Herder’s ideas were extremely influential in banding together the German people, who formed the nation-state of Germany in 1871. Herder’s ideas spread rapidly from Germany to Germanic Scandinavia and the Nordic region, as Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and Finns also took up the task of finding their authentic Volk, known as folk in Scandinavia. In all these countries, poets, artists, and scholars followed Herder in going to the countryside. Their aim was to seek out the peasantry and locate the sources for a new nationalism rooted in their ethnic identity, which was of crucial importance in shaping the character of their respective modern states.In Denmark, for example, NFS Grundtvig, the nineteenth-century bishop, teacher, philosopher, poet, and Danish national hero, founded the field of folklore studies in the country. Attempting to avert what he called the “folk-death” of the Danes at the hands of foreign influences, he was inspired by Herder to develop and widely promote the idea of folkelighed, the communal egalitarian spirit of the people. Today we can see the importance of the folk in local culture and identity: the Danish Parliament is Folketinget, the People’s House; the Danish national church is Folkekirken, the People’s Church; and democracy is called Folkestyret, rule of the people. Folkelig is a commonly used term meaning something popular, simple, unassuming, or for the people, and one of the leading political parties in the nation is the far-right Dansk Folkeparti, the Danish People’s Party, whose leadership we interviewed during our fieldwork for Journey into Europe. The Eastern European peoples were similarly influenced by Herder in the development of their ethno-nationalist identities including the Czechs, Hungarians, Russians, Romanians, and Bulgarians. Herder addressed the Slavic peoples of Europe like the Czechs and Serbs who lived under empires such as Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans directly with his hope that “you will at last awake refreshed from your long listless slumber and, having shaken off the chains of slavery, will enjoy again the possession of your fair lands . . . and celebrate on them your ancient festivals in peace together with the prosperity of your industry and trade.”The founding fathers of Eastern European countries, such as František Palacký, the Czech “Father of the Nation,” expressed their admiration for Herder. For Palacky?, Herder was the “Apostle of Humanity.” Herder also had a particularly strong impact on the Hungarians, causing in them an existential dread of the death of the very identity that drove their nationalist struggle. Herder’s assertion that the Hungarians would lose their language by living among non-Hungarian peoples like the Slavs and Germans caused a panic among Hungarian intellectuals and led to a vigorous and rapid effort to preserve and promote Hungarian language, culture, and identity. The famous nineteenth-century statesman and modernizer, István Széchenyi, known as “the Greatest Hungarian,” wrote, “Every day I am more convinced that Herder is right; the Hungarian nation will soon cease to exist.” Herder’s dire prediction for the Hungarians, known in Hungary as nemzet-halál, or “national death,” became an important part of Hungarian identity. The fear of nemzet-halál is expressed in poems such as “Himnusz” (1823), by Ferenc Kölcsey, which became the Hungarian national anthem, and “Szózat” (Appeal) (1836), by Mihály Vörösmarty, known as the second national anthem, in which the Hungarian nation becomes a mass grave. The urge to preserve and promote ethno-national identity among Eastern European peoples has historically often been accompanied by an intolerable living situation for minorities among them including Jews and Roma, which has persisted until the present day. These nations are now displaying such attitudes towards Muslim migrants, which they associate with the Ottoman Empire that ruled much of Eastern Europe until modern times.We saw this in 2015 when Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán likened the Syrians and other Muslims fleeing into Europe — whom Orbán said “look like an army” — to the Ottoman Turks, and vowed that they be kept out of the country at all costs. Orbán that year spoke for the world’s ethno-nationalists when he declared in a speech, “Only the strong survive. We Hungarians are on the threshold of a great era. The name of Hungary will be great again, worthy of its old, great honour. Honour to the brave!” Addressing recipients of the Széchenyi Prize, Hungary’s highest recognition for scholarly achievement, in 2017 Orbán affirmed the continuing importance of Herder, stating, “We are proud of you, who — in defiance of Johann Gottfried Herder’s prophecy of our doom — have accepted the mission that we must all continue to undertake, even in the twenty-first century.” The urge to preserve and promote ethno-national identity among Eastern European peoples has historically often been accompanied by an intolerable living situation for minorities among them including Jews and Roma, which has persisted until the present dayIt is important to note that Herder’s ideas and philosophy were not the same as Hitler’s. The misuse of Herder’s conception of the Volk and Volksgeist is an example of how Hitler could take what is essentially a descriptive concept of ethno-nationalist identity, which I have described as tribal, and twist it into a perverse form. Yet this is a persistent danger whenever we are discussing the subject of nationalism. While Herder envisaged different Volk living in an environment of harmony, each cherishing its own special identity and each living on its own territory, Hitler took this idea to a horrific extreme, enacting a genocidal campaign to kill the Jews and groups such as the Roma not believed to be part of the ethnic community. He fused the idea of Volk with his own Nazi Party, proclaiming, “To the same degree as the basic ideas of the National Socialist movement are folkish [völkisch], the folkish ideas are National Socialist.”As I point out in Journey into Europe, ethnic nationalism in Europe — and indeed the world — is a reality and must be understood and appreciated. European ethnic identity in the form identified, articulated, and promoted by Herder provides stability and continuity in uncertain times and gives pride to the community.Yet in order for Muslims and non-Muslims to co-exist in Europe, I have called for Europeans, while honoring their own identities, to also rediscover the spirit of humanism, scientific discovery, and the arts that characterized the Muslim presence in Europe in places like Andalusia, Spain and Sicily. This ethos made a profound impact on European culture and civilization, contributing in significant ways to the Renaissance and Enlightenment.It also led to path breaking scholarship and societal and human advances in Europe a thousand years ago, especially concerning the Greek classics, and led to the formation of societies where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived, worked, and created together. This European identity characterized by humanism and knowledge is just as authentically European as the ethno-nationalist identity we are discussing here. Only the balancing of the two could create what I have called a “New Andalusia,” a pluralistic society where the dominant ethnic group can feel secure and proud of its identity while also coexisting with and recognizing the worth and value of others in working towards the flourishing of the greater society and nation as a whole.The writer is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, Washington, DC, and author of Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and IdentityPublished in Daily Times, November 18th 2018.