Ibn ‘Asakir (1105–1176): Muslim Historian and Advocate of Jihad against Christian Crusaders and Shi‘ite Muslims
By James E. Lindsay
Middlebury College Working Paper #11 (2003)
Abstract: This paper argues that Ibn ‘Asakir was very much concerned with preserving what he considered the proper Sunni character of Islam, and that he did so as an eager and effective advocate of Nur al-Din’s jihad against Sunni Islam’s internal and external enemies in Syria. Specifically, this paper examines Ibn ‘Asakir’s treatment of two pre-Islamic figures (David and Jesus) as well as one Umayyad caliph, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiya (680-83) in his massive Ta’rikh madinat Dimashq (History of Damascus), and concludes that Ibn ‘Asakir was able to use his moral—even pietistic—vision of Syria’s past in support of Nur al-Din’s jihad of the pen and sword against Christian Crusaders and Muslim Shi‘ites.