AP WORLD Sterns Chapter 7 LECTURE NOTES
Abbasid Decline and the Spread of Islamic Civilization to South and Southeast Asia
Chapter Summary apwhch 7-1
By mid 9th century - Abbasids losing control over huge Muslim empire. Distance hurt troop movements and control of local administrators.
Subjects retained local loyalties. Shi'is often caused trouble. Slave and peasant uprisings used up empire’s resources. 13th century Mongol invasions
finally ended a painfully slow decline. Despite political decline, Islamic civilization reached new cultural heights. Islam expanded widely in the
Long Abbasid Decline The Abbasid Empire fell slowly between the 9th and 13th centuries. Peasant and slave revolts increased. Art and
scholarship flourished but women’s status eroded. Decline started Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785). He failed to reconcile moderate Shi'i to Abbasid
rule. He also abandoned the frugal ways and surrounded his court with expensive luxury. He left no succession system for his many rival
sons, leaving a lasting problem to future rulers.
Extravagance and Succession Disputes. Al-Mahdi’s son, Harun al-Rashid, became a famous Abbasid caliph. His decadent, scheming court
was immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights (which was compiled much later in its final version byt eh Ottomans). He heavily depended
on Persian advisors, a trend that would make later caliphs puppets in court struggles. Al-Rashid's death led to the first of many civil wars
over succession. The sons of the civil war winner, al-Ma'mun, built personal armies, that included Turkic nomads, to safeguard their power.
These armies became power brokers, removing and selecting caliphs; their uncontrolled power caused social unrest.
An excerpt for the first page of The Thousand and One Nights
……….To proceed, the lives of former generations are a lesson to posterity; that a man may review the remarkable events
which have happened to others, and be admonished; and may consider the history of people of preceding ages, and of all
that hath befallen them, and be restrained. Extolled be the perfection of Him who hath thus ordained the history of
former generations to be a lesson to those which follow. Such are the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights, with
their romantic stories and their fables……….
Imperial Breakdown and Agrarian Disorder. Ongoing civil violence drained the treasury. Caliphs increased the debt by building newer and
bigger imperial centers. Peasants were severely taxed. Farm villages were abandoned, irrigation systems fell apart. Bandits were
everywhere; they aided peasant rebellions instigated by dissident religious groups.
The Declining Position of Women. Women’s freedom and influence maintained during the 1st centuries of Islam severely declined. Male-
dominated Abbasid society imagined women possessed incurable lust, and men must be segregated from all but their family women. The harem
and the veil symbolized subjugation to males. Seclusion of elite women, wives and concubines, continued. Veiling spread to all. Abbasid class
wealth created a large demand for concubines and male slaves. Most came from non-Muslim neighboring lands. Poor women remained
economically active, the rich were kept at home. Elite women married at puberty and spent their lives in domestic work and childbearing.
At the highest political levels women practiced intrigue for their sons' careers.
Nomadic Invasions and the Loss of Caliphal Power. By the mid-10th century breakaway former provinces began to break away. The Buyids
of Persia captured Baghdad in 945. From then on, the caliphs became puppets controlled by sultans, the true rulers. The Abbasid Empire
was in name only. The Seljuk Turks defeated the Buyids in 1055 and ruled the deminished Abbasid Empire for two centuries. The Seljuks
were staunch Sunnis who purged the Shi’i. For a time Seljuk military power restored much of the original caliphate. Egyptians and Byzantines
were conquered , opening Anatolia, the heart of the future Ottoman Empire, to be settled by Turkic nomads.
See Maps in book
The Impact of the Christian Crusades. West European Christian knights in 1096 invaded Muslim territory to capture the Holy
Land. They created small, Christian kingdoms around the Holy land. Most were
recaptured near the close of the 12th century by Saladin. The last fell in 1291. The
Crusades intensified the borrowing by Europe of the more sophisticated technology,
architecture, medicine, mathematics, science, and general culture of Muslim
civilization. Europeans recovered much Greek learning lost after the fall of Rome.
