Taking Back America

…one post at a time

Like Most People, President Obama Gets The Crusades Wrong

From The Federalist
By Greg Scandlen | March 4, 2015

President Obama, like many nowadays, think it’s fair to equate Islamist terrorism with the medieval Crusades. It’s not.

crusaders

In light of President Obama’s recent remarks comparing the brutality of the Islamic State to the Crusades, it might be time to take a fresh look at those events. Were they really the one-sided Dark Ages barbarism we have been taught? Were they an early manifestation of Western imperialism and global conquest?

In his landmark book, “God’s Battalions” (HarperOne 2009), Baylor University social sciences professor Rodney Stark suggests otherwise. It is a well-researched chronicle, including 639 footnotes and a bibliography of about 300 other works, yet reads like an adventure story full of military strategy and political intrigue.
 

What Prompted the Crusades

He begins in the final years of Mohammed and describes how a newly united Arab people swept through (Zoroastrian) Persia and the (Orthodox Christian) Byzantine-  controlled areas of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa. (Byzantine refers to the Greek-speaking eastern remainder of the Roman Empire.) Eventually Arabs took over control of the Mediterranean islands, most of Spain, and the southern part of Italy, and even reached as far as 150 miles outside of Paris before being turned back by the Franks, or early French.

The Muslims were brutal in their conquered territories. They gave pagans a choice of converting to Islam or being killed or enslaved. Jews and Christians (other People of the Book) were usually but not always treated somewhat better, and allowed to retain their beliefs but under conditions of Sharia subjugation.

But the Muslim-held territories were not monolithic. Stark writes:

Perhaps the single most remarkable feature of the Islamic territories was the almost ceaseless internal conflict; the intricate plots, assassinations, and betrayals form a lethal soap opera. North Africa was frequently torn by rebellions and intra-Islamic wars and conquests. Spain was a patchwork of constantly feuding Muslim regimes that often allied themselves with Christians against one another.

Not surprisingly, there was intense Christian resistance and determination to take back lost territories. Especially effective were the Normans and the Franks in Spain and Italy.
 

The Golden Middle Ages Belonged to Europeans

Western scholars have often characterized this clash of cultures as an Islamic Golden Age versus a European Dark Age, but Stark demolishes this as a myth. He says the best of the Islamic culture was appropriated from the people Muslims conquered—the Greeks, Jews, Persians, Hindus, and even from heretical Christian sects such as the Copts and Nestorians. He quotes E.D. Hunt as writing, “the earliest scientific book in the language of Islam [was a] treatise on medicine by a Syrian Christian priest in Alexandria translated into Arabic by a Persian Jewish physician.” Stark writes that Muslim naval fleets were built by Egyptian shipwrights, manned by Christian crews, and often captained by Italians.  When Baghdad was built, the caliph “entrusted the design of the city to a Zoroastrian and a Jew.” Even the “Arabic” numbering system was Hindu in origin.

And, while it is true that the Arabs embraced the writings of Plato and Aristotle, Stark comments,
 
Continue reading
 
Also see

 
middle east
 

Advertisements

Feel free to leave a comment...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: