CGIE: The Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedi (Centre for Iranian and Islamic studies) published “Crusades” by Abdullah Naseri Taheri.
Kazem Musavi Bojnurdi, the head of the Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, wrote in a part of his foreword: “One of the prominent historical periods of conflict between the Islamic and Arab East and the Christian West is the “Crusades”. More or less, like any other imperative historical event that lasted for an extended period, both sides expanded the conflict to beliefs, religions, books, treatises, and all propaganda materials. The effects of those battles and conflicts are now noticeable in the historical works of the two sides and many relics left from those centuries. Indeed, in the contemporary opinion of both sides, the crusades are not over yet, and the flames of such an opinion fire occasionally. Although the Crusades has been the subject of extensive research in various languages in both East and West, there are still not many research works in Persian in this field.”
The author mentioned in the introduction: “The Crusades have dark and bright aspects in the history of Christian Europe and the Islamic Mediterranean. The wars that the Western Church’s guardians justified by citing their scriptures, and the Knights participated to escape the civil crisis were formed on the idea of “dying for Christ” by Baldrick of Dol, a historian of Crusades at the time of the wars, which was a pleasant idea for Christians. The Crusades, according to Edward Gibbon, both swallowed the wealth of Western Europe and took the lives of people who could establish a friendly relationship with the Islamic world. In the opinion of this British historian, these wars, derived from medieval Christian thought, were nothing more than sinful superstitions, and the crusaders were ignorant, deceived saints. But their military, political and social ups and downs were significantly effective in producing the discourse of war and chivalry in Europe and retained the spirit of the crusade alive. For instance, according to Alfred Kerr, a German critic and essayist, the “crusade in comfort” appeared in the behavior of King Wilhelm II of Germany in Jerusalem on October 31, 1898. Another example is the “crusade in chaos” that appeared in Europe after the presentation of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” theory. This theory, along with the doctrine of “Muslim Rage” by Bernard Lewis, formed the system of fear of the “other” (Islam) and, in Edward Said’s attractive opinion, developed an unrealistic division in the relations between monotheistic religions.
A theorist of violence, like Huntington, relying on the element of culture, re-examined the historical discourse saturated with ignorance in the West to revive the culture of occupation and conquest. It is the same as what the Crusaders pursued about a thousand years ago with the aim of complete domination over the Mediterranean trade, Christianization of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the universalization of Christianity, with the excuse that the Christians of the Eastern Mediterranean were in the straits of persecution. Claude Cahen, the contemporary historian of the Crusades, strongly rejects the wrong claim. He reasonably believes that the Islamic world (at that time) had interfaith interactions and peaceful coexistence with the followers of other divine religions, such interactions that we vainly search for in different societies.
The incident of September 11th, parts of which are still unclear and rightly called the most massive crime of Islamic fundamentalism in recorded history, subsequently led to an uproar of crusades and anti-Islamism in Europe. Anders Breivik, a young Norwegian with the nickname Knight Templar, killed dozens of Muslims and spread the discourse of crusading throughout the world. The re-reading of the crusades includes another historical context, “Eurocentrism” and “Western supremacy”, which thinkers such as Hegel are famous for reproducing it. They intentionally try to insinuate that human innovations throughout history all come from the West and deny the role of the Islamic civilization. But, as stated in the book “Crusades”, after the cultural and scientific borrowing from Andalusia and Sicily, the presence of Crusader Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean for two hundred years was an excellent gift for Europe. It formed the basis of its future civilization.
The historiography of the Crusades is a broad field of study in Europe. Still, according to Claude Cahen, the books authored during wartime were written in such a biased atmosphere that they could not be considered scientific research. This look is a relic of the Middle Ages that has continued to this day. These writings represent the thoughts and feelings of their authors and provide a particular perspective of the wars. Long wars in the name of the cross are a historical phenomenon that ignorance has overshadowed its reality, so it must be accepted that despite the significant recent progress of historiography, the crusades still need new research.
In the current period, the Jews have made an effort to construct a part of their national and ethnic plan with the help of the history of the Crusades. A prominent example is Joshua Prawer, a noted Jewish historian in Israel. He, who lost his family, including his mother, in the Second World War and the Holocaust incident, on the advice of Richard Koebner, an English historian, drew himself into the field of history, especially the Crusades. The interest of Jewish historians in exaggerating the role of Jews in the crusades is owed to him.
“The primary cause of wars” is also one of the recent challenges in the historiography of the Crusades. One theory is that the wars were the response of the Pope and the Catholic Church in the West to the appeal of Eastern Rome. Peter Frankopan, a professor of Oxford, insists on proving the theory in his new work, “The First Crusade”; however, this approach has few supporters. The other theory is that the widespread participation of knights and commoners in Europe at the end of the 11th century was more than helping the Eastern Roman Empire, as Pope Urban II’s speech at the Council of Clermont testifies. Most ancient and modern Christian historians are of this opinion.
The September 11th incident became a turning point in the thought and discourse of the crusades. It resulted in more reflections on the philosophy of wars and linked the past and the present of the relations between Islam and Christianity. Jonathan Reilly-Smith, the distinguished English historian, performed the most dominant role in this regard. His book “Crusades, Christianity, and Islam”, which was published seven years after the destruction of the New York Twin Towers, was the reproduction of a recent discourse based on the fact that Europeans dedicated special literature to the Crusades and distorted history with verbiage. He clearly reminded that We should not hope to understand and confront those who hate us so much (i.e., Muslims), unless we recognize their way of thinking. This requires opening our eyes to our own past realities, not our imaginations.
The present book, an extensive description of the entry of “Crusades, wars”, does not include analysis, since the author has other analytical works. But focusing on this part of the history of Islam and Christianity is necessary for Iranians for various reasons: because of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, which strengthened political Islam and intensified the Islamophobia of the West; the enormous contribution of Iranians in the crusades (Saladin Ayyubi, Fakhr al-din Yusuf Juveini, and Ahmadyal ibn Ibrahim, the ruler of Maragheh); as well as the significant effects and consequences of the war in the land of Islam that I have studied.
This book is divided into three chapters; “The causes and grounds of war in the Islamic world” is the first chapter with these subtitles: In Europe, The role of the crusaders in wars, Hajj and pilgrimage to Jerusalem, The repentance and forgiveness, The doctrine of jihad and holy war, The idea of millenarianism, and The material and economic causes of wars. The second chapter, “Eight Wars”, includes The campaign to the East (the first crusade), The disciplined crusader army to the East, Nicaea: the starting point, The first crusader emirate in Roha, Antioch: the second crusader emirate, Moving towards the center and establishing the central government, Shiites and the Crusades, Muslim scholars and the Crusades, The rule of the Crusaders in the eastern Mediterranean, Military sects in the occupied territories, The second war, Hittin and the decisive battle, The third war, The fourth war, The fifth war, The sixth war, The seventh war, and The eighth war. Finally, in the last chapter, “The Effects and Consequences of the War” is studied with the subtitle of The effects of the Crusades in the geography of Islam.
The book “Crusades” is published in 114 pages and 200 copies.
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