The story of conflict and confrontation between Islam and the West has become daily news, but throughout the ages Muslims, Christians, and Jews have shared more than enmity and war: there is also a rich and textured history of coexistence that has all but disappeared from our collective memory. In this timely and revealing book, Zachary Karabell traces the legacy of tolerance and cooperation from the advent of Islam to the present day.
In an extraordinary narrative spanning fourteen centuries, Karabell introduces us to the court of the caliphs in Baghdad, where scholars of various faiths engaged in spirited debate. He evokes the wonders of medieval Spain, where Jewish sages, Muslim philosophers, and Christian monks together deciphered the meaning of God and the universe. He offers a portrait of the Crusades that goes beyond the rivalry of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, and shows how Christians and Muslims lived side by side. And he paints a vivid picture of religious autonomy in the Ottoman Empire.
As he explores the growing tensions of the modern era, Karabell traces the rise of Arab nationalism, the redrawing of the Middle East map in the wake of World War I, and the increased hostilities following the creation of the state of Israel. Through it all, he reminds us that dialogue and friendship have always punctuated times of war and discord. Today, while some Muslims, Christians, and Jews engage in confrontation, others—in Dubai, in Turkey, and around the globe—find common ground. Remembering the legacy of coexistence and recognizing its prevalence even today is a vital ingredient to a more stable, secure world.