The Crusades (1096-1204) were Christian conquests to recover the Holy Land from Muslims. After pope Urban issued the Holy War, several invasions were taken to fulfill Christian control over the Holy Land. Three hundred years of hostility and fighting erupted between the two groups, resulting in economic loss, numerous deaths, and a legacy of indignant relations. Although the Christians were arguably right in their desire to defend their faith, the brutal violence set forth towards the Muslims was not acceptable and utterly unjustified.
Christians passionately believed that they were justified in wanting to take the Holy Land from the control of the Muslims. They strongly thought that they deserved to control the land where their faith essentially originated. Hence, the Christians wished to control and liberate the ‘holy lands’ from Muslim power (Juma). The Holy Land, consisting of modern-day Palestine, was where Jesus Christ was born and where Abraham lived. Because this critical chapter of Christian history took place in this region, the Christians firmly believed this land was meant to rule and occupy.
In addition, the Christians were fearful that the Muslims had too much power and were concerned over widespread Islamic beliefs. There was a “fear of Islam at the time, and its overwhelming presence as a superior civilization and power” was apparent (Juma). Christians were afraid and intimidated by the rising popularity and growth of the Muslim faith throughout the region. Therefore, they believed the Muslims had possessed too much power over the land that was “rightfully” meant for the Christian faith. For the Christian religion to gain more influence within the region, they were interested in re-conquer the Holy Lands for themselves. Conclusively, the Christians thought it was their duty to defend their faith.
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Pope Urban II mentioned in his call for a Holy War that the Muslims had “killed and captured many” and “destroyed the churches and devastated the empire…” (Halsall). The Christians believed the Muslims were nit treating the Christians justly, so it was the responsibility of the Christians to defend what they so strongly believed in and what was a massive part of their lives. Therefore, according to the Christians, it was crucial to take back the Holy Land from the Muslims. On the other hand, the Muslims believed the Christians were not justified in controlling the Holy Land.
They thought that the nonbelievers of the Muslim faith did not deserve to control this land. The Qur’an, or the Holy book for Muslims, states that when meeting in battle, “those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners…” (“Translations”). Therefore, the Muslims strongly believed that the Holy Lands should be kept under Muslim rule and that those who did not believe in their faith had no right to control the Holy Land. Furthermore, the Muslims believed that the Christians were using unacceptable violence towards them. “They [the Musulman prisoners] numbered more than three-thousand and were all bound with ropes… [the franks] massacred them with a sword and lance in cold blood” (“Slaughter”).
Christians were treating the Muslims ruthlessly, and the Muslims were offended by these ruthless actions. The Muslims did not present such malicious violence towards the Christians, so they thought the Christians had no right to rule a land that was considered “holy.” Additionally, the Muslims believed Allah was on their side during the war, another assurance that the Holy Land was truly meant for them. “If you help the cause of Allah, he will help you and make firm your feet. For those who disbelieve, for them is destruction, and he has made their deeds ineffective” (“Translations”). The Muslims believed that ruling the Holy Land was the will of Allah, and they were willing to protect it from the disbelievers. Therefore, according to the Muslims, the Holy Land was not meant for the Christians but instead for the Islamic faith.
Although it was admirable of the Christians to defend their faith, their violence and negative views towards the Muslims were not justified. The Christians were honorably right in desiring to defend their faith since there were “vicious attacks on the Christian pilgrims and their sacred shrines” (“Crusaders”). The Christians were arguably justified in wanting to defend their people and their holy sites that were being disrespected and destroyed. It would have been dishonorable for them not to do anything about these incidents. However, extreme violence and revenge were not the solutions for such circumstances.
The Christian attacks on Muslims were not justified because of the amount of violence the Christians used towards them. There were “reports of robberies, beatings, killings, and degradation of holy sites and the kidnapping from the ransom of the city’s patriarch” (“Crusaders”). Moreover, the Christians performed “such slaughter” that the men were “up to their ankles in the enemy’s blood” (“Capture”). It was unjust, unreasonable, and inhumane for the Christians to carry out such brutal actions towards a group of people Ironically, the Bible states that it is wrong to kill and to harm others, making people question whether Christians were truly achieving what was asked of their faith.
Also, Christian attacks on Muslims were not justified in stereotyping and viewing Islamic beliefs in negative fashions. The wars were undertaken “in pursuance of a vow and directed against infidels, i.e. against Mohammedans” (Brehier). The Christians were wrong in assuming all the Muslims were infidels. These stereotypes and beliefs did not justify the Christians in their attack of the Holy Land. Furthermore, the Muslims did not think of the Christians in such degrading manners, but instead respected them and viewed them as the “protected people”. Therefore, the Christian attacks against the Muslims were not acceptable due to the cruel actions put forth towards the Muslims.
Both the Muslims and the Christians had differing views as to what was to become of the Holy Land. The Christians believed they were doing right in taking back the Holy Land from which their faith was centred upon. However, the Muslims believed otherwise, believing it was Allah’s will for them to live on the Holy Land. Ultimately, the Crusades were an age of faith in which both the Muslims and the Christians were willing to defend their faith, the central aspect of people’s lives. In doing so, however, the Christians used unnecessary violence towards the Muslims that created a hostile relationship between both groups that continues even in the present day.
The negative relationship between the Muslims and Christians came as a result of insolence towards other religious groups from which we can learn from in the present day. Unfortunately, religious intolerance continues today and is to blame for much of the world’s current political disputes. Our understanding of the Crusades nowadays can help to demonstrate the importance of respecting others’ views and beliefs. The Crusades were a crucial time in our world’s history from which people can now learn in order to use this knowledge for the future. The Crusades were abolished in 1902.