Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, January 03, 2021

If Islam had never existed, would things be nice and cozy between East and West, Jew and Arab, Greek and Turk? Probably not, according to professor and CIA advisor Graham Fuller, who argues that economics and geopolitics trump religion:

Mr. Fuller ponders a litany of history’s major battles to drive home his message that while Islam might be a convenient culprit, global strife, past and present, can’t be blamed on any one religion. Europeans would still have wanted the spoils of the Middle East and launched the Crusades, he says, albeit under a different banner. The West still would have tried various ways to get control of oil-rich areas. The French would still have gone into Algeria for its farm lands. The creation of Israel would still have displaced Palestinians, no matter what their religion.

And so on.

It’s fun to speculate on alternate historical divergences. On this particular counterfactual, Harry Turtledove’s “Agent of Byzantium” series of novels posits Mohammed becoming a Christian monk instead of The Prophet, leading to a modern-day Byzantine Empire cold-warring against a high-tech Persian Empire.

The trouble with alternate history fiction with such a wide scope is that it loses plausibility with the stretch of time. Sure, you can weave a reasonable unfolding of events within a few decades of Islam’s non-emergence; but can you credibly speculate how the next millennium and change will turn out? Too many variables.

Still, here’s some off-the-cuff musings of a world without Islam, conveniently ignoring the role of Islamic civilization in preserving and advancing classical scientific knowledge during the Middle Ages (among other things):

- An Eastern Orthodox Christian cultural hearth extending from the Balkans down to Arabia, and perhaps westward from Egypt through to north Africa.

- A Zoroastrian Iran (the world’s only Zoroastrian Republic, ala today’s real-world Islamic Republic?), culturally conflicted with the Orthodox Christian Arabs on its western border; and perhaps isolated, unless it was able to export its faith into Pakistan, Afghanistan and other points north and east.

- Alternately (if that’s possible in an alternate-reality scenario), a Jewish homeland being established in Iran, which historically hosted one of the world’s larger diaspora communities.

- As for Europe, would there have been a markedly more tempered Protestant Reformation, given that the prior Catholic-Orthodox schism had already defined intra-Christian boundaries?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/03/2021 11:49:37 PM
Category: Political, Society, Creative, History
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