X Close

The age-old tension between Islam and France A profound antipathy reaches back beyond the Enlightenment

Sunni Muslims in Karachi, October 2020. Credit: Asif Hassan/AFP via Getty Images

Sunni Muslims in Karachi, October 2020. Credit: Asif Hassan/AFP via Getty Images


November 2, 2020   7 mins

In 1798, Napoleon embarked on the first French invasion of Egypt since the era of the Crusades. He prepared for it with his customary attention to detail. Conscious that he was travelling to a predominantly Muslim land, he sought to make a careful study of Islam. Top of his reading list was, of course, the Qur’an. Raised as he had been to view the Bible as the archetype of scripture, he found it a surprising text. The character of Muhammad’s revelations, he realised, was radically different from that of the New Testament.

The Qur’an did not content itself with what Napoleon had been brought up to think of as “religion”. Its scope was much broader than that. From fiscal policy to sumptuary laws, it offered prescriptions for entire dimensions of what, in Europe, had long since come to be defined as “secular”. Napoleon, sorting out the library in his cabin, duly catalogued it, not under “Religion”, but under “Politics”.

Three weeks after disembarking at Alexandria, the French army won a decisive victory in an engagement that its general, displaying his customary genius for self-promotion, was quick to term the battle of the Pyramids. Napoleon was now effectively the master of Egypt. Yet this brought its own problems. While the military challenge might have been overcome, the much greater challenge of wooing a Muslim population suspicious of him as both an alien and a non-believer had not.

Napoleon’s approach to the problem was two-pronged. On the one hand, he was assiduous in casting himself as a friend of Islam. He boasted that he had destroyed the Pope. He insisted on his reverence for Muhammad. He affected a cod-Islamic language in his proclamations. “Have we not for centuries been the friends of the Grand Signor (May God accomplish his desires!)?”

In private, however, or when addressing his soldiers, Napoleon was contemptuous of the Islamic word. “You have come to this country,” he told his army before the battle of the Pyramids, “to save the inhabitants from barbarism, and to bring civilisation to the Orient.” This was why, in addition to muskets, cannon and cavalry, he had brought with him to Egypt a printing press, a hot-air balloon and a small army of intellectuals.

The blaze of the Enlightenment, although it might seem to have been lit in Europe, was not just for Europeans. All the world had the potential to share in its radiance. Illumination was the same wherever it manifested itself, and this meant that in Peking as in Paris, in Baghdad as in Bordeaux, there were sages more than qualified to rank alongside Voltaire and Diderot.

The Enlightenment, far from ranking as something parochial and culturally contingent, was properly a global phenomenon. These various dogmas, which the philosophes had tended to take for granted, had then been given a new and militant edge by the French Revolution. That religion was superstition; that rights were universal; that equality, individual liberty and freedom of expression were simultaneously natural and sacred: these were the convictions that had inspired in the citizens of revolutionary France their continent-shaking sense of certitude. Thrones had been toppled; abbeys demolished; the detritus of a benighted past erased. And if in Europe, then why not further afield? The Rights of Man were for everyone, after all, or they were nothing. “Any law that violates them,” as Robespierre had put it, “is fundamentally unjust and tyrannical. Indeed, it is not law at all.”

This sense of missionary purpose, which inspired in those who felt it an ambition to bring the entire world from darkness into light, outlasted the execution of Robespierre, the defeat of Napoleon, the seeming triumph of reaction across post-revolutionary Europe. In 1854, when the Ottoman Empire was facing a critical threat from Russia, France joined Britain in insisting as a condition of its entry into the Crimean War that the slave trade across the Black Sea be abolished.

Also abolished was the jizya, a tax on Jews and Christians that reached back to the very beginnings of Islam, and was directly mandated by the Qur’an. Such measures, to the Ottomans, risked immense embarrassment. The effect, after all, was to reform Islamic jurisprudence according to the standards of non-believers. It was, for Muslim traditionalists, an ominous straw in the wind. Over the course of the century and more that followed, the weathering effects of Western hegemony on the practices that Muslims believed they had inherited from Muhammad — the Sunnah — became more and more pronounced.

Governments across the Islamic world began to adopt constitutions that directly contradicted what Muslims had always believed was the perfect and eternal law given to them by God. Simultaneously, they began to sign up to international bodies that, despite their claims to neutrality, were shot through with the ideological assumptions of the West. The most significant of these was the United Nations, which in December 1948 issued a definitive statement of its guiding principles: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This, which claimed in its preamble that acknowledgement of “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, was in reality not at all as ‘universal’ as it affected to be. Standing recognisably in a line of descent from the proclamations of the French Revolution, it served as well as a repudiation of some of the more foundational assumptions of Islamic theodicy.

The concept of human rights was an alien one to Islam. Muslims, traditionally, had not believed in natural law. There were only laws authored by God. The insistence of United Nations agencies on “the antiquity and broad acceptance of the rights of man” derived, not from the great inheritance of the Sunnah, but from the philosophes of the 18th century. Tellingly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been signed — where else? — in Paris.

Western hegemony over the Islamic world, then, did not end with the collapse of direct rule over it by the European powers. Western values, Western assumptions, Western concepts of law, all of them packaged and marketed as “universal”, continued to exercise an overweening dominance in global affairs. If this was true for Muslims in lands that had sought to reconstitute themselves as nation states, then how much more so was it for Muslims who, in the decades that followed the Second World War, travelled to Europe, and settled there in growing numbers.

True, they were granted “freedom of religion”. But this came with definite strings attached. In France particularly — which rapidly came to host the largest Muslim population in Europe — they reached back a very long way. In 1791, when the revolutionary state granted citizenship to Jews, it had done so on the understanding that they abandon any sense of themselves as a people set apart. No recognition or protection had been offered to the Mosaic law.

The identity of Jews as a distinct community was tolerated only to the degree that it did not interfere with the shared civic identity of all Frenchmen and women. “They must form neither a political body nor an order in the state, they must be citizens individually.” Today, in France, Muslims are expected to subscribe to a very similar orthodoxy. Islam as it was classically understood — a framework for regulating every aspect of human existence – could have no place in a country proud of its secularism: its laĂŻcitĂ©.

Muslims, if they were not to disrupt the very fabric of the French Republic, needed to render their beliefs and convictions compatible with those of the society in which they were now living. They had to accept that laws authored by humans might trump those authored by God; that Muhammad’s mission had been religious rather than political; that the relationship of worshippers to their faith was, in its essentials, something private and personal. They had to accept, in short, an Islam that was secularised.

But not just secularised. The roots of the Western concept of the secular — as Napoleon’s reaction to the Qur’an suggested — reached back much further than the Enlightenment. “Not just religious; it is civil and political. The Bible only preaches morals.” Napoleon’s appreciation of the fundamental differences between Christian and Islamic scripture was one that Muslim scholars — those few who could be bothered to read the New Testament — had been struck by too.

Ibn Khaldun, the great medieval historian, noted with surprise that the Gospels consisted largely of sermons and stories, “and have an almost complete lack of laws”. It was this lack, in the opinion of medieval Muslim jurists, that served to condemn Christianity as an inadequate and superceded revelation. Unlike the Jews, who at least had a written law from God, Christians were forever changing their minds, devising new law codes, revising the ones they already had. How were such people possibly to be taken seriously?

