Saturday, July 18, 2015

Theories on medieval Islamic cultures debunked

"As I argued in a number of recent articles in the “Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry”, and in my next book titled “Arab Modernists’ Struggle with the Past”, the encounter with Europe, especially after the Napoleonic invasion, led intellectuals to interact with post-medieval European thought — particularly the thought of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason.

In that age, reason was proclaimed as the highest authority in analysis and inquiry, and whatever that came before was debunked as regressive, dark, menacing or surreptitious.

Goethe treated the European Middle Ages as Dark Ages. Almost every thinker thought so. Arab scholars applied the same yardstick that orientalists did when they read Arab or Islamic history. They also periodised that history into Classical, Medieval and Modern. Hence the use of the phrase “Middle Ages” as “Ages of Darkness” and “Decadence” or “inhitat”. "