Two faces of holy war – christians and muslims (1095-1270s)Background: The Muslim and Christian holy war were accepted religious duties depicting a heroic enterprise of salvation. In 1095, with the Byzantium proclamation of “Deus vult!”, the Byzantine perception in the act of engaging war against the enemies of the Christian faith guided with a holy purpose is the seen path towards eternal salvation.
The Christian’s initiative to reclaim the holy pilgrims was due to the frequent assaults of Seljuk Turks against the Christian pilgrims traveling yearly to the Holy land. Christians engaged into holy war to free the acclaimed Christian pilgrimage, Christ’s Tomb, located within the Muslim Holy Land known as Jerusalem. The two faces of war emerged in the two warring perspectives of Christian’s mission of freeing Jerusalem from Muslim rule, and Muslim’s Jihad for defending their holy pilgrimage.The Method: As requested by the Byzantium patriarch, Roman Pope Urban II, called upon Christians to retake their pilgrimage triggering the start of the First Crusade led by Peter the Hermit followed by the Second under the leadership of an alliance between European Knights and Byzantine troops.
In 1187, Saladin was able to defeat Christian rule over Jerusalem until it was retrieved again by crusades in 1191, 1202 and 1272. Methods of Crusades and Muslim defense used holy war as an aggressive campaign motivated by religion against the viewed enemy of their religious group.I. DiscussionThe Evidence-Muslims on Christians: After the failure of the Christian’s first crusade in 1095, Godfrey of Bouillon and the formed Christian alliance was able to capture the city of Jerusalem and Antioch.
Despite the obvious success of crusade, Godfrey’s men continued massacring almost the entire Jewish and Muslim population of the holy city. The event threatened the entire shocked Muslim society convincing them to engage in their form of holy war – lesser jihad. Before the retake of Jerusalem, it was Usama ibn Munqidh (b. July 4, 1095), the prince of Shayzar, who defended Orontes from Crusaders and Franks (means “French”, but literally connotes a general term for foreigners).
Syrian Franks represented the colonial transplant of European ethnicity to a completely foreign civilization after the success of Godfrey’s second crusade and the establishment of Christian Four states in Jerusalem. Usama ibn-Munqidh had friendly connections with a number of Frankish nobles, which he described as purely Frankish-speaking, and not well acquainted with Muslim ways and Arabic tongue, especially the first generation of Franks. Munqidh’s autobiographies became essential sources on how crusade settlers worked out their stay in Palestine territories. According to Munqidh, franks were savage and brutal against Muslims, since the two parties most the time do not agree in their religious practices.
Ibn al-Athir: Munquidh mentioned that crusaders continuously aggravated Muslim settlers confronting and discriminating them based on their religious orientations. Cultural and religious clashes between Muslims and Christians were considered inevitable. From the time of Crusader settlement until 1187, Ibn al-Athir covered the historical noted until the fall of Jerusalem. Ibn al-Athir was considered as the first Muslim to observe the comparison between Christian and Muslim religious wars (crusades and jihad).
In 1187, a historically significant Kurd by the name of Saladin was able to unify the different Muslim countries in the area of Jerusalem in order to form treaties with the Christian kings of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, Saladin and the rest of the Muslim community unified as one Egyptian nation were turned down by the arrogance of Christian leaders, which also led to the dispatch of Reginald of Chatillon and his armies towards Mecca aimed at demolishing the Muslim pilgrimage -Caaba. Narrated by the historical notes of Ibn al-Athir, Saladin and his army of angry Egyptian Muslims retaliated the impending Christian armies overrunning the crusaders in the battle. Following the victory of Saladin, Ibn-al-Athir mentioned the execution of crusader zealots within the premise of Muslim’s pilgrimage of Mecca.
The fall of Christian crusaders in the hands of Saladin led to territorial proclamation of Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of dar al-Islam, which fortified the reclamation of Jerusalem.History of the Fall of Jerusalem: After the historical records of Ibn al-Athir, another historian, Imad ad-Din, noted the significant events during the Zengid (1127) and Ayyubid (1169) periods most especially while being in service to the Egyptian Sultanate, Saladin. Imad ad-Din had witnessed three significant events of during the reign of Saladin, namely (a) the Battle of Marj Uyun, (b) Battle of Hattin and (c) Third Crusade. The Battled of Marj Ayyun (1179) lead to the defeat of the army led by King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem providing Saladin and his army the advantage of conquering Le Chastellet stronghold.
Imad ad-Din described the event as “a surprise attack from the hill top towards the plundering infantry” . The event was immediately followed by the Battle of Hattin in 1187, which led to the fall of Jerusalem. According to Ibn al-Athir and Imad ad-Din, the very aim of Saladin at that point was not entirely the reclamation of holy land through Jihad, but to claim as many Christian lives as possible in exchange for heavenly rewards or salvation based on the Muslim ideology. According to the statements of Imad ad-Din, “…He (Saladin) assigned fifty dinar to every man who had taken one of them prisoner (crusaders)… He ordered that they should be beheaded… each (Saladin’s devout men) begged to be allowed to kill one of them….
” After the Muslim reclamation of Jerusalem, another crusade was launched from the union of Henry II of England and Philip II of France.Europeans on Muslims: From the accounts of a Poitevin priest, Peter Tudebode, was able to document the historical proceedings of the Third Crusade towards the Holy Land. It was the German emperor and veteran of the second crusade, Frederick I. Barbarossa (1152 to 1190) who led the Third Crusade aimed at reclaiming the Holy Land from Muslim rule.
Noted by Tudebode, Pope Urban III died of grief when he learned the outcomes of the Battle of Hattin, which consequently ignited the Christian’s urge to engage into holy war against Muslim. In fact, Gregory VII issued a religious document, Audita Tremedi, containing the formulation of St. Bernard, which suggested the linkage of crusade success in spiritual well-being of Christendom. Unfortunately, Barbarossa drowned and died during the journey leaving his army disappointed and the Third Crusade a failure.
On 1192, Richard I and Saladin made a treaty acknowledging the rights of Muslim over Jerusalem as long as European Christian pilgrims would be able to visit the city unharmed. Six years later, the Fourth Crusade (1199 to 1204) was launched by Theobald III, Count of Champagne under the influence of Pope Innocent III’s preachings of Fulk of Neuilly aiming to retrieve Jerusalem from Muslim dominion. Unexpectedly, the crusade ended up invading and conquering the Christian city of Constantinople, which provided Europeans dominion over the Byzantine Empire.II.
ConclusionThe two faces of Holy Wars involved the Christian’s and Muslim’s aggressive campaigns to reclaim their religious pilgrimage –the City of Jerusalem. From the historical accounts of Usama ibn-Munqidh, Ibn al-Athir, Imad ad-Din and Peter Tudebode, history was able to record the events that occurred during the religious wars of Christians and Muslims. Three different crusades led by European Franks were launched all with a common mission – to reclaim Jerusalem from the rulership of Muslims. Meanwhile, the Muslims launched their lesser Jihad to also fulfill the same mission of reclamation.
The two faces of Holy Wars from 1095 to 1192 ended up with the similar scenario in the past wherein Jerusalem was under Muslim rule. From 1199 to 1204, the Fourth Crusade also ended up with Jerusalem under the hands of Muslims since the outcome ended with the invasion and conquer of the Byzantine Empire. By implication, the events of holy wars between Muslim and Christian from 1095 to 1200s had indeed portrayed two opposing views or perspectives influenced by the powerful force of religion.III.
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