The Real His­to­ry of the Crusades

Kadafi

All praise is due to Allah, and Allah’s Peace and Bless­ings be upon His Final Mes­sen­ger, his pure fam­i­ly, his noble Com­pan­ions, and all those who fol­low them with right­eous­ness until the Day of Judgment.

The his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tion per­pe­trat­ed on his­tor­i­cal think­ing by Thomas F. Mad­den is not a new fal­la­cious con­cept intro­duced by con­tem­po­rary Chris­t­ian revi­sion­ists but has been preva­lent since the emer­gence of Islam on world stage. For many cen­turies, the Chris­t­ian his­to­ri­ans and ori­en­tal­ists direct­ly pro­mul­gat­ed lies and fab­ri­ca­tions about Islam in order to instil prej­u­dice against the Mus­lims. And yet in the mod­ern age, Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist his­to­ri­ans still con­tin­ue to car­ry the flag and prop­a­gate indi­rect­ly their revi­sion­ist the­o­ries regard­ing Islam. A sum­marised arti­cle of Thomas F. Mad­den’s book enti­tled A Con­cise His­to­ry of the Cru­sades has been pub­lished attempt­ing to debunk the old-aged mis­con­cep­tions” of the Cru­sades. He chrono­log­i­cal­ly dis­cuss­es the major events of the ini­tial Cru­sade until the 5th Cru­sade. I will insha’al­lah (God-will­ing) address the decep­tive meth­ods rid­dled in his article.

He writes :

    Chris­tians in the eleventh cen­tu­ry were not para­noid fanat­ics. Mus­lims real­ly were gun­ning for them. While Mus­lims can be peace­ful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Mus­lim expan­sion was always the sword.

Here, Thomas F. Mad­den asserts and attempts to jus­ti­fy that medieval Chris­tians were defend­ing them­selves from the Mus­lim aggres­sion”. Fur­ther­more, he also alleged­ly states that Islam was born in a war giv­ing the read­er the impres­sion that the Prophet (Peace and bless­ings of Allah be upon him) and the ear­ly Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty pro­voked the war between the Arab pagans and the Mus­lims. This is far from the truth. Prophet Muham­mad peace­ful­ly pro­claimed the Mes­sage of the One True God and gained many fol­low­ers. These ear­ly Mus­lims con­sist­ed of sons and broth­ers of the rich­est men in Makkah and also includ­ed slaves and the poor. As a result of their firm belief in Allah (God in Ara­bic), they were sub­ject­ed to per­se­cu­tion. The Quraish (Arab tribe) restrict­ed the peo­ple from buy­ing or sell­ing any­thing to the Mus­lims. They imposed eco­nom­ic and social boy­cott on them. They even pro­hib­it­ed Makkans from enter­ing into mar­riages with them. Since Makkah was the land of the trade, the ear­ly Mus­lims couldn?t endure this hard­ship. Con­se­quent­ly, the Prophet (Peace and bless­ings of Allah be upon him) send the Mus­lims to Abyssinia where a just Chris­t­ian king ruled. The Quraish soon dis­cov­ered the place that they emi­grat­ed to and thus send one of their tribes­men to the court of Najashi in order to ask the king to hand over the Mus­lims. Ja’a­far, who was one of the Mus­lims, was per­mit­ted to refute the accu­sa­tions of the Quraish.

He said :

O King of Abyssinia ! We wor­shipped idols in the past and let our lives be con­sumed by fun and sport. To inflict cru­el­ty upon the weak and the poor was our pas­time. We were wrapped in abysmal dark­ness when Muham­mad (Peace and bless­ings of Allah be upon him)” bin Abdul­lah was born among us. He led us to right­eous­ness and instruct­ed us to shun idol­a­try. He called us to Allah Almighty. He showed us to be mer­ci­ful and told us to abstain from evil and shel­ter the weak and poor”.

O King, we were a peo­ple steeped in igno­rance, wor­ship­ping idols, eat­ing un-sac­ri­ficed car­rion, com­mit­ting abom­i­na­tions, and harm­ing the weak with­out rea­son until Allah sent us a Mes­sen­ger from out of our midst, one whose lin­eage we knew well. His verac­i­ty, wor­thi­ness of trust and his integri­ty was also known to us. He called us unto Allah, that we should tes­ti­fy to His One­ness and wor­ship Him and renounce what we and our fathers had wor­shipped in the way of stones and idols ; and he com­mand­ed us to speak tru­ly, to ful­fil our promis­es, to respect the ties of kin­ship and the rights of our neigh­bours, and to refrain from crimes and from blood­shed. So we wor­ship Allah alone, set­ting naught beside Him, count­ing as for­bid­den what He hath for­bid­den and as lic­it what He hath allowed. Our peo­ple turned against us, and have per­se­cut­ed us to make us for­sake our reli­gion and revert from the wor­ship of Allah to the wor­ship of idols.

