December 17, 2010

Tintin and the Muslims

I was asked to comment about a blog post from June 2008 entitled "Europe" vs. "Western Civilization". The post is primarily a commentary about the Adam Tooze book, Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (with which I am not familiar), that has the unusual linkage of comparing Tooze's book to Hergé's comic book, Tintin in America (originally published in 1931). I will also admit to ignorance about Hergé's work, although I've tried to do a quick review about Hergé and the comic book in question.

The author of the blog post, "CPA," makes his primary argument in the following two paragraphs:

After reading Tooze's book, the answer I think is pretty plain: Nazism wasn't just about racism, it was also about Europeanism. In other words it was not just about making "Aryans" triumph over Jews, Roma, and other inferior races in Europe, it was also about making Europe as a continent triumph over rival continents. And by rival continents, the only one really in question was North America. One could even go so far as to say that the racism was instrumental to the "continentism"; that grinding inferior races in Europe into the dust was only a means to the end of keeping Europe the world's leading continent. What is so striking about this is how geography trumped race even in the strategy of the most justly notorious racists in history. How could this be?

Here is where Tintin in America comes in. To understand European fear of North America, one needs to understand the European image of America. Tintin's America is a gangster paradise, a land of skyscrapers and anarchy, of grotesque slaughterhouses and industrialized food, drunken sheriffs enforcing Prohibition while citizens have fun at a lynching parties, a land where oil companies routinely dispossess Indians, where you can go to sleep in a prairie one day and wake up in a traffic-jammed metropolis the next. Now, this is Tintin, and it is all fairly light-hearted. ... As Tintin leaves on a steamer back for Europe, he sighs, "Funny, and I was just starting to like the place." But make no mistake, America is not part of some "Western civilization" -- it is just as alien to Herge's European readers as Africa, the Soviet Union, or the Arab world and India, scenes for his immediately preceding and following Tintin volumes.

Now I bring up the stereotypes presented in the Tintin comic book because the specific request made of me was, "Do you have any thoughts regarding it [the blog post], perhaps on what it means on Muslim relations with America versus Muslim relations with mainland Europe?" Hergé's work seems somewhat similar in its "production values" (for want of a better term) to the current situation between Muslims in the United States and Europe.

In Wikipedia's article on the Tintin series (The Adventures of Tintin), it notes that Hergé did research on the people and countries to which Tintin traveled. However, one of the specific criticisms regarding Tintin in America is that "much of the sequence in the American West is less realistic, as it depicts the West as it was in the days of the Wild West, complete with cowboys and Indians", as opposed to the American west of the 1930s. (Much of the story takes place in Prohibition-era Chicago, with Al Capone being a character in the book.) So my thought is, what media was available to Hergé for his research at that time? Books, photographs and news accounts, certainly, but not much else. One wonders if the "cowboys and Indians" portion of the comic was influenced by Hollywood Westerns that had crossed the Atlantic into Europe in the 1920s and early 1930s. My point here is that with limited research materials, for Hergé and the rest of Europe at that time, was this a reason why there are the various European stereotypes of the United States as depicted in Tintin in America?

I would like to say that Muslim relations in America and Europe (indeed the rest of the world) follows along a similar vein, that the relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims depends upon how well non-Muslims know Muslims, not just Muslim society in general but individual Muslims personally. (For North America and Southeast Asia, I think this theory works pretty well, but I'm not as convinced for Europe. More on that later.) If a non-Muslim knows a Muslim personally, he or she should (in theory) be less likely to demonize Islam and Muslim society. One would hope that a non-Muslim who personally knows a Muslim or Muslims won't think of Muslims in general as a dangerous "other," but that they are like Muhammad who works in the office or Yasmin who presents the news on TV.

