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Until 610 - Period of Jahiliya – (a time of ignorance before Islam). Until then the social structure was tribes
and was not based on religion but on mans relationship one with another. People believed in gods and saw
hospitality as the superior value. Other valuies that people cherished were courage honour and faithfulness
to the tribe.
? – Murva’a genrousity, hospitality, faithfulness, keeping of ones word, speaking truth, restraint, courage
and revenge
570 Mohammed born. According to tradition it was the year pf the elephant and when the Ethipians
conquered Yemen on hoprseback and eventually arrived to Mecca the elephants went wild because of
Mohammeds birth and the Ethipians were ofrced to retreat.
610 – First revelation of Angel Gabriel to Mohammed
622 – Mohammed forced to flee from Mecca to Medina because of pressure from the residents there. He
flees with 70 believers.
630 – Mohammed arrives in Mecca
632 – Mohammed dies and the 4 caliphs chalfa’a el rashidun take over
632 – 634 – Abu Bakker (Aisha’s Father) I appointed as the first caliph HaNavi HaRishon
634-644 – Caliph Omar
644 - 656 – Caliph Othman Ben Aaffan
656-661 – Caliph Ali Ben Abu Talb – murdered by the Hawag (political dispute)
661-750 – Umayyad Dynasty
750 – 1258 – Abbasid Dynasty
Why did Mohammed succeed?
i) The religious answer is because he was the true prophet.
ii) Plagues that wrecked the area before his birth left people bleeding and desperate. Epidemics damaged
mostly the large towns where hygiene was poor. He was very successful in these areas.
iii) He came from an affluent political and religious family
iv) Mohammed bridged between the rich and poor, a gap that was getting bigger.
v) He succeeded in Medina where he was probably not known it was because he offered something familiar.
Allah was already known as the head of the gods of the Jahilya and Mohammed took him and made him into
one god, i.e. his approach was simple comfortable and easily grasped.
570 - According to tradition he was born and died on the same day.
His greatest enemies were from his own tribe - Mawaya (Mohammed’s Granddad’s cousin) and Abu Suffian
(Ummaya’s grandson).
610 Gabriel reveals himself and asks the illiterate Mohammed to read 5 verses
622 – Mohammed forced to flee from Mecca to Medina because of pressure from the residents there. He
flees with 70 believers.
632 – Mohammed dies after he had finished conquering Arabia.
The agreement that Mohammed signed with the believers and infidels of Mecca. This agreement looked one
sided as if Mohammed was giving in to them. He did this to quieten the front on the Mecca side so that he
could attack the Jewish tribes in the north without fear of reprise from Mecca in the south. After Madayin was
conquered Mohammed attacks Mecca. Some say that the Choodiebiya was signed between the 3 Jewish
tribes even though no Jewish names are of course mentioned. Others say that he attacked the Jews for
economic reasons, the Jewish trade was more successful than Arab trade and therefore a livelihood was
being plundered from his own people
Islamic sources
Suna – the biography of Mohammed
Koran – Holy book of the Moslems that contains all the revelations of Allah to Mohammed
Hadith – Sayings of Mohammed or sayings attributed to him
Tafsir – Commentary of the Koran
Ma’azi (?) – Battle stories of M that describe his meetings with army people
HaAnsab – Genealogy of the different tribes and their stories
Documents – Choodiebiya Ahal El Dima and others
An anti-Jewish Greek text dating from 634 claims that Mohammed is the one proclaim the imminent Messiah
and he has the keys to paradise. He appears with a sword and chariots. Patricia Kroner claims this text is
more reliable than Arab texts that were written 150 years later. An Armenian text dated 638 says that
Mohammed was a merchant who presented himself as God’s apostle, preacher, the way of truth who taught
the Arabs to know the God of Abraham our father and was knowledgeable about the story of Moses. He
forbade the Arabs to drink alcohol and eat meat from a corpse. In this text it says that Mohammed told his
followers that Allah worked according to his word and helped Israel until they sinned too much and now the
Muslims are the ons of Abraham and through them Allah fulfils his promises!
Al Chalaffa El Rashdun
The Ones Who Walk On Straight Paths – HaHolech Bederech Yashir
A caliph is someone who fills in the place of Mohammed. After Mohammed’s death the Muslim society was
divided into two.
