It is no surprise that when people come across the terms Crusade and Jihad, they often tend to skip a healthy conversation or even neglect the existence of ideologies and end up blaming each other for reasons unknown.
Well, if one actually peeps through the layers, then he/she might come across things that establish the differences between the aforementioned terms. History has always witnessed countless conflicts; this differentiation has been one of them.
The fine line
According to many proficient scholars, Crusade’s ideology revolves around the protection of the Holy Land claimed by the Christians. The motives behind the Crusades were also branched out into further smaller but important ideologies. Some texts refer to the Crusaders as the ones who went to the Middle East to control the expansion of Paganism, which was an old adversary to the Church.
While Jihad, on the other hand, has different sets of meanings depending upon the work being carried out. One can say that Jihad offers benevolence and care to the people who believe in the ideology of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
The historical wars
The very first Crusade happened way back in 1095 when the Europeans attacked the Middle East. It constituted a joint military attack that was carried out by regular foot soldiers, Templar Knights, and elite mercenaries as well.
These wars determined the difference between Crusade and Jihad i.e. from the very first Holy War of 1095 to the last one being 1272. If one looks for the actual count of these wars, then he/she might come across not one, not two, but twelve Crusades spanning in between the time frame of 1095-1272.
The setting up of smaller Crusade states, the economy, the structure of the society were all favoring the Crusaders in the beginning. However, over the next 100 years, the Middle East saw a resurgence of Islam, and finally, the Crusades had to stop. Many historians have pointed out the barbaric nature of both fronts, especially the Crusaders, who were quite unforgiving whenever it came to establishing order in the region.
Jihad, on the other hand, used political tactics to woo the crowd and unite the people for a greater cause, and Jihad was quite good at it. Furthermore, Jihad, in a literal sense, meant “Striving in the path of God,” although the ideology was peaceful, the methods used weren’t peaceful enough as well.
After decades of bloodshed and violence, the war finally came to an end. The Crusaders were no longer the iron fist they once were feared for, and Jihad came into the mindsets of the people who “liberated” their land from the invaders. Countless accounts of the battles fought between the fronts took different sides. For Christians, the Middle East was lost; for the Islamists, however, it was the dawn of a new era.
Scholars today have different opinions upon the Holy wars that ravaged the Middle East for hundreds of years. While some point out the flawed policies of the Crusaders as well as the Jihadis, some, on the other hand, say that the nature of the Holy Wars was more of an expansionism kind of a thing. Crusade and Jihad were finally differentiated, not by the religious point of view but by the people who fought for what they thought was the call of the hour.