Jakarta governor Ahok investigated over alleged Islam insult as elections loom

ahkdem

Photo:   Malay Mail Online     

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies

JAKARTA

Maverick Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, as he is known, has never had a filter. Impulsive and polarising, the city’s first openly Christian and ethnic Chinese governor – a double minority in Indonesia – seems to court controversy.

He questioned a ban on beer sales in mini markets – “no one has ever died from from drinking beer” – suggested schools should not compel girls to wear hijab, insisted he needed no support from political parties and antagonised the urban poor with mass forced evictions.

“If only there were some magic tape to put [over his mouth] so that he would talk as we hope,” former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri reportedly lamented at a meeting before her party announced it would endorse him in next February’s gubernatorial elections. “But there’s no such thing.”

For all this, the feisty, straight-talking governor is remarkably popular. Ahok, the former deputy governor, assumed the top role in 2014, when his predecessor Joko Widodo was elected president of Indonesia. His no-nonsense efficiency and tough stance on corruptionstruck a chord with voters, more than 95 per cent of whom are Muslim.

Ahok overhauled the stodgy bureaucracy, launched a smartphone app called Qlue which allowed Jakartans to report flood, crime, fire or waste, and worked on reducing floods and improving the city’s lamentable public transport.

The polls suggest he will be hard to beat: Poltracking Indonesia put his popularity at 92.56 per cent and his electability at 40.77 per cent in September.

But just days before the official election campaign begins on October 26, Ahok is being investigated by police over claims he defamed a verse in the Koran.

Prior to the alleged blasphemy, some Islamic groups had urged voters not to re-elect Ahok, citing verse 51 from the fifth sura or chapter of the Koran, al-Ma’ida, which some interpret as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim. Others say the scripture should be understood in its context – a time of war – and not interpreted literally.

In recorded remarks to a group of fishermen that went viral, Ahok suggested that some Muslims were “deceived” by al-Ma’ida 51. The comments caused outrage.

Ahok apologised and insisted he was not criticising the Koranic verse but those who used it to attack him.

But on Friday thousands of hardline Muslims took to the streets, calling on police to process the case. The maximum penalty for blasphemy in Indonesia is five years’ jail.

“The investigation is still going on,” Ari Dono Sukmanto, the head of the national police’s Criminal Investigations Department, told Fairfax Media. “We are now transcribing from the video what was actually said, what actually happened.”

Sukmanto said Ahok would be summoned for questioning: “Everybody is equal before the law and we will need his explanation over what has happened for clarification.”

The two largest Islamic organisations in the country – Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) – have stressed that they have no problem with a Muslim voting for a non-Muslim.

Masdur Anwar, the deputy secretary of the Jakarta chapter of NU, does not believe Ahok set out to insult Islam.

“It is impossible that he deliberately did it because it would be suicidal for him,” Anwar told Fairfax Media. “It was just a slip of the tongue. But I can understand those who think it was an insult. Perhaps it is an accumulated feeling [of resentment] about the way Ahok speaks. He is blunt and perhaps these folks couldn’t stand it any more.”

Anwar hopes police investigate the case quickly so the election campaign does not become sectarian.

An editorial in Tempo magazine says the Jakarta election will be a test of the maturity of the young democracy: “Just how far have people left behind primordial prejudices such as religion and race when they go to the polls next February?”

The gubernatorial election is a three-legged race. Ahok’s opponents are Agus Harimurti, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and former education minister Anies Baswedan, who was dumped in the last cabinet reshuffle. Both were surprise candidates: Agus is a political novice who left behind a promising 16-year military career.

The stakes are high. “The position of governor can, as Ahok’s predecessor Jokowi demonstrated, be a springboard for higher office at the national level,” La Trobe University senior lecturer Dirk Tomsa writes. “Indeed, whoever wins in Jakarta next year might well be expected to find himself in the running for a presidential, or more likely, vice-presidential ticket in 2019.”

 

The South Morning Herald

Wed, 19 October 2016

ahkdemo

Photo: Fajarnews.com

http://www.smh.com.au/world/jakarta-governor-ahok-investigated-over-alleged-islam-insult-as-elections-loom-20161018-gs510o.html

 

 

Christians celebrate X’mas in Brunei

 

THOUSANDS of Christians celebrated Christmas yesterday in multiple services held in churches across the sultanate.

Head of the Catholic Church in Brunei Bishop Cornelius Sim said about 4,000 out of the 18,000 estimated Catholics in the country attended mass on Christmas Day and the night prior at the Church of Our Lady Assumption (COLA) in the capital, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria and St John’s Church in Kuala Belait.

The bishop and an Anglican reverend told The Brunei Times that despite international media outlets reporting a blanket ban on Christmas – which continued to be observed as a public holiday in Brunei this year – neither received a notice restricting celebrations.

“To be quite honest there has been no change for us this year; no new restrictions have been laid down, although we fully respect and adhere to the existing regulations that our celebrations and worship be confided to the compounds of the church and private residences,” said Bishop Sim.

In practice, he said the church has continued its observation of daily dawn services beginning at 4am to 5am and lasting about 45 minutes from December 16 up until Christmas Eve with no restrictions. A social gathering for migrant workers at the COLA church was hosted yesterday evening, mirrored by a similar celebration in Seria.

The bishop also echoed Pope Francis’s address on reconciliation within fractured communities experiencing violence around the world, saying that Brunei was fortunate and in a unique position to have seen unhindered peace and prosperity.

“In my experience, the authorities are respectful and considerate towards other religious communities. In comparison to what is seen elsewhere in the world, we are fortunate to have religious harmony.

“Tolerance is part of our country’s constitution and we have always been free to practise our religion,” he said.

He added that the Catholic community, which makes up the majority of the Christian population in Brunei, “were no different” from any other citizen or resident.

Similarly Reverend Johnny Chin of St Andrew’s Church said relationships between the country’s Muslims and those from other faiths continue to be positive, with the restrictions on Christmas decorations in public which made headlines last year not diluting the true meaning of Christmas to Christians.

“I guess with regards to Christmas, we have reminded ourselves to remain focused on how Christmas is not just about the music, the decorations and the Santa hats – which have been emphasised – but that has never been what Christmas is about anyway,” he said.

The Brunei Times

Saturday, December 26, 2015

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2015/12/26/christians-celebratex%E2%80%99mas-brunei

 

Hundred Muslims of Tolikara in Papua evacuated after their mosque burned down

burn masjid
JAYAPURA

AT least 153 victims of conflict that occurred in Karubaga Village, Tolikara District, Papua, were evacuated to several tents set up at the Karubaga Military Headquarter on Saturday.

The people had lost their houses and stores after being burnt by a group of people during an Idul Fitri prayer on Friday.

The Papua Regional Police chief, Inspector General Yotje Mende, said the victims needed assistance, particularly clothes, since their belongings had all been razed by the fire.

“We are still waiting for complete data from the Tolikara police relating to the gender and age of the victims. The officers are collecting the data,” Mende said here.

burn masjiAccording to a report from Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo, GIDI (Communion of Evangelical Churches in Indonesia) President Dorman Wandikbo and Papua Military Chief Major General Fransen Siahaan, at least 53 stores which were also used as houses had been burnt and the fire later spread to a mosque near the stores.

Dorman and Mende stated people did not burn the mosque. However, because the mosque and the stores were located closely the fire later engulfed the mosque.

Security officers from police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and the Indonesian Army have arrived in the district.

Mende said the additional troops are needed due to a lack of Tolikara Police personnel stationed in the district who only number 100.

REPUBLIKA,
Saturday, 19 july 2015

Burn_masjid-tolikara

http://en.republika.co.id/berita/en/national-politics/15/07/19/nrqoeq-hundred-victims-of-tolikara-conflict-evacuated

http://www.doamuslims.org/?p=4127

See also: http://www.globalindonesianvoices.com/21655/jokowi-on-mosque-burning-in-papua-we-must-maintain-tolerance-and-unity/

Intellectual Reflections on Islam and the Qur’an

dr gary quran bible
By Dr. Gary Miller

Dr Gary Miller

Dr Gary Miller


Dilemma of Applying Reason
Almost all of us have been faced with the questioning of a child by repeating one word over and over. He can be very frustrating to us as he asks Why? If you put a h1ife beyond his reach, he wants to know, Why? When you explain it is sharp, he asks “Why?” And so you explain, in order to cut fruit, and he asks, Why? And so it goes

It illustrates the dilemma of applying reason. What we have to do when we apply reason is first to set standards of proof. We decide for ourselves, “What will I be satisfied with if I find such and such and so and so that constitutes for me a final proof?” We have to decide on that first.

What happens though, is that on the really important issues, the philosophical matters, thinkers set standards and eventually they may arrive at their standards. They may arrive at the point which they say would constitute a proof. But then they ask for a proof of the proof.

Setting Standards
The key to avoiding this endless dissatisfaction is to satisfy ourselves about standards first; to satisfy ourselves that such and such are a list of criteria that constitute proof, satisfying proof, and then we test the subjects that we examine. In particular I will apply this to the Qur’an.

Ask a thoughtful Christian why he is Christian, and he will usually reply, “The miracle of Resurrection.” The basis for his belief being that about two thousand years ago a man died and he was raised from the dead. That is his miracle, his ‘touchstone’, because all else depends on that.

Ask a Muslim, “Well, what is your miracle? Why are you a Muslim? Where is your miracle?” and the Muslim can go over and take his miracle off the shelf and hand it over to you because his miracle is still with us today. It is the Qur’an; it is his ‘touchstone’.

Sign of God
While all the prophets have their signs, Moses had the competition with the magicians and the Pharaoh, Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead and so on, one sign was given to the last of the prophets. According to the Muslims, this is the Qur’an. And this one Sign is still with us. Does not that after all seem fair, that if prophethood is to end that the last prophet should bring something that stays with us so that, in fact, a Muslim who takes his religion seriously suffers no disadvantage to Muslims who lived fourteen centuries ago?

Those people who kept company with the Prophet had access to no more of the necessary information than we have today. They had the Qur’an. That was the sign for them. It is still a sign to us today, the same miracle.

Well, let us test the Qur’an. Suppose that if I say to a man, “I know your father.” Probably he is going to examine the situation and see if it seems likely that I have met his father. If he is not convinced he will start asking me questions like: “You know my father, you say, is he a tall man ? Does he have curly hair? Does he wear glasses?” and so on. If I keep giving him the right answers to all these questions, pretty soon he is going to be convinced. “Well I guess this man did meet my father like he said.” You see the method

The Big Bang Theory
Here in the Qur’an we have a book which claims that its author (meaning God) is one who was present at the beginning of the universe, at the beginning of life. So, we have a right to address that author and say, “Well, tell me something prove to me that you were there when the world began, when life began.” The Qur’an gives us an interesting statement. It reads:

” Have not the disbelievers seen that the Heavens and the Earth were one piece and we parted them and we made from water every living thing? Will they not believe? ” (21:30)

There are three key points here. First of all, it is the disbelievers who are mentioned as being those who would see that the heavens and the earth were one piece and then parted and would see that all life came to be made from water.

As it happens the universally accepted theory of the origin of the universe is now the Big Bang theory. It maintains that at one time all of the heavens and the earth were one piece, the ‘monoblock’ as it is called. At a particular point in time, this ‘monoblock’ burst and it continues to expand. This gives us the universe we have today. This was a recent discovery, a recent confirmation.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded only a few years ago to those who confirmed the Big Bang origin of the universe. It was only about two hundred years ago that Leeuwnhoek and others perfected the microscope and discovered for the first time that living cells are composed of about eighty percent water.

Those Nobel Prize winners and the Dutchman who invented the microscope were not Muslims. And yet they confirmed the vital statement that at one time the universe was one piece, that life was made from water, just as this verse says:

” Have not the disbelievers seen that the Heavens and the Earth were one piece and we parted them and we made from water every living thing? Will they not believe? ” (21:30)

Well, this sounds like an answer to the question we stated with when we ask the author: “Tell me something that shows me you were present when the universe began when life began?”

Taking a Stand
Everyone must be committed to something. You have to put your foot down some place. It is impossible to be neutral all time. There has to be a point of reference in the life of any thinking individual. You have to take a stand somewhere. The question, of course, is to put your foot down in the right place. Since there is no such thing as a proof of a proof and so on, in order to find the right place to put one’s foot down, to take a stand, we have to search and find that place and it is by a method that I hope to illustrate here.

It is a question of finding a point of convergence. You see, we search for truth in many places and we begin to know that we are succeeding in finding the truth if all our different paths start to converge; they start to come together at the same point.

If we are examining a book, looking for evidence of divine origin, and we are led to Islam, this is one path. If at the same time we are examining the words of all those who were called prophets and we find ourselves led to Islam, we have a firmly grounded basis for belief. We started looking for truth in two different places and ground ourselves going down the path headed for the same destination.

No one ever proves all things. We have to stop at some point being satisfied with our standards as I have mentioned earlier. The point is, in order to take a stand and to be sure it is in the right place we want to examine all the evidence around us and see where does it lead us and anticipate this point of convergence; to say it looks like all things are pointing to this place. We go to that place and then look at the data around us to see if it fits into place. Dos it now make sense? Are we standing in the right place?

The Expanding Heavens
Let me first show more of our examination of the Qur’an, and then an examination of some words of prophets to find this point of convergence. In chapter fifty-one, verse forty seven, it is mentioned that the heavens are expanding. As I mentioned earlier, this is in connection with the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe, as it is usually called, and it was in 1973 that the Nobel Prize was awarded to three men who were confirming that, after all, the universe is expanding.

The comments of Muslims over the centuries on this verse which speaks of the heavens doing exactly that are very interesting. The wisest among them had stated that the words are very clear, that the heavens are expanding, but they could not imagine how that could be so. But they were content to leave the words as they were, to say: “Allah knows best”

The City of Iram
The Qur’an mentions a city by the name of Iram (89:7). The city of Iram has been unknown to history, so unknown that even some Muslim commentators, out of embarrassment for feeling apologetic for their religion, have commented on this mention of the city in the Qur’an as being perhaps figurative, that Iram was possibly a man and not a city.

In 1973 the excavation in Syria at the site of the ancient city of Eblus uncovered the largest collection of cuneiform writings on clay tablets ever assembles. In fact, the library discovered in Eblus contains more clay tablets that are more that four thousand years old than all other tablets combined from all the other sites.

Interestingly enough, you will find the details in the National Geographic of 1978 which confirms that in those tablets the city of Iram is mentioned. The people of Eblus used to do business with the people of Iram. So here in these comes confirmation of the fact that, after all, there really was an ancient city by that name, wherever it was. How did it find its way into the Qur’an, we might ask?

Those Muslims who may have offered their commentary trying to explain away this reference that they were uncomfortable with, were outsmarted by the author of the Qur’an. They would attempt it. Primarily their actions would involve trying to produce evidence that the author of this book had a primitive understanding of the world around us.

The Smallest Matter
For example, there is a word which is translated to usually in Arabic as zarrah. This is usually translated ‘atom’ and it is usually thought of in Arabic as being smallest item available at one time. Perhaps the Arab thought it was an ant or a grain of dust. Today the word usually translated as ‘atom’.

Those who would outsmart the author of the Qur’an have insisted that, well, the atom is not after all the smallest piece of matter because in this century it has been discovered that even the atom is made of still smaller of matter. Is it then possible to outsmart the author who chose to use this word? Well, in chapter ten, there is an interesting verse sixty one, which speaks of items the size of a zarrah, (atom) or smaller. There is no possibility in this subject someone is going to say a new discovery has outdated the words of the Qur’an on the issue of the size of matter or the ultimate particles. The verse talks about items the size of a zarrah (atom) or smaller.

Forgiveness
Speaking of outsmarting the author of the Qur’an, the Islamic point of view is that when a man embraces Islam, his past is forgiven from the very beginning. This has been the invitation to Islam: come to Islam and all is forgiven from the past.

But consider this. There is only one enemy of Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is mentioned by name in the Qur’an: one Abu Lahab. In a short chapter of this book, he is condemned to punishment for his sins.

As it happens, the man himself was alive for many years after this revelation. He could therefore have finished Islam very easily. He needed only to go to the Muslims to announce his conversion. They had in their hands the revelation which said that this man is doomed to punishment. He could have gone to Muslims and say: “I accept Islam, am I forgiven or not?”

He could have confused them so much as to finish this small movement because he would have been pointing out to them that they were now in confusion. The policy was instant forgiveness of the past, but their own revealed scripture announced that he was not forgiven. As it was, Abu Lahab died without accepting Islam.

