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Introduction to the Medieval World: Class 6

Class 6: Arab Kingdoms and Islamic Empires: Ummayads, Abbasids, and Turks
Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction

Last class an exercise in macro and micro history
trying to explain both the larger causes and immediate factors
behind the truly explosive growth of Islam.]

The factors - religious background, Persia, Arabness - all
contribute to its development.

The thing to be most born in mind is that from the beginning
Muhammad was the founder of a polity and a religion.

Uniqueness as prophet and statesman.

II.     Successors of the Prophet

        A.      Introduction
        Muhammad left no instruction about a successor
        Not part of tribal background of the Banu Umma
        Other prophets in Arabia a at the time, e.g. Maslama
        Caliph -  Khalifa asurallah - deputy or successor.

        B.      The Four Early Caliphs - the rightly guided caliphs

                1.      Abu Bakr 632-34
                         -Wars of Riddha - (apostasy.
                         -General Khalid ibn Walid used
                          `the taste of blood is pleasant to my mouth'
                         -Beginning of the Collection of the Qu'ran

                2.      Umar 634-44
                        Had been in control during Abu Bekr's reign.
                        St. Paul type figure

                3.      Uthman 646-56
                         Married two of Muhammad's daughters.
                         Competition with Ali for post, Uthman elected

                        Led eventually to civil wars - 655
                        Uthman killed by Ali and others.
                        End of Muslim unity.

                4.      Ali 656-661
                        Opposed from Mecca 
                        + Uthman's Family, the Ummayads.
                        Made Kufa the new Capital

                Kharajites rejected Caliphs at time -
                "decision belongs to God alone"

                5.      Civil War II
                        Muawiya - led war - proclaimed Caliph in
                        Jerusalem, 660

                Kharajites tried to kill both Ali and Muawiya,
                Killed Ali, but Muawiya survived
                Ummayyad Caliphate in Syria

                 Ali's sons bought off.

III.    Growth of Empire        

        A.      Expansion

                1.      Booty - Diwan system to share it set up by Umar

                2.      Syria/Palestine 633 onwards
                        Damascus 635 (oldest city in the World)
                        Battle of Yarmuk 636 - end of Byzantine Syria
                        Jerusalem fell 640

                3.      Iraq
                        637 Battle of Qadisiyya - opened up Iraq
                        Ctesiphon went to Arabs
                        Meant great Persian impact on Islam, as chief
                        city fell, unlike Constontinople.

                4.      Iran - opened up by Battle of Nihavend 641

                5.      Egypt - Invaded 640

                6.      Onwards - Westwards and Eastwards

        B.      Muslim Government

                Problem - small number of Arabs, Huge empire

                1.      The Umma

                2.      Amsar - garrison towns

                3.      Dhimmi - Jizya Tax

                4.      Conversions
                        Slow at first - Often from Christians

IV.     The Ummayads 661-750

        A.      Muawiyya 661-680

        B.      Damascus
                Western - Mediterranean orientation
                Used Christina advisor, e.g. Sarjan

        C.      Buildings - Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

        D.      Translations - many from Syriac

        E.      Failure to take over artistic culture

        F.      Tribalism - more civil wars. Kerbala

        G.      Mawali/Clients - non Arab Muslims. New problem.

V.      The Abbasids

        A.      Shi'ism
                Theory of Al-Mahdi , and Imamate
                Hidden successor
                Various sects , e.g. Twelvers

                reject consensus/ijma and support toquiya/dissimulation

        B.      Khorasan

        C.      The Black Flag - Rebels in East - vs. Ummayads

        D.      Baghdad - Eastern Orientation

        E.      Harun al-Rashid 786-809

        F.      Elite Culture/Popular life
                The Arabian Nights - Sir Richard Burton

VI.     Break-Up of Abbasid Empire      

        A.      Ummayyad Spain
                -Conquest of Spain 711
                -Muslim Rule
                -The Ummayyad Emirate
                -The Caliphate
                Abd-ar-Rahman III
                -Tolerance for Jews and Christians
                -The Reconquista

        B.      Fatamid Egypt
                -More Shia
                -Ismaili Shia - broke from Twelvers after no. 6
                -Rival Caliphate
                -Conquest of Syria and Palestine
                -Faced with Resurgent Byzantium
                -Hakim III and the Holy Sepulcher
                -The Crusades

        C.      Loss of Control in Baghdad

                1.      Persian Nobility

                2.      Sultans
                        Phenomenon of two kings
                        Caliph and Sultan/
                        Sultan and atabeg/
                        King and Major Dome/
                        King and Prime Minister/
                        Emperor and Shogun

                3.      Turks - via Khorasan
                        Troops first of all
                4.      The Seljuqs 1055

                5.      Alp Arslan

        D.      Caliphs Remain in Baghdad until 1258
                -Last one kicked to death in a carpet by Mongols
                -Restored in Egypt
                -Removed to Istanbul
                -Last one is last Turkish Sultan/Caliph

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 6 October 2023 [CV]