Apologizing for the Crusades
Posted: June 27, 2004
© 2002 Contender Ministries
Most of you have probably heard the media, at one time or another, make the claim that it was during the Crusades that Christians and Muslims met for the first time on the battlefield. Youíve heard it explained that the tragedy of the Crusades waged by Christians on innocent Muslims has resulted in the hatred and wars we see today between Islam and the West. But, did you know that Islam was the victor in those wars? Did you know that the Crusades were a delayed response to Islamís conquest of nearly two-thirds of the Christian world? Did you know that Islam was waging Jihad on Christians for 4 centuries before Christians finally fought back in the 11th century? If the media is so eager to point out the admittedly violent acts of the Crusaders, shouldnít they also be willing to point out the jihad waged by Muslims that led to those wars?
From the time of Muhammad, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword, and their declared goal was always the complete conquest of Europe for Islam. When Muhammad began his fight against the non-believer in the 7th century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. It spanned the entire Mediterranean and Middle East. After Muhammadís death, Muslims continued their Jihad against Christianity with fierce determination, and their mission was largely successful. By the 8th Century, the Muslims had conquered Palestine, Syria, Egypt, all of North Africa, and Spain. By the 11th Century they had conquered Asia Minor and almost all of the old Roman Empire. Christianity was headed for extinction. It wasnít until this point in history that the emperor in Constantinople sent word to Europe asking for help from fellow Christians. The crusades began as a desperate attempt to save Christianity from total annihilation by Islam. The aggressor of the medieval world was Islam, not Christianity as our anti-Christian, liberal friends would have us believe.
The Crusades are often portrayed by the uninformed or politically motivated as a mission by the Christians to loot, plunder and convert Muslims to Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Scholars have discovered through historical records and the charters of the Crusaders that the majority of Crusaders were wealthy men with their own land in Europe. They gave up everything they had to go on what they considered a holy mission and, more often than not, came back with nothing. Nor was their mission one of colonialism. They fought to restore Jerusalem and Christian lands from the hands of Muslim Jihadists who had themselves pillaged, plundered, and conquered.
The Crusaders mission was never to convert Muslims. It was to defeat and defend against them. When the crusaders did win a territory, Muslims were always allowed to keep their religion and usually their land and property. The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem always had a larger Muslim population than it did Catholic. Any later attempts to convert Muslims were by peaceful means, not by force. This cannot be said of the Muslim invaders. Conversion to Islam was forced by penalty of death in many cases, and when it wasnít, Christians were forced to live as second-class citizens and pay the Jizya, a tax required of non-believers.
Itís interesting that the Islamic terrorists we are fighting today would use the crusades as a propaganda tool. After all, they won those wars. The crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries were largely unsuccessful. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Christians were never again able to gain back their land in the region until the 19th century. If the memory of the Crusades causes such anguish and anger for Muslims today, why is it that it doesnít cause the same kind of anger for Christians? Why is the Christian response to invasion and conquest demonized, while Islamís jihad against Christianity is often glorified? Going by this logic, when the World Trade Center towers fell, we should have apologized for the anger the crusades caused and promised to let them have New York should they invade.
The media would lead you to believe that the Crusaders crushed the Islamic world and left them in the dust. In fact the crusades failed. It was capitalism, the enlightenment, and the financial successes of the west that left the Islamic world behind. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. The Muslim world was not oppressed, humiliated, defeated, or permanently offended by Christian Crusaders. We all need to realize that, had the Crusaders not finally attempted a defense, the world we know today would not exist. Christianity as we know it would not exist. Respect for women, democracy, freedom of religion would not exist. Those who are demanding that we now apologize to the Islamic world for the crusades, are either woefully uninformed, or are so anti-American they must resort to revisionist history to support their position. Either way, they donít recognize that the ground they now stand on in the war on terror is not that dissimilar to that of the Crusaders who fought for their right to exist in a world where Islamic terrorism ran rampant.