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Islamic Civilizations
Arabian Peninsula
1 million square miles
Three continents
Located between Red Sea
and Persian Gulf
• Arid and desert
– Oasis
• Nomadic Arabic herders
– Lived in kin related clans
• Highly mobile
• Tent encampments
• Strong on loyalty and
cooperation of kin
• Wealth and status based
on possession of animals
– Lead by Shaykhs
– Only united for wars and
severe crisis
• Warfare important part of life
– Conflict over pastureland/watering holes
– Defend one’s honor
– “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”
• Inter clan rivalries will weaken Bedouin
clans compared to neighboring people
• Most significant culture in shaping the
development of Islam
• Market town
–Founded by Umayyad
• Kaaba
–Holy shrine
–Statutes of many Arab
–Annual truce
Women Pre-Islamic Arabia
• Women had greater freedom
– Varied from tribe to tribe
– Key economic role– milking, weaving, kids
– Not covered or secluded
• Greater freedom and higher status than women of the
Persian and Byzantine Empire
– Lineage matrilineal
– Also allowed multiple marriages
• But men still greater authority
– Earn status through war/battle
– Men only polygamy
• Born into Quraysh tribe– Banu Hashim clan
– orphan-raised
– Caravan leader
– Exposed to Christian and Jewish faith
– Married
• Upset with greed of Makkah
– Fast, pray and meditated
• 610 AD had an revelation
– Voice calling him
– Only one true God-- Allah
• Muhammad preached
• Ethical system
– There is only one God that
people everywhere must
worship and obey him
– All that believe
– God measures the worth by
– Responsibility of the wealthy and
strong to care fore the poor and weak
– Prepare for Day of Judgment
• Religion becomes known as Islam
– Submission
• followers are called Muslim
– Attracted
– Umayyad wealthy merchants and religious leaders
• Afraid it would stop
• Question
• Result Muhammad and Muslims persecuted
• 622 AD Muhammad flees
– Ask to mediate dispute between
Bedouin tribes and Jews
• Yathrib
– Renames Madinah
– Marks the beginning of I
– First year of Muslim
• Umayyad threaten by Islam
– Growing power in Madinah
• Initial response was to ignore Muhammad as long as he
remain in Madinah
– More difficult as Muhammad called for raids on
caravans heading to Makkah.
• 630 AD Muhammad returns to Makkah
– 10,000 converts will enter the city
– Makkah acknowledge Muhammad as prophet
– Kaaba becomes Muslim most sacred place of
Why was Islam able to spread so quickly and
convert so many to a new religion?
• Easy to learn and practice
• Teaches equality
• Non-Muslims- “Peoples of the Book” were
allowed religious freedom
– But had to pay
– Easily “portable”--– Jihad (holy war)
• Islamic holy scriptures
– Final authority in matters
of faith and lifestyles
– Moral values- similar to
Judaism and Christianity
• guide daily activities
• No gambling, no pork, no
• Rules over marriage,
divorce, family, inheritance
– Arabic
• Shari’ah
– Body of law based on Quran and
– Hadith– Laws can not be separated from religion
• Umma
– Community of believers established by
Muhammad to oversee daily lives of followers
– Main advantage was that it transcend tribal
• Three holiest cities
– Makkah
– Madinah
– Jerusalem
• Dome of the Rock
• Dome of the Rock
– According to Islam tradition, Muhammad
ascended into heaven in Jerusalem form the
Dome of the Rock
– Inside the shrine is the actual rock and
Muslims believe it has the footprints of
archangel Gabriel on it.
– Muslims believe all souls gather under the
– Located on the Hebrew Temple Mount the
most sacred site for Jews
Five Pillars of Islam
• Faith (Shahada)
– Confession of Faith
– Muhammad view as a Prophet– not a God
• The last of Prophets
• Just not accept by Christians and Jews
– Allah is the God to Muslims, Christians and Jews
• Muslim descendants of Abraham
• Prayer (Salat)
– 5 times each day– set
– Facing Mecca
– Imam
• Prayer leader
• Any male with
• Muezzin
• Calls to prayer from a
• Alms (Zakat)
– Charity
• Fasting (Sawm)
– Ramadan
– Considered a method of self-purification
• Jihad
– Often refer to as the sixth pillar
– Not correct in calling it a Holy war
– Better translation would be “fight” or “strive”
– Even though the Quran contains some militant
verses that suggest wars of conquest for
conversion were a permissible form of jihad,
Muhammad taught that there was a proper way
to fight jihad.