Italian merchants remained in Islamic centers after the Crusaders left and were the
key carriers of Islamic advanced knowledge. Muslim peoples were little interested in
Golden Age of Learning. The turmoil of late Abbasid times did not stop Muslim
thinkers and craftsmen from Spain to Persia produce one of the great ages of human
creativity. Rapid urban growth and prosperity persisted. Jobs for skilled individuals
were abundant. Merchants amassed fortunes supplying urban needs and from long-
distance trade to India, Southeast Asia, China, North Africa, and Europe. Artisans
created mosques, palaces, tapestries, rugs, bronzes, and ceramics.
Persian Literature. Persian replaced Arabic as the primary written language of the Abbasid court. Arabic remained the language of religion,
law, and the natural sciences, but Persian became the language of "high culture," used for literary expression, administration, and scholarship. With
no human forms allowed, beautiful calligraphy made literature a visual art form. Perhaps the greatest work was Firdawsi's epic poem, Shah-
Nama, a history of Persia from creation to Islamic conquest. Other writers, as the great poet Sa’di and Omar Khayyam in the Rubiyat, blended
mystical and commonplace themes in their work.
Science. During the Abbasid Empire Muslim society surpassed all others in scientific and technological discoveries. In mathematics thinkers
corrected ancient Greek theories. In chemistry they created the objective experiment. Al-Razi classified all material substances into three
categories: animal, vegetable, mineral. Al-Biruni calculated the exact specific weight of 18 major minerals. Sophisticated astronomical
instruments, like the astrolabe, mapped the heavens. Much Muslim achievement was practical. In medicine formal courses of studies accompanied
important experimental work. Hospitals continued to improve. Traders and craftsmen introduced Chinese paper making, silk weaving, and ceramic
firing. Cartographers made the most accurate maps to date.
Religious Trends and Expansion. Sufis developed vibrant mysticism, but ulama (religious scholars) became more conservative and suspicious of
non-Muslim influences. They feared Greek rationalism and insisted that the Quran was the only required source of knowledge. However, al-
Ghazali struggled to fuse Greek and Quranic traditions. He often was opposed by orthodox scholars. The Sufis created the most innovative
religious movement. They reacted against the arid teachings of the ulama and sought personal union with Allah through asceticism, meditation,
songs, dancing, or drugs. Many Sufis gained reputations as healers and miracle workers; Sufism was key to the continuing expansion of Islam.
More Nomadic Invasions and the End of the Caliphate. In the early 13th century central Asian nomads, the Mongols, threatened Islamic lands.
Chinggis Khan destroyed the spin-off Turkic-Persian kingdoms east of Baghdad. His grandson, Hulegu, continued the assault. The last Abbasid
ruler was killed when Baghdad fell in 1258. The once great Abbasid capital became a backwater in the Muslim world
Islam in South Asia. 7th century Muslim invasions made Indian civilization more complex. Previous nomadic invaders had blended into India’s
advanced civilization. Muslims, with their own advanced culture, were a new factor. Comparing the two cultures, Hinduism is open, tolerant, and
inclusive, but based in a rigid social caste system.. Islam was doctrinal, monotheistic, evangelical, egalitarian and often militaristic. Initial contact
brought conflict , but eventually, while tensions persisted, peaceful commercial and religious exchange occurred in a society where Muslim rulers in
the north governed Hindu subjects.
North India prior to Muslim Invasion. North India remained politically divided between regional rival dynasties after the 5th century fall of the
Gupta until Harsha in the 7th century created a smaller, temporary, but stable successor empire in the central and eastern Ganges plain. While
bigger than any European kingdom of the time, Harsha failed to unite India’s subcontinent. Harsha's reign was peaceful and prosperous. He built
roads, rest houses, and hospitals; he endowed temples and Buddhist monasteries. Urban areas, like the capital at Kanuji, flourished and artistic
creativity revived. Harsha, a Hindu, was tolerant of all faiths and strongly attracted to Buddhism.