I) Al- Muhajirun (?) – Those that emigrated with Mohammed from Mecca to Medina
ii) Anatzar (?) – Residents of Medina who received Mohammed in Medina
The first caliph was Abu Bakker in 631 - the last was in 1924.
i) 623-634 - Abu Bakker – also called the Tzadik. He was one of Mohammed’s first believers (the first was
his wife Aiysha). He was Mohammed’s Father-in-Law, the father of his second wife. Before his death he
appointed Omar as the next caliph. During his reign the Rida (?) ward broke out against the tribes that
believed that the agreements signed by Mohammed had expired. Abu Bakker wanted to rule over all Arabia
and some of the tribes were against this.
ii) 634 – 644 - Omar Ben Al Chat’ab – also called Al Faruk (one who can discern between good and evil).
During his reign the Sassanim were annihilated. Military Muslim attacks were also carried out in Iraq, Persia,
Jordan, Syria, Palestine and even Egypt. All of these attacks were carried out before 661. After his murder
Othman ruled.
iii) 644 – 656 - Othman Ben Affan – nicknamed Du Nurin because he married 2 of Mohammed’s daughters
(nur = light). He was responsible for the printing of the Koran. He was murdered
iv) 656 –661 - Ali Ben Abu Tal’b appointed but was not recognised by the Muslim brotherhood HaOoma.
Someone from the Hawarj sect murdered him while in prayer. The group that did recognise him today are
known as the Shi’ites.
The Hierarchy
AnaTzar and Muhajirun – the elite and eldest of the Muslims
Small tribal groups that recognised constantly the authority of the Muslim community
Tribes that were conquered by Abu Bakker in the Rida Wars
Borders of Arabia
634 – Arabian Peninsula
661 – From Caucasia (Kavkaz) mountains, North Africa until Iraq. During the Umayyad period they crossed
mountains from the east and rovers on the northeast. The transoceanic (Uzbekistan today) was conquered.
In the beginning of the 8th century the race to China was declared
751 the Battle of Talas saw the capture of central Asia and the defeat of China. Islamic territory reached
732 Battle of Poiters – Muslims against the French in an attempt to cross the Straits of Gibralatar to get to
Paris. The Europeans won because of the use of saddles on horseback which gave them speed and stability
in difficult terrain. Muslims were stopped in the Pyrenees and their activities were limited to the Iberian
Why did Islam succeeded in controlling huge territories in a short period of time without an organised army?
I) This is because Byzantium that ruled Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt were exhausted from years of
fighting the Sassanim who ruled the Persian Empire. When the Moslems finally arrived they found the
Byzantines easy to conquer.
ii) The bickering between Rome and Byzantine was so s bad that they both helped the Sassanim to defeat
the other.
iii) The Sassanim had no idea how far and popular Islam was spreading, by the time they understood it was
too late.
iv) The Arab army was mobile and ‘hands on’ as opposed to running a war from ‘above’ in an office.
624 – Badar – Mohammed fights the people from Mecca at Badar (Between Mecca and Medina)
632 – Rida Wars
634 – Ajdin – Battle for Palestine
636 – Yarmuk – Battle for Syria
637 – Kadsiya – Iraq falls
638 – Jerusalem
640 – Perisa falls
642 – Alenxandria
650 – Chursan - North East Perisa
656 – Krav HaGamal – Ali against the Moslem elite that are headed up by Aisha who is riding a camal
657 – Tzipin – Ali against Mawaya. Ends without winner as Ali is forced to recognise Mawaya as an
additional caliph. As a result of this battle the Chawarij movement started, Ali’s murderer was from there.
658 – Narwan – Ali fights those who oppose his policies
680 – Karballa – Husein Ibn Ali revolts
751 – Talas – Moslems beat Chinese who are forced to retreat
Piran Thesis
A thesis that investigates the influence of Islam on Europe: Its source is coinage, i.e where coins were
minted, what type of metals were used and where the metal was from, and how and where the coins were
traded. It focuses on Mediterranean and claims that Islam is a violent religion. The change caused people in
Europe to cease trade and turn to working the land. As trading ships ceased to set sail from fear of being
attacked by Moslems this social change ushered in the Middle Ages in Europe. Piran also points out that
befoe the Moslem conquest gold coins were used and since then only silver coins were used and therefore
the Europeans became poorer.
