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The relations of Christians Jews and Muslims around the Mediterranean were tumultuous for centuries and still have consequences in the Balkans for instance that we need to understand if we are to cope with politics and conflict today In the book Cultures in Conflict Christians Muslims and Jews in the Age of Discovery by Bernard Lewis those relations are examined to reveal the relative position of each and the eventual decline of one to give rise to another Lewis first examines the way Christians and Muslims looked at one another Despite their mutual hostility they understood each others views rather well Medieval Christians largely dismissed Muslim theology as post-Gospel heresy but the Muslims themselves were regarded as serious social and military challengers By contrast a still primitive Christendom looked to sophisticated Muslims rather as Central Asia or Africa appeared to Victorian Englishmen pp 13 However despite their knowledge of one another or perhaps because of it the Christian world was imbedded in a deep conflict with the Islamic and Jewish worlds The Christian conflict with the Islamic world was according to Lewis the result of a rivalry based on three motives faith greed and fear From the first invasion of Muslim armies into Christian lands Christendom lived under Islamic invasion not once but three times It is obvious in this light why Christendom and Islam were in conflict because of the two-fold threat of conquest and of conversion From the Islamic point of view the conflict was entrenched the awareness that Christians were not merely barbarians but a real threat due to the similarities in ideas and in equal drives of missionary expansionism Lewis notes that the Muslims saw Christians as followers of a rival religion with a rival political system and a rival claim to what each thought of as the universal law of the land The Christian world was in conflict with the Jewish establishment for much the same reasons Their
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