Chapter 11 – the formation of islamic civilization, 622–1000 global perspectives

Download 54.51 Kb.
Date conversion04.05.2016
Size54.51 Kb.


  • Why did only China compare favorably with the Islamic world during the first centuries after the birth of Islam? How were the two civilizations similar, and how were they different?

  • What is unique about the Islamic achievement? In what ways was it built on the traditions of earlier religions?

   Chapter 11 Learning Objectives

Origins and Early Development

What was the Qur’anic message as expressed to Muhammad?

  • Describe pre-Islamic Arabia

  • Explain the basic tenets of Islam in the Qur’an

  • Explain the relationship between the Qur’anic message and the Judaic and Christian traditions

  • Describe the early reception of Islam and the initial persecution of Muslims

  • Discuss the basic Muslim norms that took shape during the hegira

Women in Early Islamic Society

How did the status of women improve under Islam?

  • Explain how the Qur’an introduced into Arabian society radically new ideas that improved the status of women

  • Explain why the Qur’an legitimizes and presupposes a patriarchal society

  • Discuss the practice of veiling and explain why its implementation has proven problematic in modern societies

  • Explain how women’s access to the public sphere changed between early Islamic society and the Middle Ages

Early Islamic Conquests

Why was Islam able to expand rapidly?

  • Discuss the political crisis facing the umma after the death of Muhammad and explain how it was resolved

  • Describe the course of Arabian conquest during the caliphates of Umar and Uthman

  • Explain the factors behind the successful expansion of Islamic power during the century after Muhammad’s death

The New Islamic Order

What roles did the caliphate and the ulama play in Islamic states?

  • Explain the new problems and challenges that Muslims faced as a result of their extensive conquests

  • Explain how Muslim leadership developed after the death of Muhammad and why the nature of Muslim leadership became an issue with the first civil war

  • Explain the development of the ulama and their role in Muslim society

  • Explain why the absorption and status of non-Arab converts became a central issue in the development of the umma

  • Describe the conflicting notions of the Muslim vision of society and nature of the umma

  • Explain the development of the schism between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis or centrists

The High Caliphate

Why did the caliphal empire decline?

  • Discuss the nature of the “high caliphate” and explain why it is considered a “golden age”

  • Discuss how the Abbasid state differed from that of the Umayyads

  • Describe society under Abbasid rule

  • Discuss the decline of the caliphal empire and explain the role of Persia and the Shi’ites in that decline

Islamic Culture in the Classical Era

What were the main achievements of “classical” Islamic culture?

  • Explain what made possible the rich cultural legacy of the Abbasid court

  • Describe the intellectual traditions upon which Muslims drew during the classical era

  • Discuss how Arabic language and literature developed in the expanded cultural sphere of the new empire



  1. The Message of the Qur’an: As revealed by God through his Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an warns people against idolatrous worship of false gods, immorality, and injustice to the weak and less fortunate, the poor, orphans, widows, and women in general. A judgment day at the end of time will see everyone face either punishment in hellfire or eternal joy in paradise according to how one has lived. The way to paradise is through obedient worship and submission (Islam) to God’s will, thus becoming Muslim (submissive). There is but one God (Allah) and Muhammad is his prophet. Yet he was only the last in a long line of prophets chosen to reveal God’s message. Others included Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muhammad was chosen to give one final reiteration of God’s message.

  1. The Course and Success of Islamic Conquest: In the course of the seventh century, Arab Islamic armies burst out of the peninsula and conquered the Byzantine and Sassanid territories by 640, Egypt by 642, and Iran by 643. Succeeding decades saw conquests of the Berbers, Morocco, and much of Spain. Islamic armies were finally checked by the Frank, Charles Martel, at Tours in 732. A combination of factors resulted in this success: (1) Islamic vision of society united Arabs and attracted others as well; (2) religious zeal, especially as time went on, maintained commitment, although too much has been made of Muslim desire for martyrdom in the jihad; (3) leadership of the first caliphs and field generals; and (4) liberal ruling policies that were a relief from Byzantine or Persian oppression. These included no military obligations, maintenance of local legal systems, adjustment of unequal taxation, and relatively little bloodshed or destruction of property.

  2. The New Islamic Order: The Islamic community required a period of political and religious organization after the death of Muhammad. His first successors were chosen on the basis of their superior personal qualities and leadership within their tribes. Their titles were caliph (“successor”) or imam (“leader”), which underscored their political and religious authority. This dual authority was difficult to maintain and the caliphate became a titular office representing political and military unity. Religious leadership devolved upon scholars known as ulama (“persons of right knowledge”) whose opinions on legal issues and theological doctrine established a general basis of religious order and a workable legal-moral system.

  3. Islamic Civilization in Global Perspective: The rise of Islam as a world religious tradition and international civilization is one of the great events of world history. As different as they were, only China compared favorably with or surpassed the Islamic world in terms of political and military power, cultural unity, and creativity. Still, the Islamic empire was culturally heterogeneous and more widely dispersed. The Islamic empire was agrarian based, but the overall conditions for food production (owing to a general lack of water) were not as favorable as those in China or western Europe. The Islamic achievement was different primarily in that it was consciously an effort to build something new rather than to recapture previous traditions of religion, society, or government.


