Chock Full O' Bits was: Saladin, Crusaders, Caliphate, bin Laden (cross)

Jeff Bone
Thu, 04 Oct 2001 14:32:01 -0500

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Just sharing the love, y'all.  From Jerry Michalski's list, lots of
good bits here...


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Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 12:29:14 -0700
Subject: [jerrys-retreat] Saladin, Crusaders, Caliphate, bin Laden
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Follow-up from a discussion from dinner last night.  Thanks again, Jen, 
Jerry and attendees!  The message below may be forwarded as you wish.

I've gathered together excerpts from various articles giving some 
background for bin Laden's jihad.  They cover briefly Saladin, parts of the 
Crusades, the glory of the Caliphate, and at the end, an article explaining 
the declaration of jihad itself.  I apologize for the overall length, but 
I've already left out as much as I felt I could.  I recommend reading each 
of the linked articles in its entirety for a more complete picture.  I also 
cannot vouch for historical accuracy; please seek independent verification 
as you see fit.  The general picture is reasonably clear, though.

Bin Laden's declaration of war, issued in 1998 and as explained by 
Professor Bernard Lewis, is very clear.  The US has shown itself to be in a 
war against God, the Prophet, and Muslims, in Arabia, Iraq, and 
Jerusalem.  The war must be fought until "the Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] 
and the Haram Mosque [in Mecca] are freed from their grip and until their 
armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, 
incapable of threatening any Muslim."

Lewis concludes, "To most Americans, the declaration is a travesty, a gross 
distortion of the nature and purpose of the American presence in Arabia. 
They should also know that for many -- perhaps most -- Muslims, the 
declaration is an equally grotesque travesty of the nature of Islam and 
even of its doctrine of jihad. [...]  At no point do the basic texts of 
Islam enjoin terrorism and murder. At no point do they even consider the 
random slaughter of uninvolved bystanders."

So, again, the war is being brought by Islamic extremists, not by Islam in 

This article is posted on the web at:

You may add comments or other information to this or other pages on the 
site by clicking the "Edit text of this page" link at the bottom of the 
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then type or paste your material.  Please email me if you need help.

PeterKaminski, 2001-10-04


The Crusader occupation was relatively short-lived. The Muslim leader 
Saladin (Salah al-Din) proclaimed a jihad, or holy war, to retake the land 
of Palestine. After ninety years of Crusader control, Jerusalem surrendered 
to Saladin's army on October 2, 1187. In contrast to the brutality of the 
Crusaders, Saladin treated the defeated Crusaders with kindness and mercy.


George Bush, who referred initially to the war on terrorism as a "crusade", 
would do well to learn from the actions of the Arab warrior, Saladin, 
rather than the Christian crusaders.

In 1099, when the Christian crusaders took Jerusalem, they slaughtered 
every Muslim and Jew - men, women and children - beginning in the afternoon 
and carrying on through the night. One of the crusaders wrote about walking 
knee-high through corpses in the city's narrow streets.

When Saladin took Jerusalem in 1187 he spared everyone and the next day 
allowed followers of each religion to worship at their holy places within 
the city.


Bin Laden is the most notorious advocate of a potent strain of militant 
Islam that has been gaining popularity in the Muslim world for 30 years. It 
is simultaneously theological and cultural. Its fundamental tenet is that 
the Muslim world is being poisoned and desecrated by infidels. These 
infidels include both outsiders such as the United States and Israel, and 
governments of Muslim states -- such as Egypt and Jordan -- that have 
committed apostasy. The infidels must be driven out of the Muslim world by 
a jihad, and strict Islamic rule must be established everywhere that 
Muslims live. These extreme "Islamists," as Bin Laden biographer Yossef 
Bodansky dubs them, hope to re-establish the Caliphate, the golden age of 
Muslim domination that followed the death of Muhammad. They regard the 
Taliban's Afghanistan as a model for such Islamic rule.

This Islamist militancy has ancient roots -- Saladin's expulsion of the 
crusaders in the 12th century is one starting point -- but it was 
galvanized in the 1970s by several events. The growing influence of secular 
Western capitalism in the Muslim world, the military triumphs of Israel, 
and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan horrified Islamic traditionalists. 
The Afghanistan invasion was the culminating moment: It persuaded Bin Laden 
and thousands of others of the need for Islamic holy war.


