101_Southwest Asia & The Rise of Islam (RECORDING) Week 9

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Southwest Asia & The Rise of Islam:

Southwest Asia & The Rise of Islam


Terms! Islam – Monotheistic religion based upon divine revelation to the Prophet, Muhammad, and encapsulated in the Qur’an Caliph – The successor to the Prophet; a religio -political leader who theoretically leads the Islamic community Schism – [ skih -ZUM] a division, usually religious, which develops within a community often leading to extreme hatred on both sides Sunni – The majority of Muslims adhere to an interpretation of the “habit” or “tradition” of Islamic interpretation and politics Shi’at Ali – Also called Shi’a, meaning “The Party of Ali” is a minority sect of Islam; they differ in interpretation of Islamic traditions from Sunni.

The Modern “Middle East”:

The Modern “Middle East”

A Tale of Two Empires:

A Tale of Two Empires Byzantines (Medieval Romans) Christian Rich Declining in face of Persian invasions Obsessed with reclaiming Rome, lost Western territories (at first) Sassanids (Persian) Zoroastrian Rich Ascending at expense of Byzantines Obsessed with eclipsing Achaemenid Persians

Arab Peninsula & Geography:

Arab Peninsula & Geography Less than 8 inches of rain a year No major rivers ~2% of land can sustain crops Frequent dust storms in interior Extreme temperature swings Summer avg [Day] temp 120⁰ F/49⁰ C Winter avg [Night] temp 30⁰ F/ -1⁰ C

Class Questions:

Class Questions Consider an environment with little to no fresh water, extreme temperature variances, and harsh geological features What would be next to impossible to accomplish in such an environment? Think about Egypt, Greece, China, and India What kind of life would be most sustainable?

Pre-Islamic Arab Society:

Pre-Islamic Arab Society Most of Arab society was centered around a nomadic “Bedouin” culture Move from place to place in search of new pastures, water sources Importance of the camel cannot be underestimated East Asian import ~1000 BCE Close-knit extended family groups (clan) are associated into larger units (tribe) Largely illiterate society; oral histories & mythologies

Bedouin Traditions:

Bedouin Traditions Protection of family, honor highest priority “Blood feuds” to avenge insults, crimes Guests treated to the best of everything Generosity to a fault Caring for the weakest members seen as point of honor Control of water vital for survival of kin, power of tribe Water=life Mythology included many gods, spirits Some convert to other religions Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism Death is the end –all ties of loyalty die with person

Pre-Islamic Mythology: Genies (Jin):

Pre-Islamic Mythology: Genies (Jin) Creation mythology; Allah made humans of clay (i.e. earth) God created other forms of life from other elements Genies made of air (Jin), Fire ( efreet ) Mortal Human;like Good Evil Socially organized into tribes Codes of honor as well

Exception: Pre-Islamic cities:

Exception: Pre-Islamic cities Several “Kingdoms” established along coastline of peninsula More rainfall on average Cooler temperatures Access to trade routes via sea Culturally diverse Pagan Jewish Christian Subject to invasion Ethiopia Persians Romans Alexander in the Qur’an

Into Arabia:

Into Arabia 575 Sassanid Persia invaded Arabia Control of m/d Yemen, Oman Control of sea-borne trade Restrain Arab raids into Sassanid Persia Direct raids into Byzantine Syria Tribute paid to Sassanids by Arab tribes Qurayshi Mecca Southern flank secured allowed Persia to capture Syria, Egypt



Two Major Cities:

Two Major Cities Mecca Center of trade for eastern peninsula Access to Red Sea, incense trade routes Pilgrimage stopover at Ka’ba Controlled by Qurayshi tribe Extremely wealthy from trade, pilgrimages Protect trade routes from raids Yathrib (Medina) Further north along peninsula Farming community Reliable harvests due to relatively plentiful rainfall, water supply Not as close to trade & commerce Exchange food for other necessities Loosely-controlled coalition of tribes run Yathrib Internal frictions between clans

Spotlight: Mecca:

Spotlight: Mecca Divide between rich & poor becomes increasingly obvious by the beginning of the 6 th century CE Luxuries, stability ensure a level of comfort No longer inter-dependent Poor increasingly seen as “lazy” or “parasites” upon the society Often subject to summary execution, abuse, neglect, ridicule Sick Elderly Orphans Making money becomes focus of powerful Qurayshi tribal leaders Distance selves from Bedouin roots & traditions Accused of becoming corrupt, decadent, self-indulgent

Muhammad’s Early Life:

Muhammad’s Early Life Born 570 CE but father died before birth Mother died when Muhammad 6 y/o Orphans & Medina society Muhammad apprenticed to traveling merchant by Grandfather Protect the child Teach trade Muhammad gains reputation for honesty, charity, piousness By 25 y/o he is a prosperous merchant in his own right Works for a woman; Khadija


Khadija Women in pre-Islamic society could own their own property, conduct business and had political influence Khadija was wealthy, well-respected Khadija was a widow who used her and her late husband’s wealth to amass a large fortune Fell in love with Muhammad Ordered him to marry her True love match

