Download Muhammad through the Abbasids (c. 600 – 1258 CE)

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Muhammad through the Abbasids
(c. 600 – 1258 CE)
Arabia before Islam
Bedouin (nomadic) desert culture
Clan loyalties = key to survival
“Blood feuds”
Polytheistic religion
Herders and caravan
Arabia before Islam, pt. 2
Town/merchant culture
Also clan-centered – linked to Bedouin
Towns built around oases
Main cities = Mecca and Medina
• Mecca controlled by Umayyad clan of
Quraysh Bedouin tribe
• Ka’ba shrine in Mecca
Arabia before Islam, pt. 3
Status of women in Bedouin society
Greater freedom/higher status than in
neighboring sedentary societies
Status/freedom varied by tribe
Divorce, inheritance, control of property
still favored men
The Life of Muhammad
(c. 570 – 632 CE)
Member of Quraysh tribe
But not Umayyad clan!
Raised as a trader
Moved to Mecca, worked for Khadijah
Good mediator of disputes
Muhammad, pt. 2
Exposed to other monotheistic religions
through trade
First revelation from angel Gabriel,
c. 610 CE
Umayyads saw him as threat
Fled to Medina in 622 CE
Later written down in Qu’ran (Koran)
Hijra (first year of Islamic calendar!)
New religion = Islam
“submission to one true God, Allah”
Muhammad, pt. 3
War between Umayyads and Muslims
– Muhammad’s forces won!
Returned to Mecca in 629 CE
Smashed idols at Ka’ba
Eventually, most Umayyads converted
Died in 632 CE with no successor
Why was Islam attractive?
Monotheism belonged to no tribe or clan
Community of faithful = umma
Strong ethical/moral component
Dignity and equality of all believers
before God (like Christianity?)
Social responsibility for poor
Belief in afterlife and Last Judgment
Freedom of worship for “People of the
The Five Pillars of Islam
“There is no God but Allah, and
Muhammad is his Prophet.”
Pray 5 times per day, facing Mecca
Fast during holy month of Ramadan
Zakat - tithe for charity
Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca once in life
EFFECT: Universal Religion!
Sunni vs. Shiite – the Origins
Leadership crisis after Muhammad’s death
Two candidates to succeed Prophet
• Ali
• Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr chosen as caliph
• Generals expanded reach of Islam into Persian
and Byzantine territory in search of war booty
Sunni vs. Shiite, pt. 2
Umayyad clan became dominant
Third caliph was an Umayyad
Umayyads = Muhammad’s early enemies!
Caliph personally very unpopular - murdered
Supporters of Ali declared him caliph
Umayyad rejected his claims – CIVIL WAR!
Sunni vs. Shiite, pt. 3
Ali victorious; tried to be generous
Assassinated, 661 CE
Ali’s second son, Husayn, took up
fight, was killed at Karbala in 680 CE
SUNNI = Umayyads
SHIITES = Followers of Ali/Husayn
Husayn shrine in Karbala
Umayyad Caliphate
(661-750 CE)
Spread faith and extended empire
Byzantine territories of Syria, western Iraq,
Palestine and Egypt by mid-640s CE
Defeat of Sassanid (Persian) Empire, 651 CE
Central Asia by 8th c. CE
North Africa and Spain by early 8th c.
Domination of Mediterranean
• Built war fleets by 640 CE to challenge Byzantines
• Crete, Sicily and Sardinia taken by early 9th c.
Quickest empire-building in history up to that point
Early Expansion of Islam
Umayyad Caliphate, pt. 2
Early motives for conquest
Revenge against non-Arab rulers
War booty and tribute = CASH
Moved capital to Damascus (Syria)
Built up bureaucracy
But only Arab Muslims were first-class
Most subjects of empire were non-Muslim
Great Mosque - Damascus
Umayyad Caliphate, pt. 3
“People of the Book” = dhimmi
Jews and Christians – Bible
Flexible definition - relaxed to include
non-Biblical religions
Aside from paying taxes, were left to
govern themselves and worship freely
Umayyad Caliphate, pt. 4
Reasons for fall of Caliphate?
Overthrown by Abbasids by 750 CE
Leader = Abu al-Abbas
• Allies = dissident groups
• Shiites (still hated Umayyads!)
• Mawali (non-Arab Muslims), still 2nd-class
Abbasid Caliphate
(750 – 1258 CE)
Once in power, Abbasids rejected Shiite
allies as heretics – fighting ever since!
Built new capital at Baghdad
Imperial bureaucracy grew
Main advisor = wazir (vizier)
Only effective at administering empire
and collecting taxes for approx. 100
• Why?
Abbasid Palace - Baghdad
Abbasid Caliphate, pt. 2
Mass conversions to Islam
encouraged for all subjects of Empire
War booty no longer distributed
Mawali now equal citizens with Arabs
• Persians came to dominate administration
Long distance trade revived
Sea routes particularly busy
Muslim Traders (by land and sea)
Abbasid Caliphate, pt. 3
Status of women?
Harem reached zenith
Veiling and seclusion of
non-slave women
(especially urban upper
Land-owning elite
Decline of Abbasid Caliphate
High peasant tax burden
Caliphs neglected public welfare
Former provinces of empire broke away
Syria and Egypt
Buyids of Persia sacked Baghdad (945 CE)
• Caliphs became puppets of Buyids
• Buyids took title of sultan (“victorious” in Arabic)
Abbasid Decline, pt. 2
Seljuk Turks supplanted Buyids in 1055 CE
Nomads from central Asia
Persecuted Shiites
Defeated Byzantines
• Opened way for settlement of Anatolia by Ottoman Turks
Battled Crusaders from Western Europe
• First Crusade captured Jerusalem, 1099 CE
• Horrible massacre (even Christians!)
• Crusaders maintained foothold in Palestine until 1291, but
mostly wiped out by Salah-ud-Din (Saladin) in late 12th c.
Abbasid Decline, pt. 3
Mongol invasions - the “coup de grace”
1258 CE – Baghdad sacked and last
Abbasid caliph executed
Mongols finally defeated by Mamluks
(originally Turkic slaves who ruled Egypt)
1401 CE – Baghdad sacked again by Timur
Mongol Siege of Baghdad
Islamic Art and Science
Abbasid Caliphate = “Golden Age”
of Islamic culture, despite political
Early Abbasid period
Mosque and palace building
Recovery, translation and
dissemination of classical texts
Transmission of ideas
• “Arabic numerals”, chess from India
Jews, Christians and Muslims all
Islamic Art and Science, pt. 2
Persian literature
Persian = language of “high culture”,
literature, administration and
Arabic = language of religion, law and
natural sciences
Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Islamic Art and Science, pt. 3
Mathematics and science
Skilled astronomers and
NOW do you recognize it?
Abbasid Religious Trends
Ulama – orthodox scholars of Islam
Hostile to non-Muslim (classical) ideas
Wandering mystics - personal union with Allah
Possible to look beyond illusory realm of senses to
find Allah – like Buddhism, but still strongly
Sometimes extreme asceticism
Drugs, dancing (dervishes) to induce ecstatic
Very popular – important in diffusion of Islam in S.
Whirling Dervish - Sufism
Rivals to Abbasids
Umayyads (756 CE)
Fatimids (909-1169 CE)
• Shiite
Ayyubids (1169-1250 CE)
• Salah al-Din - Sunni
Mamluks (1250-1517 CE)
Fatimid Architecture