The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

By M. J. Akbar | Go to book overview

4

A MAP OF ISLAM

One-third of the Muslims would be defeated (which God would never forgive); one-third would be killed (making them the best of martyrs); one-third would be victorious and conquer Constantinople.

[A tradition in Sahih al Bukhari, quoting Muhammad on the jihad against the Byzantine Roman Empire]

Reynauld of Chatillon, a French carpetbagger who came to the Holy Land with the Second Crusade in 1147, was not renowned for delicacy. He placed the heads of his victims, whether Muslim or Christian, in a wooden box before throwing them over the high walls of his castle at Kerak in the hope that they would be conscious when they smashed into the rocks below. When the Patriarch of Antioch refused to fund an attack on the Christian island of Cyprus, the high priest was stripped, smeared with honey, and left under the West Asian sun to feed the flies. The baked Patriarch paid up.

In Cyprus, Reynauld’s marauders confirmed his reputation with wanton rape and pillage. There was relief across the religious divide when he was caught rustling cattle by Muslims in 1160, and imprisoned for fourteen years until ransomed for 120,000 gold dinars. His powerful reserves of hatred now concentrated on one target: Muslims. He promised that he would defile the holy cities, drag the body of ‘this accursed camel driver’ from the tomb in Medina, and smash the sacred stone of Kaaba.

In 1182 Reynauld constructed a fleet of ships in his land-bound castle, sent them to the Dead Sea for trials, then dismantled and dragged them across the desert to Eilat on the Red Sea. From this mobile base his pirate fleet looted Muslim villages and communities, and planned an invasion of

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The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • 1 - Chapter and Verse 1
  • 2 - The Joys of Death: a Bargain with Allah 12
  • 3 - Rebellions in the Dark of the Night 26
  • 4 - A Map of Islam 40
  • 5 - Circle of Hell 52
  • 6 - Allah! Muhammad! Saladin! 67
  • 7 - The Doors of Europe 83
  • 8 - Jihad in the East: a Crescent Over Delhi 99
  • 9 - The Holy Sea: Pepper and Power 113
  • 10 - The Bargain Goes Sour 131
  • 11 - The Wedge and the Gate 145
  • 12 - History as Anger, Jihad as Non-Violence 160
  • 13 - Islam in Danger Zone 177
  • 14 - Jinnah Redux and the Age of Osama 189
  • Glossary 214
  • A Suggested Reading List 218
  • Thumbnail Sketches 228
  • Index 251
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