How much of our knowledge of Islamic history is centered around the Crusades?  How does that affect us today?


Anzac Day:

Peter Riddell –Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future

Peter Riddell –Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World: Transmission and Responses

Peter Riddell –Angels and Demons: Perspectives and Practice in Diverse Religious Traditions

Peter Riddell & Brent J. Neely –Islam and the Last Day: Christian Perspectives on Islamic Eschatology

Peter Riddell & John Azumah –Islam and Christianity on the Edge: Talking Points in Christian-Muslim Relations Into the 21st Century

Paul Marshall (editor) & Peter Riddell (contributor) –Radical Islam’s Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law

Peter Riddell –Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought and Society : A Festschrift in Honour of Anthony H. Johns (Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science)

Ira Lapidus –A History of Islamic Societies

Karen Armstrong –Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time


Theme Music by: Nobara Hayakawa – Trail
Sponsor Music by: Drunk Pedestrians – Mean

Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Islamic History: The Crusades are Only One Link in the Chain – Part 2:

Okay, guys. Part 2 for our study of Islamic history, looking at, really the chain of events that has led up to today, as doctor Riddell has, demonstrated in his first episode and we’ll talk more about today that we can’t just take one link out of a chain and look at it in isolation in hopes to understand the entire chain. We need to look at what happens before and after and it’s a a good episode. I hope you guys enjoy it. And, again, this is, part 2.So if you haven’t heard part 1, you can go back and listen to that episode or just start in the middle. Whichever you prefer. Yeah. Nothing wrong with starting a book in the middle. That’s fun.

Do on occasion. What? Go back to part 1 and listen to that and then, and then check back here. You could even start this show in the middle just fast forward. Alright.

Thanks. Oh, once again Muslim terrorists. A terrorist Islamic extremist. Extremist is not irrelevant. It is a warning.

Welcome to the truth about Muslims podcast, the official podcast of the Zwemer Center For Muslim Studies, where we help to educate you beyond the media. Here are your hosts, Howard and Trevor. How helpful is it when people kinda make up their mind about the history of a religion before having even met somebody from that religion. Because I find that that’s typically the case is that people kinda have their minds made up about the history of Islam and the history of Mohammed and the, revelations and sort of the development of the history of Muslims, Christians, and Jews and then you realize they’ve never actually even met a Muslim. Is that helpful?

I mean, would you discourage people from sort of making up their minds about what’s going on historically or do you like the idea of dealing with, you know, some of the history in line with also some relationships with modern day Muslims that believe different things? Yeah. I mean, in a sense, I have a I have a vested interest because I’m a historian. But this is where I think it’s important for people to study Islam. If if they’re gonna be meeting Muslims and, you know, engaging with Muslims, I think it’s important that they know something about Islam, its theology, its doctrine, its history.

These are all door openers really. They’re they’re bridges to to engaging with Muslims. So I I think it’s important that people do know something and not make up their minds based on the odd passing comment that they might see in the newspaper article somewhere that’s usually written by a journalist who’s pulled it together in 2 hours of quick research on the Internet. Yeah. Wikipedia.

Hey, ladies. I’m from, Truth About Muslims podcast. Have you heard of it? Yeah. Okay.

So we want you to read an ad for us. Can you do that? You’ll be famous, like, world famous. It’ll be amazing. C I u?

C I u. C I u. C I u. C I u. I’m Kevin Kekaisen.

Kevin. Yeah. I’m a Kekaisen. Oh, wow. That’s nice.

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You wanna read that again? Yep. I feel like I’ll be so embarrassed to be thrown out, man. Before we get into the crusades right? Because, obviously, we’re gonna probably have to talk about that a little bit.

But what what other, Trevor, you said turning points? Turning points were, bringing the, the the tension, you know, to a a boiling point before the Crusades? What what other things were there? Yeah. Well, when we study Western history Mhmm.

European history, we study the great empires. You know, obviously, we study Rome. We study what came after Rome, Eastern Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, and so forth. We study the dark ages. We study the age of colonization and so forth.

And what you find is of colonization and so forth. And what you find is that if you study Islam in the same way, the great Islamic empires, actually, the the interaction between the great Christian periods and the great Islamic periods was was quite noticeable, and that shaped relationships at that time. So for example, following Mohammed, there was a period of Islamic leaders that really expanded the Islamic empire. So there was an an initial empire that lasted for a 100 years that was a kind of age of expansion, and it expanded in interaction with the Christian world at the time, often military interaction between the 2. Then there was another empire that followed, the great Abbasid Empire.