In North America (and the U.S. in particular), I think that most non-Muslims are terribly ignorant about Islam and Muslim society, and that this ignorance has driven most of the fear and myth-making. (Myths about Islam including, "Muslims want to dominate the world," "Muslims want to impose Shari'ah on non-Muslims," and so on. That sort of nonsense.) Some of the problems facing the American Muslim community include the fact that Muslims make up a small (but growing) percentage of the total population, and that Muslims have been largely invisible to the American public for most of the country's history. I think Muslims only started coming into the American public's consciousness around 1973, when OPEC punished the U.S. for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Of course, since then, most reactions among Americans toward current events involving Muslims and Muslim countries have been negative (e.g., the Iranian Revolution and the Iran Hostage Crisis, hostages in Lebanon and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Israel/Palestine, Iraq before, during and after the two Gulf Wars, 9/11 and other terrorist attacks around the world, Afghanistan, etc.). Never mind the fact that the vast majority of Muslims in Western countries are peaceful, law-abiding citizens; never mind the fact that most non-Muslims don't recognize their own countries' actions as contributing to the Muslim world's problems. We're all innocent of any wrong-doing; don't you know? ("The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do." (p. 51 of Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations))

Another problem in America is simply that this type of behavior has a long history in the country. White Protestant culture has a difficult time accepting other people. The same problems Muslims face today have happened to the Blacks, Chinese, Hispanics, Jews, Gays, Catholics, and other groups, cultural, ethnic, religious, and so on. Racism and bigotry in America may have been tamped down in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but it never died out completely. It simmered on the back stove for several decades, and began to become unleashed once more in the 90s. Add to the fact that some Islamophobes have found fearmongering to be lucrative financially, and the lies began to be promoted much more strongly than in the past. The good news is that, in both the U.S. and Europe, people of good conscious have begun to fight back with the Muslims and other discriminated groups. Muslim projects such as the building of mosques in America have found supporters from non-Muslims.

In Southeast Asia, Islam has been a significant religion for centuries (roughly 900 years for Malaysia and 1,000 years for Indonesia). With majority populations in Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, plus significant minority populations in the southern Philippines, Singapore and southern Thailand, most non-Muslims in this region are much better acquainted with Islam and Muslim culture than non-Muslims are in America and Europe. The problems that exist in the U.S. and Europe between Muslims and non-Muslims don't really exist in Southeast Asia. (Of course, there are other problems here between the two communities, but these issues don't seem to be as severe as in the West.) I think one of the key differences between America and Southeast Asia is that Asians are much more conducive toward tolerance between different groups. There are so many different ethnic and religious groups here that people are more willing to make a multicultural society work. (This is one of my complaints with Europeans who proclaim that multiculturalism doesn't work. Not true; it has and does in Asian cultures. Europeans just aren't trying hard enough.)

