The Islamic Jihad during the Crusades
Authors: Sergey L. Dudarev
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This paper examines the key characteristics of the process of emergence and development of the jihadist movement, which led to the ousting of the Crusaders from the Eastern Mediterranean. The author has identified four major stages in the development of the jihadist movement, as well as several sub-stages within some of them. The paper examines the key reasons behind the emergence of the jihadist movement, its key characteristics, and the role of several prominent historical figures in the cultivation of jihad, including major Middle Eastern figures such as Imad al-Din Zengi, Nur ad-Din, and Salah ad-Din. The author describes the key characteristics of the final stage of the jihad, including the role played in the process by the Mamluks (e.g., Baibars). The researcher discusses some of the key ideological, political, and other components of the Crusades-era jihadist movement. Based on a number of sources, the paper reveals that it is not straightaway that jihad became the banner of struggle against the European invaders. In fact, it took a lot of time before the leaders of the Muslim world could, using the available ideological clichés to launch a liberation struggle, work out a model of ideal jihadist behavior that would be based on the postulates of Islam and overcome the disunity between each other and political pragmatism. Yet, the author argues, based, inter alia, on conclusions drawn by earlier research, that one should not idealize particular leaders of jihadism, as these men were not indifferent to the pursuit of various local, contextual, or dynastic interests, which suggests there being more to the Muslim rulers’ actions than just ideology. Throughout history, jihad has been an effective medium for not just achieving one’s geopolitical objectives but also “playing the two off against each other” (e.g., Muslim activists against malcontents, never a small group in the Islamic East).
Lastly, while being, at its core, a fair movement aimed at liberating the Eastern Mediterranean from the Crusader invaders, jihad incidentally facilitated the cultivation of enmity against regular, peaceful Christians who had nothing to do with the pursuit of expansionist objectives.