Predictions
In fact, the Qur’an confidently predicted a number of things only a few years before they came to pass. The fall of the Persian Empire, for example, was predicted in spite of the fact that it had just suffered a serious military victory. The evidence was all to the contrary. But in the chapter entitled Rom, the fall of the Persian Empire, who were recently victors over the Romans, was predicted.

When all the Muslims in the world could meet in one room (meaning, Muslims initially were very few in number), the revelations were already discussing their future successes. In confidence, they were planning for the day when they would be in charge of the city (Mecca) where they were forced at that time to hide for their very lives.

Evidence of Divine Origin
Some people may like to find any number of things in the Qur’an. But an honest method in examining this book, looking for evidence of the Divine origin, is to take things at their value, to look for things that are clear and to look in those places where we are invited to look. Remember the passage that I quoted earlier: “Have not the disbelievers seen…” This a common phrase of the Qur’an: “O Man, Have you not seen.” The invitation is to examine the evidence in these places. We are doing the sensible thing if we examine the words used to look for the doubted meaning and to find evidence of the Divine origin.

Each one of us is an expert on something. One does not have to have a degree in a particular subject to decide that now, “I can take my expertise to the Qur’an and see what I can find.” We all know something from our own experience and life.

I heard a story, several years ago in Toronto, of man who was given the Qur’an to read. The man was a member of the merchant marines who spent his life on the sea. When he read a verse in the Qur’an describing the wave on the ocean, “waves within waves and the darkness between,” he was surprised because the description was just what he knew the situation to be. When he returned the Qur’an to the man who gave it to him to read, he asked him (because he was completely ignorant of the origins of Islam): “This Muhammad, was he a sailor?” Well, of course, he was quite surprised to know that the man spent his life in the desert. So he had to ask himself: “From where did he get this knowledge of what looks like on a stormy sea?”

We all know something that we can be confident of and if we can turn to the Qur’an to read what it says about that subject, we are asking for confirmation of our belief in the Divine origin of the book.

The Two Phenomena
A friend of mine from the University of Toronto, had experience of dealing with a man who was doing his doctorate in psychology. He chose as his subject: “The Efficiency of Group Discussion.”

He suggested a number of criteria as to what constituted an efficient discussion. He graphed the process; that is achieved a measure of the efficiency of all groups in the discussions according to an index by his system., On his graph he indicated the progress made by the discussion groups of various sizes.

The interesting thing that happened which he did not expect to find when he began his project was that, while there were some difference between the size of an given group and how well they did in discussions, he was surprised to find that groups of two were completely off his scale. In other words, when two people sit down to discuss something, they were so much more efficient than any other size of group that it went completely off his scale of measurement.

When my friend heard about this, something went on at the back of his mind. My friend, being a Muslim, thought there was something familiar here about this idea. The psychology researcher was not a Muslim. He was debating with himself on changing the topic of his thesis. Should he call it ‘The Phenomenon of Two’ or ‘The Two Phenomena’? He was so surprised at his discovery.

Meanwhile, my friend found that there is a verse in the Qur’an, and he found it for himself on the same night, which speaks on discussions and the size of groups and how efficient they are. And maybe we should not be surprised to find that it is the groups that are two in numbers that do the best in achieving results. The verse in the Qur’an reads, concerning discussion groups, that when discussing the Qur’an, one should sit alone and reflect on its meaning or discuss it in groups of two. =

Use and Mention of Words
For myself, as I said everyone knows something for sure or has an interest and experience in life; my interest is in mathematics and logic. There is a verse in the Qur’an which says:

“This a scripture whose verses are perfected and then expounded.”(11:1)

Which tells me that there are no wasted words in the Qur’an; that each verse is perfected and then it is explained. It could not be in a better form. One could not use fewer words to say the same thing or if one uses more words one would only be adding superfluous information.

This directed my attention to a particular mathematical subject, a logical subject, and I examined the Qur’an to see if I could find something of what I knew to be the case.

A revolution in logic has occurred in the last one hundred years, primarily over the difference between use and mention of words. A structure of logic seemed to be in danger of collapsing about a hundred years ago because it came to the attention of the people who studied these matters that the structure was not quite sound. The issue involved ‘self-reference’ and the use and the mention of words which I will explain briefly.

Aristotle’s law of the ‘excluded middle’ was the statement that every statement is either true false. About a hundred years ago, somebody pointed out that the law of the excluded middle is a statement and is therefore not a law after all. It could just as well be false as well as true.

This was a tangled knot for the logicians to untie until they came to understand the difference between the use and the mention of a word.

When we use a word, we consider its meaning. When we mention a word, we are discussing the word itself. If I said Toronto is a large city, I mean Toronto, that place, is a large city. If I say Toronto has seven letters, I am talking about the word ‘Toronto’. In the first case I used the word and in the second I mentioned the word. You see distinction.

Jesus and Adam
Connecting these ideas and the idea that the Qur’an is composed of verses that are perfected and then expounded for us, consider the verse which says:

“The likeness of Jesus before Allah is as the likeness of Adam.” (3:59)

It is very clear that what we have in the statement is an equation. This verse goes on to explain how that is true because they both came under unusual circumstances rather than having a mother and a father in the usual human reproductive way. But more than that, I got to consider the use of the mention of words.

The words are used clearly enough. Jesus is like Adam and by Jesus and Adam, we mean those two men. But what about the mention of the words? Was the author aware of the fact that if we were considering the words as words themselves, this sentence also read that ‘Jesus’ is something like ‘Adam’. Well, they are not spelt with the same letters, how can they be alike in this revelation? The only answer came to me fairly quickly and I took a look at the index of the Qur’an.

The index of the Qur’an has been made available only since 1945. This book was the result of years of work by a man and his students who assembled a book which lists every word in the Qur’an and where it can be found.

So, when we look up the word Isa (Jesus), we find it in the Qur’an twenty-five times. When we look up Adam, we find it in the Qur’an twenty-five times. The point is that they are very much alike in this book. They are equated. So, following up on this idea, I continued to examine the index looking for every case where something was set up as an equation, where the likeness of something was said to be the likeness of some other thing. And in every case, it works. You have to example a verse which reads:

“The likeness of those who reject our signs is as the likeness of the dog.” (7:176)

Well, the phrase is Arabic for ‘the people who reject our signs’ could be found in the Qur’an exactly five times. And so is the Arabic word for ‘the dog’ (al-kalb). And there are several instances of exactly the same occurrence.

It was some months after I found this for myself that a friend of mine, who is continuing this investigation with me, made a suggestion that there are also some places in the Qur’an where one thing is said to be not like another thing.

As soon as he mentioned this up to me, we both went for the index and had a quick look at several places where on thing is said to be not like another thing and counted their occurrence in the Qur’an. We were surprise, and maybe should not have been, to find that, after all, they do not match up. But an interesting thing does happen. For example, the Qur’an makes it very clear in the verse that “trade” is not like “interest (or usury)”. The two words will be found six times for one and seven for the other. And so it is in every other case.

When one thing is said to be not like another, they are over for a difference of one time. It would be five of one and four of the other, or seven of one and eight of another.

Good and Evil
There is one interesting verse which, I felt, spoke directly to me from right off the page. It mentions two words in Arabic, al-khabeeth (the evil), and al-taib (the good). The verse reads:

“Say, the evil and the good are not comparable, even though the abundance of evil will surprise you. So be mindful of your duty to Allah, O Man of understanding that you may succeed.”(5:100)

Well, I had a look at those two words in Arabic, the evil and the good, and found in the Qur’an that they both occur seven times. Yet the verse here is saying that they are not comparable. I should not expect to find that they occur the same number of times. But what does the rest of this verse say?

“The evil and the good are not comparable. The abundance of the evil will surprise you” and it did for there were too many of them. But it continues:

“So be mindful of your duty to Allah, O Man of understanding, that you may succeed.”

So press on. Use your understanding and you will succeed. That is what the verse said to me. Well, I found the answer in one verse further on where it reads:

“Allah separates the evil from the good. The evil HE piles one on top of the other, heaping them all together.”

Here is the solution to the difficulty. While we have several occurrences of al-taib (the good), according to the principle of this verse, evil is separated from good and is piled one on top of the other and heaped all together. We can not count them as seven separate instances.

Occurrences of Words
A favorite difficulty, or supposed difficulty, which critics like to cite or have cited in the past years concerning the Qur’an is that, apparently to their thinking, the author of this book was ignorant because he advised the Muslims to follow the lunar instead of the solar year. The critics say the author was unaware of the difference in the length of years, that if one follows twelve lunar months, one loses eleven days every year.

The author of the Qur’an was well aware of the distinction between the length of the solar year and the lunar year. In chapter eighteen, verse nine, it mentions three-hundred years and gives their equivalent as three-hundred and nine years. As it happens, three hundred solar years is equal to three -hundred and nine lunar years.

Let us go back to my original scheme of the occurrence of words in the Qur’an. The Arabic word for ‘month’, “shahr”, will be found twelve times in the Qur’an. There are twelve months in a year. If we find twelve months, how many days should we expect to find? The word in Arabic is “yawm”, and as it happens you will find that the word occurs three-hundred and sixty five times in the Qur’an.

As a matter of fact, the original issue which had me interested in looking up the occurrence of months and days was this distinction between the solar year and the lunar year. Well, for twenty-five centuries, it has been known that the relative positions of the sun, moon and earth coincide every nineteen years. This was discovered by a Greek by the name of Meton, and it is called the ‘Metonic’ cycle. Knowing this, I looked again to the index for the word ‘year’, sanah and found, sure enough, that it occurs in the Qur’an nineteen times.

Perfect balance of Words
Now, what is the point of this perfect balance of words? For myself, it shows the author was well aware of the distinction between using words and mentioning words, a fine logical point. But more than that, it indicates the preservation of this book.

After giving a lecture on the subject of the Qur’an , I touched on some of these subjects and a questionnaire from the audience afterwards said: “How do we know we still have the original Qur’an. Maybe pieces of it have been lost or extra parts been added?” I pointed out to him that we had pretty well covered that point because since these items, the perfect balance of words in the Qur’an, have come to light only in this generation, anybody who would have lost the portion of this book, hidden some of it, or added some of their own would have been unaware of this carefully hidden code in the book. They would have destroyed this perfect balance.

It is interesting to note too that, well, such a thing might be possible to organize today by the use of a computer to coordinate all words so that whatever thought you might have as to a meaning of a sentence or however you might construe an equation out of a sentence, you could check for yourself and the book will always have the balance of words.

If that were possible today, if it were possible fourteen centuries ago, why would it be done and then left hidden and never drawn to the attention of those who first saw this book? Why it would be left with the hope of the author who contrived this, that maybe, in many centuries, someone will discover it and have a nice surprise? It is a scheme that does not make sense.

Best Explanation
We are told in the Qur’an that no questionnaire will come to the Muslims with the question for which a good answer has not been provided, and the best explanation for whatever his question. This verse says:

“For everything they say, say we are given something to go back to them and reply.” (25:33)

We looked again to the index of the Qur’an and we found the word, qalu (they say), is found three hundred and thirty-two times. Now, what would be the natural counterpart? The Arabic word, qul, which is the command ‘say’ and you will find at the index it also occurs three hundred and thirty-two times.

Origin of the Qur’an
An interesting feature of the Qur’an is that it replies to critics as to its origin. That is, no one has yet come up with suggestion as to where this book came from which is not commented on within the book itself.

In fact, the new Catholic Encyclopedia, under the heading Qur’an, mentions that over the centuries, there has been many theories as to where this book came from. Their conclusion: today, no sensible person believes any of these theories. This leaves the Christians in some difficulty. You see, all the theories suggested so far , according to this encyclopedia, are not really acceptable to anyone sensible today.

Where did the book come from? Those who have not really examined the Qur’an usually dismissed it as being, they say, a collection of proverbs or aphorisms, saying that one man used to announce from time to time. They imagined that there was a man who, from time to time during the day, will think of some witty little saying and spit it out and those around him will quickly write it down, and eventually these were all collected and became the Qur’an.

Those who read the Qur’an will find that it is not anything like that at all. The collection of things said by the Prophet is the subject and the content of the Hadith. But the subjects and contents of the Qur’an are all in a form of a composition and explanation. I site as an example the chapter, Yusuf, which is an entire story in great detail about one particular episode of one portion of the life of one man. It is a composition.

It is for this reason that virtually all those who have actually examined the Qur’an usually refer to it as being the product of the authorship as attributed to Muhammad and his ‘co-adjudicators’. These were supposed to be people who would sit with him and composed the Qur’an. You see, they imagined that the Qur’an was composed by a committee.

They acknowledged that there was too much information and it was too well composed for one man to have assembled. So, they imagined that a committee of men used to meet regularly, brought their various sources of information, composed something and then handed to this man and told him, “Go to the people tomorrow, this is your revelation.” In other words, it was a fraud concocted by a group of people. But what do we know about fraud? The Qur’an reminds us as it says:

“Saw, now the truth has come, and falsehood neither invents anything nor restores anything.” (34:49).

It is hard to translate it into English precisely, but what this verse is telling us is that falsehood is not the source of a new thing. A new and truthful thing cannot come from falsehood and falsehood does not restore, to our minds, the facts. Truth is in agreement with facts. Falsehood is something else. So falsehood is empty. If something is born fraud, it will never bring us new information. It will never endure; it will only collapse over a period of time.

Challenge
Another interesting verse is a challenge which is addressed to those non-believers. It reads:

“Have they not considered the Qur’an, if it came, from other than Allah, surely they will find in it many inconsistencies.”(4:82)

Here is a challenge to the reader. If you think you have an explanation where this book came from, have another look at the book. Surely, you will be able to uncover some inconsistencies to support your case.

Imagine a student submitting a term paper or a final exam and then writing at the bottom of the page a not to his teacher: “You will find no mistakes in this paper. There are no mistakes on this exam.” Can you imagine the teacher letting that rest? The teacher would probably not sleep until uncovering some inconsistency after a challenge like that. It is not the way human beings speak. They do not offer challenges like that. But here we have it in the Qur’an, a direct challenge saying: “If you have a better idea as to where this book came from, here’s all you need to do. Find some inconsistencies.”

There are critics who make the attempt, critics who try to say the Qur’an contains inconsistencies. A publication that came to my attention recently suggested that the Qur’an was contradictory on the subject of marriage, because in one place, it says: “don’t marry more than one wife unless you can provide for them all,” and in another place it says: “Don’t marry more than four.” They see this as a contradiction. What they have is a counter-distinction. In one case, the qualification for marrying more than one has been given. In the other case, a limitation on how many may be married is given. There is no contradiction.

Critics are too quick to grab hold of something, give it an interpretation, and then offer it as an excuse to escape the reality of this document.

For critics who would attack the Qur’an and insist it contains mistakes, we can use the same method as in our reply to Christians who claim that Jesus is on record as claiming to be equal to God. Remember the three categories of evidence offered. The evidence offered was insufficient, ambiguous or impossible.

You see, if someone cites a verse from the Qur’an, trying to show that it is a mistake, we only need to show that the verse cited is insufficient to establish that there is a mistake or we need to show that the verse cited cannot possibly have the interpretation which the critic is giving it. It will always fall into one of these three categories.

Attributing it to the Devil
I had experience, on one occasion, describing some of the contents in the Qur’an to a man who did not know the book I was talking about. He sat next to me with the cover turned over. I just told him about the book, what it contained and told him it was not the Bible. His conclusion was, the book was miraculous. This man was a minister in a Christian Church. He said, “Yes, that book could not possible have originated with the man and therefore it must come from the devil, because it’s not the Bible.”

The Qur’an comments on this suggestion in chapter twenty-six, verse two-hundred and eleven, as to those who would suggest that the book came from the devil. It points out that it does not quite suit him, does it? Is this how the devil misleads people? He tells them, worship none but God, he insists that they fast, that they practice charity. Is this how the devil misleads people?

Compare the attitude of someone like this, to the attitude of the Jews who knew Jesus and opposed him until the very end. There is an episode reported in the Bible where Jesus raised a man from the dead, one Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. When Lazarus came out of the tomb, alive again those Jews who were watching, what did they do? Did they suddenly say that this man is a true prophet and become believers? No, the Bible says they immediately discussed among themselves that “since this man is working on his signs soon everyone will believe in him. We’ve got to find a way to kill him,” and they attributed his miraculous powers to the devil. He raised that man by the power of the devil.