We believed him, but O King ! these, who have come to arrest us are idol-wor­ship­pers. They wor­ship idols of stone and wood, inflict bar­barism upon the weak. These peo­ple have per­se­cut­ed, pelt­ed and injured our Prophet (Peace and bless­ings of Allah be upon him)”.

The above quote indis­putably proves that the ear­ly Mus­lims where rather peace­ful ser­vants of God who only pro­mot­ed peace and only defend­ed them­selves from the pagan aggres­sions. Thomas F. Mad­den then fur­ther claims that the expan­sion of Islam was only achieved through the use of the sword. Not only was this myth preva­lent in the Frank­ish Europe, but it is still preva­lent in the present age in the minds of many Chris­tians. The well known author, James Mich­en­er, writes :

No oth­er reli­gion in his­to­ry spread so rapid­ly as Islam. The West has wide­ly believed that this surge of reli­gion was made pos­si­ble by the sword. But no mod­ern schol­ar accepts this idea, and the Qur?an is explic­it in the sup­port of the free­dom of con­science.James Mich­en­er in Islam : The Mis­un­der­stood Reli­gion”, Read­er’s Digest, May 1955, p. 68 – 70

This mis­con­cep­tion is also addressed by K. S. Ramakr­ish­na Rao who writes :

My prob­lem to write this mono­graph is eas­i­er, because we are not gen­er­al­ly fed now on that (dis­tort­ed) kind of his­to­ry and much time need not be spent on point­ing out our mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Islam. The the­o­ry of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quar­ter worth the name. The prin­ci­ple of Islam that there is no com­pul­sion in reli­gion” is well-known.Mohammed the Prophet of Islam, Riyadh 1989, p. 4 

And Lawrence E. Browne who states :

Inci­den­tal­ly these well-estab­lished facts dis­pose of the idea so wide­ly fos­tered in Chris­t­ian writ­ings that the Mus­lims, wher­ev­er they went, forced peo­ple to accept Islam at the point of the sword.Lawrence W. Browne, The Prospects of Islam, Lon­don, 1944, p. 14 

Pro­fes­sor Arnold Thomas address­es this wide­ly-held belief in one of his books. He writes :

To give any account of these cam­paigns is beyond the scope of the present work, but it is impor­tant to show that Muham­mad, when he found him­self at the head of a band of armed fol­low­ers, was not trans­formed at once, as some would have us believe, from a peace­ful preach­er into a fanat­ic, sword in hand, forc­ing his reli­gion on whom­so­ev­er he could.T.W. Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World, p. 34

The Oxford Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry of Chris­tian­i­ty states :

Chris­tian­i­ty has large­ly mis­un­der­stood the nature of Islam­ic mil­i­tan­cy. The fic­tion that Islam was preached by the sword and Chris­tian­i­ty by the lamb and the dove appeared ear­ly in Chris­t­ian writ­ings and still exer­cis­es a pow­er­ful influ­ence upon the pop­u­lar per­cep­tion of Islam. Chris­t­ian polemi­cists were quick to con­trast the ide­al­ized life of Christ with that of Muham­mad and his fol­low­ers, who ceased not to go forth in bat­tle and rap­ine, to smite with the sword, to seize the lit­tle ones, and rav­ish wives and maid­ens”.John McMan­ners (Ed.), The Oxford Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry of Chris­tian­i­ty, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1992, p. 174 

So in the light of the above men­tioned evi­dence, was the mean of the Mus­lim expan­sion always the sword ? Ira Zepp Jr, who is anoth­er non-Mus­lim author, answers the afore­men­tioned question :

It is unfor­tu­nate that Islam has been stereo­typed as the reli­gion of the sword’ or that Islam was spread by the sword’. The his­tor­i­cal real­i­ty is that the expan­sion of Islam was usu­al­ly by per­sua­sion and not by mil­i­tary pow­er. In any case, Islam can­not be forced on any­one ; if pro­fes­sion of the sha­hadah [i.e. the dec­la­ra­tion of Islam] is forced on some­one, it is not true Islam.Ira Zepp Jr., A Mus­lim Primer (1992), Wake­field Edi­tions, US, p. 134

Thomas F. Mad­den fur­ther writes :

    But, in tra­di­tion­al Islam, Chris­t­ian and Jew­ish states must be destroyed and their lands con­quered. When Mohammed was wag­ing war against Mec­ca in the sev­enth cen­tu­ry, Chris­tian­i­ty was the dom­i­nant reli­gion of pow­er and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediter­ranean, includ­ing the Mid­dle East, where it was born. The Chris­t­ian world, there­fore, was a prime tar­get for the ear­li­est caliphs, and it would remain so for Mus­lim lead­ers for the next thou­sand years. 

