With nominal Muslims second in the world in number to nominal Christians,1 Islam matters as a constant mirroring image of the West in recorded history, originally across the Mediterranean, and now increasingly worldwide. In the words of French historian Lucien Febvre, Islam ‘created’ Europe by splitting what was until then a united Mediterranean world. Building on a remark by his colleague Marc Bloch about ‘the birth of Europe when the Roman Empire died’, Febvre showed how the rise of Europe could not be understood without the irremediable ‘loss’ of half of the...
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