The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, By Maalouf Amin Book Reviews Examples
Few history books talk about the Arabs, especially in the era of the crusaders. This has hence made it difficult for people to trace the history of the Arabs and the reasons behind their influence in world economy. The book, The Crusades through Arab Eyes By Maalouf Amin shades a lot of light on the history of the Arabs. Through the literature, one is able to understand that the Arab community was not left out in the making of history and that they played an important role in shaping the current economic, political and religious situation. The author focuses mainly on the Arabs, how they participated in the civil wars and the intentions. It is amazing that the author did not fix his attention on the current religious rivalry that exists between Arabs and other communities. He mainly looks at the participation of the Arabs in the crusades while living room for the reader to carry out more research on other topics. The book is an interesting piece of historical literature that touches on a subject that many authors have ignored.
The intention of the book was to introduce the subject of the crusades as it was viewed by the Arabs. Few authors have been daring enough to talk about the historical perspective of the Arabs in the area of crusades. In a season where people and mostly nations were in search of a political identity, religion was a subject that was neglected. As a matter of fact, most crusades were aimed at driving a political agenda rather than a religious one. There were more needs that needed to be taken care of, and religion could not have been among the priority for many people. However, religion became an important source of solace, especially when everything else was crumbling. After all the fights that at times left people empty and divided, religion came in handy just to remind people that they were connected and hence the need of living as brothers and sisters. Most Arabs were Muslims, yet very few came up to fight for the protection of their religion. While most crusaders were Christians and went around using the religion to push for political agenda’s, the Islamic religion was facing threats of assimilation and distinction.
Most history books mentions of how the early Christian crusaders succeeded in transforming the lives of people by interfering with their cultural practices. Just like many traditions and ethnic beliefs, Islam was considered to be an ethnic community rather than a religious group. Westernization was looked at in terms of Christianity. It was hence considered that for a person to have been civilized, then they had to forsake their traditional believes and adopt Christianity, which came with many advantages. The crusaders approached communities with a promise of a better life, investments in their country, education and al the good things that come with exposure (Matar 94). However, for the crusaders to feel welcome, the message of Christianity had to be accepted. This happened at a time when the whole world was under the crisis of civil wars, Christianity offered a message of hope and salvation, which saw most communities fall into it. As this was happening, Islam was under threat as it was considered as other culture that hindered its followers from progressing.
Considering the apparent situation of the time, the Arabs stood firm to protect their interests through religion. They realized the important role that religion played in uniting people and even helping them concur other wars. Looking at how the crusaders were aimed at changing the political minds of the people through the message of Christianity, they realized that it was a trap that would strip them off the identity. The book hence gives us a description of some Arabs who did not just buy into the crusaders and allow them strip them off their identity. They were however not fighting their crusaders, but rather uncomfortable of the fact that most Islamic leaders did not realize the tactic that was being used change their perspective. The Arabs focused on how they would bring the Muslim community together and help them understand their identity, terming it not just a cultural tradition but a religion.
In achieving his agenda, the author takes us through the historical perspective of the Islamic community as he compares with the tactic of the crusaders. The crusaders must have taken advantage of the prevailing political climate to push for their agenda. On the other hand, crusading was considered as the best way through which the European communities would be accepted and appreciated. They came dressed up with a different message, contrary to what may have accepted. The crusaders acted as spies that were sent to test the ability of people to receive them and therefore gaining control of their cultural values. In a time when European were know to be a manipulative and selfish group of people, the message of Christianity displayed a different breed of Europeans who were interested in the progress of people an donations and not just to manipulate them. As a matter of fact, they did not just come with the gospel but also with promises of economic progress through investments. The more people received the gospel, which appeared to give them the hope and healing at the moment, many cultural communities changed their attitude towards the Europeans.
The Arabs did not take this as the beginning a spiritual battle as many would have expected. However, the author mentions that the period actually acted as an eye opener to the Arabs who were held in accepting the goodies that came from the crusades at the expense of their religious identity. They realized that their religious identity was important and therefore had al the reasons to protect and defend it. Realizing that the crusades came gently and not with violence, it would have not served them right if they approached them with violence. As a matter of fact, they were concerned that the gently nature of the crusaders would actually sway a group of them and hence having awareness campaigns (Maalouf 54). The crusaders mostly used community leaders to gain entry and even to buy the attention and acceptance by the rest of the communities. The crusaders knew how much such leaders played a role in granting them entry into their various communities. The best tactic that such leaders could apply was hence to gently resist them by not accepting the goodies that they promised after accepting Christianity.
Despite the many questions that are left unanswered by simply reading the book, the author’s aim of convincing us of how the Arab community remained input has been achieved. In fact, the main reason why he left some questions unanswered was because he wanted to accomplish his purpose of not imposing ideas and conclusions. The author left room for the reader to research more on the concerns that he realized and hence being able to learn more on the topic of study. In writing the book, the author considered that less has been spoken about the Arabs except the current battles of supremacy. It is most probably because of the gentle resistance that the Arabs applied on the crusaders tat could have angered the Europeans, and hence trying to use forceful means to fulfill their agenda. The author wanted to display the Arabs as a conservative group of peoples that were more passionate of their religious believes that they could not trade it for anything.
The Arabs wars on the crusades were not against the crusaders themselves but rather their leaders who were not sensitive about their tactics. Their desire was for them to stay put and united in defending their religion, rather than having a section of them entertaining the crusades. The crusaders aimed at setting communities against each other so that they gain entry. This is what some Arab communities realized and hence fought to unite all their leaders. The battle was not an easy one, as the author mentions, considering the fact that other Muslim leaders could not see what they were seeing. They in fact fell prey to the gentleness and kindness that was expressed by the crusaders, not realizing their secret agenda. When it became difficult to convince some of their leaders, the Arabs mobilized their people, shading light on them concerning the tactics that were being used by the crusaders to gain access of their resources. The noted the fact that the crusaders, just like the rest of the Europeans were not concerned about their individual prosperity but rather on controlling their resources.
Realizing the current state of affairs and the rivalry that has since developed between European nations and Arab nations, the author does not go into the details of the resistance of the crusaders. However, analyzing his points, one can actually realize that the harsh treatment that the Arab nations are currently receiving is because the initial tactic failed. By evading the details of the story, the author succeeds in making the reader make the obvious conclusion of what conspired. Considering the few nations that stand out, especially collaborating with the Europeans, it tells much about the previous disunity that the Islamic camp faced, especially in receiving the crusaders. The author mentions of how the Europeans used Arab communities that had welcomed the crusaders and set them against other communities (Gabrieli 88). The Europeans were clever in ensuring that they used every opportunity of a soft ground they received to fight those who were stubborn and resistant.
The book, The Crusades through Arab Eyes, gives a good insight on how the early Arab communities succeeded in retaining their identity and retaining their religious practices. It was a fierce battle that was fought in a way that was least accepted. The book changes the perspective in which people looked at the Arabs and the Muslim nations. Most people make conclusions of the situation, by looking at the current state of affairs. The book however digs deep into history and gives some shocking revelation of how the Arabs reacted to the European invasion through the crusaders. The book is informative and makes one want to learn more about the Arab communities and even dig into details of the specific leaders that resisted the invasion and those that were receptive. The book also looks at the unchanging nature of the Europeans, now and then, and how they continue to use various tactics to invade into regions of their interests.
Gabrieli, Francesco, ed. Arab historians of the Crusades. Univ of California Press, 1969.
Maalouf, Amin. The crusades through Arab eyes. Random House Digital, Inc., 1984.
Matar, Nabil I. Europe through Arab eyes, 1578-1727. Columbia University Press, 2009.