Thomas here con­ceals the sta­tus of Byzan­tine Empire and the cor­rup­tion that was pre­dom­i­nate­ly dur­ing that peri­od. The Mus­lims nev­er intro­duced the expan­sion for the sake of grab­bing lands but they con­quered the oth­er nations so that they could free the oppressed inhab­i­tants of the Byzan­tine Empire and exter­mi­nate the igno­rance and pro­mote free-think­ing. And once they con­quered these nations, they nev­er imposed their beliefs on the inhab­i­tants since it con­tra­dicts the prin­ci­ple of Islam that there is no com­pul­sion in reli­gion. Edward Gib­bon who is regard­ed by many as the best con­tem­po­rary his­to­ri­an com­ments on the Islam­ic expan­sion by describ­ing it as :

…one of the most mem­o­rable rev­o­lu­tions which has impressed a new and last­ing char­ac­ter on the nations of the globe.Edward Gib­bon,Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Dr. Lebon stated :

The ear­ly Mus­lim con­quests might have blurred their com­mon sense and made them com­mit the sorts of oppres­sion which con­querors usu­al­ly com­mit, and thus ill-treat the sub­dued and com­pel them to embrace the Faith they want­ed to spread all over the globe. Had they done so, all nations, which were still not under their con­trol, might have turned against them, and they might have suf­fered what had befall­en the Cru­saders in their con­quest of Syr­ia late­ly. How­ev­er, the ear­ly Caliphs, who enjoyed a rare inge­nu­ity which was unavail­able to the pro­pa­gan­dists of new faiths, real­ized that laws and reli­gion can­not be imposed by force. Hence they were remark­ably kind in the way they treat­ed the peo­ples ofSyr­ia, Egypt, Spain and every oth­er coun­try they sub­dued, leav­ing them to prac­tise their laws and reg­u­la­tions and beliefs and impos­ing only a small Jizya in return for their pro­tec­tion and keep­ing peace among them. In truth, nations have nev­er known mer­ci­ful and tol­er­ant con­querors like the Mus­lims.Dr. Gus­tav LeBon, Civ­i­liza­tion of the Arabs, p. 30 

He fur­ther adds :

The mer­cy and tol­er­ance of the con­querors were among the rea­sons for the spread of their con­quests and for the nations’ adop­tions of their Faith and reg­u­la­tions and lan­guage, which became deeply root­ed, resist­ed all sorts of attack and remained even after the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Arabs’ con­trol on the world stage, though his­to­ri­ans deny the fact. Egypt is the most evi­dent proof of this. It adopt­ed what the Arabs had brought over, and reserved it. Con­querors before the Arabs — the Per­sians, Greeks and Byzan­tines — could not over­throw the ancient Pharaoh civ­i­liza­tion and impose what they had brought instead.ibid., p. 30 

This is also evi­dent­ly in the state­ment of Count de Cas­tri. He writes :

The spread of Islam and the sub­mis­sion to its author­i­ty seem to have anoth­er rea­son in the con­ti­nents of Asia and North Africa. It was the despo­tism of Con­stan­tino­ple which exer­cised extreme tyran­ny, and the injus­tice of rulers was too much for peo­ple to bear…Count de Cas­tri, Islam : Impres­sions and Stud­ies

So thus, it was due the abun­dance of good in medieval Chris­ten­dom that opened the doors of Islam­ic Expan­sion. This also result­ed to a mass con­ver­sion to Islam under no coercion

Pro­fes­sor Thomas Arnold again com­ments that :

This mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Mus­lim wars of con­quest has arisen from the assump­tion that wars waged for the exten­sion of Mus­lim dom­i­na­tion over the lands of the unbe­liev­ers implied that the aim in view was their con­ver­sion.T.W. Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World, p.52