The First Muslim Invasions. Harsha's empire collapsed with his death in 646. Hindu culture flourished, but political divisions left north India
open to Umayyad Caliphate invasions beginning in 711. The Umayyad general Muhammad ibn Qasim conquered and annexed Sind, and , despite
quarrels among successor Muslim dynasties, the occupation endured. Many Hindus now "people of the book," welcomed the new rulers because
they offered religious tolerance and lower taxes. Most Hindu officials kept their positions, and brahmin castes were respected. Few Arabs resided
in the areas cities or garrison towns, and minimal conversion to Islam took place.
Indian Influences on Islam. Although Islam's impact in India was minimal, Islamic civilization was enriched by Indian culture. Indian
achievements in science, mathematics,, medicine, music, and astronomy passed to the Arabs. Indian numerals were accepted, later to pass to
Europe as "Arabic" numerals. Colonies of Arabs settled along India's coasts, adopted local customs, and later extended Islam to island and
mainland Southeast India and Asia.
The Second Wave of Muslim Invasions. After initial Muslim conquests, internal divisions weakened Muslim rule and allowed
limited Hindu reconquest. In the 10th century a Turkish dynasty gained power in Afghanistan. Its third ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni, began two
centuries of incursions into northern India. In the 12th century the Persian Muhammad of Ghur created an extensive state in the Indus valley and
north-central India. Later campaigns extended it along the plains of the Ganges to Bengal. A lieutenant to Muhammad, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, later
formed a new state, with its capital at Delhi on the Ganges plain. The succeeding dynasties, the Sultanates of Delhi, were military states; their
authority was limited by factional strife and dependence upon Hindu subordinates. They ruled much of north-central India for the next 300 years.
Patterns of Conversion . While conquerors, Muslim interaction with Indians early was through peaceful exchanges. The main carriers of Islam
were traders and Sufi mystics, the latter drawing followers because of similarities to Indian holy men. Their mosques and schools became centers
of regional political power providing protection to local populations. Low and outcast Hindus were welcomed. Buddhists were the most
numerous converts. Buddhist spiritual decline had debased its practices and turned interest to the vigorous new religion of Islam. Others
converted to escape taxes or through intermarriage. Muslim migrants fleeing 13th and 14th century Mongol incursions also increased the Islamic
Patterns of Accommodation. Islam initially had little impact on the general Hindu community. High-caste Hindus did not accept the invaders as
their equals. Although serving as administrators or soldiers, they remained socially aloof, living in separate quarters and not intermarrying. Hindus
thought the Muslims, as earlier invaders, would be absorbed by Hindu society. Muslim communities did adopt many Indian ways; they accepted
Hindu social hierarchies, foods, and attitudes toward women.
Islamic Challenge and Hindu Revival. Even under Hindu influence, Muslims did not change the basic principles of Islam. Hindus, loosing
followers, responded by opening up their faith to all individuals from all castes. They increased emphasis on devotional cults of gods and goddesses
(bhakti). These cults, open to all, stressed the importance of strong emotional bonds to the gods. Mira Bai, a low-caste woman, and Kabir, a
Muslim weaver, composed songs and poems in regional languages accessible to common people. Ecstasy brought removal of past sins and made
caste distinctions meaningless. Shiva, Vishnu, and the goddess Kali were the most worshipped gods. The movement helped, especially among
low-caste groups, to stop conversion to Islam.
Stand-off: Muslim Presence at the End of the Sultanate Period. Similarities in style and message between Sufis and bhaktic devotees led to
efforts to fuse Islam with Hinduism. But, orthodox Brahmins denounced Muslims as temple destroyers and Muslim ulama saw the two faiths as
incompatible. By the close of the sultanate period there were two distinct religious communities. The great majority remained Hindu. They
were convinced of the capability to absorb the Muslim invaders. South Asia remained the least converted region under Muslim political control.
The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia was middle of global trade where Chinese products and culture met the Indian Ocean
zone. By the 7th and 8th centuries Southeast Asian sailors and ships were active in trade. When Muslims, from the 8th century, gained control of
Indian commerce, Islamic culture reached Southeast Asia. The 13th century collapse of the trading empire of Shrivijaya, ruled by devout
Buddhists and located on the Straits of Malacca and northern Sumatra, made possible large-scale, peaceful, Muslim entry.
