Islam and the Dark Age
by John J. O’Neill

In his 1936 book, Mohammed et Charlemagne, Belgian historian Henri Pirenne argued in great detail that the Dark Ages of Europe began rather suddenly in the middle of the seventh century; and that this sudden and catastrophic decline in civilization was due to Islam’s blockade of the Mediterranean. Literacy declined as papyrus from Egypt disappeared.The impact of Islam was devastating for all of Christendom, both East and West. It was the event that terminated Classical civilization.

The destruction of Classical culture in Europe was due to largely, though not completely, to the economic blockade of the Mediterranean by Muslim piracy. Yet the termination of that culture in regions such as Egypt and Syria (formally great centers of Classical and Hellenistic civilization) which came under the control of Islam, was produced by the new faith’s utter contempt for the cultures and histories of the peoples it came to dominate.
Immediately prior to the Muslim invasion the libraries and academies of Egypt, Syria, and Babylonia, were packed with the works of these authors. Their disappearance and the disappearance of the knowledge they contained can only mean, as Christian polemicists argued for centuries, that the Muslims had deliberately destroyed a great quantity of Classical literature.

In the West of Europe and in the East, in North Africa and the Middle East, Classical civilization came to an end in the mid-seventh century; and the reason for its demise can be summed up in one word: Islam.