I have a couple of full-sized medieval battle swords hanging on my living room wall. I’m told that they are museum replicas and both have a religious connection. Normally I would have put them in my office, but they are rather large (long) and there was not enough room to hang them there. I have complete control over how my office is decorated, but my wife controls decorating in the rest of our home, so I needed permission to put my swords in the living room. Mary is quite open-minded to some of my thoughts, so I approached her about this idea and she said, “You want to hang WHAT on my wall?”
My office decor is rather eclectic; I want various items around me to stimulate thinking, but my wife likes organization and style in the rest of our home. After much discussion (begging), she gave in, but I’m not sure how much this is going to cost me at sometime down the road. Anyway, one of the two fierce weapons is a replica of a Knights Templar sword from the 12th century. Contemplating the history of that sword gave me the motivation to write about how the Crusades1 correlate to both the ancient past and our current time.
The Ancient Past
Our story begins back in the days of Abraham, in the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1900 B.C.). Abram (Abraham’s name before God changed it) was called by God to become the patriarch of his people.2 Abram and the birth of his sons span Genesis 15 – Genesis 22; if you look really close, you will understand that this section of the Bible explains how and where the Arab people began. Most Bible studies focus only on Abraham and Isaac, but we will focus on his other son, Ishmael. It is best to read these chapters in Genesis for proper context, but here is a shortened account.
God appeared to Abram in a vision and told him his reward for being a righteous man would be great. When Abram brought up the fact he had no children to pass on this reward, God said that he would provide a child, then had him look up at the night sky and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars . . . so shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5).3
After ten years, and still childless, Abram’s wife, Sarai, thought God was preventing her from becoming pregnant and made an arrangement to give Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid, to her husband. During that time and place, it was the custom when a wife failed to produce an heir for her husband, she could provide him a concubine for that purpose. But any son born of the union of husband and concubine was considered the child of the mother, not the father.4
Hagar conceived and, through an angelic message, was told her offspring would be great in number and, “you shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael . . . he shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin” (Genesis 16:11–12). Abram was 86 years old, when Ishmael was born.
About 13 years later, when Abram was 99 years old, and his wife, Sarai, was 90, God appeared to him again and told him several things: his name was being changed to Abraham, his wife’s name was being changed to Sarah, and she would bear a child whose name was to be Isaac. He also made an agreement with Abraham and his offspring, to give them all the land of Canaan forever, and he would be their God (Genesis 17:8). In return for this promise, and to be a visual sign of the covenant, God said, “Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old” (Genesis 17:12). And concerning Sarah he said, “I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations, [and] kings of peoples shall come from her” (Genesis 17:16).
In due time, Sarah had her child and he grew and was weaned at about three years of age. Later, when she saw her son, Isaac, playing with Hagar’s son, Ishmael, she grew jealous and demanded of Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:10). Now the word “playing” has been translated in different ways in various Bible versions,5 (e.g., mocking, laughing at, or making fun of) and could even be “fondling,” as indicated in a well-known Bible encyclopedia.6
Although the matter was heartrending to Abraham, God said not to be distressed and “do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring” (Genesis 21:12–13). So, Hagar and Ishmael left and went to live in the Paran wilderness of the Arabian Peninsula. Ishmael became a hunter, married an Egyptian, and became the father of the Ishmaelites,7 from whom the Semitic race of Arabs began.8
Fast forward to 610 A.D. and we find a new religion emerging among the Arab people, called Islam. It was preached by Mohammed,9 who considered himself the final prophet of God. In 607, Mohammed stated that he began receiving revelations through visions from the archangel Gabriel, and these revelations made up the religious text of the Quran, the Islamic holy book. “Mohammed created a religion fashioned after Judaism, about which he had a moderate knowledge.”10 In the Islamic version of the Abraham story, it was through Ishmael, not Isaac, that God’s people would receive all the land of Canaan, and give rise to nations and kings. Mohammed tried to convert the Jewish people to his way of thinking, but they refused and that caused a great hatred to develop.