But that does not mean we are in a battle against Islam. The vast majority 
of Muslims want no part of terrorism, and many Muslim states are as nervous 
about extremism as we are. The problem is a religious subculture that 
cannot cope with openness, change, rules, democracy, secularism, and 
tolerance -- and that wishes to destroy those who can.

For some in this culture, the Crusades have never ended. For others, like 
bin Laden, the dream is to restore the caliphate, the glorious age of 
Muslim domination that flourished after the death of Mohammed.


'Crusade' Reference Reinforces Fears War on Terrorism Is Against Muslims

The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2001

[Laith Shubeilat asks,] "The question is, do you want to market the cowboy
image, 'dead or alive,' or the principles of Washington and Hamilton?"

"In the crusades," he continues, "they said it was for Christ, when it was
in reality for trade, or for Venice. Today, [American] people would not
fight if you told them it was for Texaco. But people will fight for an

In the Mideast, that idea, increasingly, seems to be Islam, whose history
and teachings speak of a bygone glory that many Muslims long to recreate,
scholars say. The cry of Muslim ideologues -- "Islam is the answer!" -- is
now a common refrain on bumper stickers in some Arab states.

"When you emasculate a people for 200 years and consistently deny them a say
in their own history -- most recently in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq --
they will target your own sacred symbols," says Hamid Dabashi, a professor
of Iranian studies at Columbia University in New York.

In hitting back, Mr. Dabashi warns, the U.S. had better be sure it doesn't
give its extremist enemies more fodder with which to spread hatred. "What's
needed is a public, civic debate on U.S. policies in the region," he
contends, adding: "It's the height of arrogance and hubris to assume that if
the oil flows and the market is open, everything in the region is OK. It


The question many Arabs ask the U.S. and the West in general, says 
Professor Jean Leca of the Institute of Political Science in Paris, is, 
"Why are you leaning so heavily on us when we already had a civilization 
while you were still living in caves?"

The brutality of Christendom's efforts to conquer the Holy Land from the 
Muslims in the Crusades of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries is not 
forgotten in the Middle East (making President Bush's early use of the word 
crusade to describe America's antiterror effort an unfortunate choice). An 
even greater sore is the sense that, in the centuries since, so much 
dignity has been lost, and to an inferior people. In Islamic belief, 
Muhammad is God's last prophet; he built upon the revelations of Moses and 
Jesus to propound a superior, perfect faith. But the world that faith 
created was broken apart: after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World 
War I, the colonial powers of France and Britain carved the Middle East 
into arbitrarily drawn mandates and states governed by handpicked local 
leaders. "Many Arabs and Muslims feel they had 10 centuries of great 
cultural achievement that ended with European colonialism," says John 
Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at 
Georgetown University. "Now they feel impotent. The West, they feel, looks 
at them as backward and is only interested in their oil. Their sense of 
self-worth and identity is wounded."


Egyptian writer Abd al-Salam Faraj wrote their manifesto, a pamphlet called 
The Neglected Duty, in which he argued that holy war was necessary to 
defend not just Muslims but Muslim dignity. Faraj, like many other Muslim 
radicals, singled out those parts of the Koran and the Hadith, the 
collected sayings and deeds attributed to Muhammad, that seemed to support 
his argument.

Bin Laden has come to fulfill the Neglected Duty. He talks a lot about 
dignity. Of the terrorists who killed 24 U.S. servicemen and two Indians in 
attacks in 1995 and 1996 in Saudi Arabia, he once said, "They have raised 
the nation's head high and washed away a great part of the shame that has 
enveloped us." Bin Laden fancies himself a modern-day Saladin, the Muslim 
commander who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders. "I envision Saladin 
coming out of the clouds," bin Laden says in a videotape released earlier 
this year to his supporters. "Our history is being rewritten.",9171,1101011001-175979-3,00.html

On the other hand, it is the triumphalist religious convictions of bin 
Laden that make him and his followers so dangerous. "This is not violence 
in the service of some practical program," says Steven Simon, a former 
member of the National Security Council who is writing a book on 
religiously inspired terrorism. "It is killing infidels in the service of 
Allah. To a secular person, it's crazy. How can that be an end in itself? 
The facts speak for themselves: there is one objective here, to kill an 
enormous number of people and humiliate the Satanic power. There is no 
claim of responsibility because there is only one audience, and that is God."