Muhammad’s practices:

Muhammad’s practices Honest merchant who always kept his word Garnered him a stellar reputation Troubled by the way Meccan society favored wealth and comfort over taking care of its own Sought refuge in a cave in a nearby mountain Used to meditate upon the injustice of the world Receives message from God via Archangel Gabriel Thinks he’s gone insane or is being tricked by a Djiin

The Glorious Qur’an:

The Glorious Qur’an Asks for help from Khadija She consults a cousin who is well versed in Jewish, Christian gospels Cousin confirms that Muhammad’s revelations are legitimate, consistent with biblical revelations Muhammad stops being a merchant and begins to preach a new, monotheistic religion in Mecca Problem?

Muhammad in trouble:

Muhammad in trouble Grandfather died when he was younger, but his family led by an uncle who loves him like a son Qurayshi tribe demands Muhammad stop preaching monotheism (why?) When Muhammad refuses, they demand the uncle turn him over to be killed (why?) Very few Meccan elite convert to Islam Attracts the poor, disenfranchised Muhammad’s uncle dies in 622, Muhammad & followers flee to Medina

Life in Medina:

Life in Medina Prophet had been invited by the city’s elders to be a judge Initially refused the invitation Accepted after his uncle died in order to protect his followers from the rest of the Qurayshi tribe Upon his arrival, Muhammad tried to garner Jewish support for Islam (and perhaps convert some) Traces descent of the Arabs to Hagar & Ishmael Muslims prayed toward Jerusalem while living in Medina Muslims fasted on Yom Kippur (Jewish day of Atonement) while living in Medina

Islam’s transition:

Islam’s transition Prior to Hijra , Islam concerned with social change and righteous (pious) behavior After arriving in Medina, Muhammad is put in charge of the city Islam begins to adopt political, economic rules as well as moral ones Qurayshi tribe wages war on Medina Qurayshi tribe vastly stronger than Medina Muhammad’s new tricks

Muhammad triumphant:

Muhammad triumphant Muhammad eventually garners support from other tribes Not because of his message, but because of his military successes Qurayshi tribe eventually sees the writing on the wall and offers a settlement with the Prophet Muhammad makes his triumphant return in 631 This “Hajj” or pilgrimage becomes an integral part of the Muslim faith

The Five Pillars:

The Five Pillars Central tenets of Islam 1) There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his messenger 2) A good Muslim must pray 5 times a day facing the direction of the holy city 3) a good Muslim must give alms to the poor 4) a good Muslim must fast at the appointed time 5) a good Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life What is the significance of these pillars? Why do they matter?

Muhammad’s Latter Years:

Muhammad’s Latter Years At 50 y/o marries Aisha bint Abi-Bakr 9 y/o at the time of her marriage Political marriage to seal ties between Abu Bakr and Muhammad Aisha not a “typical” wife Questioned Muhammad about the Qur’an, its meaning, the status of women, etc. Quoted as a source for many Hadith Speculation of infidelity Witnesses to infidelity

خليفة رسول الله :

خليفة رسول الله Muhammad dies 632 at 60 years old No “divinely guided” prophets can ever come after him Who will rule in his place? Who will govern the Arab people? Who will put down rebellion? Successor named “Caliph rasul Allah” or the “Succesor of the messenger of God” Chosen from among the companions and affirmed by the Shura (representatives of the clans, tribes who follow Muhammad)


Rashidun The successors of the Prophet, 4 of his old commanders, establish the “ Rashidun Caliphate” Wars of consolidation in order to bring to heel tribes which departed after Muhammad’s death Caliphs had large, unified, war-like force in wake of consilidation

The Split:

The Split Sunni Islam Abu Bakr Majority Consensus ‘democratic’ Politics Religio -political leadership Early Dynasties? assassinations Shi’a Islam Ali ibn Talib Minority Bloodline Mystic Politics Rebellion Kharijites Martyrdom? Karbala (Iraq)

Speed of Expansion:

Speed of Expansion Speed of conquests astonishingly fast Integration of disparate people, belief systems into “Arab” empire Increasingly difficult to distinguish “true” Arabs Mawali (non-Arab Muslim ‘clients’) consider themselves “Arab” Persians considered selves equal (or better) than Arabs Greco-Romans considered themselves equal (or better) than Arabs Berber defiance, acquiescence allows for expansion along North Africa, into Europe

Umayyad Caliphate Domain:

Umayyad Caliphate Domain

Jubal al Tariq:

Jubal al Tariq

Rise of Muslim Spain:

Rise of Muslim Spain 711 Begins 7 centuries of influence on language, art, architecture, trade, philosophy, science ~900 CE Cordoba: ½ million residents, 300 public baths, 7 miles of public lighting, open schools, “tolerance” of non-dominant religions ~900 CE London: 8,000 residents, no baths, lighting, schools (except monasteries), Viking raids, intolerant of non-dominant religions

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