On Shifting Ground

People in the West generally share a common narrative of world history that runs from the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia, through Greece and Rome, to the rise of the secular state and the triumph of democracy. However, this story largely omits an entire civilization; one that until recently saw itself at the center of world history and whose citizens have shared an entirely different narrative of world history for a thousand years. Rich in science, poetry, politics, and religion, what can we learn from this parallel historic perspective which begins in Mesopotamia and the Persian highlands, moves through the Prophet Mohammed’s life and the struggles among his immediate successors, a succession of great Muslim empires, and into modern age dominated by Western powers and cultures? Tamim Ansary joins the Council to discuss why two great civilizations grew up almost totally oblivious to each other, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe had somehow rewritten history.

Direct download: 11-05-09_Tamim_Ansary.mp3
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