One of the reasons why Greek natural philosophy was so quickly assimilated into European universities during the Middle Ages, in sharp contrast to Islamic madrasas, was that the earliest Christian theologians were familiar with Greek philosophy and borrowed from its vocabulary and conceptual universe. For Muslims who came from the Arabian Peninsula, the Greco-Roman legacy was an alien intrusion which their cultural immune system failed to fully internalize and eventually rejected. This does not mean that they never borrowed from it when it suited them. They did; but it was never “theirs.” … This had practical consequences, for instance in the positive Christian view of pictorial art, which came from the Greco-Roman parent culture. This was never shared by Muslims.

Art is never just “art.” It always reflects the world-view of a particular culture. Islamic art has usually been quite sterile. Muslims have created some miniature paintings, but never anything comparable to Western art or ancient Greek art for that matter, and virtually no sculptures.

In contrast, the Greek artistic legacy left a major imprint on early Buddhist art and sculpture in the border regions of northern India, after Alexander the Great’s conquests. You could thus argue successfully that Westerners share a “Greek legacy” with Asian Buddhist-influenced cultures more than with Muslims. …

I could add that Christians and Jews, as well as most of the pre-Islamic peoples of the Middle East, from ancient Egyptians and Sumerians to Phoenicians and Persians, accepted wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages as a part of their culture, even as a part of their religious culture. Muslims never formally did this. The Middle East went from being a global center of civilization to a global center of anti-civilization during its Islamization. This corresponds roughly to the time when wine and beer were enjoyed as an accepted part of the culture, which it was in pre-Islamic times and still is for non-Muslims. The Japanese had drinking games in medieval times. They still have this, only now they call it “karaoke.” I know of virtually no advanced civilization, from the Chinese to the Mayas in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, who did not enjoy some form of fermented beverage. …

The idea of a “shared monotheism” is false, too. Christianity with its concept of the Trinity is akin to soft-polytheism from an Islamic point of view. The religious texts are clearly different, not to mention the personal examples of the founders of the two religions, Jesus and Muhammad. Islam became a major world religion through armed conquest and the creation of an empire. Christianity became a major world religion by gradually taking over an already established empire, the Roman Empire. Moreover, the Zoroastrian and Jewish communities in the Middle East (except for Israel) have been all but wiped out by Muslims, and the Christian communities are in serious decline.

A researcher from Denmark, Tina Magaard, has spent years analyzing the original texts of different religions, from Buddhism to Sikhism, and concludes that the Islamic texts are by far the most warlike among the major religions of the world. They encourage terror and fighting to a far larger degree than the original texts of other religions. “The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with,” says Magaard. Moreover, there are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths. “If it is correct that many Muslims view the Koran as the literal words of God, which cannot be interpreted or rephrased, then we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage terror and violence. Consequently, it must be reasonable to ask Muslims themselves how they relate to the text, if they read it as it is,” she says.