The newly converted Arab people became Muslims and, by the time Muhammad died in the year 632, western Arabia was Muslim. Within two more years, the entire peninsula was united in the Islamic faith and by 638, the Christian cities of Syria and Palestine, including the prized city of Jerusalem, fell to the Arabs.11 Just for the record — to be correctly used — “Islam” or “Islamic” should only describe the religion and its subsequent cultural ideas, whereas “Muslim” should only be used to describe the followers of the religion of Islam.12
The Muslim movement continued to grow and, eventually, became a major religion. By the time the Crusades began, Islam had spread across North Africa, the Mediterranean Sea to the Iberian Peninsula, and the nomadic lands bordering the southern boundary of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. And despite its rapid spread, it was far from being a united force.13 There were widespread disagreements and violence with the Christian nations, as well as among other Arab people and, of course, the Jews. This Muslim bitterness was just like the description of the person from whom the Arabs descended, as written in Genesis 16:12 (see above, what the Angel said to Hagar about her son).
During the time leading up to, and including, the Crusades, there were Christian-Muslim battles for control of land and cities. Once Jerusalem was back under Christian control, the Muslims would ambush any Christians making treks to the city. These attacks were not just for monetary assets, but for slaves, too. You have to understand the Muslim mentality: the Quran teaches that jihad14 is warfare for Allah and is required of Muslims; they feel they have a right to the land, and according to Islamic scripture, they have a right to kill, enslave, or demand “jizyah” (fee or tax for protection) of anyone other than a Muslim. And if the Muslims die in battle, they will go to paradise. The following is stated in the Quran as God’s will.
“Now when you meet . . . those who are bent on denying the truth, smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds, but thereafter [set them free] either by an act of grace or against [a] ransom. . . .
“And [know that] had God so willed, He could indeed punish them . . . but [He wills you to struggle] so as to test you. . . .
“And as for those who are slain in God’s cause, never will He let their deeds go to waste: He will guide them [in the hereafter as well], and will set their hearts at rest, and will admit them to the paradise which He has promised them” (Surah 47:4-6).15
In 1095, Pope Urban II was urged to fight to retake ownership of Jerusalem and he called for all Christians to make war against the Muslims, in order to reclaim the Holy Land. His speech, in part, follows.
An accursed race [Arab], wholly alienated from God, has violently invaded the lands of these Christians, and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. They have led away a part of the captives into their own country, and a part they have killed by cruel tortures. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanliness . . . On whom, then, rests the labor of avenging these wrongs, and of recovering this territory, if not upon you – you upon whom, above all others, God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great bravery, and strength to humble the heads of those who resist you?16
It was this first military campaign of the Crusades that recaptured the city of Jerusalem, but the Muslims continued to be a problem, and because of this continuing difficulty, a new order of military monks called the Knights Templar arose. Since there were continued attacks on Jerusalem as well as upon Christians making treks to holy sites within the area, it was the Knights Templar’s job to assure protection for the Christians.
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, or more simply known as the Knights Templar, or Templars, was founded in 1119, recognized as a Catholic military order in 1139, and active until 1312. These knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most intelligent and skilled fighting units of the Crusades. There were also noncombatant members who built fortifications, managed the infrastructure, and developed innovative financial techniques, which was an early form of banking. They also had chaplains to minister to the spiritual needs of the order.18 The Templars started off with only a band of nine monks but, because of their intelligence and organization, became a mighty army of over 600, plus their support staff.
