Mongol Invasion

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The Mongol invasions dealt a substantial blow to established Muslim societies, as well as the theology and customs which made these societies unique. For a long period, this culture had done little but grow. The sudden encounter with these foreigners, deemed savage-like by many Muslims, challenged the foundations of their existence. A lack of respect for human life and decent practices such as monogamy characterized these new Mongol invaders.

Some living through the invasions chose to hold fast to their faith and God, and assume the events were part of a divine plan. Ibn al-Athir was one such individual. He compares the event to Nebuchadnezzar’s slaughter of the children of Israel. His referencing biblical material suggests his belief that the God was aware of these invasions, and their effects would be his chosen destiny for all involved. Ibn al-Athir depicts the Mongols as an almost inhuman race, a mindless force of evil that surely God was aware of. On the other hand, his Muslim contemporaries, he says, never stopped praising God for his wisdom, nor did they loosen their faithful bonds.

Juvaini’s account provides further evidence that Islamic society held their ground during the conquest. Though many lives were lost, the spirit and power of the culture remained. Rather than wholly taking over conquered lands, many Mongols became a part of communities, often leading them. In a way, the result of the attacks was a give and take. After a devastating loss, Muslims couldn’t simply reject the presence of the Mongols; still, the Mongols were forced to recognize the persistent faithful nature of the typical Muslim.

Unlike the crusades, this was not a fight for religious authority. It was a one-sided event in which the Mongols wished simply to gain more land for an ever-expanding empire. To the credit of the effected communities, many of these attackers, often somewhat Atheist, became full-fledged Muslims. Thus, the Mongol invasion was a event which was one of...
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