Now, the Christians who read that episode will feel very sorry for those Jews who had clear evidence right before their very eyes and attribute the miracles to the devil. Does it not appear that they may be doing the same thing when we illustrate what we have in the Qur’an and their final excuse is only: “It originated with the devil.”

A Different Story
There are those who insist that the Qur’an was copied, that it originated in Christian and Jewish sources. As a matter of fact, a book published in recent years called Worshipping the Wrong God has stated, as though it were a fact, that after the first revelation of the Qur’an came to Muhammad, peace be upon him, that his wife died and so he quickly married a Jew and a Christian, and this is where he drew the rest of his sources for his book.

It was ten years after the first revelation of the Qur’an that his wife died, and it was another ten years after that when the Qur’an was virtually completed that he married a Jew and a Christian.

Did he copy from Jewish and Christian sources? In the Qur’an, the ruler of Egypt who opposed Moses is known as Fir’aun, not Pharaoh. The Jews and Christians have always said ‘Pharaoh’. It is easy for an Arab to say ‘Pharaoh’. But in the Qur’an, it is Fir’aun, with an ‘n’. Why? Surely the Jews must have teased the Arabs about that and said: “You’ve got the word wrong. It’s ‘Pharaoh’ and not Fir’aun.” But they insisted on it and it continues that way in the Qur’an, Fir’aun.

As it happens, this historical writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian, exist to this day, and Herodotus comments on the ruler of Egypt, being in his day and in the centuries before him, one man who went by the title of Fir’aun.

Did the book copy from the Christians sources? The Qur’an insists that Jesus was not crucified, that this was only an illusion, but that the Jews who thought they crucified Jesus were mistaken because it was not really so. Christians would have no part of that. As it happens, the idea that Jesus was not really crucified is really very ancient and can be traced back to the first century. But Christians who believed that were eliminated as heretics within the first two-hundred years after the time of Jesus and they were not teaching this doctrine anywhere around the Arabian Peninsula fourteen centuries ago.

Could the author of the Qur’an have been copying from Christian sources when he says that Jesus spoke to man as a baby (3:46) and in later life? The Arabic word used indicates that he was still speaking to man and teaching to them in his forties. The Christians have always maintained that Jesus was gone by the time he was thirty-three. It indicates that there could have been no copying. In fact, a man would have to be stubborn and insists on the points as explained in the Qur’an in the face of Christian opposition who would have said: “No! No! I wasn’t like that. We tell the story differently.”

House Cleaning
Now, we go to the words of the prophets themselves, which represent another path that leads to Islam. In the Persian scriptures, which have been around for thousands of years, we read:

“When the Persians should sink so low in mortality, a man will be born in Arabia whose followers will upset their throne, religion and everything. The mighty stiff-necked ones will be overpowered. The house which was built and in which many idols have been placed will purged of idols and people will say their prayers facing towards it. His followers will capture the towns of the Farsi, Entaus and Balkh, and other big places round about. People will embroil with one another. The wise men of Persia and others will join his followers.” (Desature no.14)

The Muslims recognize this very quickly because the Ka’bah, the building which all Muslims face in prayers everyday, was at one time filled with idols and it was part of the mission of Muhammad , peace be upon him, to purge the house of idols till today. It was in the next generation, after the time of the Prophet that the wise men of Persia and others did join his followers.

A Prophet Like Moses
In the Bible, in Deuteronomy chapter eighteen, we have the words of Moses who reports that God told him that there would raise up a prophet, from among the brothers of the Israelites, like Moses.

Christians wish to apply this to Jesus, to say he was the prophet like Moses. It is uncomfortable for them to recognize, however that Jesus was not very much like Moses and Jesus had no father, no wife, no children; he did not die of old age, and he did not lead a nation; all these things Moses had or did. But they say, well, Jesus will return; he will return as a victorious person, and so he will be more like Moses. Do they really expect he will return to also acquire a father and a wife and children and then die of old age? Moreover, Jesus was an Israelite. The passage of scripture says that this prophet that was foretold would be raised up among the brothers of the Israelites, not from the Israelites.

In the third chapter of Acts, the disciple Peter speaks to a crowd of people and explains that Jesus has been taken up and he is in heaven. He will remain in Heaven and he cannot return until all the things that were promised by God come to pass. So what are we still waiting for, does he tell the crowd? He quotes this very saying of Moses saying:

“For God will raise up a prophet from among the brothers of the Israelites like Moses…”

The point is very clear. Christians like to see this prophet as being Jesus. But read carefully Acts chapter three, what it says is that Jesus awaits a return. He cannot return until the fulfillment of this prophecy, that another prophet has to come.

Jesus spoke of it himself and the words survived, just barely, but they survived in the bible. Jesus spoke of God sending another ‘Paraclete’.

Paraclete
There is a lot of argument over the meaning of this word ‘Paraclete’. For now we can leave that aside. What is a ‘Paraclete’? It does not matter. The first letter of John shows that Jesus was a ‘Paraclete’. He is called a ‘Paraclete’ and we have Jesus promising another ‘Paraclete’ is going to be sent. We lose a lot by this word ‘another’ in English because it is ambiguous. If someone’s car breaks down, and it is a Toyota, and I say, ‘” I’ll go get you another car,” maybe I mean, “I’ll go and get you another Toyota because this one you have is broken,” or maybe I mean, “Forget Toyota, they’re no good; I’ll go and get you a Datsun.” It is an ambiguous word. But the Greeks had a word for it. When they meant ‘another’ of the same kind, they said “aloes”. When they meant another of a different kind, they said “heteroes”. The important thing there is that when Jesus, who was himself a Paraclete, said “God will send you another Paraclete” he used the word aloes, not heteroes.

Christians want to say that this other ‘Paraclete’ that has been sent was different from Jesus. It was not a man, it was a spirit. What Jesus said was: God will send you another one like me, another man.” Muslims believe that Muhammad is the fulfillment of this prophecy by Jesus. The Qur’an says that this man is mentioned in the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians (see7:157).

Christians came to expect that the return of Jesus because of a Jewish misunderstanding. ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of Man’ have been given special significance by the Jews, even though many people were called by this same name as in the Bible. The Jews came to expect a victorious leader. When Jesus did not turn out to be quite what many expected, they hatched the idea that he would return some day and fulfill all these prophecies.

Follower of Jesus
Suppose that someone observed Jesus two-thousand years ago, and he left this planet, or he went to sleep for two-thousand years and returned today to look for the followers of Jesus, who would he find? Who would he recognize? Christians?

I conclude with just this food for thought: the Bible says very clearly that Jesus used to fast. Do Christians fast? Muslims fast; it is obligatory on month every year.

The Bible says that Jesus prayed by touching his forehead to the ground. Do Christians pray in this manner? Muslims do. It is characteristic of their prayer and no one on earth is probably ignorant of that fact.

According to Jesus, he told his disciples to greet one another with the expression, “Peace be with you.” Do the Christians do that? Muslims do, universally, whether they speak Arabic of not. The greeting for one to another is Assalamu’ alaikum (peace be with you).

The brother of Jesus in the Book of James, stated that no man should suggest what he is about to do of highlight his plans for the next few days in anyway without adding the phrase “if God wills.” Do not say “I will go here and there do this and that” without adding the phrase “if God wills.” Do Christians do that? Muslims do, whether they speak Arabic or not. If they so much as suggest they are going downtown to pick up some groceries, they will add Insha-Allah, which in Arabic means, “If God wills.”

These conclude my thoughts on this subject. May Allah guide us always closer to the truth.

http://www.discoveringislam.org/dr_gary_miller.htmnm

Islam and Democracy in Indonesia

islam democrac

Dr. Nikolaos van Dam
THE HAGUE

Dr. Nikolaos van Dam

Dr. Nikolaos van Dam

WHEN I was contemplating which thoughts I would like to share with you today, I posed myself the hypothetical question what we would think if a similar conference were to be held in Jakarta, for instance by the Muhammadiyah, one of the biggest Indonesian Muslim organizations, with as topic: “Are Christianity and democracy compatible?” Wouldn’t we be somewhat surprised if Indonesians would ask themselves whether Christianity and democracy are compatible, taking Europe as an example? We would probably react by thinking that it is so obvious that Christianity and democracy do go well together in Europe, that we do not need any academic discussion to prove it, let alone by non-European Muslim “outsiders”. Actually, we might in this case probably not even bring up the issue of religion, because we would think that it goes without saying that democracies are flourishing in the Western world, of which Europe is a part, irrespective of whether there are secular or religious inspired governments. But is it really that obvious if we look at European history? After all, didn’t we have the most ugly dictatorships in Europe in countries with populations that at the time could really be considered as having a majority of devote Christians? Aren’t the eras of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and General Franco in Spain clear examples that also Christianity (or being a Christian) and dictatorship can go well together? After all, these are examples in which big parts of Christian populations in Europe enthusiastically supported their dictatorial leaders, which led to millions of dead.

If I would say on basis of these experiences that Christianity and democracy are actually incompatible, I would almost certainly be ridiculed, because it will, rightly, be considered as nonsense. After all, most of Europe is now democratic, and the big majority is still Christian. That should be proof enough in itself, wouldn’t it? We would not need to study the Bible or other Christian texts to convince us of the thesis that democracy and Christianity (or being a Christian) are compatible.

Following the same logic, we do not have to study the Qur’an or other Islamic texts to convince us of the fact that Islam and democracy go well together, as is illustrated by countries with a Muslim majority which have democracies, like for instance Indonesia (with more than 205 million Muslims), Pakistan (178 million), Bangladesh (148 million) and Turkey (75 million), or a democracy with a very sizable Muslim population like India (which with its 177 million Muslim inhabitants almost equals Pakistan in this respect, and actually is the third largest country in the world as to the number of Muslim inhabitants after Indonesia and Pakistan). Indonesia also happens to be the third largest democracy in the world, after the United States and India.

To put it differently: there are various Islamic countries with a democratic political system, just as there are various predominantly Muslim countries that have a dictatorship. The same applies to non-Muslim countries: some are democracies; others are dictatorships, irrespective of the religions prevalent amongst its rulers or people. To me this just indicates that Islam and democracy, or being simultaneously a Muslim and democrat, can go very well together, just as the opposite may be the case. The same applies to countries with people having another religion, such as Christianity. Therefore one might draw as a main conclusion that in practice there is no specific link here between religion and either democracy or dictatorship.

To take a different, related question: is the Christian West (if we can call it Christian) democratically inclined when it comes to Islam?

We have seen various examples where Western countries have called upon the Palestinians to have free and democratic elections. When the result was a victory of the Islamic Resistance Organization Hamas, however, Western countries boycotted the results and generally refused contacts with the new Hamas local government, because of its position towards Israel. Something similar happened with the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria when it won the elections there. Their victory was rejected by the Algerian military, and this rejection was generally supported in the West.

From previous experiences the conclusion can be drawn that politicians in the West generally do indeed want to see democracy and democratic elections in the Islamic world, albeit that when the victorious parties happen to be predominantly Islamic oriented, they are not only not enthusiastic about the outcome but they sometimes even tend to reject the results, because that is not something they generally expected or wanted. One of the reasons for this rejection is the expectation that the Islamic forces that come to power through a democratic system, may turn out to misuse the same system so as to later impose their rule undemocratically. This, in turn, is based on the presumption that Islam and democracy are not really compatible. In some cases the expectations of misusing the democratic system may be quite justified, like recently in Egypt, but in other cases, like Indonesia, they are unfounded.

It just depends on which Islamic oriented group one takes as an example and to which period of time one refers. Some Islamic groups are at present clearly democratically oriented, like for instance the biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia like the Muhammadiyah and the Nahdhatul Ulema that represent a very large part of the Indonesian Muslim population, whereas other, much smaller movements like the Jemaah Islamiyah or the Hizb al-Tahrir are undemocratically oriented. They want to use or misuse the democratic system to achieve their undemocratic aims, or they even reject democratic politics and the nation state.

The Muhammadiyah and the Nahdhatul Ulema are unique in the sense that nowhere else in the Islamic world can we find such big Islamic organizations. They are at present a stabilizing force helping the further democratic transformation of the country.

These parties today represent what in the past has been called “the smiling face of Indonesian Islam”, albeit that this expression also hides less pleasant factors, such as the mass killings of alleged communists during 1965-1966 that were orchestrated by Suharto’s military and were largely carried out by killing squads recruited from the main Muslim organizations. Fortunately, times have strongly changed in the positive sense. Change, however, is not always going into one direction. There have been shifts within the Muhammadiyah and Nahdhatal Ulema from liberal and progressive to more fundamentally conservative, and it is only natural that such large organizations are not homogeneous, but contain a variety of opinion.

I consider it a good phenomenon that we want to know much more about Indonesia and the Indonesians, while welcoming at the same time if Indonesians would want to know much more about the Netherlands and Europe.

Actually, one should have expected the Dutch to be already well informed about Indonesia and Islam. Unfortunately, however, we are not that well informed at all, not to say that bigger parts of the Dutch population are quite ignorant of Indonesia, its people and its rich cultures, just as they are generally not that well informed about Islam. This is because education about Indonesia and Islam is quite minimal, if not to say inadequate. People are, unfortunately, not born with knowledge, like some bird species are, but have to obtain it during their lives through study, education, experience and their surroundings. Public education unfortunately does not really provide it. The idea that it might be a moral obligation to be at least better informed about one’s own colonial history – with both its negative and positive sides – apparently hardly finds any positive response in the Netherlands.

Who does still remember today that the Kingdom of the Netherlands once upon a time had the biggest number of Muslim citizens in the world, because of its colonies in what today is the Republic of Indonesia? And who remembers that the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Jeddah (which is now closed) was one of the most important consulates in the world because of the numerous Hajj pilgrims of the Dutch Indies who had to pass through this city on their way to Mecca? With this background in mind it was only logical that Islam was seriously studied by Dutch scholars; and that many of their Islamic studies were related to the situation in the Dutch Indies. Some of the best libraries on the subject were established in the Netherlands and many of the studies that were carried out by Dutch scholars at that time are still valuable today. The libraries and materials are still there, but the number of scholars dealing with Indonesia has drastically declined. So has the interest among students. Nevertheless, interest in Islamic studies is still very vivid, albeit that the motivations have shifted and have become quite different.
One would have expected that the Kingdom of Netherlands of today, being formerly the state with the biggest number of Muslim citizens in the world, would be populated by people having a special awareness, sensitivity, experience and knowledge about Islam. But this is not the case, and probably never has been so. Two of the reasons for this are that the people of Indonesian origin living in the Netherlands are almost exclusively Christians, and that the Dutch in the Indonesian Archipelago generally were not very close with the Muslim communities there, for fear of Islamic opposition and hostility towards Dutch colonialism.

This attitude is reflected in the collections of today’s Dutch museums. In the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam a lot is exhibited about Indonesian minorities like the Bataks, Dayaks, Papuas, and so on; but hardly anything can be found on the Muslim majority. And this is no coincidence; it was on purpose, because in the past special public attention to the Muslim population was avoided in exhibitions.

I have been following developments in the Islamic and Arab world half a century now, and for most of that time I never felt bothered by the question of whether or not Islam was compatible with democracy. To me it was not really a theme that I considered to be relevant.

On the contrary: I considered it to be a kind of non-issue, and to a certain extent I still do. Except for the fact that many people, particularly in the West, have in the meantime started to consider it to be of essential importance. Therefore it has become a controversial question, which can no longer be fully ignored. Not that it is always a realistic one based on actual facts. In a way, it tells more about the attitude of those who imagine Islam and democracy to be incompatible than about the realities in the Islamic world.

Does Islam adapt itself to society or does society adapt itself to Islam?

Some describe Indonesia as an Islamic country, although there are many people with other religions living here. These constitute some 10% of the population, making up some 24 million people. In 2009 not less than 10 of the 33 Provinces in Indonesia had a non-Muslim Governor. Instead of calling Indonesia an Islamic country, it is more appropriate to describe it as “the country with the biggest Muslim population of the world”. Different from what some Western observers tend to suggest, Indonesia’s official state ideology, the Pancasila, is not really secular, because its first principle is the “belief in One God”. There is no strict separation between religion and state, and since the Indonesian state with its Pancasila ideology “is already Islamic enough”, there is, as Professor Azyumardi Azra has pointed out, “no strong reason for mainstream Muslims to transform Indonesia into an Islamic state”. At the same time the principle of “unity in diversity” is to be respected. It is even the slogan in the national weapon: “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”.