• No harm to civilians
• Nor were they to destroy
• Muslims were required to offer peace first and to
provide protected status to those who submitted
peacefully, even if they chose not to convert
• 632 AD Muhammad dies
– Did not provide line of succession
• Create position of Caliph
– First Caliph was Abu Bakr
– First four Caliphs called
the “Rightly Guided
• All had personal
relationship with
• Took mind off internal problems
• Easy to beat neighbors
• Unity of Faith
• Pent-up energy
• Booty
• Not driven by desire to win converts
– Avoid conversions
Motives for
• Frustration in Islamic community
–Century of personal animosities
–Who control the booty
–2nd Caliph Uthman
–3rd Caliph Uthman (assasinated)
• Ali (son in law of Muhammad)
• regains control but does not punish assassins
• Mu’awiya –
– an Umayyad claim he the new caliph
• Ali will be assassinated
– Son Husayn tries to regain power but is also killed
Feud continues
• Backers of Umayyad vs. backers of Ali
– Caliph goes through dominant clan vs. caliph that
goes through descendants of Muhammad
• Division into Sunni and Shi’ite
Division of Islam
• Sunni
– Majority of Muslims
– Believe caliph is primarily a leader
• Shi’ite
– Believe that only a descendant of Muhammad &
Ali could be caliph
– Stress spiritual rather
– Found primarily at Iran, Iraq and Lebanon
• Both Sunni and Shi’ite accept
– Oneness of God
– Accept Quran
– Pilgrimage to Mecca
Umayyad Dynasty
• 661-750
• Moved capital from
Madinah to Damascus
• Umyyad caliphs
– Disliked by many Arabs
– First Caliph to be chosen
from Muhammad’s early
enemy- Umayyads/
• Spread of Islam into India, China, North Africa,
– Battle of Tours 732 AD
• Stop the spread of Islam into Europe
• Charles Martel
• Show tolerance to Jews and Christians
• Arab/Muslim aristocracy ruled over nonArabs/Muslims
– Tried to keep Muslims separate
• Only Muslim Arabs are First class citizens
– Don’t want to lose taxes
• Remember Muslims can’t tax Muslims
• Many unhappy with Umayyad tax system
– Non Arab Muslims paid higher taxes, got lower
wages etc.
• Dhimmi
– “People of the Book”
– Muslims tolerate of other religions
• Taxes
Family and Gender Role
in Umayyad Dynasty
• Women position actually good
– Muhammad has stressed
importance of marriage,
fatherhood– adultery illegal
– Can have up to 4 wives but must be
able to support them
– Rid of infanticide
– More property rights to women
– No Veiling– Why cover? Allah made
me this way
• Remember women had been
some of Muhammad strongest
early followers
Umayyad Decline and Fall
• Umayyad caliph’s growing addiction to luxury
and soft living
– Stop fighting wars, built palaces & revolts start
around empire (influence of Byzantium)
• Abbasid Dynasty
– Will defeat the
• Murder all the
Umayyad ruling
family except one
who escape to Spain
– Will establish the Al
Andalus in Spain
• Government
• Absolutist government actually a
– More than Umayyad
– Growing power of wazirs
Islamic Conversion and Mawali
• Mass conversions to Islam were encouraged
throughout empire
• Mawali received as full members of Islamic
• Most converts were won over peacefully
because of appeal of Islamic beliefs and
advantages they enjoyed:
• Abbasid Era was a great time of urban
expansion and growth of merchant and
landlord classes.
• Trade will play a major role
• Arab DHOWS - trading vessels with
triangular (lateen) sails were used from
Mediterranean to South China Sea
• Muslim merchants
formed joint ventures
with Christian and Jewish
• Because each merchant
had a different Sabbath,
• Merchants grew rich
supplying cities with
goods throughout the
empire. 4 trade routes
• Develop the system of receipts and saaks
• Hospitals and medical care of the Abbasid
Empire surpassed those of any other
civilization of that time
• Much unskilled labor was left
to slaves
• Some slaves were able rise to
positions of power and gain
freedom (like what other empire?)
• In religious, legal and
philosophical discourse
• Science and Math!
• Arabic traders in India
carried Indian number
system across
Mediterranean and
• What’s the impact?
• Advances
The First Flowering of
Islamic Learning
Declining Position of Women in the Family and Society
• Initially Islamic world open to egalitarian treatment of
• Under Abbasid
– More patriarchal authority
• Only males allowed
• Influence by Persians & Byzantium
– Harem• Kept women in seclusion
• Win freedom/gain power by bearing healthy sons
• Some became slaves ( actually more freedom—no veils)
• Veil
– Actually started in Mesopotamia
– Only in public
• Within the structure women are highly protected and in
some ways even more respected under the Quran
Global Connections
• Played an significant role in preserving
Western Culture
• House of Wisdom –
• Like Romans were tolerant of local customs of
areas they conquered
• Abbasid Empire was “go-between” for classic
empires that were no longer able to
• Role grew as Arab trade networks expanded
• Muslim divisions would leave openings for political
– Growing intolerance and orthodoxy led to the
belief that the vast Islamic world contained all
requirements for civilized life,
– which caused Muslim people to grow less
receptive to outside influence and innovations…
– led to isolation at a time when Christian rivals
were in a period of experimentation and