How Islam Saved Europe

How Islam Saved Europe

A Reminder Of The History Of Islam In Relations To The European Dark Age and Renaissance

As we reflect back on the year thus far, we can notice a growing trend of regressive elements in the Western world. Whether it is the British exit from the European Union, election of Donald Trump in the United States, or any of the other far right wing nationalist movements that have had progress across Europe and the United States. This nationalistic fervor that is driving societies into isolation and Xenophobic and authoritarian tendencies is backlash for a perceived threat, multiculturalism. To these cultural fundamentalists, there is a concept of "cultural purity"; and that external cultures from certain regions of the world are polluting their pure system. Such threats being perceived is that of the cultures of Islam. Being a the second major religion with over a billion people, Islam spans many regions of the world and consists of numerous cultures and nationalities.

If we are honest in our assessment of history, this threat of Islamic culture somehow unraveling western civilization is very baseless. It is arguable even that the Islamic civilizations that inhabited north Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere saved Europe from the dark ages by preserving European knowledge and advancing in other fields. The following describes what events resulted in the dissent of western civilization into the dark age and how Islam resurrected it from the precipice.

When the Roman Catholic Church was established following the Council of Nicaea in 425 AD, it inherited the Roman military of the western empire; which it used to ensure its hegemony following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Religions in those days acted as states and governments, they are what we think of as culture and civilizations today. As institutions such as the Roman bureaucracy and state apparatus started to collapse and unravel in the western half of the empire, the hierarchical organization of the Roman Catholic Church superseded governmental institutions as decision maker. Feudalism evolved as a result.

From roughly it's on set in for 425 AD-800 AD The Catholic Church used the Roman military as a means of crashing all pagan groups and competitive and Christian groups such as the Gnostics in a literal genocidal campaign. Much of the works of these groups being exterminated were associated with the foundations of the scientific and mathematical knowledge of the era of antiquity. Groups like the Pythagoreans and Neoplatonists for example (followers of the mathematical group created by Pythagoras in Greece, and the philosophical order of new Platonists who are followers of Greek philosopher Plato) fled to the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. In North Africa the Islamic empires that were established (600s-800s timeframe) became a refuge for these Greco-Roman pagan works as well as gnostic Christian works within the empires due to the Islamic mystical sects and philosophical traditions. Others who sought refuge in the Middle East settled in the Islamic and Zoroastrian groups, molding and blending into philosophical orders such as the Rosicrucians. Those who settled in eastern European areas further away from Christendom (i.e. Western Europe under Roman Catholic hegemony) went on to form the Eastern Orthodox Church, which had schism-ed with the Catholic Church in 1054 AD.

The hegemonic order of Christendom in the west lasted roughly 800 A.D. to 1200 A.D. As the Catholic Church expanded out it's genocidal campaigns via the Crusades against non-European forces such as trying to reclaim the holy land of Jerusalem, against internal Christian "enemies" such as sacking Constantinople, and against the empires of Islam.

As the crusades occurred from the 1000s-1500s AD, Europeans not only plundered Islamic material goods like gold and luxury items; they started to stumble upon the long lost works of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Lost Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Judas, Mary Magdalene, Jesus, and expanded versions of others, Egyptian philosophical and religious texts, Greco-Roman pagan philosophical and religious texts like those of Hermes Trismegistus, all the knowledge that had once existed in Europe prior to Catholic hegemony. Prior to the destruction of the archives, libraries, temples, and culture of the multicultural pagan Greco-Roman Egyptian Hellenistic world of antiquity.

Crusaders recognize the value of this knowledge, establishing philosophical military orders such as the Knights Templar. When Europeans became aware of these true treasures of knowledge, the floodgate of knowledge from Islamic civilization became a demand greater than material resources.