The charge is the same that prominent Islamic radicals today level against the secular order of the West, and against those Muslim states that ape it: that they are taking earthly legislators as their lords rather than God. More clearly than many in the West itself, they have recognised the Enlightenment, not as an emancipation from Christianity, but as a mutation of it. That there is a distinction between twin dimensions called “religion” and the “secular”; that humans enjoy universal rights; that the laws by which earthly states are governed should be authored by mortals, not by God: all of these were assumptions rooted, not in the Enlightenment, but in the deep seedbed of Christian history and theology.

Between Louis IX, the canonised king of France who had led the Seventh Crusade to Egypt, and Napoleon, the general of the French Republic, the differences can, perhaps, seem less profound than the similarities. Both believed themselves the agents of universal truths; both believed themselves summoned to bring light into darkness; both believed themselves bound to banish superstition at the point of a sword. There was a time when the French themselves could see this more clearly than they tend to do now.

“A political revolution that operated as a religious revolution does,” wrote Tocqueville about the founding of the French Republic, “and took in some way the shape of a religious revolution.” When, in 1842, the word laĂŻcitĂ© first appeared in French, it was imbued with precisely this ambivalence: for the laicus had originally been none other than the people of God.

Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Islamist radicals, when they look at the history of France, should see in it a sinister continuum. In 2015, when the Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for the murderous attacks on the Bataclan and a range of other atrocities, it readily conflated the era of Louis IX with the vices of a more recent and godless materialism. Paris was condemned both as “the carrier of the Banner of the Cross in Europe”, and as “the capital of prostitution and obscenity”.

The horrors of the past fortnight have repeated this tendency on the part of Islamists opposed to the traditions and obligations of laĂŻcitĂ© to make little distinction between secular and Catholic France. A teacher beheaded near his school; three worshippers hacked to death in a basilica. The nightmareish quality of these attacks should not obscure the fact that they have followed a certain twisted logic. The Islamic State, when they identified France as the capital of everything that it most hated, were not so far wrong. Eldest Daughter of the Church and the home of revolution, the land of saints and philosophes, Catholic and laique, it is her fate — and perhaps her privilege — to serve, more than any other country, as the very embodiment of the West.


Tom Holland is a writer, popular historian and cricketer. He is not an actor. His most recent book is PAX

holland_tom

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

162 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

Your history lesson is somewhat incomplete.
You fail to mention, that at the start of Islam they conquered many Christian countries. Starting with (in modern terms) Iraq, Syria, down to Jerusalem, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. Their expansion was only halted in France at the battle of Poitiers, near Paris. Later the Ottoman empire conquered Constantinople (the capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire for over 1000 years) , Greece, Bulgaria, etc, and onwards to their attack on Vienna in the 1690’s. France, at this time took the opportunity to annex Alsace from the Hapsburgs who were occupied in defending their capital – in which they were successful with the help of the Polish army.
Seeing as you chuck in a mention of the Crusades, try viewing this as an attempt by the Christians to recover the previous Christian countries and the birthplace of their religion.

Moving on to today, we now have Islam trying to change the accepted norms in France and the West generally.
The question is do we want this to happen and if not, how do we stop it?

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
3 years ago

A very fair and balanced response. It is in the interests of modern Islam to portray itself as a persecuted victim of Western ideologies, but the historical facts give the lie to that. Too many liberal Western commentators seem unaware of the truth about Islamic expansionist over the centuries.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary LW

See Dr Bill Warners lectures on political Islam. Explains it all.
https://www.youtube.com/wat

Zigurds Kronbergs
Zigurds Kronbergs
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary LW

This seems to overlook the fact that there are as many strands of Islamic thinking as there are in Christian thinking. Most Muslims in the West, and one suspects many in Islamic countries, accept the division between the religious and the secular, and do not subscribe to the fundamentalist position that the only law anywhere, and in any circumstances, is Islamic law.

Shane Dunworth-crompton
Shane Dunworth-crompton
3 years ago

Given this reality, how do you view the approach of China’s CCP to the Muslim population within China? And how would you characterize the attitude of its Muslim allies Iran and Pakistan to the CCP’s treatment of its Muslim brothers?

venk.shenoi
venk.shenoi
3 years ago

China knows how to handle its enemies.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  venk.shenoi

Yes indeed, as we saw in the Himalayas a few months ago.

But do they know how to handle the USN’s Ohio class nuclear submarines, the plethora of US drones, the B1 Bomber and the Star Wars’ kit? I think not, hence the asymmetric C-19 Bio attack of Feb/March this year.

However this will only serve to shorten the already precarious lifespan of the CCP, if Biden is really up to the task.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

Given my limited knowledge about China, I can only postulate an answer.
To my mind Communism is almost as bad as a religion, in that it needs to enforce its views as absolute.
Iran & Pakistan view China as an adversary to the west, so something along the lines of my enemies enemy is my friend.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

The Muslims in China should read their Koran. They are causing ‘mischief in the land’ so they need to be brough to heal. Where ever they go they cause trouble. It a religion designed to be that way. Peace will only happen when the whole world is Muslim. The global Umma.
https://www.youtube.com/wat

Iain Hunter
Iain Hunter
3 years ago

Twin evils.

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago

The CCP have seen how Europe is being torn apart by the growing islamic proportion of French society and to a somewhat lesser degree, but still significant, in other European countries. Their response is not to bellow about multiculturalism and how diversity is their strength; but anti-indoctrination camps – where people who have initially had Islam indoctrinated into them via mosques are being ‘re-balanced’ via re-education sessions. Here in these sessions it is probably suggested to them that Mohamed didn’t really fly into the sky and split the moon; that there is no proof that any god spoke to Mohamed, and that death through Jihad is not a noble end, but a waste of a precious life. Stuff like that.

venk.shenoi
venk.shenoi
3 years ago

Calls for ruthlessness and determination. Stop bringing human rights in the discussion. Muslims don’t understand that.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  venk.shenoi

Hear, hear!

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago

Banning cruel slaughter would be a good start, ratcheting up a hostile environment – iron clad immigration laws

Beyond that internment, deportation, special action against Islamist radicals

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

By forming an anti Islamic invasion movement. Intellectually they can be defeated and if not with reason then with ‘action’ such as the police did with the terroist Jihadis at London Bridge and elswhere. This invasion is organised and the dumb naive left don’t see it mainly because they are ignorant of Islam.

Emma Miller
Emma Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Clem Alford

Ă°Ćžâ€˜ÂĂ°ĆžÂÂ»
Pegida: Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident.
Sadly maligned and laughed at bt the dumb and idiotic left or call them brainwashed mainstream virtue signallers.

Danny Danny Cat
Danny Danny Cat
3 years ago
Reply to  Clem Alford

maybe don’t pay them https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago

Anyone who had read Holland’s works would realize that he was fully aware of what Islam had done to eastern Christian communities. The Arab expansion was halted at Constantinople in 717.Poitiers was a sideshow. It was above all the Crusader destruction of the Eastern Empire in 1204 that paved the way for the eventual Ottoman conquest.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  namelsss me

I was offering a critic of Tom’s article, not all his works – which I have not read.
I felt that his article was rather one sided and merely pointed out the Christian countries that Islam had conquered.
You may believe that Poitiers was a sideshow, but it does represent the high water mark of Islamic expansion in France- hence it’s importance. I am aware that it took decades to completely clear France of the invaders; indeed it took the Spanish 700 -800 years to complete their reconquest.
Whilst Arab expansion was halted at Constantinople, Islamic expansion was not halted. If it had been we would not have it’s new name of Istanbul.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

The only anomaly you miss is that freedom of expression is curtailed regarding the wearing of religious symbols.

