Jihad begot the Crusades
May 4th, 2005
The New York Times’ Alan Riding recently opined that
“…[The C]rusades were waged, [by] European monarchs, lords, knights and their armies of devout followers to fight - and settle - in an area stretching between what is today Syria and Egypt. The Muslims responded [emphasis added] with their own sporadic jihads until finally, by 1291, the Christians had been driven out.”
He further lauds the fact that in Ridley Scott’s new film portrayal of the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven
“…Mr. Scott and his screenwriter, William Monahan, have tried to be balanced. Muslims are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything.” [emphasis added]
Little wonder then that the jihadist organization CAIR, waxed enthusiastic about the film following an advanced screening. Unfortunately, such ahistorical claptrap has become standard fare for journalistic and even pseudo-scholarly “summary assessments” of The Crusades, with perhaps the most egregious example of the latter being this reductio ad absurdum commentary by John Esposito, the doyen of academic apologists for Islam:
Five centuries of peaceful coexistence elapsed before political events and an imperial-papal power play led to centuries-long series of so-called holy wars [emphasis added] that pitted Christendom against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust. 
In Islam and Dhimmitude, (2002) Bat Ye’or analyzed Esposito’s summary account of the first half millennium of jihad conquests. Bat Ye’or notes how Esposito completely,
“…ignores the concepts
of jihad and dar al-harb…” , and she highlights the “thematic
structure” of Esposito’s selective overview, typical of the prevailing
modern apologetic genre: 
…historical negationism, consisting of suppressing or sketching in a page or a paragraph, one thousand years of jihad which is presented as a peaceful conquest, generally welcomed by the vanquished populations; the omission of Christian and, in particular, Muslim sources describing the actual methods of these conquests: pillage, enslavement, deportation, massacres, and so on; the mythical historical conversion of "centuries" of "peaceful coexistence", masking the processes which transformed majorities into minorities, constantly at risk of extinction; an obligatory self-incrimination for the Crusades…”
Inundated by such disingenuous apologetics Westerners have remained largely ignorant of jihad—the Islamic war of conquest. Thus the chattering classes, confused all too easily by superficial similarities, equate jihad with the Crusades. In fact, there are many fundamental differences between the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad, and the Crusades, as they derive from widely divergent religions and civilizations.
Jihad, as a nascent
ideology, originated from the putative military activities of Muhammad himself,
described in the Muslim sacred texts. September 622 C.E. marks a defining
event in Islam- the hijra. Muhammad and a coterie of
followers (the Muhajirun), persecuted by fellow Banu Quraysh tribesmen who
rejected Muhammad’s authenticity as a divine messenger, fled from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Al-Medina (Medina). Gil notes that
Muslim sources described Yathrib as having been a
Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora
population which had survived the revolt against the Romans.  Distinct from
the nomadic Arab tribes, the Jews of the north
Following Muhammad’s arrival, he created a “new order”, as described by Gil, 
covenant between the tribes which imposed its authority on every clan and its
members, [which] soon enabled him to attack the Jews and eventually wipe out
the Jewish population of the town. Some were banned from the towns, others were
executed, and their property-plantations, fields, and houses- was distributed by Muhammad among his followers, who were
destitute refugees from
Richard Bell summarized
Muhammad’s final interactions with the Jews and Christians of Medina, and
His relations with the
Jews form a part of all biographies of Muhammad, for they worked out to a
bitter and savage conclusion in the course of his first few years
Within several centuries of
Muhammad’s death in 632 C.E., based upon the “proto-jihad” campaigns he waged
The essential pattern of
the jihad war is captured in the great Muslim historian al-Tabari’s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab to the
commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636
C.E.), during the conquest of
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, (This is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them) but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Qur’an 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
Jihad was pursued century after century, because jihad, which means “to strive in the path of Allah,” embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Qur’anic verses  (for e.g., 9:5,6; 9:29; 4:76-79; 2: 214-15; 8:39-42), and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., “hadith”, acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al-Bukhari [d. 869]  and Muslim [d. 874] ). The consensus on the nature of jihad from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi’i) is clear:
Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996), Maliki jurist 
Jihad is a precept of Divine institution. Its performance by certain individuals may dispense others from it. We Malikis [one of the four schools of Muslim jurisprudence] maintain that it is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared against them.
Ibn Taymiyya (d.
1328), Hanbali jurist 
Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought. As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and their likes, they shall not be killed unless they actually fight with words (e.g. by propaganda) and acts (e.g. by spying or otherwise assisting in the warfare).
From (primarily) the Hanafi school (as given in the Hidayah of Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan, d. 1196) 
It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war… If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.
al-Mawardi (d. 1058 ), Shafi’i jurist 
…The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al-Harb (the arena of battle) are of two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir of the army has the option of fighting them…in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun… Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger…it is forbidden to…begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached…
Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist (Maliki), renowned philosopher, historian, and sociologist, summarized these consensus opinions from five centuries of prior Sunni Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad: 
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.
By the time of the
classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’s death in 923,
jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from
From its earliest
inception, through the present, jihad
has been central to the thought and writings of prominent Muslim theologians
and jurists. The precepts and regulations elucidated in the 7th through 9th
centuries are immutable in the Muslim theological-juridical system, and they
have remained essentially unchallenged by the majority of contemporary Muslims.
