On this Islamic website, the Templars are likened to the mafia.
It claims that Templar agriculture, construction and other commercial activities were “for show” and that the Templars’ real wealth came from ransacking, plunder, slave trading and even selling opium. So basically like modern organized crime. It then goes on to allege that the Templars elbowed aside the Jewish community to become the main source of loans even though Christian teaching forbade this.
OK…let’s add some cooler analysis. Thousands of preceptories were not established across Europe “for show”. There was serious money to be made from agriculture – the main basis for wealth in feudal society. That wealth was then channeled to fund the Order’s activities in the Holy Land.
The relationship with the Jewish communities would have been more complex than this website suggests. The Templars might have been their landlords for a start. The Templars did have large bullion reserves which were used to make loans – does that mean they elbowed out the Jewish money lenders? Evidence please! The Templars were not avowedly anti-semitic and their great influence, Bernard of Clairvaux, insisted on benevolent treatment of the Jews as he believed they had to be present in the end times.
This website claims the Templars traded in Africans, as well as other peoples. Um….so did the Saracens. In fact Barbary pirates were merrily trading in slaves for centuries.