In my other question:

Christian and Etruscan end of times

I've asked why the Romans, the Byzantines and the Etruscans, in times of trouble, devoted themselves to contemplating the afterlife and did not respond with something akin to a holy war (i.e. something electrifying that would bring huge numbers of recruits into the ranks). The answer may be that no one invented the holy war until Islam came about. So, are the Muslims the originators of the holy war concept, which the Christian world then copied?

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    The Christian crusade concept was a pilgrimage-one where you bring all your weapons. It's not a jihad idea. – Razie Mah Jun 9 '14 at 18:08
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    So in other words, its possible to have similarities in outcome from differing ideas. This would be one example. – Razie Mah Jun 9 '14 at 18:21
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    The first real Catholic "crusade" (the word didn't exist yet) was Charlemagne's holy war against the Saxons from 772- 804 AD. I see no reason why Charles needed to borrow the idea from the Muslims, this wasn't the first time religion was involved in war. – Jeroen K Jun 11 '14 at 17:00
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    From wikipedia: "The chief purpose of the diet was to bring Saxony closer to Christianity. Missionaries, mainly Anglo-Saxons from England, were recruited to carry out this task. Charlemagne issued a number of decrees designed to break Saxon resistance and to inflict capital punishment on anyone observing heathen practices or disrespecting the king's peace. (...) as God's word should be spread not by the sword but by persuasion; but the wars continued." – Jeroen K Jun 11 '14 at 18:19
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    As you know those arguments can be made for the crusading knights as well, many of them took land and titles in Palestine or Syria. Written propaganda did not exist in a time when only the clergy could read (even Charlemagne was illiterate) but yes as you could have read in the quote or the article texts do survive, the most well known being the Capiltulatio de partibus Saxoniae. As you can read in the article it specifies that Saxons unwilling to convert would be brought to death (the German article version is more complete). – Jeroen K Jun 11 '14 at 18:54

Religion has been used by all groups of peoples to help them understand and regulate warfare and thus also to convince people to take part (recruit them). Provided here is a Wikipedia list of war gods. In a monotheistic religion, the role of the war god is combined as a trait of the one god. In the Old Testament, the Jewish God can be seen commanding his people to go to war to defeat peoples who commit grave sins. In other religions, the people might take captives to use as human sacrifice, such as the pre Buddhist deity Dayisum Tngri. Burial of slaves, often war captives, at a master's death was a common form of human sacrifice in other cultures.

The Nuristani people are a very old culture. They are mentioned in the Rigveda, one of the world's oldest manuscripts, composed in 1500-1200BCE. Their war god is Great Gish. After an enemy is killed in battle, a victory dance is given to Great Gish. This type of religious ritual would have been common among tribes without writing systems, as well, so it is impossible to know which peoples did this first.

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  • Sure, sure, but many ideas were carried over from the Muslims. Lost books from antiquity survived in Muslim hands, knowledge about siege warfare, ... The Muslims, also, learned many things from elsewhere and they figured out others themselves. I was asking whether the "holy war" idea was borrowed/copied over from the Muslim world into the Christian world. It could be, that the Muslims only transmitted it. – user1095108 Jun 10 '14 at 9:03
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    @user1095108 That contradicts the Hadith, so I don't think so. Also, there were episodes of large forced conversions in Europe before the Crusades, so they didn't need to transmit the idea. – Razie Mah Jun 10 '14 at 9:49
  • I don't think seeking converts was a prime concern on the mind of the Crusaders, nor of the Mujaheddin either. If it was, there would not be as many atrocities, as there were. About the Hadith... quote? – user1095108 Jun 10 '14 at 10:05
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    @user1095108 I said "in Europe before the Crusades." You will need to read the Hadith. My point is that Muhammed was inspired by visions to set rules for Jihad involving warfare, but this was before the Arabs conquered major empires. – Razie Mah Jun 10 '14 at 10:16
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    @user1095108 That's good thinking honestly, but there are religious differences. Remember that Holy War is first about religion, not really politics. The Muslims fight and convert people because they are submitting to Allah's will that all people should be Muslim. It saves their soul to do this. The Christians convert people to save the converts souls, so while it was common among Christians, they never fully adopted a jihad. Conversion by force doesn't work in Christianity, since the person must accept Christ themselves or they aren't saved. Maybe other cultures adopted it though? Not sure. – Razie Mah Jun 10 '14 at 11:25

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