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.
obeidat, Marwan and Mumayiz, Ibrahim
"Islam and the Muslims in the Anglo-American Literary Tradition: The Historical Roots and the Reiterations,"
Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب: Vol. 1
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.aaru.edu.jo/aauja/vol1/iss1/8