Therefore whilst freedom of expression is seen as sacrosanct for the French Republic, it is simultaneously curtailed in the name of laïcité. It is this contradiction that underlies the tension between French secularism (which is Christian at its roots) and the free expression of Islam. With this contradiction in mind, it could be argued that French laïcité is secular fundamentalism.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

I would argue that freedom of speech/expression is the bedrock of democracy which itself is the bedrock of Western culture.
I do not believe that anyone is entitled to kill somebody because of what they have said/drawn.
This is, of course, a contradiction to the free expression of Islam. But I am reminded of an old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

angelosnyktos
angelosnyktos
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Back in the 60s and 70s, countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Iran had a very Western lifestyle, women didn’t wear hijabs, Beirut was called the Paris of the Middle East, in part because of its fashionably dressed women. And you might have seen the photos of female students at the Uni. of Tehran in the 60s, dressed in the mini skirts of the time. It wasn’t until the 80s that militant radical Islam spread in Muslim countries. Why should France support the radical element of Islam?

malcolm.rose
malcolm.rose
3 years ago

The Battle of Poitiers to which you refer was in 732AD and predates Islam, which was founded around 800AD.

michaeltheloser2001
michaeltheloser2001
3 years ago
Reply to  malcolm.rose

You are nearly 200 years too late. Muhammed began receiving his ‘visions’ and preaching in 610 AD. Forces of the Umayyad Caliph (ie successor to the Prophet), Hisham, were defeated by the Franks at Poitiers in 732AD.

malcolm.rose
malcolm.rose
3 years ago

Islam was founded around 800AD. Don’t blindly follow the propaganda and the bowing and scraping of TV documentaries.

Try reading books instead.

Iain Hunter
Iain Hunter
3 years ago

Marry young, have many children, raise warriors.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Iain Hunter

That is almost a muslim strategy, slightly undermined by their practice of marrying their cousins and producing burdens for the NHS.

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
3 years ago

Not by jaw jaw, I suspect

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Sorry, but Iraq was not Christian when conquered by Islam in the mid seventh century.
It was a major part of the Zoroastrian, Sassanian Persian Empire.
You might also have mentioned that the death blow to the Eastern Roman Empire was the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Christian Crusaders, and not the Ottoman sack of 1453.

Zigurds Kronbergs
Zigurds Kronbergs
3 years ago

The siege of Vienna and its relief by King Jan Sobieski took place in 1683, actually.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago

My instinct is that Enlightenment principles should be the preserve of those capable of appreciating and internalising them ie us. In our own country the Reformation engendered the notion of the spiritual equality of believers which in the fullness of time produced civil rights and democracy; you can’t bottle this, you can’t take pills for it. It is very clear that Islam is a dead end. It is equally clear that the large scale immigration post WW2 has been a disaster which will turn into a catastrophe. I admire Macron’s response – iron has entered his soul. The Americans are wont to jibe about cheese eating surrender monkeys; but the true spirit of France is to be found in the inspiration of Jeanne d’Arc, in the Cannonade at Valmy, in “ill’s ne passeront pas” at Verdun – when all looked lost in 1940 Churchill admired De Gaulle’s insouciance – his blank refusal to accept what looked to be reality of total defeat – here Churchill said “is the Constable of France!. So well done Macron, words of course must be followed by rigorous action.

Our own cheese eating surrender monkeys on the other hand, the putrid cowardly, craven appeasing UK regime makes me want to vomit.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

” the Reformation engendered the notion of the spiritual equality of believers etc”

The notion of equality of believers is from the Bible and was always there.
“For there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11

The Reformation ushered in a century of violent suppression of one religion, one group of people – Catholics, by the state; brutal executions, thousands of ordinary Catholic men killed in the rebellions that followed from 1530 onwards in England, impoverishment, land and property grabbed, and culminating in the English Civil War in 1660.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

The Reformation ushered in over a century of religious war – in which England was a participant of course – hot and cold war. Atrocities were hardly one sided – St Bartholomews Day Massacre, slaughter at Madeburg, Marian burnings

My point was that the Reformation sparked the long struggle for political equality and civil right – see for instance the speech of Colonel Rainsborough at Putney in 1647. You’d hardly have heard these sentiments under the pre-Reformation dispensation

“I desire that those that had engaged in it should speak, for really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he; and therefore truly. Sir, I think it’s clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under; and I am confident that when I have heard the reasons against it, something will be said to answer those reasons, in so much that I should doubt whether he was an Englishman or no that should doubt of these things.”

The English Revolution fed into the American Revolution which in turn precipitated the fall of the Ancien Regime and Revolution in France

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Thanks Albert, I was referring to the Reformation in England not Europe, but you are right there were the burnings under Mary Tudor, 5 years, but remember that was in reaction to the violent suppression begun under her father Henry VIII and brother Edward VI, the people of England had not asked for change, it was forced upon them.

We can only hypothesise as to what might have happened had there not been the Reformation, it is impossible to be catagorical I think.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Read Pavane by Keith Roberts – a fictional account of a counter factual Britain where the reformation had never happened.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Thanks, I’ll have a look.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Venice (Catholic) had plenty of civil rights and was quite democratic.
I think the solidness of civil rights in Northern Europe has more to do with Germanic (Nordic) tribal culture than Reformation. German lands (Lutheran vs. Catholic) are a better example.
And Reformation just happened to coincide with the greatest invention EVER (beside the wheel) – the printing press.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

But now, alas, we have neither a Rainsborough nor a Cromwell. Or anyone else in politics to speak for the values of the reformation and the enlightenment.

Boneless Haddi
Boneless Haddi
3 years ago

Secularism is a religious concept. there’s a theory that Christianity diluted its Christian content and became secularised in order to spread to more populations (to whom Christianity the religion would have been unpalatable, but the “Rule of Law” version might just stick).

If we take this to be true, how will Christianity spread to heathens if your advice of keeping Enlightenment principles to Christians is heeded? Is not spreading the word of God not against the fundamental nature of Christianity, as with Islam?

Especially considering that Christians spent the last few centuries telling the rest of the world about the greatness of the Enlightenment principles and how only those (and conversion) can bring them out of savagery and into civilisation.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Boneless Haddi

Secularism is no more a religious concept than vegetarianism is a carnivorous one. He starts with an obviously false proposition and then much of the article falls over as baseless.

Boneless Haddi
Boneless Haddi
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Statecraft and polity were guided by religion as much as piety was, in much of the world for most of the time. specific circumstances in Europe between renaissance and enlightenment led to a split between the Church and the State. That it was Church and not mosque, synagogue, temples that got separated from state is important. Secularism is a technique from within Christianity owing to specific experiences in Christian lands. To conceive it as religiously neutral is a modern sleight of hand.

The west keeps making the mistake of thinking that a Christian concept adds net value across all societies including non Christian ones. It leads to conflict.

If you like, see https://www.hipkapi.com/201

I sympathise with Europeans who feel besieged by Islamist violence. But if there are conceptual confusions, anger however much justified, will not resolve those.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

You are mistaken, “secular” is a word from the Middle Ages used to distinguish clergy not under religious rule (monastic), ie, clergy who lived out ‘in the world’, it is religious in origin.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

You win today’s semantics prize. Maybe tomorrow you can explain how the word ‘pointless’ is actually derived from having a ‘point’

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

You started it.
The prize is the truth and everyone wins if we have that.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Boneless Haddi

“Is not spreading the word of God not against the fundamental nature of Christianity as with Islam”

No, there is the instruction in the Bible “Go ye and teach all nations”
Islam also welcomes converts.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago

Anyone else aware that Tommy Robinson was arrested and frog marched off at Speaker’s Corner yesterday? He’d gone there in support of a remarkably brave Christian activist, a very brave lady indeed. The soft totalitarian Stasi got him on breach of covid regs, they’re obviously loving it

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago

Yes. 2 tier justice is not justice but fashion.
Calling for the murder of Infidels outside the French Embassy is acceptable and Tommy Robinson is not.
Politicians are developing a tyranny.
Don’t take my word for it, listen to Lord Sumption.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  David Jory

Will do, thanks

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  David Jory

And many senior police officers have gone full Woke.

