The Crusades

Islam was spread primarily by conquest, not conversion. Infidels were forced to convert or die. People of the Book—Jews and Christians—were given the option of paying a protection tax (jizya) and living in an apartheid state (as dhimmi).

Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, Prometheus Books, 2008

As many as 250 million are estimated to have been slaughtered, (no mean feat in an age of no weapons of mass-murder) during the Islamic conquest that brought the believing hordes to the gates of Vienna in 1683.

The largest indigenous groups to have met their end staring into the eyes of a sword wielding holy warrior, or on their knees their heads bowed waiting for the slicing arc of a sharp blade swung in Allah’s Name are an estimated 70 million Indians during the invasions of the sub-continent.

Based on Muslim chronicles of the period, and the demographic calculations done by historian K.S. Lal in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, the largest known slaughter of followers of a lesser god, or gods, occurred during the Muslim conquest of large parts of the Indian subcontinent e.g. modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Dr. Lal estimates that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million; meaning that for much of that period the death rate among Hindus exceeded their birthrate. If the eminent historian’s estimates are even remotely accurate, this period would have witnessed the largest cold-blooded killing of an indigenous people in all written history.

It seems to me that a politically correct mythology is replacing history on many of these topics.

Consider the Crusades. The Christians are often depicted as barbarian aggressors and the Muslims as their highly cultured victims. But the Crusades were primarily a response to 300 years of jihad (whether the Crusaders were aware of the Islamic doctrine or not).

They were a reaction to Muslim incursions in Europe, the persecution of Eastern Christians, and the desecration of Christian holy sites. And few people seem to remember that the crusaders lost all but the first of those wars.

Although the Crusades were undoubtedly an expression of religious tribalism, the idea of holy war is a late, peripheral, and in many ways self-contradictory development within Christianity—and one that has almost no connection to the life and teachings of Jesus. One can’t say the same about the status of jihad under Islam.


The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as is the resurrection of Jesus under Christianity.

It is not an accident that millions of Muslims recite the shahadah or make pilgrimage to Mecca. Neither is it an accident that in the year 2015, horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim World. All these practices, including this ghastly method of murder, find explicit support in scriptures.

Sam Harris in conversation with Maajid Nawaz, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Harvard University Press, 2015

In response to criticism by believers of the Catholic Church for such things as The Inquisition and The Crusades, a writer in Le Figaro defined the problem for those who would deny the cause-and-effect of the terrible violence done in Allah’s Name.

The following is my translation of pertinent parts of his article. Any misunderstandings or misinterpretations are of course my responsibility.

The Catholic Church is not without its faults. Its history is filled with dark pages it regrets … However, what differentiates Christianity from Islam is that Christians can always return to the values in the Gospels and to the gentle person of Jesus and ignore a Church which has lost its way.

... Jesus is nonviolent. A return [to the teachings] of Jesus is the remedy for the excesses of religious institutions. Looking to the Prophet[/Koran] for guidance, on the other hand, only reinforces the hate and the violence.

Islam is a religion which in both its sacred text (Koran and Book of Hadiths) and in banal rituals promotes hatred and violence.

The ritual stoning of Satan every year at Mecca is not simply a re-enactment of a superstition… Its impact is anthropological. It is a ceremony, to which every Muslim is encourage to participate, and which sanctifies and encourages violence…

Bernard Payeur