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QotD: Jihad and the Crusades

Question: How is Islamic Jihad different than the Christian Crusades?

My Answer: I'm paraphrasing the question, but I saw it elsewhere and thought it might stir up some opinions. So go ahead and share 'em, eh?

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

12 Responses to "QotD: Jihad and the Crusades"

  1. Wow now that's a loaded question... however I would say they have very little in common... but I live in the west and I am of Christian descent so I have a jaded view... which is okay... after all not all terrorist are treated equal... just look at Eric Rudolph.

    The Crusades where state sponsored and had the approval of the Pope... they had some attempt to spread Christianity... while rooting out paganism/barbarians... while Jihad, in my mind, is closer to the American Revolution... I should say current Jihad, I think it's a little more than an anti-Iressial pro-Palestine thing now.

    They, the Jihads, seem to have a different set of core values than the West... they value religious law over the American* idea of freedom... they see our brand of freedom as corruption just look at Iranian history from 1968 to 1982... or Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war... or Afghanistan during the 80's. These events, along with the west funding supporting Israeli leads to what some could argue a very natural response revolt. That's what I tend to see the current Jihad is... a revolt for Islamic rule in Islamic lands with out the interference of foreign bodies.

  2. Before I jump into the debate, I suppose I would like a clarification. Are you asking about the medieval/classical concept of jihad, or about the modern "jihadis" who are trying to create the situation for a jihad?

  3. Truthfully, the Crusades in many ways were a black stain on our Christian history. However, there were some reasons for it starting, the main one being the persecution of both Christian and Jews by the Muslims overrunning the Holy Lands. So it wasn't exactly a one-sided war of aggression. The other difference is that the Crusades were carried out by more or less real armies, whereas modern Jihad uses underground, stealth guerrilla warfare at best and just gross cowardly terrorism at worst. The whole problem with this "War on Terrorism" is that we're not fighting real armies with real nations, we're fighting true outlaws whose #1 goal is the annihilation of all infidels on the planet, starting with the US and Europe. That wasn't exactly the goal of the Crusades (annihilate all non-Christians on the planet). 🙂


  4. I'm sure that perspective and idology could warp either one into seeming like it's the other, but there's one key difference:

    The Crusades were started to free a city from "invaders". Jihad has no set "goal". Both kill in the name of a religion. Both target a group of people that have conflicting beliefs. Both are governmental movements, in spite of the religious righteousness.

    From my western eyes, the members supporting the Jihad just want anyone that doesn't agree with them off the planet. The Crusades just wanted anyone that didn't agree with them out of a city [and anywhere en route to said city].


  5. Question: How is Islamic Jihad different than the Christian Crusades?

    Answer: The crusades are over.

  6. The Christian Crusades were an organized effort, much like the Roman invasions, African colonization by many European countries and other wars - all of them are motivated by some sort of missionary zeal, by the belief that one's own culture and religion is in some way or another superior to others, and last but not least by greed and the willingness to dominate. Modern Jihad, in contrast, seem to me more like the desperate attempts by the Hitler regime to defend Berlin with 15-year-olds equipped with the last weapons that could be found when the Russians were already everywhere.

    This is extremely different from classic warfare in the way this is organized. The whole world is their battlefield. I absolutely fail to understand how somebody can fall prey to a demagogue in such a way that he is ready to kill himself and many other innocent people in such a mean way for the "good cause". These people are not soldiers, many of them have spent the better part of their lives in wealthy Western coutries (like the WTC assholes who lived in Hamburg and studied there at the local university). Maybe we've learned our lesson over here, maybe the Western culture is too different, but I just fail to get it how such a thing can happen. Thank God that the idiots who made the second attempt to bomb the London Underground were too stupid to kill people.

  7. The time periods in which they occur.

  8. No real big difference. None whatsoever.

  9. Time Period: The crusades happened within a fixed period of time. Jihad is ongoing and can start again at any time.

    Goal: The goal of Jihad is Islam. Jihad means struggle and Islam means submit. So, ultaimtely Mujahid should struggle until whatever they are struggling against has submitted fully to Allah. The goal of the Crusades was much more specific -- Free Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

    Depending on the Muslim you speak to, Jihad can mean aggressive war or it can mean the most benign concept of "struggle" imaginable. However, it is clear across all of Islam that the goal of Jihad is Islam. If you are waging personal Jihad on your character or your vices.. you continue your struggle until you have submitted. This is the same with all things that one will have a Jihad against.

