Saracens (Muslims) as Pagans

The word "Saracen" is the Medieval term that Europeans used to call Muslims.  The word itself comes from the Greek "Sarakenos" or "Easterners".  However, during the Medieval Era it encompassed all Muslims of every race.  Hence, Saracens aka Muslims have been demonized historically...


SARACENS (Medieval Muslims) AS PAGANS




"They run to an idol of Apollo in a crypt,
They rail at it, they abuse it in vile fashion:
“Oh, evil god, why do you cover us with such shame?
Why have you allowed this king of ours to be brought to ruin?
You pay poor wages to anyone who serves you well!”
Then they tear away the idol's scepter and its crown.
They tie it by the hands to a column,
They topple it to the ground at their feet,
They beat it and smash it to pieces with big sticks.
They snatch Tervagant's carbuncle,
Throw the Mahumet into a ditch,
And pigs and dogs bite and trample it."
                                          - Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland)



This is the religion of the Saracens (Muslims), as it is portrayed in many European texts of the Middle Ages. In the Chanson de Roland, the Saracens destroy their own idols when they prove themselves powerless against the army of God (Ironically, Muslims are against all Idols and only believe in one God).  These supposed idols of gold, inlaid with precious stones, to whom the Saragossans (Spanish Muslims) had offered the symbols of power (scepter and crown), provide a vivid and concrete (though completely imaginary) focus for the military activities of the valiant Christian knight (Sounds like today's right wing fundamentalists).  


The Crusader, in Spain or Syria, can strike stoutly and with a clear conscience, for the Saracens’ idolatry is proof plenty that “Pagans are wrong and Christians are right”(l. 1015).  Only if the Crusaders knew that Muslims worship the same God and they only believe in God!  Who knows, maybe the Crusades could have been averted if the knowledge of Islam and Muslims was more available, such as on the internet.  (It is a wonder why people still live in ignorance today!)

Scores of medieval texts, in Latin, French, and other languages, paint Saracen religion (Islam) in the familiar hues of classical Roman idolatry (Contrary to Islam's Monothiesm and Unity of God).  As we can see, there is a history of demonizing Muslims in the Western world, even though if the information is not true.  There are so many cultural references of this age old demonization of Muslims in epic novels such as "The Lord of the Rings", where Muslims are portrayed as Scimitar wielding "Orcs, Easterlings, and Haradrim...".   This demonization has happened in other ways as well, such as "Dante's Inferno" or any number of European artistic expression for the "evil other".  



During the Middle Ages, the Christian world held a largely antagonistic view of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The earliest (documented) Christian knowledge of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stems from Byzantine sources, written shortly after Prophet Muhammad's death in 632. John of Damascus in the 8th century characterized Prophet Muhammad as a false prophet introducing a Christological heresy akin to Arianism in contesting the divinity of Jesus Christ.

With the Crusades of the High Middle Ages, and the wars against the Ottoman Empire during the Late Middle Ages, the Christian reception of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) became more polemical, moving from the classification as a heretic to depiction of Prophet Muhammad as a servant of Satan or as the Antichrist, who is suffering tortures in Hell. (Which sounds like the right wing fundamentalist Christian view on Islam by Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Ann Coultier, Robert Spencer, and others)

I will write more on this subject inshallah.

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