4.1.2. The demonization of Muhammad

4.1.2. The demonization of Muhammad

The lack of information about the mysterious and mystical East outlined an erroneous image of the “great enemy” in Western Europe. Christians had a precarious image of Islam because their only intention was to dismantle it, not to understand it. Accordingly, the similarities between the two religions were explained in the worst light possible, while Muhammad turned into in a veritable dark legend, being depicted as a heretic, false prophet, renegade cardinal or founder of a violent religion.249

Christianity gained additional information about Muhammad in the 11th century due to the crusade or the Mozarabs of Spain such as Petrus Alphonsi. Later, during the 12th century, Peter the Venerable managed to obtain a translation of the Quran in Latin and a collection of information about Muhammad, so that the Christian scholars may doctrinarily refute the Islamic teachings. For Peter the Venerable Muhammad was not the Antichrist, but the successor of the heretic Arius of Alexandria and the precursor of the Antichrist. This wretched triad – which copied the Holy Trinity – had begun with Arius the heretic and the Arian heresy, continued with Muhammad and the heresy of Islam, and it was going to culminate with the Antichrist and his devilish religion.250

In the 13th century Pedro Pascual, Ricoldo of Monte Croce and Ramon Llull depicted Muhammad as the Antichrist, while Islam took the shape of a Christian heresy. Every aspect of Muhammad’s life was caricatured, ridiculed or disapproved. In contrast to the supernatural life, the death and the resurrection of Christ, Christians condemned the illiteracy of the Prophet, the fact that he was married to a rich widow, that in his life he had multiple wives, that he ruled a community of people, that he was involved in many wars and that he died like an ordinary person.251

A medieval rumor said that Muhammad, as a child, was corrupted by Maurus, a heretic who took refuge in Arabia in order to escape the death penalty. In Leggenda di Maometto he is shown studying from childhood the dark arts, guided by a Christian heretic who had escaped from the prison of the Church of Arabia. With the help of these satanic teachings Muhammad perverted the Bible and founded a false religion. The text speaks also about the Islamic celebration of Friday (Latin: dies veneris – “the day of Venus”), in contrast to the Jewish celebration of Saturday and the Christian Sunday. The celebration of Friday was linked to the sexual depravation and the multitude of wives. Similarly, the Quran was explained as a heretical mixture between the teachings of the New and the Old Testament. This is why, apparently, the Islamic teachings allow polygamy like the ancient Jews.252 Muhammad, according to the legends, had a tragic end, he fainted due to alcohol and he was eaten by a herd of swine, these being the reasons why Muslims forbid the consumption of alcohol and pork. Another widespread idea said that he was an impostor or a renegade cardinal of the Catholic Church who, in order to satisfy his own ambitions and appetite for power, decided to build his own religion and propagated a false theology.253 Islam was frequently associated with barbarity, dark ignorance,254 or presented as a variation of Arianism, Nestorianism or Monophysitism – Christian heresies from the Asian part of the Byzantine Empire.

Christians, at least until the time of the First Crusade, were not capable of making a distinction between real facts and fables; probably they did not even want to make one. For them, as for the Romans before them, the world was conveniently divided into two clearly delimited sides: us and them, believers and heretics, saved and damned. A rumor said that Muhammad was ... (This text is incomplete. If you wish to read it in full, please purchase the book)

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