    Resolution: Jihad has not been resolved. It is indefinate; it can always happen again. The crusades have happened. Catholics have officially apologized for them. They are recognized by history to be faily distinct from each other, and the first Crusade stands out from the later crusades in that it had far less involvement from corrupt medieval leadership.

  10. Same thing pretty much in my view. Both groups put a religious tag on killing those who aren't like them or don't see things their way.

  11. Question: How is Islamic Jihad different than the Christian Crusades?

    If you mean the current wave of Islamic terrorism, I'd say it is principally different from any kind of conflict that occurred in the past in three ways.

    FIRST: it is a product of modernity. It is one kind of reaction that has occurred when a pre-modern viewpoint has run slap up against the modern world. Reflect on the mentality revealed here:

    As the good doctor says: "No habit could be more alien to a post- Enlightenment (or even post-Renaissance) mind such as mine than that of reliance on textual exegesis as the source of truth". Now think about what happens when that mentality is exposed to Western civilization. It's a painful experience. And _Ipso facto_ such a collision could not have occurred in the pre-modern world.

    Here is a related point. Paradoxically, Islamic Radicalism is also partly an inheritor of ideologies that arose in modernity. Here is John Gray of the londons School of Economics and Political Science (LSE):

    "Islamic fundamentalism is not an indigenous growth. It is an exotic hybrid, bred from the encounter of sections of the Islamic intelligentsia with radical western ideologies. In A Fury for God, Malise Ruthven shows that Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian executed after imprisonment in 1966 and arguably the most influential ideologue of radical Islam, incorporated many elements derived from European ideology into his thinking. For example, the idea of a revolutionary vanguard of militant believers does not have an Islamic pedigree. It is "a concept imported from Europe, through a lineage that stretches back to the Jacobins, through the Bolsheviks and latter-day Marxist guerrillas such as the Baader-Meinhof gang"."

    Again this makes the Islamic Radical a creature who could not have existed, in the form in which he does exist, in the Middle Ages. No medieval crusader was in a position to be influenced by notions of a "revolutionary vanguard".

    SECONDLY: Islamic terrorists exploit the tolerance - not to say self-doubt - of the Western Democracies. (I'm not sure this is a separate point, because again this self-doubt is characteristic of a certain type of *modern* society). This article points that up very powerfully:,5744,16034303%5E7583,00.html

    Again, I think we have a clear difference. Can we imagine a medieval crusader being in a position to exploit this kind of mindset? Hardly. that midset didn't exist.

    THIRDLY: Islamism has a truly global reach. Certainly Christian crusades were fought in many places in the then-known world. There were crusades in the Holy land, of course. (These, I suppose one might consider to be justified inasmuch as they were launched to try to recover the places holy to the Christian world after they were seized by the Saracens: Islam has always been a religion bent on conquest, and had started the ball rolling here by destroying ancient Christian and Jewish communities in the Middle East.) There were also crusades in Spain aimed as recovering Spain from the Moorish invaders - the Reconquista. There were crusades on the Baltic against the pagan Prussians and Latvians (a vicious and long struggle this one - Chaucer's knight, incidentally, tells of going on _reysa_ with the Teutonic knights.) There were crusades fought in the Mediterranean to keep the Turks and Islam at bay (an aim secured at Lepanto). (Incidentally, part of Italy was actually seized and held for a year by the Turks and a good round of forced conversions and beheading ensued) And there were crusades in the Languedoc against the Albegensians (Cathars) - a bloody business, indeed. (With this last conflict, by the way, I think we leave the realm of the soldier and descend ethically to that of the Islamic radical.)

    However, I think there is no precedent for the global reach of Islamic jihad. It is truly a worldwide event: for example, this year so far over 800 people have murdered in Thailand by Islamists. More to the point, a madrassa in Pakistan, funded from Saudi Arabia, can train people who plot an atrocity in London that might be carried out in Berlin. This again is quite distinctive and like nothing that has occurred in the past.

  12. why were the christian crusades realy fought?