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The Profundities of the Pseudo Ibn Warraq: Muslims Forgot Saladin but Remembered Richard the Lionheart

12 June 2012 18 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

The Profundities of the Pseudo Ibn Warraq: Muslims Forgot Saladin but Remembered Richard the Lionheart

by Garibaldi

The idea that it was not until 19th century European Imperialism arrived on the shores of Muslim majority countries that Saladin was remembered is a novel concept. It is also one that is being taken up in a distorted manner by the anti-Muslim movement.

Let’s take a sample from an article posted on JihadWatch on June 8, 2012. The self-declared ex-Muslim turned anti-Islam polemicist and Western supremacist who goes by the pseudonym “Ibn Warraq” continues his well-worn, unoriginal, selective-copy-and-paste usage of Orientalist scholarship.

According to “Warraq,” Muslims in Saladin’s own homeland had “largely forgotten” about him until novelist Sir Walter Scott and German Emperor Wilhelm II reintroduced him to the benighted, forgetfulMooslims. In fact, in Warraq’s world the supreme “irony” is that they not only forgot Saladin but remembered Richard the Lionheart:

It is ironic that while Richard the Lionheart [1157-1199], the King of England and leading Christian commander during The Third Crusade [1189–1192], is remembered in the Islamic world right up to the nineteenth century, his main rival in the latter conflict, the Muslim Kurd known in the West as Saladin [c.1138-1193], was largely forgotten in his homeland. Forgotten until he was made known again to the Muslim world largely thanks to the German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Saladin’s tomb, to pay his respects in 1898, and above all the novel, The Talisman [1825] by Sir Walter Scott [1771-1832].

Warraq’s claim appears in a series of short JihadWatch blog posts titled, Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History.

Again this is not an original “Ibn Warraq” observation. The claim that “Saladin” was “forgotten” can also be found on the Wikipedia page for Saladin (exposing the hazards of relying on the online community encyclopedia), with a citation credited to Johnathan R. Smith‘s book, The Crusades, Christianity and Islam.

Smith’s works on the Crusades have been generally well received and this is not the article to discuss them, however the main thrust of Smith’s book is quite simple and straight forward,

Crusading features prominently in today’s religio-political hostilities, yet the perceptions of these wars held by Arab nationalists, pan-Islamists, and many in the West have been deeply distorted by the language and imagery of nineteenth-century European imperialism.

This is an intricate topic, but let us confine ourselves to Warraq’s rehashing of Smith’s claim that Saladin was “forgotten.”

The reality is Saladin was not “forgotten.” Diana Abouali, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literature at Dartmouth wrote an interesting article titled, “Saladin’s Legacy in the Middle East before the Nineteenth Century,” published in the 10th volume of Crusades. In it she recounts his memory up to that point in Ottoman Jerusalem.

I also solicited a comment from professor As’ad Abukhalil, who in the past eviscerated Warraq’s shoddy work (see Abukhalil’s 2004 article in the Middle East Journal“‘The Islam Industry’ and Scholarship: Review Article”). Prof. Abukhalil is not at all impressed with Warraq’s claim, telling LoonWatch,

I normally would not engage with people who are not trained in Middle East and Islamic studies.  The person in question has regularly revealed his ignorance of matters Islamic and he insults the person (a free thinker) after which he named himself (very undeservedly).  The notion that Saladin was discovered by Arabs/Muslims after some contact with Westerners is too ridiculous to respond to.  In reality, it is the other way round: Westerners took note of Saladin because of the significance that he occupies in Arab/Islamic history and imagination.  Saladin has been immortalized and lauded in many Arabic books and references, from Kitab An-Nawadir As-Sultaniyyah wal-mahasin Al-Yusufiyyah, which is a biography of Saladin from the 13th century.  Ancient Arab historians like Ibn Khallikan and Abu Shamah and Ibn Wasil all appreciated the significance of Saladin.  A history of Arab publications in the 19th century and 20th century is full of books and articles dealing with him.  To be sure, the Arab-Israeli conflict did inspire a revival of attention to Saladin among Arabs and Muslims.  But then again: this is not the first time when the natives are told that only the White Man can inspire them and influence them. (emphasis added)

In the hands of Islamophobes like Warraq claims about Saladin and the Crusades are easily weaponized and used as one more instrument to bludgeon Muslims and Islamic civilization. Indeed the whole premise of Warraq’s series found its genesis in the polemical attempt to rebut Edward Said’s famed work Orientalism. Edward Said, of course is the object of much “scorn” in the anti-Muslim movement.

