What would the world today be like if Islam never existed? Would there be fewer conflicts? Would the Middle East be peaceful?
Graham Fuller argues that many confrontations between East and West are due to geopolitical factors that predates Islam, and continues with and around Islam. It is the geopolitical factor that plays a dominant role, regardless of religion.
Most people are ignorant of the history of Western intervention in the region over centuries. With over 700 military bases abroad, US prides itself as being the world’s only global super power. The Pentagon is well aware of its role as the domination force that charts the course of world events. US policies have contributed to many unfolding events.
When the US doesn’t like a foreign adversary, she denigrates them using strong, apocalyptic terms. It is imperative to demonize the enemy to justify an intervention or war in a foreign country. It is done so that public opinion – Americans, in particular – would support the price of blood to go to war. The message about the confrontation or war must be simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker. At the moment, the bumper sticker is “Islam”.
The truth is, there is no “Muslim world”. There is one Islam, but many different ways Muslims live and interpret it that differs greatly from country to country, issue to issue, and person to person. There are many Muslim countries with different kinds of Muslims. However, thanks to the hostility from the West, the Muslims worlds have come together to an unusual degree over the past decade.
The “West vs. East” confrontation did not start with 9/11. US dealings and meddling in the Middle East can be traced back a few decades. The 9/11 attack was a culmination of a preceding chain of events over many years.
This book examines how the relations between the West and the Middle East would be if Islam never existed. The author examines the continuing trajectory of East-West relations. To the extent that those relations have severely deteriorated, the author argues that Islam is not the primal or even secondary causal factor. On the contrary, there are many alternative forces affecting the East-West relations.
A map of religions of the Middle East before Islam shows a world dominated by Eastern Orthodox Christianity. There is the monotheistic Zoroastrianism in Persia, with small pockets of Jews in a few urban areas. Europe, at the time, was part Christian, part pagan. Islam was a latecomer but was able to spread quickly to assume a dominant position over the huge areas formerly under Christian and Zoroastrian control in the Middle East. Without Islam, it is likely that Eastern Orthodox Christianity would remain the dominant faith of the Middle East to this day.
Relations between Orthodoxy and Catholicism have ranged between suspicious and toxic for nearly two millennia despite many shared classical traditions. So it is plausible that without Islam, Orthodox Christianity today could have served as a religious and ideological springboard for crystallizing the grievances of the Middle East against the West. There are striking resemblances about the conflicts between Orthodoxy and Catholicism on the one hand, and between Christianity and Islam on the other.
The Abrahamic faith – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – are closely linked regardless of their political differences over time. Indeed, politics and power struggles often magnified theological differences for political ends, rather than stressing common heritage. Political tensions that precede Islam tend to persist even after Islam. If Islam never existed, some other bogeyman would have been invented to justify the East-West confrontation.
I recommend you read both “A World Without Islam” and “Islamophomia and the Politics of Empire” to obtain a clearer, bigger picture.
Watch an interview with the author