This problem with the thesis
Mohammed was a merchant and would have wanted to trade with them. Following the loss of Northern
Africa the Europeans simply gained more land in other places. Although initially Europe was traumatised
with the arrival of Islam nevertheless after a while they fell on their feet and found alternative trade. Gold
was in existence in Europe but it churches changed the gold into religious items. Evidence of Moslems
trading with Europeans is that Moslem coins have been found in Scandinavia.
The gradual establishment of a Moslem state
i) Territorial gain
ii) Institutions built in the conquered areas
iii) Organisation and methodology for its continuation
iv) The establishment of a Moslem army (not of the conquered peoples) while organising the Moslem
The administration is the same kind that ran the Byzantine and Sassanim.
Omar II left the same people in office on purpose
During the course of time coinage and postal services were done in Arabic.
Ahel El Dihm’a (Dihimmi – Christians and Jews under the Islamic government)
This is an agreement between Moslem and non-Moslem community, e.g. the contract that Omar signed with
Jews and Christians in Jerusalem, named ‘Omar’s conditions.’
I) no conquering beyond Jerusalem
ii) non-Moslems can continue to live as such on the condition that they know that they are dihimmi
iii) they are members of the society but do not have equal rights.
iv) Christians and Jews paid higher taxes
v) Payment of Mas Hazjia to the Moslem government that ensured their protection from theft and murder.
vi) Forbidden to serve in the army unlike tribes who had been conquered by Abu Bakker
First Civil war
Civil war broke out after the murder Othman, the third caliph. He was murdered because people thought he
favoured the election of relatives and cronies over the people who could do the best job. From this war the
shi’ite movement began.
Umayyad rule
The first Umayyad ruler was Mawaya, son of Abu Suffyan.
They reigned ofr 90 years (661 – 750)
The Ra’asa/Sabka crisis started
Were they a caliphate or a dynasty?
Capital was moved to Damascus
Second civil war breaks out
Second civil war
680 – 692 After Mawaya’s death the second civil war breaks out. Reasons were political, social religious and
cultural tension between the different tribes. The rulers in the crisis were Yazid (Mawaya’s son) and then
after him Mawaya II
684 – 685 – Caliph Marwan Ibn El Chacham
685 – 705 Caliph Abed El Malik
705 – 715 Caliph El Walid
The Abbasids presented the Umayyad as bad Moslems that drank and went against the spirit of Islam. They
claimed that the Umayyad is a monarchy: although the ruler is a king he is not legitimate because the leader
is a dictator, i.e. one ruler over everyone. Territory was divided up by north and south and the northerners
felt close to the Umayyad rule. People in the south were further away and felt bitterness and control. In order
to win the affection and favour of the caliph some tribes used their genealogy as a political tool. These
tensions eventually brought in Abbasid rule.
Abdulla Ibn Al Zavir
Hussein Ben Ali revolts against the Umayyad
He sets out with 70 men to Iraq after he hears that he has support in Iraq to topple the Umayyad. The
Umayyad hear about it and attack him at Karballa in Iraq killing them all. They beheaded him and took his
head around all the towns. Since then the Shi’ites see this day as a day of mourning because they did not
help Ali. Modern ceremonies include self-mutilation. Abdulla Ibn Al Zavir Revolt was carried out againt the
Kurayish Umayyad nobility because they attacked the Kaba.
Marwan’s reforms
Centralise the government and make it an Islamic government
A permanent instead of a tribal army.
The Arabisation of all the system, Arab coinage, Arabic as the official language, administration in Arabic
Establishment of the Dome of the Rock
The Second civil war took place after Mawaya died. The enemy was the Umayyad. The caliphs after him
(his son and grandson) did not have Moslem mothers. The problem was solved when the dynasty was
passed to the Marwan branch of the family tree. Marwan I rebuilds Medina and gives his sons the foundation
for halting the civil war. During Mawaya’s reign - the first part of the Umayyad dynasty tribes were divided up
depending on their favourable relationship with the governing powers the Shiite movement arose because
they saw this as unfair. Muhammed Ibn Chanfiya, according to the Shiite myth is the ‘disappearing Imam’
because he mysteriously wnet into a cave and never returned. They are awaiting his return as the Messiah,
Mahadi. Although the revolt named after him failed it formed the Shiite ideology, an Imam (leader) alongside
a religious leader. Nobilities in Mecca were short-changed because the capital became Damascus and not
Mecca. It was this dislocation that caused the Abdulla Ibn Al Zavir revolt. His capital was in Mecca and for a
while the empire was divided into two – The Marwans seized Mecca and unintentionally ballista balls
damaged the Kaba in an attempt to quieten the revolt.
