Everyone who enjoys life as a North American can thank Islam. It is a direct result of Islam that the United States, Canada, Mexico and a great many other countries were founded. Yes, you heard me right. And here you thought that the “New World” was discovered in an attempt to find a quicker, safer route to trade with China and India, which caused the founding of all these countries. Well, you’re right about that, too. But if you’re like me, you never considered Islam to be a catalyst of any sort.
UPDATE: eliminate all references to “Horn of Africa” and replace with “Cape of Good Hope” (thanks, Jeff)
I learned something today. And, as an educator at heart, I want to spread my learning. Islam was the primary catalyst in the discovery of the “New World.” I’m sure that, like me, you learned that Columbus set out to find a quicker, safer ocean-route to China and India than the dangerous route around the Horn of Africa. And you probably learned the route around the Horn of Africa was an alternative to the overland routes. Possibly even a quicker route with fewer hardships.
Looking at a clickable world map, I have to believe the quickest and safest way to trade with India and China during the 15th and 16th centuries would’ve been to dock ships in Constantinople, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea and trade with the overland caravans. So, why was the Horn of Africa chosen as an alternate route? Was it to bypass the middle man? I don’t believe so. Was it to avoid the travails of terrain and climate for the remaining overland route? Again, I don’t believe so. Especially if Britain was trading with another country that went through the effort of going the overland route. So, why take the very dangerous route around the Horn of Africa when a much safer route was available? Because that much safer route did not exist. It existed for centuries but it ceased to exist, so a new route for trade had to be created. Thus the very dangerous route around the Horn of Africa.
And the very dangerous route around the Horn of Africa (and the length of time involved) was the catalyst in finding a new, trans-global route which people like Columbus believed to be shorter and likely safer. But, so far, I have not added any new knowledge to what I already learned in all my History classes. Except I introduced a sudden loss of a Mediterranean-overland trading route to the mix. And that route loss was the catalyst for finding new routes.
The Mediterranean became an unacceptable route for merchant shipping. And the overland route from China and India to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and Constantinople, a previously major port of trade, also became an unacceptable route for commerce. But why? In a word, Islam. The rise of Islam closed the overland routes and the Mediterranean to commerce. And this rise of Islam plunged Europe into the Dark Ages.
How could the “religion of peace” close the Mediterranean and the overland routes, causing people to risk their lives by sailing the Horn? Well, if you know your history, you’ll know the answer. And this is something I learned today. It wasn’t taught in History class in the 70s and early 80s. And I don’t blame my History teachers because they likely didn’t learn it either.
Throughout history, empires around the Mediterranean have risen and fallen. Certainly, during the rise of a new empire, trade was cut off. But as the new empire stabilized its borders, trade with and through the new empire began anew. And as the centuries moved ever forward, Europe moved from “barbaric” tribalism to “civilized” nationalism aided in part by regional natural borders, language barriers and regional culture. And this nationalization added to international trade. This nationalism also led to colonialism, which, in turn added to trade.
(The above paragraph is my reasoning and not based on my knowledge of history, so I could be totally wrong on that aspect. I don’t know for certain.)
Starting around the seventh century AD, as Europe was coalescing around nationalism, there was another force in play. And that force was the rise of Islam as a world power. And it was the deleterious nature of Islam, the great evil of Islam, that caused much great good. And history is replete with evidence of evil being used against itself to cause much good.*
It was around the seventh century AD that Islam owned all of the middle east, north Africa, the Mediterranean, Spain and the Mediterranean coastal regions of Europe. European Mediterranean port cities became virtual ghost towns as the Mohammedans constantly raided them. Constantinople was attacked on basically a yearly basis. And, contrary to previous empires, the Islamic empire never stabilized its borders and never allowed for trade crossing its borders.
While it was safe for heavily armed naval fleets to sail the Mediterranean, it was not safe for merchant vessels. And this Islamic lock-down of the Mediterranean lasted into the 19th century. (This is an important point, which I’ll refer back to later.) All seafaring trade in the region was effectively killed. In addition, the overland caravan routes through the Islamic empire were decimated. And there was no way of getting these routes of trade back, short of destroying the Islamic empire. No way at all.
It is the Islamic hegemony that plunged Europe into the dark ages. It is the Islamic hegemony which required the route around the Horn of Africa. And it is the extreme danger and life-threatening journey around the Horn of Africa, in concert with the Islamic hegemony, which caused explorers to seek out a new and safer route of trade between Europe and China and India.
Without the Islamic hegemony, the “New World” would not have been “found.” Fast-forward as we witness all the Spanish atrocities in Mexico and other regions of Central America. These atrocities were learned philosophies, and they were learned from the Mohammedans. What the Spaniards did in Central and North America were what the Mohammedans had been doing for centuries in the middle east and Mediterranean regions.
Enter the British as they colonize North America as a result of Columbus “finding” it. And remember, Columbus wouldn’t have “found” it had the Islamic hegemony permitted trade. As the colonies were growing, many different Christian groups fled Europe to have their freedom to worship Providence as they deemed proper. And the colonies grew.
Fast-forward again, and the US is formed as a separate and free nation a long way from the European powers. Of course, England and France were doing their little power-dance. And of course, France was going through its own revolution. And of course, England went through its own revolution (which was very different from the French revolution). And this all added to the isolation and security of the US as it was growing. But the Islamic hegemony also played a major role in providing the US the security needed to grow. Europe still had to deal with Islam owning the Mediterranean into the early 19th century. This gave the US the freedom and security necessary to grow without major undue outside conflicts (aside from England’s attempt to regain control in 1812-1814).
As you can see, Islam was key in “finding” the “New World.” As the US was in its infancy, Islam was also key in Europe’s leaving us alone, along with European infighting. We were found, colonized, became a nation (along with many other nations), grew from fragile to strong as a result of Islam. So we can thank the evil that is Islam for the great good the US has given the world.
For further reading, I strongly suggest you examine How Muslim Piracy Changed the World.
*We can thank Nazi Germany for the re-emergence of Israel. If not for Nazi Germany, the anti-Jew Stalinist Soviet Union, the complicity of the US and England in not accepting mass migrations of Jews, Israel would’ve never re-emerged.
Cross Posted on Truth Before Dishonor