On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in 
London, printed the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front 
for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." According to the paper, the 
statement was faxed to them under the signatures of Usama bin Ladin, the 
Saudi financier blamed by the United States for masterminding the August 
bombings of its embassies in East Africa, and the leaders of militant 
Islamist groups in Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The statement -- a 
magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose -- reveals 
a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar. Bin Ladin's 
grievances are not quite what many would expect.

The declaration begins with an exordium quoting the more militant passages 
in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, then continues:

"Since God laid down the Arabian peninsula, created its desert, and 
surrounded it with its seas, no calamity has ever befallen it like these 
Crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, crowding its soil, 
eating its fruits, and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the 
nations contend against the Muslims like diners jostling around a bowl of 

The statement goes on to talk of the need to understand the situation and 
act to rectify it. The facts, it says, are known to everyone and fall under 
three main headings:

"First -- For more than seven years the United States is occupying the 
lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories, Arabia, plundering its 
riches, overwhelming its rulers, humiliating its people, threatening its 
neighbors, and using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to fight 
against the neighboring Islamic peoples.

Though some in the past have disputed the true nature of this occupation, 
the people of Arabia in their entirety have now recognized it.

There is no better proof of this than the continuing American aggression 
against the Iraqi people, launched from Arabia despite its rulers, who all 
oppose the use of their territories for this purpose but are subjugated.

Second -- Despite the immense destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people at 
the hands of the Crusader-Jewish alliance and in spite of the appalling 
number of dead, exceeding a million, the Americans nevertheless, in spite 
of all this, are trying once more to repeat this dreadful slaughter. It 
seems that the long blockade following after a fierce war, the 
dismemberment and the destruction are not enough for them. So they come 
again today to destroy what remains of this people and to humiliate their 
Muslim neighbors.

Third -- While the purposes of the Americans in these wars are religious 
and economic, they also serve the petty state of the Jews, to divert 
attention from their occupation of Jerusalem and their killing of Muslims 
in it.

There is no better proof of all this than their eagerness to destroy Iraq, 
the strongest of the neighboring Arab states, and their attempt to 
dismember all the states of the region, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia and 
Egypt and Sudan, into petty states, whose division and weakness would 
ensure the survival of Israel and the continuation of the calamitous 
Crusader occupation of the lands of Arabia."

These crimes, the statement declares, amount to "a clear declaration of war 
by the Americans against God, his Prophet, and the Muslims." In such a 
situation, the declaration says, the ulema -- authorities on theology and 
Islamic law, or sharia -- throughout the centuries unanimously ruled that 
when enemies attack the Muslim lands, jihad becomes every Muslim's personal 

In the technical language of the ulema, religious duties may be collective, 
to be discharged by the community as a whole, or personal, incumbent on 
every individual Muslim. In an offensive war, the religious duty of jihad 
is collective and may be discharged by volunteers and professionals. When 
the Muslim community is defending itself, however, jihad becomes an 
individual obligation.

After quoting various Muslim authorities, the signatories then proceed to 
the final and most important part of their declaration, the fatwa, or 
ruling. It holds that

"To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an 
individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is 
possible, until the Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the Haram Mosque [in 
Mecca] are freed from their grip and until their armies, shattered and 
broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening 
any Muslim."

After citing some further relevant Quranic verses, the document continues:

"By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for 
reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their 
possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can. Likewise we call on 
the Muslim ulema and leaders and youth and soldiers to launch attacks 
against the armies of the American devils and against those who are allied 
with them from among the helpers of Satan."

The declaration and fatwa conclude with a series of further quotations from 
Muslim scripture.

Bin Ladin's view of the Gulf War as American aggression against Iraq may 
seem a little odd, but it is widely -- though by no means universally -- 
accepted in the Islamic world. For holy warriors of any faith, the faithful 
are always right and the infidels always wrong, whoever the protagonists 
and whatever the circumstances of their encounter.

