This book examines history and thought “before and after Muhammad” by offering a new perspective on the debate about “the West and the Rest,” about America's destiny and Europe's identity. One party explains how Europe and eventually North America—the North Atlantic world—left the rest in the dust from about 1500. The other side argues that Asia—China, Japan, and the Islamic trio of Mughals, Safavids, and Ottomans—remained largely free of European encroachment until the mid-1700s, but then either collapsed for internal reasons, or else were gradually undermined by colonial powers' superior technological, economic, and military power. In seeking to overhaul the foundations of this debate, especially as regards the role of Islam and the Islamic world, the book reformulates the history of the First Millennium, by the end of which Islam had matured sufficiently to be compared with patristic Christianity, in order to fit Islam into it. The book draws primarily on Edward Gibbon's account of East Rome and Islam.
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