May 4, 2005
Jihad begot the Crusades (1)By Andrew G. Bostom
[Part 2, including end notes, can be read here]
The New York Times' Alan Riding recently opined that
'...[The C]rusades were waged, [by] European monarchs, lords, knights and their armies of devout followers to fight — and settle — in an area stretching between what is today Syria and Egypt. The Muslims responded [emphasis added] with their own sporadic jihads until finally, by 1291, the Christians had been driven out.'
He further lauds the fact that in Ridley Scott's new film portrayal of the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven
'...Mr. Scott and his screenwriter, William Monahan, have tried to be balanced. Muslims are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything.' [emphasis added]
Little wonder then that the jihadist organization CAIR, waxed enthusiastic about the film following an advanced screening. Unfortunately, such ahistorical claptrap has become standard fare for journalistic and even pseudo—scholarly 'summary assessments' of The Crusades, with perhaps the most egregious example of the latter being this reductio ad absurdum commentary by John Esposito, the doyen of academic apologists for Islam:
Five centuries of peaceful coexistence elapsed before political events and an imperial—papal power play led to centuries—long series of so—called holy wars [emphasis added] that pitted Christendom against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust. 
In Islam and Dhimmitude, (2002) Bat Ye'or analyzed Esposito's summary account of the first half millennium of jihad conquests. Bat Ye'or notes how Esposito completely,
'...ignores the concepts of jihad and dar al—harb...' , and she highlights the 'thematic structure' of Esposito's selective overview, typical of the prevailing modern apologetic genre: 
Inundated by such disingenuous apologetics Westerners have remained largely ignorant of jihad—the Islamic war of conquest. Thus the chattering classes, confused all too easily by superficial similarities, equate jihad with the Crusades. In fact, there are many fundamental differences between the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad, and the Crusades, as they derive from widely divergent religions and civilizations.
Jihad, as a nascent ideology, originated from the putative military activities of Muhammad himself, described in the Muslim sacred texts. September 622 C.E. marks a defining event in Islam— the hijra. Muhammad and a coterie of followers (the Muhajirun), persecuted by fellow Banu Quraysh tribesmen who rejected Muhammad's authenticity as a divine messenger, fled from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Al—Medina (Medina). Gil notes that Muslim sources described Yathrib as having been a Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora population which had survived the revolt against the Romans.  Distinct from the nomadic Arab tribes, the Jews of the north Arabian peninsula were highly productive oasis farmers. These Jews were eventually joined by itinerant Arab tribes from southern Arabia who settled adjacent to them and transitioned to a sedentary existence.
Following Muhammad's arrival, he created a 'new order', as described by Gil, 
...establishing a covenant between the tribes which imposed its authority on every clan and its members, [which] soon enabled him to attack the Jews and eventually wipe out the Jewish population of the town. Some were banned from the towns, others were executed, and their property—plantations, fields, and houses— was distributed by Muhammad among his followers, who were destitute refugees from Mecca. He also used the former property of the Jews to establish a war fund, setting up a well—equipped army corps of cavalry troops the likes of which had never before been seen on the Arabian peninsula. Muhammad evidently believed in the capacity of this army, imbued with fiery religious belief, to perform great and sensational feats of valor.
