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					Mohammed and the Rise of Islam
   600‟s A.D.
   loss of much of the Eastern Roman Empire
   to a new religious and political power
     – Islam
Middle East, ca. 600 A.D.
Islam

   Bedouin Arab named Mohammed
   born ca. 570 A.D.
   Merchant family, Hasimites
   Qurayshis tribe, who dominate Mecca
    – controlling much of the religious pilgrim trade
   raised by relatives
    -father and mother died by age six
    -raised by an impoverished uncle
Mohammed
   formal education ?? We don‟t know
    – Normally only the Poets of the Tribes could
      read and write
   commercial agent for a wealthy widow
    – Khadijah
    – supervising caravans from Mecca, north to
      Jerusalem
    – contact with both Jews and Christians
Mohammed, con’t
   He seems to have made an impression on his boss,
    because of his reputed honesty
     – married her and retired from commerce
     – to devote himself to religion
     – and to making society more fair and equitable
Mohammed, con’t

   monogamous until his wife died
   eventually married nine wives and had
    assorted concubines
   last marriage at 53 to Aishah, daughter of a
    friend
   wives: widows of friends or political marriages
       • Women alone is such a world were very vulnerable
Origins of Mohammed’s
Teachings
   periods of unconsciousness are indicated:
    explanations
    – revelations from Allah by holy trances, spoken to by Gabriel
    – epilepsy or a similar neurological disorder?
    – mental illness or hallucinations ?
   Mohammed‟s explanation:
    – revelations from God
    – Very unpleasant and painful for him
The Quran

   Record of revelations received during
    visions
   Committed to writing c. 650 CE, compiled
    (Muhammad dies 632)
    – Under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan
   Tradition of Muhammad’s life: hadith
Nature of Revelations

   diverse
   social, agricultural, medical, military,
    astronomical, etc.
Historical Origins of His Ideas
   Arab polytheism
   Hanifism: a belief in one God traced to Abraham, by
    tradition
   Judaism
   Christianity: Orthodox, Nestorian, Arianism
   Manichaeism: a mixture of Zoroastrianism,
    Christianity, Judaism, and so forth
Beginning of His Ministry
   at about age 40, after a number of revelations
   began to preach publicly
   continued to receive revelations until death
     – usually related to current problems or concerns
     – Religious, political, social, economic
Early religious career
   not particularly successful
   threatened the social, political, and religious
    structure, with his doctrine of social equity
   threatened the economic basis of Mecca as a center
    of religious pilgrimage
   particularly the Black Rock
     – sacred to the chief deity of the Arabs
   run out of town, or at least encouraged to leave
    – Went to the desert with his family and lived for about a year
The Hijra
   flight from Mecca, to Yathrib (Medina)
    -tradition: invited by the Jews of Medina
   622 A.D.
   beginning of the Islamic calendar
   forms the umma (community)
   welcomed, then resisted
   Mohammed becomes an absolute theocrat
Muhammad’s Return to Mecca
   Attack on Mecca, 630 -- jihad
   Conversion of Mecca to Islam
   Destruction of pagan sites, replaced with mosques
     – Ka‟aba preserved in honor of importance of Mecca
     – Approved as pilgrimage site
Jihad

   holy war against Mecca
   ten year blockade
   a deal was made
The Deal
   Mecca preserved as a holy city and place of
    pilgrimage
     – to preserve the economic prosperity
   the Ka‟aba preserved as the central shrine
     – idols and icons destroyed
     – story of its origins emphasized the role of
        Abraham in its placement
     – pilgrimage as an act of faith, at least once in your
        life
The Ka’aba in Mecca
The Religion: the Koran (Qu’ran)
   the Koran (Qu‟ran): contains much of Mohammed
    recounting of Allah‟s teachings
   written down by his followers after his death
     – from notes and memories, on “stones and
       parchments”
   Short: 114 chapters
     – arranged from longest to the shortest
     – not by subject or chronologically
     – length is the criterion of order for the text
The Koran, con’t