Text Sources

  • Excerpts from the Qur’an

  • Pre-Islamic Arabic Poetry: “The Poem of Antar”

  • A selection from Muhammad’s “Orations”

  • Baghdad: City of Wonders

  • Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya, “Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness”

  • Harun al-Rashid and the Zenith of the Caliphate

  • Ali: Instructions to Malik al-Ashtar, Governor of Egypt

  • Al-Tabari: Muhammad’s Call to Prophecy

  • Al-Tabari and Ibn Hisham, from “The Founding of the Caliphate”

  • Al-Farabi on the Perfect State

Visual Sources

  • The Dome of the Rock

  • Qur’an’s first chapter

  • Mecca

  • Medina

  • Al-Quibla schematic map


  • Islamic Contributions to the History of Technology: is a wonderful resource with further links to other sites.

  • Spread of Islam: provides many helpful links to sites concerning Islamic history including its spread in Africa and elsewhere.


Suggested Maps

  • The Abbasid Caliphate


  • Moslem World: Beginning and Growth. Coronet. 11 min.

  • The Moslems in Spain. Berlet, Walter H. International Films Bureau. 38 min.

  • Islam. McGraw-Hill. 19 min.

  • Islam. Ontario Educational Communications Authority. 28 min.

  • Islam: Empire of Faith. Paramount Home Video. 220 min.

  • The Muslim Town: Urban Life Under the Caliphate. 26 minutes. FHS.



  • What impact did the Mongol and Central Asian Turks have on the Islamic world?

  • Why were Islam and Buddhism more successful than Hinduism and Christianity in expanding during this era? What does this suggest about the characteristics of a successful world religion?

   Chapter 13 Learning Objectives


Religion and Society

How did the Sunni, Shi’ite, and Sufi traditions develop between the years 1000 and 1500?

  • Discuss the consolidation of Sunni practices and the role of the ulama in this process

  • Describe the popular “unofficial” piety that flourished largely outside ulama control

  • Explain why basic Sunni “correctness of religious practices” discouraged religious or social innovations

  • Describe Sufi piety and organizations, and explain why the Sufis were revered as spiritual masters and saints

  • Discuss the consolidation of Shi’ite traditions, and compare and contrast them with those of the Sunni

Regional Developments

Who were the Mamluks and why were they able to withstand the Mongols?

  • Explain why after the tenth century the western half of the Islamic world developed two regional foci and discuss the developments in each of these regions

  • Discuss the rise of the Almoravids and the Almohads and their impact on the society and culture of Islamic Spain

  • Discuss the rise and decline of the Fatimids and their heirs, the Mamluks

  • Discuss the Ghaznavids and the Saljuqs as well as their accomplishments

  • Discuss the rise of the Mongol empire and its impact on the Islamic world and explain why the Mongols were unable to conquer the entire Islamic world

The Spread of Islam Beyond the Heartlands

What were the main ways Islam spread beyond Eurasia?

  • Discuss how the period from roughly 1000 to the 1500s saw the spread of Islam as a lasting religious, cultural, social, and political force into new areas

  • Explain how the conversions of people in these new regions took place

  • Explain why the coming of Islam in India signaled epochal changes


The Spread of Islam to South Asia

How did trade and Sufi orders spread Islam?

  • Describe the earliest settlements of Muslims in Sind and what is today India

  • Discuss the role of the Sufi orders in spreading Islamic religion and culture in India

Muslim-Hindu Encounter

What allowed Muslim rulers eventually to dominate India?

  • Describe the nature of the Muslim-Hindu encounter and discuss how the Muslims chose to treat the Hindus

  • Discuss the chief obstacle to Islamic expansion in India and the extent to which the Muslims succeeded in overcoming it

Islamic States and Dynasties

How did local traditional beliefs shape Muslim practice in Southeast Asia?

  • Discuss the Islamic dynasties that ruled over North India in what was known as the Delhi sultanate and its decline

  • Explain why the Delhi sultanate was only one of many prominent regional kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent

  • Discuss the Hindu and Islamic states of the Deccan and southern India

  • Explain how and why Islam spread into Southeast Asia

  • Discuss the tensions that arose between Muslims and non-Muslims in Southeast Asia and how these tensions were accommodated

Religious and Cultural Accommodation

How did Islam become an enduring part of Indian civilization?

  • Explain how the Delhi sultans provided a basic political and social framework within which Islam could take root in the Indian subcontinent

  • Discuss the emergence of Urdu-Hindi and what it tells us about the syncretism between Hindu and Muslim culture and language that resulted from the establishment of Islam in India

  • Explain the reciprocal influence of Muslims and Hindus in India, especially in popular culture

Hindu and Other Indian Traditions

What were some characteristics of Hindu culture in this period?