The jihad is intrinsic to the sacred Muslim texts, including the divine Qur’anic revelation itself, whereas the Crusades were
circumscribed historical events subjected to (ongoing and meaningful) criticism
by Christians themselves. Unlike the espousal of jihad in the Qur’an, the constituent texts of Christianity, the Old and
New Testaments of the Bible, do not contain a form fruste
institutionalization of the Crusades. The Bible sanctions the Israelites
The Crusades as an
historical phenomenon were a reaction to events resulting from over 450 years
of previous jihad campaigns. At the close of the 11th century, particularly
after the crushing Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert
in 1071, Christendom, including
…Turkish Islam having
almost entirely driven the Byzantines out of Asia [Minor],
was preparing to pass over into
Finally, in the Holy Land
As the Turks were ruling
the lands of Syria and Palestine, they inflicted injuries on Christians who
went to pray in Jerusalem, beat them, pillaged them, levied the poll tax at the
gate of the town and also at Golgotha and the [Holy] Sepulchre;
and in addition, every time they saw a caravan of Christians, particularly of
those from Rome and the lands of Italy, they made every effort to
cause their death in diverse ways. And when countless people had perished as a
result, the kings and counts were seized with [religious] zeal and left
The late Jacques Ellul’s penetrating analysis of the jihad  argued convincingly that in fact,
…the idea of a holy war is a direct product of the Muslim jihad. If the latter is a holy war, then obviously the fight against Muslims to defend or save Christianity has also to be a holy war. The idea of a holy war is not of Christian origin. Emperors never advanced the idea prior to the appearance of Islam.
Ellul’s thesis is confirmed when one examines more closely the jihad conquests of the Iberian peninsula, Asia Minor, and Palestine, as well as the imposition of Muslim rule in these regions (particularly the Iberian peninsula and in Palestine), prior to the onset of the Crusades.
Jihad conquests and
early Muslim rule on the
The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710-716 C.E. by Arab tribes
originating from northern, central and southern
By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced rigorous Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant
The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.
Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq provides these illustrations of the resulting religious and legal discriminations dhimmis suffered, and the accompanying incentives for them to convert to Islam: 
A learned Moslem jurist of Hispanic Christian descent who lived around the year 1000, Ahmed ibn Said ibn Hazm (father of the famous mid-eleventh-century author Ibn Hazm) gives glimpses, in several of his juridical consultations, of how the freedom of the “infidels” was constantly at risk. Non-payment of the head-tax by a dhimmi made him liable to all the Islamic penalties for debtors who did not repay their creditors; the offender could be sold into slavery or even put to death. In addition, non-payment of the head-tax by one or several dhimmis – especially if it was fraudulent – allowed the Moslem authority, at its discretion, to put an end to the autonomy of the community to which the guilty party or parties belonged. Thus, from one day to the next, all the Christians in a city could lose their status as a protected people through the fault of just one of them. Everything could be called into question, including their personal liberty…Furthermore, non-payment of the legal tribute was not the only reason for abrogating the status of the “People of the Book”; another was “public outrage against the Islamic faith”, for example, leaving exposed, for Moslems to see, a cross or wine or even pigs.
…by converting [to Islam], one would no longer have to be confined to a given district, or be the victim of discriminatory measures or suffer humiliations…Furthermore, the entire Islamic law tended to favor conversions. When an "infidel" became a Moslem, he immediately benefited from a complete amnesty for all of his earlier crimes, even if he had been sentenced to the death penalty, even if it was for having insulted the Prophet or blasphemed against the Word of God: his conversion acquitted him of all his faults, of all his previous sins. A legal opinion given by a mufti from al-Andalus in the ninth century is very instructive: a Christian dhimmi kidnapped and violated a Moslem woman; when he was arrested and condemned to death, he immediately converted to Islam; he was automatically pardoned, while being constrained to marry the woman and to provide for her a dowry in keeping with her status. The mufti who was consulted about the affair, perhaps by a brother of the woman, found that the court decision was perfectly legal, but specified that if that convert did not become a Moslem in good faith and secretly remained a Christian, he should be flogged, slaughtered and crucified…
Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par
excellence. Every year (or multiple times within a year as “seasonal” razzias [ghazwa])
raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the
north, the Basque regions, or
Breaking out of Arabia
and from the conquered regions-
Society was sharply divided
along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the
hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite
their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews. The Andalusian
Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions
regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 C.E.: 
No…Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression], “Peace be upon you’. In effect, ‘Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget God’s warning. They are the confederates of Satan’s party; Satan’s confederates will surely be the losers!” (Qur’an 58:19 [modern Dawood translation]). A distinctive sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recognized and this will be for them a form of disgrace.
Ibn Abdun also forbade the selling of scientific books to dhimmis under the pretext that they translated them and attributed them to their co-religionists and bishops. (In fact, plagiarism is difficult to prove since whole Jewish and Christian libraries were looted and destroyed). Another prominent Andalusian jurist, Ibn Hazm of
Bring them down to their place and Return them to the most abject station. They used to roam around us in tatters Covered with contempt, humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dungheaps for a bit of a filthy rag To serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in...Do not consider that killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing.” [The translator then summarizes: ‘The Jews have broken their covenant (i.e., overstepped their station, with reference to the Covenant of Umar) and compunction would be out of place.]
