Estrangement or Othering

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Write an essay on Answer one of three. It needs to be at least 2500 words.

The purpose of the present essay is to show how such estrangement, or ‘Othering’, played out in the course of several centuries of history of political, economic and cultural ties between the Christian West and Islamic Orient.

For the purposes of present discussion, the terms “West” and “Islam” will be used in generalized sense, with the former corresponding to the cultures and nations dominated or influenced by Western (Catholic and later Protestant) Christianity, while the latter encompassing the totality of political and cultural space for which the religion of Islam was the most fundamental unifying factor. The issues of relationship between the cultures influenced by Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity and Islamic civilizations are to be analyzed in this essay to the extent of their impact on the perception of Islam in the West and the attitude of Islamic cultures towards the Christians in general, respectively.

The chronological boundaries of the research encompass the historic period ranging from 7 century CE to our times, with special attention being paid to the vicissitudes of change in the models and criteria of ‘Othering’ being employed by both parties.

The rise of Islam as a religion of the new mighty world empire, which managed to destroy centuries-old powers of the Middle East, i.e. the East Roman Empire (Byzantium) and the Sassanian kingdom of Persia, from the very outset led to the increasing feelings of insecurity and dismay on the part of Christian scholars and theologians. Having been previously accustomed to the feeling of utter superiority and ultimate triumph of the Christian faith, they were immensely surprised by the fact that an initially ‘insignificant’ religious group from the Arabian Peninsula managed to assert itself as a viable proselytizing alternative to their own creed……….

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