The word crusade is a common word among the modern Christian especially in the developing countries where open air Christians meetings are common. The term crusade in such meetings refers to a meeting or rather a gathering whose main purpose is to convert people to the Christian faith. However, originally crusades referred to the anti-Muslim campaigns that were established in the eleventh century with the aim of restoring Christian control in Europe.
Fought in the period between the eleventh century and the thirteenth century, the crusades involved military actions that were sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. The actions, however, extended up to the fifteenth century in some European countries. Ideally the crusades were meant to silence the Islamic religion which had just started to spring.
The Roman Catholic Church used its power and influences to stamp its authority on regions which were willing to submit to the church. This paper seeks to discuss the response of the Arabs to the crusades. The paper will look into the events of the crusades, the Arab view of the crusades, their response to the crusades as well as their reaction to the west after the crusades.
2. Background Information
It is worth noting that the Roman Catholic Church was a powerful authority in religion terms and politically. The Roman Catholic Church controlled Europe politically and it was a religion of the day.
The power possessed by the church was so great that its head, pope, could have politically leaders and kings dethroned just by his word. It is therefore correct to say that the church through the pope was the leader of a good portion of the world then. The rise of the Islam religion was technically an opposition to the church thus the need to show that the church was still the leader.
3. The Crusades
The crusades were seen as reactions meant to restore the “holy places from Mohammedam tyranny” (New advent 1). A vow was made to rage war against the “Mohammedans, pagans,and the Heretics” (New advent 1). The description of the crusade war captures the Spaniards war over the Moors, the wars in northern Europe over the Prussians and the Lithuanians.
The crusades were sanctioned in Christian gatherings after summons. People were then given crucifix upon which they were proclaimed to fight for the church. Privileges were offered to such soldiers. The history of the crusades started earlier before the eleventh century. The introduction of the “religious ideas, art and culture of the east” (New advent 1) into the Western Europe such as Gaul and Italy was a significant phenomenon in the history of the crusades.
There were also cases of attacks on Christians who went to Jerusalem to worship at the holy Christian shrines. These attacks were made by the followers of Mohammed.The rise of the Seljukian Turks led to further attacks on Christians and a number of territories in Europe. It was due to these attacks that the church moved to what was seen as a step to reclaim the glory of the church and to restore Christianity and the sanctity of its holy places (New advent 1).
A meeting was addressed by the then pope at a mass of people in Auvergne in the late years of the eleventh century. The pope urged the people to arise and save the holy place from the invasions. People then took the vow that was an element of the established movement to protect the church. The pope then undertook communication to the whole Christian fraternity in Europe calling for the crusades.
Large masses were organized and subsequent attacks were made towards the east led by groups from France, Germany and parts of Italy. The victory of the Christians saw the establishment of Christian states which were however surrounded by hostile enemies. The Christian states were laterconqueredand subjected to the authorities of their enemies.
This was majorly due to the division among leaders in the west who as a result failed to offer protection to the Christians who were established in the East. Reconciliation was then struck by the thenpope and the leaders united to protect the Christian states. The crusades continued into the thirteenth century but lost its support from leaders who saw the move as reducing authority over their citizens who joined the crusade movement.
The loss of support from the western authorities led to the capture of the Christians by the Arab East in the late thirteenth century. The final periods into the collapse of the Christian territory in the east were marred by disorganization that saw even Christians fighting themselves. The crusades however continued in other places throughout the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries.Thewhole action of the crusades and its enlisted reactions were rather violent military undertakings (New advent 1).
4. The Arabs View of the Crusades
The Arabs viewed the crusades as a move to conquer and exercise control over the land. The Arabs saw the crusade attacks as inversions that needed to be rebelled against. The war was fought and the crusaders lost the battles to the Arabs. The Arabs have the opinion that after the war, the western crusaders succeeded in exploring the east as trade areas for the west. The Arab word, in their view continued to decline in terms of the development (Crusades 1).
The crusades have of late been viewed by the Arabs as having been the first colonial step by the western countries. According to the Arab world, “poverty, corruption and violence in the middle east” (Madden 220) were just impacts of the crusades and colonialism by the west (Madden 220).
With respect to this view, the Arabs are blaming the crusades for the negative things that subsequently happened in the Arab world. The Arabs have the view that the crusaders invaded a peaceful land and destroyed it in the event of the war caused by the inversion of the western Christian groups. The Arabs still have the occurrence of the crusades in their minds and they view the United Statesand as the current crusaders into their land (Madden 220).
5. Arabs Response and Reactions towards the Crusades
The inversion of the east by the crusaders had the impact of displacing the Arabs from their homes. The crusaders were on a march to Jerusalem and were destroying property and killing the Arabs as they moved to Jerusalem. There was actually a recorded massacre in the city of Ma’ara as the crusaders moved through it towards Jerusalem.
Rumors also spread as to the actions of the crusaders that included cannibalism (Crusades 1). This sent fear among the Arabs and they fled their homes in attempts to save their lives. It is recorded that by the time the crusaders reached Jerusalem, all Arabs and Muslims had fled the area or those who were found there were killed.
In response to the actions of the crusaders that humiliated the ArabMuslims, action was called to the war of jihad by al-Hawari to counter the Christian inversion. This move was, however, not successful. Another response was a demonstration by the Arabs in Bagdad to call for actions against the Christian inversion which also called for an unsuccessful jihad against the crusaders.
In the bid to win the favor of the hostile crusaders, some of the Arab leaders responded by collaborating with the crusaders in acts considered as treason against their territories and their people. The most significant response is however the rise of the Arabs in Iraq that saw the first defeat ofthe crusaders in the city of Bagdad (Sindi 1).
Another reaction of the Arabs to the inversion by thecrusaders was the later move to remove the crusaders from the Arab world years after their defeat. The move by the crusaders into the east and their subsequent settlement after the end of the crusades did not change the eastern religion which was basically Islam.
After some time, the Muslim leaders developed expressed hatred for the crusaders race in the region and plotted a move to remove them out of the East. The move to eject the crusaders race from the east was initiated by Salah, one of the Arableaders, in the year 1187. In this bid to eject the crusaders form the land, another battle was fought between the crusaders and the Mamluks for more than half a century until the crusaders were defeated and evicted from the land sixty years later (Ham 50).
The Arabs have subsequently perceived the west as intruders who only intend to destroy their land. They have since seen the west as colonialists who are currently being headed by the United States (Madden 220).
The crusades were a series of sanctioned military actions by the Christian European states against the Arab East. The crusades were used strategically to show that the church was superior. The crusade movement was a step to restore the sanctity and respect of the Christians and the Christian holy shrines which were being undermined by the Eastern Arabs during the periods. The crusades were a military move that led to loss of lives in the fights. As a result of the crusades, Arab community viewed the west as intruders who brought destructions upon the Arab land. The Arabs, in response to the crusade attacks initially resorted to passive measures to save their lives from the Christians but later responded in military actions and finally managed to counter the crusaders.
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Sindi, Mohammedd. The cannibalism and bloodbaths of the crusaders (1095-1291).RadioIslam, n.d. Web. 29 March 2011.