Trading Contacts and Conversion. Voluntary conversion was more important to Islam’s spread in S.E> Asia than force. Trading contacts
prepared the way carried forward by Sufis. The first conversions occurred in small northern Sumatran ports. On the mainland the key was the
city of Malacca, the smaller successor to Shrivijaya. From Malacca Islam went to Malaya, Sumatra, and the state of Demak on Java's north coast.
Islam spread into Java and moved on to Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Coastal cities were the most receptive. Their conversion linked them
to a profitable Muslim global trade system and Indian Ocean ports. Buddhist dynasties were present in many regions, but since Buddhist
conversions were limited to the elite, the mass of the population was open to the massage of Sufis. The island of Bali and mainland Southeast
Asia, where Buddhism had gained popular support, remained predominantly Buddhist.
Sufi Mystics and the Nature of Southeast Asian Islam. The mystical quality of Islam in Southeast Asia was due to Sufis. They were tolerant of
Buddhist and Hindu beliefs and converts kept pre-Islamic practices, especially for regulating social interaction. Islamic law ruled legal transactions.
Women held a stronger position than they had in the Middle East or India. They dominated local markets, while in some regions matrilineal
descent persisted. Many pre-Muslim beliefs were incorporated into Islamic ceremonies.
The Legacy of the Abbasid Age. Despite the political instability of the Abbasids, Islam's central position in global history was solidified. The
expanding Muslim world linked ancient civilizations through conquest and commerce. Islam made nomadic peoples in Asia and Africa literate. Its
cultural contributions diffused widely from great cities and universities. However, the growth of the ulama caused Muslims to become less
receptive to new ideas and technologies at a time when Europe was being transformed into a global power of its own. This close-mindedness would
make global Islam less competitive after 1500 CE.
al-Mahdi: 3rd Abbasid caliph (775-785); failed to reconcile Shi’i moderates to his dynasty and to resolve the succession problem.
Harun al-Rashid: most famous of the Abbasid caliphs (786-809); renowned for sumptuous and costly living recounted in The Thousand and One
Buyids: Persian invaders of the 10th century; captured Baghdad; and as sultans through Abbasid figureheads.
Seljuk Turks: nomadic invaders from central Asia; staunch Sunnis; ruled from the 11th century in the name of the Abbasids.
Crusades: invasions of western Christians into Muslim lands, especially Palestine; captured Jerusalem and established Christian
kingdoms enduring until 1291.
Saladin: 12th century Muslim ruler; reconquered most of the Crusader kingdoms.
Ibn Khaldun: Great Muslim historian; author of The Muqaddimah; sought to
uncover persisting patterns in Muslim dynastic history
Rubiyat: epic of Omar Khayyam; seeks to find meaning in life and a path to union with the divine.
Shah-Nama: epic poem written by Firdawsi in the late 10th and early 11th centuries; recounts the history of Persia to the era of Islamic conquests.
Sa’di: a great poet of the Abbasid era.
al-Razi: classified all matter as animal, vegetable, and mineral.
al-Biruni: 11th century scientist; calculated the specific weight of major minerals.
ulama: Islamic religious scholars; pressed for a more conservative and restrictive theology; opposed to non-Islamic thinking.
al-Ghazali: brilliant Islamic theologian; attempted to fuse Greek and Quranic traditions.
Sufis: Islamic mystics; spread Islam to many Afro-Asian regions.
Mongols: central Asian nomadic peoples; captured Baghdad in 1258 and killed the last Abbasid caliph.
Muhammad ibn Qasim: Arab general who conquered Sind; and made it part of the Umayyad Empire.
Arabic numerals: Indian numerical notation brought by the Arabs to the West.
Harsha: 7th century north Indian ruler; built a large state that declined after his death in 646.
Mahmud of Ghazni: 3rd ruler of a dynasty in Afghanistan; invaded northern India during the 11th century..