That was a kind of period of flowering of the arts and imperial grandeur and so forth and building. That’s worth studying. Again, it was interacting with Christians all the way through. So I would be advising students who are interested in history to study the moments. 1st, be aware of, in general terms, of the great empires, but then be asking the question, how did they interact with Christians?

And in terms of today, how does that influence the relationship today? Because one of for me, when I teach history to to my students, I never simply teach history in terms of dates and events. I’m always asking the question, this event happened, how does that impact the relationship today? How did that feed into the developing Christian Muslim relationship? Because I firmly believe that Christian Muslim interaction in the 21st century is the, child of centuries of interaction between the two faiths.

Therefore, we need to understand something about those centuries of interaction in order to really get a handle on what’s going on today. So it it sounds like you’re saying everything didn’t start on 911. Quite funny about that too. It’s a little further back. You mentioned that first empire.

Give us some ideas about where these empires spread, that first sort of Islamic movement goes where? So with with the death of Mohammed in in 632, there was a period of about 30 years when, there were a series of of leaders, and that first 30 years was really important for the growth of Islam. So Islam moved out of the Arabian Peninsula. It, spread into into current present day Iraq and Syria. Damascus, which was a great Christian city, fell to to to to Muslims, so did Jerusalem.

Islam expanded into Egypt during this period, and it also expanded into, Persia, which was a different religion, Zoroastrian at the time. So those first 30 years were very important for the expansion of Islam. Looking at that, I mean, it’s gotta shock a lot of people though because this is really the cradle of Christianity at this point. So how do you look at that from a historical perspective that the the cradle of the Christian faith within 30 years of after the death of Mohammed essentially changes to an Islamic empire? Well, that’s left, a a legacy, among both Muslims and Christians.

It’s important to understand that one of the reasons a key reason, I think, that Islam was so successful in expanding in that early period was that the Eastern Christian Empire and the Persian Empire had been fighting each other for 100 of years, and they were exhausted. So the 2 great empires of the region had exhausted themselves fighting each other. So in comes Islam as a new force, and they they encountered very brittle resistance, so they expanded very rapidly. They were fired up by new enthusiasm about their faith. So that initial period was was crucial.

But, of course, the loss of, Jerusalem, the loss of Damascus, that left a legacy of bitterness, among Christians, and it would that was the first stage on the lead up to the crusades and onwards. So in a sense, relationships are being formed in that very early period, relations based on on on conflict and and conquest and so forth. I think what’s interesting because Islam, the Islamic empires were based so much about, their faith, that, they didn’t fade like other empires would have. Right? So, like, you have a Roman Empire, which wasn’t really based on faith.

It was, you know, very militaristic, powerful. And I know that Islam has had that kind of history as well. But, but it seems like, the Christendom and is this Islamic empire just continually, were swelling. Right? And, competing, fighting, on the edges and trading too.

Right? Mhmm. And and that just continued on and on and on and on. So even though there were empires that were falling, right, the the Islamic, regions of the world still stayed Islamic. Right?

And then, Christendom in in the west or more of the west, I guess, still stayed. So I’m just wondering, did that is that what had, really built up the build bitterness over the years? Whereas in maybe, like, Romans and the Germanic tribes, there’s still no there’s no bitterness between Romans and Germanic tribes today because they just don’t exist where you have Christian and you have Islam still here. Would that be a contributor to this buildup? Yes.

Well, the the in in the contest between the Islamic empires and and the and Christendom, you have a contest between in all different sorts of ways. It’s a contest for power. It’s a contest for territory. It’s a contest for religious belief. Mhmm.

And, you know, Rome and the Germanic tribes, they know they don’t no longer have a contest for for religious belief because they the whole area eventually became is, Christianized. Right. Whereas in the case of Islam and Christianity, the the territories that distinguish them were also marked by religious differences, which we find today. So that’s a kind of ongoing basis of of rivalry. Islamic empires the the the territory that was that became Islamic through expansion and conquest, had reached its maximum point virtually pretty much by about 7 50 AD.

Wow. That’s that’s soon after. Yeah. But there were some subsequent expansions, but nevertheless, that period of 120 years was essential for Islam’s expansion to its furthest point. And subsequent to that, that that area of land did pass from empire to empire within the Islamic in Islamic terms.