It should be added here that many of the more purist Muslims have in the course of time rejected the Pancasila. They wanted to give a constitutional status to the Shari’ah, at least during the discussions on the Jakarta Charter, as the preamble to the 1945 Constitution was called. But they failed, and the Pancasila was succesfully imposed from above, which, in turn, strengthened Indonesia’s unity in diversity. By way of an exception in the Islamic world, Islam in Indonesia was not placed above other officially recognized religions but was allocated a place side by side with Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

In 2005 the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI, Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars) issued a fatwa (religious opinion) declaring secularism, pluralism and religious liberalism to be incompatible with Islam. Fatwas like these were also an attack against the thought of prominent liberal reformers like Abdarrahman Wahid (later Indonesian president) and Nurcholish Majid. Many Muslims did, however, protest against the fatwas of the Majelis Ulema Indonesia, including the former chairmen of the Muhammadiyah and the Nahdhatul Ulema.

Respect for unity in diversity is clearly reflected in a special phenomenon in Indonesia, which I did not come across in any Arab Islamic country, and that is the greeting of different religious communities with their respective greeting formulas, even if one does not belong to one of these communities. When addressing a Muslim audience it is fully accepted in Indonesia to start with the Islamic greeting of “assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh”, also by non-Muslims (although not all Muslims appreciate this); when addressing Christians in for instance Manado, a Muslim, on the other hand, might start with “shalom”, and in Bali the Buddhist greetings might be used. It is, however, appropriate to, after a religious formula, always add the more general and religiously neutral formula of: “Salam sejahtera bagi kita semua”, so as not to exclude anyone in the audience from being addressed.

islam democSome have noted that “the Islam” does not really exist, because there are so many forms of Islam. I would argue, rather, that although Islam does have so many varieties and whereas there is such a rich diversity in Islamic communities, this does not exclude “the Islam” from existing. It merely means that there are different interpretations of it. Certain basic principles of Islam are, however, the same everywhere. What is different are the regional and cultural diversities among Islamic communities.

Islam emanated in a specific Arabian social and cultural environment, existing in the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It is only natural, therefore, that the original Islam contains many Arab specifics. Although Islam can be said to be a universalistic religion, it can also be said that it started as an Arab religion, revealed in the Arabic language. This language is so much part of Islam, that it is considered inappropriate to do the ritual prayer (Salat) in any other language than Arabic. An Indonesian religious leader who led the ritual prayers in Indonesian was imprisoned for this one day in the past.

When Islam spread outside the Arabian Peninsula and came into contact with other cultures, Islam adapted itself to these regions in the sense that various local habits and traditions where not only being accepted as not contradicting those of Islam, but were later on also sometimes interpreted by the local populations as being in line with Islam, if not Islamic itself. Many people who as new Muslims continued part of their former traditions, gradually came to argue that these traditions were in fact part of Islam. In the traditional West Sumatra Minangkabau society, for instance, Minang culture is said to be based on Islam: “culture based on religion, which in turn is being based on the Qur’an”. One might, however, also say that Islam has merged here to a large extent with local culture, because Islamic religion and Adat are in this region perceived to be almost identical. A remarkable aspect of Minang society is that, different from Arab Islamic custom, it has a matriarchal system. There is nothing which prevents the Minang from being both devote Muslims and having a matriarchal system.

More generally, one might say that in large parts of Indonesia Islam has adapted itself to the local cultures and traditions, or has embedded itself into them, instead of fully adapting to the culture and traditions of the Arabian Peninsula the other way around. A similar phenomenon could be said to have taken place in other regions of what today is considered to be the Islamic world outside the Arabian Peninsula.

The aspect of peaceful coexistence of Indonesian cultures, traditions and Islam has been formulated most clearly, if not bluntly, by one of the most prominent members and thinkers of the Liberal Islamic Network (JIL: Jaringan Islam Liberal) the Indonesian Ulil Abshar-Abdallah in 2002, and I quote here from Martin van Bruinessen’s article “What happened to the smiling face of Indonesian Islam?”:

“I consider Islam as a living organism”, Ulil began his declaration, “and not as a dead monument erected in the seventh century…” There is a strong tendency these days to treat Islam as a monument, petrified and immutable, and it is time to challenge that attitude. We need interpretations that are non-literal, substantive, contextual and consonant with the heartbeat of a human civilization that is ever-changing. The substance of Islam should be separated from the culture of the Arabian peninsula, and it is that universal substance that has to be interpreted in accordance with the local cultural context. Whipping, stoning and the cutting of hands, the jilbab (full female covering) and beard are Arab cultural peculiarities and there is no reason why other Muslims should follow them.”

It is not surprising that Ulil’s remarks caused great controversy, even though many well-educated Muslims in Indonesia may share his views. Some orthodox Muslims even wanted him to be sentenced to death.

Indeed, by far not all Indonesian Muslims accept the local cultural and syncretic mystical elements as part of Islam. Some of the more orthodox Muslims tend to strongly reject them as unislamic. And although abangan, or Javanese syncretic oriented Muslims, do not enjoy formal recognition, most of them feel that the Pancasila protects them from santri (or more orthodox) pressure to conform to formal Islam. Tensions between more and less orthodox Muslims have existed throughout history and are bound to remain, varying in intensity from time to time, and making change always a possibility in one direction or another.

I would like to give a few practical examples, typical for Islamic tolerance in Indonesia:

– The Ramayana is a very popular epic in Indonesia, Java in particular. When I saw this dance performed in Yogyakarta for the first time, I asked what the religion of the dancers was. The reply was that they were all Muslims. I was amazed because I considered the Ramayana performance to be Hindu, and therefore was surprised that such a dance related to another religion could be performed by Muslims. A friend of mine, who had studied Indonesia for a long time, explained, however, that the Ramayana should in this case not be considered as a Hindu dance, but rather as a performance which was an expression of Indonesian or Javanese culture. Therefore culture was the key concept here, not religion.

– Something similar is the case when you look at many of the Javanese mosques. As has been described by Prof. Pijper in his well-known study on the mosques of Java, the roof or roofs of the typically Javanese mosques consist of various layers, the forms of which go back to Hindu-Javanese times, and may symbolize various heavens. These have nothing to do with Islam, but rather with the heavens existing in Hinduism. Here, again, the present shape has nothing to do with Hindu religion, but is rather a residue of Hindu culture in Java.

– Whereas in many other countries with Islamic majorities the use of Arabic Islamic names is very popular, in Indonesia, Java in particular, it is more common to frequently use traditional Javanese names. For that reason it is often not possible to know someone’s religious identity. But the ethnic and cultural background is often easily recognized. It is another example of the fact that traditional culture is given a prominent place in Indonesian society.

– Quite particular is also the performing by women of Qur’an recitals during opening ceremonies of important gatherings. In other Islamic or Arab countries I have never noticed such a phenomenon. It simply is an Indonesian tradition that reflects more the position of women in society than religion itself. Indonesia’s feminist movement is most dynamic and diverse.

When turning to the elections in Indonesia, one can note that the religious parties do not dominate the political scene, even if they theoretically could. During the legislative elections of April 2014 the Islamic-based parties had an impressive 32 percent of the total votes, enough to put forward their own presidential candidate. This prompted a number of prominent clerics from a wide range of Muslim organizations, including Professor Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), to call for a coalition in an effort to indeed put forward their own presidential candidate for the presidential elections next July. Nothing came of it, however, because Islamic-based parties prefer to pragmatically cooperate with secular nationalist parties in order to obtain positions of political power, preferably in government, that offer more benefits than being in the formal parliamentary opposition. Political pragmatism prevails among the Islamic-based parties, as has been the case during earlier elections.

To make a long story short: Islam and democracy, or being simultaneously a Muslim and democrat, are fully compatible in Indonesia, as well as in quite a number of other countries with a Muslim majority. This being said, I should add that the perpetuation of democracy is not something that should be taken for granted, neither in Indonesia nor anywhere elsewhere in the world.

* Dr. Nikolaos van Dam was ambassador of The Netherlands to Indonesia, Germany, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq (1988-2010). He is the author of The Struggle for Political Power in Syria (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011, 4th edition).

References:
Martin van Bruinessen, What happened to the smiling face of Indonesian Islam?, RSIS Working Paper No. 222, Singapore, 2011, p. 1; 3; 41-42.

Azyumardi Azra, ‘Indonesian Islam, Mainstream Muslims and Politics’, in: Umar Hadi, Abdul Mu’ti, et.al, Islam in Indonesia, Jakarta, 2009.

Martin van Bruinessen, ‘Islamic state or state Islam? Fifty years of state-Islam relations in Indonesia’, in: Ingrid Wessel (ed.), Indonesien am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts, Hamburg: Abera-Verlag, 1996, p. 19-34.

Martin van Bruinessen, ‘Indonesian Muslims and Their Place in the Larger World of Islam’, in: Anthony Reid (ed.), Indonesia rising: the repositioning of Asia’s third giant, Singapore: ISEAS, 2012, pp. 117-140.

— Delivered at the Round Table Conference Indonesia Nederland Society, The Hague, Senate Building, 25 June 2014

islam democracy

http://www.bahasakita.com/islam-democracy-indonesia/

THE WESTERN CHRISTIAN TERRORISM AGAINST THE ARABS: The Cannibalism and Bloodbaths of the Crusades (1095-1291)

crusadDr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi*

I. Introduction

It is in these lawless and dangerous times when Prophet Mohammad is being viciously attacked as a “terrorist” in Western caricatures, and when Arabs and Muslims are being reviled throughout the West as “terrorists”, “fanatics”, “fascists”, and “intolerant”, that it becomes necessary (lest we forget) to recall the past Western Christian terrorism of the Crusades against the Arabs. This well-documented record of the cannibalistic and barbaric Crusaders, which is well known in the Arab world, is rather obscure to most Westerners because it is either conveniently concealed or deeply buried in some unnoticed specialized books.

When US President George W. Bush (who speaks to God) said in 2001 – in response to the terrorist attacks of 9-11 – that the US was waging a “Crusade” on Arab and Muslim “terrorism”, he was actually conjuring up the old nightmarish horrors of the Western terrorist Crusades against the Arabs. However, because of widespread angry reactions across the Arab and Muslim worlds to Bush’s use of the word “Crusade”, the American Government was forced to replace it with the word “war”. Regardless, the current American illegal and brutal wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are indeed very similar to the past Western terrorist Crusades. Apparently when it comes to Western dealings with Arabs and Muslims the old saying still stands: the more things change, the more they remain the same.

II. The Crusades: A General Overview

Of all the religious wars in human history waged by any religion, at any place, and at any time, none have been bloodier, more genocidal, more barbaric, and more protracted than the 200-year “holy wars” by the Western Crusades against the Arabs and Islam. The Western Crusaders horrifically soaked Asia Minor and the Eastern Arab Mediterranean coast with Arab blood (both Muslim and Jewish). The objective of the Crusades was simple, to destroy the Arabs (whether Muslim or Jew) in the Holy Land of Palestine and its environs “…on the ground that they had no right to inhabit their part of the earth, while for a Christian the whole world is his country.” [1]

Unlike Muslims (Arab and non-Arab) who have always tolerated Christians and Jews (Arab and non-Arab), married into them, and lived and worked with them side by side in peace as “People of the Book” in all Arab and Muslim lands as well as in old Arab Andalusia (Spain and Portugal), the Christian West has had no desire to coexist with Islam and the Arabs. Also, unlike Muslims who revere Moses and Jesus as God’s prophets, most Christians and Jews in the “tolerant” West have no respect for Prophet Mohammad and are rudely contemptuous of him and Islam. In fact ever since its birth and its subsequent widespread expansion, Islam has been looked upon in the West as a mortal danger, both moral and military, to be strongly opposed or even destroyed. In his classic exposé of Christian violence worldwide, A History of Christianity, the Western Christian scholar Paul Johnson rejects the Western propaganda about Islam’s “violent” expansion by stating that: “The success of Islam sprang essentially from the failure of Christian theologians to solve the problem of the Trinity and Christ’s nature.” [2]

Nevertheless, the Western Crusades’ insane bloodbaths against the Arabs were triggered by the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army in 1071 at the hands of the Turkish Seljuk (Abbasid) army. Fearing that all of Asia Minor would be quickly overrun by the Abbasids, the defeated Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, quickly appealed to his Christian rivals and opponents in Western Europe, i.e., Pope Urban II and his other “fellow” Christian rulers, to come to the aid of Constantinople by undertaking a “pilgrimage” or Crusade to “free” Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine from Arab and Muslim rule.

Emperor Alexius’ appeal provided Pope Urban II with his lifetime opportunity to gain more recognition and power for the papal authority and for its role in legitimizing the temporal actions of the West European kings. Presiding over an urgent Church Council meeting, at Piacenza, Italy, in March 1095, Pope Urban II – with the Byzantine ambassador sitting next to him – called upon all the Western European followers of Christ to do “God’s will” by carrying arms to “liberate the Holy Land” and cleanse it from the desecration of the Arab and Muslim “infidels.” The Pope’s call to fight the Arabs was ironic because, as scholar Francis Peters observed “God may indeed have wished it, but there is certainly no evidence that the Christians of Jerusalem did, or that anything extraordinary was occurring to pilgrims there to prompt such a response at that moment in history.” [3] Although Christian and Jewish pilgrims (Arab and non-Arab) were burdened by taxes; they were never barred or even restricted from their religious shrines in Jerusalem either by Muslim Arab or Turkish authorities, even during the few severe sporadic civil disturbances in Palestine. In fact, Arabs (Muslims, Jews, and Christians) as well as non-Arabs (also Muslims, Jews, and Christians) have all lived together in Palestine in peace under Islamic rule since the dawn of Islam.

In reality, however, the veritable rationale behind launching the Crusades went beyond religious impulses, which were mostly the concern of the common people. Western kings, knights, feudal lords, and merchants were driven primarily by political, military, and commercial ambitions as well as by the prospects of new lands and riches that would accompany the establishment of European colonies in the Arab world.

Nevertheless, to start a new general European massive movement, like the Crusades, the leadership of a central figure was needed. Pope Urban II was the only central figure at the time in the entire West with an authority that transcended all of Western Europe’s national boundaries. On November 25, 1095, Pope Urban II delivered in Clermont, France, what was perhaps the single most effective speech in Western history – one that has influenced the West up to the present time. Not only did the Pope appeal to the Western masses through religious motives, but he also used what came to be known as the typical Western ideological argument in support of a colonialist and imperialist policy that eventually led Europe in later generations to brutally colonize the entire non-European world. In this historic speech, Pope Urban II reminded the Europeans that their lands were suffering from widespread economic problems:

“For this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth, and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage war, and that very many among you perish in civil strife.” [4]

The Pope then quickly pointed out that the Arab land of Palestine to which they would be going for their Crusade “floweth with milk and honey … like another paradise of delights.” [5] Pope Urban II then passionately exhorted the faithful Westerners: “Set out on the road to the Holy Sepulcher, take that land from the wicked people and make it your own!” [6] After the Pope ended his fiery speech, the entire large European crowd responded jubilantly with a loud roar: “Dieu le veult!” (God wills it!).

In fact, the Western Crusaders were the first great wave of European colonialism since the fall of the Roman Empire in 476. The Crusades took the form of a series of brutal military invasions in the name of “Christianity” to the heart of Arab and Muslim lands in order to brutally colonize Arab Palestine and kill its people. There were at least nine major Western Crusades and many smaller ones launched against the Arabs between 1095 and 1290: The First (1095-1099); the Second (1147-1149); the Third (1189-1192); the Fourth (1198-1204); the Children’s Crusade (1212); the Fifth (1217-1221); the Sixth (1228-1229); the Seventh (1248-1254); the Eighth (1270); and the Ninth (1290). Other ill-starred Western military expeditions against the Arabs continued up to the 15th century. Actually, Europe’s hatred and fear of Arab and Muslim power were so intense that the idea of the Crusade persisted well into the 17th century, and the conviction that war might be just and legitimate has since become more deeply engraved in the conscience of the West.

The Crusaders came from all over Western Europe, but France was somehow their main bulwark (from which Pope Urban II himself came). A French monk described the First Crusade, which was launched from France, as Gesta Dei per Francos (“the Franks were presented as the chosen instruments of God”!). [7] Not to be outdone by the French in the service of God, however, many other Europeans joined in such as English, Scottish, Welch, Irish, Italians, Germans, Austrians, Spanish, Portuguese, Normans, Belgians, Dutch, Scandinavians, and Swiss. In this mass Crusader army, all classes and segments of Western societies were represented. The Crusaders included kings, knights, aristocrats, feudal lords, priests, hermits, monks, dukes, military leaders, soldiers, zealots, pilgrims, workers, peasants, merchants, common people, and criminals. They also came from both sexes and all ages (see “The Children’s Crusade” below).