One exam­ple to note is the con­quest of Spain. In 711 CE, an oppressed Chris­t­ian chief named Julian went to Musa ibn Nusair, the gov­er­nor of North Africa, with a plea for help against the tyran­ni­cal Chris­t­ian Visig­oth ruler of Spain, Rod­er­ick. Musa respond­ed by send­ing the young gen­er­al Tariq bin Ziyad with an army of 7000 troops, burned their fleets, and defeat­ed the 30,000 Visig­oths. One of his remark­able speech was after burn­ing his fleet — The sea is behind you, and the ene­my is ahead of you, and you have no escape but the truth and patience.” A new atmos­phere of tol­er­a­tion began for the Jews. The Mus­lims had few men and need­ed help in every city they con­quered to main­tain their rule. The Jews helped the Mus­lims because they rep­re­sent­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to free them­selves from the Visig­oths. The Chris­tians and Jews were lib­er­at­ed in Al-Andalu­sia. The Syr­i­ans wel­comed the Mus­lims as their lib­er­a­tors since they lib­er­at­ed from their reli­gious trou­ble and also relieved them of the bur­den­some tax­es that that were placed on their backs. They praised the Mus­lims by announc­ing pub­li­cal­ly, ?Praise be to God, who deliv­ered us from the unjust Byzan­tines and put us under the rule of the Mus­lims?. A great amount of them con­vert­ed to the Islam­ic faith. This lib­er­a­tion goes in accor­dance with the Quran­ic verse :

And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treat­ed (and oppressed)? Men, women, and chil­dren, whose cry is : Our Lord ! Res­cue us from this town, whose peo­ple are oppres­sors ; and raise for us from Your­side one who will pro­tect ; and raise for us from Your side one who will help!’ ” (An-Nisaa’ 4:75)

The First Crusade

The First Cru­sade was launched by Pope Urban II by announc­ing that Mus­lim forces were tak­ing over Chris­t­ian nations. He fur­ther pre­pared the Chris­tians to bring back the lands under the Chris­t­ian by retal­i­ate a Cru­sade against the Mus­lims. The Pope attempt­ed to deceive the mass­es that they were fight­ing for a good cause but only a hand­ful respond­ed to his call whilst joined the ranks to pil­lage and plun­der, or to escape their feu­dal lords. Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry, Joel T. Rosen­thal, con­tributed an arti­cle at Encar­ta Ency­clopae­dia stating :

They knew lit­tle about the Byzan­tine Empire or its reli­gion, East­ern Ortho­dox Chris­tian­i­ty. Few Cru­saders under­stood or had much sym­pa­thy for the East­ern Ortho­dox reli­gion, which did not rec­og­nize the pope, used the Greek lan­guage rather than Latin, and had very dif­fer­ent forms of art and archi­tec­ture. They knew even less about Islam or Mus­lim life. For some the First Cru­sade became an excuse to unleash sav­age attacks in the name of Chris­tian­i­ty on Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties along the Rhine.Joel T. Rosen­thal, Encar­ta

But Mad­den negates this sig­nif­i­cant detail and per­sists on prais­ing the so-called chival­ry knights which reveals his psy­cho­log­i­cal mech­a­nism, name­ly denial to affirm the true nature of the crusaders.

He then cites quo­ta­tions of anoth­er revi­sion­ist named Jonathan Riley-Smith who is known for his islam­o­pho­bic works. Riley-Smith argues that cru­sad­ing” was under­stood as an act of love” but accord­ing to the The Catholic Ency­clo­pe­dia”, the cru­sad­ing was under­stood as :

wars under­tak­en in pur­suance of a vow, and direct­ed against infi­dels, i.e. against Mohammedans, pagans, heretics, or those under the ban of excom­mu­ni­ca­tion.Catholic Ency­clopae­dia

Mad­den also con­cealed the speech by Pope Urban II who start­ed the first Cru­sade by call­ing for col­o­niza­tion of the Mus­lim world :

For you must has­ten to car­ry aid to your brethren dwelling in the East, who need your help, which they have often asked. For the Turks, a Per­sian peo­ple, have attacked them I exhort you with earnest prayer — not I, but God — that, as her­alds of Christ, you urge men by fre­quent exhor­ta­tion, men of all ranks, knights as well as foot sol­diers, rich as well as poor, to has­ten to exter­mi­nate this vile race from the lands of your brethren Christ com­mands it. And if those who set out thith­er should lose their lives on the way by land, or in cross­ing the sea, or in fight­ing the pagans, their sins shall be remit­ted. Oh what a dis­grace, if a race so despised, base, and the instru­ment of demons, should so over­come a peo­ple endowed with faith in the all-pow­er­ful God, and resplen­dent with the name of Christ. Let those who have been accus­tomed to make pri­vate war against the faith­ful car­ry on to a suc­cess­ful issue a war against the infi­dels. Let those who for a long time have been rob­bers now become sol­diers of Christ. Let those who fought against broth­ers and rel­a­tives now fight against these bar­bar­ians. Let them zeal­ous­ly under­take the jour­ney under the guid­ance of the Lord.August C. Krey, The First Cru­sade : The Accounts of Eye Wit­ness­es and Par­tic­i­pants (Glouces­ter, Mass­a­chu­setts : Peter Smith, 1958)

Com­pare this with the claim of Mad­den who asserted :

    It was the Cru­saders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Mus­lims who lived in Cru­sad­er-won ter­ri­to­ries were gen­er­al­ly allowed to retain their prop­er­ty and liveli­hood, and always their religion. 