The discriminatory policies
of the Berber Muslim Almoravids, who arrived in Spain
in 1086, and subsequently those of the even more fanaticized and violent Almohad Berber Muslims (who arrived in Spain in 1146-1147)
caused a rapid attrition of the pre-Islamic Iberian Christian (Mozarab) communities, nearly extinguishing them. The Almoravid attitude towards the Mozarabs
is well reflected by three successive expulsions of the latter to
…the Fakihs and the [Muslim] populace fostered against them [the
Mozarabs] [an] envenomed hatred. In most towns they
formed but a small community, but in the
(1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian
..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they…
The modern historian Vacalopoulos has summarized the devastation wrought by the
Seljuk jihad conquest of
At the beginning of the
eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks forced their way into
The contemporary (primary)
source narratives of Matthew of Edessa (12th century;
d. after 1136), Samuel of Ani (d. 2nd half of 12th
century), Anna Comnena (d. 1153), and an anonymous
Georgian chronicler, describe the Seljuk campaigns which ravaged Armenia, Anatolia,
and Georgia during the 11th and 12th centuries, as follows:
Matthew of Edessa
In the beginning of the year 465 [1015-16 C.E.] a calamity proclaiming the fulfillment of divine portents befell the Christian adorers of the Holy Cross. The death-breathing dragon appeared, accompanied by a destroying fire, and struck the believers in the Holy Trinity. The apostolic and prophetic books trembled, for there arrived winged serpents cone to vomit fire upon Christ’s faithful. I wish to describe in this language, the first eruption of ferocious beasts covered with blood. At this period there gathered the savage nation of infidels called Turks. Setting out, they entered the province of Vaspuracan and put the Christians to the sword….Facing the enemy, the Armenians saw these strange men, who were armed with bows and had flowing hair like women. 
During the year 551
[the date is wrong and could be 511,1062] of the
Armenian era, the Turks under the command of three of Sultan Tughril [Beg]’s generals, called Slar
Khorasan, Mdjmdj [Medjmedj] and Isulv, [brought
about a torrent of blood on the Christian nation and they] invaded the district
of Baghin in the Fourth
Toward the beginning of the year 528 [1079-80] famine desolated….the lands of the worshippers of the Cross, already ravaged by the ferocious and sanguinary Turkish hordes. Not one province remained protected from their devastations. Everywhere the Christians had been delivered to the sword or into bondage, interrupting thus the cultivation of the fields, so that bread was lacking. The farmers and workers has been massacred or lead off into slavery, and famine extended its rigors to all places. Many provinces were depopulated; the Oriental nation [Armenians] no longer existed, and the land of the Greeks was in ruins. Nowhere was one able to procure bread. 
Samuel of Ani-The Taking of Ani by Seljuk
Sultan Alp Arslan (1064)
In 513 of the Armenian era , at the time of the festival of the Virgin, on a Monday, the town of Ani was taken by the Sultan Alp Arslan [1063-73], who massacred its inhabitants, apart from the women and children whom he led into captivity. 
And since the succession of Diogenes the barbarians tread upon the boundaries of the empire of the Rhomaioi….the barbarian hand was not restricted until the reign of my father. Swords and spears were whetted against the Christians, and also battles, wars and massacres. Cities were obliterated, lands were plundered, and the whole land of the Rhomaioi was stained by blood of Christians. Some fell piteously [the victims] of arrows and spears, other being driven away from their homes were carried off captive to the cities of
The emirs spread out, like locusts, over the face of the land….The countries of Asis-Phorni, Clardjeth, up to the shores of the sea, Chawcheth, Adchara, Samtzkhe, Karthli, Argoueth, Samokalako, and Dchqondid were filled with Turks, who pillaged and enslaved all the inhabitants.
In a single day the burned Kouthathis, Artanoudj, the hermitages of Clardjeth, and they remained in these lands until the first snows, devouring the land, massacring all those who had fled to the forests, to the rocks, to the caves…
The calamities of
Christianity did not come to and end soon thereafter, for the approach of
spring, the Turks returned to carry out the same ravages and left [again] in
the winter. The [inhabitants] however were unable to plant or to
harvest. The land, [thus] delivered to slavery, had only animals of the
forests and wild beasts for inhabitants. Karthli
was in the grip of intolerable calamities such as one cannot compare to a
single devastation or combination of evils of past times. The holy
churches served as stables for their horses, the sanctuaries of the Lord served
as repairs for the abominations [Islam]. Some of the priests were
immolated during the Holy Communion itself, and others were carried off into
harsh slavery without regard to their old age. The virgins were defiled,
the youths circumcised, and the infants taken away. The conflagration,
expending its ravages, consumed all the inhabited sites, the rivers, instead of
water, flowed blood. I shall apply the sad words of Jeremiah, which he
applied so well to such situations: “The honorable children of
As Isaiah said: “Your land is devastated, your cities reduced to ashes, and foreigners have devoured your provinces, which are sacked and ruined by barbarian nations.” 
J.B. Segal reviewed the
destruction of the Christian enclave of
Thirty thousand souls
were killed. Women, youths, and children to the number of sixteen thousand were
carried into slavery, stripped of their cloths, barefoot, their hands bound,
forced to run beside their captors on horses. Those who could not endure were
pierced by lances or arrows, or abandoned to wild animals and birds of prey.
