyssinian will spread splendour at a distance of a thousand years.’[102]

Racial differences, have never played the sort of role in Islam that they have elsewhere, Van Ess notes. Minor forms of discrimination erupted at times, but Islam has never known deliberate racism, which is one of the reasons, Van Ess identifies, why it has had `an easier time proselytising in Africa’.[103]

Figure 17. Malcolm X, after his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca (Source)

In respect of acceptance of others, as noted by Malcom X during his Hajj seems to have been decisive, and to have clarified this point in particular. `The colour-blindness of the Muslim world’s religious society and the colour blindness of the Muslim human society: these two influences had each been making a greater impact, and an increasing persuasion against my former way of thinking.’ In Mecca there were `no segregationists-no liberals’; indifference to colour was spontaneous, and for Malcom X this was evidently a shattering experience: `I shared true, brotherly love with many white complexioned Muslims who never gave a thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.’[104]

It was Islam, Rodinson, notes, which became the defender of the oppressed people of Africa.[105]

If they enslaved Black men in wars, the Muslims also enslaved white men, and made of slaves, regardless of their colour, rulers. Islamic civilisation opened doors wide even for slaves, regardless of their colour or origin. Only three Abbasid caliphs were born of free mothers, and all these belong to the eighth century.[106] In Andalusia, the Maghreb, Sicily, many could be found in the army, administration, and arts.[107] One of the most remarkable of Muawiya’s lieutenants was Zayyad `the son of his father’ (of unknown father). He became governor of both Kufa and Basra.[108] Zayyad, the son of his father it was who crossed the Oxus and took Bukhara.[109]

The absence of Muslim prejudice towards coloured people struck Lady A. Blunt, who in her trip to the Nejd region (1878), states that the governor of one of the largest cities of the region, Meskakeh, was `a Negro completely black, with the repulsive features of the African.’[110] ‘It seemed to me absurd,’ she added, `to see that Negro, who was still a slave, in the midst of a group of courtisans of the white race; because those Arabs, many of whom were of noble origins by blood, bent in front of him, ready to obey any of his glances, or to laugh at any of his poor jokes.’[111]

Finally, Muslims are not responsible for the slave trade where Black men were seen as commodities. Muslims never burnt or lynched one single Black person on a Crescent shaped piece of wood. There is no Muslim equivalent to the KKK or National Fronts.

Political, Economic and Cultural  Participation for all:

Scott notes how even in the earliest stages, when the first shock of conquest had passed, `the overpowering terror inspired by the presence of the (Muslim) invaders subsided. They proved to be something very different from the incarnate demons, which a distorted imagination had painted them. They were found to be lenient, generous, humane.’[112] People under the Muslim realm, Scott notes, were enabled to participate in the benefits of the civilization, almost from the very beginning inaugurated by their rulers.[113]

Figure 18. Saint John Damascene (Arabic icon) (Source)

Indeed, throughout Islamic rule, whether East or West of the Islamic realm, whether under the Arabs, or under the Turks, all minorities benefited of freedom and equality in opportunities that cannot even be equalled in any of today’s Western powers. St John of Damascus (674-749) was until his death a minister for Muslim Caliphs in Damascus.[114] Caliph Al-Mutasim (833-842) had two Christian ministers, one of whom was for finance.[115] And history repeated itself only requiring political troubles or economic crises, to justify some purges, but always short in duration.[116] The possibilities for advancement were, indeed great notes Van Ess, and we meet Christians and Jews holding the post of Vizier.[117] In medieval Egypt the bureaucracy was totally controlled by the Copts; most physicians were likewise Christians or Jews.[118] Bennet notes that many Christians held high positions as physicians and secretaries, and moved within Umayyad and Abbasid society with ease; and the only repressive measures against them may have been in response to Christians abusing their privileges. `Regarding themselves superior, they sometimes used their positions to mock Islam.’[119]

Van Ess observes how there were no ghettos in the Islamic world all the way down to modern times. Members of the same religious community often lived in the same quarter for reasons of family solidarity; but they were not kept apart from Muslims deliberately and on principle. In particular, they were not unclean; they could be invited to dinner.[120] In Cordoba, there were eight hundred public schools frequented alike by Moslems, Christians and Jews, where instruction was imparted by lectures.[121] The doors of the college were open to students of every nationality, and the ‘Andalusian Moor,’ Scott adds, received the rudiments of knowledge at the same time and under the same conditions as the literary pilgrims from Asia Minor and Egypt, from Germany and France and Britain.[122]

Some of Islam earliest and most prominent scientists at the Abbasid court, Ishaq Ibn Hunayn and Hunayn Ibn Ishaq were Nestorian Christians. Thabit Ibn Qurrah, the astronomer, was a Sabean. The Bakhishtu family who held most prominent positions in the court in the ninth century were Christians, too. And so were the historian-physicist Abu’l Faraj; Ali Ibn Ridwan, the Egyptian, who was the al-Hakem’s Doctor; Ibn Djazla of Baghdad, and Isa ibn Ali, another famed physicist; and so on. The Jews had the most glorious pages of their civilisation under Islam, too. If one just sifts through the hundreds of pages of Sarton’s Introduction to the History of Science, one is amazed at the seemingly endless names of Jewish scholars, who worked in the midst of Islamic civilisation, and in all parts of the land of Islam, and in all subjects. Some were not just scholars, but even occupied some of the most trusted positions in the Islamic realm. Maimonides (philosopher-physicist) was Salah Eddin Al-Ayyubi’s doctor, and Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, followed by his sons, held some of the most prominent positions in Muslim Spain. Nearly all Muslim envoys to Christian powers were Jews; and about all Muslim finance and trade were in the hands of the Jews, too.[123] Amongst Muslim scientists, or generals, and leaders, of course, were Arabs, but mostly Turks, Iranians, Spanish Muslims, Berbers, Kurds… thus a myriad of people and origins brought under the mantel of Islam, a religion open to all who sought to, and excelled in learning. And that was the first, and by far, the most multiethnic culture and civilisation that had ever existed.

What is remarkable is that under duress, when the whole Islamic land was threatened into extinction by both crusaders and Mongols (mid-13th century), and Muslim populations were wiped off in their hundreds of thousands (800,000 deaths in Baghdad alone in 1258), minorities, whether Jewish or Christian (even the allies of the crusaders) still survived under the Islamic realm, and to our day, and all their powers, privileges, and wealth intact. The fact that local Christians were left untouched in times of conflict is a far cry from the stereotyped image of Islam as the religion of the sword.[124] This highlights the true character of Islamic civilisation, a character that has remained completely alien to their successors. But then, and again, and the challenge is for anyone to prove the contrary, the Muslims did not have their daily onslaught on the faith and practice of others. Muslims could and can live with difference forever.

‘Arab customs’ wrote Rodinson, `admitted and favoured the adoption by the clans of people of all sorts and all origins who thus became entirely Arabs.’[125] Besides, Van Ess tells us, Islamic countries have never had classes or a nobility in the Western sense.[126] In contrast to Roman and medieval law, Islamic law has no category of persons for whom separate regulations were in force.[127] Medieval Islamic society, to the contrary was relatively fluid; even children born of concubine relations with a female slave were considered free. Islam is basically egalitarian.[128] Under Muslim rule the offspring of a believer and a Christian captive was not just legitimate, but most of all was not stigmatised.[129]

Figure 19. The redemption (buying back) of Christian captives by Mercedarian monks in the Barbary states (Source)

Slaves, as already noted, regardless of their origin or colour also rose to power in Islam. The Mameluks, who ruled Egypt for centuries, renewed their families by purchasing children from the Caucasus. Often, again, a great lord of Egypt raises, teaches and grooms a slave child, whom he marries later to his daughter, and give him full rights; and we come across in Cairo ministers, generals, and magistrates of the highest order who were worth from a thousand to a thousand and a half francs in their early youth.’[130] Sultans of Constantinople, venerated chiefs of Islam, are born to female slaves, and they are very much proud.[131] Under the Ottomans, Lybyer remarks:

The Ottoman system deliberately took slaves and made them ministers of state; it took boys from the sheep-run and the plow-tail and made them courtiers and the husbands of princesses; it took young men whose ancestors had borne the Christian name for centuries and made them rulers in the greatest of Mohammedan states and soldiers and generals in invincible armies whose chief joy was to beat down the Cross and elevate the Crescent.”[132]

Islam as the Source of Science and Civilisation

In the vast majority of his works, this author shows the role Islamic civilisation had in awakening the rest (the Chinese aside) from their barbarism. These lines by the fiction writer, A.C. Clarke express this:

Figure 20. The eye, according to Hunain ibn Ishaq. From a manuscript dated circa 1200 (Source)

Almost all the Alternative History computer emulations suggest that the Battle of Tours (CE 732) was one of the crucial disasters of mankind. Had Charles Martel been defeated, Islam might have resolved the internal differences that were tearing it apart and gone on to conquer Europe. Thus centuries of Christian barbarism would have been avoided, the Industrial Revolution would have started almost a thousand years earlier, and by now we would have reached the nearer stars instead of merely the further planets….

But fate ruled otherwise, and the armies of Islam turned back to Africa. Islam lingered on, a fascinating fossil, until the end of the twentieth century. Then abruptly, it dissolved in oil.”
(Chairman’s address: Toynbee Bi-Centennial Symposium, London, 2089).[133]

Indeed, if it weren’t for Muslim civilization, there would have never been a Western civilization. We won’t say much on this issue as the articles by this author are too many, and he is not going to repeat himself. In fact there are many better works than this author’s and they should be consulted, some of the latest being:

-Butterworth, C. E., and B. A. Kessel, eds. The Introduction of Arabic Philosophy into Europe. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1994.

-G. Casale: The Ottoman Age of Exploration; Oxford University Press; 2010.

-D.N. Hasse: “Influence of Arabic and Islamic Philosophy on the Latin West.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta. Fall 2008. entries/arabic-islamic-influence/.

-G.W. Heck: Charlemagne, Muhammad, and the Arab Roots of Capitalism. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2006.

-J. Hobson: The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation; Cambridge University Press; 2003.

