History Channel: Why Muslims See the Crusades So Differently from Christians

Church of holy Sepulcher

Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, one of the holiest places in Christianity. The Muslim Times has the best collection for interfaith tolerance

Source: History channel

By Missy Sullivan

They weren’t all battles and bloodshed. There was also coexistence, political compromise, trade, scientific exchange—even love.

It’s often said that winners dictate history. Not so for the medieval holy wars called the Crusades.

Muslim forces ultimately expelled the European Christians who invaded the eastern Mediterranean repeatedly in the 12th and 13th centuries—and thwarted their effort to regain control of sacred Holy Land sites such as Jerusalem. Still, most histories of the Crusades offer a largely one-sided view, drawn originally from European medieval chronicles, then filtered through 18th and 19th-century Western scholars.

But how did Muslims at the time view the invasions? (Not always so contentiously, it turns out.) And what did they think of the European interlopers? (One common cliché: “unwashed barbarians.”) For a nuanced view of the medieval Muslim world, HISTORY talked with two prominent scholars: Paul M. Cobb, professor of Islamic History at the University of Pennsylvania, author of Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades, and Suleiman A. Mourad, a professor of religion at Smith College and author of The Mosaic of Islam.

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