Right. Right. Different Islamic different Islamic empires. Some came, some went. So you found some empires raised, rose, some fell, but it remained Islamic.

And that’s the thing. Once that area of land has become Islamic, it’s not ceased to be so except for the period of the Crusades and more recently. Yeah. And I think that we have to take into consideration that there are many Christians that would look at the rapid expansion of the church in the 1st century and that would be a great testimony to the validity of their faith. Muslims have the same sort of testimony.

Many Muslims I’ve talked to have used that as sort of a test for the authenticity of Islam is look how quickly this spread. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a very common idea among Muslims that, their their view is that God blessed Islam which is why it expanded as it did, which is interesting for later history because when Islam had periods of decline, Muslims then asked the question, why has God stopped to bless us, stop blessing us? And the answer has typically been because we were bad Muslims, so we need to get back to the original kind of faith, which tends to be more a literalist kind of faith.

And we we see that in Christian circles as well in the past. I I just hear, like, these stories from, church history, I think I remember, where, Muslims would come and conquer a town and they would all convert to Islam, And then that town that used to be Christian is no longer Christian, or that region was Christian, is no longer Christian, was wiped out. So it’s interesting. Well, I think, you know, there’s it it there is, like, that that shift towards fundamentalism in a sense that we’ve abandoned the faith and we need to go back to the the true, you know. And there’s that that narrative that exist in a lot of countries, our own country included, in a lot of historic Christian areas.

But a lot of people aren’t aware that going to Spain today that you’ll see a lot of mosque and a lot of architecture that is directly related to that early Islamic empire and then all the way up into Baghdad, the next empire that talk to us a little bit about the so called golden age of Islam that seems to be a another huge turning point. Yes. Well, after the fall of the, really, the empire of expansion, they were called the Umayyads, and they they lasted until 7 50 AD. That was a period really of military expansion. You then had 500 years of empires where a number of empires and sub empires in the Islamic world, where the arts flourished, where the sciences flourished.

There was a lot of translation of Greek works. There was a period of stability, relative stability, especially in the 8 100. And during that period, sometimes Christians and Jews row rose to positions of prominence in the administration of the empire. And, that was that particular empire called the Abbasid Empire, it was based on Baghdad. Meanwhile, over in Spain, another empire was was flourishing.

So in the 8 100, you had a, I suppose, a kind of glory period. One based 1 empire based in Baghdad, 1 empire based in based in Spain. And, this was the period, of course, when the Europe European areas had entered the dark ages. There was a massive decline. So this was definitely the period of, Islamic rise and glory and European decline.

And if you look at if you think of history as a series of waves, what you often tend to find is that as the wave of Islam rose, the wave of European Christianity declined. And as one rose, then yet later on you find that the Europeans rose through, colonialism and at a time that the Islamic wave had declined as well. So it tends to be a sort of balancing kind of wave to some extent. So that that for me, it begs the question, today, are we in decline? It depends on who you ask.

Christians are in decline or, or or we are on our way up. You know, some miss, some really hopeful missiologists are like, we’re we’re doing it. We’re finishing the job. You know? We’re finishing the task.

But then a lot of scared Americans, you know, like, what what would you say? Or is Islam in decline? Or, or Who who is riding the wave? Yeah. Who’s rising?

Yeah. Well, you know, since, since 1900, Muslim, sort of reformist kinds of writers have been have been asking the question again, why are we colonized? Because in 1900, much of the Muslim world was under colonial control of non Muslim powers. So they asked the question, why is that? And the answer was, we’ve been bad Muslims.

Therefore, many Muslim groups have tried to revive Islam by going back to what they considered to be the basics, and we are still seeing that process today. So groups that you see whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which tend to be, you know, then then non jihadi or some of the jihadi groups, The message is we need to get back to the basics in Islam and implement Islamic Sharia law, and that will help Islam rise, go up the wave again. What about the West? Is the West rising or declining? Well, you know, we can discuss that among ourselves.

Alright. So this show wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. And at this point in the show is where if you wanna partner with us, we would put your ad. So if you wanna be a part of the show, you wanna partner with us, you like what we’re doing, you wanna be on our team, what have you, bringing this show to the world, then email us and let us know. I’m curious even before, even before the 1900 before colonialism pre colonialism, we have the crusades, which is a little bit where we started the conversation.

