Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2011

Forgetting Osama bin Munqidh, Remembering Osama bin Laden: The Crusades in Modern Muslim Memory

Umej Bhatia

January 2008

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


Like all traumatic historical episodes, the Crusdaes potentially provide a chrystalizing focus for the convergence of memory and the bolstering of cultural (Arab) and religious (Muslim) identity. A key issue to be considered is how images, symbols and stories of the Crusades have circulated within the ummah. This is the worldwide community of Muslims, formed by attachment to the holiest places of Islam, notwithstanding regional variations in ritual and religious practice. I assume that Islamic remembering of the Crusades, which encompasses collective Arab and Muslim memory, as amorphous as it sounds, has a certain sociological validity and substance as much, as say, British collective memory of the First World War.