Post-classical history

The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades

The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades

The Crusades as seen through the eyes of Muslims

A significant contribution to the understanding of the medieval holy wars between Christians and Muslims, this volume brings together the best and most complete eyewitness account of the Crusades from the perspective of a medieval Muslim writer. Focusing on twelfth-century Arab aristocrat Usama ibn Munqidh's Book of Contemplationbut also including extracts from The Book of the Staff and Kernels of Refinement, this volume offers a strikingly human portrayal of Islamic perspectives on day-to-day existence, warfare, and the curious European invaders.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Chronology of Events in the Life of Usama ibn Munqidh

Introduction

PART I: GREAT EVENTS AND CALAMITIES DURING MY LIFE

IN THE SERVICE OF THE ATABEG ZANGI

IN THE SERVICE OF THE BURIDS OF DAMASCUS

Usama Arrives in Cairo

Factional Fighting among the Black Troops

Al-Zafir as Caliph and the Coup of Ibn al-Sallar

A Mission to Syria and Starving Bedouin at al-Jafr

‘Abbas as Vizier and the Murder of Ibn al-Sallar

A Military Revolt against ‘Abbas

Civil Strife: ‘Abbas Abandons Egypt to Ibn Ruzzik

Usama’s Family Delivered. The Franks Seize his Property

PART II: WONDERS OF WARFARE, AGAINST INFIDELS AND MUSLIMS

The Haughtiness of Horsemen

Malik al-Ashtar and Abu Musayka

A ‘Master’s Blow’ is Not what it Seems

Usama Deals a Deceptive Blow

Varieties of God’s Will: The Opposing Fates of a Warrior and an Artisan

Thief-Stories: The Bandit al-Zamarrakal Belittles his Wounds

A Soldier Killed by a Chisel-Headed Arrow

A Warlord Killed by a Trifling Wound

A Spectacular Spear-Thrust

A Warrior’s Wedding Garb Proves Fatal

An Aged Retainer Strikes a Devastating Blow

Two Horsemen Felled with one Blow

A Reminiscence about that Aged Retainer

Usama’s Father: A Great Warrior who Died in his Bed

The Model of a Loyal Servant

A Spear in the Eye

Tales of Bravery: Usama’s Uncle and Father

Jum’a al-Numayri Rescues his Son from the Franks

A Lesson in Humility

The Body Cured by Illness

Another Wound Heals a Servant

More than Meets the Eye: A Frank Miraculously Recovers

Jum’a Flees from Battle

Usama Gratefully Fails to Kill two Foes

Jum’a Accused of Cowardice

The Status of the Knight among the Franks

An Encounter with Tancred of Antioch

One Frankish Knight Routs Four Muslim Horsemen

A Lone Knight Thwarts the Army of Mawdud

One Man Defeats Many: Two Examples

A Woman’s Ruse Saves the Day

Single-Handed Feats at the Battle of Kafartab

A Soldier from Shayzar Attacks a Frankish Caravan

A Group of Soldiers is Forced by one Man to Flee

One Man Captures a Fort by Treachery

The Value of one Good Man: The Case of Yunan of Tripoli

Relief after Misfortune: Escape from a Frankish Prison

Usama Ransoms Muslim Captives at Acre

An Amazing Escape: Conspiracy at Amid

Saved from the Jaws of a Lion

Examples of Ignorance: Playing with Fire

An Example of Reason: A Soldier Fends off a Lion

On Reason and Governance: The Cases of Shayzar and Diyar Bakr

Good Governance Offers Rich Rewards: The Cases of Bitlis and Qal’at Ja’bar

Neither Courage nor Strength is Proof against Fate

Examples of God’s Benevolence: An Ascetic is Concealed from the Franks

God’s Benevolence: A Prisoner of the Byzantines is Freed

An Angel Rescues Usama

A Vision of the Prophet Rescues a Prisoner

Motives for Fighting: Two Muslim Martyrs during the Second Crusade

Fighting from a Sense of Commitment: Faris the Kurd

Speaking of Horses: Stout-Hearted Steeds

Faint-Hearted Horses

Another Stout-Hearted Horse

Usama Receives a Gift-Horse

The Varieties of Creation: A Soldier Dies from a Trifling Wound

A Man Foretells his own Death by a Hornet-Sting

Another Predicts a Lion will Seek him Out

Lions have their Braves and Cowards too: Three Stalwart Specimens

A Cowardly Lion

A Dog Attacks a Lion

Lions Induce Fear in other Beasts

A Lion-Slayer Killed by a Scorpion

Observations on the Behaviour of Lions

Usama Helps Kill a Leopard

The Holy-Warrior Leopard

Cheetahs versus Leopards: Let the Buyer Beware

A Leopard Runs Amok at a Drinking-Party

An Encounter with a ‘Tiger’

A Marvel of Destiny: The Byzantine Siege of Shayzar

The Franks March on Damascus

A Kurd Takes his Brother’s Head as a Trophy

Tales of Sharp Swords: Isma’ilis Attack Shayzar

How the Sword al-Jami’i got its Name

Another Noteworthy Sword-Blow: The Lord of Abu Qubays

Roger of Antioch and the Field of Blood

Baldwin II Becomes Regent of Antioch

Deeds of Women: Burayka, the Witch of Shayzar

Women’s Courage for the Sake of Honour: Usama’s Mother

A Courageous Woman Kills her Bandit Husband

Franks do not Mix: From Queen-Mother to Shoemaker’s Wife

The Marvels of Frankish Medicine

When God was Young

Two Old Women Race

Brave Men may Hold Unusual Fears

Faint-Hearted Men

Overawing the Enemy in War

The Brutality of al-Yaghisiyani

Night-Wanderings: Reflections on Old Age

In Praise of Saladin

PART III: CURIOUS TALES: HOLY MEN AND HEALERS

The Miracle of the Sweet-Wrapper

Cured by ‘Ali in a Dream

A Good Deed is Amply Rewarded

Usama’s Cure for the Common Cold

PART IV: EPISODES OF HUNTING

Usama’s Father

Usama’s Father as a Huntsman

An Exceptional Cheetah

The Hunt Must Go On

Hunting Wild Boar

LOST FRAGMENTS FROM THE BOOK OF CONTEMPLATION

Register of Proper Names

Glossary

Notes