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Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?

by Raymond Ibrahim

Reassessing the Crusades

….And it is from here that one can best appreciate the historic Crusades—events that have been thoroughly distorted by Islam’s many influential apologists. Karen Armstrong, for instance, has practically made a career for herself by misrepresenting the Crusades, writing, for example, that “the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam.”[30] That a former nun rabidly condemns the Crusades vis-à-vis anything Islam has done makes her critique all the more marketable. Yet statements such as this ignore the fact that from the beginnings of Islam, more than 400 years before the Crusades, Christians have noted that Islam was spread by the sword.[31] Indeed, authoritative Muslim historians writing centuries before the Crusades, such as Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri (d. 892) and Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), make it clear that Islam was spread by the sword.

The fact remains: The Crusades were a counterattack on Islam—not an unprovoked assault as Armstrong and other revisionist historians portray. Eminent historian Bernard Lewis puts it well,

Even the Christian crusade, often compared with the Muslim jihad, was itself a delayed and limited response to the jihad and in part also an imitation. But unlike the jihad, it was concerned primarily with the defense or reconquest of threatened or lost Christian territory. It was, with few exceptions, limited to the successful wars for the recovery of southwest Europe, and the unsuccessful wars to recover the Holy Land and to halt the Ottoman advance in the Balkans. The Muslim jihad, in contrast, was perceived as unlimited, as a religious obligation that would continue until all the world had either adopted the Muslim faith or submitted to Muslim rule. … The object of jihad is to bring the whole world under Islamic law.[32]

Moreover, Muslim invasions and atrocities against Christians were on the rise in the decades before the launch of the Crusades in 1096. The Fatimid caliph Abu ‘Ali Mansur Tariqu’l-Hakim (r. 996-1021) desecrated and destroyed a number of important churches—such as the Church of St. Mark in Egypt and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—and decreed even more oppressive than usual decrees against Christians and Jews. Then, in 1071, the Seljuk Turks crushed the Byzantines in the pivotal battle of Manzikert and, in effect, conquered a major chunk of Byzantine Anatolia presaging the way for the eventual capture of Constantinople centuries later….

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