Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts  مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

Document Type



The relationship between Islam and the West was first troubled by biblical texts

pejorative of the Arabs, and the rise of Islam in the seventh century aggravated this

negative view of Arabs and Muslims. Although the brilliant Muslim civilization in Spain

mitigated this negative image, Western fears of Europe’s Latin Christianity being caught

by the pincer of Muslim Spain in the West and Levantine Islam from the East gave rise

to the Crusades that sought to drive a wedge between the two flanks of Islam by seizing

the Holy Land and thereby neutralizing the Islamic threat. The Crusades, virulent

religious wars spanning two centuries, gave rise to reviling images of Islam and its

prophet which persisted for two more centuries, only to be aggravated still further by the

dreaded Turkish threat. A respite came with growing trade links between Europe and the

Levantine provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Wealth accruing from sound, effective

trade agreements with the alien Ottoman power facilitated a more open-minded outlook.

Mutual material benefits led to a more respectful understanding of the dreaded Muslim

adversary and a growing interest in its heritage. Thus, mutual material interest, based on

equity, forms a sound basis for Western–Islamic understanding.

Momentary, localized disruptive factors should not be allowed to ruffle a would-be

strategic, long-term understanding between the two sides, or cancel present, past or

future improvements in relations. The Crusades arose, we are told, because of Christian

pilgrims falling victim to local bandits who infested the Holy Land due to a local

breakdown in government. American reiterations of Medieval European polemics

against Islam arose from feelings running high due to the Barbary Wars.