-J. Lyons: The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

What is really crucial to note is this: if it weren’t for Islam, there would have never been a Muslim civilization in the first place. It is Islam, and not Arabs inspired by Greek thought as the miserable reading of the history of science makes it appear, that is responsible for the good of our modern civilization (indeed our modern civilization is also full of refuse.)

Of course, as one keeps repeating each issue would deserve at least a large book to be dealt with. We don’t have this luxury here, so let’s keep things succinct and simple by focusing on early Islamic Arabia, and its role in the human awakening. Let’s begin with two quotes:

Efface the Arabs from history, and the renaissance of letters would have been retarded for several centuries. (Libri)[134]

And what more noble monument could Arabia boast than the proud distinction of having been the home of a prophet and the cradle of a faith for centuries identified with religious toleration, with princely munificence, with scientific investigation, with literary merit, all intimately associated with her name and with the varying fortunes of her children? (Scott)”[135]

Figure 21. Page from a manuscript of the Algebra (Maqālah fi al-jabr wa-‘l muqābalah) of ‘Umar Al-Khayyām (1048-1131) (Source)

Libri, Scott and few other scholars fully appreciate the role Arabia, as the birth-place of Islam, played in the rise of modern science and civilisation. This decisive impact is little appreciated today, and the modern perception of Arabs is far from being flattering. There is no need to remind the Arabs how they are perceived today. Yet, it is to the so maligned Arabs of Arabia, and one of them, the Prophet of Islam, who conveyed the message that we owe it all. A look at the vast literature dealing with the rise of modern science and civilisation reveals two crucial facts

-Firstly Arabia, hitherto sank in the Age of Ignorance, was thoroughly transformed by the arrival of Islam, its scattered tribes now changed into the rising power of the 7th century.

Secondly, just as Islam transformed Arabia, as the Arabs carried the new faith into various lands and continents, especially during the Caliphates of Omar (634-644), Uthman (644-656) and the Ummayads (661-750), that they also carried the seeds of civilisation, every part rising into a seat of progress no sooner it had welcomed the faith.

It is the transformation of Arabia, and the role of Islam in transforming societies for the better, which are looked at here.

The Arabs of the Age of Ignorance (before Islam) did not believe in the creation of the world, nor in a future state for it, but decided the formation of the universe was due to nature, and its future destruction to time.[136] Law breaking and robbery prevailed everywhere, and since death was seen as the end of existence, people only cared about getting everything they could out of this world, and did not care who they hurt to achieve their goals. There were no spiritual rewards for good deeds, or punishment for evil.[137] Bedouin Arabs loved being called bandits, and saw capturing caravans as the point of life.[138]  This they regarded as legitimate exercise of arms, looking down upon those who traded as ‘an inferior race, debased by sordid habits and pursuits.’[139] It was not unusual for a Bedouin, after robbing the dead, to mutilate them.[140]  The pagan Arab, especially those of Makkah, loved to get drunk, and was proud of his ability to hold it. There were some princes who obtained an unenviable immortality by drinking themselves to death.[141] Gambling was so popular in the desert that the Bedouins often staked their freedom on the toss of a pebble.[142]

Pre-Islamic Arab society was also excessively violent. The multiplicity of wandering tribes, each with its petty prince and petty territory, but without a national head, produced frequent conflicts. Revenge, too, was almost a religious principle among the tribesmen.[143]  In pre-Islamic Arabia a new born girl was generally deemed to be a catastrophe, and the custom of burying girls alive was normal, to ‘retain honour’. As said by Smith:

The most barbarous practice of these ‘times of ignorance,’ was the burying alive of female children as soon as they were born; or worse, still, as sometimes happened, after they had attained the age of six years. The father was generally himself the murderer. [144]

The arrival of Islam transformed Arabia radically. These transformations are so vast that a much larger work would be necessary to look at them in an appreciable manner. Briefly, here, these include believing in Allah, alone, performing daily prayers, and other religious obligations, reforming the status of slaves, improving the condition of women by restricting polygamy, placing restraints upon divorce, securing to widows immunity from destitution, and preventing female infanticide.[145]

Figure 22. Juristic exchange between Abu Dawood and Ibn Hanbal. One of the oldest literary manuscripts of the Islamic world, dated October 879 (Source)

Islam also stresses the inviolability of human life, banning the consumption of alcohol and pork, usury, gambling and adultery.  The moral prescriptions of the Qur’an, as outlined by Le Bon, are charity, good deeds, hospitality, moderation of desires, abiding by one’s word, the love of the next person, respect for parents, and protection for widows and orphans.[146] The injunction regarding washing and cleanliness is an accessory to prayer. Sale in his ‘Preliminary Dissertation,’[147] says:

That his followers might be more punctual in this duty, Mohammed is said to have declared that the practice of religion is founded on cleanliness, which is the one half of the faith, and the key to prayer, without which it will not be heard by God.”[148]

Islam most of all united the once scattered tribes of Arabia into a strong unit. The rise of Islam and its prohibition of inter-tribal war strengthened the bonds amongst Arab tribes.[149] As noted by Thomas:

The Arab tribe, before its recent allegiance to the new larger unit, had grown out of a clan whose basis was blood-kinship. Injury done to a member of a tribe from outside was regarded as injury done to the tribe as a whole, and any member of the tribe could avenge it; so too the original offender need not be the target; any other member of his tribe would do equally well for the purpose of revenge…. The immediate revolution that Muhammad wrought-later to grow into a great practical brotherhood-was the creation, in effect, of a super-tribe whose basis was not blood-kinship but a religious faith, whose sanctions were revealed by God, and whose loyalties must outweigh those of either kin or tribe. Those who embraced the new allegiance became members of this super-tribe, a people sworn not to injure but to assist and succour one another.”[150]

Other than these and many other improvements, and specifically in regard to our subject, Islam gave impetus to learning.

Islam as the Source of Knowledge, Science and Civilisation:

Figure 23. A copy of Al-Jazari’s Book of Ingenious Devices (Source)

And these are the parables we set forth for mankind; but only will understand them those who have knowledge.” (Qur’an 29:43.)

Throughout, the Qur’an repeatedly calls upon the believers to seek knowledge, observe and reflect:

Say [unto them, O Muhammad]: Are those who know equal to those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed”(39: 9)

 “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect.” (45: 13)

 “Those truly fear God, among his servants, who have knowledge.” (35: 28.)

The Qur’an constantly encourages the use of intellect and invites people to think, investigate and analyse.[151] And as Garaudy observes:

The importance granted to the sensitive perception of beings, who are visible symbols of the invisible God, allows the focus to be put on the experimental method, as against the lowly deductive speculations of the Greeks, of whom we saw none, in Athens, who was interested in the sciences of nature, practised in Asia Minor, and in Alexandria.”[152]

The Hadiths by the Prophet also encouraged the search for learning. According to Al-Ghazali:

The Prophet regarded any day as lost in which he did not increase in that knowledge that would draw him closer to his Lord.”[153] 

“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” said the Prophet.

From the very moment of birth to the last breadth, a Muslim is required to seek knowledge. This extraordinary emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, Muzaffar Iqbal points out, is not surprising for a religion based on a book.[154]

The example set by the Prophet was followed by his early companions, and in Islam, unlike elsewhere, there was no clergy that sought to ban science or persecute scholars. Rather the opposite occurred, whereby the imams serving in mosques, with few exceptions, worked diligently with, or to support, scholars. Sayili notes how the creation of institutions of learning, hospitals, universities, or public libraries, all took ‘firm root’ in Islam, ‘where piety and learning were in many respects inseparable.’[155]

Figure 24. Entrance to the Qawaloon complex which housed the notable Qawaloon hospital (Source)

The mosque, the symbol of Islam was at the centre of three major developments that were essential to the scientific and learning revolution:

-The free learning concept, and learning for all.

-The foundation of universities.

-The foundation of the library, principally the public library.[156]

From the beginning of Islam, Wardenburg explains, the mosque was the centre of the Islamic community, a place for prayer and meditation, of course, religious instruction, political discussion, but also a school. Anywhere Islam took hold, he notes, mosques were established, and basic instruction began. Once established, such mosques could develop into well-known places of learning, with hundreds, sometimes thousands of students, and frequently benefiting from important libraries.[157] These early mosques are the oldest universities still working today.[158]

At the start of the library concept, which remains the symbol of learning per excellence, once more was the mosque. Mosques were fitted with large libraries, with works covering a huge variety of subjects, and even rare works were placed in mosques. Pedersen refers to the large number of manuscripts that were found in the mosques of the Zaytuna in Tunis, Tlemcen in Algeria and Rabat in Morocco.[159]  The Zaytuna, possibly, was the richest of all, including collections totaling tens of thousands of books.[160]

Figure 25. Medical flasks and bottles can be seen in this Ottoman manuscript about Islamic market, medicine and pharmacy (Source)

In pre Islamic Arabia, disease was supposed to be an indication of the anger of God, which was the peculiar province of the sorcerer to remove.[161] The interest in medicine began with the Prophet himself. The best known Islamic medieval author advocating the Prophet’s medicine was the Syrian Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (b. 1262- d.1350). However, this medicine was also deemed not enough in many respects. Ibn Qayyim, although preaching passionately Prophetic medicine, insisted that reliance on specialised medical knowledge was also necessary, and that a good Muslim should resort to a physician.[162] Ibn Qayyim referred to the Prophet’s saying, that when a disciple asked the Prophet what to do about his illness, the Prophet ordered him to take himself off immediately to a qualified medical doctor.[163] 

Trade and commerce, although practiced in Arabia prior to Islam, witnessed major advances following the arrival of the faith. Both the Qur’an and the Prophet’s example impacted decisively in this respect.[164] The Qur’an does not just say that one must not forget one’s portion of this world (28:77), it also states that it is right to combine the practice of religion and material life, carrying on trade even during pilgrimage, and goes as far as to mention commercial profit under the name of ‘God’s bounty’ (62:9-10).[165]

Cheque payments were made in the very early stages of the Islamic state, with Arabia at the centre of their diffusion. The medieval historian Ibn Abd al-Hakam indicates that Omar Ibn Al-Khattab paid for the grains delivered to state warehouses by cheque.[166] 