Muhammad of Ghur: Persian ruler of a small kingdom in Afghanistan; invaded and conquered much of northern India.
Qutb-ud-din Aibak: lieutenant of Muhammad of Ghur; established kingdom in India with the capital at Delhi.
sati: Hindu ritual for burning widows with their deceased husbands.
bhaktic cults: Hindu religious groups who stressed the importance of strong emotional bonds between devotees and the gods or goddesses -
especially Shiva, Vishnu, and Kali .
Mir Bai: low-caste, woman poet and song-writer in bhaktic cults.
Kabir: 15th century Muslim mystic who played down the differences between Hinduism and Islam.
Shrivijaya: trading empire based on the Malacca straits; its Buddhist government resisted Muslim missionaries; when it fell southeastern Asia was
opened to Islam.
Malacca: flourishing trading city in Malaya; established a trading empire after the fall of Shrivijaya.
Demak: most powerful of the trading states on the north Java coast; converted to Islam and served as a dissemination point to other regions.
CLASS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Know = Explain, analyze, cause/effect.
1. What were the causes for the weaknesses of the later Abbasid Empire?
2. What was the position of women in the Abbasid Empire?
3. Describe the economy of the later Abbasid Empire.
4. Discuss theological developments within Islam during the Abbasid Empire.
5. Discuss the stages of Islamic incursion into India.
6. To what extent were Muslims successful in converting Indians to Islam?
7. What was Abbasid’s attitude towards the institution of slavery.?
8. Why were the practices of seclusion and veiling were seen as essential in the Islamic society.?
9. What was the status of women in the Abbasid era.?
10. Who captured Baghdad in 945.
11. Who captured Baghdad in 1055.
12. What was the religious affiliation of the Seljuk-Turks.
13. Who was Saladin ?
14. Know why the First Crusade was a success.
15. What was the importance and what year Acre fell.?
16. SPRITE the impact of the Crusades on the Christian West.
17. Be able to SPRITE the impact of the Crusades on Islam.
18. Know the trend of urbanization during the Abbasid Empire.
25. What was the level of Abbasid trade.?
19. The primary language of the later Abbasid court? Explain
20. What was the Shah-Nama?
21. Who were the literary figures of the Abbasid Empire.?
22 Describe the Sufi movement within Islam?.
23. What was the ulma ?.
24. Know who captured Baghdad in 1258.
25. How did the political center of Islam change after the Mongol invasions?
26. What were the differences between the Islamic invasions of India and previous incursions of the subcontinent.?
27. What was the extent of the unified empire that Harsha imposed on the Indian subcontinent.?
28. What was Harsha’s religious policy.?
29. Know the date of the first Muslim raids into India.
30. How did the Muslims conquerors of Sind treat the Hindu and Buddhist residents of the region.?
31. The most critical cultural advance that was a result of increased contact between Muslims and Indian civilization was?.
32. Who was the commander of the first Islamic incursion into the Sind in 711?
33. What did Mahmud of Ghazni do in the 11th century?
34. What was the transition of Muhammad of Ghur responsible for in the Indian subcontinent.?
35. Where was the capitol of the Islamic kingdom in 1206 on the Gangetic plain?.
36. What were the traders and Sufi mystics responsible for in the Islamic faith?.
37. Why were Sufi’s effective missionaries in the Indian subcontinent?.
38. Which groups in India were most likely to convert to Islam?.
39. How did Hinduism respond to the challenge of Islam.
40. Why and how did Islam spread to SE Asia.
41. How did Islam spread in SE Asia.
42. What was the nature of Islam that developed in SE Asia.
Extended response Question needed at least 5 pieces of specific evidence to support your statements.
1. Compare and contrast the initial spread of Islam throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East with the Islamic incursions into India and
2. What were the causes for Islam's quick rise as a religion and creation of huge empires
3. SPRITE The characteristics of the Abbasid Empire
4.. Discuss the evolution of Islamic beliefs as a result of incursions into Asia, Sub Sahara Africa and Persia