Skip to comments.War has its roots in the Crusades: U.S. has been drawn into a conflict that began 1,000 years ago
Posted on 10/16/2001 8:12:34 AM PDT by SocialMeltdown
On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was riding through St. Peter's Square in Rome, on his way to announce that he wanted to create a dialogue on Catholic theology and modern thought.
Before he could make that announcement, a Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca shot him. The would-be assassin's reason, written in a letter, was to kill the "supreme commander of the Crusades." While the pope was turning toward modernity, the Turk was still fighting a war that began almost 1,000 years earlier. And now, because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, America has been drawn into the same war.
The evil hatched by Osama bin Laden and his followers has its roots in an ages-old clash of religions that was most clearly marked by open warfare between Christians and Muslims starting in the 11th century.
It all boils down to one very powerful word: "crusade." The Saudi financier-turned-terrorist-backer bin Laden has been singled out as the prime suspect in the attacks on U.S. soil. To him and his followers, the thousand-year-old clash between Islam and Christianity is still ongoing. To be an American (or a Westerner) is to be a "crusader."
A treatise against the West attributed to bin Laden in the late 1990s was titled "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders." The author speaks of the 1948 creation of Israel as an act committed by a Jewish-Crusader alliance. He goes on in stark terms to describe his followers' mission: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the Al Aksa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim."
As Mark Hadley, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Western Maryland College, says, this form of radicalism is not a part of traditional Muslim thought.
"While classical or medieval Islam in the Sunni tradition developed this notion of "jihad,' it was heavily qualified in ways similar to Western notions of just war: there must be a just cause, right intent, a reasonable hope of success, and a competent authority to declare war. . . . "Obviously, there are groups within Islamic countries such as Islamic Jihad or Hamas, and perhaps Osama bin Laden himself, who have appealed to notions of jihad to justify various acts of violence," Hadley says. "However, this is radically at odds with mainstream Islam and the everyday practices and beliefs of Muslims here and abroad. By any ethical measure, Islamic or otherwise, (Sept. 11's) actions were acts of mass murder."
Bin Laden, then, represents a radical segment of the Muslim world, and scholars take pains to stress that the religion is not inherently warlike. But experts on the Middle East say that on the streets of Cairo or Amman, the common term for American is "cowboy" or "crusader."
Meanwhile, in the West (particularly the United States), the concept of a crusade has softened. Rather than being a fight for Christendom, a crusade is a way to get people to stop smoking, or get voters to the polls on Election Day. These are surely noble causes, but somewhat less than a defense of religious faith.
The most recent example of Western casualness in regards to the power of the C-word in the Muslim East was President Bush's comments on Sept. 16 that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while."
A presidential spokesman wisely backtracked by saying: "I think what the president was saying had no intended consequences for anybody, Muslim or otherwise, other than to say that this is a broad cause that he is calling on America and the nations around the world to join."
If the West has largely forgotten the particulars of the Crusades, Osama bin Laden has not.
In Afghanistan, which has been bin Laden's home of late, the rulers reign in a fashion that might not be that different from the Muslim defenders of the Holy Lands of a thousand years ago.
In a race to out-fundamental the fundamentalists, the ruling Taliban bans movies, television and even kite-flying. Since the mid-1990s, it has taken the country even deeper into the Dark Ages by ending schooling for girls, destroying ancient artworks that offended official religious sensibilities, and even making it a crime punishable by death to convince someone to reject Islam.
(Two American aid workers face just such a possibility for bringing Christian literature into the country.)
It is not so surprising that Islamic fundamentalists would cling tightly to concepts a thousand years old while an opposing microwave society would so quickly lose the foundational concepts held so dear by their rivals. In the beginning
Although historians put the year 1095 as a clear starting for the Crusades, the seeds of conflict can be traced back to Genesis 12, when God promised to make Abraham a great nation.
