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Nouri al-Maliki Prime Minster of Iraq served his country under extremely difficult circumstances,
trying to promote peaceful coexistence between three factions: the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia.
He has balanced working with U.S. occupation forces while trying to maintain friendly relations
with neighboring countries, most notably Iran.
He was blamed for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This fast-moving and brutal
organization which began in July 2014. Al-Qa’ida,- was getting support from the Sunnis because of
their discrimination in Iraq.
Syria breaks into a civil war and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi leads Al Qa’ida and builds into a powerful
army. (Sunni Vs. Shite)
ISIS attacked Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq, which stranded tens of thousands of Yazidis, an
ethnic Kurdish religious minority, without food and water.
The group has also been the target of ethnic cleansing campaigns by ISIS, with hundreds of Yazidis
reportedly massacred as of August 2014.
In late 2011, Al-Maliki abruptly declared his Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashimi, a terrorist,
without any due process. He alienated a lot of Sunnis with this action.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in
capturing huge swaths of land in Iraq and Syria
is even more surprising when you consider the
scale of the lands captured in Iraq & Syria.
Isis controls and operates with impunity in a great stretch of territory in
western Iraq and eastern Syria, making it militarily the most successful jihadi
movement ever.
While its exact size is unclear, the group is thought to include thousands of
fighters. The last "s" of "Isis" comes from the Arabic word "al-Sham", meaning
Levant, Syria or occasionally Damascus, depending on the circumstances.
Led since 2010 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it has proved itself even more violent
and sectarian than what US officials call the “core” al-Qa’ida, led by Ayman alZawahiri, who is based in Pakistan.
Isis is highly fanatical, killing Shia Muslims and Christians whenever possible,
as well as militarily efficient and under tight direction by top leaders.
The creation of a sort of proto-Caliphate by extreme jihadist in northern Syria
and Iraq is provoking fears in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Saudi
Arabia and Turkey that they will become targets of battle-hardened Sunni
Here is the oil
and gas
around Iraq's oil
hub in Kirkuk
which ISIL will
gain control of
(if allowed)
The Origins of Islam
• Muhammad, a merchant whom Muslims believe was the last prophet, reported
that he received messages from God. The religion he taught—Islam—drew many
• Muhammad ibn Abd Allah born 570
• Parents died, Muhammad raised by uncle, powerful clan leader
• Grew up to have successful career in Mecca as merchant
• Married to older woman at age 25, fathered seven children, all but one of whom
died young
• Met followers of Judaism, Christianity while traveling on business
Muhammad’s Faith
• Had always been religious man, but faiths of others probably also influenced
Muhammad’s thinking
• Took frequent spiritual retreats
• Angel appeared to him during retreat, commanded him to speak messages
from Allah
• Muhammad disturbed by visitation, unsure of meaning
• After more visits from angel, Muhammad concluded God had chosen him to
be prophet
The Revelations
• Among many messages from angel, Muhammad reported Allah one and only true and
all-powerful God
• Other messages, instructions on how to live to please Allah, live in paradise
Public Preaching
• Muhammad originally told only wife, few friends about experiences
• Began to preach in public after about three years, attracted many followers
• Some powerful Meccans did not accept teachings
• Many disliked Muhammad’s criticism of traditional beliefs in many gods
• Only protection of uncle kept him safe
• After uncle’s death Muhammad knew he and followers not safe in Mecca
Sharing the Revelations
• 622, Muhammad moved to Yathrib, came to be called Medina, “the Prophet’s
City”; journey from Mecca to Medina came to be known as hegira
• Later Muslims marked year of hegira as first year of Islamic calendar
Building Faith
• Muhammad spent decade building community of fellow believers
• Called faith Islam, meaning “achieving peace through submission to God”
• Followers known as Muslims
• People of Mecca who wanted Muhammad stopped did not give up
• Fought several battles with Muhammad, followers, ultimately lost ground