Richard Bell summarized Muhammad's final interactions with the Jews and Christians of Medina, and northern Arabia. His analyses, based upon the sacred Muslim texts (i.e, Qur'an, hadith, and sira), authoritative Qur'anic commentaries, and the narratives of Muslim chroniclers of early Islam, also underscored the theological basis for the 'Great Jihad': 
His relations with the Jews form a part of all biographies of Muhammad, for they worked out to a bitter and savage conclusion in the course of his first few years residence in Medina...Shortly after the Battle of Badr a Jewish tribe, the Bani Qainuqa, were deprived of their goods, and expelled from Medina. The Bani Nadir were similarly expelled some two years later, and finally the Bani Quraiza were besieged, and, after capitulation at discretion, were slaughtered, their goods confiscated, their women and children enslaved. This bitter hostility was no doubt due to the annoyance which the opposition of the Jews caused him...in Muhammad's mind there also rankled the old feeling that the Jews had misled him in regard to what the Revelation contained, and having discovered that Jesus had been a prophet to the Bani Isra'il whom the Jews had rejected, he may have in his own mind justified his harsh dealing with them by the reflection that they were renegades who had already more than once rejected the Divine message...But when Muhammad's power began to spread in Arabia his attitude towards the Christians soon began to cool. Any real alliance or even peaceful accommodation was indeed impossible from the first. Muhammad complains (Q.2:113/114) that neither Jews nor Christians will be satisfied with him until he follows their milla or type of religion. It was just as impossible for him to make concessions...Thus the relationship with the Christians ended as that with the Jews ended— in war...We know that before the end of his life Muhammad was in conflict with Christian populations in the north of Arabia, and even within the confines of the Roman [Byzantine] Empire. What would have happened if he had lived we do not know. But probably the policy which Abu Bakr carried on was the policy of Muhammad himself. There could have been no real compromise. He regarded himself as vicegerent of God upon earth. The true religion could only be Islam as he laid it down, and acceptance of it meant acceptance of his divinely inspired authority...The Hijra and the execution of the Divine vengeance upon the unbelievers of Mecca had given the immediate occasion for the organization of such a warlike community. The victory of Badr confirmed it. This is what it had grown to, a menace to whatever came in its way. Muhammad could bide his time, but he was not the man to depart from a project which had once taken hold of his mind as involved in his prophetic mission and authority. He might look with favor upon much in Christianity, but unless Christians were prepared to accept his dictation as to what the true religion was, conflict was inevitable, and there could have been no real peace while he lived.
Within several centuries of Muhammad's death in 632 C.E., based upon the 'proto—jihad' campaigns he waged in Arabia, Muslim jurists and theologians formulated the institution of permanent jihad war against non—Muslims for the submission of the known world to Islam.
The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the great Muslim historian al—Tabari's recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al—Khattab to the commander of the troops he sent to al—Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar (the second 'Rightly Guided Caliph') reportedly said: 
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, (This is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them) but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Qur'an 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
Jihad was pursued century after century, because jihad, which means 'to strive in the path of Allah,' embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Qur'anic verses  (for e.g., 9:5,6; 9:29; 4:76—79; 2: 214—15; 8:39—42), and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., 'hadith', acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al—Bukhari [d. 869]  and Muslim [d. 874] ). The consensus on the nature of jihad from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i) is clear:
Ibn Abi Zayd al—Qayrawani (d. 996), Maliki jurist 
Jihad is a precept of Divine institution. Its performance by certain individuals may dispense others from it. We Malikis [one of the four schools of Muslim jurisprudence] maintain that it is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared against them.
Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Hanbali jurist 
From (primarily) the Hanafi school (as given in the Hidayah of Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan, d. 1196) 
It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war... If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.
al—Mawardi (d. 1058 ), Shafi'i jurist 
...The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al—Harb (the arena of battle) are of two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir of the army has the option of fighting them...in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun... Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger...it is forbidden to...begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached...
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.
By the time of the classical Muslim historian al—Tabari's death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as on Christian eastern European lands. The Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized. When the Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired.  These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slain or enslaved, the cities and villages which were pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non—Muslim victims of jihad wars. 