Abbasid Rule
750 – 1258 – they had 37 caliphs. After their caliphate terminated there was still left a caliph in Egypt. The
Abbasid revolt 747 – 750 was actually the third civil war. A few Abbasid defeated the Umayyad rule and
started to take power from within Abass is Mohammed’s uncle and from that they claim legitimisation. Abbas
great grandson supposedly was appointed to rule after he visited Ali’s grandson Abu Hasham in 717 who
suddenly died after leaving a will that Mohammed should be the next caliph! Many of the people who
revolted against Umayyad were unhappy, pro-Shiite and even suppressed Sunnis. The Abbasids were
smart in turning to all people in society regardless of the religious differences. A charismatic leader was
needed to replace Ali. The Abbasid used the Shiites to get into power but later dumped them. Many were
even poisoned in the power struggle. Abbasid rule was for 500 years and was not absolute because there
were many local leaders, there was great development in this time in foreign policy and changes in the
composition of the Moslem Elite. Zayid was an Umayyad ruler who some continued to follow even though he
failed in his revolt. He still has followers today in Yemen – Zayidim. The Abbasid Shiite conflict was
relentless against the Shiite Imams causing the Shiites to be only a side factor in the Islamic society. In 945
the Sunni Abbasid were defeated by the Persian Shiites. 100 years later the Turkish Sunni Seljuk defeated
them. The Abbasid revolt started in Iran and stretched out to Iraq. Abu Muslim who ad no genealogy
became known as someone who wanted a purer Islamic government. At some point the Abbasid hinted that
they were Allah’s (and not Mohammed’s) representatives on earth. Abbasid names were grand i.e ‘the one
who Allah will help to victory’ ‘the one who sheds blood.’ During the Abbasid rule all non-Islamic symbols
were removed. It was purely an Arabic Islamic system that shows that they completely disconnected
themselves with other cultures in the Middle East. Islam also influenced Byzantine Christianity in
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is not a place of public prayer (i.e. mosque), an individual can pray there. The
Umayyad built it over the Foundation Rock (Even HaShtiya) an ideology copied from the “People of the
Book (Jews and Christians). Abdul Malk Ibn Marwan built it in 688 and dedicated in 691. It was paid for by
Egyptian taxes collected over 7 years. The Umayyad built a lot including in Jerusalem and Ramla. It was
created as a replacement for Mecca and Medina because they were afraid to go to Mecca. The Umayyad
tried to divert the Haj to the direction of Jerusalem reminding people that Mohammed had said that a
pilgrimage there (to the furthest mosque) was as important as one to Mecca and Medina. It is important to
Moslems that the Dome of the Rock is on the Temple Mount a significant site to Christians and Jews, as it
has usurped the Jewish/Christian temple. It is built from Jerusalem, stone and covered with marble. The
style is from Byzantium. There are 2 Dome of the Rocks, one in Jerusalem and one in heaven. The décor on
the building is quotes from the Koran that were inscribed to compete with Christian Byzantium. They deal
with the personhood of Jesus; some say that He is Allah’s son and the coming Messiah. Other inscriptions
contest the fact that Mohammed is Allah’s son and quote other verses form the Koran that say that Jesus is
not Allah’s son. It was built on the highest place so all in Jerusalem could see it. The Umayyad built it as a
hexagon as one-up-man-ship over Byzantine architecture. It served as a gathering place for political and
economic Moslem demonstrations against Byzantium Palestine. The Al Aksa mosque is the Furthest
The Transoceanic area and its Christian and Persian civilians suffered constant attack from Moslem forces.
The Chinese and Turks attacked it too. Moslem forces in East Asia competed for China. In 751 at the Battle
of Talas the Chinese lost and central Asia fell under Islamic control. Consequences were that the Moslems
learned about paper and books
Anatolia and Caucasia
Constantinople was their first destiny for conquering. Tactics were small groups that plundered areas.
