TPP S3 E1: On Islam in Europe — Notes


Notes compiled from Wikipedia.


The Umayyad Caliphate was second Islamic Caliphate established after the death of Mohammed.

  • At its greatest extent, the Umayyad Caliphate covered 15 million km2 (5.79 million square miles) and 62 million people (29% of the world’s population), making it the fifth largest empire in history in both area and proportion of the world’s population.
  • The Umayyad Caliphate exhibited four main social classes: Muslim Arabs, Muslim non-Arabs (clients of the Muslim Arabs), Non-Muslim free persons (Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians), and Slaves.
  • The Muslim Arabs were at the top of the society and saw it as their duty to rule over the conquered areas. Despite the fact that Islam teaches the equality of all Muslims, the Arab Muslims held themselves in higher esteem than Muslim non-Arabs and generally did not mix with other Muslims.
  • The inequality of Muslims in the empire led to social unrest. As Islam spread, more and more of the Muslim population was constituted of non-Arabs. This caused tension as the new converts were not given the same rights as Muslim Arabs. Also, as conversions increased, tax revenues from non-Muslims decreased to dangerous lows. These issues continued to grow until they helped cause the Abbasid Revolt in the 740s.
  • Non-Muslim groups in the Umayyad Caliphate, which included Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and pagan Berbers, were called dhimmis. They were given a legally protected status as second-class citizens as long as they accepted and acknowledged the political supremacy of the ruling Muslims. They were allowed to have their own courts, and were given freedom of their religion within the empire.[citation needed] Although they could not hold the highest public offices in the empire, they had many bureaucratic positions within the government.
  • Payment of the jizya obligated Muslim authorities to protect dhimmis in civil and military matters. Sura 9 (At-Tawba), verse 29 stipulates that jizya be exacted from non-Muslims as a condition required for jihad to cease. Failure to pay the jizya could result in the pledge of protection of a dhimmi’s life and property becoming void, with the dhimmi facing the alternatives of conversion, enslavement, death or imprisonment, as advocated by Abu Yusuf, the chief qadi (Islamic judge) of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid who ruled over much of modern-day Iraq.

Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam has pioneered the statistical analysis of Islamic doctrines and has come up with some of the most incisive and groundbreaking results. Extensive discussion of his work is given in my book. But let me refer to a synthesis that stands out, and conclusively defines what we are up against: 61 percent of the Koran talks ills of unbelievers or calls for their violent conquest and subjugation, but only 2.6 percent of it talks about the overall good of humanity.

  • When Mohammed was a preacher of religion, Islam grew at the rate of 10 new Muslims per year. But when he turned to jihad, Islam grew at an average rate of 10,000 per year.

In 725 Muslim forces captured Autun in France. The town would be the easternmost point of expansion of Umayyad forces into Europe; just seven years later in 732, the Umayyads would be forced to begin their withdrawal to al-Andalus after facing defeat at the Battle of Tours by Frankish King Charles Martel.

  • Many historians, including Sir Edward Creasy, believe that had he failed at Poitiers, Islam would probably have overrun Gaul, and perhaps the remainder of Western Europe. Gibbon made clear his belief that the Umayyad armies would have conquered from Japan to the Rhine, and even England, having the English Channel for protection, with ease, had Charles not prevailed. Creasy said “the great victory won by Charles Martel … gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western Europe, rescued Christendom from Islam, [and] preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilization.”
  • Arab historians unanimously praise Abdul Rahman as a just and able administrator and commander, and bestow on him the honor of being the best governor of Al-Andalus, where he did not take sides in the ethnic and tribal divisions that plagued Al-Andalus under other rulers. Evidence of his irreplaceability as a ruler was demonstrated in the aftermath of his death at the Battle of Tours. Without his leadership and guidance, the other commanders were unable even to agree on a commander to lead them back into battle the following morning. Therefore, the effect of the death of Abdul Rahman on both Islamic and world history was profound.

For a long time, until the early 18th century, the Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. The Crimean Tatars frequently mounted raids into the Danubian principalities, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia to enslave people whom they could capture.

The Reconquista (“reconquest”) is a period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula, spanning approximately 770 years between the initial stage of the Islamic conquest in the 710s and the fall of Granada, the last Islamic state on the peninsula, to expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492. The Reconquista ended immediately before the European re-discovery of the Americas—the “New World”—which ushered in the era of the Portuguese and Spanish colonial empires.

