Are Muslim Extremists Really Upset About the Crusades?

Roundup: Historians' Take

From an exchange on Richard Jensen's CNET list:

Matthew Richer (5-14-04)

The origins of conflicts are difficult to date, for sure. Some argue that our present conflict stems from the founding of Israel, others from our support for the Shah of Iran.

But does anyone seriously believe that Muslims knocked down the Twin Towers solely because of a grudge over Crusades?

Daniel Crandall (5-14-04)

Solely because of a grudge over the Crusades? No. But one cannot deny that there is a warped sense of thinking many Muslims and others throughout the Middle East and other parts of the Mediterranean world engage in that compresses history in such a way as to make events that occured hundreds and hundreds of years ago extremely important today. Below are samples from just a few documents that can be found at Middle East Media Research Institute that make reference to the Crusades. I think this sample shows that for many Muslims the Crusades are as relevant today as they were in 1095.

Zuheir Abdallah, a columnist for the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, wrote the following in a recent commentary, "Most Arabs hate the West, especially the U.S., for many reasons; some date back to the Crusades and the Andalusia period, and more recently, because of Palestine and Iraq."

In an article titled 'Nine Hundred Years and Two Crusades' published in late 1999, Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi predicts that the Zionist enterprise will last 88 years, just like the Crusader invasion: "On the morning of Friday, 23 Sha'ban 492 H (July 15, 1099 C.E.), Jerusalem was raped by an estimated 1 million Crusaders who came all the way from Europe to allegedly liberate local Christians from Islamic oppression. Jerusalem was consequently turned into a blood pool. Between 60,000 and 70,000 Muslims and Jews were butchered. This was the ultimate conquest of a trail of blood that extended for thousands of miles. Nine hundred years later, Jerusalem finds itself once again in bondage. The invading crusade this time does not hoist the cross but rather the Star of David. The similarities are striking. Both campaigns originated in Europe, both used religion to justify aggression and butchery, and both were in essence motivated by purely mundane (secular) rather than religious considerations. In both cases, too, it was the weakness and disunity of the Muslims that contributed to the success of the invaders... In some ways, the 12th century awakening resembles today's Islamic awakening. In some other ways, the liberation of Jerusalem after 88 years of European occupation promises an imminent end to modern-day Zionist occupation of the first Qiblah [direction of prayer - i.e. Jerusalem]. In less than 40 years from now, this vision may just prove to be true."

Source: Palestine Times, August 1999, Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi, 'Nine Hundred Years and Two Crusades.'

On March 20, 2003, as U.S. forces launched attacks on Saddam's regime, Al-Azhar University's Islamic Research Complex called upon all Muslims to launch a Jihad in response to the U.S. actions: "Jihad is an individual duty for all Muslims if the U.S. launches a war against Iraq. Arabs and Muslims should be on high alert to defend themselves, their doctrine and lands. [Muslims] have to forget all internal differences so as not to surrender to prospective attacks. Jihad is an individual duty in case an enemy occupies Muslims' lands. Our Arab and Muslim nation will face new crusades that aim to deprive us of our homeland, doctrine and dignity."

I can't resist providing another example of how the Crusades still dominate the lives of many Muslims. This is a portion of one of the Friday sermons delivered in the main mosques of Saudi Arabia. These are available on the Saudi-based website Notice how the Sheikh paints a straight line from the Crusades to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In the Mecca mosque, Sheikh Adnan Ahmad Siyami said, regarding International initiatives aimed at promoting interreligious harmony, "The Pope's recent visit to Syria, to the Al-Umawi mosque is, without a doubt, another manifestation of that call. The call by [the Pope] - may Allah punish him as he deserves - to the people of the [different] religions in Syria to live in peaceful coexistence is nothing more than an audacious call for the unification of religions, in accordance with the principle of human religious harmony. This Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, and those behind him calling for the unification of the religions, are the descendants of the Spanish inquisitors who tortured the Muslims most abominably. They are the descendants of those who led the Crusades to the Islamic East, in which thousands of Muslims were killed and their wives taken captive in uncountable numbers. They are the perpetrators of the massacres in Bosnia-Herzegovina. in Kosovo, in Indonesia, and in Chechnya. Can we expect compassion from these murderous wolves? What made the Pope go on his visit was his dissatisfaction with the robbing of the Muslims' lands; he wanted also to rob their religion, so that they lose both this world and the Hereafter."

Again this is from the MEMRI website .

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