The question, then is, "Why aren't European non-Muslims more like Asians in their relations with Muslims? Why are they more like Americans?" On the one hand, you have a continent that is neighbors with the Muslim world and, in fact, has several distinct European Muslim communities within Europe itself (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia). Likewise, the absolute numbers and percentages of Muslims throughout Europe are much greater than they are in North America. For example, the Pew Foundation estimated that there are 38.1 million Muslims in Europe, comprising 5.2% of the total population, whereas the total number of Muslims in the Americas (North, Central and South America) totals 4.5 million, or 0.5% of the total population. (Pew estimates that there were 2.454 million Muslims in the U.S., or 0.8% of the population.) So, theoretically, there should be more interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims throughout Europe, even in countries with smaller Muslim populations, which should lead to less ignorance on the part of non-Muslims. But, based on my observations from afar, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Which makes me wonder, could any or all of the following be part of the problem: 1) Economic insecurity - Are worries over Muslim populations in Europe due to the same sort of worries regarding "Polish Plumbers?" In other words, that the cheaper labor coming from Muslim countries will take jobs away from Europeans of a lower socioeconomic level? 2) Racism - Are Europeans worried that Muslims represent a "browning" of the European gene pool similar to the miscegenation fears of Germans intermixing with Jews through World War 2 (or between blacks and whites in the U.S.)? 3) Socioeconomic status of Muslims (and non-Muslim Islamophobes) – One of the known differences between the American and European Muslim communities is that the American Muslims tend to be richer and perhaps more educated than European Muslims. This is due in part to American immigration policy, which, like many countries, encourages people with wealth, high levels of education (normally a minimum of a graduate degree), and/or vital-skill jobs (e.g., IT, medical, education, etc.) to move there. The immigrant Muslim community in the U.S. was able to move to America because they had these qualifications. European Muslims, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily as rich or well-educated; many families, of course, immigrated to European countries due to either post-WW2 labor shortages and/or relaxed immigration rules for countries that were once European colonies. This issue might tie in with the first issue mentioned above, economic insecurity. Perhaps the lower socioeconomic levels of Muslim immigrants in Europe are too similar to that of the native population, leading to the economic and/or xenophobic insecurities? (This issue is less of a problem in the U.S., where Islamophobia tends to be driven either by xenophobia or ideology (hatred of Islam as an ideology/religion).) 4) Tribalism in European society – I’ve read enough European history to know that, deep down, Europe is just as tribal as many other “tribal cultures.” (In today’s vernacular, most tribal conflicts are described as ethnic disputes between two or more groups, or international conflicts in which nations composed of different ethnicities clash over various issues.) I wonder if conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe might be considered a form of tribal conflict; for example, between the Germans and Turks living in Germany or the French and Muslims who come from the various North African countries?

(I claim no expertise regarding the European relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims; this is based solely upon what I've read on the Internet. If Muslim bloggers from or living in Europe wish to correct me on this section, I'd be happy for their input.)



* * *

John Espinoza brought up several good points in a recent essay at Huffington Post. On the one hand, he writes,

…those that think the root cause of Muslim-West tensions is political are more likely to see it as avoidable. Those who see it as religious are more likely to believe it as unavoidable. Therefore, if the conflict is framed as "political," people are more likely to work to find a solution.

I agree with this, and perhaps this is a factor that should be considered for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in America and Europe. (I don’t think a political/religious dichotomy is as apparent in Southeast Asia. Most people in this region, I think, recognize that tensions here are mostly political rather than religious in nature, even when the personalities involved are deeply religious.) I’m not able to judge how well the European non-Muslim population views their conflicts with Muslims between politics and religion; however, I do think that most Americans view conflicts with Muslims as being religious in nature instead of political. (This is ironic considering that the far right in the U.S. has begun to argue, fallaciously, that Islam is not a religion but a political ideology.) In fact, I would even go so far as to say that many Americans find it difficult to distinguish the political context for many conflicts. If a conflict involves groups with different religions, Americans will tend to define the conflict in terms of the religions involved instead of the political factions. This happens often with "Muslims vs. ..." whomever (Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc.), but also with conflicts that don't involve any Muslims (Northern Ireland in particular). The problem, of course, is that while religious beliefs may play a part in the conflict, other factors are often involved that have nothing to do with religion (e.g., conflicts between ethnic groups, calls for self-determination, control of natural resources, economic inequalities, etc.).

Esposito provides potential solutions that Muslims offer to help improve relations with non-Muslims:

Majorities of Muslims expressed their deep concerns about this lack of respect but they also offered positive solutions: stop desecrating the Quran and religious symbols, treat Muslims fairly in the politics that affect them and portray Muslim characters accurately in popular media.

The problem is, I doubt that even these simple solutions can be performed by non-Muslim society. There is just too much profit (figuratively and literally, as I mentioned above) to be gained from not improving relations between non-Muslims and Muslims.