   some “Old” and “New” Testaments stories
    – but sometimes the story seems a bit different to
      Jews and Christians
   parables and fables
   political polemic and prophecy
   “non-religious” subjects
    – not dissimilar to Jewish and Christian scriptures in
      some ways
Five Pillars of Islam

   uniqueness of God
    – „There is no god, but God….‟
   prayer five times a day
   observe the month of Ramadan
   give alms to the poor
   pilgrimage to Mecca
    – If possible, once in your life
Additional teachings
   dietary laws
   no gambling or drinking
   no sexual irregularities, as defined by tradition and
    custom
   no faulty weights or usury
   no infanticide
   elaborate rules concerning inheritance and property
   improvement in the status of women and children
Changing Status of Women
   Qu‟ran improves status of women
     – Outlawed female infanticide
     – Brides, not husbands, claim dowries
   Yet male dominance preserved
     – Patrilineal descent
     – Polygamy permitted, Polyandry forbidden
     – Veil adopted from ancient Mesopotamian practice
Similarities to Judaism and
Christianity
   monotheism (defined a bit differently)
   insistence on the responsibility of human beings
   final judgment and rewards
   angels and spirits
   practice of virtues: truthfulness, compassion, etc.
Differences
   an emphasis on compassion and mercy
   alms giving moderate
   heaven conceived a bit differently
   no priests or sacramental system
   easy conversion: the Shahadah
    – „There is no God by Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.‟
Islamic Law: The Sharia

   Codification of Islamic law
   Based on Quran, hadith, logical schools
    of analysis
   Extends beyond ritual law to all areas of
    human activity
    – This is the basis the idea of an “Islamic
      republic” for instance
Expansion of Islam

   early victories
   backsliders (tribes) punished
    – Apostasy = treason = death
   assaults on:
    – the Byzantine (Roman) empire
    – the Persian empire
Spread of Islam
   Dome of the Rock,
Temple Mount Jerusalem
Victories

   Syria: 635 A.D.
   Palestine: 636 A.D.
   Persia: captured in one battle
    – expansion into India
    – expansion to the borders of China
   Egypt: help by local Christians
   North Africa: the Berbers
Expansion, con’t

   Spain 711-720 A.D.
   Battle of Tours: October 732 A.D.
    – Charles Martel
   Siege of Constantinople: 717-718 A.D.
    – Leo III
    – Greek fire
   beginnings of Christian reconquest of
    former Roman/Christian territory
Reasons for success
   exhaustion of Rome and Persia
    – End of a 400 year war
   nationalist sentiments in Egypt and Syria
   arguments among Christian factions
   speed and size of Moslem armies
   simplicity and uncomplicated nature of Islam
   acceptance of the Old and New Testament
     – People of the Book
Consequences of Expansion
   loss of the oldest and most central lands of
    Christendom
   aided the ascendancy of the bishop of Rome
   virtual collapse of Zoroastrianism as a major religion
   radically altered the balance of power between the
    Roman Empire and the East
   disruption of the Mediterranean economic community
Early Problems

   Succession ?
    – Mohammed had no surviving male children
    – Daughter: Fatima
    – Son-in-law: Ali, child of his uncle
   generated a permanent split in the
    Islamic community
    – Sunnis
    – Shi‟as
Sunnis
   considered themselves the “orthodox” followers of
    Mohammed
   consider the Shi‟as to be “dissenters”
   issue: who leads after Mohammed ??
   the Caliph (or “leader”)
   went successively to followers
      -Abu Bakr, then Oman
     -then Uthman and
The Shia
   Disagreements over selection of caliphs
   Ali passed over for Abu Bakr
   Served as caliph 656-661 CE, then assassinated
    along with most of his followers
   Remaining followers organize separate party called
    “Shia”
     – Traditionalists: Sunni
Abu Bakr