Larry Percival
Larry Percival
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Common Purpose should lose its charitable status and be declared Public Enemy No.1

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

That guy has courage. These Islamic animals even tried to molest his 8 year old daughter and our brave constabulary arrested him for defending her from some Muslim pedos. What is happening to the UK.? In India they call it ‘Love Jihad’ where the Muslim boys pretend to be Hindus and try to have sex and convert the girls to Islam. Sex is a weapon for them as their prophet did a lot of raping even with children. Md’s child bride was 6 when he married her and consummated the marriage when she was 9. He was 54. Hmmmm Pedophilia.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

Just watched it. Shocking. So many police to arrest one man yet the police did nothing at the French emabassy when all those soldiers of Allaho occupied the social distancing space. This governmenent has capitulated to Islam. What next? Sharia?

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  Clem Alford

Surrendering the country without a shot being fired, what a way for a great nation to end, not with a bang but with a whimper

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

In brief, every tradition upon which a meaningful concept of “France” is founded is opposed to Islam and vice versa. So why try the ludicrous and suicidal experiment of letting Muslims settle in their multitudes across the French and European heartlands? Modernist and communist arrogance, followed by brass necked modernist and communist spite – that’s why. And it’s time we slammed modernist communism once and for all.

Ars Hendrik
Ars Hendrik
3 years ago

Well, it’s war isn’t it, and sooner or later even the trepidatious governments of the West will realise it. In Europe, we tend to only count our dead but thousands are slaughtered internationally every year for exactly the same reason that three women were butchered in a French church and a teacher beheaded.

Now, it’s only the thick knot of secular liberalists and apologists who think that when a Muslim murders someone in the name of his religion he is mistaken. Most of the rest of us are happy to take him at his word and accept that there is a basic incompatibility between an intransigent religion that, when given free reign, could almost define the word intolerant and those of us who would rather just get on with life and politely accept its varieties, sins, idiocies and sundry perversions without having recourse to bladed weapons.

Macron, who has something of an affinity for teachers and was clearly shaken by Samuel Paty’s murder, seems to have figured it out and probably knows that his promise to create a Western-appropriate lite version of Islam in France has no chance of success at all. At least though he has the courage to articulate the problem. With few exceptions Europe’s leaders are too weak to speak out.

It’s action that is needed and that action is a-coming. It isn’t in the nature of the West to go gently unto that good night (and even less so for Americans). We are a bellicose people, capable of impressive violence. In fact, if you believe the collective narrative of the left (e.g. BLM), white Westerners are the most violent, cruel and aggressive people who have ever lived. I suspect that they may be right and, collectively, the sleeping giant is about to wake up with a headache and a deep sense of having had enough. Yep, it’s a war, already kinetic and almost certainly impossible to avoid.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Ars Hendrik

Yes it will happen. All this repression by the governments is not going tp stop it. The politicians are responsible for it all by allowing unlimted mass immigration and illegal immigration. This is shocking. https://www.youtube.com/wat

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Ars Hendrik

So long as moderate Muslims are left alone. They do exist and have saved our bacon in the past (the Nizams of Hyderabad for one).

Gary Cole
Gary Cole
3 years ago

‘…saved our bacon….’ Slightly unfortunate turn of phrase.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Gary Cole

Huh, oops. Yup.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

They’re not left alone though, are they? Just take a few minutes scrolling through these comments to see how many times the word “Muslim” is used interchangeably with “Jihadi”. A quarter of the world’s population tried and found guilty.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

You have no idea the damage you cause as long as you make it all about you and your need to keep point out ‘it’s not all Muslims”.

This is just a political football, one that let’s you feel superior, that smarmy Stewart Lee lefty type of objection to ”ignorant daily mail readers” you truly believe think ”all Muslims are terrorist” and whom you love to label Islamophobe”.

The amount of ”useful idiot” enabling of the worst kinds of behavior you people are responsble for, and the flooding of Europe with people hostile to it you have had a hand is, is massive. So is there harm you have causes with your narcisstic left-wing virtue signalling and the abhorrently foolish mischaracterisation of the whole issue as about being about race.

Wake up to reality, for the love of god please. It’s not about you. And it’s not even about Muslims. People ain’t that stupid to believe all Muslims are terrorists, despite that idiotic, patronizing assumption.

It’s about people having looked into Islam as a religion, and listening to it’s followers to unerstand what they believe, and understanding the whole body of holy books, the sunnah, the deen itself, the hadiths, the Sharia, that it is a totalitarian, absolutist cult of personality that commands it’s followers to put Allah, Islam and the prophet above their own mother and father, their own wive and sibling, all their worldly possessions and attainments, and complete submission of their mind and morality to that passed down by a guy who married a 6 year old and slept with her at 9, raped and saved sex slaves, traded in slaves, passed barbaric punishments like stoning on women while he watched, requested his henchmen kill a man who had criticized and mocked him, was an robber and bandit who would lead teams to teams on raids where he’d slaughter all the males and take their wife and cattle and divide the spoils.

And lots more heinous atrocities and war crimes. And, even worse is seen as the most perfect human that ever lived, and is held more dearly to billions than any human alive, and the perfect exemplar for how to live for all times.

There are a reason that suicide bombers are very rare outside of islam, because the brainwashing and the extent of the fanaticism required in the religion is unlike anything else. Even the most ‘decent’ faces of the religion, the moderates believe things that in non-muslims would make you run a mile from them and keep them out of your life as far as possible.

Stop being an ignorant useful idiot and study the religion itself and what it’s all about using critical, objective thought.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Ars Hendrik

Good luck with how Islam lite will be received by the faithful!

Ars Hendrik
Ars Hendrik
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

I think we know the answer to that one!

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago
Reply to  Ars Hendrik

It is really bizarre, isn’t it, the modern insistence that there can never be two incompatible cultures that simply cannot coexist.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

Add to the beheadings the Bangladeshi man who was lynched at a mosque and then his body burned. Apparently for blasphemy. Islam is not a religion of peace.

venk.shenoi
venk.shenoi
3 years ago

Islam does not need logic. God’s word is enough. Stop pretending you can bring enligtenment in Islamin lands and Islamic people.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  venk.shenoi

You are right. It is perfect already as far as they are concerned and cannot be changed as it is Allah’s word!!

hewettmob
hewettmob
3 years ago

What is not easy to rationalise is why large numbers of devout Muslims wish to sully themselves by living in close proximity to non-Muslims, with no desire to integrate, in a country that they appear to despise and without any allegiance to that country’s system of law.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  hewettmob

It is not remotely difficult to rationalise. They are here to outbreed us and to ‘take’ our countries. And they will succeed.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

We’ve still got the Grenadier Guards – as Mao put it, power does come out of the barrel of a gun

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  hewettmob

It may be easier than you think. There is a small group that is willing to carry out violence. There is another group of Muslims that supports the violence. And the rest fear the violence being used against them if they speak out, with no small justification for that belief.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  hewettmob

It is called Hajira. They are told to go into none Muslim lands and basically convert through submission all the Kafirs to follow Islam. If killing is necessary they do that as well as using the kafir females for breeding. The womb is a weapon. You should see that Youtube clip of a Mullah instructing the young men to procreate with the Kafirs to advance Islam. Any means can be used even Taqiya and Kitman.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

I always wonder why people want to settle in a place where the belief system and way of life are so different from their own. Surely it’s not worth the hassle, unless your own gaff really is being bombed to smithereens.

forsterkeith
forsterkeith
3 years ago

Because they are instructed to by the Quran. ” blessed are those who emigrate ” also explains why they are so keen to turn their new homes into the sh/ holes that they’ve come from.