There are many attempts, in our modern times, to cast a negative aura upon all Crusader warriors, who were trying to recapture land stolen by the Muslims, but the battles fought were no more brutal than those of the enemy. Military campaigns were fought with swords, knives, arrows, and spears, and were bloody on both sides, as all wars were during medieval times. Crusader armies came from various independent countries and some were unkind to both Arab and Jew, but, it is interesting to note that in the campaigns, when the Knights Templar were victorious, they generally left the Muslims alone to live in peace and let them practice their religion freely. They were even allowed to build new mosques and schools.19
The papacy also wanted to use the military actions of the Templars to rid the region of Jewish power, but they didn’t foresee an unexpected event. The Templars were independently minded and as they began to “learn the art of merchant-banking from the Jews, they were becoming secret supports or crypto-Jews20 themselves.” So, to the Catholic Church, they were seen as the “bad boys” of Christendom.21 It is for this, and other political reasons, that shortly after the 14th century began, the French monarchy drove the Knights Templar out of existence. After the Crusades, the Muslims resumed their plans to conquer Europe by jihad.22
There is a legend that the Knights Templar became the Freemasons, but that is a false connection and is, actually, a rumor started by some masonic groups around the 18th century.23 Although not connected to the original order, there is a fraternal order affiliated with Freemasonry called Knights Templar. It is one of several additional Masonic orders in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity.24 Rumors persist that the Templars morphed into another Christian military organization, shortly after their demise, but this author did not find documented evidence to that effect. It is, however, a reasonable assumption.
The Barbary Pirates
Piracy has been romanticized by the Atlantic and Caribbean pirates. Though less famous, piracy in the Mediterranean actually outnumbered the others, for any given point in history. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the expansion of Muslim power, through conquests, resulted in extensive piracy on sea trading. The Barbary pirates operated out of North African ports in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Morocco, and Greece, preying primarily upon the ships operated from Christian countries. This included massive slave raids at sea as well as on land. They considered the Christians as enemies of Islam and, as holy Muslim warriors, they carried on fighting the onslaught of Christians, which came with the Crusades.25
These North African pirates were threats for so long that most nations paid tribute to ensure their merchant ships could proceed without violent attack, and by the 18th century, Arab rulers actually sponsored the pirates, to raise money for their countries. Most seafaring nations found it easier to pay than to fight, but the young United States had much difficulty in financing this situation, so in the early 19th century, the Barbary pirates encountered a new enemy — the United States Navy. At the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, it was decided to halt the payment of tribute and it was for this very reason that the United States Navy was established.26
According to research, over the years between 1530 and the early 1600s, the slaves held by these pirates could easily have been as high as 1,250,000. Piracy continues, even today, but on a smaller scale, of course.27 “Today, pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades use small motorboats to attack and board ships, a tactic that takes advantage of the small number of crew members on modern cargo transport ships. They also use larger vessels, known as mother ships, to supply the smaller motorboats.”28
Our Current Time
“Keep in mind that Islam and terrorism have gone hand in hand since its inception at the beginning of the 7th century. In fact, its founder Muhammad . . . used religion to . . . conquer, rape and pillage.”29 And “in his own words, he called himself the Prophet of Doom. He advocated raping and murdering those who opposed him. He taught his followers how to terrorize [the] lands he invaded.”30 God promised Abraham that from his son, Ishmael, born of his mistress, Hagar, would become a great nation, and that happened — the Arab people. But God also indicated the character of this man and it seems that, to some extent, his attributes have been handed down to the Muslims of this present time (see Genesis 16:10–12).
Today, the Muslim people, by direction of their intolerable and violent religious leaders and government officials, are still fighting the Christians in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere. But even before the Christians, the Muslims viewed the Jews as their greatest adversary. The Jews refused to convert to Islam during Muhammad’s time, and also claimed (rightly) they received God’s biggest blessing through Isaac, rather than the Arabs through Ishmael. “Mohammed never got over his anger, humiliation, and rejection by ‘the people of the book’31 and went to his grave tormented and obsessed that some Jews were still alive. On his deathbed, Mohammed entrusted Muslims to kill Jews wherever they found them, which made this a ‘holy commandment’ that no Muslim can reject.”32
When the Jews started to return to the Middle East in 1947, after being granted land for a new nation of Israel, Muslims greatly increased their prosecution of the Jews. They not only want to destroy Israel, but want to conquer Christians in Europe and move even further west to the Americas, until the whole world is controlled by Muslims and governed under the Islamic faith — no exceptions.
Copyright © 2017, Dr. Ray Hermann
(Leave comments at the end, after References & Notes.)