During the caliphate of Omar (634-644) when the wealth of Syria, Persia, Iraq, and then Egypt began pouring in, the Caliph felt the necessity of creating an institution which could provide the basis of an economic system in the Arabian Peninsula.[167] Omar asked some individuals with well established family credentials (and of course with learned skills) to prepare census reports of people according to their importance and class.[168] Thus started the first ever system of public allowances and salaries in Islam which prevailed in Arabia for a long time and which, when started by European countries in the early 20th century under the name unemployment allowances and old age pensions, is considered the most important step towards the welfare of masses.[169]

The spread of this faith over so vast a portion of the globe was due to various causes, social, political and religious.[170] However wherever Islam arrived, it immediately impacted on society. This profound impact is well outlined by I and L Al-Faruqi:

Islam eliminated superstition and spirits and ascribed all causation to one supreme Creator Whose will is orderly and Whose patents in creation are eternal. It dissolved the tribe, repudiated its loyalties, and grouped the people into nations and empires, imbuing them with loyalty for causes greater than themselves. It ended cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide once and for all; outlawed alcohol and nakedness, imposed cleanliness, and made necessary the wearing of shoes. It banned raiding and plunder, and safeguarded life and property. It ordered the family and its internal relations on a footing of justice, and raised women to a status not reached by many of the civilized nations of modern times. It established schools and imposed literacy on all its adherents, giving them a lingua franca with which to communicate internationally,… It ordered them to build mosques in which to congregate for worship and the conduct of public affairs. It encouraged travel, trade, and industry and brought to the converts the best and most advanced learning known to other Muslims in the world. In short, conversion to Islam meant for the primitive a leap into civilization, from a miserable existence lacking in decency and dignity to one replete with both, and beautified with the products of Islamic poetry and art.”[171]

In contact with Islam, every nation prospered as recognised by Forster, who praised `the salutary moral influence of Islamism upon its Negro proselytes’.[172]

Smith goes along the same line:

We hear of whole tribes laying aside their devil worship, or immemorial fetish, and springing at a bound, as it were, from the very lowest to one of the highest forms of religious belief. Christian travellers, with every wish to think otherwise, have remarked that the Negro who accepts Mohamedanism acquires at once a sense of the dignity of human nature not commonly found even among those who have been brought to accept Christianity.”[173]

Smith adds:

Nor as to the effects of Islam when first embraced by a Negro tribe, can there, when viewed as a whole, be any reasonable doubt. Polytheism disappears almost instantaneously; sorcery, with its attendant evils, gradually dies away; human sacrifice becomes a thing of the past. The general moral elevation is most marked; the natives begin for the first time in their history to dress, and that neatly. Squalid filth is replaced by some approach to personal cleanliness; hospitality becomes a religious duty; drunkenness, instead of the rule becomes a comparatively rare exception. Though polygamy is allowed by the Koran, it is not common in practice, and, beyond the limits laid down by the Prophet, incontinence is rare; chastity is looked upon as one of the highest, and becomes, in fact, one of the commoner virtues. It is idleness henceforth that degrades, and industry that elevates, instead of the reverse. Offences are henceforth measured by a written code instead of the arbitrary caprice of a chieftain-a step, as every one will admit, of vast importance in the progress of a tribe.”[174] 

Whether in Syria, or Egypt, Sub-Saharan Africa or the northern parts of the continents, India, the Malay Peninsula, and everywhere else, the impact of Islam was not just substantial, but also decisive in the advancement of local society. Not only did Islamic culture and civilisation transform these places entered by Muslims, soon, in contact with Muslim learning available in such places, the whole of the world, the Christian West primarily, experienced a considerable advance in learning and civilisation.

The first parts of Europe ‘to emerge from barbarism,’ Briffault says, were those most directly under the influence of ‘Moorish’ culture: the Spanish Marches of Catalonia, Provence, and Sicily.”[175]

It was at Toledo, Salerno, and Barcelona and Montpellier and Palermo, Dawson insists, that, on discovering Islamic learning, the Christians:

Put themselves to school and laid the foundations of the new scientific culture of the West.  Western scholars’ eyes were not just opened to the riches they were discovering, but above all to their own scientific backwardness.”[176]

And here we leave it, and readers are advised to go and consult other works, especially those listed above which will benefit them a great deal.

A Humane, just Civilisation, and to all and everything:

The Qur’an sura ii, 190-193, just as one instance, clearly sets out the Islamic position with regard to the use of force, and not to go beyond acceptable limits as God does not like the transgressors; all forms of torture, needless violence are condemned.

Many accounts especially of the Turks and the Algerians, in particular, seem, however to offer this image of two blood thirsty groups. Hence, Postel, who wrote his accounts through the second half of the 16th century, states that Christians in North Africa suffered `an infinity of martyrdoms’ and the seamen thought Algiers `that Citie fatall to all Christians and the butchery of all mankind’.[177] This image of bloodthirsty pirates turned into European folklore as in Voltaire’s Candide.[178] The appeal made in 1858 by Monseignor Pavy, Bishop of Algiers, for the building of the Cathedral de Notre Dame d’Afrique in Algiers dwells at length on the horrors of `la piraterie Musulmane’ and concludes by insisting on the necessity for the conquest of 1830, which had brought these horrors to an end.[179] The image of innocent victims, impaled, outside the city gates were morbid images that daily stirred both revulsion and fear. Images, and fables of ruthless Barbary pirates revived as recently as 2003 by the BBC in its Time-Watch programme.[180]

The story of Turkish/Algerian corsairs spreading terror on the high seas, and European coastlines was a very good ploy used to justify the conquest of Algeria by the French in 1830. Whether Earle and Bono,[181] and above all Fisher, all have condemned this legend.[182] Indeed, piracy was practiced mostly by Europeans;[183] and there was hardly any pirate left in Algiers by some time in the 18th century as Valensi[184] and Braudel[185] show. As for such captives who seemingly were impaled in their thousands outside the gates of Algiers, or anywhere in the Turkish realm, there is none of such. Pilgrim accounts of the 14th century by the Irishman, Simon of Semeon speak of ‘the old wives’ tales about Christian slaves who are yoked like animals are not to be believed.’[186] Christian captives are well treated, craftsmen especially, such as masons and carpenters, attached to the sultan, but all, including women and children, are humanely treated and supplied with money and bread.[187] Also denying Muslim cruelty is the 18th century chronicler d’Argens,[188] who remarks that the torments inflicted by the Turks on slaves are imaginary. He pours scorn on the pious monks with their accounts of burnings, impaling, and cutting into pieces, calculating that ‘according to them, more slaves have died in one short period than have ever been killed, or are likely to be killed until the end of time in the whole Islamic world.’[189]

Even those who have no liking for the Turks give accounts, which also belie those of propagandists. La Condamine, hardly known for his sympathies to Muslims, remarks that slaves are not ill treated in Muslim lands.[190] Desfontaines and Peysonnel, give similar accounts; Peysonnel noting the freedom of slaves to practice their religion, and says that Muslim ‘are the gentlest slave takers.’[191] Equally, Baron Tott,[192] otherwise very hostile to the Turks, when he stopped in Tunis, described slaves as well clothed, well fed and well treated, remarking that the Europeans are the only ones who ill treat their slaves, and he compares the lot of the Christian captives with the `Negroes of our colonies’ who are much worse off.[193]

An 18th century contemporary, Laugier de Tassy, from his experience in North Africa, recognised:

It is not surprising to see so many people affected by prejudice against these people (of North Africa), because all that is needed for them is to be of a different religion and different country from the others to bear aversion for them; not conceding that they might have some good qualities… Thus many run away from the light of truth and remain all their life locked in perceptions which only have error and lies as their foundations.”[194]

Emmanuel d’Aranda, a student from Flanders, who was caught in the sea in 1640, and remained captive in the Regency of Algiers for two years (1640-2), narrated his experience.[195] His first master was Cataborne Mostafa, who shared his meals with him, and his company. Then at some point his master, as a punishment following a quarrel with an army officer, was sent away for military duty for six months. Here is what d’Aranda has to say:

I was sad about my master, who told me: `henceforth you will go and live at Mahomet Celibi Oiga; I hope with God’s help, before my return you will be free, and if I had money I will share it with you.’’ I answered: `master, I know about your good will and your poverty; I kiss your hands, thanking you as much as I can for the good treatment I received in your house.’ He said `When you are back in Flanders, give my greetings to your parents.”[196]

At the new house of Celibi Oiga, it was the same sort of treatment, the master a very devout man, and very learned, discussing various issues of science and religion. D’Aranda also says he was allowed to attend every morning Christian mass.

Equally, Chevalier d’Arvieux wrote of his experiences in the Regency of Tunis as an envoy of Louis XIV in that country between 1665-1675, where he helped secure the freedom of Christian slaves through negotiations with the Turks. His Memoires were only published long after his death in 1702 by Father Labat in 1735. He says:

We imagine that the Christians who have the misfortune to be slaves in Barbary are tortured in a very cruel manner and the most un-humane treatment inflicted on them. There are people who in order to stir the charity of the faithful pour with great assurance these lies: their intention although good is still always a lie. They forget that in this instance that it is not right to cause harm so as to derive good. I, too, have been in this situation like many others…. But what I saw in Tunis has convinced me these people are full of humanity, as I witnessed that our slaves on the boats waiting to sail were fed every day (fruit, meat, bread…)… and some of these slaves demanded that they stayed with their masters until the day they left for home; and I agreed. Their masters shared their meals with them, gave them tobacco, and looked after them as if they were their own children. They kissed them on the day of parting, and assured them, that if business or misfortune brought them back to the country, they could freely live with them, and they will be more than welcome.”[197]

The Islamic faith which is labelled source of cruelty shows the complete opposite. Thevenot remarks that one of the teachings of Islam (zakat) is well observed amongst the Turks, for they are charitable and quite willingly help the poor, whether they are Turks, Christians or Jews. Some Turks give their wealth to the poor when alive, others leave, on their death, large sums to found hospitals, build bridges, caravansaries and aqueducts. Those who do not have means spend their time repairing roads and filling cisterns.[198] Tournefort provides corroborating evidence, maintaining that apart from individual alms-giving, no nation spends as much as the Turks do on foundations. The rich visit prisons in order to free those who have been emprisoned for debts. Tournefort saw that many families who had been ruined by fires, recovered through charities. He saw people who visited the afflicted in their homes: the sick, even when attacked by the plague, were helped by neighbours and by the funds of parishes.[199]

