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The loss of dominance

The loss of dominance
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This increasing foreign political and cultural presence, together with the geopolitical weakness of the Muslim world at the time, created a sense of deep crisis among Muslims in the 19th century. This crisis brought about a worsening in the attitude towards Christian and Jewish minorities, who were identified as the main beneficiaries of expanding Western influence and dominance. As we will see, these minorities were now seen as rising above their allotted inferior place in the societal hierarchy. In Islam there is a perception that since Islam came after Judaism and Christianity, and Islam completed the divine revelation of Judaism and Christianity, Islam superseded previous religions, and therefore Islam should be on top. There is a saying in
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Arabic, I will say it in Arabic: “Al-Islam Ya’lu Wala Yu’la Alaih,” which means Islam should be on top and nothing could be above Islam. This perception conformed with historical reality when Muslim countries, Muslim empires, were indeed powerful and very successful. However, in the 19th century when the strategic, economic, social and scientific balance of power changed in favor of the west, of Western countries against Islam, this led to a major, I would say, theological and also psychological crisis among Muslims - how can it be that Muslims are now weaker or inferior to infidels?
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And this sense of bewilderment or loss of confidence also led to loss of tolerance toward minorities, fear of the minorities and we can see a direct correlation between the worsening situation of Muslims on the one side, and growing intolerance toward minorities.

Prof. Meir Litvak

This increasing foreign political and cultural presence, together with the geopolitical weakness of the Muslim world at the time, created a sense of deep crisis among Muslims in the 19th century.

How did the “loss of dominance” affect the attitudes toward minorities in the Arab and Islamic sphere?

References

  • Lewis, Bernard, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (New York: W. W. Norton, 1986).

  • Lewis, Bernard, What Went Wrong?: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

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