One of the most persistent myths promoted by Eurabian Multiculturalists is that of the “shared Greco-Roman heritage” between Europeans and Arabs which is now going to lay the foundations for a new Mediterranean Union, Eurabia. It is true that countries such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Algeria were just as much a part of the Roman Empire as were England, France and Spain. However, the Arab conquerors later rejected many elements of the Greco-Roman era once they invaded these nations. Many Greek classics were translated to Arabic, but Muslims were highly particular about which texts to exclude. There was a great deal of Greek thought that could never have been “transferred” to Europeans by Arabs, as is frequently claimed today, because many Greek works had never been translated into Arabic in the first place. Muslims especially turned down political texts since these included descriptions of systems in which men ruled themselves according to their own laws. This was considered blasphemous by Muslims, as laws are made by Allah and rule belongs to his representatives. Even Aristotle’s (384-322 BC) political texts were turned down.- - - - - - - - -
As Iranian intellectual Amir Taheri states, “To understand a civilisation it is important to understand its vocabulary. If it was not on their tongues it is likely that it was not on their minds either. There was no word in any of the Muslim languages for democracy until the 1890s. Even then the Greek word democracy entered Muslim languages with little change: democrasi in Persian, dimokraytiyah in Arabic, demokratio in Turkish.…It is no accident that early Muslims translated numerous ancient Greek texts but never those related to political matters. The great Avicenna himself translated Aristotle’s Poetics. But there was no translation of Aristotle’s Politics in Persian until 1963.”
Even Dimitri Gutas in his very pro-Islamic book Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (page 1) states that “from about the middle of the eighth century to the end of the tenth, almost all non-literary and non-historical secular Greek books that were available throughout the Eastern Byzantine Empire and the Near East were translated into Arabic.” It is true that most scientific works in Greek, and some in Persian, Sanskrit and other languages, were translated during this period and that all later scholars in the Islamic world were deeply affected by these translated works. But as Gutas indicates, even at the best of times High Greek (and other non-Muslim) literature was never translated, not even the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. European scholars were interested in the entire body of learning and literature from the Greco-Roman era and from other cultures while Muslims consistently ignored much of it. Muslims who wanted translations of Greek or other non-Islamic works were primarily concerned with topics of medicine, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. They usually ignored playwrights and dramatists such as Sophocles (ca. 496-406 BC) and Euripides (ca. 484-406 BC) or historians such as Thucydides (460?—404? BC) and Herodotus (ca. 484—ca. 425 BC). This corpus of literature could only be saved from the originals preserved by Byzantine Christians since Roman times. There was a large body of Greek learning that was never available in Arabic in the first place. In addition to being selective about Greek works, Muslims showed little interest in Latin writers, for instance Cicero.
Virtually everything that I have quoted in this essay was ignored by Muslims throughout Islamic history. There was no institution similar to the English Parliament in the Islamic world, nor was there developed a concept similar to Montesquieu’s (1689—1755 AD) separation of powers, and the political writings of Aristotle, Cicero and others was aggressively rejected. All the elements underlying the American political system were thus rejected by Muslims before the USA had even been created. If Americans had remembered that, they might have been less eager to export their political system to Muslim countries. They might also have remembered that the idea that “democracy” is 100% good and the only valid political system is naïve. It is a development of the period after the French Revolution and was not shared by serious thinkers before this, including the American Founding Fathers.
Read the rest at the Brussels Journal.