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Makes sense? No, religion rarely makes sense.

I'm not a religious scholar (IANARS), but I think proselytism has something to do with it. Christians have their missionaries and Muslims their Dais (someone check me on the spelling). They're competing for people to recruit, whereas Jews, while accepting converts, doesn't actively recruit people.
Although, Christians have done terrible things to Jews over the centuries. And still do.

Also, Jesus was Jewish...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 06:11:47 AM EST
Both Christianity and Islam are peculiar in their claim of universality.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 11:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget the current evangelical "love" for Israel. Jews and Israel are seen by some as necessary to the second coming of the messiah. (Gaah....)

Heh, synchronicity; I was reading about the Crusades last night. Still don't know too much about the details, but I wonder if the events during the Crusades-- continual wars conducted on purpose between Christianity and Islam (as opposed to the unauthorized persecution of Jews)-- lead to a psychological split in modern times? I'm oversimplifying, but I'm late for work.

Jews were persecuted terribly during the Crusades, but Islam seemed to be the intended target. Could that have set up more of a "rival" image of Islam subconsciously?

by lychee on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 11:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you read this review of mine? The claim seems to be that misunderstanding between Islam and Christianity was there since the very beginning. The crusades had nothing to do with it (I mean, there were crusades against the Cathars and against Byzantium).

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 11:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your review was posted before I started reading Eurotrib regularly, so, no. But it sounds like an interesting book.

There were several smaller Crusades, such as the one against the Cathars (who are an interesting, interesting group, and one of my reasons for reading up on all this history), but they amounted to (from what I've learned so far) some really nasty religious persecution. Don't ask me about the "Children's Crusade." Not to belittle what happened to the Cathars, but that Crusade looks like it was called a Crusade just because they could call it that.

I don't doubt there was animosity before the Crusades. If there wasn't, why would anyone care that Muslims ruled all these lands? My point was that the Crusades may have created a much more massive gulf between the two.

by lychee on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 10:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islam wasn't really the intended target: the target was increased Papal control over Christendom. The Crusades were largely a means to that end, initially.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 11:20:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Papal control was the stated purpose; however, those who participated in the Crusades fought for cities that were under Muslim rule, it seems (I say "it seems" because my knowledge of the Crusades is very sparse-- we never really covered them in school, limiting the years between 0 and 1492 to: the Magna Carta, reading The Once and Future King, and writing really bad papers about Charlemagne. I'm trying to fill in my knowledge, but 1400 years can take a while). Thus "target," as in where they were aiming their weapons. Persecuting Jews wasn't part of the original plan, from what I understand, just a by-product of anti-Semitism, if that makes any sense.

So here are these lands that Christianity wants, and they're ruled by Muslims. Again, I wonder if this didn't create a psychological barrier between the two religions. Not only was Islam not a part of Christianity, but it was an active occupier in the eyes of much of Europe.

I said that most of 0-1492 was not really covered; I did have the opportunity in high school to take an elective on Islam. Again, the Crusades weren't really covered, just the origins and beliefs of the religion, and comparisons to Christianity and Judaism. I did get to help the teacher organize a field trip to a local mosque in LA. When some of the men sitting outside found out some of us were Jewish, they actually seemed happy, smiling and telling us we had "so much in common."

by lychee on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 10:06:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We could also say that the knights' true goal was not to beat out Muslims from the Holy Land, but to use the opportunity to gain feudal lands for themselves. The pillaging on the road to Palestina (especially the overthrow of the remains of the Byzantine Empire, but also everywhere else) also supports that view...

Regarding general history of Christianity vs. Islam, some things to consider:

  • You more seem to think of Western Christianity, yet the Eastern one in the Byzantine Empire and Armenia had a history of confrontation with the empire(s) of Mohhamed and his successors practically from the first decades.
  • Western Christian countries first had major conflict with Islamic rivals when the latter took over the Iberian Peninsula, and their invasion of France had to be stopped.
  • Still in the First Millenium, even the hearthland of Western Christianity, Italy, was raided, and there were fighting Popes who led armies themselves.
  • The Holy Land was not a core area of Islamic empires. What's more, thechallenge from the Crusades was dwarfed by conflicts like with the Mongols. Until 19th-century European imperialism and the I/P conflict made all cultures focus on this history, for Islamic cultures, the Crusades were more like peripheral squirmishes.
  • Christian countries (both East and West) got their biggest Islamic challenge with the rise of the Ottoman Empire. This empire first at up the remains of the Byzantine Empire, then the Balkans, then when Crusades started against them failed, subjugated the Hungarian Kingdom and the Tatars in what is now Ukraine, and then was an existential danger for Venice, Austria, Poland/Lithuania and Russia for two centuries, fighting several major wars (on the scale or larger than the Crusades against the Holy Land) against each of these.
  • Note that the Ottoman Empire also subjugated most Arab lands.
  • Also note that beyond the Crusades for the Holy Land, against the Cathars, and against the Ottoman Empire, there were also ones against the Slavic and Baltic pagans that remained between Russia and the German empire. (Lithuania was born from a defense alliance against such one, and was so successful that it grew into a short-lived empire, going Christian voluntarily in the process.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 03:38:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their history was as much one of accommodation than confrontation.
As for religious hostility - at the time of the first crusade, it is estimated that over 50% of the population of Syrian and Palestine was Christian - after 500 years of Muslim rule.  It was after the 3rd Crusade, I believe, that the Muslims finally started to think of Christians as a 5th column - and begin to make proselytization and conversion state policy.
by cambridgemac on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:03:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A good and simple answer to my question. I'd forgotten about the proselytizing and universality angle. Christianity has an in-built narrative about the Jews: those are the people who didn't recognize their own Messiah. But this is treated as a thing of the past.

Islam on the other hand makes an open challenge to Christianity. (From a Judaic perspective, it doesn't matter what Christians believe, because Christians are gentiles, whereas in Judaism the only people of interest are Jews.) It claims to correct alleged errors in the New Testament. To quote from the New Yorker article about the new Pope (not online yet) that prompted this diary:

It should be remembered that John of Damascus, the eight-century saint and last Father of the Church, considered Islam to be a Christian heresy; today, by strict Catholic definition, any religion that postdates and rejects the divinity of Christ is heretical
This point raises a further reason why Islam is more problematic for Christianity than Judaism: Islam postdates Christianity, whereas Judaism predates it.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 02:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islam was more problematic than Judaism because it had a big fucking empire in direct conflict with the Christian one. Stop confusing justifications with motivations.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 02:39:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That could have been the problem in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised if the initial seed of animosity was simply that it was not Christianity.
by lychee on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 10:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Christianity has an in-built narrative about the Jews: those are the people who didn't recognize their own Messiah

A convenient narrative for Romans faced with the embarrassment of having supposedly executed the main figure in their new state religion.

by Sassafras on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 05:46:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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