Two cardinal causes for Europe’s development


There are two cardinal causes for the development and present dominion of Europe, one material, the other immaterial.

The first, material cause is the physical conditions of Europe, which is the “church” of all Christians and the source of their life. Europe is a narrow continent, “naturally” beautiful, has important rivers and vast sources of iron, is surrounded by seas on three sides, and has a meandering coastline.

Although Europe covers nearly one-fifteenth of the land on earth, it has attracted one-fourth (now nearly one-thirteenth) of the world population with its “natural” beauty and rich resources. It is a fact that the density of population is the cause of the multiplicity of need; the more people, the greater the need. Particularly when need increases, due to certain reasons such as traditions, modernism, or civilization, it cannot be satisfied through the “natural” productivity of the land. It is for this reason that need opens the way for new crafts, curiosity urges learning, and stress leads to dissipation.

A multiplicity of population gives rise to the invention of new crafts and an increase in learning. The narrowness of the European continent and the possibilities of travel and transportation via the seas and rivers have encouraged and facilitated tourism and mutual acquaintance, which in turn have led to continental trade. Mutual assistance or cooperation has resulted in partnership, mutual contact, and relations, which in turn have given rise to the exchange and development of views, while rivalry has brought about competition. In addition, since Europe is very rich in iron, which is the source of industry, iron has equipped its civilization with such a weapon that Europeans have plundered and usurped all the remnants of ancient civilizations throughout the world, thus destroying the balance of power in the world.

Furthermore, continental Europe is relatively cold, and this climate causes people to adopt everything late and abandon it late. This has gained Europeans firmness and steadfastness in their endeavors and caused their civilization to endure. Moreover, the formation of their states based on science, the constant collision between them, the hardships and harassment caused by their cruelly despotic systems, the pressure of the religious fanaticism, as represented by the Inquisition, which in turn has given birth to significant reactions, and the competition between the more modest elements have developed the capacities of Europeans and awakened in them certain meritorious tendencies and nationalism.

The second, immaterial cause is their point of reliance. When any Christian attempts to attain any of the successive or combined goals, they turn back and see a powerful point of reliance which lifts their morale. They find in themselves a power that will combat even the hardest and greatest of matters. An example of this point of reliance is the intriguing, sophisticated fanaticism of the Inquisition, which is ever ready to feed the roots of the life of many Christians and to cut off the life-veins of Muslims. Moreover, European civilization, which has been kneaded with materialistic irreligion, has become the barracks or church of a mass that has been armed with the intoxicating pride of the victory of their civilization.

(From Sunuhat (“Occurrences to the Heart”)

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi