'There's been a lot of rubbish talked about crusades and Jihad'

January 21, 2005

Western academic Carole Hillenbrand has won a prestigious Islamic award for her "unique" studies

Carole Hillenbrand, a professor of Islamic history at Edinburgh University, has been awarded the 2005 King Faisal international prize for Islamic studies. She is set to receive a $200,000 (£100,000) endowment at a ceremony in Riyadh this spring.

The citation says Professor Hillenbrand has taken a revolutionary approach to the subject of the Crusades through her unique research culminating in the book The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives . Her work on previously untranslated texts seeks to overturn misconceptions and stereotypes.

"We should be mindful of Islam's great contribution to the world," said Professor Hillenbrand, who is not a Muslim herself. The average person had no concept of Islam's contribution to science, literature, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, she said.

But virtually all the research on the Crusades over the past 200 years had been Eurocentric, Professor Hillenbrand said. "I looked at Muslim sources, and it produced quite different results," she said.

"There's been a lot of rubbish talked about crusades and jihad in language bandied about by Western politicians and self-styled leaders such as Osama bin Laden, and they would do well to look at the background to these terms," she said.

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