Muslim generosity often strikes many a traveller as being misplaced. Among the singularities noted by a foreigner in Cairo, Volney mentions the large number of hideous dogs wandering in the streets and the kites hovering over houses, uttering mournful noises. He points out that Muslims kill neither, though both dogs and kites are supposed to be impure. On the contrary, devout Muslims establish bread and water foundations for dogs.[200] Thevenot also observes that the charity of the Turks extends to animals and birds. On market days many people buy birds which they soon set free.[201] Thevenot noted persons who leave enormous wealth to feed cats and dogs. They give money to bakers or butchers for this charitable purpose. Tournefort says it is a fact that Constantinople people are proud to execute the wishes of the donors by distributing food to animals in public squares.[202] In fact, even in our day, in 2017 without a doubt, as one sees wherever one goes in Turkey, there is no society more compassionate to animals, birds in particular, than Turkey. Just try to harm a bird in Turkey …

It was in harmony with this that the Muhtasib, or prefect of Police, should not only be concerned with preventing breaches of the civil and religious law but also protected slaves from having tasks imposed upon them that they were not strong enough to perform, and punished the owners of beasts of burden if they did not provide their animals with sufficient  provenders or overworked them.[203]

Benevolence is commended by the Prophet as the first of all virtues; a benevolence which, indeed, is extended to all animals.

To all the brute creation,’ writes Miss Pardoe (in City of the Sultan) the Turks are not only merciful, but ministering friends; and to so great an extent do they carry this kindness towards the inferior animals that they will not kill an un-weaned lamb, in order to spare unnecessary suffering to the mother; and an English sportsman, who had been unsuccessful in the chase, having on one occasion, in firing off his piece previously to disembarking from his caique, brought down a gull that was sailing above his head, was reproached by his rowers with as much horror and emphasis as though he had been guilty of homicide.”[204]

Islamic Faith as Source of humanity:

Muslims, of course, are no super-humans. Many amongst them commit atrocious deeds against others, their own, and even themselves. Most importantly, the goodness of Muslims just seen has nothing to do with the fact that as individuals, they are better than others. Far from it; they are as good and as bad as anybody else. The difference is the faith itself, its laws and rules, which when well understood or in fact just fairly understood, stop everyone from acting worse that they would otherwise do. The shari’ah, that so demonised concept, is what imposes on Muslims to act better, and always.  Of course it is easy to pick on one sole case of excessive application to ignore its wider positive impact. It is indeed, the Shariah, which does not just impose upon the Muslims to act right, but it also protected the Christians, the Jews, and all who lived under the Islamic state; superseding the whims of any ruler or individuals. In this respect, Daniel correctly notes that the first and most crucial element that impacts on the position of Christians under Islam and Muslims under Christianity is the fact that the great difference between Christian canon law and Muslim sharia Law (not qanun, which does not correspond to canon law) was that the former could always be reversed.[205] Within Christendom, thus, there was no final protection for the unconverted Muslim, and none at all, of course for the converted Muslim, as the history of the Inquisition was to show.[206] Christians within the land of Islam, on the other hand, could always appeal to the Qur’anic law which remains unchanged, and (which protects both rights of the Christians and their possessions.) Once they pay the poll tax (jizya) non Muslims are entitled to the protection of both life and property.[207] All, therefore, that was required of the Christians living under Muslim jurisdiction was that they should pay tribute regularly and obey the laws of the land.[208]

Indeed, any Muslim true to his faith, and true follower of the sharia, has absolutely no excuse for hating or hurting anyone of a different faith who had not harmed him. But again, as noted at the start of this essay, it is also possible for a Muslim, dark in heart and soul, to seek and find justifications for his or her evil deeds in whatever they seek to find them. They can also hear justifications for such acts from a person as vile as themselves. In words, the sharia, coupled with a person’s goodness and true knowledge that demystifies a lot of prejudice are powerful elements that can mitigate the worst any person can carry within them.

Furthermore on the point already raised, it is Islam that changed people for the better as is here well expressed by a few illustrations.

When the Abyssinian king asked them about the new religion, Dja’far, cousin of the Prophet answered:

We were plunged in the dark meanders of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols; we ate animals that had died of themselves; we committed hateful things; we wounded the love of our own relations, and violated the laws of hospitality. Ruled by our passions, we only recognised the law of the strongest, until God has chosen a man from our race, illustrious by his birth, for very long respected for his virtues. This prophet had taught us to profess the unity of God, to reject the superstitions of our fathers, to despise Gods of stones and wood. He commanded us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to love our relations, and to protect our guests, to flee vice, to be kind and generous towards our parents and neighbours. He has forbidden us from despoiling women’s honour, and from robbing orphans. He recommended us prayers, giving alms, and fasting. We have believed in his mission; we have respected the laws and the morale that he brought us on behalf of God.”[209]

Smith expands on this:

The practices that Mohammed forbade, and not forbade only, but abolished, human sacrifices and the murder of female infants, and blood feuds, and unlimited polygamy, and wanton cruelty to slaves, and drunkenness, and gambling, would have gone on unchecked in Arabia and the adjoining countries. The Mongols, the Tartars, and the Turks would have devastated, as they did devastate, the fairest regions of the earth without gaining that which, in some degree, softened their national character, and alone prevented their conquests from being unmitigated evil. In Northern and central Africa there would have been, not the semi civilisation of the Moors or of the Mandingoes, but the brutal barbarism of the fans and the Ashantees. The dark ages of Europe would have been doubly, nay trebly dark; for the Arabs who alone by their arts and sciences, by their agriculture, their philosophy, and their virtues, shone out amidst the universal gloom of ignorance and crime.”[210]

Hence, if those leading the onslaught on Islam believe all will be better without the ‘fanaticism’ of Islam as they put it, they can be guaranteed, they will only face monsters, and many more of them. But, again, what is prescribed to endure they cannot suppress.

Islam as a source of all that is orderly and beautiful:

As we have noted in the first heading above, and as we could see in many other instances, Islam is always associated with chaos, disorder, noise, and the dirt of its towns and cities. Briefly here, we cite an instance which blames Islam for urban chaos. Planhol says:

Irregularity and anarchy seem to be the most striking qualities of Islamic cities. The effect of Islam is essentially negative. It substitutes for a solid unified collectivity, a shifting and inorganic assemblage of districts; it walls off and divides up the face of the city. By a truly remarkable paradox this religion that inculcates an ideal of city life leads directly to a negation of urban order.”[211]

True, any meandering in any Muslim town and city these days is a traumatic experience. Anyone with a minimum sense of order, who is repulsed by noise, chaos, mad traffic and demented drivers, and filth that swamps every Muslim town and city and their outskirts, might choose to never step outside as the only guarantee for the survival of their sanity. Brochures and misleading publicity produced by countless Muslim authorities are just the usual gimmicks they are good at in seeking to mislead others and, of course, delude themselves. It is their penchant for dishonesty and self delusion which makes them incapable of resolving the real issues, and in every field. The principle is: unless you are honest with yourself, whether as an individual or society, you never resolve your failings, and therefore fail eternally. Here we remain focused on the Muslim urban setting, and of course avoid referring to politics, the mediocrisation of the masses through the education system, the smut of the media, the economic meltdown, and countless other issues. This is a family friendly website, and those who want to know what this author thinks in relation to these issues need to seek him elsewhere.

What we say here in regard to chaos, dirt, assault on the environment, noise, and the like that everyone can experience in Muslims towns and cities today is that, true they cannot be denied as even the blind and the deaf can experience them, but these evils have nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion of beauty, order, harmony, excellence, precision, perfection, and whatever is refined. Islam loves and preaches for quiet, contemplation of silence, love of nature, cleanliness, respect for the other, and all that makes a society beautiful to live in. It is just that its adherents, with exceptions aside, even some of its powerful adherents in position of power preach overconsumption, waste, noise, destruction of the environment, and whatever is nefarious, or just throw their rubbish left, right, centre…. Why do they do it? As we say in Islam Allah knows best.

Let’s not go very far and prove the point we are making here that Islam is harmony, beauty, order, precision, and all that is refined. Gaze at the designs on a Muslim prayer carpet, whether these designs are of Makkah, or a mosque interior, or any other motif, and you will see absolute, perfect symmetry and precision. Anything on the left side of the carpet is found on the other as if computer designed. No Islamic carpet will show asymmetry unless it is manufactured by a fraud. Go to Morocco, and gaze at Islamic order as in their mosaics and decorations and you will see harmony and extreme beauty at their best. Look up into the dome of an old mosque and if you are not overawed by the sublimity of what you see, you have no soul. Enter a mosque long between prayer times, especially late afternoon in the Summer, and sit alone, still, and then you will feel the true harmony of Islam. Listen to a good Qur’an reader, and then feel your heart melting when even you don’t understand a word, and when even you feel nothing for Islam, for this author himself has experienced it in his days of disbelief. Go to a mountain region of Turkey where the call to prayers (Adhan) is done the old, traditional way (not the damn recordings and loud speakers of today, some of the vilest sounds that can shatter your ears and your soul), and then you hear what the echo of Islam from hill to hill is.  The act of prayer itself, in a mosque (or anywhere else), is perfect order, in the reading of the verses, in the timing of the prayers, in the direction of the prayers, in the numbers of the (rakaas) (prostrations); in the line of worshippers, in the simultaneity and harmony of their prostration, and so on. The Qur’an is recited with absolute, perfect orderliness, in form, in sound, in the repetitions, in the length of the verses, and everything. Exactitude and utmost precision are constantly expected of the faithful in every deed, in making contracts, in inheritance matters, in the way of fasting, in distributing alms, in the way of performing pilgrimage, and other tenets or duties. The gardens of Islam are absolute perfect symmetry and order; and so are the arts of Islam, as the consultation of any book on Islamic arts will show, and so on. It is these that made this author lean to Islam. Muslims of today have nothing to do with it whatsoever; not an ounce; and by very far.

