In 1076, some twenty years before the First Crusade was
launched, Pope Gregory VII wrote to al-Nāşir, Sultan
of Bougie in what is now Algeria:
For there is nothing which Almighty God, who wishes
that all men should be saved and that no man should
perish, more approves in our conduct, than that a
man should first love God and then his fellow men …
Most certainly you and we ought to love each other
in this way more than other races of men, because we
believe and confess one God, albeit in different
ways, whom each day we praise and reverence as the
creator of all ages and the governor of this world.
For, as the Apostle says: “He is our peace, who hath
made both one”.
This enlightened view of Islam was not widely shared in
Latin Christendom at that time, nor was it rooted in
any very profound knowledge of the Muslim religion.
B. Z. Kedar is, I think, correct in his view that a
good deal of information about Islam was available
in the West before the crusades, both in written and
oral sources, but because there was a general lack
of interest in the subject, no attempt had been made
to coordinate this knowledge.