Update: Quarkstomper wrote a very good comment over at Street Prophets, where I had cross-posted this diary, regarding Hergé and his research:

Hergé did a great deal of research for his later Tintin stories, but not at the beginning. His first one, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was based on material from a book about the Soviet Union that his editor gave him. (The paper Tintin originally appeared in was a Catholic one with a strong conservative and anti-communist slant). His second one, Tintin in the Congo, was likewise written at his editor's request and was an embarrassing pro-colonial apology. After that, Hergé was permitted to write pretty much what he wanted, which was to take Tintin to exotic places that captured his imagination. Like America.

After Tintin in America and The Cigars of the Pharaohs (taking place in Egypt and India), Hergé announced that he would next take Tintin to China. He received a letter from a Roman Catholic priest asking him to please take care to portray the country accurately. The priest introduced him to a young Chinese student from his school named Chang. The young man became Hergé's assistant for the next story, The Blue Lotus, and provided him not only with factual information and calligraphy, but also a bit of cultural understanding. The Blue Lotus gave a much more sympathetic view of China and the Chinese people than was common in western media at the time.

After The Blue Lotus, Hergé took the lesson about research to heart, and his later adventures were all meticulously researched.

Update #2: Quarkstomper has expanded upon his comment, and has written the diary Hergé and Tintin, which gives a brief biography of the cartoonist and the cartoon strip. I've also cross-posted this essay over at Daily Kos (glutton for punishment that I am ;) ).

14 comments:

George Carty said...

I don't think many Europeans believe that multiculturalism never works: what they are far more likely to believe is that multiculturalism is incompatible with democracy. A democratic state styles itself as the representative of its people, which is liable to beg the question "which people?"

A monocultural state can see itself as the representative of said culture, but a multicultural state needs another source of legitimacy -- historically this was usually either dynastic or religious.

Oh, and one interesting point is that Islamophobe Mark Steyn believes that today's Europe is in danger because it is bicultural (white European and Muslim), and that a truly multicultural Europe with more non-Muslim minority groups may be more stable.

One can note that maritime South-East Asia (which is the example you're using of successful multiculturalism) is to first approximation tricultural (Muslim Malay, Hindu Indian, and Chinese).

George Carty said...

There's also the issue (that you've mentioned yourself on this blog before) that a multicultural society may require more restrictions on freedom of speech than a monocultural one.

JJTM said...

"...what they are far more likely to believe is that multiculturalism is incompatible with democracy."

That may be true, but that's not what comes across in the news articles I read online, especially with respect to British and German commentary on the topic. In those countries it's just "multicultralism doesn't work," period.

"...today's Europe is in danger because it is bicultural (white European and Muslim), and that a truly multicultural Europe with more non-Muslim minority groups may be more stable."

I disagree with Steyn's analysis in that I think Europe is far more multicultural than he gives it credit for. I think a "bicultural" analysis is far too simplistic for Europe. Even if one were to segregate Europe between Christians and Muslims, I'd still split up Christian Europe into three categories: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. (Huntington split up Europe between Western Europe and Orthodox Europe; Geert Hofstede, in some of his analyses, split up Western Europe between Catholic and Protestant.) I'd split up Europe even further via ethnic groups.

"...is to first approximation tricultural (Muslim Malay, Hindu Indian, and Chinese)."

Yes and no. The three primary ethnicities within SE Asia are indeed Chinese, Indian, and "Malay." (Actually, what you term as "Malay" is far broader and extremely diverse; Malays, for example, don't associate Indonesians within the "Malay" family as they don't come from the Malayan peninsula. Indonesians have numerous ethnic groups that make up the broader ethnic stock of that country, and they consider themselves separate from each other. I'm not sure what term is best to use. Austronesian includes most everyone in the Pacific, but also includes Formosans (in Taiwan) and certain groups in Madagascar, all of whom are primarily descended from the Formosans. But "Austronesian" is too broad when talking about SE Asia.) However, there are so many other ethnicities (and religions) here other than those three that it's really amazing that multiculturalism works as well as it does here.

