Wherever Muslims are to be found, they are first and foremost citizens of Islam. They are subject to Islam morally, religiously and intellectually. Their mentality, over the course of centuries, has been slowly kneaded, moulded and impregnated by the religious doctrine of the Arabian Prophet and this fact can only be fully grasped by a study of Arab history. We are told by Muslims in the West that Islam had a great civilising influence on those individuals and nations with whom they had contact, this error of crediting the Arabs in such a way needs to be addressed. Works of antiquity were passed off as the work of outstanding Muslim scholars but the reality is that the Arabs were not inventors or initiators but copyists of material which was largely unknown in Europe. It was not until the time of the Renaissance, when the manuscripts of the original authors were discovered, that the error was detected.
History gives the impression that the immense Islamic Empire under the caliphs which spread from India to Spain had a degree of civilisation which was given by the Muslim Arabs. Nations who converted to Islam only made progress because they had not imbibed Islam deeply. The prodigious success of the Arab conquest proves nothing as it brought nations into subjection. A conquering people only exercises a civilising influence when it is, itself more civilised than the people conquered. All the nations conquered by the armies of the Caliphs had attained a high degree of culture long before the Arabs came. Rather than advancing the civilisation of the country the conquered lands were stifled under Islam.
The fact is, that with the conquests of Islam the Greco-Latin civilisations did not immediately die out. It was so full of life that it continued for two or three generations to send forth vigorous shoots behind a frontage of Islam. The conquered countries had the choice of believe or perish. Since very few of us are capable of coping with suffering the greater part of the people preferred conversion to death or slavery.
The first generation received Islam lightly while still retaining their own mentality and traditions intact; it continued to think and act, in consideration of a few outward concessions to Islam, as it had always been used to doing. Arabic became the official language but thinking continued in Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Italian and Spanish. The second generation, brought up on Muslim dogma, but still subject to the influence of its parents, still retained some originality but the succeeding generations which were completely Islamised had less to offer.
Islam has little originality. Its original doctrine was an assimilation of Pagan, Jewish and Christian concepts which evolved into a religious doctrine which is cold and rigid as a geometrical theorem. The four orthodox doctors have compounded this rigidity for it is forbidden to make any interpretation of the sacred texts not sanctioned by these works.
Abbreviated from ‘Islam and the Psychology of the Muslim by Andre’ Servier