From its earliest inception, through the present, jihad has been central to the thought and writings of prominent Muslim theologians and jurists. The precepts and regulations elucidated in the 7th through 9th centuries are immutable in the Muslim theological—juridical system, and they have remained essentially unchallenged by the majority of contemporary Muslims. The jihad is intrinsic to the sacred Muslim texts, including the divine Qur'anic revelation itself, whereas the Crusades were circumscribed historical events subjected to (ongoing and meaningful) criticism by Christians themselves. Unlike the espousal of jihad in the Qur'an, the constituent texts of Christianity, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, do not contain a form fruste institutionalization of the Crusades. The Bible sanctions the Israelites conquest of Canaan, a limited domain, it does not sanction a permanent war to submit all the nations of humanity to a uniform code of religious law. Similarly, the tactics of warfare are described in the Bible, unlike the Qur'an, in very circumscribed and specific contexts. Moreover, while the Bible clearly condemns certain inhumane practices of paganism, it never invoked an eternal war against all of the world's pagan peoples.
The Crusades as an historical phenomenon were a reaction to events resulting from over 450 years of previous jihad campaigns. At the close of the 11th century, particularly after the crushing Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071, Christendom, including Europe, was under existential threat by a confluence of Muslim advances. To the West, the Almoravid Berber Muslim tribes drove into Spain and pushed northward, pillaging and massacring the Christian populations they encountered. In the East, following their victory at Manzikert, the Seljuks put Armenia to fire and sword, and within a decade they had conquered three—fourths of Asia Minor. By 1090 C.E., Grousset has observed ,
...Turkish Islam having almost entirely driven the Byzantines out of Asia [Minor], was preparing to pass over into Europe. [i.e., from the East]
Finally, in the Holy Land (i.e., Palestine) itself, the Muslim yoke under the Seljuks had become particularly onerous for the indigenous Christian (and Jewish) population, as well as Christian pilgrims. Both the native and pilgrim populations were subjected to forced conversions, kidnappings, and murder in an atmosphere of overall insecurity for the life and property of non—Muslims. Michael the Syrian, the 12th century Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, reproducing earlier contemporary sources in his famous Chronicle, summarized the prevailing conditions for Christians in Palestine, as follows: 
As the Turks were ruling the lands of Syria and Palestine, they inflicted injuries on Christians who went to pray in Jerusalem, beat them, pillaged them, levied the poll tax at the gate of the town and also at Golgotha and the [Holy] Sepulchre; and in addition, every time they saw a caravan of Christians, particularly of those
The late Jacques Ellul's penetrating analysis of the jihad  argued convincingly that in fact,
...the idea of a holy war is a direct product of the Muslim jihad. If the latter is a holy war, then obviously the fight against Muslims to defend or save Christianity has also to be a holy war. The idea of a holy war is not of Christian origin. Emperors never advanced the idea prior to the appearance of Islam.
Ellul's thesis is confirmed when one examines more closely the jihad conquests of the Iberian peninsula, Asia Minor, and Palestine, as well as the imposition of Muslim rule in these regions (particularly the Iberian peninsula and in Palestine), prior to the onset of the Crusades.
Jihad conquests and early Muslim rule on the Iberian peninsula
The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710—716 C.E. by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a faction of Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavements, deportations and killings. Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, subjugated non—Muslim dhimmis —Jews and Christians— like elsewhere in other Islamic lands — were prohibited from building new churches or synagogues, or restoring the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class exploited by the dominant Arab ruling elites; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing. 
Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq provides these illustrations of the resulting religious and legal discriminations dhimmis suffered, and the accompanying incentives for them to convert to Islam: 
A learned Moslem jurist of Hispanic Christian descent who lived around the year 1000, Ahmed ibn Said ibn Hazm (father of the famous mid—eleventh—century author Ibn Hazm) gives glimpses, in several of his juridical consultations, of how the freedom of the 'infidels' was constantly at risk. Non—payment of the head—tax by a dhimmi made him liable to all the Islamic penalties for debtors who did not repay their creditors; the offender could be sold into slavery or even put to death. In addition, non—payment of the head—tax by one or several dhimmis — especially if it was fraudulent — allowed the Moslem authority, at its discretion, to put an end to the autonomy of the community to which the guilty party or parties belonged. Thus, from one day to the next, all the Christians in a city could lose their status as a protected people through the fault of just one of them. Everything could be called into question, including their personal liberty...Furthermore, non—payment of the legal tribute was not the only reason for abrogating the status of the 'People of the Book'; another was 'public outrage against the Islamic faith', for example, leaving exposed, for Moslems to see, a cross or wine or even pigs.
