Tuesday, 18 August 2009

"Why the Battle of Tours"?

A reader asks “Why ‘The Battle of Tours’ [as the blog name]?”.  I’d better come clean: it relates to Islam.  The Battle of Tours stopped the spread of Islam into western Europe.  Not stopped, we could have a very different Europe than the one we know today, arguably with no Enlightenment, no Reformation, no Renaissance.  I subtitle it “the Battle of Today” because there is, today, in Nonie Darwish’s words, “a battle for the soul of the world” between western tradition and a radical backward-looking version of Islam.  Sam Harris puts it more bluntly in "The End of Faith":  "We are at war with Islam".
There’s more at Aaron Hollman’s Blog a summary below:
The Battle of Tours was fought near the modern French city of Tours between the Carolingian Franks led by Charles Martel and the Umayyad Caliphate, led by Adbul Rahman. The Caliphate was a Sunni Muslim Empire that had stretched from Pakistan to Western North Africa along Africa’s Northern Coast. It had then moved up through the Straights of Gibraltar into the Iberian Peninsula, present day Spain. 
Islam had been spreading for about a hundred years and already it was knocking at Europe’s Western door through the Iberian Peninsula…. 
… after the battle, the Caliphate had retreated back to the Iberian Peninsula never to return that far into Western Europe again... 
Hollman’s observation (with which I agree): Many modern historians still debate the importance of the battle on both sides, personally, I view the Battle of Tours as one of the most pivotal battles in Western Civilization history. Had the Umayyad Caliphate won the battle, Islam might have spread throughout most of Western Europe leaving, at best, little safe haven for Western Christianity. Christianity could be as obscure today as Zoroastrism. This would have drastically changed the way the modern world has been shaped. It is interesting to ponder all the possible courses history could have taken had this battle turned out differently.

The battle of ideas goes on globally now.  Not only the War on Terror (which term is no longer used by the Obama Administration), but also stealth Jihad, that is demands by Islamists in western countries for accommodation to Islamic values and Sharia law.  There are many examples of this, which one can see from cursory study.  The pressure is growing for ever more accommodation.  There are many in the “blogosphere” who reject these pressures, in defence of time-honoured western values: free speech, freedom of religion, tolerance of all religions, women’s rights, minority rights, the rights of homosexuals, and so on.  In all areas, the Sharia stands in contrast.  
I'm also posting on other bits and pieces that grab my interest, such as the war on opium poppies, battery bicycles in Hong Kong, and so forth; but mainly, "going forward" as the Americans say, it's going to focus on issues of Islam and Islamification.