   not particularly popular with the Muslim
    community
   allowed raid, then invasions of
    Byzantine and Persian territory
   subjugated any dissident elements or
    tribes
   disposed of any “new prophets”
Success = strain
   success introduced luxury and change
    – From original caliphs to the Umayyad caliphs
   new ideas and new ethnic groups
     – with their own customs and heritage, to try to
       assimilate
   rise of a sort of “revivalist element”
     – Islam had strayed from its original path and purity
     – Muslims were being led back to paganism
     – caliphs were becoming idle, corrupt, tyrants
Uthman: the third Caliph
   murdered: warfare broke out
   Ali: cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed
   originally passed over as too young
   contested the succession
   Uthman supported by the Umayyad clan
     – early enemies of Mohammed
     – refused to accept Ali‟s claims
Umayyeds

   successful in the war
   Ali assassinated in 661 A.D.
    – by the Kharijites
   beginning of the Umayyed dynasty
Policy toward Conquered Peoples

   Favoritism of Arab military rulers causes
    discontent
   Limited social mobility for non-Arab
    Muslims
   Head tax (jizya) on non-Muslims
   Umayyad luxurious living causes further
    decline in moral authority
Sunnis

   accepted the legitimacy of early caliphs
   “Sunni” : from an Arabic word
    – “usage” or “custom”
    – implies: “precedent”
Shi’as

   accepted Ali
   word means: “party”, “faction”,
    “following”
Factions

   Sunni and Shi‟as dominant
   originally political
    – Eventually the differences became
      dogmatic in emphasis
   Shi‟as become a party of religious
    dissent
Perceptions

   Sunni: conservative, in favor of the
    “status quo”
    – consensus is the guiding principle
   Shi‟as: defenders of the oppressed,
    critics of privilege and power
    – obedience is required only as long as it can
      be forced, and no longer
Umayyed empire

   Atlantic Ocean to India
   Syria: center of the Islamic World
   eventually displaced by the Abbasids
    – an Arab family claiming decent from
      Mohammed
The Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258
CE)
   Abu al-Abbas Sunni Arab, allied with Shia, non-Arab
    Muslims
   Seizes control of Persia and Mesopotamia
   Defeats Umayyad army in 750
     – Invited Umayyads to banquet, then massacred
       them
     – Only Spain remains Umayyad
     – North Africa is disputed territory, ultimately
       Fatamid
Nature of the Abbasid Dynasty
   Diverse nature of administration (i.e. not exclusively
    Arab)
   Militarily competent, but not bent on imperial
    expansion
   Dar al-Islam
   Growth through military activity of autonomous
    Islamic forces
Nature of the Abbasid Dynasty

   Diverse nature of administration (i.e. not
    exclusively Arab)
   Militarily competent, but not bent on
    imperial expansion
   Dar al-Islam
   Growth through military activity of
    autonomous Islamic forces
Caliph Harun al-Rashid (786-809
CE)
   High point of Abbasid dynasty
   Baghdad center of commerce
   Great cultural activity
Abbasid Decline

   Civil war between sons of Harun al-Rashid
   Provincial governers assert regional independence
   Dissenting sects, heretical movements
   Abbasid caliphs become puppets of Persian
    nobility
   Later, Saljuq Turks influence, Sultan real power
    behind the throne
Formation of an Islamic Cultural
Tradition
   Islamic values
    – Uniformity of Islamic law in dar al-Islam
    – Establishment of madrasas
    – Importance of the Hajj
   Sufi missionaries
    – Asceticism, mysticism
    – Some tension with orthodox Islamic
      theologians
    – Wide popularity
Cultural influences on Islam

   Persia
    – Adminstration and governance
    – literature
   India
    – Mathematics, science, medicine
       • “Hindi” numbers
   Greece
    – Philosophy, esp. Aristotle
    – Greek medicine
Cultural Importance of Islam

   Development of these received
    influences
   Distribution throughout the Muslim world
   Introduction and reintroduction of these
    ideas to medieval Europe
    – Through Spain
    – Spanish Jews

				
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posted:8/9/2011
language:English
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