Arnold Fishman
Arnold Fishman
3 years ago

to forceably convert the world (the house of war) to their crescent god.

Richard Spicer
Richard Spicer
3 years ago

‘The gun and the WOMB’. If enough Muslim babies can be born in a country where non-Muslim families are usually small then sheer force of numbers will be viewed as a a victory.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Spicer

Yes number anniolate. UK demography is changing rapidly.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

for the gibs, and the conquest.

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
3 years ago

From al-Islam.org: “It is recommended for a believer to travel to non-Muslim countries for the purpose of spreading the religion [of Islam]
and its teaching, provided that he can safeguard himself and his young children against the dangers of loss of the faith.” Also from same site: “It is haram to travel to non-Muslim countries in the East or the West if that journey causes loss of the faith of a Muslim…” Explains why a Muslim must take care not it integrate.

Jack Bannerman
Jack Bannerman
3 years ago

Great use of ‘You own gaff’

jim payne
jim payne
3 years ago

Maybe it’s because most of the countries they want to live in, are more ‘benevolent’. Jobs, housing, health and benefit systems that at home where they could only dream of Utopia! Plus, of course, you don’t normally get stoned to death for breaking “their” laws.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

All very interesting but there is absolutely no reason why there should be any muslims whatsoever in Europe.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Blame the politicians for that situation.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Clem Alford

And, to some extent, the European people, who imported other people to do the dirty work they themselves did not want to do.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You must be kidding. Certain sections of the immigrants avoid any work especially manual labour. You are being totally blinkered by naivity. Take your lefty blinkers off and see what is going on.
1400 years of this ‘religion’. https://www.youtube.com/wat

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The “European people” were never consulted because their political elites thought they knew better and/or disdained what they knew would be the result of any such popular consultation.

mtj.elliott7
mtj.elliott7
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

‘Work’?

Most of the current crop of Muslim refugees have not worked since they arrived, have been entirely subsidized by the welfare state in the years since they arrived, and will be until they are returned home.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Where should all Muslims live in your opinion? Where do you think all blacks, Asians and Jews should live?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Don’t forget the Irish.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Your bigotry amuses you. You do have an answer to the question you raise though, right?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

It was rather funny.
Your whataboutery wasn’t a question, it was a straw man.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

They – and we, should be allowed to live anywhere we are prepared to be responsible members of our adopted society and live within the law.

ard10027
ard10027
3 years ago

An interesting and, as far as it goes, accurate assessment. Where it falls short is in making a declaration that there are such things as right and wrong, good and evil, and we should, as rational, thinking creatures, make choices and declare which is which unabashedly and without apology.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  ard10027

We need to stop being apologetic about ‘cultural differences’. If my culture supports human rights, rights for women, freedom and peaceful existence, and your culture supports FGM, is misogynistic and violent, then my culture is, objectively, better than yours and I should be saying so, loudly and consistently.

Jean-Michel Guillot
Jean-Michel Guillot
3 years ago

Your essay is brilliant when it explains the fundamental difference between the french view of the law and the fundamentalist doctrine. But you forget that even if France is sticken more often than any other western country UK, Germany,USA and many more have suffered many terrorist attacks. When djihad takes pretext of Charlie Hebdo drawings it is only a pretext. UK or Belgium have never published such caricatures but were «  punished » for other false reasons. We have considered for years that we were guilty of not being kind enough with muslim world. This was not the good reason. We are at war with a vicious enemy who hides behind this kind of false reason. What the anglosaxon press neglects in its comments of France problems is that a majority of french muslims share french secularism. The fight against extremism is not any more here in the hands of « native white french intellectuals » but of people originated from the muslim world. I could mention dozens of women and men with arabic origins who fight against terrorism and many of them living under police protection. Do not forget also that, here and in the muslim world, the majority of terrorism victims are muslims. And they have not published caricatures and know nothing of Napoleon and Louis IX. Please stop saying that the victims are guilty of french history. They are the victims of a hidden global war. Not between the west and the muslims but between peace and fear.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

Absolutely. Do not be deceived by what you see in the ‘Anglo Saxon’ media, or much of it. Most informed British – and probably American – citizens would agree with you.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago

This attitude, a knee-jerk, inherent response of ‘liberals’ who simpy have to muscle into the conversation with their simplistic ‘religion of peace, not all Muslims…’ type cliches, in order to reprimand people simply because it serves as handy vehicle for them assert their supposed (in their own minds) intellectual and moral superior.

That are as ignorant as those on the far right right who haven’t even troubled themselves to do any kind of objective, intelligent study of the religion and are just parroting third or firth hand Quran verses that are cherry picked to support certain pre-held viewpoints.

Unfortunately, an objective study of the Quran, the hadiths, and the main arguments of the Sheiks, Imams, Dawah spreaders, public debaters for the religion, etc, as well as observing the customs, behavior and attitudes of it’s followers on the whole, particularly in Muslim countries, reveal a deeply unsettling, troubling, backward and scary ideology that is even worse than you could imagine.

The problem is not ‘islamic extremism’. Even for moderate believers, you have an ideology that is totalitarian and absolutist in the demands it makes and demands to be followed, right down to how you go the toilet, and claims to be the perfect, sacred word of god for time, a long with a fanatical cult of personality that has elevated a deeply, deeply flawed, morally reprehensible man in today’s world as the perfect example of how to live, seek to emulate his every quirk and personality trait, his appearance and follow his every utterance, and desire to follow law that is true barbaric just. That fact poses way, way more problems in Western society than just ‘terrorist’ attacks.

Mark Cole
Mark Cole
3 years ago

What is shocking is the real absence of Immams and Mulsim leaders really standing up and saying enough enough – this is not how we want to treat our long lost brothers ( we all hark back to father Abraham)

Instead the religious leaders silence and the political leaders aggression (Turkey and others) is heading only one way. There are many good Mulsims ( I know some of them) but the building blocks of the Quran exceed moral guidance and are proactively against non Muslims – We must start with tighter immigration and tighter law on setting up Islamic suburbs in our towns and cities where their law rules over English law.

Speaking the local language and signing up to national service should be compulsory

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Cole

How can it be shocking for people to abide by the tenets of their own creed? Only shocking if we project our own Western / Christian sensibilities on to others in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, both historical and before our own eyes today.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Cole

There are many good muslims, but this is in spite of islam, whereas judeo-christians are generally good as a result of the influence of their faith(s).

Travis Wade Zinn
Travis Wade Zinn
3 years ago

edited

Last edited 2 years ago by Travis Wade Zinn
Boneless Haddi
Boneless Haddi
3 years ago

Can you explain how Christianity and Buddhism can be untangled from history and distilled into paths of higher ascent suitable for any age? And why these 2 in particular? Thanks.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Boneless Haddi

Look at the founders. Buddha and Jesus were not warlords (not to mention other inconvenient things.)