Constantinople stood strong and was not conquered. North Africa and the Atlantic area were the direction of
the war campaign and the spreading of Islam. Some who had embraced Islam later wanted to revert but
were as a result re-conquered by the Moslems. The Abbasids won and saw themselves as Allah’s chosen
ones. Abbasid women were always behind the political scene. There were also non-Arab women who
penetrated the Islamic elite. Some say that a revolution is only possible once people have been deprived
and are subsequently on the way to recovery. They feel and taste a better world and are therefore stronger
to rebel. There are several theories who was behind the Abbasid revolt including the Persians, suppressed
Aran soldiers.
In the 9th century a theological argument broke out. Was the Koran created and if so can a caliph address
such a question? Some said its ok for a caliph to intervene in religious affairs because he is the spiritual
leader; others said the caliph was a political and military leader so he was not allowed to deal with such
issues. As a result a philosophical religious break away group was formed but later dissolved. Other issues
were if a caliph was allowed to receive a salary from the estate. Many said no because the state was not a
religious entity.
Rule in the Eastern Provinces
The Turkish language came back and had to be re-invented and adapted. The first dynasty in this area
ultimately leads to the Ottoman Empire. The Persians and not the Arabs educated them. The Samanim
dynasty was built on claims that their leader was Baharm Jubi an outstanding Persian figure that existed in
the time of Jahiliya. The Chinese captives taught the Persians how to make paper. The Persians
subsequently supplied paper to all the empire. Up until the 10 th century the Turkish tribes had still not
converted to Islam, only after 1000 years did they decide to convert for the good of the community.
The Samanim traded with the Turkish nomads who learned the ropes. Eventually the Ottoman empire was
built on this knowledge that they acquired. Taxes were heavy but did not cripple the country.
The Sha Namah – the Perisan book of kings – by Ferdowsi. A Persian book written in the Farsi language in
999. It also serves as a history book of Persia’s kings and dynasties. No non-Persian dynasties are even
mentioned in the book.
The Tulunim were a the most important Persian dynasty who ruled in Egypt. They originally arrived there as
Abbasid officers. They were so strong that they nearly did a takeover and the Abbasid rule had to send men
there to get rid of them. Achmed Ibn Tolon’s army had 100,00 men. His soldiers were Greeks and Sudanese
slaves, Mamelukes and Turks. The Abbasid destroyed Ibn Tolons soldiers living area in Egypt. After he had
been conquered the Achshidit Turks ruled there 882 – 946 which came to an end in 969 after the Fatamids
who arrived from north Africa conquered Egypt. . The Shiite Adrissim ruled Morocco. It was during the
caliphate of Ali they started gnawing at North Africa. Egypt was conquered in 639 and from there they
started going west. By 700 the whole of the north African coast was Islamic. The Moslem Umayyad
conquered the catholic Visigoth kingdom of Andalusia in Spain in 711
There was a process when Islam needed to be defined. Could it exist without being Arabic. Many wars
happened until it was defined. Sa’oobiya was a movement of non-Arab Moslems that refused to recognise
the Arab identity as the sole Moslem identity. Ultimately it was decided that Islamis not just Arab although
Arabic has a crucial place in the religion.
The biggest difference between Sunni and Shiite is an issue of leadership. Shiites believe that the
leadership of an Imam is so essential that any disagreement or question about his character will bring a split.
He needs to be charismatic and have natural talent. According to them an Imam has become part of the
propehectic step ladder of which there are three parts; shaliach, prophet and Mochedet – someone you can
converse with. Shiite imams have acquired the third level and enjoy divine advantages such as:
HaOtzma – the ability to make a mistake
Ha-Ilam – special knowledge given only to them
Sha’afa – hishtadlut with Allah
These qualities Mohammed was known to have had. Because of these characteristics it is therefore
mandatory for a Shiite believer to be completely faithful to his Imam. The Shiites started off as a small group
who wanted Ali Ben Avi Tal’b and his son Hassan to reign. Their small political group went through collective
trauma such as the massacre at Karballa that united them together. The concept was developed that only
the offspring of Ali from Fatima could be an Imam. Until the 9 th century it was political movement and from
the 9th century it had turned into a religious movement.