The main role of Richard Fletcher's The Cross and the Crescent is that it presents a concise history of the relations between Muslims and Christians in a period characterized by histeria and fear in the United States, regarding anything related to Muslims. This history of Muslim-Christian relations comes at the opportune moment, as it explains in a very balanced way the relation that these two different cultures had in time, partly explaining the actual conflict between these two worlds.
While the discussions in the Middle East between Christians and Muslims were peacefull, the same can not be said about the way Muslims were seen in the Christian world. They were always regarded as a potential threat, due to some historical events that pointed in this direction (for example, Constantinopole was constantly under attack).
Not all relations between Muslims and Christians were of a violent nature, as there existed some colaboration between them in history. This colaboration was in the area of commerce that the two developed in the Mediterranean region. This commerce led to a trade in technology (the invention of abacus and the production of paper) that led to a stronger relation between cultures. But this relation of trade was not later developed any further, as the two did not show any interest in eachother's religion.
The relation between Islam and Christianity was not a very close and cooperative one throughout history, as it is not so even today. The historical tour that Fletcher makes ends in the early 16th century, when the Islam world was far more developed and sophisticated than the western Europeans. This is why Muslims did not view Christians as competition. But, as the European civilization developed in a spectacular way, the Muslims were shocked by the effect that this new rising civilization had on them.
Fletcher's book focuses on the attitude that the Muslims had regarding to the Christians and vice-versa more than to purely historical aspects. For example, he pays not so much attention to the historical events of the crusades, but to the effect they had on the Muslim population. The book provides a valuable insight to Islam and to the relations between Islam and Christianity.
The Muslims were seen as barbarians, as they invaded many Christian countries and conquered, especially during the Ottoman Empire, large territories of Christian population. This almost permanent military conflict between Muslims and Christians led to the formation of various anti-Muslim opinions in the Christian writings. By comparison, the Muslims rarely mention the Christians in their writings, and when they do, they refer to them as being ignorant, backwards, this due to the fact that in the time frame that Fletcher presents, the Muslims were far more civilized and evolved than the Christians.
The Muslims were technologically speaking more evolved than the Christians and believed to be superior to them in many aspects. As Islam was an evolved civilization with a strong culture, they were superior from some points-of-view to the Christians. The western civilization was not yet defined at that time and this is why when the Muslims felt superior, they were not completely wrong.
The importance of analyzing the relations between Muslims and Christians is great in a point where wars and very violent conflicts bring the two cultures to different sides. The hatred of the Muslims against America and other western countries (Christian) is rooted in the historical background that led to the so radical separation between the two cultures. It is important that we have an insight into the Muslim world in order to understand some aspects of their culture.
Richard Fletcher presents how misunderstandings between Muslims and Christians have been present since their earliest encounters. Both sides have always regarded the other religion as fundamentally different, despite any interaction that took place in history. Christians saw Muslims as barbarian pagans and Muhammad as a false prophet, while Muslims believed that Christianity was a gathering of sects. As Fletcher put it, "Christian and Muslim lived side by side in a state of mutual religious aversion. Given these circumstances, if religious passions were to be stirred up, confrontation would probably be violent."
The Cross and the Crescent provides some very important information about the Islam civilization and culture and thus it presents the Arab world in a more comprehensive way, by introducing the westerner into history while underlining the Muslim…