The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

Richard W. Bulliet
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/bull12796
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization
    Book Description:

    Conventional wisdom maintains that the differences between Islam and Christianity are irreconcilable. Pre-eminent Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet disagrees, and in this fresh, provocative book he looks beneath the rhetoric of hatred and misunderstanding to challenge prevailing -- and misleading -- views of Islamic history and a "clash of civilizations." These sibling societies begin at the same time, go through the same developmental stages, and confront the same internal challenges. Yet as Christianity grows rich and powerful and less central to everyday life, Islam finds success around the globe but falls behind in wealth and power.

    Modernization in the nineteenth century brings in secular forces that marginalize religion in political and public life. In the Christian world, this simply furthers a process that had already begun. In the Middle East this gives rise to the tyrannical governments that continue to dominate. Bulliet argues that beginning in the 1950s American policymakers misread the Muslim world and, instead of focusing on the growing discontent against the unpopular governments, saw only a forum for liberal, democratic reforms within those governments. By fostering slogans like "clash of civilizations" and "what went wrong," Americans to this day continue to misread the Muslim world and to miss the opportunity to focus on common ground for building lasting peace. This book offers a fresh perspective on U.S.-Muslim relations and provides the intellectual groundwork upon which to help build a peaceful and democratic future in the Muslim world.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50918-3
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Richard W. Bulliet
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization
    (pp. 1-46)

    AWESOME POWER resides in the terms we employ. Harvard professor Samuel Huntington’s use of the phrase “Clash of Civilizations” as the title of an article in Foreign Affairs in 1993 illustrates this truth. Pundits and scholars immediately sorted themselves out as supporters or critics of Huntington’s phraseology, as often as not basing their opinions more on the rhetoric of the title than on the specifics of his argument. By wielding these three words at a propitious moment, and under respected auspices, Huntington shifted a discourse of Middle East confrontation that had been dominated by nationalist and Cold War rhetoric since...

  5. CHAPTER 2 What Went On?
    (pp. 47-94)

    THE QUESTION “What went wrong?” has emerged as a compelling starting point for discussions of the contemporary Middle East. It appears to be a reasonable historical question. Even within the Arab and Muslim world there is broad recognition of weakness and failure, and widespread fear that the passage of time only makes matters worse. It is important to ask the right questions, but one cannot do so until one has explained why the question that is currently being asked doesn’t work.

    “What went wrong?” stands history on its head. The notion that something went wrong presumes a comparative perspective in...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
    (pp. 95-134)

    IN 1985, CBS television explored turning the novel Saigon into a miniseries about American involvement in Vietnam.¹ The British author, Anthony Grey, presented the history of modern Vietnam through the eyes of an American journalist, the scion of a fictitious family intimately involved with Vietnam for over three generations. As the story moved toward the climactic American evacuation of Saigon, the script version highlighted the protagonist’s appraisal of the unfolding tragedy: It was love, not anticommunism, imperial design, or fear of falling dominos, that had embroiled America in that bloody quagmire. What “love” was supposed to mean was never explained....

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Edge of the Future
    (pp. 135-162)

    ISLAM IS IMMERSED in a crisis of authority. From coed swimming and playing rock music to condemning Salman Rushdie and declaring a jihad against Jews and Crusaders, there are several positions on every question. If each position matched up with a particular authority, believers could make their choices. But it is no longer clear what constitutes an authority. The imam of the local mosque is the last word for many, but others follow the advice they glean from pamphlets, magazines, radio preachers, and Internet sites. For everyone who heeds the prescriptions of a government appointed dignitary, there is someone else...

  8. Appendix on Quantitative Onomastics
    (pp. 163-170)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 171-174)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 175-176)
  11. Index
    (pp. 177-188)