The most prominent of all the participating fanatics and zealots among the Crusaders, however, was a strange Frenchman by the name of Pierre L’Ermit (“Peter the Hermit”) from the city of Amiens. Pierre L’Ermit was one of history’s most bizarre characters, especially for a religious leader. He looked like a madman; small and miserably thin; walked barefooted; rode a jackass for transportation; his wild unkempt hair tumbled over his neck and ears; his unshaven wild beard came down to his waist; his eyes rolled; his speech was torrential; and his dingy clothes consisted of only a woolen smock and a light cloak which also served him as a blanket at night. [8] Pierre L’Ermit was a powerful speaker, though. His fiery speeches hypnotized his Christian listeners who nicknamed him “Kiokio” (or “little Peter”). His followers used his jackass as an object of religious veneration, plucking hairs from its tail to keep as “holy relics”! [9] It was this strange, barefooted Pierre L’Ermit who led the first column in the First Crusade (known as the Peasants’ Crusade) in 1096 against the Arabs and Islam.

In order to raise a large army to fight the Arabs and Islam, Pope Urban II promised that all Crusaders would be exempted from taxes; their debts would be forgiven; their sins would be washed away; and their special place in Paradise would be guaranteed. Consequently, the response to his call was extraordinary. All in all about 160,000, [10] heavily armed Europeans, an astounding figure for that time, formed the armies of the First Crusade. It seemed that the whole of Western Europe was marching east. It was the first time that Western Europe had come together for any cooperative act or cause since the fall of the Roman Empire. Nothing like it has ever happened in the history of the West. European unity was so clear and so purposeful.

The Crusaders came in a seemingly solid mass, some with all of their belongings, to join in this mad holy war to destroy Islam. Their objective was to kill Arabs and Turks whom Pope Urban II described as “an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God”, urging his followers to “exterminate this vile race from our lands.” [11] The Crusades took place during the Western dark ages when Europe was backward compared to the Arab/Muslim world and to the Christian Byzantine Empire of East Europe. Hence, the Crusaders’ behavior during their vicious wars reflected their cruelty and primitive barbarism. They were extremely militant, and committed incredible mass violence. They acted like modern-day violent American Ku Klux Klan and other Western racist groups. They committed, both in Europe and the Arab/Muslim world, the worst conceivable horrible crimes and atrocities, not only against thousands of innocent Muslims and Jews of both sexes and of all ages, but also even against Christians. Their vicious crimes – all of which will be detailed shortly – against noncombatants and innocent peoples included the destruction of properties; pillaging; plundering; foraging; ravaging; stealing; setting houses on fire; torturing; murdering; executing; burning humans alive; raping women, including nuns; and even roasting and eating (with a great deal of relish) the human flesh of their victims and their children.

It must have seemed that even Mother Nature (or God) was angry with the Crusaders and was horrified by their sordid crimes. Violent earthquakes devastated the Syrian Arab region at various times during the Crusader’s 200-year presence in the Arab world. Although the 1157 tremor was the most spectacular, not even one single decade passed – during which the Crusaders were pillaging and killing Arabs – without some major cataclysm. [12] What follows is but a brief account of the Crusaders’ vicious 200-year bloody assault on the Arabs and Islam.

III. Carnage in Turkey

Escorted by Byzantine ships in the summer of 1096, the invading Crusaders, led by the fanatic leader Pierre L’Ermit, crossed the Bosporus into the land of Islam in Turkey. After pillaging and plundering many Greek churches on their way, the Crusaders were heard proudly shouting that they had come to the land of Islam “to exterminate the Muslims.” [13] The Crusaders foraged the Turkish countryside, plundered villages and farms and set them on fire. They mercilessly massacred Muslim peasants and burned their young children alive. [14] As pure racists, the cruel Crusaders directed their violence towards any dark-skinned peoples and those who simply wore different clothes from them, regardless of their religions. Pierre L’Ermit’s peasant band even attacked non-Latin Christians and slaughtered them in heavy numbers, hung their babies on cooking spits, roasted them over open fires, and ate their flesh. [15] Even Princess Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I (who had the original idea of the Crusade but who came to dislike the Crusaders like his daughter) reported how they piled up the corpses of their victims to form a high mountain. She also included a description of Crusaders tearing off the limbs of children and roasting others on fire for food. [16]

Nevertheless, the Crusaders’ very first encounter with a Muslim army in 1096 in Nicaea (now modern Iznik in Turkey) ended in a crushing military defeat for them and their leader, Pierre L’Ermit, at the hands of Kilij Arsalan (the Red Lion), the Turkish Sultan of that city. But this Muslim victory was short-lived. The next year, in June 1097, the Crusaders mounted a larger military force and, with some help from the Byzantine army, inflicted a major military defeat on the Muslim forces in Nicaea. This time Arsalan was severely beaten at the Battle of Dorylaeum, and the Muslim Turkish army was cut into pieces. The Crusaders killed, pillaged, and took many Muslims prisoners who were later sold into slavery. News of the defeat of the Turkish Muslims spread like fire into the Arab world and caused a great deal of panic and pain. All Arabs and Muslims considered this first defeat of the scientifically and culturally superior Muslims at the hands of the backward Western Crusaders to be very shameful. It was compared to the old defeat of the highly advanced Roman Empire at the hands of the northern European barbarians.

After their victory in Turkey, the barbaric Crusaders moved south to the Arab lands in their destination towards the Arab province of Palestine. Every Arab village, town, and city in their path was totally gripped by fear. Many Arabs and Muslims fled for their lives, leaving behind their homes and properties. The news of the Crusaders’ advances from town to town was closely followed as Arab men and women in complete shock began to whisper to each other and pray in fear.

IV. Bloodbath in Antioch

In February 1098 the Crusaders invaded Edessa (now the modern city of Urfa in Turkey), a large Armenian community located immediately north of Syria, known to the Arabs as al-Ruha. The Crusaders ruthlessly massacred a large number of Edessa’s inhabitants and turned the city into the first Latin Kingdom (European colony) in the Muslim world under the leadership of Baldwin I of Boulogne, France. Baldwin I was a knight notorious for his brutality and complete lack of scruples. After he forced the Christian Armenian prince and princess of Edessa to abdicate, he proceeded to murder both of them even though he had already accepted them as his “adopted parents”. [17]

Following their easy invasion of Edessa. The Crusaders moved south to destroy Arab Antioch, then the largest city in the Arab region of Syria (now the modern city of Antakya in Turkey). Antioch was well fortified and impossible to penetrate. It had plenty of food and was well protected against invasions and sieges. Its 12,000-meter-long walls were very strong and indestructible. It had about 400 large towers, each of which was 60 feet high. More than 50,000 heavily armed, bloodthirsty, fanatic Crusaders stood at Antioch’s gates and laid siege to it for eight long and cold months during the rainy seasons (from October 1097 to June 1098). Their long siege was unsuccessful. Actually, while the Arabs inside Antioch were enjoying plenty of food, the Crusaders stationed outside it, faced severe hunger and starvation. As a result, the Crusaders invaded, killed, ravaged, and pillaged the surrounding Arab towns and villages, in and around Aleppo, to steal livestock and crops. Frustrated by their long unsuccessful siege of Antioch, the Crusaders finally decided to frighten the city into submission by gruesomely showering it with the mutilated severed heads of murdered Arab Aleppens, catapulting them over the city’s strong walls like rain. [18] In fact, the Crusaders’ savagery found no boundary. One day they caught a spy, killed him, roasted him on fire and ate his flesh while proudly shouting that this would be the fate of anyone who spied on them! [19]

However, the siege of Arab Antioch suddenly came to a quick and horrific end for its inhabitants. At 4 in the morning on June 3, 1089, one of Antioch’s gates was opened for them. A Muslim traitor of Armenian origin by the name of Fairuz, who was facing serious charges of black-market trading and had been slapped with heavy fines by the authorities in Antioch, decided to seek revenge. For a large bribe of gold and land from the European invaders, he allowed the Crusader leader Bohemond I (son of the Prince of Taranto, Italy) to enter Antioch through one of the five main gates that he was guarding. A swarm of Christian European warriors fell upon the sleeping city like uncontrollable madmen. In a short time the Crusaders turned the entire city of Antioch into an incredible scene of fire and blood. Wherever the European Christians found Arab and Muslim women in the city, “they ran their lances through their bellies.” [20] All the men, women, and children who tried to flee in the heavy rain through muddy back-alleyways were tracked down by the European knights and slaughtered on the spot. As the day wounded down, cries of pleading, fear, and agony from the dying, injured, and fleeing Arabs and Muslims were gradually replaced by loud, cheerful off-key singing of the drunken Crusaders who were by then plundering the entire city of Antioch at will. [21]

Such genocide by the Europeans against the inhabitants of Arab Antioch continued for an entire week as the city itself was reeling under fire and smoke. All Muslims (both Arab and non-Arab) and even native Christians (also Arab and non-Arab alike) were tortured and killed by the thousands, their houses looted and destroyed. By the end of that dreadful week, scarcely a Muslim remained alive, and the streets of Antioch were piled high with Arab and Muslim corpses of both sexes and all ages. [22] Such genocidal episodes punctuated the ruthless Crusaders throughout their brutal occupation of Arab territories.

When an Arab army from Mosul, Iraq arrived too late to save Antioch, its leader Karbuqa and his troops were completely stunned and paralyzed because of what they had seen at Antioch. In fear and total shock, Karbuqa asked the Crusaders for a truce, but without even responding to his offer, the Crusaders charged at him and destroyed his army, which quickly disintegrated “without a stroke of sword or lance, without the firing of a single arrow.” [23] After this day of great shame for the Arabs and Islam (especially with the Baghdad Arab caliphs crippled and powerless in the face of the rapidly growing power struggle between them and their Turkish and Persian soldiers) there was no longer any Arab force that could stop the vicious Crusaders from controlling all of the vast Arab region of Syria. Thus, Arab Antioch became the first Latin Kingdom or a European colony in the Arab world (the second one in the Muslim world after Edessa). Antioch fell under the ruthless leadership of the butcher, Bohemond I.

V. Butchery and Cannibalism in Ma’arra

Following their vicious capture of Antioch, the brutal Western Crusaders moved on southward, raiding and pillaging town after town on their way to Jerusalem. On their way south, the unfortunate Arab Syrian city of Ma’arra was situated. In December 1098, the city of Ma’arra, whose most important son was the Arab genius philosopher/poet Abu al-Ala al-Ma’arri (973-1057), experienced horrific cannibalism against its Arab inhabitants at the hands of the barbaric European Crusaders. Ironically, this cannibalistic feast was predicted in a way by al-Ma’arri who died only 41 years before it happened. Actually, al-Ma’arri, who deeply influenced Dante, dared to attack religious fanatics (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) and even showed his irreligious audacity (in that early eleventh-century time) by writing: “The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: Those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains.” [24]

The uncivilized Western Christian Crusaders proved al-Ma’arri right by quickly reducing his birthplace to a heap of ruins. A peaceful Syrian agricultural city, Ma’arra had no army or militia. Its economy was based only on grapes, olives, and figs. Its unarmed Arab inhabitants courageously resisted the crippling two-week Crusader siege of their city by all means available to them, including a desperate attempt by hurling packed beehives on the European invaders.

Hopeless and fearful of genocide similar to the one that had taken place in Antioch a few months earlier, most of Ma’arra’s notables finally decided to accept the word of the Crusaders’ leader, Bohemond, who promised to spare the lives of all the city’s citizens if they would surrender. But Bohemond, the ruthless ruler and butcher of Antioch, proved once again that he was the vicious Western animal that he really was. In the words of one writer, on December 11, 1089, “The … [Crusaders] arrived at dawn. It was carnage. For three days they put people to the sword, killing more than a hundred thousand people and taking many prisoners.” [25]

The Crusaders’ chronicler at the time, Radulph of Caen, not only admitted this genocide, but also added, with pride, the following horrifying words: “In Ma’arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.” [26] Another Christian Crusader chronicler, Albert of Aix, who took part in the carnage of Ma’arra bragged, “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens [Arabs]; they also ate dogs!” [27]

Actually, even before the massacre of Ma’arra took place, its Arab inhabitants knew very well that there would be cannibalism by the European Christians. The Arabs had seen the fanatic Crusaders, the Tafurs, “roam through the countryside openly proclaiming that they would chew the flesh of … [Arabs and Muslims] and gathering around their nocturnal camp-fires to devour their prey.” [28] In fact, the barbaric Western Crusaders not only enjoyed cooking and eating the flesh of Arabs and Muslims, but they also found it even “better than spiced peacock.” [29]

After the bloody nightmare of Ma’arra, the Western Crusaders moved on southward towards Jerusalem, leaving nothing but destruction and death in their wake. As a result of the two great horrific massacres in Antioch and Ma’arra, the Arabs began to look at the Westerners not only as beasts and wild animals for their brutality and strength, but also justifiably as savages and anthropophagi.

VI. Holocaust in Jerusalem

As the Western Christian armies of doom moved southward, all Arabs and Muslims, who lived in the villages and towns along the road to the Arab city of Jerusalem, took extreme precautions against the brutal Crusaders. The poorest Arabs took refuge by hiding in nearby forests and mountains, preferring to take their chances with hungry lions, bears, hyenas, and wolves in the wilderness rather than facing the invading barbaric cannibals from the West.

Pope Urban II’s bloodthirsty warriors for Christ eventually reached their goal, the city of Jerusalem. The bizarre Crusader leader Pierre L’Ermit was appointed almoner of the Christian army and continued his outrageous preaching, this time at the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. The Crusaders laid siege to Jerusalem for 40 days. Then in preparation for their assault on Jerusalem, the soldiers of God fasted for three days, confessed their “sins”, and received communion. Next, they marched barefooted around the walls of Jerusalem, chanting psalms and carrying crosses and relics, in abasement before the glory of the Lord. Suddenly, like madmen, they hurled themselves against Jerusalem’s walls without carrying even a single ladder! From within Jerusalem’s high walls, the Arab garrisons could do nothing but watch the wild Europeans in total horror and astonishment. [30]

Crusader leader Lord Tancred of Hauteville, France (Bohemond’s nephew) promised that if Jerusalem surrendered all Arab and Muslim lifes in it would be spared and that the sanctity of all Muslim religious places, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, would be maintained. Accordingly, on Friday July 15, 1099, while the Muslims of Jerusalem were fearfully praying in the mosques for their lives, the Arab governor of Jerusalem surrendered without a fight to Lord Tancred. But once again, just as his uncle had broken his promises in Antioch and Ma’arra by butchering most of their Muslims and Arabs, so did Tancred in Jerusalem. Seized by a frenzy of vengeful blood lust, the heavily-armed European Christian warriors stormed Jerusalem like wild animals, spilling through the streets of the holy city with swords in their hands and indiscriminately butchering every man, woman, and child they could find. They sacked mosques, broke open stores, and plundered houses. Tens of thousands of noncombatants (Arab and non-Arab whether Muslim, Jew, or even native Christian) were beheaded, shot with arrows, thrown from towers, tortured, or burned at the stake.

