HMT1000 Research Essay

Submitted By Amelia-Cocks
Words: 2164
Pages: 9

“With reference to at least two different ideas from two different modules, discuss the impact of religion and secularisation in shaping the Western world”.

Religion and secularisation has contributed to the shaping of Western civilization. Religion is seen as something that unites countries that subscribe to western ideologies as well as separates them from the ‘rest’. Secularism in Western culture, and ideas such as democracy, citizenship and capitalism, seem exclusively Western. However, these ideas as well as individualism and collectivism have religious roots that can be linked back to the beginning of Islam and the civilizations in the East.

The role of religion in western civilization can be traced back to the Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires (Frankforter & Spellman, 2004). There is also significant evidence to suggest that western civilization owes a lot to the influence created by the whole Arab region (Sindi, n.d.) Three major contributions made by the Arab region have enhanced the rise of modern western civilization. This includes the three major religions in the West, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All three of these religions have origins to Hebrews and Israelites (Frankforter & Spellman, 2004), yet their foundations and framework were born from the Arab regions (Sindi, n.d.) The birth of Islam in the seventh century saw a non-contemporary civilization develop in the East. Islam sought to unite all Arabs as it rejected secularism and Arab and Islamic civilization were considered one and the same (Sindi, n.d.). Whilst the Arab/Islamic empires were responsible for creating many of the political, economic, social and scientific advances adopted by those in the West, their influence is often ignored and goes unacknowledged by the very societies they helped create (Sindi, n.d.).

The beginning of western thinking is thought to be derivative of ancient Greece. However, in the beginning Greece was linked both spiritually and culturally to the east (Hobson, 2004). For much of the fourteenth century, the Arab/Islamic empires lived harmoniously with, and promoted tolerance of, all religions. The entrance in to Europe by the Arabs began as an “invasion” (Sindi, n.d.). Following an attack on the daughter of the governor of a small province in the Iberian Peninsula, by King Roderick, a Germanic ruler in Spain, the Arabs in North Africa began nearly eight centuries of Arab/Islamic occupation in the South West of Europe. During this time they introduced Europe to various things including religious tolerance and racial harmony (Sindi, n.d.). Hobson (2004) suggested that the rise of the West was enabled by assimilationism and appropriationism by the East. However, Sindi (n.d.) suggested after almost eight hundred harmonious years of existence in the flourishing civilizations created by the Arab/Islamic empires, the Christian Spanish forces of King Ferdinand declared victory of their crusade against Islam (Sindi, n.d.). This saw Western civilization return to its previous barbaric intolerance of different races and religions that differ to Christianity.

Christianity has been the driving force for many wars and conflicts through out history. To Christians all over the world, Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the most influential religious individual ideal in Western history. It was said that he is responsible for the birth of the Christian faith. The history of Jesus is told in literature, yet none of the authors claim to have ever witnessed any of the events that they have written about. It was said that Jesus and all of his disciples were all Jews. Throughout history, there is no record of Jesus denouncing Judaism and this has caused much debate between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians (Frankforter & Spellman, 2004). Due to the arising Roman conflict in Palestine as the first century C.E began, gentile Christians separated themselves from the Jews (Frankforter & Spellman, 2004). The Christians were firmly