The key test, IMO, is how well does multiculturalism protect the rights of even the smallest minorities. This is where I see Europe failing. Europe doesn't focus on protection, but on aggression. They have almost become "Borgian." ("We are the Borg; you will be assimiliated.")

JJTM said...

BTW, just to let you know, I've started using a second Google account, JJTM, for my blogs. It's still me. :)

George Carty said...

"That may be true, but that's not what comes across in the news articles I read online, especially with respect to British and German commentary on the topic. In those countries it's just 'multiculturalism doesn't work,' period."

I see this as a simplification for the sake of brevity. I suspect almost no Westerners would be willing to give up democracy for the sake of multiculturalism. And even if they were, it would probably be extremely difficult for a state legitimized on the basis of ethnicity or culture to change to one of a different basis.

As for the Germans, I was once horrified when I stumbled across a German news site discussing an article on how speedo-type swimwear had been banned at Alton Towers (a major theme park in central England). Many commenters on the site vilified the British people as "dhimmis", despite there being not one reference to Muslims or Islam in the original article!

"Europe is far more multicultural than he gives it credit for. I think a 'bicultural' analysis is far too simplistic for Europe."

I suspect that Steyn was thinking about individual European states, not about the entire continent of Europe. And divisions between various Christian denominations are of little significance except in a few specific areas (such as Ulster or the former Yugoslavia). After all, most "Christians" in Western countries no longer take their religion seriously -- at least not when compared to Muslims...

"Austronesian includes most everyone in the Pacific, but also includes Formosans (in Taiwan) and certain groups in Madagascar, all of whom are primarily descended from the Formosans."

Is there any general 'Austronesian' culture, or is it merely a linguistic grouping?

George Carty said...
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George Carty said...

BTW, on the same blog where I sourced the Tintin article, I found another article which claimed that the death of militant patriotism in post-WWII Europe was a significant cause of the decline of Christianity there. Quoting:

I often wonder if what stunted post-war European piety was not the contamination in people's minds with the evils of the Nazi era of this generous and nostalgic patriotism among Europe, that gloried in the Christian character of their nations and their readiness to defend that Christian character with the sword and bayonet. Can European Christianity revive before Europeans unlearn their shame at their traditional heritage of Christian nationality and martial patriotism?

Not that such Christian patriotism will be pro-American. The Christian nation of Sweden envisioned by Bishop Giertz in Hammer of God at its best is not a land of individualism, but one of paternalism and a manor house that works in tandem with the established church's parsonage. America appears in Hammer of God several times as a place to where irresponsible individualists run off. I don't think it is an accident that the one American character mentioned by name, a businessman who seduces a Swedish Christian woman, is called Rothmann, which is close to "Red Man"; although I can't decide whether that is "red" as in the sense of "pagan Red Indian savagery" or Red as in "purveyor of a revolutionary red, anti-Christian materialistic ideology" -- probably both. Hard as it may be for Americans to accept, Christian Europe's patriotism has always defined itself in opposition both to America and to the enemy to the East (whether Islam or Communism). As a Christian American who hopes for revival in Europe, I pray for the day when Europeans once again despise my country (in ignorance, I believe), not for being "fundamentalist," but for being a land of anarchic materialism and egalitarianism that unreasonably separates the confessionally Christian church and the paternally benevolent Christian state.

JJTM said...

I suspect almost no Westerners would be willing to give up democracy for the sake of multiculturalism.

And I wouldn't ask them to give up democracy on such terms, only that they should better incorporate multiculturalism into society, both culturally and politically. It's not impossible to do; Malaysia's multicultural political system (despite its tumultuous politics) is a parliamentary democracy based on the British model.

And divisions between various Christian denominations are of little significance except in a few specific areas...

