Islamophobia, the First Crusade and the Expansion of Christendom to Islamic World
By Hussain Othman
World Journal of Islamic History and Civilization, Vo.4:3 (2014)
Abstract: The impact of the First Crusade proclaimed by Pope Urban II in 1095 during his sermon at Clermont, France goes beyond the historic fall of Jerusalem from Muslim hand to the Western Christians. It was the beginning of a systematic and thoughtful description of Islam and Muslim as the great enemy of Western Christendom. Islam was portrayed as a heretic belief and anti-Christ movement. The Muslims were compared with the barbaric people, merciless and coldblooded. The demonization of Islam and Muslims had successfully instigated Western Christians to take part in the expedition of the First Crusade and marched towards the Islamic World in the Near East. Muslims had lost their second Holy Land, the Quds or Jerusalem, to the First Crusaders and part of their lands were colonised. The establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by the First Crusaders was a historic moment not only for the victory of wars and the possession of Muslim cities, lands and territories but more importantly the personal victory of the Papal to expand Western Christendom to the Islamic World. Through the description of the First Crusade, mostly from the Western sources, this paper is intended to show that it was the Pope who systematically sown the seeds of Islamophobia among Western Christians so that they will realise his vision of expanding his Imperial Christendom to the Islamic World.
The term “crusade” was almost unknown during late eleventh century when Christian’s military expedition from Europe first reached Islamic world in the near east and ignited the religious wars on behalf of Western Christendom. Urban II, the Pope who first called for this expedition did not used this term or invented it during his sermon at Clermont in 1095. Rather he urged the Christians Europe to take a military journey or pilgrimage and most of the contemporaries termed as iter (journey) expeditio, passagium, peregrinatio (pilgrimage). Other various terms used by western writers are bellum sacrum or guerre sainte (holy war), passagium generate (a passage or general passage), expeditio cruris (expedition of the Cross) or negotium Jhesu Christi (the business of Jesus Christ). These terms according to Housley describe two main understanding on the crusade, first as the journey and second as the enterprise. Collectively, the crusaders in late eleventh century were known as milites Dei or Christi, the Army of God or the Army of Christ.