The Crusades…perhaps the most earth shaking wars in world history. Many do not care about them. Many think that they were evil. And seemingly few think that they were okay. I write this today to justify not the wrongs of the Crusades, but the Crusades themselves. Many Jews think that the Crusades were evil, along with Moslems, and Christians. The world has been torn apart by the wrongs of the Crusaders. There is no way around that fact. Nevertheless, the Crusades were a reaction to the rise and destructiveness of Islam.
The Beginning and Rise of Islam
Around 570A.D. the “prophet” Mohammed was born in the city of Mecca. Later in life he met Jews and Christians in the great religious metropolis of Mecca. He heard their teachings. It was then that he occasionally withdrew into a cave. Then one time while in a cave what he supposed to be the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and declared him a prophet. Now this spiritual being was either a figment of his imagination or a demon in disguise, or maybe just a lie altogether. It was from here that Islam began and the world would change forever.
Later after proclaiming “the Truth” he was forced to flee to the city of Medina, the second holiest city in Islam, where he gained great political power. It was after he gained political power that he decided to wage war against Mecca.
Muhammad’s strategy in the developing conflict with Mecca was to attack Meccan trade caravans returning from Syria and thus economically weaken the city. In 624, the first major battle occurred, in which the Muslims, despite their inferiority in numbers and weapons, soundly defeated the Meccans. In the next major battle, the following year, the Meccans had the advantage but were unable to achieve a decisive victory. A Meccan army of 10,000 besieged Medina in 627 but failed to take the city. Muhammad meanwhile eliminated his enemies within Medina. After each of the first two battles he expelled a Jewish tribe, and after the third major battle he had the males of the remaining tribe massacred for collaborating with his opponents.
Finally the Moslems won against Mecca. Delegates of the city pleaded with Mohammed to spare the city from destruction. He gave them the option of converting, so that their city might be spared. In other words, convert or die. It was the beginning of a pattern that would shape the world today.
After the death of Mohammed in 632 A.D. four people succeeded after him. The first was Abu Bakr. He conquered the rest of Arabia. His successor was Omar in 634 A.D. He conquered Egypt, Syria, Iraq, the northern part of Mesopotamia, and Jerusalem. When he died in 644 A.D. Uthman succeeded him and he was soon murded in 656 A.D. Ali succeeded him and died in 661 A.D. Here is a chart below that shows the rapid spread of the Islamic Empire.
The gray and lined areas were Moslem conquered lands. The black was the Byzantine Empire. The mini chart is the Byzantine Empire before Islam came. The fact is that the Moslems conquered almost half of the Christian world of that day. During this time Christians were not persecuted severely. Though they had to pay a tax to even be Christian and some rather than pay the tax converted. Such is a total outrage. Then after the Abbasid Caliphate came to power Christians were persecuted greatly. Pilgrims were lucky if they could make it to Jerusalem and live to tell about it. If that is not a reason for war then what gives a war a just cause?
To be continued…