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

**Western hegemony over the Islamic world, then, did not end with the collapse of direct rule over it by the European powers.**

Much truth in this article especially Enlightenment as mutation of Christianity: liberal universalism a secular version of all souls being equal before God. At the same time it can’t be right to talk of Western hegemony without reference to Islamic hegemony the most enduring form of imperialism and political allegiance in world history. Islam was eventually expelled from Spain but otherwise wherever Islam has prevailed it has erased every trace of their native loyalties from its subjugates such that from Jakarta to Bradford their primary poltical allegiance is to Islam. Not to mention that well into the 17th century there were more English slaves in North Africa than African slaves under English control in the West Indies. Barbary pirates were still taking English slaves in the the 18th century as recounted by Giles Milton in his book ‘White Gold’ partly based on the memoir of Thomas Pellow of Penryn, Cornwall who was captured in 1715

michael harris
michael harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

But Islam did prevail for quite some centuries in North India (though never in the South). However the older beliefs and practices of the conquered areas were never erased and hardly abraded. And Islam in India through the Sufi orders – specifically the Chistis – accommodated itself to Hinduism. When Emperor Akbar- taught by a Chistiya master – tried through debate during the 1580s to get the various faiths of his empire to cooperate; and finally, in frustration, decreed a new state religion, a sort of Esperanto of belief, he horrified conservative Muslims and provoked an intellectual resistance that led in time to the Deobandi madrassa and to the Taliban (the students). In this sense it was the long term failure of Islam in India that ended in militancy. Perhaps it is the same story today when many Europe dwelling Muslims have in fact accommodated to the non-religious way of living.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  michael harris

One could equally frame it as the long term success of Islam given it did establish dominion over part of that vast territory we know today as India. Otherwise Sufism is the exception proving the rule. Sajid Javid is a prime example of one in Europe who’s accommodated to the “non-religious way of living”. But that’s true even of his native Pakistan / India. Though he still swore his oath of allegiance in the House on the Holy Koran, and has consistently sided with Islam whenever push comes to shove. Just because people don’t observe the edicts of their inherited faith doesn’t mean it has no claim on their allegiance in the event of conflict when they are bound to choose sides. The agitators who instigate the conflict are always tiny in number. That’s always the case whether in Ireland or Germany or Indian sub-continent. What distinguishes Islam is its endurance. There’s no reason to suppose it will be any different here especially as the numbers expand, with Muslims an overall majority in Britain by 2050 based on fertility rates alone even without further influx. As Napoleon put it: Ten who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.

Dominic Straiton
Dominic Straiton
3 years ago

Adolf was equally interested in the Koran and thought it was a superior religion for his “green” lebensraum as it instilled violence. Islam, like woke has no mechanism for the forgiveness of sin. Peter Hitchens always goes on about drug taking being behind all these attacks . Hes right and wrong. All these Jihadis from Nice to Boston, from London to Orlando involve men who have drunk alcohol, taken drugs, slept with women. All sins to be weighed. Even Mo didnt know if he would get to paradise as he told Abu Bakr. There is only one way to get there with a shortcut. Kill the kufar in an act of Jihad. Its all very simple. This will never get better and will certainly get a lot worse.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘Also abolished was the jizya, a tax on Jews and Christians that reached back to the very beginnings of Islam…’

No matter, it will return across Europe over the next 100 years. As for Napoleon, he was surely one of the biggest psychopaths the world has ever seen.

davisonfamily68
davisonfamily68
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

ISIS has declared that Islam will succeed in Europe by use of the “gun and the womb”, killing non-believers and getting concessions from liberal Westerners to pacify the “pain” of being a minority, whilst ensuring thru large family’s that the historic base of a country is changed via population growth will allow for the political take over, followed by the religious take over, Europe you have allowed this to happen and when the change happens do not expect to reverse it as Islam takes NO prisoners.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago

We do have complete military superiority though and are likely to keep it for at least 10 years hence, it is not a given that we will be overwhelmed

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

10 years!? Islam does not think in terms of such time periods. It thinks it terms of centuries. This is how is has managed to conquer so much of the world of the last 1,400 years. It is a long term power grab.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

10 years would provide the window of opportunity for Reconquista

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey
Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Given there is no single Pope in Islam and the religion itself is in a permanent state of war between Sunni and Shia, how is it possible for Islam to ‘think in terms of centuries’ or ‘think’ about anything at all? Where do you source your information about the Islamic hive-mind from?

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

The doctrine of conquest by settlement is clearly not going to occur overnight.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

The politicians who allowed this should be publicly flogged. People like Blair and his uncontrolled immigration policy. https://www.youtube.com/wat

venk.shenoi
venk.shenoi
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The Jizya was imposed on non-Muslims in all lands where Islam prevailed.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  venk.shenoi

Yes, I know. I am merely pointing out that this will happen in Europe quite soon.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’m glad to see your posts are still here. Mine was removed for some unexplained reason.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’d always believed that was quite short !

Corinna S
Corinna S
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

We’re already paying jizya, in the form of the fort if halal certification. It’s on
meat, milk, nappies, cleaning products, cat litter, makeup, cheese, yoghurt, bread, sweets, soft drink, pre-packaged meals and the list is growing daily.

Corinna S
Corinna S
3 years ago
Reply to  Corinna S

Oops, the rort, not the fort!

johntshea2
johntshea2
3 years ago

“This was why, in addition to muskets, cannon and cavalry, he had brought with him to Egypt a printing press, a hot-air balloon and a small army of intellectuals.’

The intellectuals to replenish the balloon’s hot air, no doubt…

fouloubal
fouloubal
3 years ago

The fact that Macron, a rather glib ex-“golden boy” turned politician could risk his life by firmly standing up for Frances laïcité shows how much that principle defines France. France might not go to war to defend the reputation of it’s cheese , but it would to defend laïcité

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago

Tom Holland as an Oxbridge-trained historian critiques traditional Islamic narrative using contemporary 6th and 7th century sources and in so doing demurs from Islam’s largely 10th century account of its early foundation. He points to Islam documenting a peculiar tradition of burning, burying, erasing and redacting early Q’uranic documents the better to canonise their sacred narratives as directly and unalterably legislated by Allah: letter by letter, word by word, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, from eternal clay tablets that pre-existed the evolution of planet earth and even the Universe itself.
To the chagrin of Islamic teachers, the widespread research into a real-world, evidence based alternative account is being energetically pursued by growing numbers of western historians and rational scholars for whom there are no religious red lines, with the inevitable outcome elsewhere described.

Iain Hunter
Iain Hunter
3 years ago

All of which is why we must stand now with France. Forget arguments about fishing. This is much more important.

Mark St Giles
Mark St Giles
3 years ago

Christianity in mediaeval Europe was, just as Islam is, more than a religion. It had become a political construct in which God’s law had become indistinguishable from human law. This was never the intention of Jesus – ‘render unto Caesar etc’. The reformation and the enlightenment separated the two again.Islam remains in its primitive state, has never had a reformation or an enlightenment and thus cannot separate them.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark St Giles

For the West to survive it now needs to employ an Old Testament mentality, not a New Testament one.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark St Giles

I am inclined to think we may be witnessing the “Reformation” of Islam. This extreme version has only appeared over the last 30/40 years. Islam is also in the 13th/14th century, around the same age as Christianity when reformations across Northern Europe began.
In the late 1960’s use of the hijab in any manifestation was considered old fashioned in Muslim countries and was rarely seen and the Jamaat-e-Islami party consisted of a few right wing extremists which nobody took seriously.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

I am just as inclined to see all of the good things in world civilization as the products of French culture as the next man, but even so, it did seem odd that Tom would see the UN Declarations of Human Rights as proceeding from French influence, although he didn’t mention the August 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was a preamble to the 1789 French Constitution. However, the French declaration came more than 13 years after a document written by another Tom, Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, where he wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago

Islam desperately needs to be secularised, but we hear few voices within the religion acknowledge this (hats off to the very brave voices we DO hear, but they are way, way too few.).