If some Muslims, Arabs and Westerners stand accused of “romanticizing” Saladin, we can easily see its antecedent, with the Crusades and Richard the Lionheart being  “romanticized,” serving as twin symbols for today’s wannabe “Crusaders.” Hate-groups across Europe and the USA are engaged in exactly this type of a-historical methodology, tying the romanticized image of the Crusades with their bigoted political agenda (just take a look at the rhetoric, images and symbols employed by members of Stop the Islamization of America). At the forefront of such “romanticization” of Crusaders are the likes of Robert Spencer. So it is fitting that Warraq would publish his posts on Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch.

After all, it is not for no reason that “Knights Templar” terrorist Anders Behring Breivik chose to initiate the so-called “counter-Jihad” to “reclaim” the West from the “evil-Mooslim” hordes by citing Spencer, and other neo-Crusaders hundreds of times in his manifesto.

In the end, it is safe to say that Saladin was never forgotten by Muslims and Arabs. His memory still shone over the centuries, he was “immortalized,” even as his image, his importance and story has been reshaped due to encounters between East and West, and today, between Israel and Palestine.


  1. Not probably. Because in the Muslim ruled Indian subcontinent, these crusading bastards came in 1498. The earliest was the Celto-Germanic (Portuguese) Bastard Da Motherfucker (alias Vasco Da Gama) whose ancestors had long been fucked by the bastard Moors of Africa and even more bastard Umayyads. It is also claimed that before arriving at the port of Cullicut (a famous port in South India), BDM attacked an Arab passenger ship, looted it, killed all on board, set it alight and sank it. I don’t know about it and need authentication therefore.

  2. Dongo! How are you? your last word said you were in jail.

    How about we quit idealizing and honoring any men of war.

  3. dongo,

    jail has made you angry? dude you want to come to the happiest place on earth? i’m about an hour and a half from disneyworld.

  4. Mike,

    I was in jail not for my crime. I have said you that I am a criminal lawyer. There has been a murden in a commercial area regarding property disputes. So, this case is as much civil as much a criminal one. I was in jail regarding the victim’s brother who had been arrested and the local people (including two police officers; this amazed me) bore witness in favour of his innocence because the man is for long time half-paralysed and can’t move without other’s help. How can he kill his own sister (the victim)? Moreover, this man has high diabetis and has to take insulin (24-24-24) thrice a day.

    Why should jail make me angry? And thanks for your offer. In this case, I want to quote a Roman Emperor–“Dulce et decorum est pro patria morti”, which means mother and motherland are far superior to the heaven itself. I don’t want to leave my country and do like to stay here instead. If I want to go abroad (possibly Lincoln’s Inn/Northumbria/Wolverhampton University), that is for my further studies, not for citizenship.

  5. Anon,

    I think men of war may be idealised. For example, you may commend Hannibal, Belisarius, Darius, Cyrus, Caliph Ali, Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, General D. McArthur who to my mind, were truly men of honour. But I may be wrong. These men I respect as they never resorted to any cheating at war.

  6. i didn’t think you were in for any crime, other then perhaps contempt. you may have missed my comment about american judges having too much power. i figured you where visiting a client. sounds like an interesting case. i think you can win no problem.

    “not for citizenship.” i wasn’t offering you citizenship. i’m just some a-hole in florida. a pond frog. i have no such power. but if you want to visit some time let me know. we rely on our tourist. that’s why we have no state income tax. if you don’t like micky mouse we can hit the strip clubs and the beach. maybe do some fishing.

    “(24-24-24) thrice a day” amazing how we speak the same language? i think i got what you are saying. what do they say? america and england are countries dividen by a common language?