• 630, Muhammad controlled Mecca, influence unmatched
Basic Ideas of Islam
• As Muhammad gained political power, revelations continued
• Muhammad could not read, write; recited revelations
• Followers memorized words, some wrote them down
• Writings Muslims believe as direct revelations from God collected in
Qur’an, sacred test of Islam
• Muslims read from Qur’an to hear
Allah’s teachings
• Seek religious experience in
rhythm, beauty of words
• Full meaning known only in original
Arabic language
• Translations not true representation
Five Pillars of Islam
• Five basic acts of worship central to
Islam, Five Pillars of Islam
• Profession of faith
• Performance of five daily prayers
• Giving of alms to poor, needy
• Fasting during month of Ramadan
• Make pilgrimage to Mecca
Five Pillars of Islam
Profession of Faith
• “There is no god but God…”
• By affirmation, Muslim signals
acceptance of the faith
• Denies existence of other gods,
accepts Muhammad as prophet
Giving Alms to Poor, Needy
Five Daily Prayers
• Worshippers say daily prayers
five times during day
• Always face Mecca to pray, no
matter where they are
Fasting During Ramadan
• Muslims supposed to give
percentage of income to charity
• Muslims required to go without
food, drink, dawn to dusk
• Even those with little encouraged
to help others
• Ramadan when Muhammad
began to report messages written
down in Qur’an
Pilgrimage to Mecca
• Muslims physically, financially able required to go to Mecca
• Journey called the hajj
• Gather to pray in mosque
• Perform various rituals, walk seven times around Kaaba
• Climb Mount Arafat, site of Muhammad’s last sermon
Guidelines for Behavior
• Qur’an provides guidelines for moral behavior
• Muslims may not eat pork, drink alcohol, must wash before praying
• Qur’an prohibits murder, lying, stealing
• Requires jihad, to defend Muslim community, also means “holy war”
Sunna and Sharia
• Record of Muhammad’s behavior, teachings known as Sunna,
“tradition,” provides guidance in personal relationships, business
• Muslim legal system known as Sharia, reflects various rules by which
Muslims should live, outlines method of reasoning, argument for legal
cases, made up of opinions, writings over several centuries
People of the Book
• Islam monotheistic like Jewish, Christian faiths
• Islamic beliefs:
• Allah the same as God in Jewish, Christian traditions
• Abraham, Moses, Jesus messengers from God
• Muhammad, last of God’s prophets
• Qur’an represents God’s final message
• Muslims told to respect Jews, Christians as “people of the book;”
share tradition of prophets who taught, received God’s revelations
Islam after Muhammad’s Death
The death of Muhammad in 632 presented a challenge for the Muslim
community. Who would lead the group and keep it unified? The
answer affected the faith’s spread and its future.
• Muhammad had not
named successor
• No clear candidate
• Abu Bakr, close
companion, early
convert, chosen
leader, called caliph,
Expansion of
• Abu Bakr focused on
bringing back
bedouin tribes
• Abu Bakr, successor
Umar, expanded
Muslim rule rapidly
• Built strong Arab
fighting forces to
keep tribes under
• 637 early victory
against Persian
forces in Iraq
• Reunified Arabia, led
forces north
• 642 victory over
Persian Empire
More Expansion
More Expansion
• After Iraq, Persia, Arab army faced wealthy Byzantine Empire to west
• Byantines first lost Damascus, Syria, Jerusalem
• 639, Byzantine province of Egypt fell; 642, rest of Nile Valley under Arab rule
• Only 10 years after Muhammad’s death, followers had created empire
• Conquests continued under later caliphs
• 661, caliphate stretched from northern Africa in west to Persia in East
Internal Conflict and Division
• Deep conflict within Muslim leadership, began with choice of Abu Bakr, caliph
• Some had supported Muhammad’s cousin, Ali
• 644, Ali lost again, to Uthman, supported by powerful Mecca clan Umayyad
Civil War
Ali’s Troubles
• Umayyads had been
Muhammad’s enemies,
converted reluctantly, were
Sunnis and Shias
• Most Muslims accepted
Umayyad caliph, Mu’awiya
• Called Sunnis, “followers of the
Sunna,” or “way of the Prophet”
• Uthman killed by rebels
• Ali became caliph, but troubles
had just begun
• Civil war broke out between
Ali’s forces, Umayyad; Ali killed,
Umayyad retook control
• Ali’s supporters refused to go
along with Umayyads.
• Became known as the Shia,
“party of Ali”
The Shia and Imams
Shia believed God had specially blessed Ali’s
• Ali’s descendants, Muhammad’s true heirs
• Shia called each of Ali’s successors imam
Imam means “leader”
For the shia, only imams can interpret the Qur’an.
