When I used to enter the Aqsa Mosque

Horsemen waiting to participate in a parade in the time of Usamah ibn Munqidh
  • Horsemen waiting to participate in a parade in the time of Usamah ibn Munqidh

Whenever I visited Jerusalem I always entered the Aqsa Mosque, beside which stood a small mosque which the Franks had converted into a church. When I used to enter the Asqa Mosque…the Templars would evacuate the little adjoining mosque so that I might pray in it. One day I entered this mosque, repeated the first formula, “Allah is great,” and stood up in the act of praying, upon which one of the Franks rushed on me, got hold of me and turned my face eastward, saying, “This is the way thou shouldst pray!” A group of Templars hastened to him, seized him and repelled him from me…. They apologized to me, saying, “This is a stranger who has only recently arrived from the land of the Franks and he has never before seen anyone praying except eastward.” Thereupon I said to myself, “I have had enough prayer.” So I went out, and have ever been surprised at the conduct of this devil of a man, at the change in the color of his face, his trembling and his sentiment at the sight of one praying toward the qiblah [the direction of the Kabah in the holy city of Mecca].

— from The Book of Reflections

Usamah ibn Munqidh (1095–1188) was a medieval Muslim poet, warrior, and diplomat from northern Syria. He lived through the rise of several Muslim dynasties of the Middle Ages, the arrival of the First Crusade, and the establishment of the crusader states. Despite a life of action and travel, Usamah was most famous for his poetry, as a man of letters, and as a valuable chronicler of the crusades, especially as told from the Muslim perspective.

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