It is quite an essen­tial detail to leave out the geno­cide preached by Pope Urban II. Espe­cial­ly if it dis­cred­its the whole argu­ment that the Cru­sades were acts of right­eous­ness. When these right­eous” Cru­saders arrived at Jerusalem, they had no mer­cy on the inhab­i­tants, whether Mus­lims, Jews or their Chris­t­ian brethren. Philip Schaff writes :

The scenes of car­nage which fol­lowed belong to the many dark pages of Jerusalem’s his­to­ry and showed how, in the qual­i­ty of mer­cy, the cru­sad­ing knight was far below the ide­al of Chris­t­ian per­fec­tion. The streets were choked with the bod­ies of the slain. The Jews were burnt with their syn­a­gogues.… As if to enhance the spec­ta­cle of piti­less bar­bar­i­ty, Sara­cen (i.e. Mus­lims) pris­on­ers were forced to clear the streets of the dead bod­ies and blood to save the city from pesti­lence. They wept and trans­port­ed the dead bod­ies out of Jerusalem,” is the heart­less state­ment of Robert the Monk. … They cut down with the sword,” said William [arch­bish­op] of Tyre, every one whom they found in Jerusalem, and spared no one. The vic­tors were cov­ered with blood from head to foot.” In the next breath, speak­ing of the devo­tion of the Cru­saders, the arch­bish­op adds, It was a most affect­ing sight which filled the heart with holy joy to see the peo­ple tread the holy places in the fer­vor of an excel­lent devo­tion.“Philip Schaff, His­to­ry of the Chris­t­ian Church, Vol­ume V, Chap­ter 7

This hor­ren­dous descrip­tion auto­mat­i­cal­ly refutes the claim that most Mus­lims were spared. They did not stop at the Mus­lims but advanced fur­ther by exter­mi­nat­ing the Jews and the Ori­ent Chris­tians who lived peace­ful­ly under the Mus­lim rule. They took the Mus­lim women as cap­tives and raped them. Philip Schaff fur­ther writes :

The ille­git­i­mate off­spring of the Cru­saders by Moslem women, called pul­lani, were a degen­er­ate race, marked by avarice, faith­less­ness, and debauch­ery.Ibid.

In Daim­bert’s com­ments in the Offi­cial Sum­ma­ry of the 1st Cru­sade, he notes that many cru­saders boast­ed how they rode in the blood of their ene­mies, whether they were chil­dren or women :

And, if you desire to know what was done about the ene­my whom we found there, know that in the por­ti­co of Solomon and his Tem­ple, our men rode in the blood of the Sara­cens (i.e. Mus­lims) up to the knees of the hors­es.Quot­ed in Krey, op. cit., p. 275

One wit­ness observed :

…there [in front of Solomon’s tem­ple] was such a car­nage that our peo­ple were wad­ing ankle-deep in the blood of our foes, and after that hap­pi­ly and cry­ing for joy” our peo­ple marched to our Sav­iour’s tomb, to hon­our it and to pay off our debt of gratitude.

In the words of The Arch­bish­op of Tyre, he wrote :

It was impos­si­ble to look upon the vast num­bers of the slain with­out hor­ror ; every­where lay frag­ments of human bod­ies, and the very ground was cov­ered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spec­ta­cle of head­less bod­ies and muti­lat­ed limbs strewn in all direc­tions that roused the hor­ror of all who looked upon them. Still more dread­ful was it to gaze upon the vic­tors them­selves, drip­ping with blood from head to foot, an omi­nous sight which brought ter­ror to all who met them. It is report­ed that with­in the Tem­ple enclo­sure alone about ten thou­sand infi­dels per­ished.F. Turn­er, Beyond Geog­ra­phy (New York, 1980

Hav­oc was wreaked in the city. Philip Schaff notes :

The Chris­t­ian occu­pa­tion of Pales­tine did not bring with it a reign of peace. The king­dom was torn by the bit­ter intrigues of barons and eccle­si­as­tics, while it was being con­stant­ly threat­ened from with­out. The inner strife was the chief source of weak­ness.Philip Schaff, His­to­ry of the Chris­t­ian Church, Vol­ume V, Chap­ter 7 

