Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
Islam's 1,300 year war on Western Civilisation
The Closing Of The Muslim Mind
How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis
Robert R. Reilly
Given his political views, I approached Kemp's work with a certain degree of caution. However, I found it to be
a useful overview of the expansionist history of Islam. The various conflicts are described from the time of Muhammad
onward:the Battles of Badr, Uhud, the conquest of Mecca, the invasion of Iraq,Persia, Syria, India, China etc.
The invasion of Europe is described as well as the victory of Charles Martel over the Muslim invaders. The Crusades
are examined in the light of Islamic expansionism. In Spain, it is noted that the Christians were enslaved and
the Christian victory was due to Isabella and Ferdinand. How different all this is from the Hollywood movies of
today where the Christians are generally regarded as the baddies. The non-Catholic author makes no mention of Pope
Pius V or the Rosary. A pity. The destruction of Constantinople is movingly described.
I have no hesitation in recommending the book by Robert Reilly, who treats individual Muslim
scholars with respect. There were various Schools of Islamic thought from the very start, it is argued. By the
10th century, the more deterministic Schools triumphed over those founded on both faith and reason. Free will and
natural law were discarded in favor of Islamic revelation.
For Ghazali, Ashari and other scholars of the deterministic Schools, knowledge was regarded as unknowable and moral
truths could only be determined by revelation, not reason. When God commands us to act in certain ways, the acts
become good. God, being all powerful, can change good acts into evil ones and vice versa. So Goodness and Truth
are not objective realities.
What happens when reason is repudiated? Islam had the potential to develop a scientific culture, having had access
to the Aristotelian tradition, to Indian mathematics, Chinese science and Early Christian Culture. A scientific
culture failed to materialize because of the rejection of reason among the dominant Islamic Schools, argues Reilly.
By 1200, blind faith trumped scriptural interpretation and Islamic ethics founded upon reason
was largely no more. Reilly refers to this rejection of reason as the dehellennisation of Islam. In contrast with
the dominant Schools, the Mutazalites regarded creation as intelligible, like the Christians. For both the Mutazalites
and the Christians, there are secondary causes. For the Asharites, there are none. There can be no synthesis of
faith and reason for the followers of Ghazali and Ashari. The way was open for Wahabism, the inspiration behind
current radical Islam.
Most of us will recognize Muslims generally as having more in common with Christians than extremists.
But there is an inherent weakness in the Islamic tradition: Christianity grappled with faith and reason and came
to a synthesis. Islam has not yet achieved this to any significant extent.
This is by no means a polemic against the Muslims. Reilly praises "the courageous men and
women throughout the Islamic world" who are trying to re-open the Muslim mind.
Copyright ©; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2017
Version: 30th April 2017