Islamic Religion Mandeville Analysis

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In certain instances, Mandeville portrays the Islamic religion as an obstacle which Christendom is not only able to defeat, but that they are destined to do so. The first evidence occurs when the author describes the town of Surry, the port of entry to Syria. Mandeville claims they guard the harbor closely, “because of the fear they have of Christian men. ” This translates to a European audience that Muslims are afraid that a European invasion could realistically threaten their control of the East. In other words, the Islamic armies know that eventually, according to Europeans, the Christians will attempt to take back what’s “rightfully theirs.” Mandeville reflects this aspect of the European psyche later in the book, as when he discusses how…show more content…
Unlike the previous hostile or admiring reactions, the Sultan provides a critical depiction of Christianity from Islam’s point of view, which Mandeville describes to relay his message to the audience. The Sultan describes Christians as, “beasts without reason…[who] commonly deceive one another, and swear the most important oaths falsely. ” The fact that the Sultan, a member of Christianity’s enemy religion, could accuse Christendom of such sin would be a major shock to the audience. Most importantly, the two sins of which the Sultan accuses Christians: violence and deceit, were two earlier criticisms Mandeville had of the Islamic Egyptians! In other words, the Christians and Muslims share the same sins, this parallel between the two religions is a harsh criticism of the state of Christianity in the early 14th century. However, since Europeans understood their religion was ordained by God, then the only difference between Islam and Christianity was that God would allow the Christians a second chance to rise above their sins to become better than their enemies. Only then could Christianity reconquer the Holy Land. However, the last shock factor Mandeville adds to this scene is when he writes how shameful that Islam should, “keep their false law better than we do of Jesus Christ. ” Mandeville a Christian, acknowledges that the Sultan, a member of a…show more content…
While the reactions of hostility and awe demonstrate that Christianity is God’s chosen religion, and that Islamic people are the enemy, their criticisms of Christians’ sins are correct. Christendom’s punishment for this is the loss of the Holy Land, but these mistakes are reversible and destined to occur. The ultimate insight from Mandeville’s description of the Islamic kingsdoms is that Europeans believed their continent to be a shining light of good surrounded by darkness and violence. However, rather than retreat from the outside, Europeans praised the courageous explorers who ventured out of the safety of Christendom to grow the kingdom of Christ. Mandeville’s message of Islam’s flaws and criticisms are, like most medieval literature, ultimately optimistic. While man is inherently sinful, those who recognize their mistakes and repent can reverse the punishments given to them. It is through this reflection and change which will eventually allow Europeans to rise above their mistakes and retake what they believe to be
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