Ency­clopae­dia Bri­tan­ni­ca states :

The great Mus­lim sanc­tu­ar­ies became Chris­t­ian church­es, and in 1149 the Church of the Holy Sepul­chre as it exists today was con­se­crat­ed. Mus­lims and Jews were barred from liv­ing in the city.Ency­clopae­dia Bri­tan­ni­ca

So thus in the light of the above cit­ed evi­dence, Mus­lims and Jews were barred from liv­ing in the city. Their intol­er­ant poli­cies alien­at­ed the local pop­u­lace. One of the sons of Islam recap­tured Jerusalem and announc­ing that the Jews are allowed to return and live peace­ful­ly under the rule of the Mus­lims. The Ger­man-Jew­ish his­to­ri­an of the Nine­teenth Cen­tu­ry, Hein­rich Graetz stat­ed that the Sul­tan, opened the whole king­dom to the per­se­cut­ed Jews, so they came to it, seek­ing secu­ri­ty and find­ing jus­tice.Graetz in his Geschichte der Juden [His­to­ry of the Jews], vol. 11, pub­lished in 1853 The Span­ish poet Yehu­da al-Harizi, who was in Jerusalem in 1207 CE, described the sig­nif­i­cance for the Jews of the recov­ery of Jerusalem by Saladin :

God aroused the spir­it of the prince of the Ish­maelites [Sal­adin], a pru­dent and coura­geous man, who came with his entire army, besieged Jerusalem, took it and had it pro­claimed through­out the coun­try that he would receive and accept the entire race of Ephraim, wher­ev­er they came from. And so we came from all com­ers of the world to take up res­i­dence here. We now live here in the shad­ow of peace. F. E. Peters, Jerusalem, p. 363.

The British His­to­ri­an Karen Arm­strong said regard­ing the cap­ture of Jerusalem :

On 2 Octo­ber 1187 Sal­adin and his army entered Jerusalem as con­querors and for the next 800 years Jerusalem would remain a Mus­lim city… Sal­adin kept his word, and con­quered the city accord­ing to the high­est Islam­ic ideals. He did not take revenge for the 1099 mas­sacre, as the Koran advised (16:127), and now that hos­til­i­ties had ceased he end­ed the killing (2:193 – 194). Not a sin­gle Chris­t­ian was killed and there was no plun­der. The ran­soms were delib­er­ate­ly very low… Karen Arm­strong, Holy War, p. 185

P.H. New­by stated :

The Cru­sades were fas­ci­nat­ed by a Mus­lim leader who pos­sessed virtues they assumed were Chris­t­ian. To them to his Mus­lim con­tem­po­raries and to us, it still remains remark­able that in times as harsh and bloody as these a man of great pow­er should have been so lit­tle cor­rupt­ed by it.New­by, P. H., Sal­adin in his Time, 1992. Dorset Press, New York. 

The Sec­ond Crusade

The sec­ond cru­sade was ini­ti­at­ed by Bernard of Clair­vaux in direct reply to the Seljuk Mus­lims who lib­er­at­ed the the town of Edessa. Bernard of Clair­vaux declared in launch­ing the Sec­ond Cru­sade, The Chris­t­ian glo­ri­fies in the death of a pagan, because there­by Christ him­self is glo­ri­fied.“Haught, Holy Hor­rors, p. 26

The Seljuk Mus­lims saved the whole Islam­ic domains from total extinc­tion in regard to the whole­sale slaugh­ter prop­a­gat­ed by the cru­saders of pop­u­la­tions in Maarat Al-Numan, Anti­och and Jerusalem. When they (i.e. Cru­saders) con­quered the town of Tanis in the Nile delta, they lit­er­al­ly slaugh­tered the inhab­i­tants who hap­pened to be the Cop­tic Chris­tians. Even their brethren couldn?t escape their spree of mur­der and rap­ine. More atroc­i­ties were com­mit­ed against the Jews in Mainz, Worms, Cologne, Spey­er and Stras­burg. The col­lapse of the sec­ond Cru­sade caused a deep dis­may. They attempt­ed to attack Dam­as­cus but due the lack of trust between their allies, it failed dra­mat­i­cal­ly. Their whole­sale atroc­i­ties con­tin­ues to prove why the Cru­sades are not­ed as one of the most egre­gious wars.

