Hardly a week goes by without somebody claiming that Muslims and Westerners have a “shared cultural heritage.” I strongly object to this claim. The only “shared history” Europeans have with Muslims is being at the receiving end of more than 1300 years of Jihad warfare. The re-writing of Western history has become so bad that even playwright William Shakespeare has been proclaimed a closet Muslim. “Shakespeare would have delighted in Sufism,” said the Islamic scholar Martin Lings, himself a Sufi Muslim, in 2004. According to The Guardian, Lings argued that Shakespeare’s work “resembles the teachings of the Islamic Sufi sect” in the International Shakespeare Globe Fellowship Lecture at Shakespeare’s own Globe Theatre in London. …

As Robert Spencer commented back then, “Shakespeare is just the latest paradigmatic figure of Western Christian culture to be remade in a Muslim-friendly manner: recently the State Department asserted, without a shred of evidence, that Christopher Columbus (who in fact praised Ferdinand and Isabella for driving the Muslims out of Spain) was aided on his voyages by a Muslim navigator. It is a sign of the times when this kind of thinking is no longer confined to Islamic apologetics websites, but is taken up by the Globe Theatre and the U.S. State Department — hardly representatives of the cultural fringes — and even American textbook publishers. The state of American education is so dismal today that teachers themselves are ill-equipped to counter these historical fantasies. They will become willing propagators of the new history: nothing to fear from Muslims, you see. Shakespeare was one of them. Oh yes, and Goethe. And Abraham Lincoln’s mother.”

The funny part is that the [very] concept of “theater” hardly existed in medieval or early modern Islam. There was no Muslim Shakespeare because there could be no Muslim Shakespeare. It’s yet another part of the Greco-Roman heritage which was not “shared, preserved and passed on to us” by Muslims since they were never interested in it even at the best of times.

Jesus, who founded the religion which was to become Christianity, probably spoke at least some Greek. I’m pretty sure Muhammad did not. … Christianity grew and eventually conquered the Roman Empire from within. Christianity was a Roman religion from the very beginning. It would be fair to say that it was born out of a Jewish conceptual universe, but was shaped in a Greco-Roman environment and baptized in a spring of Greek philosophy and Roman law.

When the American Founding Fathers in the eighteenth century discussed how the shape of their young Republic should be, they were influenced by, in addition to the English parliament and the French thinker Montesquieu (who was inspired by the British political system), descriptions of democratic Athens and the Roman Republic through Aristotle’s political texts and Cicero’s writings, among other things. None of these texts were ever available in Arabic, Persian or Turkish translations. Cicero was extremely influential in European thought from the Renaissance through the Scientific Revolution to the Enlightenment, yet totally ignored by Muslims. Roman law is secular and changeable, unlike sharia which is eternal and institutes a religious apartheid system. Roman law was used by Europeans, but not by Muslims. Of the Greek heritage, Muslims even during the so-called “golden age”, were uninterested in the concept of democracy, men ruling themselves according to man-made laws.

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