The Crusades: Why are we still fighting them?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Sky Dancer, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Sky Dancer
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    Our Islamophobia dates back to the time of the Crusades, and is entwined with our chronic anti-semitism. Some of the first Crusaders began their journey to the Holy Land by massacring the Jewish communities along the Rhine valley; the Crusaders ended their campaign in 1099 by slaughtering some 30,000 Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. It is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged. Thenceforth Jews and Muslims became the shadow-self of Christendom, the mirror image of everything that we hoped we were not - or feared that we were.

    The fearful fantasies created by Europeans at this time endured for centuries and reveal a buried anxiety about Christian identity and behaviour. When the popes called for a Crusade to the Holy Land, Christians often persecuted the local Jewish communities: why march 3,000 miles to Palestine to liberate the tomb of Christ, and leave unscathed the people who had - or so the Crusaders mistakenly assumed - actually killed Jesus. Jews were believed to kill little children and mix their blood with the leavened bread of Passover: this "blood libel" regularly inspired pogroms in Europe, and the image of the Jew as the child slayer laid bare an almost Oedipal terror of the parent faith.

    Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. It was when the Christians of Europe were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims in the Middle East that Islam first became known in the west as the religion of the sword. At this time, when the popes were trying to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy, Muhammad was portrayed by the scholar monks of Europe as a lecher, and Islam condemned - with ill-concealed envy - as a faith that encouraged Muslims to indulge their basest sexual instincts. At a time when European social order was deeply hierarchical, despite the egalitarian message of the gospel, Islam was condemned for giving too much respect to women and other menials.

    The early conquests in Persia and Byzantium after the Prophet's death were inspired by political rather than religious aspirations. Until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur'anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own. The extremism and intolerance that have surfaced in the Muslim world in our own day are a response to intractable political problems - oil, Palestine, the occupation of Muslim lands, the prevelance of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, and the west's perceived "double standards" - and not to an ingrained religious imperative.

    But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments. As one of the received ideas of the west, it seems well-nigh impossible to eradicate. Indeed, we may even be strengthening it by falling back into our old habits of projection. As we see the violence - in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon - for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on "Islam". But if we are feeding our prejudice in this way, we do so at our peril.

    · Karen Armstrong is the author of Islam: A Short History


    Karen Armstrong: We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam | Comment is free | The Guardian
     
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  2. Sky Dancer
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    1095-1291

    Since the time of Constantine, Christians had gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Even though Moslems had ruled Jerusalem since 638, Christians were still allowed to visit the city. By the 11th century, however, the situation had changed. Just as the number and frequency of pilgrimages to Jerusalem was at new peaks, the Seljuk Turks took over control of Jerusalem and prevented pilgrimages.


    The First Crusade was the most successful from a military point of view. Accounts of this action are shocking. For example, historian Raymond of Agiles described the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099:


    Some of our men cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.
    What was the legacy of the Crusades? Williston Walker et. al. observes:


    Viewed in the light of their original purpose, the Crusades were failures. They made no permanent conquests of the Holy Land. They did not retard the advance of Islam. Far from aiding the Eastern Empire, they hastened its disintegration. They also revealed the continuing inability of Latin Christians to understand Greek Christians, and they hardened the schism between them. They fostered a harsh intolerance between Muslims and Christians, where before there had been a measure of mutual respect. They were marked, and marred, by a recrudescence of anti-Semitism....

    The papacy gained the most from the Crusades. Its authority was greatly increased. The power of European kings also increased in that a number of barons who had given them trouble went to the East.
    The Christian Crusades: 1095-1291
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  3. CrusaderFrank
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    The Crusades actually predate the Moorish conquest of the west in your time line....that's a first.
     
  4. Sky Dancer
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    Both jihad and the crusades provide a religious justification for war and intolerance.
     
  5. Avatar4321
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    The Crusades were a reaction to stop the expanding Islamic Caliphate from enslaving Europe. I think it's rather silly to think that Europeans should have just welcomed the invaders in with open arms and voluntarily enslaved themselves.

    And considering the good that came with the Crusades such as the trade and knowledge that was brought to Europe, which lead to: The Renaisance, Reformation, and Enlightment, you would think you'd be alittle more appreciative of what they accomplished.

    You do realize that if there were no crusades, you wouldn't be alive right? You wouldn't be able to read, you wouldn't have advanced technology. You wouldn't know of the existance of America or live under a government of freedom.
     
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  6. FA_Q2
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    That is rather funny. I can't remember any anti-Islamic sentiments that prevailed within our society before 9/11. You want to know why there is such a strong feeling against Islam today - speak to the thousands of innocents that were killed in the name of jihad. The fact is that Americans have NEVER faced an attack of that kind or scope in its history and the reaction to it is going to be large and long lasting. The feeling will fade eventually but it will take a lot of time for Americans to truly forgive the atrocity that took place on that day.
     
  7. Sky Dancer
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    And I would point out that 9/11 was not caused by Muslim Americans.
     
  8. FA_Q2
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    And what would be your point? You posted about Americans currently having an anti Islamic streak. Did I miss where you were referring to only American Muslims? It is a moot point anyway, I was simply pointing out where that sentiment comes from. Actions are not without reprisals and there is a lot that Islam must answer for. Americans or not, no one is perfect and you cannot expect Americans to be immune to the natural emotions that flow when your country, a country you love, is attacked as never before in history. In the grand scheme of things, I do not find much hatred of American Islamic individuals anyway. There are those that are bigots but there are bigots of all kinds and this is nothing new.
     
  9. syrenn
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    All of which leads me to believe that an atheists world would be better off then one misguided by religion.
     
  10. dilloduck
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    I want the world to be ruled by women in red corsets. That would even be better than atheists.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010

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