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
"a good starting point"
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
"Suffers from consistent pro-Muslim bias"
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.
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