Many people still believe that Jerusalem was first a Christian not a Muslim city:”Muslims were the aggressors, taking it from Christians”. The truth is Jerusalem was established as a Canaanite city circa 4000-3100 BC, 4,000 years before Christ. In the 10thC BC, King David made it the capital and the Holy City of the Jews. Soloman lived there and built his Temple. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.This timeline of Jerusalem shows how often the city was taken over.
Tweeters were making the ludicrous claim on twitter today that “Jerusalem has always been an Christian city and the Muslims were the aggressors! They stole the city from the Christians. “
History proves otherwise. The Muslims controlled the Holy Land long before the first Crusaders. The advancing Muslims conquered northern Palestine in 636 BC and Jerusalem in 638 AD. They controlled the whole of Syria, Palestine and Egypt by 641 AD. Christians and Jews were permitted to remain, subject to payment of a poll tax.
In 1099 AD, the Christians of the First Crusade took Jerusalem and massacred the population, which was predominantly Muslim. Pope Urban ll preached it was not a sin to kill an infidel. If you killed an infidel, you would be forgiven all your sins. In Spain Muslims were called “Moors”, the wonderful film “El Cid” deals with Moors in Spain.
A leading historian of the Crusades believes that 1099 massacre of Jerusalem’s inhabitants by the army of the First Crusade was not the result of religious fervour, but rather, “the cold-blooded implementation of…’ethnic cleansing’.”
In his recent article, “The Demographics of Urban Space in Crusade Period Jerusalem (1099-1187), Alan V. Murray (University of Leeds) examines what happened when the Crusaders stormed into the Holy City on July 15th after a long siege. He describes the violence as the Crusaders slaughtered the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. For example, Raymond of Aguilers wrote, “Some of the pagans were mercifully beheaded, others pierced by arrows plunged from towers, and yet others, tortured for a long time, were burned to death in searing flames.”
In 1187, Saladin recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims, sparing the Christian population. The Christians recaptured Acre in 1191, during the Third Crusade. Saladin was known for his chivalry, compassion and honourable behaviour. He frequently spared the Christian population and when he heard Richard the Lionheart was sick, sent him fresh fruits.
Christians are often reluctant to admit that Jerusalem has sacred associations for Jews and Muslims alike. Muslims revere Jerusalem (AlQods) because that is where the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Masjid Al-Aqsa) and the Dome of Rock Shrine are, in addition to several other Islamic places. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered the third holiest place in Islam and praying there is a moving experience for many Muslims. There are also the remnants of Mohammed’s footsteps from where he ascended to heaven from Al-Aqsa.
There is no possible excuse for the sadism of the terrorism such as Isil, this is an issue apart, that must be stamped out. But in other types of warfare, there is violence on both sides. It is only fair to look at the facts of history and see that the conflict, as believed by many these days, has never been one sided.