  • Catholic, Spanish, and Portuguese historiography, from the beginnings of historical scholarship until the 20th century, stressed the existence of a continuous phenomenon by which the Christian Iberian kingdoms opposed and conquered the Muslim kingdoms, understood as a common enemy who had militarily seized Christian territory. The concept of a Christian reconquest of the peninsula first emerged, in tenuous form, at the end of the 9th century. A landmark was set by the Christian Chronica Prophetica (883–884), a document stressing the Christian and Muslim cultural and religious divide in Iberia and the necessity to drive the Muslims out.
  • Nevertheless, the difference between Christian and Muslim kingdoms in early medieval Spain was not seen at the time as anything like the clear-cut opposition that later emerged. Both Christian and Muslim rulers fought amongst themselves. Alliances between Muslims and Christians were not uncommon. Blurring distinctions even further were the mercenaries from both sides who simply fought for whoever paid the most. The period is looked back upon today as one of relative religious tolerance.
  • The Crusades, which started late in the 11th century, bred the religious ideology of a Christian reconquest, confronted at that time with a similarly staunch Muslim Jihad ideology in Al-Andalus by the Almoravids, and to an even greater degree by the Almohads. In fact previous documents from the 10th and 11th centuries are mute on any idea of “reconquest”. Propaganda accounts of Muslim-Christian hostility came into being to support that idea, most notably the Chanson de Roland, a fictitious 12th-century French version of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778) dealing with the Iberian Saracens (Moors), and taught as historical in the French educational system since 1880.
  • Many recent historians dispute the whole concept of Reconquista as a concept created a posteriori in the service of later political goals. It has been called a “myth”. One of the first Spanish intellectuals to question the idea of a “reconquest” that lasted for eight centuries was José Ortega y Gasset, writing in the first half of the 20th century. However, the term is still widely in use.

European Islam or Euro-Islam is a hypothesized new branch of Islam, which some believe is or should be emerging in Europe. This new kind of Islam would combine the duties and principles of Islam with the contemporary European cultures, including Europe’s post-Enlightenment values and traditions such as human rights, rule of law, democracy and gender equality.

  • The term euro Islam was introduced at a conference in Birmingham in the UK in 1988. Leader and initiator of the conference was Carl E. Olivestam, senior lecturer at Umeå University, also Director at the Board of Universities and Colleges in Sweden. Islam formed in England, Germany and France, examples of European countries with large Islamic populations, could be named Euroislam. The term was thrown out by Carl E. Olivestam and met immediately strongly resonating in the conference. The term was first published in the Swedish handbook: Kyrkor och alternativa rörelser. There are two European Muslims who dominate the debate on Euro-Islam: Bassam Tibi, and Tariq Ramadan, who adopted the term in 1999 but uses it in a different meaning. While Tibi argues for Europeanizing Islam, Ramadan wants an Islamic “counter culture” in Europe.

Bassam Tibi, born 1944 in Damascus, moved to Germany in 1962, becoming a citizen in 1976. He is a political scientist and Professor of International Relations. In academia, he is known for his analysis of international relations and the introduction of Islam to the study of international conflict and of civilization. Tibi is perhaps best known for introducing the controversial concept of European Leitkultur as well as the concept of Euroislam for the integration of Muslim immigrants in Europe. He is also the founder of Islamology as a social-scientific study of Islam and conflict in post-bipolar politics. Tibi has done research in Asian and African countries. He publishes in English, German and Arabic.

  • Tibi is a Muslim, but criticizes Islamism and advocates “reforming” Islam. Tibi also suggests that Muslim immigrants should refrain from engaging in religious missionary activities, Dawa.
  • When it comes to Europe, Tibi distinguishes positive and negative elements of European culture. The positive ones are, according to Tibi, enlightenment, pluralism, civil rights and secularization. Tibi argues that there is a need for Europe to defend these values, especially in times of globalization and migration from Muslim countries. On the other hand, Tibi argues that racism is a European invention, and that Europeans must overcome what he calls “Euro-arrogance” and xenophobia to integrate immigrants. He criticizes European imperialism, arguing that it disrupted and deformed other cultures. Acknowledging that Muslim conquerors also did some wrong, Tibi argues that at least Muslim conquests were not driven by any kind of racism, unlike the European conquests.

Tariq Ramadan (Arabic: طارق رمضان‎; born 26 August 1962) is a Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College) and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Qatar), the Université Mundiapolis (Morocco) and several other universities around world. He is also a senior research fellow at Doshisha University (Japan). He is the director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha. He is a member of the UK Foreign Office Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

  • Ramadan works primarily on Islamic theology and the position of Muslims in the West and within Muslim majority countries. Generally speaking, he prioritizes Qur’anic interpretation over simply reading the text, in order to understand its meaning and to practice the tenets of Islamic philosophy. Referring to himself, Ramadan has at times used the construction “Salafi Reformist” to illustrate his stance. He rejects a binary division of the world into dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and dar al-harb (the abode of war), on the grounds that such a division is not mentioned in the Qur’an. He has been also known to cite favourably the Dar al-Da’wa (Abode of Information Dissemination).
  • For him the “Islamic message” to which Muslims are expected to bear witness is not primarily the particularist, socially conservative code of traditionalist jurists, but a commitment to universalism and the welfare of non-Muslims; it is also an injunction not merely to make demands on un-Islamic societies but to express solidarity with them.
  • Ramadan has voiced his opposition to all forms of capital punishment but believes the Muslim world should remove such laws from within, without any Western pressure, as such would only further alienate Muslims, and instead bolster the position of those who support hudud punishments: “Muslim populations are convincing themselves of the Islamic character of these practices through a rejection of the west, on the basis of a simplistic reasoning that stipulates that ‘the less western, the more Islamic'”.
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