Thursday, March 3, 2011

A World without Islam:By Graham E Fuller : Book Review

When Graham E. Fuller imagines what the world would be like if Islam had never existed, he sees pretty much the same world we live in today.  Fuller believes that the current East vs. West conflict would exist even if religious differences had not been used over the centuries to motivate the common man to fight for his own particular version of heaven.  He, in fact, sees numerous factors, none of them having anything to do with Islam, which would have led to the tensions between the West and the Middle East.
Fuller cites “economic interests, geopolitical interests, power struggles between regional empires, ethnic struggles, nationalisms, even severe clashes within Christianity itself” (between the churches of Rome and Constantinople) as important factors.  A World without Islamexplores these conflicts, many of which actually predate the birth of Islam, as Fuller tries to explain how we arrived in this post-911 world.

  The author recognizes that Islam serves as “a flag or banner” behind which millions of people unite, but he believes that, if not behind Islam, the same people would unite under some other “flag.”  Islam, to Fuller’s mind, happens to serve that purpose better than any of today’s alternatives.
A World without Islam begins with a chapter devoted to reminding the reader just how closely related are the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Despite the obvious differences between the three, each is a monotheistic faith recognizing the input of the prophet Abraham.

  As Fuller sees it, much of the antagonism between the religions is caused by the way politicians stress differences for their own purposes.  Fuller goes on to explore the early conflict between Rome’s Western Christianity and that of Constantinople’s Eastern Christianity, a dispute he views as having been one of the early building blocks in the tensions between East and West still felt today.

After a chapter on the Great Crusades (1095-1272), wars that were often as much about expanding Western territory and influence as they were about wresting the Holy Land from Islamic control, Fuller moves on to Islam’s relationship with three of the West’s natural rivals: India, China and Russia.  As the author points out, these seemingly natural allies against Western expansion have not always had an easy relationship within the borders of those three countries.  

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