Jews and the Crusades
by Ibn Warraq
PART ONE: ISLAMIC ANTISEMITISM BEFORE 1096.
Sir Steven Runciman, in the conclusion to his highly influential, elegantly written The History of the Crusades , seems to imply that it was the Christian Crusaders who alone were responsible not only for the “growing intolerance amongst the Moslems”, but somehow also for the fading away of Muslim intellectual life, and the subsequent stagnation of Islamic culture: –¦an intolerant faith is incapable of progress”. Runciman’s analysis is no different from so many others that write of Islamic history and culture: what are seen as positive aspects of Islamic Civilization are ecstatically praised, even exaggerated, and all the negative aspects are imputed to the arrival of pestilential Westerners, and where the Arabs, Persians and Muslims in general are seen as passive victims, and they are certainly not allowed any autonomy.
But pace Runciman, this will not do as history. Even a cursory glance at the plight of Jews under Muslims before the Crusades would be enough to refute Sir Steven’s rosy picture of an earlier interfaith utopia. All the persecutions of both Christians and Jews stem directly from the precepts and principles enshrined in the canonical texts of Islam: the Koran; the Sira, that is, Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad; the Hadith, that is, the Traditions, the record of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad and his companions; and the classical Muslim Koranic commentaries. In other words, “Muslim Jew hatred”¦ dates back to the origins of Islam”.  It is there in the Koran:
V.51: O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who takes them for friends is one of them. (V.51)
VIII.67: It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land
II.61: Wretchedness and baseness were stamped upon them (that is, the Jews), and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.
IV.44-46: Have you not seen those who have received a portion of the Scripture? They purchase error, and they want you to go astray from the path. But Allah knows best who your enemies are, and it is sufficient to have Allah as a friend. It is sufficient to have Allah as a helper. Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings, and say, “We hear and we disobey,” and “Hear without hearing,” and “Heed us!” twisting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said, “We have heard and obey,” or “Hear and observe us” it would have been better for them and more upright. But Allah had cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few.
IV.160-61: And for the evildoing of the Jews, We have forbidden them some good things that were previously permitted them, and because of their barring many from Allah’s way. And for their taking usury which was prohibited for them, and because of their consuming people’s wealth under false pretense. We have prepared for the unbelievers among them a painful punishment.
IX.29–31:Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture [Jews and Christians] as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah has forbidden by His Messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute [poll tax] readily, and are utterly subdued. The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah,” and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” Those are the words of their mouths, conforming to the words of the unbelievers before them. Allah attack them! How perverse they are! They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah, and so too the Messiah son of Mary, though they were commanded to serve but one God. There is no God but He. Allah is exalted above that which they deify beside Him.
 Steven Runciman. A History of the Crusades, Vol. III, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951, p.474
 Andrew Bostom. The Legacy of Islamic Anti-semitism, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2008, p.33
To be continued.