With the triumph of relativism and the current economic woes of the West, the sense that Western civilization is unique and in some respects—to use an old-fashioned word—better than the alternatives, and worth defending and exporting, is waning. But Bernard Lewis’ The Muslim Discovery of Europe suggests a longer view in which Europe, while containing all the faults of previous civilizations, has been one of the few to begin the process of correcting those faults, and has corrected many more than any other civilization.
One feature of European civilization that stands out as unique is curiosity. Continue reading →
Richard Bell’s Introduction to the Qur’an is, at less than 200 pages, a brief and easily-digestible explanation of the context in which Islam’s “holy” book arose, and the problems of reconciling theological orthodoxy with historical accuracy. More than six decades after publication, the book remains influential in scholarship of the Qur’an. Continue reading →
I was genuinely devastated to learn of Fouad Ajami’s death late last night. I think it was more shocking because nobody had known he was ill. I had noticed the decreased frequency of his columns in the Wall Street Journal but he was not a regular in any sense, writing one or two a month, so it was not wholly out of the ordinary and then he had returned last week for what it now transpires was the final time. Continue reading →