Now, onto another issue, gardens and love for nature and greenery in Islam. This author has devoted a number of his years to writing about the destruction of the environment in his country, Algeria, in particular. In many of his works he stressed the fact that the fast rising population in that said country, its dwindling hydrocarbon resources, its destruction and disappearing of its water resources, and the destruction of its green cover might lead it one day to a combined environmental-natural crisis that might result in mass hunger and possibly the very collapse of the country itself. Now, in 2017, the crisis is moving fast to its final denouement. One only hopes that what he predicted in the 1990s would never occur.

It is not just that said country where the assault on what is green, forests, wooded areas in urban or semi urban areas, and a declared war on all that is truly beautiful, including gardens, that this phenomenon is seen. One can see that Muslim society in all continents, and without exception, is blighted by a constant rise of all that is smut and ugly, and a retreat of what is truly beautiful, nature, above all. Some scenes of destruction of nature one sees in some Muslim countries, which one cannot name, because, these are not one’s own country, and their reactions might not be the same as those of the Algerians who can at least take criticism. Anyway, in these countries, the destruction is beyond anything the mind can fathom. One simply is bewildered by the scale of it. We can safely say that today’s Muslim twin passion for concrete and hostility to greenery is a new phenomenon utterly contrary to both Islam and the experience of early Islamic society. Without elaborating on this too much, this could be due to the fact that today’s Muslim ruling elites, a few exceptions aside, so obsessed with all aspects of the material, and devoid of any sort of vision that deviates from the crude or vile, have an excessive passion for concrete and an absolute contempt for all things naturally beautiful. De-Islamising Muslim society by previous colonising powers, and also by anti Islamic elites in Muslim countries themselves has had its effect, too. De-Islamising society has destroyed from within Muslims and Muslim society what was intrinsic to Muslims: extreme precision, order, cleanliness of streets and cities, the love for silence, reading, and books, the search for excellence, and love for nature.[212]

Setting aside the causes that have made modern Muslims enemies of nature, if we look at history, and if, first and foremost we take the text of Islam, we see that, as we noted above with regard to other ills (chaos, dirt, violence, overconsumption, waste, greed, noise, ugliness…), a vast chasm exists between faith and the practice of its followers (again a few exceptions aside as always), indeed.

The Qur’an sees in verdure and gardens the reflection or the expression of paradise.

Surely the God fearing shall be among gardens and fountains.” (Qur’an 51/15).

And those on the right hand; what of those on the right hand?

Among thornless lote trees

And clustered plantains,

And spreading shade,

And water gushing,

And fruit in plenty

Neither out of reach nor yet forbidden,

And raised couches.” 
(Qur’an 56/27-34)

The expression: ‘Gardens underneath which rivers flow’ is the most repeated expression in the Qur’an (thirty seven times) for ‘the bliss of the faithful.’[213] Picturesque as the Qur’anic descriptions of the heavenly garden may be,’ Shimmel holds, ‘we can only imagine what it may be like.’ Sura 57/21 specifies its extension:

And a Garden the breadth whereof is as the breadth of heaven and earth…”

and sura (77/41):

…Shades and fountains and such fruits as their hearts desire.”

Descriptions of the heavenly garden, which Schimmel explains, are consistent and give an impression of greenery and gushing fountains.[214]

The Prophet, in countless sayings insists on the value of tree planting, such as:

It is a blessed act to plant a tree even if it be the day the world ends.

The Prophet constantly lauds verdure and all that is green, and he would have never ordered the destruction of a single tree let alone a forest.

The early Muslims followed these injunctions, and Abu Bakr in dispatching the armies of Islam insisted in equal measure that they should neither kill innocents nor fell trees.

Early Muslims had a passion for the naturally beautiful.  In the words of garden historians, the inhabitants of the early Islamic world were, to a degree that is difficult to comprehend today, ‘enchanted by greenery’.[215] In ‘a civilisation, which thought of itself as a garden, gardening was naturally an esteemed art,’ notes Armesto.[216] From the far eastern parts, on the frontiers with China, to its western shores on the Atlantic, the land of Islam was united in greenery. ‘Long indeed would be the list of early Islamic cities which could boast huge expanses of gardens,’ Watson holds.[217] Every city had its countless gardens, and on the outskirts were great orchards full of orange and lemon trees, apples, pomegranates, and cherries.[218]

16th century Algiers, according to Western contemporary visitors:

The domestic architecture, the flowered patios and gardens of the race which built the Alhambra were among the most attractive in the world. Every respectable house had a galleried courtyard and a flat roof embellished with potted plants. An efficient water supply provided numerous fountains and cleaned the streets to a degree unknown in England (or other European countries).”[219]

The great royal parks of the Aghlabid emirs of Tunisia, near Al-Qayrawan, the famous garden of the Hafsid rulers, also in Tunisia;[220] and the gardens surrounding the royal palaces at Fez and Marrakech.[221]

This passion for gardening extended to the population at large, the Muslims using the art of planting to beautify their homes and countryside.[222] Ettinghausen notes how there were even carefully planned mini gardens with trees, bushes, flowers and central water basins and fountains in the courtyards of countless private homes, owned by men of very limited means.[223] At Fustat, in old Cairo, multi storey houses were all perfumed with private gardens, and interior courtyards all had their water basins and squares where flowers blossomed.[224] A visitor to Tunis in 1470, wrote that every citizen had his garden, agreeably pervaded by perfumes from great varieties of flowers, and all sorts of fruit trees; and fountains rising in the middle.[225]

The garden, a symbol of the promised paradise, has, thus, become a little earthly paradise in itself.  For the early Muslim, lengthy contemplation of such beauty was enough to replenish life and chase away its sorrows and stresses. An owner would take delight in his garden more by sitting on a rug and cushions in contemplation of his pavilion, than by walking through it.[226]

Garden historians were prompt to see connections between faith and the early Islamic passion for gardening.[227] When a whole people can anticipate the paradise of afterlife as a garden, there can be little doubt about their enthusiasm for gardens on aesthetic grounds and still less doubt about their high significance in the every day life of those times, says Cowell.[228] Ettinghausen, too, notes that:

If the garden was such a ubiquitous art form in the Muslim world, being both socially and geographically extensive, there must have been specific reasons for this propensity…’ and first comes ‘the idea of Paradise as a reward for the Muslim faithful,’ a garden, descriptions of which have ‘played an important part in the Muslim cosmography and religious belief.”[229]

Early Muslims everywhere, Watson holds, ‘made earthly gardens that gave glimpses of the heavenly garden to come.’[230] Every garden was meant to be a little paradise as Ettinghausen put it ‘for the happy owner’ carefully protected from the hustle and bustle of the city and its odours.[231] The spread of Islam saw many gardens established, since not only did they provide climatic relief in those parts of the world, but they granted foretaste of the reward promised to the faithful, as well as a less spiritual but attractive reflection of the traditional royal-pleasure garden.[232] And the earthly visions of Paradise have inspired the construction of gardens; rivers flowing through paradise helping architects to conceive the canals as they flow through the gardens, each part of the garden being in some way a similitude of Paradise.[233] 

This philosophy of appreciating the value of the beautiful, especially the naturally beautiful, is now a long gone memory. Again, why? Allah knows best.

Of the sights of Muslim towns and cities today with their mountains blasted until they regurgitate the ugly; of the sight of Muslims concreting their gardens in the UK; of the sight of Muslim hordes standing uselessly in every street corner or sitting equally uselessly in cafes, with hardly any sight of anyone gardening, we won’t say anything. Just say blessed be the last gardeners of the Muslim world today, a species in fast extinction.

And if it weren’t for Islam:

As Smith puts it, Islam

Is that religion which alone gives stability to the tottering fabric, and is the one principle of life amidst all the jarring elements of destruction. It is the religion, which merges all colours, ranks, and races in the consciousness of a common brotherhood. It is the religion which elevates the mind by drawing it from the transitory to the eternal, and which gives to the half-starved or ill used peasant that courage in calamity, that calm amidst confusion, and that ineffable dignity in distress, which is found nowhere else but in Islam.”[234]

This side of Islam of improving the condition of the individual is not something we will go here. Anyone who enters Islam not because his parents were Muslims but out of personal experience can tell you that whatever failings one will always retain, Islam makes one less bad, indeed, and capable to put up with much that constitutes the filth of this life.

We don’t follow Islam because somebody forces us to. Many of us came to Islam even if once we saw it with hostility. This author educated by the French submitted to a barrage of anti Islamic literature in his childhood, and grew up absorbing it. He had no liking whatsoever of Islam. So, how is it that despite the awareness of the ills and sickness of modern Muslim society today, and also aware of the goodness of Christians he met, and non Christians, and Jews, and Chinese, and all the others, and the admirable aspects of the culture of these people and their accomplishments, he still stands fast by Islam? The reason is this: he is, like many are also aware, that without Islam, our evil and vile, which is in all of us would turn into much worse. He, like others, knows that it is, indeed, Islam which today saves us from ourselves as individuals and societies, and without it, doomed, we are. He, as an historian also knows that it was Islam that saved Muslim society in all its dark moments.

Should we seek to write about these elements here, it will absorb hundreds of pages so let’s briefly explore these aspects, and use the experience of history; but let’s first be anecdotal at first. One has lived in Algeria, and one, at the time was by no means partisan or supporter of Islamic groups, rather the opposite. And yet what one saw shocked one in a positive manner, and maybe opened one’s eyes to the truth. This author could see that in parts of towns and cities of Algeria, where pimps, violence, cut throats, and alcohol dens thrived, it was the arrival of the faith that cleared these dens of filth. Parts of the city where one worked and dwelt were hitherto impenetrable, and daily, in some places, a person was found murdered. It was in the 1980s when Islamic youth and wonderful imams took over those areas, and as this author could witness, there came prosperity, peace, quiet, security, beautiful gardens, clean streets, women walking streets not just in day time but also at night.

For the fortunate who knows the history of the Islamic land, it was precisely at the darkest times that Islam came forth, united its adherents and saved the land. In this author’s entry on Damascus, on this web-site, we showed how Islam and its scholars, such as Ibn Asakir, helped preserve the unity of Muslim society and encourage resistance against the crusaders in the times of Nur Eddin Zangi. We also showed how the scholars such as Ibn Taymiya helped spread the spirit of Islam which saved the country in the times of the Mongol onslaught.

