Through the years, Islam and Christianity and the civilizations they created have influenced each other to greater and lesser extents in terms of arts, sciences, culture, and medicine. The Crusades produced the most violent confrontation of the two worlds, but it is also important to note the effect of Christian missionaries on Islam and that of Islamic science and literature on the West. In light of the threat of terrorism in the new world order of the 21st century, it is imperative that the West and the Islamic world improve their understanding of their respective cultures.
This course is conceived to reveal the interaction of these two religions and civilizations throughout their histories, highlight their similarities and differences, and, finally, show that Muslims and Christians share much common ground, especially in terms of morality, life issues, and family.
©2004 Sayyed Hossein Nasr; (P)2004 Recorded Books
I enjoyed listening to this book. It does very well as an introduction to the topics that it presents rather than provided deep knowledge on anything in particular. This is both its strength and its weakness. The benefit however is that many topics are covered so you do establish a breadth of knowledge. In my opinion the narration could have been better at times (at times the author seems to hesitate). I would still recommend this book and it is worth listening to. I will probably use this use the topics mentioned as a basis to direct further reading
The lecturer is himself a Muslim and that very quickly becomes apparent. There is a consistent pro-Muslim bias running throughout the text. All the usual cliches are trotted out. The Crusades are portrayed as a vicious attack on Islam, rather than a response to Muslim aggression. (Read Rodney Stark's The Case for the Crusades for another perspective.) Islam didn't spread by the sword, he keeps insisting. Somehow lots of non-Muslims all across the Middle East and North Africa somehow just decided to let themselves be ruled by Muslims. Muslim-ruled Spain is depicted as a haven of tolerance, ignoring the degrading conditions that the non-Muslim dhimmis were forced to endure.
Islam should be understood as one of the pillars of western civilisation, alongside its better-known Greco-Roman foundations, he argues. The slender basis for this preposterous claim is the translation of some Arabic texts into Latin in the Middle Ages. Of course he ignores the fact that many of the texts translated were originally Greek works that had been translated into Arabic and that the Greek colonies in Southern Italy provided an alternative source of Greek knowledge.
I would characterise this lecture series as a work of Islamic propaganda, one that is done subtly enough to make it seem superficially fair and plausible. However, it may be of some interest for those who would like to learn more about the Muslim perspective on things.
A truely inspired lecture series. The speaker (who's name is Nasr, not Naer), is complete in his vast analysis and yet remains clear and simple. He manages to explain amazing amounts of information and understanding of both the West and Islam and never falls into the old academic pitfalls of obscurity or tangents. A must listen.
"A better title would be Islam founded the west!"
This lecture seemed very anti western in its tone, someone unfamiliar with history would infer that Europeans lived in caves before the Muslims came forth to lead them out of ignorance. The esteemed professor, takes discoveries from older cultures and spins it so they appear of ONLY Muslim origin, i.e Arabic Numbers, Universities, etc. He makes Christians appear intolerant compared to Muslims since they did not "force" their conquered subject to convert to Islam. But fails to mention that they often preferred that those same subjects retain their original faiths in order to extract the Jizya Tax! The course remains interesting and I still recommend it to anyone interested in Islamic history. But beware, learn something of European history before beginning this course or you will find yourself led astray!
"The Modern Scholar: Islam and the West"
I found this book to be remarkably biased with statements laden with presuppositions about Islam and the West without supportive historical evidence for opinions. It could be a useful book for someone who is unfamiliar with middle east history who would like an overview.
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