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Muslim and Christian Interaction During the Crusades and its Lasting Effects (Part 3)

January 15th, 2011

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He makes many observations of the customs of the Christian people, but above all, regardless of his judgments, he seems confused by them. In his view, honor and courage are the building blocks of a virtuous and godly man. He believes that without honor one cannot be brave and without bravery one cannot be honorable. In the Christians, however, he observes brave and courageous men, capable and successful in battle, but seemingly without honor. His solution is to conclude that they are mere brutes, not even men, and therefore cannot be held to the same standards: “Anyone who is acquainted with what concerns the Franks can only glorify and sanctify Allah the All-Powerful; for he has seen in them animals who are superior in courage and in zeal for fighting but in nothing else, just as beasts are superior in strength and aggressiveness.” It is evident that the mixing of these two cultures had a lasting effect on the views and judgments of all peoples involved.

By 1291, Christian control over the Holy Land had disintegrated, and was back in the hands of the Muslims. After nine crusades, the last of which were not supported by the Christian Church, the people of Europe had grown less interested in flying off to a far away land to risk their lives in the name of Christ. There were more pertinent issues to deal with at home, a massive population of people to support and waning resources. Pope Innocent III had stopped supporting the crusades to the east as they began to fail to secure The Holy Land. With popular support and Papal support gone, there was very little reason for the men to soldier on. The original intention had become a faded memory.

The overall impacts of these 200 years of war can still be seen to the present day. The most evident of the lasting effects are actually only the very worst. There remain Christian inhabitants in the Middle East, and of course the Christian and Muslim peoples of the world are aware of the history between them, as animosities between Christian and Muslim peoples in the world today remain. The persecution of the Jews which began in excess during the crusades in Europe set a standard for their treatment by Muslims and Christians alike as we have seen in the horrific attack of the Judaic faith over the last several hundred years. It isn’t shocking that religious wars only create more hostility between cultures of people. A religious war isn’t like a war over territory or property or even people- it is any attack on the very identity of the man himself. In this way, the most devout soldiers will always be those who go into battle for God and the most tragic and profitless wars will always be the ones that are fought over religion.

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