Muslims, like Christians and Jews, trace their lineage through Abraham to Ur of the Chaldeans. The Jews and Christians claim the line of Isaac, produced through Abraham's wife Sarah, while the Muslims take the line produced when Abraham had a son, Ishmael, by a servant named Hagar.
(While Hagar was pregnant, the Lord promised that her descendants would be many, but also that Ishmael "shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him.")
More than 500 years after the death of Jesus Christ and the spread of Christianity, Mohammad ibn Abdullah was born in Mecca. In 610, Mohammad claimed he had received revelations from Allah. He "insisted that his was not a new religion but the ultimate revelation of the Jewish-Christian tradition," writes Karen Armstrong in "Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World."
"Islam," meaning "submission to God," was the name of this religion. His followers became "Muslims," meaning "those who submit."
Islam spread rapidly across the Middle East and North Africa, including countries that had been devoutly Christian. Its spread began to crowd the boundaries of the West, which was becoming solidly Christian.
"It was very threatening to the Christian identity to see this younger, energetic religion that claimed to have superseded Christianity actually transforming the map and absorbing Christians into its empire," Armstrong wrote. Very quickly the West grabbed on to the Muslim concept of jihad, using it as a way to rally Christians to defend their homelands and their faith.
In 732, Sultan Abd al-Rahman attacked northward from Spain into southern France. Europe saw this as an Arab desire to control and thus convert all the world. The East, meanwhile, scoffed at why anyone would want to invade such a backward and harsh place as Europe.
Legend tells of a sign in France that gave warning to Muslims: "Turn back, sons of Ishmael, this is as far as you go, and if you do not go back, you will smite each other until the day of the Resurrection."
In the 730s, Charles Martel became a Frankish hero known as the "Hammer" for turning back the advance of the Muslims deep in the heart of France in the city of Tours, less than 150 miles southwest of Paris.
Pope entered fray
As Muslims and Christians continued to clash at the edges of their dominions, the end of the first millenni um drew many pilgrims from Europe to the Holy Land, anticipating the return of Christ. But the Holy Land was firmly in the hands of Muslims.
Resentment stewed until a group of Byzantine Christians in what is now Greece sent out a plea for help in 1095 and spawned what is known as the Crusades.
The Byzantine plea to remove the harassing Turkish armies of Asia Minor led Pope Urban II to make an impassioned speech in France in which he called on Christian believers to come to the defense of their brothers in faith.
"It began as an errand of mercy reacting to Turkish conquests of Asia Minor," says St. Louis University historian Thomas Madden. "People were going to fight the Muslims, and so doing they would liberate the Christians." Many historians say it is unclear if Urban intended more than a defense of the Byzantines, amid an already strained church relationship that would eventually sunder into a clearly divided Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
But he got more.
Urban intended to inspire European nobles from all Christendom to stop their infighting and unite in a holy pilgrimage. What he initially got was a fired-up rabble that stormed headlong across Europe, without provisions or planning. Once they crossed into Asia Minor, they were met by Muslim Turks, who cut off their heads and left their bodies to rot in open fields. Western historians for many centuries neglected this astounding defeat because of the poor message it sent: How holy can your pilgrimage be if it ends in awful defeat?
What officially became known as the "First Crusade" was a better-organized army of European nobles who swept into the East to eventually reclaim Jerusalem for Christendom.
One factor in the nobles' success may have been the easy defeat of that first wave of ill-equipped peasants. The Turkish Muslims may have underestimated the battled-trained Europeans who poured into the region and soundly defeated them.
On July 15, 1099, this wave of Crusaders conquered Jerusalem. For two days, they massacred Muslims and Jews. The accounts of this siege talk of streets flowing with blood up to the knees of men on horseback and decapitated heads and limbs piled high.
"The Muslims were no longer respected enemies and a foil for Frankish honor. They had become the enemies of God and were doomed to ruthless extermination," writes "Holy War" author Armstrong.
Centuries of conflict
Pope Urban died two weeks later, but his call would resound throughout Europe for another two centuries.