But this author will only cite one instance in greater detail, Algeria, because it is his country. It submitted to perhaps the fiercest colonial onslaught in history. No invasion was powerful, and its aims were clear: wiping out the Algerians as was done with the Indians in America, and utterly shattering Algerian society. According to Dr Bodichon, one of the French theorists of colonisation:

It matters little that France in her political conduct goes beyond the limits of common morality at times; the essential thing is that she establishes a lasting colony and that, later, she brings European civilisation to these barbaric countries. When a project which is to the advantage of all humanity is to be carried out, the shortest path is the best. Now, it is certain that the shortest path is terror. Without violating the laws of morality, or international jurisprudence, we can fight our African enemies by powder and fire, joined by famine, internal division, war between Arabs and Kabyles, between the tribes of the Tell and those of the Sahara, by brandy, corruption and disorganisation. That is the easiest thing in the world to do.”[235]

This was precisely what France did or tried to do. But here where Islam saved Algeria. Abiding by their faith, the Algerians refused to submit to the plan, and did the very reverse of what the French intended. It united the Algerians especially in their fight against all that the French sought to poison them with. Here we read the following as Wagner, the German who was accompanying the French army as it progressed in eastern Algeria (in the 1830s), could see:

The sober and frugal habits of that people, also an unchanged feature of their ancestors, is a great hindrance in the way of civilization; it makes their improvement as difficult as their expulsion or destruction. The North American red men were defeated and driven from the country of their fathers by the “fire-water;” wherever those savages tasted spirits, they were-enslaved by them, and lost both energy and freedom. But such means are of no avail with the Arabs: when invited to the table of Christians, they take with pleasure a glass of wine or brandy, in spite of the Koran; but they never become drunkards; they never spend a penny for inebriating drinks; they take them only when they are asked to do it by their hosts. Spirits never become necessities with them, and all the remembrance of the merriment caused by wine is not able to wrest out a boojoo from their pocket. I never saw a drunken Arab during all my stay in Africa. Only milk and water are tasted in the encampments, and yet this people is not inferior to any other, either in bodily strength or mental energy.”[236]

Some leading figures proposed to make Algerians submit to the same fate as the American pioneers had reserved to the Indian Natives: their entire removal from earth.[237] V.A. Hain of the Societie Coloniale de l’Etat d’Alger considered the whole population of Algeria beyond redemption and only fit to be removed from the land.[238] The Minister of War, Girard, defending Duke de Rovigo, who massacred thousands of Algerians, held:

We have to resign ourselves to push as far as possible (into the desert), in fact exterminating the native population. Devastation, burning away everything, ruin of their agriculture are perhaps the only ways to establish solidly our domination.”[239]

What spoiled the plan was, once more, not what scholarship keeps telling us (French humanity/benevolence) but the Algerian abiding by their faith, and their determined resistance.[240] Marshal Randon, who fought in the country and then became War Minister, and then governor of Algeria in the 1850s, was incensed by those who kept criticising the French army for not doing as well as was done in America, i.e cleansing away the native Algerians:

In every direction you go, from behind every bush emerges a white burnous firing at you. They are people who love powder and love war. You cannot chase them away like the American Native by gunshots and buying them a bottle of liquor.”[241]

Without Islam, indeed, Algeria would have ended into a Bantustan of alcoholics, drug addicts, casino gamblers, eaten away by disease. True Islam goes through moments where its adversaries cry victory, but eventually it always resurfaces greater, because even the least devout knows that it is ultimately a force of good for both individual and society as nothing else can be, and that without it, wretched individuals and societies we will be.


-T.W. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam. A History of the Propagation of the Muslim faith, Archibald Constable, Westminster, 1896.

-C. Bennett: Victorian Images of Islam; Grey Seal; London; 1992.

-Denise Brahimi: Opinions et regards des Europeens sur le Maghreb aux 17em et 18em siecles; SNED; Algiers; 1978.

-N. Daniel: The Cultural barrier, Edinburgh University Press, 1975.

-N. Daniel: The Arabs and medieval Europe; Longman Librarie du Liban; 1975.

-J. Davenport: An Apology for Mohammed and the Koran; J. Davy and Sons; London; 1869.

-J.W. Draper: A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe; 2 vols; Revised edition; George Bell and Sons, London, 1875.

-W. Durant: The Age of Faith; Simon and Shuster, New York, 1950.

-A. Dworkin: Woman Hating; A Plume Book, New York; 1974.

-C. Forster: Mohametanism unveiled; London; James Duncan and John Cochran; 1829.

-G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes; IMAG; Syracuse;  Italie; 1884.

-M. Rodinson: Europe and the Mystique of Islam; tr., R. Veinus; I.B. Tauris and Co Ltd; London; 1988.

-M. Rodinson: La Fascination de l’Islam; Maspero; Paris; 1980.

-G. Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science; 3 vols; The Carnegie Institute of Washington; 1927-48.

-R.B. Smith: Mohammed and Mohammedanism; London; Smith Elder; 1876.

-D.M. Traboulay: Columbus and Las Casas; University Press of America, New York, London, 1994.

-A. Thomson: Barbary and Enlightenment: Brill; Leiden; 1987.

-J. Van Ess: Islamic perspectives, in H. Kung et. al: Christianity and the world religions; Doubleday; London, 1986.

-Rodrigo de Zayas: Les Morisques et le Racisme D’etat; ed., Les Voies du Sud; Paris, 1992.

-T.W. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam. A History of the Propagation of the Muslim faith, Archibald Constable, Westminster, 1896.

-C. Bennett: Victorian Images of Islam; Grey Seal; London; 1992.

-Denise Brahimi: Opinions et regards des Europeens sur le Maghreb aux 17em et 18em siecles; SNED; Algiers; 1978.

-N. Daniel: The Cultural barrier, Edinburgh University Press, 1975.

-N. Daniel: The Arabs and medieval Europe; Longman Librarie du Liban; 1975.

-J. Davenport: An Apology for Mohammed and the Koran; J. Davy and Sons; London; 1869.

-J.W. Draper: A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe; 2 vols; Revised edition; George Bell and Sons, London, 1875.

-W. Durant: The Age of Faith; Simon and Shuster, New York, 1950.

-A. Dworkin: Woman Hating; A Plume Book, New York; 1974

-C. Forster: Mohametanism unveiled; London; James Duncan and John Cochran; 1829.

-G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes; IMAG; Syracuse;  Italie; 1884.

-M. Rodinson: Europe and the Mystique of Islam; tr., R. Veinus; I.B. Tauris and Co Ltd; London; 1988.

-M. Rodinson: La Fascination de l’Islam; Maspero; Paris; 1980.

-G. Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science; 3 vols; The Carnegie Institute of Washington; 1927-48.

-R.B. Smith: Mohammed and Mohammedanism; London; Smith Elder; 1876.

-D.M. Traboulay: Columbus and Las Casas; University Press of America, New York, London, 1994.

-A. Thomson: Barbary and Enlightenment: Brill; Leiden; 1987.

-J. Van Ess: Islamic perspectives, in H. Kung et. al: Christianity and the world religions; Doubleday; London, 1986.

-Rodrigo de Zayas: Les Morisques et le racisme d’etat; ed., Les Voies du Sud; Paris, 1992.


[1] A. Lueg: The Perception of Islam in Western Debate; in The Next Threat; edited by J. Hippler and A. Lueg; (Pluto Press; London; 1995); pp. 7-31; at p. 7.

[2] Ibid.

[3] D.J. Vitkus: Early Modern Orientalism: Representations of Islam in 16th and 17th century Europe; In Western Views of Islam in Medieval and Early Modern Europe; D.R. Blanks, and M. Frassetto ed.; (St Martin’s Press; New York; 1999); pp. 207-30; at pp. 208-9.

[4] J. Esposito: The Islamic Threat; Myth or Reality? (Oxford University Press; 1992); p. 175.

[5] Ibid; pp. 177-8.

[6] J.C. Barreau: De l’Islam en General et du monde Moderne en particulier; (Paris: Belfont le Pres aux Clercs; 1991).

[7] Ibid.

[8] ‘The Dark Side of Islam’; Time Magazine; 4 October 1993; p. 62.

[9] V.S. Naipaul: An Area of Darkness; (London; 1964 and 1981); p. 12.

[10] V.S. Naipaul: Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey; (London, 1981); p. 85.

[11] Extracts of Naipaul’s views are from R. Kabbani: Imperial Fictions; Pandora Box, London; 1994.

[12] V.S. Naipaul: An Area of Darkness; (London; 1964 and 1981); p. 12; 123; 127….

[13] Ibid; p. 123.

[14] V.S. Naipaul: Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey; (London, 1981); p. 85.

[15] Ibid; p. 228.

[16] Ibid; pp. 158-9.

[17] In R. Kabbani: Imperial Fictions; op cit; pp. 134-5.

[18] V.S. Naipaul: Among; op cit; p. 214.

[19] C. Cox-J. Marks: The West, Islam and Islamism; (Civitas; Institute for the Study of Civil Society; London; 2003); pp. 47-9.

[20] S.P. Scott: History; op cit; p. 90.

[21] In J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; pp. 41-2.

[22] W. Durant: The Age of Faith, Simon and Shuster, New York, 1950; Chapter X. p. 188.

[23] J.Glubb: A Short History; op cit; p.48.

[24] Ibn al-Athir in F. Gabrieli: Arab Historians of the Crusades; London; Routledge; 1957. p. 9.

[25] Robert the Monk, in G. Lebon: La Civilisation, op cit; p. 248.

[26] R. Finucane: Soldiers of the Faith; op cit; p.106;

[27] Ibid; p. 201.

[28] C. Forster: Mohametanism unveiled; London; James Duncan and John Cochrane; 1829. 2. 469-70.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Paul Gaffarel: l’Algerie: Histoire, conquete et colonisation, Ed. Firmin Didot, 1883.  in H. H. Alleg, J. de Bonis; H.J. Douzon; J. Freire; P. Haudiquet: La Guerre d’Algerie, Temps Actuels; Paris; 1981; p. 77.