  7. Well, may be the US and the UK are divided by a same tongue but they have many commonalities too. And I didn’t say you were offering me a citizenship. I told that I did not want to go abroad for acquiring citizenship. And US citizenship? Please forgive me. I don’t want that. I feel better reigning in hell than living and serving in paradise.

    The police are now trying to hide and shelter the actual killers although they will not be able to make much progress; the motherfucker police and killers are all the same. Both are the dregs of crime.

    I hope you will do much better without a tourist like me. Man, we were a British colony and therefore had to learn their tongue. The same would have happened with other powers too. And English is a global language which you do speak too. Had it been Roman days, I guess we would have to speak Roman.

  8. Dongo’s life is probably more exciting where he is. The cops hiding the killers, hmmmm.

    The phrase I’m in jail can be interpreted different ways.

    As one learns the details of what Hannibal, etc. did they look worse and worse.

  9. dongo,

    how about the desert fox?

  10. Yes, they idealized Rommel, too. Fortunately his competence was destroyed by the lunatic Hitler.

    The reason muslims keep moaning about the crusades is because they have the delusion of a huge glorious past when they supposedly ruled the world and invented everything. If only the rotten non muslims hadn’t fought back, the world would be under the muslim heel.

    This attitude could be fixed by reading history not written by muslims in a fog of self congratulation.

    C. the year 1000, European rulers decided that their peoples would be Christian, and began to impose it from the top down, eliminating paganism and its human/animal sacrifices.

    Islam was rejected, perhaps because the moors had been attacking and invading them for so many years or maybe they just wouldn’t live without pigs, wine, music, chess and art, and ladies locked away. Gotta dance, gotta sing!

    How you going to live through the vicious winter without slaughtering a pig and dancing and singing in the great halls?

  11. Anon

    Not exactly, The rot among Muslims began after the death of the last Rashidun Caliph. The Umayyids and Abbasids were both demon possessed. You are right in one way: fascination for the glorious past. Friend, is it false that in those days Muslims were the most educated and elite however bad and despicable might they be to the Christians? Even non-Muslim scholars admit that.

    Like Jews, Muslims are prohibited to touch and use pigs for any purpose whatsoever. So, you better try your proposal elsewhere.

  12. Dongo what about the Chinese.

  13. “The rot among Muslims began after the death of the last Rashidun Caliph”. so you consider ali to be “rightly guided”? why did aisha rebel against him?

    so what is your fiqh on the punisment for apostate?

  14. There was lots of human intellectual activity before Islam appeared. Neanderthals did brain surgery. Sophisticated astronomy was being done.

    When a tribe arises and declares it will rule the world, and extolls death and devalues human life, it will go far for a while. The WW2 Germans and Japanese followed that pattern. So did the Moors in Iberia I would say. But the Moors were undone by the European invention of large cannon, and the Japanese, who had been gleefully burning others, were burned themselves.

    The Russian contempt for life was a match for the Germans, they plowed forward at whatever the cost, fueled by rage at German atrocities.

  15. i don’t know why Ayesha rebelled against him. Probably some kind of difference of individual opinions they wanted to exert; you may see that even when our Prophet was alive there had been clashes between Muaa’bia and Ali. So, When Prophet is dead, why should there be any reduction in internal conflicts, especially when two of His closest kins are involved?

  16. Anon,

    For your very, very, very much kind information, gunpowder and cannon were invented by the Chinese. The Muslims came to know the technology anf later the Europeans came to know of it from them.

    Muslims have been burnt more than once. Take a look at Muslim history and you will find myriads of examples.

  17. Yes, the Chinese invented gunpowder. Reston, in Dogs of War, says the standoff between the Iberian tribes and the Moors was broken by the invention of large cannon.

    In the beginning the Moors had a brilliant civilization and the Iberians were fragmented into many unbrilliant little tribes fighting each other. They slowly united and slowly drove out the Moors, with the assistance of other Europeans.

    Then they decided to purify their society of all non Christians and invented the ghastly Inquisition.

  18. Sorry. supposed to be Dogs of God.

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