Flush with success, the Christian conquerors divided the Holy Land into states and even made plans for further conquests, although those ambitions were never realized. Their success also brought waves of more pilgrims from the West and more conflicts around the region between Muslims and Christians.
In this time, the church encouraged believers to make the trek - either over land or by boat - to the Holy Land, the trip itself being a test of devotion. Regional conflicts in the East would flare up, and popes would make appeals for new crusades, stretching to an almost comical number.
Muslims continued to hold out hope for a strong leader who could reclaim what had been lost.
Such a warrior emerged in the 1160s in the form of a Kurd named Saladin. Ultimately, the occupiers - so far removed from their original homeland - could not hold on; the last Christian outpost, the city of Acre, fell to the Muslims in 1291.
The major campaigns of the Crusades may have ended, but the desire to control the region did not. "Even after the Middle Ages, popes would plan, princes would attempt, preachers would propagandize and scholars would draw up Grand Strategies for the reconquest of the Holy Land," writes Ronald C. Finucane in "Soldiers of the Faith."
Within another couple of centuries, the boundaries between a Christian West and a Muslim East became sharper with the expulsion of Muslims and Jews in Spain by the late 1400s.
Renaissance in the West
The Muslim world may have successfully defended its turf and won the Crusades, but it lost the larger war of history
to a West on the verge of the Renaissance. "The Arab world had seemingly won a stunning victory. If the West had sought, through its excessive invasions, to contain the thrust of Islam, the result was exactly the opposite. . . . Appearances are deceptive. With historical hindsight, a more contradictory observation must be made," writes Lebanese author Amin Maalouf in "The Crusades
Through Arab Eyes."
"At the time of the Crusades, the Arab world, from Spain to Iraq, was still the intellectual and material repository of the planet's most advanced civilization. Afterward, the center of world history shifted decisively to the West." In a bit of irony, this shift was due in part to the European occupation of a Muslim world that was far more advanced in culture, medicine and technology. "The Crusaders lost the war but brought back a huge infusion of new ideas," says David Cook, an Islamic studies professor at Rice University in Houston.
The Muslim world grew more powerful in its own neighborhood and expanded its influence in places other than Europe. The Christian West, though, was changing in such a way as to make a call to pure holy war unlikely. The rise of concepts such as capitalism and individualism caused a revolution of a different sort, and although war would continue to be waged, the fight was now more likely to be over economics. A rising West was also changed by a Reformation that altered the structure of the church as state, and an Enlightenment that challenged old conventions of faith. "Struggle with Islam became irrelevant. The whole idea of the Crusades became bizarre," says Madden.
But this profit-driven, more secular West is no less an enemy to the followers of bin Laden. It's no surprise that the Taliban bans TV, given that many modern Westerners see it as a corruptor of their own children.
In a pluralistic United States, a certain religiosity may be a key component in the defense of the nation, but the overriding motivation is the defense of liberty, not the conquest of alleged heathens. That transition has not been made so clearly in the Muslim world.
"The gulf between bin Laden and his followers and the U.S. is a thousand years," says Madden.
Crusade, a word that is casually thrown around in the West, is a concept stuck in the craw of many fundamentalist Muslims. "The Crusades are a very uncomfortable thing for Muslims," says Rice University's Cook. "It is an embarrassing moment" that exposed an Eastern vulnerability.
So while the West may not see history in such stark terms, it should not forget both the power of the Crusades and their use as a motivator for destroying the United States and its allies. America's cause for conflict is only a month old, while its enemy's has lasted more than 1,000 years.
Sources: "The History of God" by Karen Armstrong (Ballantine Books, 1993); "Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World" by Karen Armstrong (Doubleday, 1991); "Soldiers of the Faith" by Ronald C. Finucane (St. Martin's Press, 1983); "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" by Amin Maalouf (Shocken Books, 1985); "The Oxford History of Medieval Europe" edited by George Holmes (Oxford University Press, 1988); Arab Historians of the Crusades," edited by Francesco Gabrieli (University of California Press, 1969); "The Crusades" by Anthony Bridge (Granada Publishing, 1980); "Foreign Affairs" magazine, November/December 1998.