[31] General St Arnaud in a letter of 16 May 1842.

[32] Consult, for instance, W. Howitt: Colonisation and Christianity: Longman; London; 1838.

D. E. Stannard: American Holocaust; The Conquest of the New World; Oxford University Press; 1992.

D E. Stannard: “Genocide in The Americas” in The Nation, (October 19, 1992 pp. 430-434); article available on the internet.

W. Churchill: A Little Matter of Genocide; City Lights Books; San Francisco; 1997.

[33] For those curious enough in regard to the Turks, for instance, consult:

J. McCarthy: Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922; The Darwin Press; New Jersey; 1995

[34] N. Daniel: Islam, Europe and Empire, University Press, Edinburgh, 1966, p. 12

[35] J.Davenport: An Apology; op cit; p. 126.

[36] C. Forster: Mohametanism unveiled; op cit; i. P. 15.

[37] Rodrigo de Zayas: Les Morisques; op cit; p.194.

[38] John Glubb: A Short History; op cit; p. 251.

[39] S.P. Scott: History; op cit; vol II; Chapter XXV: Christians under Muslim rule (711-1492): p. 194

[40] M.L. de Mas Latrie: Traites de Paix et de Commerce, et Documents Divers, Concernant les Relations des Chretiens avec les Arabes de l’Afrique Septentrionale au Moyen Age, Burt Franklin, New York, Originally Published in Paris, 1866, p. 125.

[41] B. Lewis: Cultures; op cit; pp. 16-7.

[42] Guillermo Araya Goubet: The Evolution of Castro’s theory; in Edited By Jose Rubia barcia: Americo Castro, and the meaning of Spanish Civilisation. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1976; pp. 41-66; p. 51.

[43] John Glubb: A Short History; op cit; p. 251.

[44] Edwin Pears: The Ottoman Turks; op cit; p. 661.

[45] Ibid; p. 663.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p. 7.

[48] Ibid; p. 9.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid; p. 205.

[51] K. Karpat: Millets and Nationality: The Roots of the Incongruity of nation and State in the post Ottoman Era, In Benjamin Blaude and bernard Lewis: Christians and Jews… in Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p. 205.

[52] Dimitri Kitsikis:l’Empire Ottoman, Paris, PUF, 1985 in Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p. 205.

[53] Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p. 171.

[54] R. Mantran: La Vie Quotidienne a Istanbul au siecle de Soleiman le Magnifique, Paris, Hachette, 1990.

[55] For the 16th century: O.L. Barkan: Contribution a l’etude de la conjoncture demographique des pays mediterraneen au xvi siecle, Actes de l’Union internationale pour l’etude scientifique de la population, London, 1969, for the xix, K. Karpat: Ottoman Population, 1830-1914, Demographic and Social Characteristics, Madison, the University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

[56] Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p. 206-7.

[57]  Ibid; p. 205.

[58] J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; pp. 126-7.

[59] N. Daniel: The Arabs; op cit; p. 224.

[60] Ibid; p. 226.

[61] H.L. Savage: Fourteenth century Jerusalem and Cairo through Western eyes: The Arab heritage, ed N.A. Faris; Princeton University Press, 1944; pp. 199-220; at pp. 213-215.

[62] Ibid; p. 213.

[63] Ibid; p. 215.

[64] Published with Intro and notes by Ch Shefer; in Recueil de voyage et de documents; XII; Paris; 1892; Engl trsl in Wright’s Early Travels in Palestine; 1848.

[65] D. Vaughan: Europe and the Turk; Liverpool University press; 1954; pp. 50-1.

[66] D.M. Traboulay: Columbus and Las Casas; op cit; p. 70.

[67] J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; pp. 126-7.

[68] In A. Gunny: Images of Islam in eighteenth century writing; Grey Seal, London, 1996; p. 18.

[69] Ibid.

[70] De la Croix; in N. Daniel: Islam and the West; op cit; p. 309.

[71] Emmanuel d’Aranda: Relation de Captivite et liberte du Sieur E. D’Aranda; Fr version; 1665.

[72] J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; p. 128.

[73] R. Kabbani: Imperial Fiction; op cit; 78-9.

[74] A. Dumas: Quinze Jours au Sinai (Plan de La Tour; 1979), p. 7.

[75] C. Grossir: L’Islam des Romantiques; op cit; p. 99 fwd.

[76] V. Hugo: Les Orientales; (1964); Les Tetes du Serail; iv; pp. 602-3.

[77] Ibid. Chanson de Pirates; p. 619.

[78] R. Kabbani: Imperial Fictions; op cit; pp. 78-9.

[79] Ibid.

[80] J.T.C. Blackmore: France: A Disintegrator of Islam; in The Moslem World; vol 14; 1924; pp. 136-9.

[81] Der Spiegel: No 44; 1990; p. 99.

[82] Ibid.

[83] A. Lueg: The Perception of Islam; op cit; p. 18.

[84] A.K. Reule>

[85] A. Lueg: The Perception of Islam; op cit; p. 18.

[86] R. Kabbani: Imperial Fiction; op cit; pp. ix-x.

[87] A. Lueg: The Perception of Islam; op cit; p. 20.

[88] A. Dworkin: Woman Hating; (New York; 1974); p. 130.

[89] BBC 1 News: 10 p.m. 15 May 02.

[90] A. Dworkin: Woman Hating; A Plume Book, New York; 1974; p. 130.

[91] R. Pernoud: Pour en finir avec le Moyen Age: (Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1977); p. 103.

[92] Channel Four; 9-10 pm; 30 January 03.

[93] R Pernoud: Pour en finir; op cit; p. 103.

[94] For a summary on this see: Jean Palou: La Sorcellerie, Edition Que sais je? no 756, 5ed, 1975, notably.

[95] J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; p. 112.

[96] Pennethorne Hughes, Witchcraft (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971), 183-4.

[97] A. Dworkin: Woman Hating; pp. 129-30.

[98] Broadcast on S4c on 18 February 03.

[99] G.E.Von Grunebaum: Medieval Islam; (Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1961); p. 210.

[100] Ibid.

[101] E. Levi Provencal: Histoire de l’Espagne Musulmane; Vol III; op cit; p. 178.

 [102] Slightly abridged from I. Goldhizer: Muhamedan Studies, I.74.

[103] J.Van Ess: Islamic perspectives, in H. Kung et. al: Christianity and the world religions; Doubleday; London, 1986; p. 80.

[104] N. Daniel: The Cultural Barrier, op cit; p. 11.

[105] Louis Massignon: L’Influence de l’Islam au Moyen Age sur la formation de l’essor des Banques Juives; Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales (Institut Fr de Damas) Vol 1; year 1931: pp. 3-12. p. 12.

[106] G.E.Von Grunebaum: Medieval Islam, op cit; p. 202

[107] M. Esperonnier: Les Echanges commerciaux; op cit; p. 26.

[108] J. Glubb: A Short History; op cit; p.70

[109] Ibid.

[110] G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes, op cit; p. 31.

[111] Ibid.

[112] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; vol II, op cit; p. 183.

[113] Ibid.

[114] R. Garaudy: Comment l’Homme devint Humain, Editions J.A, 1978; p. 197.

[115] T.W. Arnold: The preaching of Islam. A History of the Propagation of the Muslim faith, Archibald Constable, Westminster, 1896, in Y. Courbage, P. fargues: Chretiens et Juifs dans l’islam Arabe et Turc, Payot, Paris, 1997; p. 53.

[116] T.W. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam; p. 53.

[117] J Van Ess: Islamic perspectives; op cit; p. 104.

[118] Ibid.

[119] C. Bennett: Victorian Images; op cit; p. 3.

[120] J. van Ess: Islamic perspectives; op cit; p. 104.

[121] S.P. Scott: History; op cit; p. 467.

[122] Ibid; p. 468.

[123] One needs to consult for this works by Udovitch, Lopez, Goiten, Ashtor, etc…

[124] C.Hillenbrand: The Crusades, Islamic Perspectives, op cit; p. 246.

 [125] Maxime Rodinson: Mahomet, Seuil, Paris, 1961; in Y. Courbage, P. Fargues: Chretiens et Juifs; op cit; p.47.

[126] Joseph van Ess: Islamic perspectives; op cit; p. 80.

[127] Ibid.

[128] Ibid.

[129] A. Lowe: The Barrier and the Bridge; G. Bles; London; 1972; p. 79.

[130] G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes, op cit; p.293.

[131] Ibid.

[132] A.H. Lybyer: The Government of the Ottoman Empire; Harvard University Press; 1913; pp. 45-6.

[133] A.C. Clarke: The Fountains of Paradise; Pan; 1979; p. 87.

[134] Libri: History of Mathematics; i. p. 151.

[135] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; in 3 vols; The John Lippincott Company; Philadelphia; 1904; vol 1; p. 63.

[136] J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; p. 2.

[137] Washington Irving: Mahomet and his Successors; op cit; p. 10.

[138] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; op cit; p. 23.

[139] Washington Irving: Mahomet and his Successors; op cit; p. 10.

[140] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; op cit; p. 23.

[141] Ibid.

[142] Ibid.

[143] Washington Irving: Mahomet and his Successors; op cit; p. 9.

[144] R. B. Smith: Mohammed; pp. 95-6.

[145] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; op cit; vol 1; p.103.

[146] G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes, Syracuse; 1884; p. 337.

[147] G. Sale in E.M. Wherry: Commentary on the Quran; London; Traubner and Co Ltd; 1896; vol I; p. 139.

[148] In J. Davenport: An Apology; op cit; p. 71.

[149] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 125.

[150] B. Thomas: The Arabs; Thornton Butterworth Ltd; London; 1937; p. 125.

[151] A. M. Heinen: Religion and Science in Islam, op cit; p. 863.

[152] R. Garaudy: Comment l’Homme; op cit; p.208.

[153] Al-Ghazali: Fatihat al-Ulum (Cairo 1904), p. 3; G.E. Von Grunebaum: Islam (Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1961), p.111.

[154] M. Iqbal: Islam and Science; Ashgate, 2002; p. 80.

[155] A. Sayili: The Observatory in Islam; op cit; p. 1.