How was the response from the Muslim world going from this golden age, this sort of Pax Romana? I don’t know what the Islamic term would be for this sort of peaceful reign where they’re flourishing in art and they’re flourishing in medicine and science and, astronomy. And, you know, we’ve we’ve heard so many different things that were coming out of this, period in Baghdad. And what what what was the response when what comes next is essentially the Crusades? Well, yeah, in a sense, what we’re seeing is what history has shown about every empire.

From the death of Muhammad to 632 until about 1100 AD, Islam had been going through a period of great flourishing, great success, but then the decline set in inevitably. So in the 900, the Islamic Empire and empires, they were they were declining. So by the time that that the crusades happened, the Islamic empires were brittle. They were they had declined considerably. There was certain amount of decadence in certain kinds of ways.

And, so they were vulnerable to to, attack from other areas. The crusades, they represent a kind of counterattack in a sense, a counterattack after 450 years of Muslim expansion. So from the death of Mohammed, there had been this expansion. Christianity had been in retreat. So the crusades that started in 10/95, 10/96 represented a kind of counter attack at a time that the Islamic Islamic empires had declined.

And so the crusades were successful in setting up a series of little kingdoms in around the area of present day Israel, Lebanon, and so forth. And, as Islam was declining and it was facing a lot of pressure in that way, it was also beginning to face pressures from other parts of the world that eventually led on to the great Mongol invasions of the 1200. So, Muslims look back to the Crusades as with bitterness, as an event, a series of events that brought about, huge loss among the Islamic nations. But, of course, going getting back to my original point, you can’t measure the Christian Muslim problem from that period because there had already been 450 years of Christian Muslim conflict and rivalry before the crusades. So that’s why, for me, the Crusades are a link in the chain of history.

So in the dark ages, was there much interaction between Muslims and Christian, like, in trade or anything? It just seems like what the paint the picture that you painted, Islam was flourishing, kinda like the Renaissance, you know, for the West. So, I just it made me think that the Christians were just kinda in their caves. Or the Christians were in their monasteries, you know, just hiding. Yeah.

Yeah. No. There there wasn’t. There was certainly interaction. We have to remember that during that period, there were still lots of Christians living under Islamic rule in the Middle East.

Okay. I didn’t think about that. And during the period of Islamic greatness, some of those Christians rose to positions of prominence in the Islamic empires. So there was Christian Muslim interaction there within the world of Islam. But in addition, there was continuing Christian Muslim in interaction beyond the borders as well.

There were, for example, ongoing pilgrimages from, by Christian groups coming from Europe going down to Jerusalem to visit the holy sites. There was trade going on, of course. So, yeah, it was going on. Christian Muslim interaction was happening in different ways. So what was the initial spark that started the Crusades?

Well, the, there had been it was a new Muslim group who came on the scene actually. When you think of the Middle East, you think of a number of different major people groups. You think of the Arabs, you think of the Persians, you think of the Turks. And it was really the arrival of the Turks around 1000 AD that represented a whole new, element in the Islamic equation. As the king as the Islamic empires were declining, this new group of people arrived, and the Turks started to assert themselves within the world of Islam.

And they also started to push into, present day Turkey. The present day Turkey that had originally been Christian, of course, as we know from from the bible. So the arrival of the Turks, meant that they were it was increasing conflict between Christians, in the Byzantine Empire and the newly arriving Turks. There was a big battle in 10/71 in, in Eastern Turkey, where the Christian armies of the Byzantines was heavily defeated. And, that defeat meant that more pressure was being applied on the Eastern Christian city of Constantinople.

And so the cons the ruler of Constantinople, the emperor of Constantinople turned to the pope in Rome and asked for help, ask for assistance to face up to the new Islamic threat of the Turks. And that 25 years later, they gathered together an army and they then responded to to this new threat, the new threat of the the Turks. Alright. That was Peter Riddell. As always, he’s masterful in his intellect and his content.

This one was pretty exciting because it’s building up the conflict, between Muslims and Christian relations, which is a lot of what we’re living in today. Right, Trevor? Right. Well, I mean, it’s it’s good to realize that this isn’t anything, new. We tend to view the world through, you know, our our own experience and forget that there’s a history there.

So we’ve got, you know, 1400 years of ongoing tension, not always tension, sometimes, good relationships, sometimes poor relationships. And it’s good to hear him sort of outline the ebb and flow, and and I’m looking forward to next week where we really break this down into, so how did this all come about and what we see today? Right. And we need to know what to do with it. So this is, history at its finest.

Yeah. Look forward to part 3 next week. Yep. So come back.