References & Notes
1. Note: “Crusade” – any of the military expeditions undertaken by Christian powers in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to win the Holy Land from the Muslims. (Merriam-Webster Online, Merriam-Wester, Inc., ©2015), www.Merriam-Webster.com
2. Elwell, Walter A., (Ed.), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), vol. 1, p. 11.
3. Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), ©1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (above, #2), vol. 1, p. 913.
5. Author’s note: ‘playing’ (NRSV), ‘laughing’ (ESV), ‘scoffing’ (NKJV), ‘making fun of’ (NLT), ‘poking fun at’ (The Message).
6. Elwell, Walter A., (Ed.), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), vol. 1, p. 1053.
7. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 914.
8. Note: pure Arabs of South Arabia, descending from Qahtan who was a descendant of Ishmael.
“Ishmaelites,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 October 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmaelites
9. Author’s note: full name is Mu ammad ibn ʿAbdullāh
10. Oakes, John, “How did the Muslim Religion Get Its Start?”, (Evidence for Christianity, 26 December 2008), http://evidenceforchristianity.org/how-did-the-muslim-religion-get-its-start/
11. Gascoigne, Bamber, “History of the Arabs,” (History World, 2001), retrieved 8 October 2017, http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=ebw
12. “Difference Between Islam and Muslim,” (DifferenceBetween.net), retrieved 9 October 2017, http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-islam-and-muslim/#ixzz4v1DbToKk
13. Hutto, Noah, “The Franj Invasion of Islamic Lands: Muslim View of the Crusades,” (Scribd.com, 2015), pp. 7-8,
https://www.scribd.com/document/356095338/The-Franj-Invasion-of-Islamic-Lands-Muslim-View-of-the-Crusades-2015 (previous link stopped working, corrected 23 August 2018)
14. Note: jihad: a holy war undertaken by Muslims against unbelievers.
Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed., (Oxford University Press, 2008 [revised]).
15. Note: Quran selection of passage taken from:
Asad, Muhammad, (translated by), The Message of the Qur’an, (Bristol, England: The Book Foundation, 2003), p. 883-884.
Note #2: also see Surah 2:216; 4:74; 9:5; 42:39; 61:4.
16. Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950), vol. 4, p. 593.
17. “Knights Templar,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 29 September 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar
18. Moeller, Charles, “The Knights Templars,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1913), vol. 14.
19. Spencer, Robert, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005), pp. 130-131.
20. Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; practitioners are referred to as “crypto-Jews.”
“Crypto-Judaism,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 12 October 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypto-Judaism
21. “Knights Templar and the Jews” (The Mail Archive, 23 November 2001), https://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg81049.html
22. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, (see above, #19) , p.147.
23. Little, Becky, “Busting the Myth of Friday the 13th and the Knights Templar,” (National Geographic, 12 May 2016), http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160512-friday-13-knights-templar-superstition/
24. “Knights Templar, Freemasonry,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 August 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar_(Freemasonry)
25. “Piracy,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 October 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy
26. McNamara, Robert, “The Young U.S. Navy Battled North African Pirates,” (ThoughtCo., History & Culture, November 1, 2016),
27. Davis, Robert, “British Slaves on the Barbary Coast,” (BBC-UK, History, 17 February 2011), http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/white_slaves_01.shtml
28. “Piracy,” (see note #25 above)
29. Brown, Tim, “How Thomas Jefferson Led America’s First War On Terror,” (Freedom Outpost, May 5, 2013), https://freedomoutpost.com/barbary-wars-how-thomas-jefferson-led-americas-first-war-on-terror/
30. Beeli, Pieder, and McGlothlin, Jerry, “Was Muhammad a Terrorist?” (Beliefnet.com, 28 January 2015), comment and video, http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/islam/2002/10/was-muhammad-a-terrorist.aspx (previous link not working, corrected 23 August 2018)
31. Note: “People of the Book” is an Islamic term referring to Jews, Christians, and Sabians.
“The People of the Book,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 3 October 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_of_the_Book
32. Darwish, Nonie, “Why Muslims Must Hate Jews,” (American Thinker, 3 August 2012), http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/08/why_muslims_must_hate_jews.html