When their killing finally stopped a week later on Friday, July 22, not a single Arab or Muslim could be seen alive within Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Arabs and Muslims were lying dead in pools of blood in front of their own houses or stores and outside all of the holy city’s mosques, especially around al-Aqsa Mosque, which was shamefully desecrated. It is estimated that more than 70,000 Arabs and Muslims were butchered in cold blood in and around the great mosque of al-Aqsa alone. [31] The Dome of the Rock next to al-Aqsa Mosque was converted to a church by the Crusaders and was stripped of hundreds of silver candelabra and dozens of gold ones. The bodies of the dead Arabs and Muslims in the holy city were slashed open in search of gold or silver coins they might have swallowed. His “holiness” Pope Urban II had decreed that any spoils of war were possessions the faithful could keep. [32] At nightfall, still dripping with the blood of their Arab victims, the Europeans knelt at the “Holy Sepulcher” and folded their bloody hands in prayer, “sobbing for excess of joy.” [33]

Some lucky Arabs and Muslims had taken advantage of the chaos to slip away, escaping through gates battered down by the Crusaders. In tears and in pain, the last Arab and Muslim survivors in and around Jerusalem were forced by the Crusaders to perform the most horrible tasks: to drag the bodies of their own dead relatives, to heave and dump them in enormous vacant and unmarked lots, and finally to set them on fire. After performing these horrible tasks, the Arabs were then beheaded, forcibly drowned, or sold into slavery. [34] Religious historian Ronald Bainton reported that before Jerusalem’s murdered Arabs and Muslims were buried en mass, their bodies were mutilated and “a whole cargo of noses and thumps sliced from [them]” were shipped to Europe as prized trophies! [35]

One proud report to Pope Urban II (who died two weeks later on July 29 without knowing that Jerusalem had been captured by Christ’s soldiers) read, “If you could hear how we treated our enemies at Jerusalem … our men rode through the unclean blood of the Saracens [Arabs], which came up to the knees of their horses.” [36] One eyewitness of the dreadful scene in Jerusalem not only wrote that “piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city,” but that the European Christian murderers had “to pick their way over the bodies of men and horses” all throughout the holy city. [37] Describing the holocaust in Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Tyre (modern Sur) wrote the following:

“… they laid low, without distinction, every enemy encountered. Everywhere was frightful carnage, everywhere lay heaps of severed heads, so that soon it was impossible to pass or to go from one place to another except over the bodies of the slain. … It was impossible to look upon the vast number of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them…” [38]

The fate of the Jews (Arab and non-Arab alike) of Jerusalem was no less atrocious. During the first few hours of the carnage in Jerusalem, the entire small Jewish community of the holy city gathered in their own main synagogue to pray. The Western blond knights barricaded the exits and stacked all the bundles of wood they could find in a ring around the synagogue. The Temple was then put to the torch. Those Jews who managed to escape were massacred in the neighboring alleyways. The rest were burned alive. [39]

The monuments of saints and the tomb of Ibraheem (Abraham) were also completely destroyed by the Crusaders. One eyewitness wrote that at the Temple of Solomon, where about 10,000 Jews were slaughtered, “men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.” [40] In writing about the mutilated Jewish corpses that covered the Temple area, the priest Raymond of Aguilers joyfully quoted Psalm 118: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” [41]

Because of their dark ages mentality, racism, brutality, and deep hatred for any alien culture, the Crusaders did not even spare their coreligionists in the Arab world from their bloodbaths as many native Christians were murdered. The Crusaders proceeded to expel from the Church of the “Holy Sepulcher” all the priests of the Orthodox and Monophysite Oriental rites – Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Georgians, and Copts – who had formerly worked together peacefully for centuries under Arab/Muslim rule in Jerusalem to officiate Christian religious ceremonies. Completely dumfounded and deeply indignant at this cruel treatment, the local Orthodox Christian priests refused to tell the European invaders where they had hidden the True Cross on which Jesus died. Totally frustrated, the European occupiers arrested the Orthodox priests, tortured them and forced them to reveal its secret location. In addition, Arab and other non-Latin Christians lost their churches and properties, and were displaced from their patriarchates and bishoprics. Even the Arab Maronite Christians (who were in communion with Rome) were contemptuously treated as second-class citizens in their own native Arab land by these invading Westerners. [42] Also, in addition to the “heretic” Muslims and Jews, the Crusaders banned the Arab Coptic Christians of Egypt from going to Jerusalem to conduct their pilgrimage.

For the official celebration of murdering tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian Muslims, Jews, and Christians in cold blood, and for the brutal torture and displacement of local Christians, the victorious European faithful held several glorious Christian religious processions conducted in the streets of Jerusalem by none other than that firebrand preacher, Pierre L’Ermit. Thus Arab Jerusalem became the second European colony in the Arab world (a Latin Kingdom like Arab Antioch) ruled by the bloodthirsty Godfrey (Duke of Lower Lorraine, Germany) from the French City of Bouillon (now located in southern Belgium). Godfrey made his official residence (of all places) in the sacred Muslim al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem. On the other hand, the perfidious Lord Tancred became the proud Prince of Galilee.

Although the Arabs and Muslims knew very well that they were scientifically and culturally far superior to the Western hordes in every area of science and art, they still feared the European invaders and had nothing but deep hatred and profound contempt for them. One Arab chronicler at the time, Usamah Ibn Munqidh, who had become the leading Damascene specialist on the Crusaders, recorded his observations about the Western Christian fanatic enemies as follows:

“Their soldiers are of mighty courage and in the hour of combat do not think of flight but prefer death. But you shall see none more filthy [sic] than they. They do not cleanse or bathe themselves more than once or twice a year, and then in cold water, and they do not wash their garments from the time they put them on till they fall to pieces. They are a people of treachery and mean character.” [43]

A few days after the holocaust in Jerusalem, the first Arab Palestinian refugees arrived in Damascus. Although they were sick in their hearts at having been forced to run for their lives and having to abandon their homes and properties in Palestine – the same way their descendants did in 1948 when the Western Zionists brutally settle-colonized Palestine – they were determined never to return to Palestine until all the European invaders had departed from it forever. They resolved then to awaken the conscience of their Arab and Muslim brothers all over the land of Islam to rise in an Islamic “holy war” or Jihad to expel the Western invaders.

The Arab defense against the savage Western onslaught, however, was a dismal failure from the beginning. The Arabs were, as they are now, divided and in conflict with each other. The Abbasid State was fragmented and had deteriorated into a commonwealth of semiautonomous quarrelsome states governed by Arab or Turkish military commanders. The Abbasid capital city of Baghdad was totally paralyzed, and the weak Arab Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustazhir, was crippled by the power struggle among Arabs, Persians, and Turks.

VII. Slaughters in Other Arab Cities and Towns

Despite such Arab division and quarrels, an army was raised from the Arab region of Egypt to try to expel the European invaders from the Arab region of Palestine. While the Western savage Crusaders were looting Jerusalem and completing their massacres by killing the last few hidden Arab survivors in the holy city, the Egyptian army slowly reached Palestine in August 1099, 20 days after the holocaust in Jerusalem. Aware of its arrival, however, the Crusaders met the Egyptian army near the Palestinian port city of Ascalon where it was camping and completely annihilated it. “Neither foot-soldier, nor volunteers, nor the people of the city [Ascalon] were spared in the killing. About ten thousand souls perished, and the camp was sacked.” [44]

Several days after this last Arab defeat and humiliation, a group of Arab refugees led by the Judge of Damascus, Abu Sa’ad al-Harawi, reached Baghdad to plead to the politically crippled Arab Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustazhir, for an Arab/Muslim military defense against the Crusaders. In the Great Mosque of Baghdad, on Friday August 19, 1099, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, al-Harawi denounced the disgraceful inaction by Muslim leaders and passionately appealed for a Jihad against the savage European invasion. His fiery speech made the Muslim congregation weep. However, despite the fact that al-Harawi carried his appeal as far away as the great corridors of power in Baghdad, his efforts amounted to naught; Baghdad was indeed paralyzed.

Hence, the cruel Western Crusaders felt totally free to continue pillaging, ravaging, and killing Arabs and Muslims with impunity. In 1101 the soldiers of Christ committed yet another major gory massacre against the Arabs in the Palestinian seaport city of Caesarea. When the Crusaders invaded this quiet city, their troops were given permission to sack it as they pleased. All the Palestinian inhabitants of the city were brought in and murdered in cold blood in the city’s great mosque. [45] Also, the following year, in a raging battle near Tripoli in April 1102, the Crusaders, under the leadership of the brute Raymond of Saint-Gilles (Count of Toulouse, France), relentlessly butchered 7,000 Tripolitanian Arabs. [46]

Even when a golden opportunity was presented to them, the Arabs let it slip by. For example, in May 1102 an Egyptian army took the Crusaders army by surprise in the city of Ramlah, near the port of Jaffa in Palestine. While most of his knights were killed or captured, the king of Jerusalem himself, Baldwin I, barely avoided capture by hiding, while lying flat on his stomach, among the reeds. That day the Egyptian army could have marched unopposed to free Jerusalem from the Europeans, but due to the reluctance and indecisiveness of its leaders, the chance was lost. And, although the Egyptians thereafter kept sending a fresh army year after year to free Jerusalem, they never had the same golden opportunity again. [47] As a result, the Arabs paid dearly both in lives and properties, as they began to lose quickly city after city to the Crusaders.

In 1104, the Crusaders brutally captured three important Arab cities: Jaffa, Haifa, and Acre. Also, after bravely resisting their severe 2000-day siege, Tripoli was invaded and destroyed in July 1109 by the brutal Crusaders who massacred scores of its noncombatant Arabs in cold blood. Tripoli was a magnificent bustling seaport, the jewel of the Arab east, known for its splendid living and beautiful fields of fruits, carobs, olives, and sugarcane. It had talented goldsmiths, brave seamen, scholars, learned judges, and glorious libraries. The uncultured Genoese sailors completely demolished the city’s Banu Ammar library, the finest in the Muslim world, [48] which was known as Dar al-Ilm or “House of Knowledge”. The Crusaders destroyed all of its 100,000 volumes so that Arab “impious” books would not be read by anyone. Most of Tripoli’s citizens were sold into slavery, the rest were despoiled of their properties and stripped of their personal belongings as they were being expelled from the city. Most expelled Tripolitanians found refuge in the nearby Arab city of Tyre. Following the examples of Antioch and Jerusalem, Tripoli became the third European colony in the Arab world, divided into three equal parts. One third came under the colonization of the Genoese, and the other two thirds fell under the brutal control of the cruel son of Raymond of Saint-Gilles.

The following year, in May 1110, the Crusaders selected Beirut as their next target where they committed yet another horrible massacre against scores of innocent Arabs. [49] Then, the following December, they attacked the peaceful seaport of Sayda (the ancient Phoenician city of Sidon), where they cruelly forced all of its Arab inhabitants into a mass exodus to Tyre and Damascus. Thus, in a short period of time, the European invaders brutally captured six of the most renowned Arab cities – Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Tripoli, Beirut, and Sayda – massacred and/or deported their inhabitants, and desecrated their mosques. These dreadful events sent a chill down the spine of the entire Arab nation as Arab masses throughout the entire Arab world began to fear seriously that Tyre, Aleppo, Mosul, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, or even Makkah (“Mecca”) itself might be the next target for the European soldiers of God.

As a result of this widespread fear, the Aleppo Judge, Abdulfadhel Ibn al-Khashab, organized a large demonstration in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad in February 1111 against the inept Abbasid Caliph al-Mustazhir, demanded an immediate Arab military response, and emotionally called for an Islamic Jihad to expel the Crusaders. But, like his predecessor, al-Harawi 12 years earlier, Ibn al-Khashab’s efforts amounted to very little. The Baghdad riots, however, ignited a strong angry feeling all over the Arab world among Arab masses that considered some of their leaders to be shamefully incompetent while some others to be outright traitors.

In fact, some Arab and Turkish governors committed acts of high treason, for their personal gains, by collaborating with the Crusaders in the same fashion as Saudi Arabia’s House of Saud and Kuwait’s House of Sabah have currently collaborated with the imperialist West. For example, after the Baghdad riots, the citizens of Arab Ascalon rose in July 1111 in a violent revolt against their treasonous and cowardly leader, Shams al-Khalifa, who had offered a tribute of 7,000 dinars to the brutal European colonialist Baldwin I of Jerusalem. In return, Baldwin I sent al-Khalifa 300 of his soldiers to protect him against possible insurrection. However, the Palestinian Arab masses became completely outraged and a group of them assassinated al-Khalifa as he was leaving his residence; the 300 Crusader soldiers were also massacred. [50]

Nevertheless, the Crusaders continued to occupy new Arab cities at will. For although the ruler of Aleppo, Najm ad-Din Ilghazi, crushed the Crusaders’ army at Antioch in June 1119 on the Syrian plain of Sarmada and killed their new arrogant leader Sir Roger (the son of Prince Richard of Salerno, Italy), who had imposed a tax on every Muslim pilgrim leaving Antioch to Makkah, the overall power of the Crusaders was not affected. The Sarmada defeat, however, like the 1104 Harran defeat before it in Turkey, was nothing more than a temporary setback for the Western soldiers of God. In fact, the Europeans brutally captured Tyre in 1124 and thus completed their total control, with the exception of Ascalon, of the entire Arab Eastern coast of the Mediterranean.

VIII. The Arab Victory over the Western Crusaders

Arab victory over the Westerners was painful and slow in coming. The first major turning point for the Arabs came in 1144 at the hands of the governor of Mosul, in the Arab region of Iraq, Imad ad-Din Zangi. Zangi, who owed nominal allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, liberated Edessa and completely destroyed this first of four Crusader colonies in the Muslim world. Zangi’s victory was widely celebrated across the entire Muslim world as Arabs and Muslims began to strongly feel that all the European invaders would soon be expelled from their three other colonies of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Tripoli, as well as from the rest the Arab world.

However, upon receiving the news of Edessa’s fall, Pope Eugenius III urgently called for the Second Crusade (1147-1149) against the Arabs in order to recapture Edessa. In an immediate response to his call, powerful European armies were gallantly organized. The Second Crusade was led by the Emperor Conard III of Germany and King Louis VII of France. Although this time heads of European states were personally involved in the military invasion of the Arab world, the Second Crusade achieved nothing, failed to retake Edessa, and ended in a humiliating defeat for the Europeans near Damascus. In the spring of 1148, the deeply pious and ascetic Nur ad-Din (Zangi’s son) destroyed the army of the Second Crusade. Upon hearing the news of Nur ad-Din’s brilliant military victory over the French King and the German Emperor, the entire Arab world was immediately seized by a sense of elation.

Undaunted by this defeat, however, the occupying Crusaders of the Arab lands continued their murderous campaigns against Arabs and non-Arabs (Muslim, Christian and Jewish) in the Eastern Mediterranean. For example, in the spring of 1156 the Crusader French Knight, Reynald of Chatillon (prince of Antioch: 1153-1160) – a brutal, arrogant, cynical, and contemptible person who would come to symbolize to all Arabs and Muslims everything evil about the West – viciously invaded the Christian non-Arab island of Cyprus. He and his army of God ravaged all of the island’s cultivated fields, slaughtered all of the livestock, pillaged all of the churches and convents, burned and demolished buildings, raped women, slaughtered old men and children, beheaded poor men, took rich men as hostages, and cut off the noses of all Greek Christian priests. [51] Similar examples of these murderous campaigns took place in October 1168 when the Westerners committed a major gory operation against the Arabs in Bilbays, Egypt. The European Christian Crusaders systematically massacred scores of innocent Arabs (both Muslims and Coptic Christians) including men, women and children without the slightest provocation. [52]

To the Crusaders’ misfortune, however, in 1169, the following year, a young military genius gained control of Egypt at the tender age of 31. His name was Salah ad-Din al-Ayyobi (known in the West as Saladin), a man of enormous courage and character. Salah ad-Din was born in the city of Tikrit, Iraq, in which the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was also born. Not knowing who was Salah ad-Din and what he would come to represent, the soldiers of Christ continued their bloody operations against the Arabs. The utterly detestable Reynald of Chatillon violated the 1180 truce between the Arabs and the Crusaders by plundering a Muslim caravan in its way to Makkah in the summer of 1181. He then launched five galleys on the Red Sea with which he blockaded the Arab port of Elath (Eilat); harassed Arab shipping; raided other Arab seaports including the two Hejazi seaports of Yanbuh (the port serving the city of Madinah) and Rabigh near Jeddah; and even threatened the city of Makkah itself.

