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Posted on Mon 4 January 2016

A response to Boris Johnson’s: Amid dystopic visions of an Islamic Europe...

Bishop Michael responds to Boris Johnson’s, Amid dystopic visions of an Islamic Europe, remember the Alhambra:

Boris Johnson points out the achievements of Muslim rule after their conquest of the mostly Christian and Jewish Middle East, North Africa and Spain (Comment,3 January). In fact, if they had not been stopped at Tours by Charles Martel, Mr Johnson might have had a more direct experience of such rule.

The acquisition of Greek learning in the Islamic world was facilitated by mainly Christian translators who translated either directly from Greek into Arabic or from Christian Syriac into Arabic. Muslim rulers patronised this scholarship and many Muslims studied it, commented upon it and built on it. It was eventually recovered by the West either through Jewish traders or the Arabic-speaking Christian communities of the West-the so called Mozarabs.

The early Muslims borrowed from their Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian and Hindu subjects systems of governance, art, architecture and technology to build what we call ‘Islamic Civilisation’. For this, they are to be admired as long as we do not forget the origins of what was achieved.

Mr Johnson mentions the various pogroms, expulsions etc for which all sides bear some responsibility, even if the fear of disloyalty and betrayal cannot be ignored. That, however, is not the main issue which is, rather, the creation of the Dhimma under which the non-Muslim subjects (not citizens) had to live with severe and systemic civil, political and religious disabilities.

Even relatively tolerant Muslim rule, under extremist pressure, is in retreat everywhere with non-Muslims being returned to virtual dhimmitude in many places. I doubt if he would be interested but I can certainly supply him with information on such situations. We must, of course, encourage inclusion and tolerance in the Muslim world but with our eyes wide open to the attractions and dangers of another way of understanding the meaning of conquest and domination.

To see Mr Johnson’s full article published by The Telegraph, Click here.

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