Priests were killed out of hand or captured; few escaped. The Archbishop of the
Armenians was sold at
Finally, these two
devastating jihad attacks (1144 and 1146 C.E.) on
The Turks entered with
their swords and blades drawn, drinking the blood of the old and the young, the
men and the women, the priests and the deacons, the hermits and the monks, the
nuns, the virgins, the infants at the breast, the betrothed men and the women
to whom they were betrothed! …Ah! what a bitter
tale! The city of
The Turks descended from the citadel upon those who had remained in the churches or in other places, whether because of old age, or as a result of some other infirmity, and they tortured them, showing no pity. Those who had escaped from being suffocated or trampled [in the crush] and had left the city with the Franks were surrounded by the Turks, who rained down upon them a hail of arrows which cruelly pierced them through. O cloud of wrath and day without mercy! In which the scourge of violent wrath once again struck the unfortunate Edessenians. O night of death, morning of hell, day of perdition! which arose against the citizens of that excellent city. Alas, my brethren! Who could recount or hear without tears how the mother and the infant that she carried in her arms were pierced through by the same arrow, without anyone to lift them up or to remove the arrow! And soon, [as they lay] in that state, the hooves of the horses of those who were pursuing them pounded them furiously! That whole night they had been pierced by arrows, and at daybreak, which was for them even darker, they were struck by the swords and the lances!... And then the earth shivered with horror at the massacre that took place: like the sickle on the stalks of grain, or like fire among wood chips, the sword carried off the Christians. The corpses of priests, deacons, monks, noblemen and the poor were abandoned pell-mell. Yet, although their death was cruel, they nevertheless did not have as much to suffer as those who remained alive; for when the latter fell in the midst of the fire and the wrath of the Turks, [those barbarians] stripped them of their clothing and of their footwear. Striking them with rods, they forced them – men and women, naked and with their hands tied behind their backs – to run with the horses; those perverts pierced the belly of anyone who grew faint and fell to the ground, and left him to die along the road. And so they became the prey of wild beasts, and then they expired, or else the food of birds of prey, in which case they were tortured. The air was poisoned with the stench of the corpses;
Moshe Gil, in his seminal analysis
A History of
…perceive an ethnic
motivation behind the [jihad] conquests. They see Arabs everywhere: even
the Canaanites and the Philistines were Arabs, according to their
theories. This applies to an even greater degree to the population of
Gil concludes that views of the jihad conquest of
…reflect the attitude
of the towns and villages in Palestine quite accurately; the attitude of a
sedentary population, of farmers and craftsmen, toward nomads whose source of
income is the camel and who frequently attack the towns, pillage and slaughter
the inhabitants, and endanger the lives of the wayfarer. These sources
completely contradict the argument…to the effect that the villagers and
summarizes the Arab Muslim conquest of
…Abu Bakr organized the invasion of
The countryside [in
According to [the
Muslim chronicler] Baladhuri (d. 892 C.E.), 40,000
Jews lived in
The 10th century Jacobite chronicler Michael the Syrian wrote that the
ongoing Arab razzias and expeditions in Syro-Palestine (as well as
The Taiyaye [Arabs] grew rich, increased and overran [the lands] which they took from the Romans [Byzantines] and which were given over to pillage.
And following the surrender
of the city of
Umar [b. al-Khattab]
sent Khalid [b. Walid] with
an army to the
Gil further elaborates on the initial wave of jihad conquests, and details the lasting destruction they wrought: 
…at the time of the
conquest, Palestine was inhabited by Jews and Christians….The Arab tribes were
to be found in the border areas, in keeping with arrangements made with the
Byzantine rulers….one can assume that the local population suffered immensely
during the course of the war [i.e., jihad conquests] and it is very likely that
many villages were destroyed and uprooted in the frontier regions, and that the
lot of these local populations was very bitter indeed. It appears that
the period of the conquest was also that of the destruction of the synagogues
and churches of the Byzantine era, remnants of
which have been unearthed in our own time and are still being discovered.
The assumption is based both on what is said in a few Christian sources…and on
Muslim sources describing ‘Umar’s [Umar b. al-Khattab] visits to
al-Sham. There is no doubt that one of the main purposes of these visits
was to establish order and put an end to the devastation and slaughter of the
local population…Towns in the western strip and the central strip (the region
of the red sand hills and the swamps) in the Sharon, decreased from fifty-eight
to seventeen ! It is estimated that the erosion of the soil from the
western slopes of the Judaean mountains reached – as
a result of the agricultural uprooting during the Muslim period – the gigantic
extent of 2,000 to 4,000 cubic meters….We find direct evidence of the destruction
of agriculture and the desertion of the villages in the fact that the papyri of
Nessana are completely discontinued after the year
700. One can assume that at the time the inhabitants abandoned the place,
evidently because of the inter-tribal warfare among the Arabs which completely
undermined the internal security of the area.