In 1182, to the horror of all Islam, the Crusaders sank a crowded Muslim pilgrim ship, drowning all aboard. [53] Later, in 1186, the French butcher of Cyprus, Reynald of Chatillon, who had made it his pattern to pillage and massacre Arabs without restraint, broke yet another truce with Salah ad-Din by plundering an Arab caravan in which a sister of Salah ad-Din was traveling. This French animal felt bound by no truce or agreement; he once cynically explained, “What was the value of an oath sworn to infidels?” [54] Again, in 1187, this French murderer raided yet another large caravan of Arab pilgrims and merchants who were peacefully making their way to Makkah. Reynald and his men mercilessly massacred all the armed Arab men and led the rest of the caravan troops into captivity. When some of the captured Arabs reminded him of the truce he had signed with Salah ad-Din, Reynald defiantly answered them, “Let your Muhammad come and deliver you!” When Salah ad-Din heard his words, he swore by the holy Qur’an that he would kill Reynald with his own hands. [55]

In fact, Salah ad-Din – who extended his control from Egypt to the other Arab provinces of Syria, northern Iraq, Barqah (in the Arab region of Libya), the Hejaz, and Yemen – was actually waiting for just such a provocation from the European invaders in order to wage a war against them. War broke out between the Arabs and the Westerners in the summer of 1187 with an immediate blow to the invading Crusaders. On July 4, 1187, Salah ad-Din’s military genius came into play when he trapped and destroyed an exhausted and thirst-crazed army of Crusaders in the battle of Hittin, near Lake Tiberias in northern Palestine. The Europeans suffered heavy losses; the 20,000 who survived fell into captivity, including the French king of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan. Although Salah ad-Din displayed his famous magnanimity and spared the lives of the European King of Jerusalem and most of the Western prisoners (most of whom were later set free, including the ones who could not pay their war ransoms), he fulfilled his pledge to God against Reynald of Chatillon. Salah ad-Din personally killed this Frenchman by cutting off his head with the sword. Dragging Reynald’s dead body by its feet to the captive French king, who began to tremble of fear for his own life, Salah ad-Din said to him, “This man was killed only because of his maleficence and his perfidy.” [56]

So great were the Westerners’ losses that the Arabs were able to liberate quickly the Crusaders’ entire Kingdom of Jerusalem, with the exception of Tyre. The Arab cities of Acre, Toron, Beirut, Jubayl (Byblos), Sayda, Nazareth, Caesarea, Nabulus, Jaffa, Haifa, Ascalon, and Jerusalem were liberated in a few months. After 88 years of European colonization, Jerusalem was back finally under Arab control. As the entire Muslim world was celebrating, Salah ad-Din entered Jerusalem as a liberating hero on Friday October 2, 1187 (Rajab 27, 583 in the Islamic Calendar), the very same day on which Muslims annually celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s nocturnal journey to Heaven via Jerusalem.

In stark contrast to the holy city’s conquest nine decades earlier by the Europeans who had perfidiously and barbarically slaughtered its inhabitants, the Arab liberation of Jerusalem was marked neither by a massacre nor by a plunder, but by the civilized and courteous behavior of Salah ad-Din and his troops. In fact, Salah ad-Din not only strengthened the guard at the Christian places of worship to protect them from harm by unruly Muslims, but he also announced that all unarmed Westerners were welcome to come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage whenever they liked. Local Arab and non-Arab Christians welcomed Salah ad-Din in Jerusalem as a liberator. Arab Jews as well as non-Arab Jews were also allowed to resettle in Jerusalem. The only Arab lands left in the hands of the Western invaders were the city of Tyre as well as the two European colonies/kingdoms of Tripoli and Antioch.

IX. The Incredible Massacre in Acre

Upon hearing the news that the Arabs had recaptured Jerusalem, Pope Gregory VIII went into a fit. Highly outraged, he immediately called for the Third Crusade (1189-1192) to capture Jerusalem and punish the Arabs. This time, the West responded with the largest Crusader army to date led by the greatest three monarchs in all of Europe: Frederick Barbarossa, king of Germany and “Holy” Roman emperor; Richard I, the so-called “Lion-Heart”, king of England; and Philip II Augustus, king of France. Hence, the Third Crusade is dubbed the “Kings’ Crusade.”

However, before achieving anything, the Third Crusade suffered a major setback on June 10, 1190, when Frederick Barbarossa suddenly died. The Holy Roman emperor died not by Salah ad-Din’s sword, but rather by drowning while swimming in a shallow stream, the Saleph River, at the foot of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. As a result, the German Crusader army was dispersed. Nonetheless, the English and French kings proceeded with their troops and took Acre in 1191 after a very gruesome battle with the Arabs. The siege and battle of Acre, which took two years, was the most protracted and desperate bloody episode in the Arab world. Twenty-four thousand Arab fighters died in that battle and about 6,000 others were wounded. [57]

After the fall of Acre, King Richard proceeded to loot a large amount of gold and other fortunes from its Arab inhabitants. Then, contrary to his promises to spare the lives of the surviving Arabs in Acre, under the surrender terms he had accepted, the English King issued orders to the Anglo-French troops on August 20, 1191 that led to one of the most cowardly and atrocious massacres the Crusaders ever committed during their 200-year bloodbath in the Arab world. On that very hot and humid day in August, the entire surviving population of Acre, 2,700 Arabs – men, children, and women with babies clinging to them – were chained and roped to prevent their escape and restrict their movement. Totally frightened and deeply confused, the weeping and praying Arabs were then driven like animals with whips and clubs to the top of a low hill called Ayyadieh to meet their awful fate. One author describes what happened next to these 2,700 Arabs as follows:

“Richard’s men began to carry out his orders to kill them all. Swords, spears, knives, axes all flashed in the sun as they rose and fell. This time the children were not saved for the slave market, but were butchered with their fathers and mothers. Even babies in their mother’s arms felt the knives of the blood-drenched Christians … The killing completed, Richard’s army started back to the city, while on the top of the hill a few loot-crazed butchers lurched from one body to another with their bloody knives, hastily disemboweling corpses to recover any gold pieces that might have been swallowed for concealment … Nor were the prisoners and their families the only deaths he [king Richard I] was responsible for that day. As news of the slaughter spread throughout Saladin’s empire, Christian prisoners everywhere were tortured and murdered in reprisal for the infamy…” [58]

After defeating a small battalion of Salah ad-Din’s army at the Arab Palestinian village of Arsouf, fifteen miles from Jaffa, the English king celebrated his looting and murdering of thousands of innocent Arabs in cold blood by proudly accepting and then arrogantly bestowing upon himself the courageous nickname the “Lion-Heart”. To the English, he may be the “Lion-Heart”, and to the French he may be “Le Coeur de Lion”, but to all Arabs and Muslims King Richard I of England has always been viewed as a cowardly butcher, a perfidious criminal, and a murderous thug.

Nevertheless, frustrated by their inability to fulfill the Third Crusade’s main goal, the capture of Jerusalem from Salah ad-Din, the two European monarchs of England and France returned as failures to their respective countries. Before leaving for Europe, however, the English king signed a peace treaty in 1192 with Salah ad-Din that limited the European invaders to Tyre and a narrow coastal strip from Jaffa to Acre. The treaty also gave unarmed European pilgrims the right to visit Jerusalem. On the other hand, Salah ad-Din was so emotionally wounded by the European perfidious massacre in Acre that he shed many painful tears and spent long sleepless nights in total agony. He died in 1193 in Damascus with a broken heart at the young age of 55, blaming himself for the whole tragedy.

X. The Last Ten Crusades and Their Atrocities

Still full of hatred towards Muslims and Arabs, especially after the Third Crusade failed to take Jerusalem from the Arabs, Pope Innocent III urgently called for the Fourth Crusade (1198-1204) to be directed this time at Egypt, the most powerful Arab region. However, the Fourth Crusade was even a bigger failure than the Third. It never even reached the Arab world as planned. The wily Doge of Venice and the rich Venetian merchants who controlled the finances of the Fourth Crusading army diverted it to its original and natural commercial ends by attacking and seizing the rival Christian Dalmatian Seaport City of Zara (now modern Zadar in Croatia). In November 1202, the unrestrained soldiers of God completely pillaged and destroyed Zara. Then in 1204, for good measures, they went and sacked Constantinople itself, the glorious Byzantine capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire whose emperor Alexius I, ironically, was responsible for the original idea of a Western Crusade against the Arabs and Islam. The Crusaders and Venetian merchants then established the Latin Empire of Constantinople, which lasted until 1261. While brutally conquering the capital city of their fellow European Christians in East Europe “to the honor of God, the Pope and the empire”, the Crusaders were permitted to rampage and steal as they pleased for three days. They broke into the city’s main Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, shattered the large silver crosses, ripped away the hangings, and stole many valuables. They even raped nuns and put a prostitute on the Patriarch’s throne to sing a dirty French song. Finally, they drank the “holy” altar wine out of chalices, and threw all the Christian ikons and bibles down on the floor to be trampled under their feet. [59]

Eight years later, in 1212, saw the most bizarre and pathetic Children’s Crusade in which 100,000 Western European children took part [60]. One third of these European children, composed mostly of French and German youngsters, was eventually lost or sold into slavery and prostitution by none other than their own Western fellow Christians. A 12-year old French farm boy named Stephen of Cloyes insisted that Christ had asked him to organize a children’s crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Arabs. Tens of thousands of destitute French youngsters, who endured hardships of hunger and diseases, answered Stephen’s call and marched with him south to the French seaport city of Marseille where they expected God to part the waters of the Mediterranean for them so that they could walk dry-shod all the way to Palestine. Instead, their French slave-trader compatriots from Marseille lured them into ships and sold them into slavery to the Arabs. The same year another absurd and ridiculous crusade against the Arabs, composed this time of tens of thousands of helpless German children, was launched. Organized by the German youngster Nicholas of Cologne, the second Children’s Crusade got no further than Italy. Many of the German youngsters suffered a great deal from want and exhaustion, and many of the young girls ended up in Roman brothels.

Nevertheless, because the Fourth Crusade attacked the Christian Byzantine Empire instead of its intended target, Egypt, Pope Innocent III called for the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) to attack this vital Arab region of Egypt. Chiefly manned by French and German Crusaders, the Fifth Crusade failed to destroy Egypt. However, it managed to capture Damietta, near the Nile River, where the Crusaders committed various atrocities in 1218-19. One of their most notorious crimes was the drowning of almost 1,500 innocent Arabs and Muslims by sinking their ship near Damietta. [61] And, once again, the European Christian Crusaders treated the local Arab Christians with total contempt. They regarded the Egyptian Copts (Monophysite Christians) as heretic as Muslims. Fortunately for the Arabs, however, the Egyptian Sultan, al-Malik al-Kamil, Salah ad-Din’s nephew, managed to beat the Fifth Crusade in 1221 and force the European soldiers of God out of Egypt.

Nonetheless, seven years after the Fifth Crusade was repelled from Egypt, the Sixth Crusade (1228-1229) was launched. Strangely this new Crusade was bloodless. It was launched as a diplomatic Crusade by the most powerful Western monarch, Frederick II, King of Germany and Sicily, who was under excommunication by Pope Gregory IX. Skeptical of all religions, including Christianity, Frederick II openly flouted papal authority. In 1229, Frederick II negotiated a very strange and special treaty with Sultan al-Kamil of Egypt by which he peacefully obtained European control of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth for ten years.

Although Frederick II enjoyed a positive image in the Arab world because he spoke and wrote good Arabic; had a great admiration for Arab civilization; was surrounded by an entourage of Arab and Muslim advisors; and had nothing but contempt for the barbarous West, especially for the Pope, his unusual treaty with al-Kamil to take control of Jerusalem still aroused a storm of indignation throughout the Arab world. When al-Kamil’s extremely generous treaty with Frederick II expired in 1239, the Arabs recovered Jerusalem in 1244 and permanently ended the Crusaders’ occupation of the city. However, al-Kamil’s treaty with Frederick II has been compared by many Arab and Muslim scholars not only with the 1979 sell-out of Camp David Treaty, signed by Egypt’s Anwar as-Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin, but also with the more recent so-called “peace process” of the 1990s that Yasser Arafat signed with Israel.

Nevertheless, violent and militant Western crusading efforts against the Arabs continued. The French King Louis IX gallantly led the Seventh Crusade (1248-1254) against Egypt. However, like the Fifth Crusade thirty years earlier, the Seventh Crusade failed in its mission miserably. Soon after he captured Damietta where he offended the Egyptian Christian Copts by appointing a Catholic prelate as Patriarch of their city, the Egyptians soundly defeated King Louis IX. The French King was also deeply humiliated when he was personally captured as a prisoner. He was not released until he paid a high ransom. The Egyptians finally allowed him to rejoin his wife in the Western-occupied Arab city of Acre.

Totally exhausted by the Crusades’ continuing devastating wars and destruction for over 150 years, the Arab world was not ready or able to defend itself against a new and dangerous enemy, the Mongol hordes from the East. In 1258, the Mongols, under their vicious leader Hulagu (or the George W. Bush of his day), completely destroyed Baghdad and effectively ended Arab civilization. The Mongols pillaged Baghdad; murdered one million Muslims in it [62]; destroyed its palaces and mosques; burned its libraries and schools; dumped Arab scientific and other treasure books in the Tigris River; destroyed the Iraqi irrigation canal systems; and executed the last Abbasid Caliph and all of his Arab ruling family. Although the Arab world has never completely recovered from this Mongols’ crushing defeat, Muslim civilization itself continued for centuries thereafter under the powerful leadership of the Ottoman Turks.

However, in 1260, two years after the destruction of the Abbasid State, a brilliant Arabic-speaking Turkish leader from Egypt by the name of az-Zahir Baybars severely crushed the Mongol forces at Ayn Jalut, near Nazareth, in Palestine and ended their brief destructive presence in the Arab world. Baybars then dealt very harshly with the Western Crusaders, who collaborated with the ruthless Mongols, and mercilessly killed them. He recovered from the Crusaders several Arab cities: Arsouf in 1265; Atlit, Haifa and Safed in 1266; and Jaffa and Antioch (their prized-colony) in 1268.

Nevertheless, undaunted by either his earlier humiliating defeat and captivity in Egypt during the Seventh Crusade or by Baybars’ stunning military victories both against the invading Mongols and Crusaders, King Louis IX of France tried once again to beat the Arabs in 1270 by launching the Eighth Crusade. This stubborn French monarch, who was full of hate for the Arabs and Islam, decided this time to “cut” the Arab world in half by invading Tunisia. Instead, he cut his own life short when he died of a virus near Tunis on August 25, 1270. His majesty’s body was then taken back to Paris where he was ceremoniously buried as a “saint”.

Another major military defeat for the Crusaders in the Arab world took place in 1271 when the great Baybars of Egypt captured their most formidable fortress in Syria, Hisn al-Akrad (known in French as Crak des Chevaliers), which not even the powerful Salah ad-Din had been able to conquer. This immense Crusaders fortress is still in existence today dominating the Syrian plains of Bukaya, reminding all Arabs of the past Western Christian terrorism, and making them draw parallels to the present Israeli and American brutal policies in Arab lands.

In 1289 the Crusaders also suffered another major military defeat when the new Egyptian ruler, Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, thrilled the entire Muslim world by capturing Tripoli, the Crusaders’ last kingdom/colony in the Arab world. After this defeat, the European invaders were left with only one Arab city under their control, the port-city of Acre, now under the brutal rule of King Henry of France.

These military defeats suffered by the Crusaders in the Arab world made Pope Nicholas IV panic and led him in the summer of 1290 to respond to King Henry’s appeal for fresh reinforcements. Launched under the Pope’s order, the Ninth Crusade was composed of a large fleet full of European Christian chauvinists. It sailed from Italy directly to the Western-occupied Arab city of Acre. Once in Acre, the Western soldiers of God began to drink heavily. They then rushed drunkenly through its streets, indiscriminately attacking and killing Arab merchants, innocent bystanders, and any man wearing a beard regardless of his religion. Many Arab and non-Arab Christians were murdered in cold blood. These crimes and atrocities made the Egyptian leader Qalawun extremely angry. He swore by the holy Qur’an that he would not lay down his arms until he drove all of the European invaders out of the entire Arab world and into the Mediterranean Sea. [63] However, it was only after Qalawun’s death in 1290 that his own son, Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil, who in 1291liberated Acre (the last Western hold in the Arab world), fulfilled his wish. While the French King Henry and most other European notables quickly ran away from Acre to hide in Cyprus, all other Westerners in the city were captured and mercilessly killed by Khalil’s troops. The liberation of Acre took place exactly 100 years, almost to the day, after the Europeans had brutally re-captured it from the Arabs in 1191 and massacred all its inhabitants under the orders of King Richard I of England. Sultan Khalil of Egypt was to go down in history as the ruler who finally expelled the last of the West Europeans by putting an end to two centuries of their terrorism and cruel colonization in the Arab world. While all Arabs were celebrating their last victory over the Crusaders, they were also at the same time praying and asking God to grant that the barbarian terrorist Westerners never set foot again in the Arab world.

The Arab prayer was answered, but only for a few decades. Seventy-four years after their expulsion from Acre, the stubborn Westerners organized yet another Crusade in 1365 under the command of King Peter of Cyprus. Considered to be the last of the great international Crusades, this Tenth Crusade was launched against the mostly Christian Arab City of Alexandria. It was yet another totally pointless brutal invasion by the West in which thousands of Arab Christians, Muslims, and Jews were massacred in cold blood. Even the Latin traders had their stores and houses looted and destroyed by King Peter’s Crusaders. [64] However, the Tenth Crusade, which was quickly repelled by the Arabs, ended with the assassination of King Peter himself.