I agree that European Christians are less pious than Muslims. ;) That may be today's situation, but the past also helps to shape the mental programming of people today through their cultures, laws, languages, and so forth. Hofstede, in his article "Difference and Danger: Cultural Profiles of Nations and Limits to Tolerance (2001)" (in M. Albrecht (eds) "International HRM: Managing Diversity in the Workplace"), splits Europe into Latin countries, those that were part of the Roman Empire, and Germanic countries. The common thread of the Latin cultural heritage is especially easy to see from a Muslim perspective. You see, when you've talked to enough Muslim reverts, you begin to notice that most American reverts, at least, come from a Catholic background. Protestant (Germanic) reverts are very rare. From Hofstede's perspective, this is because many Muslim countries, along with the Latin countries of Europe and their former Central and South American colonies, all tend toward "large power distances" and "strong uncertainty avoidance." The Roman Empire emphasized a central authority (Rome/the Emperor) and a system of codified laws that were applicable to everyone. Sounds very Muslim, doesn't it? ;) We just lack our Caliph to make the system complete.

Is there any general 'Austronesian' culture, or is it merely a linguistic grouping?

Difficult to say. The Austronesians are so widely spread out that any cultural uniformities may be difficult to identify. Within more confined geographic areas (SE Asia, South Pacific islands), there are. Malays and Indonesians, for example, don't always get along with each other, but the two cultures are very similar, and intermarriage is not uncommon. My half-Malay two-year-old daughter has been picking up Indonesian mannerisms from our Indonesian maids, much to my Malay wife's bemusement.

BTW, I read your other comment that you deleted (both the two- and three-paragraph versions). I'll have to give that some thought.

George Carty said...

It's not impossible to do; Malaysia's multicultural political system (despite its tumultuous politics) is a parliamentary democracy based on the British model.


Yes, but Western countries are different from a place like Malaysia in three important respects:

1) Most European countries were close to monoethnic during much of the last century (I'd suggest that racial/cultural diversity in Europe was at its lowest circa 1950 -- after the expulsions of Germans from Eastern Europe, before the mass influx of non-white immigrants). Malaysia probably doesn't have a recent mono-ethnic past with which the multicultural present could be compared in people's minds.

2) Europe has a tradition of aggressive monoculturalism. This began in a big way with the French Revolution, whose authors spoke of the need to "turn peasants into Frenchmen".

In some countries (like Germany) this hostility to cultural diversity is combined with racism, while in others (such as France) it is not.

3) The presence of Muslims in Europe is especially problematic. While the United States has embraced laissez-faire capitalism to an unhealthy degree because for much of the 20th century it defined itself against Soviet communism, Europe spend several centuries defining itself against Islam.

In fact, if Islam didn't exist (or remained an obscure cult confined to the Arabian peninsula) then the very notion of European civilization probably wouldn't exist either. Just as Christianity spread north into Germanic and Slavic lands after the fall of the Roman Empire, it would have equally spread southwards into Africa. Iran too would probably have become Christian if Islam hadn't got there first, as Zoroastrianism was already corrupt and rotten by then. It is down to the Islamic conquests that the Mediterranean became a civilizational fault-line.

George Carty said...

You see, when you've talked to enough Muslim reverts, you begin to notice that most American reverts, at least, come from a Catholic background.

Yes, I have noticed that, but I don't think it's down to similarities between Islam and Catholicism. I'd put it down to the fact that Protestantism (at least in the United States) tends to be very nationalistic, and therefore its adherents would be unlikely to switch to a "foreign" religion such as Islam. (In fact historic Protestant hostility to Catholicism also frequently had nationalist overtones -- the second KKK being a classic example.)

Islam does have some commonalities with Catholicism: one is an internationalist focus, and another is reverence for the Virgin Mary. I'm aware some Italian hospitals have removed crucifixes and replaced them with images of Mary in order to accommodate Muslim sensitivities. Poetic Pilgrimage (a pair of British Muslimah rappers) did a track called Modern-Day Marys, which portrays Mary as a role model for Muslim women -- "I aim to step like a modern-day Mary, mother of Isa, soldier of Allah, spiritual señorita, piety like the first khalifah".

