Akbar Ahmed, the Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, is thrilled about Todd Green’s “generous and brilliantly insightful” review of his book Journey into Europe:
In it, Green, a longtime propagator of the “Islamophobia” myth and open foe of the freedom of speech, says that Ahmed calls for a “pluralist identity” in Europe and “uses the Spanish term la convivencia to capture this strand of European identity and lifts up Jewish, Muslim, and Christian co-existence and cooperation in historic Andalusia as an example of this pluralist model.” He praises Journey into Europe because “it does not censor perspectives on Muslims that might give the reader pause concerning the realization of a New Andalusia,” but this just turns out to be another spurious claim to Muslim victimhood, highlighting “the anger Europe’s Muslim youth sometimes feels toward the majority population, particularly in light of policies that contribute to their marginalization and alienation in countries like Britain.” Yes, of course, it’s all Britain’s fault, as it is always the fault of the Infidel.
A New Andalusia. In the old Andalusia, as I show in my forthcoming book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS, the Muslims ruled, and the place was hardly a paradise for non-Muslims. Even Maria Rosa Menocal, in her extended whitewash of Muslim Spain called The Ornament of the World, admits that the laws of dhimmitude were very much in force in the great Al-Andalus:
The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called, were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax — no Muslims paid taxes — and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals.
So much for a “pluralistic identity.” Also, historian Kenneth Baxter Wolf observes that “much of this new legislation aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam.” After enumerating a list of laws much like Menocal’s, he adds: “Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dhimmis as second-class citizens.”
If Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together peaceably and productively only with Christians and Jews relegated by law to second-class status, then al-Andalus has absolutely no reason to be lionized in our age, and it is revealing that Akbar Ahmed and Todd Green are lionizing it anyway. Whatever the Christians and Jews of al-Andalus accomplished, they were still dhimmis. They enjoyed whatever rights and privileges they had not out of any sense of the dignity of all people before God, or the equality of all before the law, but at the sufferance of their Muslim overlords.
Is that the New Andalusia that Akbar Ahmed and Todd Green want?
Note also that the book is published by the pro-Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar-funded Brookings Institution.
“Journey into Europe, by Akbar Ahmed,” a review by Todd Green, Reading Religion, February 26, 2018:
Writing any type of survey book on Islam in Europe is not a task for the faint of heart. Islam’s long-term presence in Europe, combined with its myriad expressions and trajectories across the continent in modern history, makes such a project a daunting one. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, takes up this challenge and produces a masterpiece in Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Institution Press, 2018). The book is a magisterial examination of Islam’s place in Europe’s historical, cultural, and political landscape….
Journey into Europe is both descriptive and prescriptive. What Ahmed describes is a continent at a crossroads as it struggles to determine how, or whether, Islam factors into its own identity formation. Ahmed illuminates this struggle by arguing Europe is best characterized by three competing identities. The first is its primordial identity, a type of tribalism in which Europeans come to value their own unique culture and traditions. The second is its predator identity, an aggressive, exclusivist, and even militaristic form of expression that defines what it means to be European in narrow religious, ethnic, or racial terms. The third is its pluralist identity. This identity moves away from tribe and blood by drawing on the shared history of diverse peoples in Europe. Ahmed uses the Spanish term la convivencia to capture this strand of European identity and lifts up Jewish, Muslim, and Christian co-existence and cooperation in historic Andalusia as an example of this pluralist model….
One of the greatest strengths of Journey into Europe is that it does not censor perspectives on Muslims that might give the reader pause concerning the realization of a New Andalusia. In addition to presenting stories of Muslims collaborating and cooperating with the non-Muslim majority for the common good, Ahmed also tackles sensitive topics pertaining to Europe’s Muslims, including instances of anti-Semitism, cases of foreign fighters joining ISIS, and expressions of anger or resentment toward the majority population.
In one notable account, he describes how three researchers on his team, while parked outside a mosque in Bradford, England, as they were preparing to film a documentary, were verbally harassed by large numbers of British-Pakistani students coming out of a nearby school. At one point, some students pounded on the vehicle in an act of physical intimidation. The proximity of the researchers to the mosque was seen as an act of provocation, and the students responded accordingly. It was an ugly scene and a most unfortunate experience given the purpose of the research project.
Ahmed could have kept this story to himself since the incident was an exception to the overall hospitable welcome his team received from Muslims throughout Europe. He didn’t. He puts it out there as something readers must come to terms with in trying to make sense of the anger Europe’s Muslim youth sometimes feels toward the majority population, particularly in light of policies that contribute to their marginalization and alienation in countries like Britain….