The three areas of grievance listed in the declaration -- Arabia, Iraq, and 
Jerusalem -- will be familiar to observers of the Middle Eastern scene. 
What may be less familiar is the sequence and emphasis. For Muslims, as we 
in the West sometimes tend to forget but those familiar with Islamic 
history and literature know, the holy land par excellence is Arabia -- 
Mecca, where the Prophet was born; Medina, where he established the first 
Muslim state; and the Hijaz, whose people were the first to rally to the 
new faith and become its standard-bearers. Muhammad lived and died in 
Arabia, as did the Rashidun caliphs, his immediate successors at the head 
of the Islamic community. Thereafter, except for a brief interlude in 
Syria, the center of the Islamic world and the scene of its major 
achievements was Iraq, the seat of the caliphate for half a millennium. For 
Muslims, no piece of land once added to the realm of Islam can ever be 
finally renounced, but none compares in significance with Arabia and Iraq.

The great counter-Crusade that ultimately drove the Crusaders into the sea 
did not begin until almost a century later. Its immediate cause was the 
activities of a freebooting Crusader leader, Reynald of Chatillon, who held 
the fortress of Kerak, in southern Jordan, between 1176 and 1187 and used 
it to launch a series of raids against Muslim caravans and commerce in the 
adjoining regions, including the Hijaz. Historians of the Crusades are 
probably right in saying that Reynald's motive was primarily economic -- 
the desire for loot. But Muslims saw his campaigns as a provocation, a 
challenge directed against Islam's holy places. In 1182, violating an 
agreement between the Crusader king of Jerusalem and the Muslim leader 
Saladin, Reynald attacked and looted Muslim caravans, including one of 
pilgrims bound for Mecca. Even more heinous, from a Muslim point of view, 
was his threat to Arabia and a memorable buccaneering expedition in the Red 
Sea, featuring attacks on Muslim shipping and the Hijaz ports that served 
Mecca and Medina. Outraged, Saladin proclaimed a jihad against the Crusaders.

Even in Christian Europe, Saladin was justly celebrated and admired for his 
chivalrous and generous treatment of his defeated enemies. His magnanimity 
did not extend to Reynald of Chatillon. The great Arab historian Ibn 
al-Athir wrote, "Twice, [Saladin said,] I had made a vow to kill him if I 
had him in my hands; once when he tried to march on Mecca and Medina, and 
again when he treacherously captured the caravan." After Saladin's triumph, 
when many of the Crusader princes and chieftains were taken captive, he 
separated Reynald of Chatillon from the rest and beheaded him with his own 

To most Americans, the declaration is a travesty, a gross distortion of the 
nature and purpose of the American presence in Arabia. They should also 
know that for many -- perhaps most -- Muslims, the declaration is an 
equally grotesque travesty of the nature of Islam and even of its doctrine 
of jihad. The Quran speaks of peace as well as of war. The hundreds of 
thousands of traditions and sayings attributed with varying reliability to 
the Prophet, interpreted in various ways by the ulema, offer a wide range 
of guidance. The militant and violent interpretation is one among many. The 
standard juristic treatises on sharia normally contain a chapter on jihad, 
understood in the military sense as regular warfare against infidels and 
apostates. But these treatises prescribe correct behavior and respect for 
the rules of war in such matters as the opening and termination of 
hostilities and the treatment of noncombatants and prisoners, not to speak 
of diplomatic envoys. The jurists also discuss -- and sometimes differ on 
-- the actual conduct of war. Some permit, some restrict, and some 
disapprove of the use of mangonels, poisoned arrows, and the poisoning of 
enemy water supplies -- the missile and chemical warfare of the Middle Ages 
-- out of concern for the indiscriminate casualties that these weapons 
inflict. At no point do the basic texts of Islam enjoin terrorism and 
murder. At no point do they even consider the random slaughter of 
uninvolved bystanders.


Foreign Affairs is making available previously published articles that 
contribute to an understanding of the tragic attacks on New York and 
Washington. Several of the essays analyze the nature of contemporary 
terrorism and the capabilities of the United States to combat it. Other 
essays provide the Middle Eastern and radical Islamic contexts for so much 
recent terrorism, including, apparently, the attacks on the World Trade 
Center and the Pentagon.

[There are links to a number of full-text Foreign Affairs articles on the 
remainder of the page.]

Peter Kaminski <>
My September 11 archive: <>


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