An archaeological analysis by Naphtali Lewis emphasizes that the distress of the inhabitants was exacerbated after the year 700. Conditions became unbearable, due to the general political situation and worsening attitudes toward the dhimmis, rendering the
It was precisely at this period in the Caliphate of Abd-al-Malik and his sons (685-743 C.E.) that the Arab state embarked on a new, nationalistic policy. The official records of Islam began to be kept in Arabic…and non-Arabs began to be eliminated from government service. With this Arabization of rule came increasing fiscal burdens for the Christians-burdens which they could now no longer escape by conversion to Islam…[This] may well have rendered life impossible for the villagers of the Negev, who had already before…had occasion to complain of fiscal oppression. In the period of their prosperity…the production of the Negev villages was supplemented by financial assistance from the Byzantine Emperors, in the form of stipends and emoluments paid the military settlers; in the first half-century of Arab rule, which terminated this positive support but otherwise changed conditions little, life could apparently still be sustained- and where life is even barely bearable people are generally reluctant to leave their homes; but when the government changed its policy and began to make conditions as a result become increasingly difficult, life in the southern desert became impossible and the Negev villages disappeared…growing Arab strength…drove out the Negev inhabitants; the weakness of central authority in the area would result from the growing depopulation and relapse into nomadism.
Finally, Gil has translated these observations by the 10th century Karaite commentator Yefet b. ‘Ali expressing awareness of the fact that there was great destruction in Palestine and that there were places which remained uninhabited, while there were other places to which people returned and settled: 
…the places which were completely destroyed so that no memory of them remains, like Samaria…and the second…are the places which have been destroyed and ruined, but despite this there are guards and people living there, such as Hebron and others…
Gil also captures the stark, unromantic reality of Muslim ruled Palestine during this era which included-the initial jihad conquest and establishment of Arab Muslim rule, from 634 to 661; Umayyad-Damascene rule, from 661 until 750; Abbasid-Baghdadian rule, from 750 through 878; Turco-Egyptian rule- Tulunids and Ikshidids- from 878 until 970- "interrupted" by Abbasid-Baghdadian rule again, between 905 and 930; nearly two generations of war including numerous participants, the dominant party being the Fatimids, from 970 through 1030; just over 40-years of Fatimid-Egyptian rule, between 1030 and 1071; and a generation of (Seljuq) Turkish (or “Turcoman”) rule encompassing most of Palestine, from 1071 until 1099. 
Dramatic persecution, directed specifically at Christians,  included executions for refusing to apostasize to Islam during the first two decades of the 8th century, under the reigns of Abd al-Malik, his son Sulayman, and Umar b. Abd al-Aziz. Georgian, Greek, Syriac, and Armenian sources report both prominent individual and group executions (for eg., sixty-three out of seventy Christian pilgrims from Iconium in Asia Minor were executed by the Arab governor of Caesarea, barring seven who apostasized to Islam, and sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorion were crucified in Jerusalem). 
The Abbasids moved the
capital city from
ordered a special mark should be stamped on the hands of the Christians and the
Jews. Many Christians fled to
The following decade witnessed persistent acts of persecution as well. These details are provided by Gil: 
One source tells of a
Muslim who converted to Christianity and became a monk, and renamed Christophorous. He was beheaded on 14 April 789. At around
the same time, evidently, there was an Arab attack on the monastery of St.
elucidates the fiscal oppression inherent in eighth century
The Greek chronicler Theophanes (as summarized by Gil) provides a contemporary description of the chaotic events which transpired after the death of the caliph Harun al-Rashid in 809 C.E., and the ensuing fratricidal war which erupted between the brothers al-Amin and al-Ma’mun. 
According to him [Theophanes] these events caused the Christians an enormous amount of suffering. Many churches and monasteries in Jerusalem and its environs were abandoned, such as those of Sts Cyriac, Theodosius, Chariton, Euthymius, and Mar Saba. Four years later, in 813, the disturbances broke out anew and many Christians, both monks and laity, fled from Palestine to Cyprus and Constantinople, where they found refuge from the Arabs’ terrible persecution in those days of anarchy and civil war. Palestine was the scene of violence, rape, and murder.
Perhaps the clearest outward manifestations of the inferiority and humiliation of the dhimmis were the prohibitions regarding their dress "codes", and the demands that distinguishing signs be placed on the entrances of dhimmi houses. During the Abbasid caliphates of Harun al-Rashid (786-809) and al-Mutawwakil (847-861), Jews and Christians were required  to wear yellow (as patches attached to their garments, or hats). Later, to differentiate further between Christians and Jews, the Christians were required to wear blue. In 850, consistent with Qur’anic verses associating them with Satan and Hell,  al-Mutawwakil decreed that Jews and Christians attach wooden images of devils to the doors of their homes to distinguish them from the homes of Muslims. Bat Ye’or summarizes the oppression of the dhimmis throughout the Abbasid empire under al- Mutawwakil as “..a wave of religious persecution, forced conversions, and the elimination of churches and synagogues…” 
Paroxysms of violent
persecution erupted yet again in October-November 923 C.E. according to the
…the Muslims attacked…in
Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (26 March 937) and set fire to the southern gates of
Constantine’s church and to half of the exedra, whereupon the Church of the
Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection collapsed…According to al-Makin and al-Maqrizi, the Church
of the Resurrection and the Church of the Calvary were also robbed of their
treasures…It seems at the same time the Muslims attacked in Ascalon
again. According to Yahya b. Sa’id,
the assault was made on ‘the great church there, known by the name of Mary the
Green. They destroyed it and robbed it of all its contents and then set fire to
it’…The bishop of Ascalon then left for
During the early 11th century period of al-Hakim’s reign, religious assaults and hostility intensified. As Gil notes, 
…the destruction of the churches at the Holy Sepulchre [1009 C.E.] marked the beginning of a whole series of acts of oppression against the Christian population, which according to reliable sources, extended to coercion to convert to Islam.
