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Post Friday the 13th, Knights Templar, and Paris
Created by John Eipper on 11/15/15 7:18 AM

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Friday the 13th, Knights Templar, and Paris (Edward Jajko, USA, 11/15/15 7:18 am)

I have the greatest sympathy, in the literal sense of the word, with Leonor Anthony Cohen, and her posting of November 14. I know exactly how she feels.

In late November 1997, on the 18th or 19th (the exact date is in my records but I don't want to take the time to dig it out), my wife and I had returned home after two weeks in Egypt, most of that time doing the business of the Hoover Institution. Since jet lag had not yet kicked in, I was up early and drove into work in the Hoover Tower, taking my usual route on I-280. As I passed the Junipero Serra Expressway interchanges, I turned on NPR to catch up on the news. And my blood ran cold, literally, as I heard about the massacre that had taken place on the west side of the Nile opposite Luxor, in the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut. I knew from the description of the places where people had been murdered on the 17th that my wife and I had been in exactly those places just two or three days before. I also realized from the news accounts that various of the tour guides we had seen, maybe even the one who took care of us, were among the dead. As I said, my blood ran cold.

For the rest of Leonor's posting, however, my sympathies evaporate. I was wondering when someone would bring up the Crusades. I did not expect it so soon, nor on WAIS.

The Knights Templar did not start the First Crusade. The order did not even exist when Pope Urban II proclaimed the Crusade in 1095.

The occurrence of the attack on Friday the 13th, while suggestive to our western minds, is in my opinion not conclusive. What is more convincing to me is the fact that the Muslim fanatics exist in a sort of parallel universe. What is of importance to them is the Islamic calendar, not the Gregorian. The date 13 November 2015 is equivalent to 1 Safar 1437 Hijri. The first day of Safar, second month of the Muslim calendar, is a day on which war may be resumed (the first month, Muharram, translates as "forbidden" and is one of the several months of the year in which war is haram, forbidden). So the 1st of Safar was a logical date for the murderers to do their work.

Further, the Crusades did not end the Abbasid Caliphate. The caliphs were in Baghdad; the Crusaders were in Jerusalem, 546 miles (878 km) away as the crow flies. There was no connection. Baghdad, and the Bayt al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom), were destroyed in 1258 by the Mongols under Hulagu. The Abbasid Caliphate was resumed in 1261 in Cairo under the "protection" of the Mamluks and existed until the Ottoman Turks took the caliph to Istanbul in 1517 or 1521. The Ottoman emperor then assumed the caliphate.

ISIS and other jihadi groups misinterpret--mendaciously--works by the 13th century scholar and jurist Ahmad ibn Taymiyah, who wrote about the "kuffar," the pagans or unbelievers, who were attacking sacred Muslim lands. Ibn Taymiyah was writing about the Mongols, but the jihadists from the days of Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb to al-Qa'idah and ISIS have misinterpreted his "kuffar" as Jews and Christians, something that is alien to standard Muslim belief.

As for making the Dome of the Rock into a Christian church, it was a Jewish holy place before Christians took it over, since the rock is the site on which the "Binding of Isaac" is believed to have taken place, Abraham's willingness to offer his son as sacrifice on the rock. The use of the Aqsa Mosque as a military base or dorm, or worse, is not as defensible, perhaps. But over the years in general I have come to subscribe to the thesis Alice Whealey offered in her talk in the WAIS conference at Stanford, October 2009, that the Crusades were legitimate wars of reconquest of territories that were originally Christian. However, this means that now I am bringing up the Crusades, and for that I apologize. The topic is irrelevant save to those who, like the jihadists, are mired in the past.

JE comments: In the present Clash of Civilizations, it's inevitable that the "C-word" (Crusade) will come up, however historically anachronistic.  But I'm grateful to Ed Jajko for straightening out our medieval history.

Regarding warfare and the calendar, it's a pity that every month couldn't be placed off-limits.


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