Islam’s Enduring Legacy

Posted by on Apr 24th, 2008 and filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


RIGHT-WING Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s appeal to Islam-bashing as a proxy to gain political prominence on Holland’s political landscape comes as no surprise to many political observers who say that other right-wing Western politicians, particularly in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Australia, routinely score political points by turning to unsavory tactics aimed at whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment among the general population. Multiculturalism, that early nineteenth century social philosophy that treats all cultures as static and thus amenable to “objective” social scientific study, has not met any serious obstacles here in the United States; we cannot say the same for Europe. Unlike other Muslim immigrants in Europe, those settling in America have assimilated without effort and have achieved financial parity with mainstream middle-class Americans.

Serious students of history, among them Edward Said, former professor of English Literature at Columbia University here in New York and Frantz Fanon, former psychiatrist, cultural physician and revolutionary in Algeria, pointed to a direct link between European Christianity, as practiced by modern European nations, and European culture. They agreed that European Christianity was a useful tool in the African colonial enterprise in that it affected negatively upon the “natives” who were sapped of creative energies that would have served to catapult them to cultural liberation.

Said’s and Fanon’s post-modern critique of history, and thus colonial culture, is anthropological in the sense that colonial culture negated the African’s cultural attributes, a vital key to political and cultural survival. Both post-modern intellectuals sharpened their analyses by blending Marxist interpretations of modern history and psychoanalytic theory.

If we turn briefly to a classical view of history (when no such modern intellectual disciplines existed) we find that the Anglo-Saxons (the Romans) gained cultural supremacy by elevating Christianity to a specific form of art that reflected their physical characteristics. In classical antiquity the Anglo-Saxons are European tribes (e.g., the Vikings) of the 5th century A.D. who resided in what is called modern-day France and who conquered England in 1066. Today’s white inhabitants of Europe, of which Geert Wilder is a descendant, are descendants of Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxons of England, for example, or the “white race”, as early proponents of the Nation of Islam used to call them, eventually embraced Roman Christianity; and soon after they aggressively sought on a global scale to create physical representation of the Divine through various forms of Christian art (represented as statutes and paintings). This type of art is visible in elaborate Roman Catholic churches in England and elsewhere in Europe, and even in churches situated in the Caribbean.

While a Roman Catholic living in Jamaica, the West Indies I was accustomed to such pieces of Christian art, with its white marble and its physical characteristics – its straight nose, its flowing white hair. As a Muslim I now see how insidious and deceptive such pieces of art really are. A visit to a mosque here in Queens, New York opened my eyes to Islam – I saw no statutes there.

Islam admits of no physical representation of the Divine, and no physical representation of the prophets (peace be upon them all!). Any physical characteristic of the Divine, through whatever race of peoples, (whether black, white, yellow or red), creates psychological confusion, stunts cultural-moral development and spawns imitation. It is often said that when the white man invaded Africa, they gave the natives Bibles, built churches with statues reflecting white features, and stole the land.

If we gauge the relative strength of any religion throughout any period of history, we only look at its capacity to diffuse the Tauhidic concept into all the races of mankind. Islam raises the banner of “La ilaha il Allah” or “there is Only One God” and therefore mankind is one.

Religious anthropologist William Blyden, writing in the early nineteenth century, had this to say:

“If the divinity of a religion may be inferred from the variety of races among whom it has been diffused, and the strength of its hold upon them, then there is no religion that can prefer greater claims than Islam. Of the three missionary religions…none has in so marked a degree overstepped the limits of race as the religion of Mohammed (italics mine).

Elsewhere Dr. Blyden had this to say about Islam:

“…the religion [Islam], originating in Mekka (sic), has extended west, across Africa, to the Atlantic, and east to North-Western China, north to Constantinople, and south to Mozambique, embracing men of all the known races; and embracing them not as occasional and individual converts, but as entire communities – whole nations and tribes – weaving itself into the national life, and giving colour to their political and social, as well as ecclesiastical existence…The religion of Jesus, after eighteen hundred years, nowhere furnishes such practical evidence of cosmopolitan adaptation and power”(italics mine).

 Dr. Blyden has written extensively on the relative influences of Christianity and Islam upon the African. His conclusions are that Christianity has had a depressing influence on the African race. He faults the physical (white) representation of the Divine, as reflected in statues and paintings. Dr. Blyden does not fault Christianity’s sacred scripture, as he was himself a Christian. Instead, Christian nations were at fault for disseminating such deceptive devices. This is what Dr. Blyden says:

“Another reason for the superior manliness and amour prope of Negro Mohammedans may be found in the fact that, unlike their Christian bretheren, they have not been trained under the depressing influence of Aryan art” (italics mine).

The Christian Negro, according to Dr. Blyden, had become abnormal in his development by equating moral and intellectual fitness with the “physical characteristics” of Europeans. So enamored with the ease with which Muslim missionaries blended into African communities to disseminate the religion of Islam, without disrupting their political institutions or social harmony, Dr. Blyden endeavored to learn Arabic.

Islam’s legacy is this: it boasts of no race distinctions.

The writer is a recent revert to Islam and can be contacted at:


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