  • Explain why the period from 1000 to 1500 was important to other religious traditions in India besides the Muslims

  • Describe the developments in Hindu religion and culture between 1000 and 1500



  1. The Development of Islamic Religious Sects: The notable developments of this period for the shape of Islamic society were the consolidation and institutionalization of Sufi mystical piety, Sunni legal and religious norms, and Shi’ite sectarianism. Sufi piety stressed simplicity, the ascetic avoidance of temptations, and loving devotion of God. Socially, this piety merged such popular practices as saint veneration, shrine pilgrimage, ecstatic worship, and seasonal festivals. Sufi disciples formed brotherhoods, which proved to be the chief instruments for the further spread of the Muslim faith. Shi’ite traditions crystallized between the tenth and twelfth centuries, yet the differences between the diverse Shi’ite groups precluded a unified Shi’ism. Only the strongest state of the Fatimids was able to establish an empire in Egypt. And only in Iran, Iraq, and the lower Indus did a substantial Shi’ite populace develop. Two Shi’ite groups emerged as the most influential: the “Seveners” or Isma’ilis, who drew on esoteric Gnostic and Neo-Platonic philosophy, and the “Twelvers” who focused on the martyrdom of the twelve imams and looked for their intercession on the Day of Judgment. By the eleventh century, most Shi’ites had accepted the latter sect and it has flourished in Iraq, the home of Shi’ite thought. The last major Islamic sect, the Sunnis, melded their traditions by 1000 into a conservative theology reflected by the Hanbalites, who stressed reliance on a literal reading of the Qu’ran and the Hadith.

  2. Mongol and Turk Invasions: These invasions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries shattered the unity of the Muslim community. The Mongols, however, did not convert Muslim subject populations to their own faith. Instead, their native paganism and Buddhist and Christian followers often yielded to Muslim faith and practice. Still, religious tolerance remained the norm under Mongol control. The destructive nature of the conquerors, reflected in the sacking of Delhi and Baghdad, required decades of recovery. The lasting legacy of the Mongol invasions was to divide northern India Transoxiania from areas west of Egypt. Muslim culture, however, remained dominant throughout.

  3. The Islamic Heartlands and India (1000–1500) in Global Perspective: The spread of Islam to India and Africa constitutes only a portion of the history of these particular regions. Yet Islam became truly an international tradition of religious, political, and social values and institutions. It did so by being highly adaptable to diverse cultures. Indian traditional culture was not missionary and expansionistic as was that of Islam. Yet Buddhism expanded across much of central and east Asia even while dwindling in its Indian homeland. Christianity, by contrast, was not rapidly expanding, but by 1500 it stood on the brink of internal revolution and international proselytism that began with the voyages of discovery. Most of Africa developed during this period without interference from abroad; European Christian penetration was just beginning around 1500. In 1000, Europe was almost a backwater of culture and power in comparison with major Islamic and Hindu states, let alone those of China and Japan. At this period’s close, however, European civilization was riding the crest of a cultural renaissance. Over the next five hundred years, western European changes in basic ideas and institutions were much more radical than in other world civilizations.


Text Sources

  • Winada Prapanca, Nagara Kertagama

  • Selection from Narrative of the Journey of Abd-er Razzak

  • Al-Ghazzali, “On the Separation of Mathematics and Religion”

  • Al-Ghazzali, excerpt from Confessions

  • Ibn Battuta, selections from the Rihla

  • Al-Tha’alibi, Recollections of Bukhara

  • Abi Yaqubi, excerpt from Tarikh

  • The Book of Dede Korkut, “The Story of Bugach Khan”

  • Ibn Khaldun, from “The Muqaddimah”

  • A Contemporary Describes Timur

  • Sufi Poetry: Hafez, from the Diwan

Visual Sources

  • Mosque of al-Azhar

  • Medieval Islamic map of the world

  • Islamic world map

  • Islamic science and alchemy: page from “The Lanterns of Wisdom and the Keys of Mercy”

  • Islamic calligraphy

  • Islamic astronomy and astrology: illustration of Rami


  • Art from Muslim Spain: contains many images of Islamic art from Spain.

  • Sufi Islam: provides further background and links.

  • Fourteenth Century: has many important primary sources for this period.


Suggested Maps

  • Seljuk Turks and Byzantine Empire  

  • Crusader States


Suggested Maps

  • The Islamic Imprint ca. 800–1200

  • The Age of the Crusades


  • India: Introduction to Its History. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 16 min.

  • The Moslems in Spain. Berlet, Walter H. International. 38 min.

  • Moslem World: Beginners and Growth. Coronet. 11 min.

  • Spain: The Land and the Legend. Reader’s Digest. 59 min

  • Splendors of the Ottoman Sultans (60 minutes). Kultur.

  • The Ottoman Empire (47 minutes). FHS.

  • The Story of a Continent, Africa (456 minutes). Home Vision Select. The 57-minute third program of this eight-program series, “Caravans of Gold,” covers the spread of Islam across Africa.

  • The Andalusian Epic: Islamic Spain (26 minutes). FHS

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page