[156] A.L. Tibawi: Islamic Education (Luzac and Company Ltd, London, 1972), p. 24.

[157] J. Waardenburg: Some institutional aspects of Muslim higher learning, NVMEN, 12, pp.96-138; p. 98.

[158] B. Dodge: Muslim Education; op cit; p 25.

[159] J. Pedersen: The Arabic Book, op cit, p. 129.

[160] A. M. Abd al-Qadir. ‘Al-Maktaba al-Tunusiya wa Inayatuha bi Almakhtut al-Arabi.’ Majallat Mahad al-Makhtutat al- Arabyia 17 (May 1971): 179-87, p. 186.

[161] S.P. Scott: History; op cit; vol 3; p. 499.

[162] S. Watts: Disease and Medicine in World History; Routledge; 2003, p. 52.

[163] Ibid.

[164] See W. Heffening: Tidjara; in Encyclopaedia of Islam; 1st ed; vol 4 (Leiden; 1934), p. 747. See. M. Rodinson: Islam and Capitalism; op cit; p. 14.

[165] M. Hamidullah in Cahiers de l’ISEA; Supplement No 120; Series V; No 3; (December 1961); pp. 26 and fl.

[166] Ibn Abd al-Hakam: Futuh; 1922, p. 166; see also A.A. al-Duri: Tarikh; 1974, p. 170, citing al- Ya’qubi; V. Fisk: Bankakten aus dem Faijum; (Goterberg; 1931), pp. 10 ff. G.W. Heck: Charlemagne; p. 110.

[167] I.M. Ra’ana: Economic System Under Umar the Great, S.M. Ashraf; Lahore; 1970, p. 110.

[168] Ibid; p. 112.

[169] Ibid.

[170] T. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam; Archibald Constable and Co, Westminster, 1896, pp. 2-3.

[171] I.R. al-Faruqi and L.L al-Faruqi: The Cultural Atlas of Islam; Mc Millan Publishing Company New York, 1986; 227-8.

[172] C.Forster: Mohametanism; op cit; 2; p. 522.

[173] R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; p. 38.

[174] Ibid; pp. 42-3.

[175] R. Briffault: The Making of Humanity, op cit; p. 207.

[176] C. Dawson: Medieval Essays; op cit; p. 140.

[177] In N. Daniel: Islam, Europe; op cit; p. 14.

[178] Voltaire: Candide; Ch XI; p. 159.

[179]  In Revue Africaine; vol 2 (1858); pp. 337-52.

[180] Of 10 january 2003.

[181] P. Earle; op cit; S. Bono: I Corsari Barbareschi; Torino; 1964.

[182] G. Fisher: The Barbary Legend; Oxford; 1957.

[183] See, for instance:

-J.Mathiex: Trafic et prix de l’Homme en Mediterranee au 17 et 18 Siecles; ANNALES:  Economies, Societes, Civilisations: Vol 9: pp. 157-64.

-M.L. de Mas Latrie: Traites de paix et de Commerce, et Documents Divers, Concernant les Relations des Chretiens avec les Arabes de l’Afrique Septentrionale au Moyen Age, Burt Franklin, New York,  Originally Published in Paris, 1866.

-Janet L. Abu-Lughod: Before European Hegemony, Oxford University Press, 1989.

[184] L.Valensi: Le Maghreb avant la Prise d’Alger; Paris; 1969.

[185] F.Braudel: Grammaire des Civilisations; Flammarion, 1987.

[186] N. Daniel: The Arabs; op cit; p. 224.

[187] Ibid; p. 227.

[188] J.P. Argens: Lettres Juives; 6 vols; La Haye; 1738; vol 5; pp. 77-80.

[189] J.P. Argens: Lettres; op cit; in A. Thomson: Barbary; op cit; p. 27.

[190] M. Emerit: Le Voyage de la Condamine a Alger; Revue Africaine; 1954; p. 380.

[191] L.R. Desfontaines: Fragments d’un voyage; in Voyages dns les regences de Tunis et d’Alger; published by M. Dureau de la Malle; Paris; 1838; vol II, p. 38; Peysonnel: Voyages dans la Regences de Tunis et Alger; Paris; 1838; p. 29; in A. Thomson: Barbary; op cit; pp. 27 fwd.

[192] Baron Tott: Memoires sur les Turcs et les Tartares; Amsterdam; 1785; vol II; pp. 367 ff.

[193] Ibid.

[194] Laugier de Tassy: Histoire du Royaume d’Alger; Amsterdam; 1725; in D. Brahimi: Opinions et regards; op cit; p. 123.

[195] Emmanuel d’Aranda: Relation de Captivite et liberte du Sieur E. D’Aranda; Fr version; 1665.

[196] Emmanuel d’Aranda: Relation; op cit; in Denise Brahimi: Opinions et regards des Europeens sur le Maghreb aux 17em et 18em siecles; SNED; Algiers; 1978; pp. 45-6.

[197] pp. 75-76: D’Arvieux (1995): Tunis: Le sort des esclaves chretiens; pp. 457-61; vol iii; in D. Brahimi: Opinions; op cit; pp. 75-6.

[198]  Vol i: pp. 95-6.

[199]  ii: 76-7; in Gunny; p. 35.

[200]  i: 188.

[201] Jean de Thevenot: Voyage du levant; Amsterdam; 1727; (i) p. 96.

[202]  ii: 81; Gunny; p. 35.

[203] Sir Thomas W. Arnold: Muslim Civilisation during the Abbasid Period: in The Cambridge Medieval History, vol IV vol IV: Edited by J. R. tanner, C.W. Previte; Z.N. Brooke, 1923; pp. 274-298; p. 283.

[204] Extracts from A. Ubbicini: La Turquie Actuelle; 1855; p. 78, in J. Davenport: An apology; op cit; p. 130.

[205] N. Daniel: The Arabs and Mediaeval Europe; op cit; p. 261.

[206] Ibid; p. 255.

[207] C. Imber: The Islamic Legal Tradition; op cit; pp. 68-9.

[208] S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire; vol II, op cit; p. 183.

[209] G. Le Bon: La Civilisation des Arabes, op cit; p. 68.

[210] R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; pp. 125-6.

[211] Xavier de Planhol: World of Islam (Ithaca; Cornell University Press; 1959), p. 23; in N.AlSayyad: Cities; op cit p. 23.

[212] See, Baron G. D’Ohsson: Histoire des Mongols; 3 vols; La Haye et Amsterdam; 1834.

E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; op cit; vol 6.

H. C. Lea: The Moriscos of Spain (Burt Franklin, New York; 1901; 1968 reprint).

For the impact of colonization on Algeria, see, for instance:

-C.R. Ageron: Histoire de l’Algerie contemporaine, 3 vols (Presses Universitaires de France, 1979).

-H Alleg et al: La Guerre d’Algerie (Temps Actuels, Paris, 1981).

[213] A. Schimmel: The Celestial garden in Islam; in The Islamic Garden, op cit; pp. 13-39; at p. 15.

[214] Ibid; p. 17.

[215] D. Sourdel: Baghdad: Capitale du Nouvel empire Abbaside; Arabica ix (1962; pp. 251-65. D. Goitein: A Mediterranean Society; op cit; J. Sourdel Thomine: La Civilisation de l’Islam (Paris; 1968), J. Dickie: Nosta Sobre la jardineria arabe en la espana Musulmane; Miscelanea de estudios arabes y hebraicos XIV-XV (1965-6); pp. 75-86. G. Marcais: Les Jardins de l’Islam; in Melanges d’Histoire et d’Archeologie de l’Occident Musulman; 2 vols (Alger; 1957), pp. 233-44;

[216] F.F Armesto: Millennium; A Touchstone Publication, (Simon and Shuster New York; 1995), p. 35.

[217] A. Watson: Agricultural, op cit, p. 117.

[218] Z. Oldenbourg: The Crusades; op cit; p. 476.

[219] In C. Lloyd: English Corsairs on the Barbary Coast (Collins; London; 1981), p. 28.

[220] A. Solignac: Recherches sur les installations hydrauliques de kairaouan et des Steppes Tunisiennes du VII au Xiem siecle, in Annales de l’Institut des Etudes Orientales, Algiers, X (1952); 5-273, pp. 218 ff; G. Marcais: Les Jardins; op cit; p. 237.

[221] G. Marcais:  Les Jardins; op cit; p. 237.

[222] S.M. Imamuddin: Some Aspects; op cit; p. 82.

[223] R. Ettinghausen: The Islamic; op cit; p. 5.

[224] G. Marcais: Les Jardins; op cit; p. 236.

[225] Brunschvig, quoted in G. Marcais: Les Jardins; op cit; p. 242.

[226] Ibid.

[227] G. Marcais: Les Jardins; op cit; J. Dickie: Nosta Sobre la jardineria arabe en la espana Musulmane; Miscelanea de estudios arabes y hebraicos XIV-XV (1965-6); pp. 75-86.

[228] F.R. Cowell: The Garden as a Fine Art; Weidenfeld and Nicolson; London; 1978, p. 75.

[229] R. Ettinghausen: Introduction, op cit, at p. 6.

[230] A.M. Watson: Agricultural; op cit; p.117.

[231] R. Ettinghausen: Introduction; op cit; p. 7.

[232] J. Lehrman: Gardens; Islam; op cit; p. 278.

[233] A. Schimmel: The Celestial, op cit; p. 15.

[234] R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; pp. 308-9.

[235] Cited in C.H. Favrod: Le FLN et l’Algerie; Paris; Plon; 1962; p. 31.

[236] M. Wagner: The Tricolor on the Atlas, London; T. Nelson and Sons, 1854; pp. 144-5.

[237] H. Alleg et al: La Guerre d’Algerie; op cit, p. 62.

[238] V.A. Hain: A La Nation. Sur Alger; Paris; 1832; pp. 31; 58 fwd.

[239] H. Alleg et al: La Guerre d’Algerie; op cit, p. 62.

[240] See, for instance Alleg, Ageron, accounts by French officers, especially Montagnac.

[241] As translated and summed up from A. Rastoul: Le Marechal Randon; D’apres ses Memoirs et Documents Inedits; Firmin Didot; Paris; 1890; pp. 184-186.

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