The Third Crusade

Before the advent of the third Cru­sade, Jerusalem was lib­er­at­ed by Sal­adin who restored peace to the Holy Land and allow­ing the per­se­cut­ed Jews to return. Richard and Philip besieged the Mus­lim city Acre and the city sur­ren­dered in 1191. Richard impris­oned the Mus­lim sol­diers along­side with their wives and chil­dren and announced a pris­on­er exchange. A fail­ure of com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the nego­ti­a­tions result­ed in Richard order­ing the exe­cu­tions of 3000 Mus­lim sol­diers and their wives and chil­dren in front of Sal­adin and his army. This fero­cious act com­mit­ted by Richard reveals how below the Chris­t­ian rulers were in com­par­i­son with the ide­al Chris­t­ian character.

The Span­ish Inquisition

Thomas once again con­ceals the Span­ish Inqui­si­tion which pri­ma­ry tar­get were the Jews and the Mus­lims. They were coer­cive­ly, and insin­cere­ly, con­vert­ed to Chris­tian­i­ty. It does not come as a suprise since Chris­tian­i­ty gained most of its fol­low­ers through forced con­ver­sions. Comp­ton’s Con­cise Ency­clopae­dia states :

This was a qua­si-eccle­si­as­ti­cal tri­bunal estab­lished in 1478 by King Fer­di­nand and Queen Isabel­la pri­mar­i­ly to exam­ine con­vert­ed Jews, and lat­er con­vert­ed Mus­lims, and pun­ish those who were insin­cere in the con­ver­sion.… The Span­ish Inqui­si­tion was much harsh­er than the medieval Inqui­si­tion and the death penal­ty was more often exact­ed, some­times in mass autos-da-fe. It judged cas­es of bigamy, seduc­tion, usury, and oth­er crimes, and was active in Spain and her colonies. Esti­mates of its vic­tims vary wide­ly, rang­ing from less than 4,000 to more than 30,000 dur­ing its exis­tence…Comp­ton’s Con­cise Ency­clo­pe­dia, Inqui­si­tion

Ency­clopae­dia Bri­tan­ni­ca, states :

The Inqui­si­tion’s secret pro­ce­dures, its eager­ness to accept denun­ci­a­tions, its use of tor­ture, the absence of coun­sel for the accused, the lack of any right to con­front hos­tile wit­ness­es, and the prac­tice of con­fis­cat­ing the prop­er­ty of those who were con­demned and shar­ing it between the Inqui­si­tion, the crown, and the accusers?all this inspired great ter­ror, as indeed it was meant to do.Ency­clo­pe­dia Britannica

The only sole rea­son why the Mus­lims sur­ren­dered peace­ful­ly was due the fact that the Chris­t­ian offi­cials made a bind­ing treaty with the Mus­lims which is also known as the treaty of 1492”. In that treaty, the Chris­t­ian offi­cials promised reli­gious tol­er­ance to the Mus­lims and the Jews. It was an attempt to win reli­gious tol­er­ance for all the Mus­lims and Jews left in Spain. Since the Mus­lims were no longer the rulers of Andalu­sia, they hoped at least that they would be per­mit­ted to wor­ship their Lord, The One God, in the man­ner pre­sent­ed by the Prophet (Peace and bless­ings of Allah be upon him). How­ev­er, in 1499 CE, Ximenes ini­ti­at­ed a cam­paign to coerce the Mus­lims of South­ern Mus­lim Spain to Chris­tian­i­ty. P. de Gayan­gos writes :

As a result of his endeav­ours, it is report­ed that on 8th Decem­ber 1499 about three thou­sand Moors were bap­tized by him and a lead­ing mosque in Grana­da was con­vert­ed into a church. Con­verts’ were encour­aged to sur­ren­der their Islam­ic books, sev­er­al thou­sands of which were destroyed by Ximenes in a pub­lic bon­fire. A few rare books on med­i­cine were kept aside for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alcala.P de Gayan­gos, Muham­madan Dynas­ties in Spain”, Vol. II

The Mus­lims were dragged through the streets of the Mus­lim quar­ter for reject­ing to adopt the Chris­t­ian faith. Con­se­quent­ly, the Mus­lim ini­ti­at­ed a riot protest­ing that the treaty was not hon­oured. P. de Gayan­gos fur­ther writes :

Ximenes imme­di­ate­ly denounced the upris­ing as a rebel­lion, and claimed that by this the Moors had for­feit­ed all their rights under the terms of capit­u­la­tion. They should there­fore be giv­en the choice between bap­tism and expul­sion. The gov­ern­ment agreed with his argu­ments, and Ximenes then began the mass bap­tism of the pop­u­la­tion of Grana­da, most of whom pre­ferred this fate to the more haz­ardous one of depor­ta­tion to Africa. The speed with which the bap­tisms were car­ried out meant that there was no time in which to instruct the Moors in the fun­da­men­tals of their new reli­gion, so that inevitably most of the new con­verts became Chris­t­ian only in name.Ibid.

