For centuries in the West, Jews and Muslims were imagined together; usually - as in this picture taken from a ceiling in the Vatican Museum - as the common enemy, but often also in romantic, idealizing ways. Much of my recent work is about the history of this joint Jewish-Muslim imago. To think of Jew and Muslim as two of a kind was a silly idea. Not as silly and a lot less dangerous than figuring them to be opposites who can never meet.
How do we imagine and experience the power that rules our destinies? As a loving Father in heaven? Or as a cruel, uncaring Master? In the western world, this ultimate question about the human condition has been rehearsed through fantasies about the Muslim Orient.
This is what I discuss in my book, Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (London and New York: Routledge, 2012). Read an exerpt