The Enlightenment view of the world, as inherently flexible in being capable of progressing from something bad to something better according to evidence, is the *right* one and the Islamic view of handed down and immutable Laws that prevent the possibility of change is wrong.

I am all for respecting other people’s views, beliefs, or customs, but multi-culturarilsm, if that’s the idea that multiple different cultures can co-exist within one state’s legal realities, is impossible.

We can’t have laws protecting animal welfare, but then *not* have them, or laws protecting abuse of children then *not* have them apply in the case honour marriages,or attitudes to women, and so on.

So if people want to live with what I think is a wrong view, then I will respect that fully and be respectful when I visit them. But I just cannot see how an Islam that is a fusion of the Religious and the Political, can exist in the West

We never seem to have this kind of discussion about Hindus or Sikhs or other religions that can and do adapt, as the various Christian religions have done..

This seems straightforward to me, I don’t want or advocate some cultural ‘war’, whether metaphorical or actual…but I guess there’ll be people who will be able to prove I am racist or bigoted for saying what I just have…though that’s OK, I am too thick to worry about it…I voted for Brexit as well.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

When we were more honest about who “we” were, and, who “they” were, we could readily accept that the “the twains” could never meet. Now… perhaps no more than a soft porn intellectual discourse.

aidanjohn7701
aidanjohn7701
3 years ago

I agree that Islam has more difficulty accommodating a liberal worldview than Christianity, but serious attempts have been made. The Mutazila school of Islamic jurisprudence held that human reason was more significant than the Quran, and this view was advocated by key figures of the 12th century Islamic Golden Age like Ibn Rushd and Al Razi. This school of thought died out after the Mongol conquest, but were revived in the 19th century Nahda, which came about because of exposure to enlightenment ideals.

I strongly agree with Macron’s stance. The fact that Muslims across the world are boycotting France because they can’t accept its hard line on fundamentalism and free expression shows how deep rooted the Wahhabist doctrine has become. If more Muslims followed Ibn Rushd (Aviroes) instead of Al Ghazali, Ibn Tammiyya, and Abn Al Wahhab, Islam could be perfectly compatible with secularism and liberalism.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  aidanjohn7701

Perhaps. Dream on.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

Is it a French problem or is it a problem for every Western country with a significant Muslim population? In Europe we’ve all had outrageous terrorist attacks at some time and each time politicians have made appropriately strong public statements followed by no real or concerted action. With the obviously hideous exception of 9/11 America seems to have less of these regular incidents. We should perhaps ask why? Their security forces seem more robust and their legal system more willing to extract a heavy cost for “domestic terrorism”. Is that the answer or is it the more careful vetting of potential migrants?

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

It is both. And both are lacking in the British approach.

A Bcd
A Bcd
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

U.S. here. Simplest explanation: big ocean.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago

In someways the question of natural law and universal rights actually goes into the deeper questions of the West’s cultural origins. Your book rightly pointed out the essential Christian fundamentals of this, and yet I felt it ignored that it was the Roman world that made Christianity even possible, specifically the cosmopolitanism of the world after Alexander and confirmed in Roman. As Roman law and citizenship became more and more universal a this was the breeding ground in which any religious doctrine could be considered universal (in the same way Islam benefited from its empire). Christianity was the complex interplay of Jewish conceptions of human nature and aesthetics (so intolerable to the Romans) with the Roman’s own developing sense of universality that their empire brought with them. Roman civilisation could not have tolerated the universalist legal framework of Islam, we know because in a very similar case it never was able to digest or incorporate Judaism and their affront to Roman law, aesthetics and citizenship. Christianity started in this camp, but with time it mutated to be acceptable within the heart of Roman civilisation – modelling itself after the many mystery religions that appeared as traditional pagan culture ossified. Roman became Christianised, yes, but also Judaism, in the form of Christianity became Romanified. That is why I find either side that wants to reduce the West to its Christian or classical past as oversimplifying. The two twisted each other out of recognition to their original form, which is precisely why Christianity was capable of generating self-destructive movements like the Reformation and the Enlightenment – it has been carrying the weight of a mystery religion in a cosmopolitan law based empire all along, fusing the socially contingent citizenship of the Greco-Roman world with an ontological citizenship of a higher realm, where God ultimately was just one more citizen who with time could be booted from the heavily polis.

It seems not entirely surprising France is so central to this when the monarchy and then state of France exists as the most coherent and continuous heir of the attempt to bring back the universality of Rome under Charlemagne. Germany’s fate was to be other side of the coin, another heir of Charlemagne whose tribal centripetal tendencies not only broke apart the last full universality of Rome but whose seeds of this drove it ever further towards embedding everything about tribalism and particularism in West civilization, as consequential as the Classic vs. Christian (Romantic) split and self-interacting in complex ways.

This actually is epitomised in the Aquinas’s (arguable) misreading of Aristotle. Aristotle did not see natural law, he saw ‘natural right’ that was very specific to Greeks as a rationalistic people. It is not irrelevant that Aristotle fell out with Alexander the Great over how he treated the Persians and Egyptians as non-Greeks (he treated them, if not as equals, then potential partakers in a imperialised Greek culture) that went entirely against the specificism of the natural right arguments Aristotle makes on political and ethnic grounds. Aquinas however read him in the context of a Western world steeped in the concept of universal empire and church (just read Dante on this topic to get a sense of how it was an assumption) with these pre-baked assumptions and universalised Aristotle’s specific natural rights to natural laws.

That said, Aquinas’s natural laws are only semi-antithetical to Islam, as he did recognise then coming from God, albeit mediated by reason. Some medieval Islamic and Jewish scholars had thoughts not so dissimilar (and Aquinas may have been influenced by them), although the increasingly anti-rationalistic tendency of Islamic thought after 13th century increasingly divorced them from making such a view acceptable. The enlightenment merely asked the question – why should rationality need be mediated by God? Can’t it be there in nature. As you say in your book, this created a distorted sense of nature, which Darwin, Nietzsche etc eventually saw through. And yet. It is more complex than it seems because you butt up against the multiple ‘truths’ of the universe – the universe as a mathematical system, human beings as evolved creatures, and the sense of consciousness (that we don’t fully understand) that creates competing senses of ‘naturalness’, each of which has its own prerogatives and counsels about human life, some of which lead to universalism, some of which lead violently in the opposite direction. Western civilisation, from classicism vs. romanticism and everything else is unique in having these ideas clash with each other and emerge in so many forms over the millenia.

Felix Im
Felix Im
3 years ago

Thank God for Western civilization.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

“the very embodiment of the West.”

The West as a Universalist force – a Proposition Civilisation, perhaps. I don’t think that’s all we are. But we do tend to want to ignore the ways in which we are an ordinary civilisation alike unto others, and focus on our unique characteristics. Often this results in claims that the West is a kind of divine or demonic force – or even both at once.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

Islam is a dualistic political religious system. To understand Islam understand Mohamed. He was a medieval Arab warlord whose morality has much to be questioned especially since he married a 6 year old child and consummated the marriage when she was 9 in spite of the Islamic apologists saying she was older or some other excuse. His call for the killing of apostates of Islam, Jews, Kafirs and the stoning of women for adultery, cutting off of limbs for theives and his excusing taking sex slaves and trading black African slaves, many of which he owned doesn’t make good reading for those with a weak stomach. All this happened after Md, fled from Mecca to Medina where he picked up a sword and gained his followers by submission to it. Hardly the religion of peace and based on abrogation that is what makes Islam what it is. The fact that there are 1.8 billion followers does not prove that Islam is right. Millions used to belive the earth was flat until science proved them wrong. Islam is not compatable with our post enlightenment societies, as it was designed to be perfect and for ALL TIME so cannot reform.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Crimean War as the greatest debacle of French diplomacy.