Addi­tion­al­ly, it has been esti­mat­ed that at least 50,000 Mus­lims were forced to con­vert in the mass bap­tism of Grana­da by Ximenes. A small amount of Jews and Mus­lims were deport­ed to North-Africa. The tol­er­ance of the Mus­lims for the Jews nev­er decreased, so they aid­ed the Jews in the progress of the depor­ta­tion. In spite of the cir­cum­stances, a new Gold­en Age flour­ished in North-Africa. In Andarax, mosques were blown up with gun-pow­der and at Belfique, all the Mus­lim men were put to the sword whilst the women were tak­en as slaves. The Mus­lim chil­dren were sep­a­rat­ed from their par­ents and hand­ed over to the Church in order to be brought up as Catholics. The Ara­bic books includ­ing the Glo­ri­ous Qur’an were col­lect­ed and burnt. H. Kamen writes :

Since the major­i­ty of Mus­lims had been con­vert­ed’, the offer of emi­gra­tion was an emp­ty one, and the legal equal­i­ty’ grant­ed by Fer­di­nand was but a mock­ery of the terms of the Treaty of Grana­da which he had so bla­tant­ly per­mit­ted to be bro­ken. Behind the words of con­cil­i­a­tion and peace, the gen­er­al inten­tion of the Church to elim­i­nate the prac­tice of Islam was unmis­tak­able, and now that the Mus­lims of south­ern Andalu­sia, or the Moriscos as they were called, were with­in the juris­dic­tion of the Span­ish Inqui­si­tion, the Inquisi­tors embarked on the task of detect­ing relapsed heretics’ and secret Mus­lims. The com­mu­ni­ties of Mus­lims which had sur­vived the sup­pres­sion of the rebel­lion, or reformed after it, were repeat­ed­ly harassed by the Inquisi­tors.H. Kamen, The Span­ish Inqui­si­tion

Thomas writes :

    The ancient faith of Chris­tian­i­ty, with its respect for women and antipa­thy toward slav­ery, not only sur­vived but flourished. 

On the con­trary, Chris­tian­i­ty advo­cat­ed the sup­port of slav­ery. Ency­clopae­dia Bri­tan­ni­ca states :

Juda­ic and Islam­ic canon­i­cal texts refer fre­quent­ly to slav­ery and treat it as a nat­ur­al con­di­tion that might befall any­one. But they view it as a con­di­tion that should be got­ten over quick­ly. Islam­ic prac­tice was based on the assump­tion that the out­sider rapid­ly became an insid­er and con­se­quent­ly had to be man­u­mit­ted after six years. New Tes­ta­ment Chris­tian­i­ty, on the oth­er hand, had no pre­scrip­tions that slaves be man­u­mit­ted. Canon law sanc­tioned slav­ery. This was attrib­ut­able at least par­tial­ly to Chris­tian­i­ty’s pri­ma­ry focus on spir­i­tu­al val­ues and sal­va­tion after death rather than on tem­po­ral con­di­tions and the present life. Under such a régime it mat­tered lit­tle whether some­one was a slave or a free per­son while liv­ing on earth.Ency­clopae­dia Britannica

In regard to how women are viewed in the Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion, Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem pro­duced an authen­tic com­par­i­son of the treat­ment of women between the Chris­t­ian and Islam­ic tradition.

Con­clu­sions

It is quite clear that the nature of this arti­cle is based on wish­ful think­ing rather than on con­crete evi­dence. A thor­ough analy­sis of every evi­dence per­tained to the Cru­sades would con­clude that the Cru­sades were a colo­nial ven­ture moti­vat­ed by greed, lack of oppor­tu­ni­ty in Frank­ish Europe and ter­ri­to­r­i­al expan­sion. Thomas attempts to jus­ti­fy the whole­sale slaugh­ter of mil­lions of inno­cent peo­ple dur­ing the Cru­sades by bas­ing his opin­ions on fic­ti­tious evi­dence. It is time for the Chris­t­ian revi­sion­ist his­to­ri­ans to step out of denial and acknowl­edge that Chris­tians are not on a moral high ground.

And Allah knows best !

The writer is the forum admin­is­tra­tor of the LI Islam­ic Forum.Endmark

2 Comments

  1. I agree. There has been revi­sion­ist his­to­ry galore about the cru­sades. It’s nice to see some­one final­ly refut­ing their claims. Let me know if there are any­more arti­cles like this.

  2. One of the most use­ful arti­cles I have read on cru­sades any­where on the inter­net. Keep up the Good Work.

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