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The Conflict Between Christendom And Islam

Since Islam came into being, it has clashed numerously with the already established Christianity. Their rivalry has never ceased until today. Modern Examples would be Bosnia and Lebanon. There were not only military clashes but political as well as economical. Although, the rivalry was incredibly intense, ironically, Arab or Islamic culture managed to severely influence the Christian kingdoms. However, Christianity used all the advantages provided by Islam to their advantage and through that they managed to keep the Arabs at bay. Islamic civilization and its rise were thanks to one man and that is the last rophet, Prophet Muhammad.

Islam came into being in 622AD and it was the last of the great civilizations. Islam managed to push the Arabs into a new kind of community, which at the same time spread far beyond Arabia, Persians, Indians, North African countries and parts of Europe came under its domination. The Arabs managed to capture most of the most powerful economic areas. In the Mediterranean their navy conquered Cyprus and crippled Byzantine sea power. They first clashed with the Christians when they tried to besiege Constantinople. In 711 they started their raids into Spain and in 716 they conquered it.

They tried to conquer France but the Franks under the leader Charles Martel handed the Arabs their first defeat. From the end of the 7th century till the middle of the 11th, the Mediterranean remained something of a Muslim lake and western trade with East Asia wasnt cut off during these centuries, it was significantly diminished and carried on in awareness of Muslim dominance. ( Craig, Graham, Kagan, Turner, The heritage of western civ. Pp323) In the early Middle Ages the main power in Europe was always the Pope nd later in the 700s it was shared with Charlemagne.

The combination of these two managed to keep the Arab invasions at bay. But the Christians did benefit with their contact with Islamic culture. The aggressiveness of the Arabs forced western Europeans to rely on their own resources and to develop their own heritage and culture. By diverting the focus and energys of the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs prevented it from expanding into Western Europe allowing the Franks and the Lombargs to gain power. And by controlling their Mediterranean Western access o eastern trade and cultural influence was diminished.

There was also a lot of creative interchange between these two cultures. The Arab civilization taught western farmers irrigation, the tanning of leather, refinition of silk and educated their scholars. Down to the 16th century the basic gynecological and childcare manuals were compilations of the famous Iranian Islamic scholars physician and philosophers like Razi, Kharazmi and Ibm-Sina were still utilized. These scholars made some of the greatest discoveries. For example Kharazmi discovered the significance of alcohol in medications.

Cargill, Menzont, Interaction of civ. Pp 561) Relations between the two during those times were not always antagonistic. In 802 Charlemagne received, from the caliph, Harun-al-Rashid, a white elephant. In truth the Christians made not only a great amount of wealth of their contacts with the Arabs with a whole deal of knowledge which led to their ascendancy of power during the Renaissance years. Civilization in Western Europe gained much more than it could have ever before. Another fact about the Islamic civilization was that they were quite a tolerant and practical race.

Their tolerance of certain religions like the Jews provided more distaste between the Christians and themselves. This was an antagonism between the two until recently when the Arabs revolted against the new state of Israel. ( Jacobs, Fisher, Einzholdt, Islamic Heritage, Pp 192) There were times when Islamic culture actually managed to influence not only the culture but the religion of the Christians as well. For instance, during the siege of Constantinople in 730 when Leo III managed to repulse the invaders he also got ideas to change certain parts of the Christian religion.

He forebade the use of images in Eastern churches and tried to enforce the ban in the West, even though his efforts insulted the Western churches. ( www. UCLA /index/essays/Islam/index. com ) In 1071, the Byzantine Empire was handed a major defeat by the Muslim Seljuq Turks who soon, rapidly, overran the eastern provinces of the Empire. After twenty years of steady Turkish advances, the Eastern Emperor asked for Western Aid in 1092. The reply in three years was the launch of the first Crusades. A century later ( 1204 ) the Crusaders would inflict more damage on

Constantinople and Eastern Christendom than all previous non-Christian invaders had done. The first crusade was a risky venture. But the Pope and the nobility, it was to their advantage to send large amounts of nobles to fight, mainly because of the small feuds back home between idle and restless noble youths. The nobility also recognized the vast amounts of fortunes they could make in these wars. However, in the first crusade, religion was almost the only motive encouraging the crusaders apart from economics. The Christians thought the first crusade was an immense success. The second crusade was a disaster.

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