...by converting [to Islam], one would no longer have to be confined to a given district, or be the victim of discriminatory measures or suffer humiliations...Furthermore, the entire Islamic law tended to favor conversions. When an "infidel" became a Moslem, he immediately benefited from a complete amnesty for all of his earlier crimes, even if he had been sentenced to the death penalty, even if it was for having insulted the Prophet or blasphemed against the Word of God: his conversion acquitted him of all his faults, of all his previous sins. A legal opinion given by a mufti from al—Andalus in the ninth century is very instructive: a Christian dhimmi kidnapped and violated a Moslem woman; when he was arrested and condemned to death, he immediately converted to Islam; he was automatically pardoned, while being constrained to marry the woman and to provide for her a dowry in keeping with her status. The mufti who was consulted about the affair, perhaps by a brother of the woman, found that the court decision was perfectly legal, but specified that if that convert did not become a Moslem in good faith and secretly remained a Christian, he should be flogged, slaughtered and crucified...
Al—Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year (or multiple times within a year as 'seasonal' razzias [ghazwa]) raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Many thousands of non—Muslim captives were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves, brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women. Bat Ye'or summarizes these events as follows: 
Breaking out of Arabia and from the conquered regions— Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine—these successive waves of immigrants settled in Spain and terrorized southern France. Reaching as far as Avignon, they plundered the Rhone valley by repeated razzias. In 793 C.E., the suburbs of Narbonne were burned down and its outskirts raided. Calls to jihad attracted the fanaticized hordes in the ribats (monastery—fortresses) spanning the Islamo—Spainish frontiers. Towns were pillaged and rural areas devastated. In 981, Zamora and the surrounding countryside in the kingdom of Leon suffered destruction and the deportation of four thousand prisoners. Four years later, Barcelona was destroyed by fire and nearly all its inhabitants massacred or taken prisoner; several years after its conquest in 987, Coimbra remained desolate; Leon was demolished and its countryside ruined. In 997, Santaigo de Compostela was pillaged and razed to the ground. Three years later, Castille was put to fire and sword by Muslim troops and the population, captured in the course of these campaigns, enslaved and deported. The invasions by the Almoravides and the Almohades (eleventh to thirteenth centuries), Berber dynasties from the Maghreb, reactivated the jihad.
Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews. The Andalusian Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 C.E.: 
The discriminatory policies of the Berber Muslim Almoravids, who arrived in Spain in 1086, and subsequently those of the even more fanaticized and violent Almohad Berber Muslims (who arrived in Spain in 1146—1147) caused a rapid attrition of the pre—Islamic Iberian Christian (Mozarab) communities, nearly extinguishing them. The Almoravid attitude towards the Mozarabs is well reflected by three successive expulsions of the latter to Morocco: in 1106, 1126, and 1138. The oppressed Mozarabs sent emissaries to the king of Aragon, Alphonso 1st le Batailleur (1104—1134), asking him to come to their rescue and deliver them from the Almoravids. Following the raid that the King of Aragon launched in Andalusia in 1125—1126 in responding to the pleas of Grenada's Mozarabs, the latter were deported en masse to Morocco in the Fall of 1126.  Dozy summarizes the events leading up, and surrounding the mass deportations, as
...the Fakihs and the [Muslim] populace fostered against them [the Mozarabs] [an] envenomed hatred. In most towns they formed but a small community, but in the province of Granada they were still numerous, and near the capital they possessed a beautiful church, which had been built about 600 C.E. by Gudila, a [Visi]Gothic noble. This church was an offense to the Fakihs...they issued a fetwa decreeing its demolition. Yusuf [b. Tashifin, the Almoravid ruler] having given his approval, the sacred edifice was leveled with the ground (1099 C.E.). Other churches seem to have met with a similar fate, and the Fakihs treated the Mozarabs so oppressively that the latter at length appealed to Alfonso the Battler, King of Aragon, to deliver them from their intolerable burdens. Alfonso acceded to their request. In September, 1125, he set out with four thousand knights and their men —at—arms...Alfonso, did not however, achieve the results he aimed at...the ultimate object of the expedition had been the capture of Granada, and this was not effected. Upon the withdrawal of the Aragonese army, the Moslems cruelly avenged themselves on the Mozarabs. Ten thousand of the Christians were already out of their reach, for knowing the fate in store for them they had obtained permission from Alfonso to settle in his territories, but many who remained were deprived of their property, maltreated in endless ways, thrown into prision, or put to death. The majority, however, were transported to Africa, and endured terrible sufferings, ultimately settling in the vicinity of Saleh and Mequinez (1126 C.E.). This deportation was carried out by virtue of a decree which the Kady Ibn Rushd— grandfathter of the famous Averroes— had procured...Eleven years later a second expulsion took place, and very few were left in Andalusia.
