— excerpt adapted from September/October 2016 Foreign Affairs review essay · “Mosque and State” by Malise Ruthven, author Islam in the World.
The Islamic world could not follow only the European path toward Enlightenment and modernity by way of reformation. Even Christianity and, more broadly, we in the West, didn’t really follow that path–“at least as it is often portrayed.”
“The Enlightenment was the outcome not only of the Reformation but also of centuries of violent religious conflict, after which sensible people concluded that they were not improving their lots by killing one another in the name of God.
“That is the grim lesson that Muslims in the contemporary Middle East may yet find themselves learning from European history.”
What the West was not spared on the way to Enlightenment the Muslim world is not being spared. History, including our own, has lessons to teach us all. Certainly, historically, we in the West have not been superior to what the Middle East is going through.