On the other hand, Islam (especially Sunni Islam) resembles Protestantism in that it lacks a hierarchical organization, making each adherent directly and personally responsible to God.

We just lack our Caliph to make the system complete.

How likely do you think it is that the Islamic religion itself will change significantly if it spends several centuries sans Caliph? (As Judaism changed substantially after the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple.)

JJTM said...

Yes, but Western countries are different from a place like Malaysia in three important respects:

OK, so we write off Europe as a basket-case. ;)

Iran too would probably have become Christian if Islam hadn't got there first...

Actually, I disagree with this as Christian Byzantium had been fighting a number of wars with Persia prior to the Muslim troops moving into Persia. I can't see where, had Byzantium been victorious, Persia would have become Christian. They knew what Christianity was. Even Persia's adoption of Islam was a long, gradual process involving decades (as it was across most of what is now the Islamic world.

I'd put it down to the fact that Protestantism (at least in the United States) tends to be very nationalistic...

I'm not sure I completely agree with your overall argument. I agree that American Protestantism is more nationalistic than Catholicism is, but I don't know that the Protestants write off Islam for the reasons you give. I think the religious aspects of Catholicism, along with the commonalities you cite, are what help to lure Catholics to Islam. Most people don't go to another religion that's diametrically opposed to one's core philosophical principles. I think Catholic religious principles are more in line with Islamic principles than they are with Protestant principles.

How likely do you think it is that the Islamic religion itself will change significantly if it spends several centuries sans Caliph?

I don't. The Caliphate was dead more or less 300 years after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). It survived for another thousand years after that, but it had no real influence or authority over the Muslim world. Those few Muslims who clamor for the return of a Caliphate are not taken seriously by most Muslims.

George Carty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Carty said...

(Reposting to fix grammatical errors :) )

OK, so we write off Europe as a basket-case. ;)

You needn't do that yet -- in the 1920s the end of Jim Crow probably seemed inconceivable, but it happened anyway. World War II mortally wounded the European colonial empires, and in the ensuing Cold War the United States found itself competing with the Soviets for the allegiance of independent black nations.

LBJ knew that supporting black civil rights would hand the white South to the Republicans on a platter, but he felt he had to do it anyway because the alternative might be to lose Africa to the Soviets.

I can't see where, had Byzantium been victorious, Persia would have become Christian. They knew what Christianity was. Even Persia's adoption of Islam was a long, gradual process involving decades (as it was across most of what is now the Islamic world.

I wouldn't expect the Christianization of this ATL Persia to be faster than Persia's Islamization in OTL. Or are you disagreeing with me about the state of Zoroastrianism in the 7th century CE?

Those few Muslims who clamor for the return of a Caliphate are not taken seriously by most Muslims.

I thought the Hizb-ut-Tahrir types were marginal not because they advocate bringing back a Caliph, but because of other aspects of their ideology (such as unifying all Muslims into a single unitary state -- something which hasn't existed since the Abbasid putsch of 750 CE).

JJTM said...

Or are you disagreeing with me about the state of Zoroastrianism in the 7th century CE?

I don't know just how "corrupt and rotten" Zoroastrianism was at that time, but I do know that the Persian Empire only needed a little push from the Muslims to collapse. Their wars with Constantinople had sapped Persia of all its strength. (I wrote about the wars between Byzantium and the Sasanian Empire in my series on The Great Arab Conquests; there are two posts relating to the wars.) The Muslims did nothing extraordinary to defeat the Persians.

I thought the Hizb-ut-Tahrir types were marginal not because they advocate bringing back a Caliph, but because of other aspects of their ideology (such as unifying all Muslims into a single unitary state...

Those two concepts are interlinked: a Caliphate ruling over a unified Muslim state. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which is based in Indonesia, has similar hopes in creating a regional version of the Caliphate throughout SE Asia. That isn't going to happen either.