The Almohads (1130—1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation— massacre, captivity, and forced conversion— was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim 'inquisitors' (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators.  Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez — disguised as a Muslim — before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews: 
..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they...
Jihad in Asia Minor
The modern historian Vacalopoulos has summarized the devastation wrought by the Seljuk jihad conquest of Asia Minor: 
At the beginning of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks forced their way into Armenia and there crushed the armies of several petty Armenian states. No fewer than forty thousand souls fled before the organized pillage of the Seljuk host to the western part of Asia Minor...From the middle of the eleventh century, and especially after the battle of Malazgirt [Manzikurt] (1071), the Seljuks spread throughout the whole Asia Minor peninsula, leaving terror, panic and destruction in their wake. Byzantine, Turkish and other contemporary sources are unanimous in their agreement on the extent of havoc wrought and the protracted anguish of the local population... With the extermination of local populations or their precipitate flight, entire villages, cities, and sometimes whole provinces fell into decay... Other districts were literally transformed into wildernesses... Impenetrable thickets sprang up in places where once there had been luxuriant fields and pastures.
The contemporary (primary) source narratives of Matthew of Edessa (12th century; d. after 1136), Samuel of Ani (d. 2nd half of 12th century), Anna Comnena (d. 1153), and an anonymous Georgian chronicler, describe the Seljuk campaigns which ravaged Armenia, Anatolia, and Georgia during the 11th and 12th centuries, as follows:
During the year 551 [the date is wrong and could be 511,1062] of the Armenian era, the Turks under the command of three of Sultan Tughril [Beg]'s generals, called Slar Khorasan, Mdjmdj [Medjmedj] and Isulv, [brought about a torrent of blood on the Christian nation and they] invaded the district of Baghin in the Fourth Armenia and sacked it. From there [like a venomous snake], they moved into the adjacent districts of Thelkhum and Arghni, where they took the Christians by surprise and exterminated them. The massacre began on the 4th of the month of Areg, a Saturday, at the eighth hour of the day [there follows a vivid description of massacre that is not translated by Dulaurier. The translation into English has been made from Dulaurier's French translation, with omissions reintegrated in square brackets]. 
Everywhere throughout the Cilicia, up to Taurus, Marash and Deluh and the environs, reigned agitation and trouble. For populations were precipitated into these regions en masse, coming by the thousands and crowding into them. They were like locusts, covering the surface of the land. They were more numerous, I might add seven times more numerous, than the people whom Moses led across the Red Sea; more numerous than the pebbles in the desert of Sinai. The land was inundated by these multitudes of people. Illustrious personages, nobles, chiefs, women of position, wandered in begging their bread. Our eyes witnessed this sad spectacle. 