Teo
Teo
3 years ago

What if the end point of European enlightened religious revolution is
what Napoleon catalogued as Politics?

malcolm.rose
malcolm.rose
3 years ago

“…to save the inhabitants from barbarism, and to bring civilisation to the Orient.” – Napoleon.

Europe, N. America, and much of the rest of the World at the time were at the height of their problem with the Barbary Pirates of N. Africa and their slaving raids. One and a half million Europeans and many Americans were enslaved over the centuries, as well as the millions of Africans. See “Barbary Wars” in Wikipedia.

Modern (mainstream post-1924) Islam defines itself as being at war with all non-Islamic regions.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago

I should think the last thing frightened French people need right now is a f.. .king history lesson.
Keep it till your next T.V.show or book Mr Holland.

sabrina.shahab
sabrina.shahab
3 years ago

I do know about Tom Holland . He is the proponent of the theory that Prophet Muhhamad did not exist . Therefore we may assume that Aisha did not exist or Hassan or Hussain who got killed – did not exist . The Kaba or the Zam Zam also never existed . There is no need to make Napoleon into a hero . He was the Emperor of France , so why did France have an Emperor if it believed in equality , fraternity etc. Also why did Napoleon invade Russia or had wars with Great Britain and put on an island as a punishment for getting defeated . No , Muslims dont like the West because West has a habit of lying to the Muslims . Great Britian took Arabs help to destroy Ottaman Empire on the promise of freedom , but later divided up the middle east among the Western powers . Muslims particularly dont like France because of their policies and ethinic cleansing in Algeria and other countries . France not only gave the best land to French settlers , but also raped and murdered Arab Muslims . Muslims also have not forgotten the Suez Canal crisis in which France , UK and Israel attacked Egypt based on deception and lies . Now , coming to the present crisis which has been created solely by France . It has banned hijab / Nikab for Muslim women . Though a woman can wear a mask , but she cannot wear a Nikab . France Govt also think hateful cartoons are good educational materials and public building displays . That is disgusting . When it comes to Muslims , French follows the Soviet policy which showed opened hostility to religion . What France has done is promoting hate speech , not free speech . France also openly discriminates against its Muslim population , just like it did during the Colonial times . Tom Holland also mentions the Zizia ( Poll tax) . Muslims paid the Zakat , while non-Muslims paid the Poll tax and they did not have to join or contribute toward wars . Nowadays neither Iran or Saudi Arabia have poll tax or slavery . We are talking about a time when Christian countries did not allow freedom of any religion , not even Christian religion belonging to other sects .

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  sabrina.shahab

France Govt also think hateful cartoons are good educational materials and public building displays . That is disgusting .

A highly dishonest distortion of the facts. Islam is being treated exactly the same way Christianity and other religions are treated in France. They are all open to mockery and criticism. Charlie Hebdo made far more attacks on the Catholic Church than on Islam (but nobody ever got murdered for those). Islam does not get special treatment because it does not deserve special treatment, and that’s what upsets some Muslims.

When it comes to Muslims , French follows the Soviet policy which showed opened hostility to religion .

Another highly dishonest distortion. Shame on you again. Muslims in France enjoy the same rights as Christians and atheists.

What France has done is promoting hate speech , not free speech .

Islam has nothing, I repeat, nothing, to teach others about hate speech. The religion’s scripture is full of hate speech. Islam is the only explicitly racist religion. If there were hate speech laws enacted in France, the Koran would have to be banned.

France also openly discriminates against its Muslim population

Another lie.

Tom Holland also mentions the Zizia ( Poll tax) . Muslims paid the Zakat , while non-Muslims paid the Poll tax and they did not have to join or contribute toward wars .

The point of the jizya, according to scripture, is to make non-Muslims feel debased and subjugated. At times in the past, there were numerous forms of humiliation to make it clear that non-Muslims were not equal.

We are talking about a time when Christian countries did not allow freedom of any religion , not even Christian religion belonging to other sects .

We’re talking about the present day, in fact. Besides, you won’t find anyone who does not admit that Christianity has a chequered past, with many shameful episodes and actions. How many Muslims would be willing to hold up their hands and admit that certain episodes from the religion’s past were shameful?

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  sabrina.shahab

Sunni and Shia Islam are hardly bosom friends and neither of them like the Ahmadiyya. There was an Ahmadiyya murdered a few years ago by a Muslim man who travelled some distance to do it.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

The commandment against murder exists in Islam as much as in Christianity. A Muslim who commits murder has broken God’s law and by asserting he has broken God’s law in order to uphold it is plainly nonsense.

Most young, male murderers are drug abusers possessed by the Devil. They are not intellectuals with an academic interest in the virtues of their religion over other philosophies. They are turned on by extreme violence in a way that decent people like you cannot possibly comprehend.

Don’t give them a millimetre of an intellectual excuse for their violence, however interesting it all is academically.

steve gouldstone
steve gouldstone
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Surely this is not true? Muslims are not allowed to murder other Muslims, but there is no penalty in Sharia for a Muslim killing unbelievers.

Jihadist murderers are just drug-crazed? I see. That must explain why we see so many Christian drug addicts beheading people. Thanks for the clarification.

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago

Naughty you, going to the core text of the Koran and reading it!

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  David Jory

Yes I guess she should. Maybe she would be happy being a dhimmie female and being only half the value of a man. Maybe she would like a good beating from her Muslim husband.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago

Muslim apostates can be killed. As are those Muslims who cause mischief in the land.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

“Christian drug addicts”? They must be pretty thin on the ground. However, there is clear evidence that many jihadist murderers have come to their Islamist beliefs post their criminal activities, often involving drug taking and dealing.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Indeed: there have been so many examples of this that people naturally have a different reaction to the words “He found Allah in prison” than “He became a born-again Christian in prison”.

Michael Woodman
Michael Woodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Alison, you are completely mistaken. Islam has different rules regarding the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s central doctrine is a division of the world into belief and unbelief. That which is permitted against the domain of unbelief encompasses much that we would consider immoral. You appear to be arguing from the assumption that Islam has universal laws which treat all people equally. This is simply not so. Unbelievers are viewed and treated very differently to believers.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

Amir Taheri made exactly this point in a debate about Islamic society more than ten years ago in London, as has Hazir Temourian.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

I don’t think she is arguing from the assumption you claim but probably too late for her to clarify.

angelalangat
angelalangat
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I agree

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Not sure of the “possessed by the devil” bit but otherwise you seem to be on the money. Odd that you have been marked down by so many.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

An awful lot of non-Muslims are drug addicts. They tend not to commit religiously inspired mass murder.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

And radical Islam offers them salvation by waging jihad on infidels, because martyrs have a special place in heaven.

There are numerous contradictions in Islamic theology, like there are in many religions. But justifying the murder of infidels is much less of a stretch in Islam than it is in Christianity, let alone Jainism.

Don’t give them a millimetre of an intellectual excuse for their violence

It isn’t an intellectual excuse: it’s a religious excuse. This is precisely the problem.