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SPAIN and ITALY: The Muslim Heritage

Naturally, any suggestion made by outsiders that the Muslim world has declined arouses anger among Muslims, although they say that among themselves. Fay Afaf Kanafani protests:

"Your question about where to put the line between Africa and Europe, is nothing new to the inhabitants of this planet. We live in cycles of the religious fear of death and weapons superiority. . Our history is obviously full of similar cycles. We know of the African Pharaohs who enslaved the Semites. The Phoenicians enslaved the whole Mediterranean. [Did they?! RH] The Greek enslaved both. The Romans enslaved all of the above. The Arabs enslaved that same circle. The Europeans did their share, and now, is the turn of the Americans to move that Line of prejudice wherever their might goes. I would not be surprised if in a century or less, that cycle turns to the Far East, Far South or any Far.."

My comment: Miles Seeley, who has devoted his life to the Arab world, sent a similar message. It is true that military superiority breeds a sense of cultural superiority, but it is also true that many the intellectuals of countries such have Spain have devoted their best efforts to studying their national decline.

It is true that in the US fear of alienating the Jewish lobby has led to a built-in hostility to Islam. This is one reason why I think the creation of the state of Israel was a mistake. My fear that our vaunted military and economic superiority may hide the seeds of self-destruction is not welcome. I do not like the gloating so common in the US that ""We won!"

Think of Kipling's "Recessional." It was set to beautiful music, and, when Britain sill had a great empire, we sang it in school. I must dig out the poem and the music. Kipling defended the British Empire, but he foresaw its fate.

This whole subject arouses so much passion and prejudice that I have concluded that only "quality of life" measurements, of which there are many, will enable peoples to see themselves objectively.

Ronald Hilton - 7/26/00