Religious Justification of Violence: a Look into the Crusades
In this thesis, I have sought to give equal attention to both Islamic and Christian voices of the crusades. Too often, I have found stereotypes inherited from scholars of earlier centuries passed off under the guise of history. These stereotypes continued to influence our view of the crusades until the mid-twentieth century when more accurate accounts of the events began to appear. The reactions and views of the Muslims who strove against the Christians are essential if one is to engage in a thorough study of the crusades. There were two distinct sides to the crusades and both must be studied if an accurate picture is to be drawn. Western critics of the crusades are rather difficult to find, but their insights are essential if one is to understand the relationship between violence and religion as pursued by both sides during the crusades. Muslim criticism of the crusades often goes untranslated and therefore, only scholars with a working knowledge of Arabic can benefit from its insight. In order to contextualize our understanding of the crusades, we must not only examine the writings of those who were critical of the endeavor, we must also examine the conditions under which the crusades were launched. The crusades did not take place in a vacuum nor did they originate in one. The social, political, economic, as well as religious conditions in both Europe and the Middle East all paved the way for Urban II's historic sermon that launched the crusades. All of these factors shaped the crusades. Although one cannot thoroughly consider all of these factors in a thesis of this scope, one must pay careful attention to the context if one is to better understand how the Christians and Muslims involved carne to justify the use of violence for the sake of religion.