Toward the beginning of the year 528 [1079—80] famine desolated....the lands of the worshippers of the Cross, already ravaged by the ferocious and sanguinary Turkish hordes. Not one province remained protected from their devastations. Everywhere the Christians had been delivered to the sword or into bondage, interrupting thus the cultivation of the fields, so that bread was lacking. The farmers and workers has been massacred or lead off into slavery, and famine extended its rigors to all places. Many provinces were depopulated; the Oriental nation [Armenians] no longer existed, and the land of the Greeks was in ruins. Nowhere was one able to procure bread. 
Samuel of Ani—The Taking of Ani by Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan (1064)
In a single day the burned Kouthathis, Artanoudj, the hermitages of Clardjeth, and they remained in these lands until the first snows, devouring the land, massacring all those who had fled to the forests, to the rocks, to the caves...
The calamities of Christianity did not come to and end soon thereafter, for the approach of spring, the Turks returned to carry out the same ravages and left [again] in the winter. The [inhabitants] however were unable to plant or to harvest. The land, [thus] delivered to slavery, had only animals of the forests and wild beasts for inhabitants. Karthli was in the grip of intolerable calamities such as one cannot compare to a single devastation or combination of evils of past times. The holy churches served as stables for their horses, the sanctuaries of the Lord served as repairs for the abominations [Islam]. Some of the priests were immolated during the Holy Communion itself, and others were carried off into harsh slavery without regard to their old age. The virgins were defiled, the youths circumcised, and the infants taken away. The conflagration, expending its ravages, consumed all the inhabited sites, the rivers, instead of water, flowed blood. I shall apply the sad words of Jeremiah, which he applied so well to such situations: 'The honorable children of Zion, never put to the test by misfortunes, now voyaged as slaves on foreign roads. The streets of Zion now wept because there was no one [left] to celebrate the feasts. The tender mothers, in place of preparing with their hands the nourishment of the sons, were themselves nourished from the corpses of these dearly loved. Such and worse was the situation at that time.....'
As Isaiah said: 'Your land is devastated, your cities reduced to ashes, and foreigners have devoured your provinces, which are sacked and ruined by barbarian nations.' 
J.B. Segal reviewed the destruction of the Christian enclave of Edessa in 1144—1146 C.E., during the Crusades, using primary source documentation: 
Thirty thousand souls were killed. Women, youths, and children to the number of sixteen thousand were carried into slavery, stripped of their cloths, barefoot, their hands bound, forced to run beside their captors on horses. Those who could not endure were pierced by lances or arrows, or abandoned to wild animals and birds of prey. Priests were killed out of hand or captured; few escaped. The Archbishop of the Armenians was sold at Aleppo...The whole city was given over to looting, '..for a whole year..', resulting in '...complete ruin..'. From this disaster the Christian community of Edessa never recovered.
Finally, these two devastating jihad attacks (1144 and 1146 C.E.) on Edessa by the Seljuk Turks, which included the mass murder of non—combatants, were depicted in a graphic contemporary account by Michael the Syrian , as follows:
The Turks entered with their swords and blades drawn, drinking the blood of the old and the young, the men and the women, the priests and the deacons, the hermits and the monks, the nuns, the virgins, the infants at the breast, the betrothed men and the women to whom they were betrothed! ...Ah! what a bitter tale! The city of Abgar, the friend of Christ, was trampled underfoot because of our iniquity: the priests were massacred, the deacons immolated, the subdeacons crushed, the temples pillaged, the altars overturned! Alas! what a calamity! Fathers denied their children; the mother forgot her affection for her little ones! While the sword was devouring and everyone was fleeing to the mountaintop, some gathered their children, like a hen her chicks, and waited to die together by the sword or else to be led off together into captivity! Some aged priests, who were carrying the relics of the martyrs, seeing this raging destruction, recited the words of the prophet: 'I will endure the Lord's wrath, because I have sinned against Him and angered Him.'8 And they did not take flight, nor did they cease praying until the sword rendered them mute. Then they were found at the same spot, their blood spilled all around them....
Part 2, including end notes, can be read here