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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on the Near East

I: Arab Culture in the Twelfth Century,   pp. 3-32 PDF (11.6 MB)

Page 4

to seek the aid of the central government, all it received was words of sympathy
from the caliph al-Musta~hir (1094-1118) and tears from the outraged populace.
The sultan Berkyaruk (1094-1105), to whom the matter was referred by the
caliph, had nothing to offer. Nine years later, in 1108, a second delegation,
now from beleaguered Tripoli, appeared at the capital, but its mission fared
no better than that of the first. When, at long last, sultan Mubammad (1105—1118)
bestirred himself and led an expedition against the Franks in 1111, his troops,
in the words of a Moslem chronicler, "spread havoc and destruction throughout
the land, far exceeding anything which the Franks were wont to do."3 
 Not only the eclipse of the power of the caliphate by the Selchükid
sultans and the constant struggle among the Selchükid princes, especially
after the death of Malik-Shãh in 1092, but also the deep-rooted enmity
between the Sunnite ' Abbãsids of Baghdad and the Shi'ite Fatimids
of Cairo plagued Arab society and sapped a great deal of its ability both
to defend itself against the invaders and to maintain the stability necessary
for development and progress. To the Sunnite ' Abbãsids it seemed
more urgent to deal with the threat raised by the schismatic Fatimids than
to face the dangers to the entire region implicit in the Christian invasion.
In fact, it was not until this rival schismatic caliphate was finally liquidated
in 1171 that the defenders were able to concentrate all their energies against
the invaders. 
 Politically, the twelfth century witnessed struggles between Moslems and
Franks, between Sunnites and Shi'ites, between Sunnite caliph and Sunnite
sultan, between Sunnite princes in the various urban centers and those in
outlying districts, between ambitious dynasts and predatory vizirs, and between
the mass of the population, mostly Arabs, and the foreign elements, mostly
Turks. Each of these struggles was sufficient to disrupt the normal course
of life and to ravage the general good of society. Together, they wrought
havoc throughout the empire, rendered communications unsafe, increased lawlessness,
and gave rise to various forms of brigandage. The memoirs of Usãmah,
one of the best sources of information available, abound with references
to highway robbers infesting the vicinities of urban centers, such as Mosul,4
Baalbek, Shaizar, and Nablus.5 
 Perhaps the most terrifying form of lawlessness, however, was the rise of
the Ismã'ili Assassins, whose "new mission" or "new dispensa 
3. Sibt Ibn-al-Jauzi, Mir'at az-zamãn ft ta'rikh al-aiyãm (Hyderabad,
1951), P. 3. 
4. Usãmah Ibn-Munqidh, Kitãb al-i ' tibãr, ed. Philip
K. Hitti (Princeton, 1930), pp. 71-72. 
5. Ibid., p. 79. 

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