As these great works started returning to Europe, culture started to shift in certain regions. Gnostic revivals sprung up in numerous places, most notably the Cathars in France. A prosperous multi cultural region that was strongly egalitarian and was autonomous to Catholic dictation. The third Crusade resulted in 1189 A.D. which resulted in the Catholic Church leading a massive army to crush and exterminate the Cathars. The fourth Crusade occurred in 1198 AD, in which the previously mentioned plundering of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, resulted. The Byzantine Empire was the western half of the Roman empire that had been retained during the western's collapse and its dark age; but also a major Christian city that did not follow catholic hegemonic interpretation and dictation of Christianity. While Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire was technically part of Christendom, it was a multicultural city that did not purify its archives.

But nonetheless, because of the preservation, respect, and wisdom of the Islamic Golden Age, Europe was able to free itself from its own domination. The floodgate of knowledge once purged and branded as heretical asserted back into the European consciousness. Gnostic works, being a Christian group that interpret doctrine in a manner that was multicultural and symbiotic with pagan works; became the root philosophy that drove what became known as the Renaissance. The revival of Gnosticism was known as the Hermetic Movement, consisting of most of the great scientists such as Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, and the original martyr of the hermetic scientific movement Giordano Bruno. The Hermetic movement destabilized Catholic hegemony to the point that the Protestant Reformation was able to occur. The entire European Renaissance and all subsequent results of the renaissance, in terms of high civilization achieved by Europe and later North American civilizations such as our own; is largely thanks to the Islamic civilizations that inhabited North Africa and the Middle East.

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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To My Parents Who Traveled Across The Globe For Opportunity

I'd say the 17 hour plane ride was worth it.


Dear Mom and Dad,

April, 1998: an important and historical month for the Mugeta clan. It was in this month that you, Mom, (eight months pregnant), and you, Dad (definitely not pregnant but definitely exhausted), left the familiar and bustling city of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and flew over some 8,000 miles over 17 hours, to the land of 10,000 lakes: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dad, you were lucky enough to get selected for the U.S Diversity and Lottery program (which, cough, a certain president is trying to eliminate) and had friends here in Minneapolis who were willing to let a few stranglers stay in their apartment for a few months.

Coming to Minneapolis, you guys just wanted the chance to explore. The United States is incredibly hyped up across the globe. "America this, America that, the American dream." Mom, you told me that you jumped at the chance to fly here because, "It's America, and who doesn't want to come here?"

In the 20 years that you've lived here, you've done so many things. You guys had me, Dee and Chris, got jobs, bought a house, Mom, you got a degree and, of course, dealt with the rebellious American generation kids you were raising. Doing all these things isn't easy; too many people make it sound as if moving across the world is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy when it is far from that. It is shockingly expensive when it shouldn't be, incredibly selective and terrifying. But you guys still make it seem easy.

The judgment that immigrants get from "American Natives" is embarrassing and makes my skin crawl. People, like you two, have uprooted your lives for better opportunity and experiences, yet people will still label you as "job stealers" and other dumb things. It took nine years for us to visit family, to see the Grandmas, Aunt, Uncles and cousins. You didn't just move here for the "American glamour."

It's easy to get caught up in Western cultures and ideas. I'm guilty of it. Sometimes, I take what you do for granted and I feel ashamed thinking about it. I can be selfish and extremely headstrong. Mom, I know you're reading this and laughing because you know this already and know how I always think I'm right about everything.

It's thanks to you guys I get to study a major I love, have all these connections with so many people, have two places to call home and have a stronger bond with others thanks to the experiences we've faced together.

Thanks for being the most genuine parents ever. Seriously. You guys teach me so much and make me want to do everything the world has to offer. I feel like I could be an engineer, teacher and even astrophysicist from all the encouragement you give me. I might be bad at math, but you make it all seem like it's possible.

People who don't have immigrant parents are missing out: the dual languages (even though I can barely stutter three sentences in Swahili), traditional clothing, music that makes you want to dance out of the planet as well as other aspects of culture that just make your everyday life more diverse. And I'm thankful for the culture in my life. I'm privileged to be able to teach and show my children the culture I grew up with and will continue to embrace for the rest of my life.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being the best. And for not making me be a Doctor.



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