|Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey, was once the largest |
cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years
in Constantinople, the largest and wealthiest
European city of the Middle Ages
I thought Wilken was extremely charitable toward Islam, but that might make his message penetrate better with people who are skeptical of the idea that Islam is not a religion of peace. Wilken was generous toward Islam where he could be, which gives extra heft to his warnings and criticisms when he makes them.
So I thought I would recommend this book to you so you can share it with your skeptical Christian friends. Even though I have a hard copy in my hands, I cannot find any place online to buy the book. If you can find an outlet that sells the book online, please send the link to me by clicking here. Thank you.
But in the meantime you can find the article online here. The history of Islam's impact on Christianity is a good demonstration of Bill Warner's principle of Islam's annihilation of civilizations. A few quotes from Wilkin's book might whet your appetite:
By the year 750, a hundred years after the conquest of Jerusalem, at least 50 percent of the world's Christians found themselves under Muslim hegemony. In some regions, most notably North Africa, Christianity went into precipitous decline. At the time of the Arab conquest there were more than three hundred bishops in the area, but by the tenth century Pope Benedict VII could not find three bishops to consecrate a new bishop. Today there is no indigenous Christianity in the region, no communities of Christians whose history can be traced to antiquity. Though originally conquered by the sword, most of the subject peoples eventually embraced the religion of their conquerors. By a gradual process of soft coercion, Islam was able to gain the loyalty and kindle the affections of those who were subjugated and make them part of the Muslim umma — no small accomplishment.
In greater Syria — including the Holy Land, Egypt, and Iraq — the rights and privileges of Christians were limited by their legal status as dhimmis: members of a restricted and inferior minority subject to an onerous tax...
In the eleventh century, the population of Asia Minor was almost wholly Christian. By the sixteenth century, Muslims constituted 92 percent of the population. During those centuries, the Church lost most of its property, its ecclesiastical structures were dismantled, and its bishops prohibited from caring for their dioceses. At the beginning of the period, there were four hundred bishops; by the end, 97 percent had been eliminated. Because there was no centralized state, only petty rulers, a dhimmi system was never put fully into place. As Muslim institutions flourished, the Christian population fled, and the disoriented and dispirited who remained gradually adopted the religion of their masters. Today there are only tiny remnants of ancient Christian communities in Turkey...
To state the obvious: Most of the territories that were Christian in the year 700 are now Muslim. Nothing similar has happened to Islam. Christianity seems like a rain shower that soaks the earth and then moves on, whereas Islam appears more like a great lake that constantly overflows its banks to inundate new territory. When Islam arrives, it comes to stay — unless displaced by force, as it was in Spain...
Of even greater significance is the growth and establishment of Islam in southeast Asia, in the archipelago between the Bay of Bengal and the China Sea. From India, Islam spread along trade routes into the region and, by the sixteenth century, Muslims had become the dominant religion in what is today Malaysia and Indonesia. Here Islam made its way not by military conquest but peaceably, through the gradual conversion of people who had contact with Muslim traders and through the quiet labors of itinerant Sufi preachers. With Muslim growth came Muslim culture and law and, eventually, Muslim rule.
In a way that is not true of Christianity, Islam is territorial. One of Islam's most enduring innovations was that religious law became also the law of the body politic. Shari'a is more encompassing than the Church's canon law, and historically its authority depended on a community with territorial boundaries and political jurisdiction.