Yahya b. Sa’id’s description of the events surrounding the destruction of the Churches of the Holy Sepulchre is summarized by Gil: 
They dismantled the Church of the Resurrection to its very foundations, apart from what could not be destroyed or pulled up, and they also destroyed the Golgotha and the Church of St Constantine and all that they contained, as well as the sacred grave stones. They even tried to dig up the graves and wipe out all traces of their existence. Indeed they broke and uprooted most of them. They also laid waste to a convent in the neighborhood…The authorities took all the other property belonging to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and its pious foundations and all its furnishings and treasures.
Citing both Muslim (al-Quda’i, Ibn Khallikan, and Ibn Al-Athir) and non-Muslim (Bar Hebraeus) sources, Gil also describes the edicts al-Hakim imposed upon the Christians and Jews beginning in August 1011 C.E.: 
They were ordered to wear black turbans. The Christians had to wear a cross the length of a cubit and weighing five ratls around their necks around their necks; the Jews were obliged to wear a block of wood of similar weight…they had to wear some distinguishing mark in the bath-houses, and finally al-Hakim decided that there were to be separate bath-houses for their use…Ibn Al-Athir conveys…that al-Hakim ordered (after the destruction of the Chucrh of the Resurrection in Jerusalem…) that all the churches in the realm be destroyed, and this was done, and that the Jews and Christians were then to accept Islam, or emigrate to Byzantine lands. They were also obliged to wear special distinguishing signs. Many converted…Bar Hebraeus speaks of thousands of churches which were destroyed in the Fatimid kingdom at that time; the decree regarding the wearing of the cross around the neck was also, he says, a means of pressuring the Christians to convert. The wooden block the Jews were obliged to wear, had to be in the shape of a calf, as a reminder of the golden calf…
In a separate, focused
analysis of the conditions of the dhimmis of
Jerusalem, Gil concludes that during the early through the mid 11th century,
the Jews suffered both economically and physically: 
Economic conditions in Jerusalem were rather harsh, and the yeshiva often issued urgent appeals for aid. Besides, there were frequent acts of oppression on the part of the Muslim authorities. Very often special heavy taxes were imposed, which aggravated the already precarious situation of both the yeshiva and the Jewish population of
Muslim Turcoman rule of
Then Atsiz advanced on
A contemporary Russian chronicle cited by Gil indicates that the Turcomans,
desolated the cities and the villages from
Gil notes that these observations are confirmed by Geniza documents, describing how, “…the Turcoman occupation denoted terrible calamities, such as the taking captive of the people of Ramla, the cutting off of roads, the obduracy of the commanders, the aura of anxiety and panic, and so on.”  He continues, “We do not know what Atsiz' attitude was to the Jewish population in 1078, during the cruel suppression of the uprisings and the destruction of towns, but the fact that from this date onwards, we barely find letters from Palestine (apart from Ascalon and Caesarea) in the Geniza documents, speaks for itself.” 
A contemporary poem by Solomon ha-Kohen b. Joseph, believed to be a descendant of the Geonim, an illustrious family of Palestinian Jewish religious leaders, speaks of destruction and ruin, the burning of harvests, the razing of plantations, the desecration of cemeteries, and acts of violence, slaughter, and plunder: 
They were a strange and cruel people, girt with garments of many colors,/Armed and officered-chiefs among ‘the terrible ones’-/And capped with helmets, black and red,/With bow and spear and full quivers;/And they trumpet like elephants, and roar as the roaring ocean,/To terrify, to frighten those who oppose them,/
And they are wicked men and sinners, madmen, not sane,/ And they laid waste the cities, and they were made desolate/And they rejoiced in their hearts, hoping to inherit./
He [God] also remembered what they had done to the people of Jerusalem,/ That they had besieged them twice in two years,/ And burned the heaped corn and destroyed the places,/ And cut down the trees and trampled upon the vineyards,/And surrounded the city upon the high mountains,/And despoiled the graves and threw out the bones,/And built palaces, to protect themselves against the heat,/And erected an altar to slay upon it the abominations;/And the men and the women ride upon the walls, Crying unto the God of gods, to quiet the great anger,/ Standing the whole night, banishing sleep,/While the enemy destroy, evening and morning,/And break down the whole earth, and lay bare the ground,/ And stand on the highways, intending to slay like Cain,/ And cut off the ears, and also the nose,/And rob the garments, leaving them stand naked,/ And also roar like lions, and roar like young lions;/ They do not resemble men, they are like beasts,/ And also harlots and adulterers, and they inflame themselves with males,/ They are bad and wicked and spiteful as Sodomites./ And they impoverished the sons of nobles, and starved the delicately bred./ And all the people of the city went out and cried in the field,/ And covered their lips, silent in their pains,/ And they had no mercy on widows, and pitied not the orphans.
Gil concludes that as a result of the Turcoman jihad, 
Gil offers this sobering overall assessment from his extensive, copiously documented analysis of the initial period of Muslim rule of Palestine, from 634 to 1099 C.E.: 
These facts do not call for much interpretation; together they simply form a picture of almost unceasing insecurity, of endless rebellions and wars, of upheavals and instability…
The brutal nature of the
Crusader’s conquest of
…practical considerations appear to have outweighed religious fanaticism and, when it came to the peasantry, the ‘infidel children of the devil’ in the villages were spared. It was clear to the Crusaders that they were themselves too few to dispense with the labor of local …farmers in cultivating the soil. 
