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Islamic Imperialism, A Wake Up Call…….

In an Interview conducted at the FrontPageMagazine.com, Efraim Karsh, (professor and head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme, King’s College, University of London) discusses his latest boook about Islamic imperialism. KGS

Karsh: I am afraid that such perceptions have long transcended the traditional divide between left and right, representing as they do the received wisdom among many educated Westerners since the early twentieth century. In this view of things, Muslims, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, are merely objects – the long-suffering victims of the aggressive encroachments of others. Lacking an internal, autonomous dynamic of their own, their history is rather a function of their unhappy interaction with the West.

In Islamic Imperialism: A History, I challenge this mega-narrative by showing that Islamic history has been anything but reactive. From the Prophet Muhammad to the Ottomans, the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of an often astonishing imperial aggressiveness and, no less important, of never quiescent imperial dreams. Even as these dreams have repeatedly frustrated any possibility for the peaceful social and political development of the Arab-Muslim world, they have given rise to no less repeated fantasies of revenge and restoration and to murderous efforts to transform fantasy into fact. These fantasies gained rapid momentum during the last phases of the Ottoman Empire, culminating in its disastrous decision to enter World War I on the losing side, as well as in the creation of an imperialist dream that would survive the Ottoman era to haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics to the present day.

This in turn means that if, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of a universal Islamic empire (or umma). In the historical imagination of many Muslims and Arabs, Osama bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem. In this sense, the House of Islam’s war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest that is far from over. More here.

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