• Conflict deepened between Sunni, Shia after deaths of Mu’awiya, Ali
• Many thought Yazid, Mu’awiya’s son, successor, not a good Muslim
• Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn, led rebellion against Yazid
• Husayn, forces defeated in battle at Karbala, Iraq
Further Division
• Husayn killed while holding infant son, battle became known as the
martyrdom of Husayn; split between Sunni, Shia has remained bitter
• Third group developed within Islam—the Sufis
• Sufis seek mystical, personal connection with God, using range of
practices including breath control and meditation in rituals
Find the Main Idea
What was the result of the succession
Answer(s): Two different Muslim groups
emerged—the Sunni and the Shia
The Umayyad Dynasty
Under the Umayyad caliphs, Muslim rule spread. Internal problems
weakened the Umayyads, though, and led to their fall.
Continued Expansion
• Umayyads strengthened rule
after death of Husayn
• Achievements:
– Established Arabic as official
– Made coinage uniform
throughout empire
– Began first great work of
Islamic architecture, Dome of
the Rock in Jerusalem
Military Conquests
• Armies conquered territory to
borders of China, Indus River
Valley, to east
• Took northern Africa, most of
Spain, to west
• Conquests spread Muslim
faith, while allowing religious
freedom for People of the
Book; some restrictions, taxes
for Non-Muslims however
Ruling the Empire
• Umayyads strengthened central government as caliphate grew in size
• Arab Muslims became ruling class, with power, privilege unavailable to those
they conquered
• Creation of privileged class conflicted with strong Muslim ideal of equality
• Wars over succession also upsetting to many faithful, unhappy with
emphasis on political ambition
End of the Umayyads
• Displeasure with Umayyads
• Shia continued opposition
• Also unrest among conquered
people, some Arab tribes
• Umayyads weakened by
discontent, time ripe for rebellion
• Abbasids, led by descendant of
Muhammad’s uncle, united many
Umayyad opponents by appearing
to support their causes
• Abbasids wiped out Umayyads in
series of battles, late 740s
• Caliphate entered Abbasid dynasty
What events brought about the end of the
Umayyad dynasty?
Answer(s): A family called the Abbasids took
advantage of discontent with the Umayyads and
established a new caliphate.
The Abbasid Dynasty
Persian Influence
• Abbasids relocated capital of
caliphate; rulers lived in
• Move to Baghdad beginning of
end of Arab domination of
Muslim world
• Chose Baghdad, on Tigris
River, in present-day Iraq
• Abbasids adopted Persian style
of government
Change in Islam
• Rulers cut off from people
• Nature of Islam changed
• Caliph hidden behind screen in
throne room, could not be seen
• Abbasids invited all to join in,
turned Islam into universal
religion, attracted people of
many cultures
• Used Persian officials; vizier,
deputy, oversaw affairs of state
A Changing Culture
Importance of Trade
• Islam spread through trade
• Muslim traders journeyed from
end to end of caliphate,
exchanging goods and
• Exchange brought Islam to
West Africa, Southeast Asia
Funding for Change
• Trade helped fund cultural
• Most prominent Abbasid caliph,
Harun al-Rashid, helped bring
culture to great heights, 786 to
• Support of scholarship helped
produce lasting achievements
of Islamic arts, sciences
How did the Abbasids differ from the
Answer(s): The Abbasids focused more on
prosperity and cultural advancement than on
empire expansion.
The End of Unity
As early as the 800s, Abbasid political power weakened. By the 900s, a
number of small, independent states broke away from the caliphate.
Challenges from Europe
Problems from Egypt
• European Christians weakened
Muslim rule
• 969, serious threat, Fatimid
dynasty established in Egypt
• Christian armies began to drive
Muslims out of Spain, 1000s
• Claimed descent from
Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah
• European Christians began
• From Egypt, controlled
Mediterranean, Red Sea
– Wanted to make Holy Land
Christian, won at first
– Muslims eventually retook
• Disrupted Abbasid trade
• Fatamids soon richer, more
powerful than Abbasids
Seljuk Turks and Others
Seljuk Turks
• Many non-Arabs among peoples of caliphate, including Turks
• 1055, Turkish Seljuks rose to power, took control of Baghdad
• Seljuks were Sunni Muslims, supported Abbasid caliph
War Against Byzantine Empire
• Seljuks defended Abbasids against Fatimids, went to war against Byzantine
Empire, defeated Byzantines at Battle of Manzikert
• Seljuks would go on to create own empire
Mamluks and Mongols
• 1200s, Mamluks took power in Egypt, Syria
• 1258, Mongols destroyed Baghdad, killed Abbasid caliph; caliphate finished
• Islam still a vital force, spread to India, Central and Southeast Asia