Moreover, we cannot ignore the testimony of Isaac b. Samuel of Acre (1270-1350 C.E.), one of the most outstanding Kabbalists of his time. Conversant with Islamic theology and often using Arabic in his exegesis, Isaac nevertheless believed that it was preferable to live under the yoke of Christendom rather than that of Islamdom.
Soon the Moslem soldiers penetrated right through the city, slaying everyone, old men, women and children alike. A few lucky citizens who stayed in their houses were taken alive and sold as slaves, but not many were spared. No one could tell the number of those that perished…Some prisoners were freed and returned to
Accordingly, despite the precept to dwell in the Holy Land, Isaac b. Samuel fled to Italy and thence to Christian Spain, where he wrote: 
The word ziz in Arabic is derogatory, for when they wish to say in that tongue, ‘Strike him upon the head,’ ‘Give him a blow upon the neck,’ they say zazzhu (‘hit him’)…Indeed, on account of our sins they strike upon the head the children of Israel who dwell in their lands and they thus extort money from them by force. For they say in their tongue, mal al-yahudi mubah, ‘it is lawful to take money of the Jews.’ For, in the eyes of the Muslims, the children of
It is ahistorical and frankly absurd to separate the Crusades from the anti-Christian jihad wars that antedated and precipitated them. Four and one-half centuries of devastating jihad conquests (i.e., 632-1095 C.E.), and the cruel imposition of dhimmitude on the vanquished, primarily Christian populations, finally engendered a sustained, organized and violent response when Christendom perceived its very survival to be imperiled. Jacques Ellul has characterized the origins and effects of this transformation: 
…the Crusade is an
imitation of the jihad. Thus the Crusade includes a guarantee of salvation. The
one who dies in holy war (i.e., jihad) goes straight to
The devastating Islamic institution of jihad must be acknowledged, renounced, dismantled, and relegated forever to the dustbin of history, by Muslims themselves. As Professor Walid Phares, in a frank, astute commentary entitled “Jihad is Jihad”, noted: 
In the Christian world, modern Christians outlawed crusading; they did not rewrite history to legitimize themselves. Those who believe that the jihad holy war is a sin today must have the courage to de-legitimize it and outlaw it as well.
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Medicine and author of the forthcoming The Legacy of Jihad published by Prometheus Books.
 John Esposito, Islam
The Straight Path, New York, 1994; quoted in Bat Ye'or,
Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide,
Cranbury, NJ.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
2001, p. 314
 Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 314
 Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 315-16.
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
Through his alliance with the Arab tribes of Medina the Prophet gained enough strength to achieve a gradual anti-Jewish policy, despite the reluctance of his Medinese allies, who had formerly been those of the Jews…Muslim sources have developed a tradition about a treaty between Muhammad and the Jews, be it this document or a lost one, as presumed by some modern scholars. Elsewhere, it is declared in complete sincerity that Muhammad, without invoking any treaty, simply asked the B. Qaynuqa before taking action against them, to accept Islam…The document, therefore, was not a covenant with the Jews. On the contrary, it was a formal statement of intent to disengage the Arab clans of
 Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al rusul wa’l-muluk), vol. 12, The Battle of Qadissiyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine, translated by Yohanan Friedman, (Albany, NY.: State University of New York Press, 1992), p. 167.
 The Noble Qur’an http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/
 Translation of Sahih Bukhari http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/
 Translation of Sahih Muslim
 Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, La Risala (Epitre sur les elements du dogme et de la loi de l'Islam selon le rite malikite.) Translated from Arabic by Leon Bercher. 5th ed.
 Ibn Taymiyyah, in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, p. 49
 From the Hidayah, vol. ii. p. 140, excerpted in Thomas P. Hughes, “A Dictionary of Islam”, “Jihad” pp. 243-248.
 Al- Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance [al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah],
 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqudimmah. An Introduction to History, Translated by Franz Rosenthal.
 Harry W. Hazard, Atlas of Islamic History,
 Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al rusul wa’l-muluk), vol. 12; vol. 13, The Conquest of
 Rene Grousset. The Epic of the Crusades. English translation by Noel
 Michael the Syrian. from Chronique de Michel Le Syrien, Edited and translated from the Syriac by Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Paris, 1899-1905, Vol. 3, p. 182; English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1996, p. 292-293.
 Jacques Ellul. The Subversion of Christianity. English translation by Geoffrey Bromiley,
 Evariste Levi-Provencal, Histoire de l’Espagne Musulmane, Paris, 1950, Vol. 1; and Dufourcq, Europe Medievale sous Domination Arabe, see especially chapter 1, “Les Jours de Razzia et d’Invasion.”
 Levi-Provencal, Histoire de l’Espagne Musulmane, p. 150.
 Dufourcq, Europe Medievale sous Domination Arabe, pp. 50, 194,196
 Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity, pp. 49-50.
 Georges Vajda, “À propos de la situation des Juifs et des Chrétiens à Séville au début du XIIe siècle”, Revue des Études Juives, 1935, Vol. 99, pp. 127-129.
 Roger Arnaldez, “La guerre sainte selon Ibn Hazm de Courdoue,” in. Etudes d’Orientalism Dediees a la Memoire de Levi-Provencal, Paris, Vol. 2, 1962, pp. 445-59.
