Crusaders: Barbarians Who Trampled Their Own Religion

Crusaders Barbarians Who Trampled Their Own Religion

Crusaders Barbarians Who Trampled Their Own Religion

As mentioned earlier, the true message of a religion or a system of belief can be at times distorted by its own pseudo-adherents. The Crusaders, whose period constitutes a dark episode in Christian history, are an example of this type of distortion.

The Crusaders were European Christians who undertook expeditions from the end of the 11th century onwards to recover the Holy Land (Palestine and the surrounding area) from the Muslims. They set out with a so-called religious goal, yet they laid waste to each acre of land they entered spreading fear wherever they went. They subjected civilians along their way to mass executions and plundered many villages and towns. Their conquest of Jerusalem, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived under Islamic rule in peace, became the scene of immense bloodshed. They massacred all the Muslims and Jews in the city without mercy.

In the words of one historian, “They killed all the Saracens and the Turks they found… whether male of female.” One of the Crusaders, Raymond of Aguiles, in his own eyes boasted of this violence:

Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted … in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.

In two days, the Crusader army killed some 40,000 Muslims in the barbaric ways just described.

The Crusaders’ barbarism was so excessive that, during the Fourth Crusade, they plundered Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), a Christian city, and stole the golden objects from the churches.

Of course, all this barbarism was utterly against the essence of Christianity. Christianity, in the words of the Gospel, is a “message of love”. In the Gospel according to Matthew, it is said that the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) said to his followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”  (Matthew, 5:44). In the Gospel according to Luke, it is said that the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) said, “To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” (Luke, 6:29) In no part of the Gospels is there any reference to the legitimacy of violence; thus murdering innocent people is unimaginable. You can find the concept of “murdering the innocent” in the Bible; but only in the cruel King Herod’s attempt to kill the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) while he was a baby.

If Christianity is a religion based on love that accommodates no violence, how did Christian Crusaders carry out some of the most violent acts in history? The major reason for this was that the Crusaders were mainly made up of ignorant people. These masses, who knew almost nothing about their religion, who had probably never read or even seen the Bible once in their lifetime, and who were for the most part completely unaware of the moral values of the Bible, were led into barbarism under the conditioning of Crusaders’ slogans which presented this violence falsely as “God’s Will”. Employing this fraudulent method, many were encouraged to commit dreadful acts strictly forbidden by God.

It is worth mentioning that in that period, Eastern Christians – the people of Byzantium, for instance – who were culturally far ahead of Western Christians, espoused more humane values. Both before and after the Crusaders’ conquests, Orthodox Christians managed to live together with Muslims. According to Terry Jones, the BBC commentator, with the withdrawal of the Crusaders from Middle East, “civilized life started again and members of the three monotheistic faiths returned to peaceful coexistence.”

The example of the Crusaders is indicative of a general phenomenon. The more the adherents of an ideology are uncivilised, intellectually underdeveloped and ignorant, the more likely they are to resort to violence. This also holds true for ideologies that have nothing to do with religion. All communist movements around the world are prone to violence. Yet the most savage and bloodthirsty of them were the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. This was because they were the most ignorant.

In the same way ignorant people can carry every idea espousing violence to the point of madness, so they can also involve violence in the Divine religions, which are absolutely opposed to violence. As in the Christian and Jewish worlds, examples of this have also taken place in the Islamic world and are still taking place today.

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