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to collapse and unravel in the western half of the empire, the hierarchical organization of the Roman Catholic Church superseded governmental institutions as decision maker.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.

Cover Image Credit: scienceandthemiddleeast - WordPress

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Paths We Take

I can control my destiny, but not my fate.

Have you ever wondered if life would be different in more ways than one, considering the different choices we make? Personally, I’ve always wondered what my life would be like, whether it would still be in the best shape as it is currently. Throughout the majority of my life, I have always wondered, “why do these bad things happen?” I had never really believed in a higher power, so I never had anywhere to turn to for answers. There’s also the case that everything that happens, happens for a reason. To this day, I one hundred percent, believe that.

If I hadn’t gone through the most abusive relationship of my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For instance, would I really be living in my own home in Albany to this day, if I hadn’t met my ex? Those two don’t seem to correlate at all, right? The main reason I moved to Albany to begin with, was for my ex.

The original plan wasn’t to move out to Albany; it was never to find someone at college and “claim” to fall in love. My original plan was to stay at home, with my dad, in the small town of Norwich, NY, and become a cop. I knew I wanted to move on to bigger and better things, but there are still many people who say the same thing…

“I need to get out of this town.”

Ironically, they haven’t left, but I did…

The original plan wasn’t to take a semester off and work for the Albany Legislature, that was just a shot in the dark. I had received an email, about a potential internship. Thinking “what the hell” I applied. I applied just to say I did it, never did I imagine I would actually be accepted. Six months later, I’m sitting in the office of Assemblyman Joseph Giglio. Little did I know at the time, this was going to be the turning point of my life. It would define my career choices, and my life in many more ways than one.

In any case, it was the conscious decision that I needed to leave my hometown and branch out to somewhere new. Would I really have met my current boyfriend, if I never made the move to begin with? Even if he did live two hours away from me. These subtle choices make me beg the bigger question, could this be the inner workings of fate?

I catch myself continuously reflecting on where my life is, and how it felt as though I was on a roller-coaster that would twist and turn in directions that I would have never guessed. I was at my lowest point right before I met the most important person in my life-Josh. He lifted me up from the lowest point and continues to do the same to this day. I wonder how my life would be currently if I hadn’t met him, or if he wasn’t as supportive and loving as he is. Where would I be?

I’m not trying to say that I “wouldn’t be here,” but it’s inevitable to question how much in my life would be different if certain things had never happened. I’m forever grateful for the people in my life and the way that fate has taken me. For all the obstacles that I had to overcome, that eventually led me to the climb out of this metaphorical hole that I found myself in. To the people that have come and gone, teaching me valuable lessons to which I have become a bigger and better person. For those bridges that were eventually mended after a big and powerful wreckage. I believe there is a reason for me to be in this world, whether it’d be on the basis of fate or the choices I make for myself.

This gives me a reason to keep going, and keep pushing forward.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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