In order to understand the present, we have to open “a magic window into the past”. As we saw in the previous chapter, religious and trade networks are a resurgent phenomenon, developed over the centuries and re-emerging today in new forms and shapes. I argue for a Pax Islamica involving both historical and contemporary networks of Islam, in total contradiction to the assertions of many terrorism experts that emphasize the rather destructive role of Islam in support of al-Qaeda, of pirates on the East African coast and in the Strait of Malacca, of Somali warlords and of “travelling Wahhabis” that disseminate hatred against the West. Whereas Europeans have failed to establish lasting monopoly trade networks between Africa and Southeast Asia, or East Africa and China and India for that matter, Islamic trade has succeeded in not only countering European influences but also resisting and surviving them, creating vast areas spanning the distances between Cairo and Mombasa, Zanzibar and Java or Madagascar and the Indian Coromandel coast, in which cultural and economic growth has blossomed. The Asia-centric tradition adopted by Chaudhuri and other scholars was the first to argue against the western perception of Islam as detrimental to modernization, an approach later taken up by authors like Tibi or Sidel. The Asia-centric tradition supports the view that East African Islam actually contributed to large trading empires and numerous linkages between Africa, China and India, creating long-distance economies of production and exchange,1 based on regional production centres – the similarity to today’s regional “superpowers” could not be clearer, Reid (1993), for example, supports this view of Asia’s “first global economy” based on trade linkages between the Near and Far East. However, interestingly, scholars of the Asia-centric approach share the Europe-centric authors’ perception of Africa as a passive and submissive supplier of cheap labour and raw materials. Like the European view of Southeast Asia, this approach perceives Africa as dominated by foreign – western, Arab, Indian and Persian – traders. According to Chaudhuri, it also neglects the role of Islam in creating trade and religious networks beyond Africa within the Indian Ocean region.2