Christianity has been on the defensive against Islam from
Islam's very inception. From medieval Muslim aggression to present-day
aggression in America, Sudan, Armenia, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., jihad
(in the sense of "holy war"; the word itself simply means "struggle")
is an historical and extant Islamic reality. Samuel Huntington, in his
flawed but interesting book "The Clash of Civilizations", says:
occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the
Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and
Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.
writes in "Jihad":
The story begins
around 650 C.E. with the first, unsuccessful siege of Constantinople,
and continues with the invasion and occupation, sometimes for hundreds
of years, of many European countries. Italy, Sicily, Portugal, France,
Spain, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Rumania, Wallachia,
Albania, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, the
Ukraine, and eastern and southern Russia were all battlefields where
Islam conquered or was conquered in violent conflicts marked by
cruelty, bloodlust, and a fearful loss of life, spread over
considerably more than a thousand years.
For over a century and a half the world had forgotten this fact, since
most Muslim countries were politically impotent and ruled mainly as the
colonies or protectorates of European powers.
… European history has remained transfixed on the Christian Crusades of
the eleventh to the thirteenth century, it has largely ignored these
Muslim attacks and invasions...When accusing the West of imperialism,
Muslims are obsessed with the crusades, but have forgotten their own
longer and more gruesome Jihad.
were a series of defensive wars against Islamic aggression in
the Middle Ages and attempts to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim
conquerors in order to allow safe pilgrimage and to protect and
maintain the Christian presence there. Jerusalem had been Christian for
hundreds of years when Caliph Omar seized it, and following that
victory, Muslims warred their way into Egypt, other parts of Africa,
Spain, Sicily, and Greece, leaving Christians dead and churches in
ruins. They stole lands in the area now known as Turkey, destroying
Catholic communities founded by St. Paul himself. They siezed
Constantinople -- the "second Rome" -- and threatened the Balkans. They
warred their way as far north as Vienna, Austria and Tours, France.
Referring to a battle which took place in A.D. 1243, the Arabian
manuscript entitled Essulouk li Mariset il Muluk ("The Road to
Knowledge of the Return of Kings") had this to say:
[Muslims] had despoiled all the country near to Damascus, they advanced
to Jerusalem, took it by storm, and put all the Christians to the
sword. The women and girls, having suffered every insult from a brutal
disorderly soldiery, were loaded with chains. They destroyed the church
of the Holy Sepulchre; and when they found nothing among the living, to
glut their rage, they opened the tombs of the Christians, took out the
bodies, and burnt them.
too shocking considering the Qu'ran teaches:
Q.9: 29 ”Fight
those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that
forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor
acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are of the People of
the Book [Jews and Christians 1],
until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves
Surah 47:4: "When ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks"
Surah 4:74: "To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah" [whether he is
slain or gets victory] "soon shall we give him a reward of great
In other words,
Christians are to "convert, submit, or die" 2.
The Hadith (in Abu Huraira) tells us the "prophet" said, "I have been
ordered to fight with the people till they say, 'None has the right to
be worshipped but Allah,' and whoever says, 'None has the right to be
worshipped but Allah,' his life and property will be saved by me except
for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish
him or to forgive him.)"
OK, so why does the typical Westerner shiver when thinking of the
Crusades? Why are Catholics hated for defending Christendom?
For the same reasons Christians of all kinds, Protestant or Catholic,
are hated in our increasingly secularized world: "I have given them thy
word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world." (John 17:14) Christianity and its
virtues have been under attack since the time of Christ, and even more
so since the so-called "Enlightenment." After centuries of attacks on
the Catholic Church in "Reformation" circles and the later, consequent
rise of secular humanism, moral and cultural relativism, and
political correctness rooted in Frankfurt School "critical theory," the Crusades came to be seen and taught as an
example of "Western Imperialism" or "Colonialism." It's also ignorantly
presented as the most egregious example of war "caused by" religion.
Because members of
the Church were doing the fighting, Christianity itself, and
Catholicism in particular, were slandered as a cause of violence. Note
the same people who scream about the Crusades tend to be those who
ridiculously scream about "religion" being at the root of all wars,
completely ignoring not only the facts of the Crusades -- e.g., why
they were fought, how they were a defensive response to Muslim
aggression, etc. -- but also the fact that atheistic communism and
of millions in the 20th century alone.
Stalin, Hitler, Mao-Tse-Tung, Pol Pot, Castro, Che Guevara -- the list
of those killer atheists goes on and on, and the number of their
victims is so large as to be unfathomable.
All this understood, it must be said, however, that the Popes' noble,
purposes for those wars sometimes became entangled with the purposes of
those with secular interests, people who were more interested in
economic concerns over Mediterranean trade, or destroying the Eastern
Roman Empire than defending Christendom from the Muslim onslaught. Many
"bad guys" jumped onto the Crusades bandwagon and
evil was done by some of these Crusaders. The sacking of
Constantinople in revenge for being betrayed by the Easterners and for their earlier "Massacre of the Latins" in 1182, and the murder
of Jews along Crusade routes did take place and are deeply
lamentable. There is no excuse for such behaviors except human
evil, but this evil was not in any
way sanctioned by the Church, in no
way reflects on Church teachings or Her purposes for the Crusades, and
resulted in the excommunication of many Crusaders responsible.
an evil. It's sometimes, sadly, a necessary evil. And even during the
Crusades -- just wars if there's ever been a just war in the history of
man -- evils were committed. But those evils were absolutely in spite of, not because of, Church teaching, unlike
Muslim violence which is explicitly prescribed
by the teachings of Mohammad.
Please watch this highly educational video! A much briefer video follows, a very important one dealing with the fact that "not all Muslims are jihadists."
1 Catholics aren't strictly "People of
the Book" though we see the Old and New Testaments as the infallible
and inspired word of God; we are "People of the Church," and have three
sources of authority rather than the Protestant single source of Sacred
Scripture -- with Protestant versions of the Bible being typically
abbreviated, having entire Books removed,
to boot. In addition to Sacred Scripture, we have Tradition and the
Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church).
2 The inherent
evil of the Muslim religion does not mean that all who call
themselves "Muslims" are evil! Many Muslims are of the same sort,
religiously speaking, as many "Christians"; they don't take their
religion that seriously, are merely "cultural Muslims," have enough
natural virtue to try to explain away and defuse the Qu'ran's
exhortations to violence, or are simply ignorant about what orthodox
Islam teaches, and about Islam's violent
history. May God bless, not their religion, but them, bringing
them to all Truth, Who is Christ -- not only a Prophet, but the Son of
the Living God. Salaam.
Then said He [Jesus] unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him
take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him
sell his garment, and buy one.
Up Against Fanaticism a must-read (onsite)
Two recent newspaper articles about the Crusades
Battle over the Crusades
Review: Crusade Propaganda, article by Thomas F. Madden, associate
professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis
University and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades" (link to
Crusades: Separating Myth from Reality
the Crusades (a different article than the above)
Truth and Black Legend
A New Era of Christian Persecutions by Pat
For more on
persecution of Christians worldwide, see International