An unprecedented, richly, detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in European history and civilization
Tensions over Islam were escalating in Europe even before 9/11. Since then, repeated episodes of terrorism together with the refugee crisis have dramatically increased the divide between the majority population and Muslim communities, pushing the debate well beyond concerns over language and female dress. Meanwhile, the parallel rise of right-wing, nationalist political parties throughout the continent, often espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric, has shaken the foundation of the European Union to its very core.
Many Europeans see Islam as an alien, even barbaric force that threatens to overwhelm them and their societies. Muslims, by contrast, struggle to find a place in Europe in the face of increasing intolerance. In tandem, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination cause many on the continent to feel unwelcome in their European homes.
Akbar Ahmed, an internationally renowned Islamic scholar, traveled across Europe over the course of four years with his team of researchers and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to investigate questions of Islam, immigration, and identity. They spoke with some of Europe’s most prominent figures, including presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Their findings reveal a story of the place of Islam in European history and civilization that is more interwoven and complex than the reader might imagine, while exposing both the misunderstandings and the opportunities for Europe and its Muslim communities to improve their relationship. Along with an analysis of what has gone wrong and why, this urgent study, the fourth in a quartet examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, features recommendations for promoting integration and pluralism in the twenty-first century.