BOB DAVIS is Op-Ed/Sunday editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
I take both of those as a compliment!
Bin Laden became angered at the United Stated when we continued our presence on Saudi soil after the Gulf War. He has rhetorically stated that the problem is our occupation of the land with 2 of the most holy sights in Islam.
In actuality, he has declared that the House of Saud should be replaced with an Islamic Theocracy. The presence of US troops on Saudi soil makes his mission much harder.
This isn't about westernism. It isn't about the Crusades. It's about power. Bin Laden wants it, and he sees our presence as a hurdle. The rhetoric he has used regarding the west and Israel is simply to make his cause more noble to his fellow muslims.
It started in Genesis, when the two wives of Abraham, one the mother of the Arab nation, the other the mother of the Jewish nation, got in a fight, and the mother of the Jewish nation, Sarah, threw the mother of the Arab nation, Hagar, out in the wilderness to die. Every year, during the Hajj, the Muslims reenact Hagar's wanderings in the wilderness until an angel rescued her from death. The Arabs believe the Jews stole their rightful birthright.
In many ways, the Islamic religion attempts to reclaim the blessing God promisedi to Abraham, which Christians and Jews believe were manifested through the Israelites.
This from an Islamic Scholar? That only emphasizes the profound differences between academics and people with common sense.
At no time in it's history has Islam been peaceful. the last 100 years has been an aberration only because the west rendered Islam powerless and irrelevant the last time they attempted their "expansion by the sword".
And the propaganda continues...
Islam had a continuous Jihad for 500 years before the crusades and for 500 years afterwards.
That they still focus on the crusades only emphasizes their primitive, animal-like illogical behavior; it's as if resentment and hate is a cultural heritage for them.
Strange, for the Crusades lasted only 200 years, and ended 700 years ago.
This canard is endlessly repeated without substantiation.
More advanced in culture? Does that mean in political organization? I doubt it, since Europe had a much more advanced legal system (Roman law and the beginnings of British common law) and more complex and representative political structures (republics, constitutional monarchies, merchant city alliances, elective monarchies, cantons) than the primitive shariat and caliphate.
Does it mean music? I doubt it, since strict Islam outlawed all music beside muezzin chant - while Europeans were developing complex polyphonic music and theoretically advanced counterpoint for instruments.
Does it mean the plastic arts? Don't make me laugh. While Islam outlawed representative forms Europeans were perfecting perspectival painting, the incredible frescoes which adorn the churches of Europe, remarkably innovative and diverse architectural forms.
Does it mean literature or philosophical speculation? Preposterous. While Islam limited literary invention to devotional poems and philosophical research to parroting Aristotle or hippyesque Sufi mysticism Europe outgrew in one generation the recycled and mistranslated Aristotle that had obsessed Muslims for four centuries. Europe revived the ancient forms of epic, drama and lyric to add to their already superior devotional verse and created a variety of new literary forms to boot.
Islam was medically advanced? How so? Their medical knowledge never progressed beyong Galen - a Greek who died centuries before Muhammad's birth. While Italians and Englishmen were inventing modern physiology, pharmacology and biology Muslims were specializing in two forms of surgery: chopping off thieves' hands and adulterers' heads.
Technology? What technological breakthroughs did Islam create? No architectural ones. No medical ones. Nothing in terms of mechanics. Nothing in terms of physics. Nothing in terms of engineering. Everything they had was borrowed piecemeal from either the Copts they murdered, the Persians they murdered or the Greeks they murdered.
Islam is not a culture - it is a devourer of cultures.
So both Christianity and Judaism are in error and only Islam is the one infallible faith.
Mohammad, as Gods prophet, supercedes Jesus?
Is that your argument?
Islam spread rapidly across the Middle East and North Africa, including countries that had been devoutly Christian. Its spread began to crowd the boundaries of the West, which was becoming solidly Christian.