Nevertheless, in 1395 when the Turkish Muslim army was laying siege on Constantinople, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus appealed to the rulers of Europe for help. Responding to his call, the “Holy” Roman Emperor/King Sigismund of Hungary organized in July 1396 the Eleventh Crusade against Islam and the Arabs. The objective of the Eleventh Crusade was not only to evict the Muslim Turks from the Balkans, but also to march into Syria and to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Arabs. Led by Sigismund in September 1396, this Crusade was also composed of Western knights from the Balkans, France, Burgundy, Germany, England, and the Netherlands. However, before it had a chance to achieve any of its objectives, the Eleventh Crusade was decisively crushed at Nicopolis, Greece, by Muslim power under the strong Turkish leadership of Sultan Bayazid I.

Again, 48 years later the terrorist Europeans organized the Twelfth Crusade against the Muslim Turks in the Balkans. In November 1444, however, the forces of Sultan Murad II quickly repelled the invading Westerners at the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna. In reality, the Eleventh and Twelfth Crusades were not only miserable failures that weakened the West, but they also contributed to the growing strength of Islam. The Muslim Turks became militarily stronger; captured Constantinople; destroyed the Byzantine Empire in 1453; tightened their control over the Balkans; advanced further into Eastern and central Europe where they spread Islam; and even occupied southern Italy in 1480-81. Ironically, however, these Turkish Muslim successes against the invading Westerners took place at a time when the Arabs themselves were quickly losing their final foothold in Andalusia to the Spanish Christians whose Inquisition was yet another form of Western terrorism against Muslims and Jews.

However, after the Ottoman Turks took Cyprus in 1570, they suffered their first major setback in October 1571 when the Thirteenth Crusade (composed of a combined European armada) destroyed their fleet at Lepanto (Navpaktos), near the Greek coast. The Ottomans, though, restored their fleet within a year. Nonetheless, the Western idea of launching Crusades and wars against the Arabs and the Muslim Turks continued well into the 15th, 16th, and even the 17th centuries. In fact, the violent European colonization which had started at the end of the 15th century first against the natives of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, eventually found its way into the weakened Ottoman Empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Western powers’ destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the last Muslim empire, at the beginning of the 20th century, has brought about the current subjugation of the Arabs to the brutal Western imperialism which created Jewish Israel in 1948 over the land of Palestine.

XI. The Legacy of the Terrorist Crusaders

By launching their violent Christian wars against Islam and the Arabs, the Crusades in fact not only hastened the destruction of the Arab Abbasid civilization at the hands of the Mongols, but also indirectly helped bring about the emergence of Turkish power in Arab and Muslim lands with the exception of Arab Andalusia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Also, thanks to the cruel Western Crusaders, many Arab Muslims have become weary of some Arab Christians. The relationship between the two brotherly Arab communities has since been somewhat strained. Before the arrival of the Crusaders in Arab lands, Arab Muslims throughout the entire Fertile Crescent used to join their Arab Christian brothers in celebrating Christmas, Epiphany (the Christian Feast of the Three Kings), Palm Sunday, and Easter Sunday.

Although the Crusades were initially launched by the West to unite Western and Eastern European Christians, as well as to defeat the Arabs and Islam, they miserably failed on both accounts. The Crusaders’ vicious wars on their “fellow” Greek Orthodox Christians of Byzantium and their barbaric destruction of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), brought an effective end to any serious reconciliation between the Western European and the Eastern European Christian Churches; seriously weakened the Byzantine Empire and made it an easy prey for the Muslim Turks; and discredited the Papacy by making it lose face among many of its followers.

Moreover, all of the Crusaders colonies in the Arab world were completely destroyed. Islam itself emerged from its defensive wars against the Crusaders to become an even stronger force under the Turks. The Muslim Turks expanded Islam farther into Eastern and Southeastern Europe at the expense of the European Christians in places like Albania and Bosnia. The final coup de grace came in 1453 when the Muslim Turks destroyed the Eastern Roman Empire itself, conquered its great capital city of Constantinople, renamed it Istanbul, and even made it their proud capital city for 470 years. In fact, nowadays Istanbul has some of the most magnificent mosques in the entire Muslim world, some of which used to be Byzantium churches such as the great Cathedral Hagia Sophia, which in 1935 was turned into a Turkish museum by the current Turkish secular republic.

Nonetheless, the dark-ages Crusaders – who were a group of savages with rough manners from the crude castles, fields, and tangled forests of West Europe – were amazed and dazzled by the great cultures and civilizations of both the Arabs and Byzantium that they had invaded. They had an opportunity to see and experience first hand many new things and ideas that in time they adopted and incorporated into their own daily lives. Through their long brutal crusading wars against Islam, Western Europeans learned a great deal from the Arabs. For example, they learned the art of raising and training carrier pigeons to send messages from town to town, the sport of falconry, and the Chinese art of papermaking. Also, Italians adopted the glass-making techniques of Tyre; French villagers learned the arts both of weaving lustrous fabrics and of cultivating silkworms; and farmers throughout Western Europe began to plant sugar cane from Tripoli and plum trees from Damascus. While West European men learned to enjoy the sensuous comfort of Muslim steam baths, their women started using glass mirrors instead of polished metal disks. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and other aromatic spices of the East began to find their way into the dull Western cookery. Also, many new items such as rugs, silk, ivory, camphor, musk, and pearls began to appear and to be appreciated in Europe for the first time after the Crusades had opened Western eyes to the riches and life style of the East. In fact, Arab sciences, ideas, crafts, and skills which reached West Europe – both as a result of the Crusaders’ violent contacts with the Arabs of the east as well as from Europe’s contact with Arab Andalusia in the west – hastened the West’s climb from the depths of its dark ages.

In addition, many new Eastern political, economic, and cultural ideas reached Western Europe and began to change dramatically the face of the West. Among the most important of these changes was the emergence in West Europe of a new merchant class that was hungry for trading with the Arabs and the East. As this new business class grew in strength, it began to seriously rival European feudal lords, knights, and barons both in wealth and social status. Consequently, the old West European dictatorial feudal and manorial systems quickly came tumbling down, and West Europe was no longer backward. The well-known Italian explorer, Marco Polo – who made his famous journey to China (1271-1295) immediately after the Eighth Crusade – not only increased West Europe’s interest in trading with the East, but also inspired other Western explorers like Christopher Columbus to search for a direct sea route to India.

As a result of the centuries of Western conflicts and contacts with the Arabs, the age of the greedy Western international capitalism and brutal colonialism/imperialism has emerged to the detriment and misery of the native peoples of North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, Asia, Africa, and the Arab world. Hence, the most important legacy of the Crusaders has been the sanctification of Western violence against non-Europeans in pursuit of imperialist and capitalist ends. The underlying concept of European holy wars against the Arabs and Islam has outlived its religious origin and has been absorbed in the institutions of Western governments. When European kings, knights, and other rich upper classes grew stronger after the Crusades, they secularized the concept of justifiable violence and extended it into the politico-economic sphere. In effect, the Western State has since replaced the Western Church as a holy cause.

Finally, the savage Western Crusades against the Arabs were a starting point of a millennial bitter hostility between the Arabs and the West and its effects are still lingering on. The Crusaders’ gory massacres and barbaric cannibalism in the Arab world created a great deal of hate for the imperialist West which has since been ingrained in the hearts and minds of most Arabs and Muslims. And since the 19th century new waves of Western aggression and wars against the Arabs have been taking place. Arab hatred for the West, because of the Crusades, has been painfully re-ignited by the vicious Western colonization and dismemberment of the Arab nation during the 19th and 20th centuries; by the American brutal imperialism and wars in Arab and Muslim lands; and by the violent creation of the Western Zionist state of Israel with the help of the imperialist West over the land of Palestine in 1948.

Instead of Western Christians, this time Western Zionist Jews have made a similar dubious claim on Palestine. Using far more sophisticated deadly weapons than the old Crusaders, the Zionist-Jews (or the new Western “crusaders”) have been committing Crusade-like bloody massacres since 1948 against innocent Palestinians and other Arabs, both Muslim and Christian. The West has always been obsessed with stealing the holy land from the Arabs, and so history repeats itself.

*Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi (http://members.aol.com/AMS44AMS/) is a Saudi-American professor of International Relations and Political Science. He studied in the 1960s and 1970s in different universities in France, Belgium, and the USA. He received his BA and MA from California State University, Sacramento in 1970 and 1971 respectively. In 1978 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Dr. Sindi taught at five academic institutions: King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; University of California at Irvine; California State University at Pomona; Cerritos College in California; and Fullerton College in California. Between his teaching posts he also worked as a research fellow at the United Nations in New York. Professor Sindi is the author of many articles published both in Arabic and English in different journals and periodicals. His book, “The Arabs and the West: The Contributions and the Inflictions”, is sold on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0967431603/002-0764941-4573669?n=283155

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Notes:

1. James David Barber, The Book of Democracy (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995), p. 178.
2. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: Atheneum, 1976), p. 242.
3. Quoted in John L. Esposito, Islam the Straight Path (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 60.
4. Quoted in Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (4th ed.; New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966), p. 47.
5. Quoted in Anne Fremantle, Age of Faith (New York: Time Incorporated, 1965), p. 55.
6. Quoted in Jay Williams, Knights of the Crusades (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1962), pp. 32-34.
7. Quoted in Henry W. Ehrmann and Martin A. Schain, Politics in France (5th ed.; New York: Harper Collins, 1992), p. 5.
8. Anthony West, The Crusades (New York: Random House, 1954), pp. 18-19.
9. Fremantle, Age of Faith, p. 56.
10. Karen Armstrong, Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World (New York: Doubleday, 1991), p. 3.
11. Quoted in ibid., p. 3.
12. Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Translated by Jon Rothschild, (New York: Schocken Books, 1984), p. 273.
13. Ibid., p. 5.
14. Ibid., p. 6.
15. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246.
16. Anna Comnena, The Alexiad of the Princess Anna Comnena, Translated by Elizabeth A.S. Dawes, (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1967), p. 252.
17. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 30.
18. Ibid., p. 26.
19. Ibid., p. 29.
20. Quoted in David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 179.
21. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 32
22. Walter Buehr, The Crusaders (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1959), pp. 55-56.
23. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 36.
24. Ibid., p. 37.
25. Quoted in ibid., pp. 38-39.
26. Quoted in ibid., p. 39.
27. Quoted in ibid., p. 40.
28. Quoted in ibid., p. 39.
29. Fremantle, Age of Faith, p. 53.
30. Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 178.
31. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 50.
32. Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 178.
33. Fremantle, Age of Faith, p. 56.
34. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. xiv.
35. Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 179.
36. John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades (New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1991), p. 18.
37. Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 178.
38. Quoted in ibid., p. 178.
39. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. xiv.
40. Quoted in Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 178.
41. Quoted in Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword, p. 18.
42. Johnson, A History of Christianity, pp. 246-247.
43. Quoted in Richard Wormser, American Islam: Growing Up Muslim in America (New York: Walker and Company, 1994), pp. 7-8.
44. Quoted in Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 52.
45. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246.
46. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 66.
47. Ibid., p. 67.
48. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246.
49. Ibid., p. 246.
50. Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 88.
51. Ibid., pp. 156-57.
52. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246.
53. Ibid.. p. 246.
54. Quoted in Maalouf, The Crusades, p. 186.
55. Ibid., p. 187.
56. Quoted in ibid., p. 194.
57. West, The Crusades, p. 115.
58. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword, p. 183.
59. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246.
60. Buehr, The Crusaders, p. 94.
61. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword, p. 239.
62. Arthur Goldschmidt, Jr. A Concise History of the Middle East (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1988), p. 96.
63. Armstrong, Holy War, p. 452.
64. Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 246

crusade

Source: http://www.radioislam.org/sindi/croisades.htm

Pubs, flats, supermarkets: Britain’s churches reborn

chruch1Leon Neal
LONDON

AT one church, the only thing being worshipped is beer — at another, gleaming cars are on sale. Increasingly, it seems, a different kind of conversion is taking place at Britain’s churches.

Thanks to a steady decline in religion and the high costs of maintaining these historic buildings, a rising number of churches are being given new lives that may have horrified their founders.

Bar at O'Neills pub, pictured in a former Presbyterian church in Muswell Hill, north London, on January 16, 2014.  Photo: AFP / Leon Neal

Bar at O’Neills pub, pictured in a former Presbyterian church in Muswell Hill, north London, on January 16, 2014. Photo: AFP / Leon Neal

Behind the imposing red-brick facade of one Presbyterian church in north London’s upmarket Muswell Hill district, throbbing pop music and barrels of Guinness are the first clues that there’s a new congregation.

The soaring Gothic arches remain but instead of an altar there’s a huge bar, while tables, stools and slot-machines stand in place of the pews. Built in 1902, the church’s beautiful exterior remains unchanged. Inside, it’s an Irish pub.

“If it was a church, there would be only two or three people here — but on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s packed,” said John Earl, a construction worker, as he nursed a pint.

“It is weird,” he admitted. “I feel I kind of have to respect it. I don’t mind being drunk here, but I don’t want people carving the pillars.”

At another table, 33-year-old Yamini pronounced the pub “beautiful”.

Bar at O'Neills pub, pictured in a former Presbyterian church in Muswell Hill, north London, on January 16, 2014. Photo: AFP / Leon Neal

Bar at O’Neills pub, pictured in a former Presbyterian church in Muswell Hill, north London, on January 16, 2014. Photo: AFP / Leon Neal

“It has a different look from the other pubs,” she said as she sipped red wine with a friend. “And it’s being used instead of being abandoned.”

Religious worship has been declining in Britain for years, and church authorities are increasingly forced to rethink the management of their huge — and very expensive — estates.

Policy varies between denominations. The dominant Church of England has strict rules on conversions meaning a building can only be sold if a committee approves its future use, after a lengthy process.

“Churches can’t be used for sex shops, gambling premises and things like that,” explained Jeremy Tipping, manager of the Church of England’s Closed Churches Team.

But a wide range of other church occupants have been given the nod — a climbing centre in the city of Manchester; a circus school in Bristol, where trapezes hang from the rafters; a supermarket, a library, a Sikh temple.

“A church always looks like a church, no matter what it’s used for,” Tipping told AFP.

“When it has a tower and a spire and arched windows, the association will always be with the Church of England — so they are very, very sensitive that any future use must be one which is appropriate.”

– Irreligious conversions? –

But tough regulations have not stopped conversions from throwing up a few embarrassments for the Church of England.

A display of “erotic” art at one church-turned-gallery prompted an outcry amongst some parishioners, Tipping recalled.

Nor is the Catholic Church immune to such predicaments — its rules are less strict, leaving decisions about conversions up to local dioceses rather than a national committee.

In the northwestern city of Liverpool, St Peter’s Church now houses a restaurant which hosts evenings celebrating that festival of all things ungodly, Halloween.

“It’s deeply inappropriate and offensive for lots of Catholics,” said Sophie Andreae, a committee vice-chairwoman at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The Church of England knocked down nearly 500 churches between 1969 and 2011, while more than 1,000 were deconsecrated and sold or rented out — bringing in a much-needed £47 million.

The most common fate of ex-churches is to be transformed into homes — sometimes luxury ones, such as the ultra-modern seven-bedroom London house, complete with swimming pool, which went on the market for £50 million last year.

Rachel Chudley, a 28-year-old interior designer, bought a flat in an east London church four years ago. It’s far more modest than the £50 million mansion, but lacks none of the charm, with stone faces carved into the frames of her spectacular arched windows.

“We’re right up at the top of the church, at the steeple,” she said as she took AFP on a guided tour. “My family has joked and said, ‘Rachel is closer to heaven now!'”

Rachel Chudley poses for a photo in the living room of her apartment, which has been converted from a church in east London, on January 16, 2014. Photo; AFP/Carl Court

Rachel Chudley poses for a photo in the living room of her apartment, which has been converted from a church in east London, on January 16, 2014. Photo; AFP/Carl Court

Chudley, an agnostic, admitted that she sometimes wonders if it’s disrespectful to live in a church.

“Sometimes I feel a bit bad because I think, ‘Oh God, am I being sacrilegious?” she laughed.

But she admits she has taken “some liberties” with the place. A sculpture of a pierced penis sits in pride of place in her living room.

AFP
Mon, 31 March 2014

http://www.afp.com/en/node/2237982 (with video)