He has featured on the website 'loonwatch' following the Bowersock review, charging him basically with being part of the grand conspiracy against Islam, and being compared to Robert Spencer, Breivik and so on. He's replied in their comments with considerable restraint, and says some important things.
I understand your concern – and, perhaps, if I belonged to a minority in Europe at the moment, I might well share it. But that said, and putting to one side Anders Breivik – who is no more representative of mainstream European opinion than the London suicide bombers were of mainstream Muslim opinion – the challenge faced by Muslims in Europe is that most Europeans today regard religon, let alone Islam, as something alien and unfathomable
. In that context, let me quote you the final paragraphs of my book:
“The peoples of late antiquity, then, when they imagined themselves to be living through the End Days foretold by the prophet Daniel, had been mistaken. Not the empire of the pagan Romans, nor that of their Christian successors, nor that of the Ishmaelites had proved to be the Fourth Beast. Nevertheless, those who saw in the convulsions of the age a process of transformation unlike any other, by means of which a kingdom would end up established on earth ‘which shall be different from all the kingdoms’, were not so far wrong. Caesars, Shahanshahs and Caliphs, none of them remain – but the words of the rabbis who taught in Sura, the bishops who met in Nicaea and the ulama who studied in Kufa still shape the world as living things today. There could be no more conclusive testimony to the impact of the revolution witnessed by late antiquity than the existence, in the twenty-first century, of billions upon billions of people who profess belief in a single god and lead their lives in accordance with that belief.
The pen, it seems, is indeed mightier than the sword.”
My argument is twofold: that we are all of us, even the most determinedly atheistic and secular, the legatees of monotheism; and that Islam, far from coming like lightning from a clear blue sky, is a bloom sprung from the same seedbed as Judaism and Christianity. As a believing Muslim, you will, of course, declare your conviction that God did indeed reveal Himself to Muhammad in Mecca and Medina, and that to attempt to find human explanations for the Qur’an is a waste of effort. Equally, since I am not a Muslim, I am sure you will accept that I find such an explanation inadequate. That being so, should I shrink from applying to the Arab empire the same spotlight that I have sought to shine on the Roman or the Persian empires? That I do not believe the literal truth of Livy’s account of the origins of Rome does not in any way diminish my admiration for Roman civilisation – just as my questioning of the literal truth of Muslim tradition should not be interpreted as ‘loonacy’. On the contray – what I am doing, I hope, is showing to non-Muslims how Islam evolved as a civilisational solution to a period of devastating crisis – and that it achieved in the Middle East what Christianity achieved in Western Europe – the establishment of a moral and ethical framework that enabled rampant savagery to be tamed. Europe is never going to convert to Islam – but if Europeans can be brought to see in the evolution of Islam correspondences with their own history, and to recognise that Christendom and the House of Islam are both rooms in the same house, then I think that is no bad thing.
Thank you for giving me the chance to express myself here, and for reprinting my reply to Professor Bowersock – I appreciate it.http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/05/glen-bowersock-in-the-shadow-of-the-sword-by-tom-holland-review/