One of the sadder consequences of the near decade of war and violence that has followed the attacks of 9/11 is that so many people are convinced that we are in a clash of civilizations divided along religious fault lines. The concept was popularized by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in the mid-1990s, but he didn’t invent the idea; he gave it a name. Until 9/11, however, it was both debated and debatable. Since then, it has become a mainstream view in both the Western world and the Muslim world. The recent furor over the proposed Muslim center in Lower Manhattan, the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in Europe and the continued attraction of radical antinomian Islam in parts of the Muslim world attest to this situation. But Graham Fuller offers a forceful, erudite reminder that neither Islam nor religious fervor adequately explains the animosity between parts of the Muslim world and the United States. In fact, he posits that the fissures that currently exist might well have existed even if Islam never had, and he offers a wide-ranging, at times digressive but always illuminating look at the past centuries to support that contention.
more from Zachary Karabell at the LAT here.