A repeat but one that needs repeating
There is a common western–or perhaps typically western–misperception that the Islamic world is lost in a theological fantasy that does not permit it to exit the 12th century into the 21st.
When I wrote the introduction to Ibn Warraq’s Why I am Not a Muslim (which oddly, for its brief compass, received almost as much attention as the book itself) I tried to explain to non-historians why Islamic history is, so to speak, backwards: a golden age only a few centuries after the Prophet’s death in 632 that corresponded to the Christian “dark ages,” followed by a dark age of religious protectionism and dynastic quarrelling that corresponded to the European renaissance. It’s an irony, of course, that religions thought to have so much in common did not run parallel tracks in terms of doctrinal development and intellectual achievement; but it is a fact that after the Renaissance religious authority in the West…
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