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The Crusades: The Muslim Perspective - Essay Example

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The historical study of the Crusades, as of any other issue in history, tends to be viewed through a subjective lens. Both autobiographical and first-hand accounts of significant historical events, or their later interpretation by scholars, are prone to distortion by this subjective view. …
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The Crusades: The Muslim Perspective
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"The Crusades: The Muslim Perspective"

Download file to see previous pages Jubb criticizes the conventional depiction of the Muslims in accounts of the Crusades by western Christian writers. The Muslims are largely addressed as ‘barbarians,’ differing markedly from the crusaders in ethnicity and culture, or as ‘Saracens,’ connoting religious differences. In what may be termed “willful and malicious misrepresentations”, the Muslims are denoted as ‘pagans’ and idolators who worship a multitude of gods, ranging from Apollo to Muhammad. Western writers persist in this deliberate perversion, in spite of being aware of the truth that Islam was a “monotheistic, aniconic” religion. The medieval portrayal of the Muslims as “libidinous, gluttonous, savage, bloodthirsty, and semi-human,” is seen as an attempt to bolster the self-image of the crusaders, and defend the ideology of the Crusades. Even the comparatively positive later portrayals of the Muslims are more in line with the motivation of enabling the crusaders to define themselves, rather than accurate depictions of the enemy. Another significant point which is evident in medieval accounts of the Crusades is the failure of the writers to differentiate between the Arabs and Turks. Jubb’s criticism of this unrealistic portrayal of the Muslims by western writers is validated when viewed in conjunction with Usamah ibn Munqidh’s balanced narrative. Usamah gives the reader several glimpses of the Franks from the point of view of a Muslim. Usamah ibn Munqidh lived from 1095 – 1188. This makes his first-hand account of life during the time of the Crusades particularly relevant. Firstly, Usamah comes across as an erudite, cultured, scholar and his account is laced with wit and humor. In this context, Usamah’s personality itself bears testimony to the falsity of the conventional image of the barbaric Muslim drawn by medieval western Christians. Usamah’ book, the Kitab al-I’tibar gives the reader an intimate look at life during the Crusades from the Muslim perspective. In marked contrast to the misrepresentation, and overt bias, expressed by medieval Christian writers, which Jubb criticizes, Usamah’s account is characterized by a balanced depiction of the Franks. This balance is evident in Usamah’s use of antitheses in his narrative: he portrays Frankish justice as both “bizarre and awful” and “good;” Frankish medicine is “lethally dreadful” and also “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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