Angel Ganivet on the Threat of Islamic Jihad and How to Deal with It -- Angel Ganivet sobre la Amenaza del Yihad Islámico y Cómo Hacer Frente a El
Angel Ganivet [1865-1898] was a famous Spanish novelist and essayist who died more than one hundred years ago. He is considered a forerunner of the Generation of 1898, and was concerned in his Idearium Español with the spiritual identity of Spain. As a diplomat, he had a perspective on the world that few other Spaniards had in his time when Spain tended to be somewhat intellectually isolated from the rest of Europe and more backward.
Ganivet obviously knew of the continuing conflict between Spain and the Arabs after the last Moorish kingdom was defeated by Spanish forces in 1492. Muslim jihad warriors at sea, often called the Barbary Pirates, raided the coasts of Spain and southern Italy especially, as well as France, Britain, Ireland, even Iceland, in quest of booty and slaves --who were ordinary people taken captive in these raids. But the Barbary Pirates were conscious of a religious jihad mission, and were not merely eager for material gain, much of which went anyhow to the governments of their home ports in North Africa which sent them off on jihad.
Up till the late 18th century when the famous Spanish minister of state Floridablanca made a deal with Moroccan rulers, huge tracts of the low-lying southeastern coastal region of Spain were depopulated and uncultivated, because of fear of the Barbary Pirates' raids. Depopulating and discouraging cultivation are some of the things that Jihad warriors do. Consider in this regard southeastern Anatolia that was long depopulated and uncultivated in the Middle Ages on account of the continual jihad warfare perpetrated by jihad bands making razzias [ghazw = raids] out of northern Syria. In the Crusader period, Armenians penetrated this area and set up an Armenian kingdom there, which was in fact land claimed by the Byzantine Empire. This Armenian kingdom was eventually subdued by the Turks. The period of continual jihad warfare was dramatized in the Greek epic poem, Digenis Akrites.
Ganivet recognizes the danger of Islamic jihad, although the two passages quoted do not use the word. However, he seems divided in his attitude toward it. On one hand, he wants Islam to be checked, to be hemmed in, divided, prevented from uniting or being aggressive toward the rest of the world, particularly towards Europe. On the other, he does not want Islam to be destroyed, because it has a sort right of age and tradition, since it exists it has the right to continue existing.
Here are two passages from Idearium Español. Note that Ganivet was writing prophetically more than one hundred years ago about the threat of Islamic jihad:
1) Mohammedan power is always terrifying, however sunken down it may seem. It is like the sea: it withdraws and comes back; but this is not a reason for destroying it.
p 136 El poder mahometano es siempre terrible, por muy hundido que se halle; es como el mar: se retira y vuelve; pero esto no es razón para que se le destruya.
2) Islam is dangerous if it is allowed to dominate large territories united among themselves and constituted in a religious federation; because Islam does not propagate itself one individual at a time, but rather in the form of quick, violent bursts in several directions, within its natural geographic boundaries, sometimes crossing over them and attacking foreign peoples. Thus, a renewal of Islam's forces would be possible if any of the sects that are constantly born out of it were free to spread itself in all directions and succeed in rebuilding the unity necessary for combat. A European policy with foresight ought to set out to divide Islam, to intercept those currents, setting up centers of power at various intermediate points that would serve to isolate independent Muslim states from each other, but never completely destroying the political independence of Islam, that, due to the fact that it exists, has a perfect right to maintain autonomous political power. . .
p138 El islamismo es peligroso si se le deja dominar grandes territorios unidos entre sí y constituidos en federación religiosa; porque el islamismo no se propaga individualmente, sino en forma de irrupciones violentas, rápidas, en diversas direcciones, dentro de su demarcación natural geográfica y a veces traspasandola y acometiendo a pueblos extraños. Así, una renovación de las fuerzas del Islam sería posible si cualquiera de las sectas que continuamente nacen de él tuviera libertad para extenderse en todos sentidos y llegara a reconstituir la unidad necesaria para el combate. Una política Europea previsora debe de encaminarse a fraccionar el Islam, a interceptar esas corrientes, fijando en diferentes puntos intermedios centros de poder que sirvan de aisladores entre estados mahometanos independientes, pero nunca a destruir por completo la independencia política del islamismo, que por el hecho de existir tiene perfecto derecho a mantener poderes políticos autónomos. . .ANGEL GANIVET--Idearium Español (vol 1 de Obras Completas, Madrid, Suárez, 1944) [b. 1865- d. 1898]
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Coming: more on the problematics of peace and peace-making, more on Jews in Jerusalem and Hebron, etc.