In the late 10th and early 11th century, a form of mysticism evolved that incorporated elements of Islam, Greek philosophy, Gnosticism, bits from other esoteric faiths, that existed in eastern Mediterranean and what we now call the Middle East. The person credited with spreading this new faith was a guy named Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi. He came to Egypt in 1017 and began preaching and attracting converts. He was branded a heretic and executed in 1018 by the sixth Fatimid caliph.
The Caliph, al-Hakim, was not hostile to the new faith, so much as hostile to ad-Darazi, who he thought was suffering from megalomania. His move against ad-Darazi was to put Hamza ibn ‘Ali ibn Ahmad in charge of this new religious sect, which would eventually be known as the Druze. The sixth caliph plays a central role in the Druze faith despite being outside the faith. His actions during his reign as caliph made it possible for the faith to spread and altered its course with the decision to execute ad-Darazi.
This is an interesting bit of serendipity, but it has a connection to our own age in a few important ways. The most obvious, if you are a fan of the period, is al-Hakim is often blamed for starting the crusades. His decision to persecute Christians sent ripples through Europe, eventually leading to the call to recapture the Holy Land. Of course, as with everything about history, that’s debatable. There were other forces at work, but it is generally accepted that al-Hakim played a crucial role in the clash with Christendom.
Eventually, of course, two main strains of Islam came to dominate the Arab world, while Christianity dominated Europe, but The Levant has remained a place with lots of religious diversity. The Druze live mostly in Lebanon. The Samaritans are in the Palestinian territories. Maronites, Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Catholics exist in Lebanon. Syriac Christians and Alawites exist in Syria. Of course, various flavors of Judaism dominate in Israel. It is not an accident that instability is the only constant in The Levant.
That’s an obvious lesson when examining this part of the world. If one wanted proof of the axiom, Diversity + Proximity = Violence, The Levant has more than enough for any argument. The pathological zeal of Western leaders for inviting the world into Western lands, can only have one end. That’s the same we see in Lebanon, a country blessed with a great location, abundant natural resources and natural barriers to larger enemies. Yet, it is a land riven by sectarian violence and the lack of a unifying identity.
There is another lesson from the history of The Levant and that is the cauldrons of diversity tend to create more diversity. The reason this part of the world was popular with schismatics and holy men is it was where the action was in the Middle Ages. Cairo was a wealthy, cosmopolitan place compared to cities of Europe. There were scholars well versed in Greek philosophy, wealthy patrons willing to sponsor scholarship and a wide range of thought to draw from for the creative minded spiritual leader.
That’s something to keep in mind as Europe works to invite the world and all of its religions to settle in the West. Throw a bunch of people together with a wide range of beliefs and inevitably it spawns a bunch of new combinations. The flow of Muslims into Europe, a land that has abandoned Christianity for various secular passions, is going to spawn new spiritual movements. The recent conversion to Islam of an AfD leader is the sort of thing that is happening with increasing frequency. Islam is now a thing in Europe.
The other aspect to this is the West is now open country, when it comes to the religion business. Just as Catholicism faced a dying collection of pagan beliefs, Islam is now flowing into a world held together by habit and pointless social fads. The soul of Europe died a long time ago. To be a European today means to be a deracinated stranger in a land that is increasingly unfamiliar to you. That makes Europe fertile ground for a confident religion brought by people thinking they are on the winning side of history.
That does not mean Europe will be Islamic. Islam is all over the world, but it always adapts to the local environment. Islam in Asia is Islam with very Asian characteristics. Islam in the Caucasus is a mountain man version of Islam. Biology is the root of everything and that means cultural items like religion flow from it. The Islamification of Europe will inevitably result in something that is very European. The Germans will have their take, the Danes will have theirs and the French will do something French.
It also means all sorts of other permutation that result from mixing Western empiricism, Oriental mysticism and traditional Christianity. The Druze we started with in this post combine Ismailism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism and Hinduism. It is an esoteric faith that is also an ethnicity. The Druze do not accept converts and they do not allow out-marriage. A person who marries outside the faith is no longer Druze and their children will not be Druze. Imagine something like that happening Bulgaria.
The point of this somewhat disjointed post is that Europe is dead. The West is dead. The civilization that was created by the culture born of the Enlightenment carries on, but the culture that is the West is dead. Something will come to replace it and that something will, in whole or part, be carried by the people now attempting to replace the Europeans. The resulting culture that rises next will be some combination of the ingredients being tossed into the cauldron, but it will look nothing like the ingredients.