In his manifesto, Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Norway massacre, wherein some 80 people were killed, mentioned the Crusades and aspects of it as an inspirational factor. Predictably, Western elites—especially through the MSM—have begun a new round of moral, cultural, and historical relativism, some even conflating the terrorist with former President Bush, who once used the word “crusade.”
The fact is, there are important parallels between the Crusades and Breivik’s actions—but hardly the way portrayed by the media. Rather, this terrorist attack, like the historic Crusades themselves, was influenced by the very doctrine of jihad.
While some are cognizant that the Crusades were a retaliation to centuries of Muslim aggression (see Rodney Stark’s God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades), few are aware that the idea of Christian “holy war”—notably the use of violence in the name of Christianity and the notion that Crusaders who die are martyrs forgiven their sins—finds its ideological origins in Muslim jihad.
As historian Bernard Lewis puts it, “Even the Christian crusade, often compared with the Muslim jihad, was itself a delayed and limited response to the jihad and in part also an imitation.” How? The popes offered
forgiveness for sins to those who fought in defence of the holy Church of God and the Christian religion and polity, and eternal life for those fighting the infidel. These ideas … clearly reflect the Muslim notion of jihad, and are precursors of the Western Christian Crusade.
Still, Lewis makes clear some fundamental differences:
But unlike the jihad, it [the Crusade] was concerned primarily with the defense or reconquest of threatened or lost Christian territory.… The Muslim jihad, in contrast, was perceived as unlimited, as a religious obligation that would continue until all the world had either adopted the Muslim faith or submitted to Muslim rule.… The object of jihad is to bring the whole world under Islamic law.
If the Crusades find their ideological origins in jihad, arguably, so too does much of modern day terrorism. For instance, the medieval Hashashin— archetypal terrorists who gave us the word “assassin”—were a Muslim sect that pioneered the use of fear and terrorism for political gain during the Crusading era (circa. eleventh-thirteenth centuries).
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