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This chapter examines the European colonization of Muslim lands. It emphasizes that what made this colonization possible was not simply European military superiority but also the gap between Europeans and Muslims in terms of the levels of economic, technological, and educational development. The chapter explores the belated establishment of printing presses in Muslim societies, which kept literacy rates very low, as well as the ways the ulema hindered the translation of the Quran into vernacular languages, which perpetuated the ulema's religious monopoly. It also analyzes the reform attempts by some Muslim rulers and the new Muslim intellectuals, as well as explaining why these attempts mostly failed.
This chapter begins by examining Muslims’ military, commercial, and intellectual achievements between the seventh and eleventh centuries. At that time, most of Islamic scholars (ulema) were funded by commerce, while only a few of them served the state. The merchants flourished as an influential class. The chapter goes on to analyze the beginning of the intellectual and economic stagnation in Muslim lands in the eleventh century. It explains how, gradually, the ulema became a state-servant class and the military state came to dominate the economy. The alliance between the ulema and the military state diminished the influence of philosophers and merchants. This changing distribution of authority led to the long-term stagnation, if not the decline, of Muslim intellectual and economic life. This gradual process began in the eleventh century and continued for centuries, as subsequent chapters elaborate.
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