This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Learn Islam from Islam

Here as everywhere we will follow the principle that, if you wish to learn about a religion, you must become a student of one who is not only a master of the subject who actually believes that the religion is true—the latter is in fact the primary criterion. This is because any ‘outsider’ will of necessity be removed from the true ‘self-understanding’ of the religion and will not be able to convey it authentically. This holds true whether the outsider has never been a believer or was at one time but has since apostatized.  Both situations are problematic but for different reasons. To use a specific example, we have encountered Protestants who read books on Catholicism, but these books are either written by Protestant apologists or else by ex-Catholics who have fallen away. Rare is the non-Catholic who reads reputable Catholic books by reputable Catholic authors. The problem here is twofold. First, the people who apostatize are rarely the most knowledgeable people about the religion from which they departed, but, in addition, by the very fact of their apostasy, they are incapable of representing orthodoxy accurately, not due to deviousness or dishonesty, but just as a matter of sincerity pure and simple. In summary: only a knowledgeable, reputable, practicing, orthodox representative of a religion can present it authentically.

We have therefore tried to make use of orthodox, reputable Muslim teachers whenever possible. Namely, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and other scholars, but also Frithjof Schuon and Rene Guenon. At other times we have used American writers such as the late Victor Danner, but we feel that this is acceptable as a supplement because Danner’s work has generally proven to be acceptable to Muslims. We avoid the use of Christian apologetic literature entirely, and have also left the vast body of political and historical literature written by anti-Islamic moderns untouched.

Of course, we must admit that even though we’ve chosen carefully, the sources we have chosen might not be acceptable to all Muslims everywhere, just as St. Thomas Aquinas is not acceptable to all Christians, but this is the best we can do. We must learn from someone, and this someone cannot be everyone, and so we have tried to choose our authorities with reasonable care and respect for the self-understanding of the greater part of the Islamic world.

What we have just said is, generally speaking, true of our approach to any religious tradition as examined in this manual, but we thought it especially relevant the subject of Islam due to its controversial nature for Western readers.

We have just elaborated on possible obstacles to understanding Islam. We do acknowledge that the reader of this manual will be free of most of these prejudices, otherwise you would not have gotten this far and would have already set this book aside, but perhaps you are not as free as you realize, and so it was worth mentioning these things just as an opportunity for reflection and as a warning should you wish to go out and share what you learn with friends and family who may not be predisposed to listen. At any rate, it is good to acknowledge these common barriers to the understanding of Islam, so that we can start, as is necessary, from a point of sincerity.

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