Her countryman Silvio Berlusconi echoed Fallaci's ill spoken sentiments that, on the whole, Western civilization was superior to that of Islam. She said she was quite happy with Dante, thank you very much. She spoke too soon. Though the theory has long incited fierce debate, Dante may have been acquainted with "ascension literature," a fantastical literary genre that deals with Mohammed's ascent to Heaven (using a spiraling, magical ladder; ascension literature is still popular in the Middle East and Africa). Ed and Secretariat probably originated in Central Asia (with the "Heavenly Horses" of the King of Ferghana), our equine friends were first bred for speed in the desert sands of the Empty Quarter. Arab historian al Kelbi (c. 786) traced the Arabian to the pedigreed horses of Bax, great great great grandson of Noah. The conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Spain was due in no small part to the aptly named beast (and the indefatigable camel), mount of choice for the tribesmen who swept all in their path. The descendents of these terrible swift steeds were brought to the New World by the Conquistadors, to devastating effect, particularly in ancient Peru where the Incas mistook the horsemen for gods. (By the time they learned the truth it was too late.) Appropriately enough, the largest and most successful stable today belongs to Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai.
He invented the scientific study of history (and, indirectly it could be argued, sociology) centuries before the French Enlightenment, Hegel, Weber and Braudel. His "Muqaddimah" ("The Prolegomena"), the introduction to a general survey of Islamic history with a specific focus on North Africa, was begun in 1377 and updated several times to account for sociopolitical changes. In it, he attempts to order the raw material and outward phenomena of history under basic principles.