Typical twaddle. Islam just "spread," huh? No mention that the method of spread was by warfare. He implies here that the spread was peaceful and that the Western response was over-reaction.
There is also no mention of the impact of the Mongols who invaded during this same period. The Crusades were a stubbed toe as compared to the decapitation of the Mongol invasions.
I just wanted to let you know that your assessment of the root cause of the war was right on target. Satan hates Israel (through whom the messiah has come) and the descendents of Ishmael want to destroy Israel and place themselves in the place of blessing instead.
Fortunately, Israel is, and will remain "the apple of God's eye" and their position is secure.
My prayer and concern is that the United States will remain strong in it's commitment to Israel and NOT bend to pressure to force a "Palestinian State" upon them.
Muslims do not believe Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, they believe it is blasphemous to suggest that Allah -- which is simply the Arabic word for God, meaning the God of Abraham -- could have a son. They believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, hence, no resurrection. They believe, however, that Jesus was a great prophet.
They do believe that Muhammed was the greatest and last prophet. However, they believe in the Second Coming, and that Christ will rule over the earth during the Millenium, interestingly enough.
I have wondered many times about the role of Muhammed. When he lived, the surrounding Arabs were worshiping various idols. He converted them to a belief in the God of Abraham, which was certainly a step in the right direction. I therefore think he did them great good. I often wonder how much of Muhammed's teaching has been distorted and changed in the last 1,300 years.
The Islamic fanatics are interested in bringing their version of conservative Islam to the forfront and to create enough dissention from the ignorant but pious in the streets that the major governments are overthrown. That is, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the others in North Africa.
As with the Popes of Rome who killed European populations to obtain uniform purity of the church, money and treasure is also involved. With the captured territory comes nort only souls to cleanse in the correct interpretation of the word of god, but much treasure as well.
The writer basicly misunderstands what is happening and attempts to bend events he does understand to fit his desire to view of the present.
The Holy Land of the Jews is is a secondary attribute to the current turmoil.
In essence, the Koran has some very interesting characters in it.
Legends say that IDRIS IS OSIRIS THE HERO OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LEGEND.
Egyptian god Osiris and Islamic prophet Idris/ the same!?The Quran claims that Osiris the Egyptian god is a prophet.
Wesir, also known as Ausar and the Greek Osiris, is the Kemetic Name of the Lord of the Dead. He is not to be confused with historical predecessors such as Wepwawet, Yinepu (Greek Anubis), Sokar or Sobek.
Wesir is the son of Geb and Nut. He is married to his sister Aset (Greek Isis) and they have a son Heru (Greek Horus). Much of what is commonly known about Wesir, Aset and Heru comes from the Greek myths of Isis and Osiris. In Kemetic text, Wesir's death is attributed to drowning, not the dismemberment myth created later by Plutarch. The dismemberment myth does not appear until a thousand years later and may not even be Kemetic in origin. Wesir, in fact, was never resurrected as many believe. Wesir is Lord of the Dead and dwells in the Blessed Fields of the Dead.
Here is more on Osirus:
The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld. In Egyptian mythology the god who was ruler and judge in the underworld and the brother and consort of Isis. He is identified with the Nile, and his annual death and resurrection symbolized the self-renewing vitality and fertility of nature. (The Reader's Digest Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary, pg. 1203)
These two sources show that Idris, who is Arabic for Osiris is god of the underworld from Egypt! They might differ on whether Osiris was resurrected but they both agree on the origin of Osiris.
The Koran declares that Idris, or Osiris, who was the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld, is:
... a man of truth [and sincerity], and a prophet. And We [Allah] raised him to lofty station. 19:56-57.
Is Osiris the god of the underworld, or a prophet? According to the Quran he is! Remember there is no evidence at all in Islamic history or the Quran to prove that Idris was Enoch. This idea came along later with Muslims who tried to equate Idris to Enoch. This is most embarrassing because it shows that the Quran has fictional characters (to make it even worse, pagan gods) as prophets!