 Moshe Perlmann, “Eleventh Century Andalusian Authors on the Jews of
 Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq. “Les Mozarabes du XIIe siecle et le pretendu ‘Eveque’ de Lisbonne”, Revue d’Histoire et de Civilisation du Maghreb, 1968, Vol. 5, pp. 125-126.
 Reinhart Dozy. Spainish Islam: A History of the Muslims in
 H.Z. Hirschberg, A History of the Jews of North Africa,
 Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi-Jews and Christians Under Islam, Cranbury, NJ.:
 A.E. Vacalopoulos. Origins of the Greek Nation- The Byzantine Period,
 Matthew of Edessa. From Edouard Dulaurier. Recherches sur la Chronologie Armeninne, Technique et Historique. Ouvrage formant les Prolegomenes de la Collection Intitulee Bibliotheque Historique Armenienne. Paris, Imprimerie Imperiale, 1859, Vol. 1, pp. 40-41. English translation in Speros Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the 11th through the 15th Century, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1971 (1986 Paperback), pp. 80-81.
 Matthew of Edessa. From Edouard Dulaurier. Recherches sur la Chronologie Armeninne, Technique et Historique. Ouvrage formant les Prolegomenes de la Collection Intitulee Bibliotheque Historique Armenienne. Paris, Imprimerie Imperiale, 1859, Vol. 1, p. 296; English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1996, p. 292.
 Matthew of
 Matthew of
 Samuel of Ani. From Tables Chronologiques, Marie Felicite Brosset. Collection d’Historiens Armeniens. Paris, Geuthner, 1874-1876, Vol. 2, p. 297; English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1996, p. 292.
 Anna Comnena, Anne Comnene. Alexiade, text etabli et traduit. B. Leib, Paris, 1937-1945,Vol. 3, p. 229; English translation in Speros Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism,p. 164.
 Marie Brosset. Histoire de la Georgie, St. Petersburg, 1849, Vol. 1, pp. 346-350; English translation in, Speros Vryonis, Jr. “Nomadization and Islamization in Asia Minor”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1975, Vol. 29, pp. 50-51. Vryonis (p.51) comments further, regarding the pattern of depredations by the nomadic Turks,
In the spring they began to ascend the mountains of Somkheth and Ararat, where they again found the necessary pasturage and relief from the heat. But at no time did they cease to raid and devastate the adjoining territories of their Christian neighbors for booty and prisoners
 Segal, J.B. Edessa- The Blessed City, Oxford
University Press, 1970, pp. 252-254
 Chronique de Michel Le Syrien, Edited and translated from the Syriac by Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Paris, 1899-1905, Vol. 3, pp. 261-262; 270-271. English translation by Michael J. Miller.
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, pp. 44, 47; “Islam and the Dhimmis”, The
 Chronique de Michel Le Syrien, [Michael the Syrian] Edited and translated from the Syriac by Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Paris, 1899-1905, Vol. 2, p. 418; English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 47.
 Michael the Syrian, Chronique, Vol. 2, p. 421; English translation in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 47.
 Gil, A History of
 Naphtali Lewis, “New Light on the Negev in Ancient Times”,
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 477, footnote 50, Gil takes great exception to Claude Cahen’s negationist assessment of Christian persecution during the initial 450 years of Muslim suzerainty in Palestine:
[Claude] Cahen [Bulletin de la faculte des letters de Strasbourg, 29 (1950), 122; idem, Past and Present, 6(1954), 6f] claims that Muslim rule, in general, saw a period of peace and security, and that the sole persecution of the Christians recorded under Islam occurred during al-Hakim’s rule. This is an apologetic and incomprehensible approach which ignores the facts.
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 74.
 Chronique de Denys de Tell-Mahre, translated from the Syriac by Jean-Baptiste Chabot (
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 159
 Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634-1099, p.159; Q16:63- “By God, We (also) sent (Our apostles) to peoples before thee; but Satan made, (to the wicked) their own acts seem alluring: he is also their patron today, but they shall have a most grievous penalty”; Q5:72-“They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is Christ the son of Mary.’ But said Christ: ‘O Children of
 Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 84.
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Moshe Gil, “Dhimmi Donations and Foundations for
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 Julius Greenstone, in his essay, “The Turcoman Defeat at Cairo” The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 22, 1906, pp. 144-175, provides a translation of this poem [excerpted, pp. 164-165] by Solomon ha-Kohen b. Joseph [believed to be a descendant of the Geonim, an illustrious family of Palestinian Jews of priestly descent], which includes the poet’s recollection of the previous Turcoman conquest of Jerusalem during the eighth decade of the 11th century. Greenstone comments (p. 152), “As appears from the poem, the conquest of
 Gil, A History of
 Gil, A History of
 For example, Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades- Vol. 1- The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge, 1951, Pp. 286-87; Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 827 notes, “The Christians violated their promise to the inhabitants that they would be left alive, and slaughtered some 20,000 to 30,000 people, a number which may be an exaggeration…”
 Emmanuel Sivan, “Palestine During the Crusades”, in A History of the Holy Land, edited by Michael Avi-Yonah, Continuum, New York, 2001, p. 244.
 Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades- Vol. 3-The
 Isaac b. Samuel of
 Ellul. The Subversion of Christianity, p. 103.
 Walid Phares, “Jihad is Jihad”, The Palestine Times, November, 1997.