Whap block 6 November 15, 2011



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WHAP Block 6

November 15, 2011

Chapter 8 Questions: The Rise of Islam

Narrow Questions



  1. ****How did both the Sasanids and the Byzantines use the Arabs to form “buffer zones” against their adversaries?

    1. The Sasanids and Byzantines referred to the Arabs, who were nomads before Islamic expansion, as “barbaric” and “uncivilized.” These derogatory names for the Arabs were used to create the buffer zones against their adversaries.

  2. How did the proclamation of Zoroastrianism as the official religion of the Sasanid Empire and Christianity as the same for the Romans ultimately pave the way for the emergence of an Islamic Empire?

    1. In many areas, conversion involved migrating to an Arab governing center. The alternative, converting to Islam but remaining in one’s home community, was difficult because religion had become the main component of social identity in Byzantine and Sasanid times (Christianity and Zoroastrianism). Converts to Islam thus encountered discrimination if they stayed in their Christian, Jewish, or Zoroastrian communities. Migration both averted discrimination and took advantage of the economic opportunities opened up by tax revenues flowing into the Arab governing centers, therefore helping the growth of an Islamic Empire.

  3. What were the central elements in Manichaeism and how did it influence the development of Christianity?

    1. Manichaeism was founded by a preacher named Mani. Manichaeism was a dualist faith, a struggle between Good and Evil, similar to and descended from Zoroastrianism. It survived and spread widely, particularly along the Silk Road. It influenced Nestorian missionaries to compete with Manichaean missionaries for converts in Central Asia. Nestorians were persecuted in the Byzantine Empire for overemphasis in the humanness of Jesus. They sought refuge in the Sasanid Empire and the Silk Road.

  4. How did Mecca emerge as a sacred site prior to the advent of Islam, and how did it become associated with the stories from the Old Testament?

    1. Mecca emerged as a sacred site prior to Islam because it contained a shrine called the Ka’ba, a holy well called Zamzam, and a sacred precinct surrounding the two wherein killing was prohibited. Some Meccans associated the shrine with stories from the Old Testament. They regarded Abraham as the builder of the Ka’ba, and they identified a site outside Mecca as the location where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. The son was not Isaac, the son of Sarah, but Ishmael, the son of Hagar, cited in the Bible as the forefather of the Arabs.

  5. What is the meaning of the term khalifa, and how did the installment of Abu Bakr in that position serve to solidify the faith of Islam?

    1. After Muhammad died, Abu Bakr succeeded him. They called him the khalifa, or “successor,” the English version of which is caliph. Calling Abu Bakr a successor did not clarify his powers; everyone knew that neither Abu Bakr nor anyone else could receive revelations, and they likewise knew that Muhammad’s revelations made no provision for succession or for any government purpose beyond maintaining the umma.

  6. How did the Arab conquests outside Arabia ultimately result in the removal of the seat of the Caliphate from Mecca?

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  7. How and where did Islam first make its entry into Sub-Saharan Africa?

    1. In the eleventh century, conquest began in sub-Saharan Africa. Islam also expanded peacefully by trade there both before and after the year 1000.

  8. In what ways was the Umayyad caliphate of Spain distinct from that of Arabia and Baghdad?

    1. Cut off from the rest of the Islamic world by the Strait of Gibraltar and, from 740 onward, by independent city-states in Morocco and Algeria, Umayyad Spain developed a distinctive Islamic culture blending Roman, Germanic, and Jewish traditions with those of the Arabs and Berbers.

  9. How did Muslim Spain become the center of thought in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth century?

    1. Converts to Islam and their descendants, unconverted Arabic-speaking Christians, and Jews joined with the comparatively few descendants of Arab settlers to create new architectural and literary styles. In the countryside, where the Berbers peferred to settle, a fusion of preexisting agricultural technologies with new crops, notably citrus fruits, and irrigation techniques from the east gave Spain the most diverse and sophisticated agricultural economy in Europe.

  10. What are hadith, and how did Muslim scholars establish their authenticity?

    1. Sunna, or tradition, of the Prophet was understood by collecting and studying thousands of reports, called hadith. It became customary to precede each hadith with a chain of oral authorities leading back to the person who had direct acquaintance with the Prophet. Many hadith dealt with ritual matters, such as how to wash before prayer. Others provided answers to legal questions not covered by Quranic revelation or suggested principles for deciding such matters. By the eleventh century most legal thinkers had accepted the idea that Muhammad’s personal behavior provided the best role model, and that the hadith constituted the most authoritative basis for law after the Quran itself. As the hadith grew in importance, so did the branch of learning devoted to their analysis. Scholars discarded thousands for having faulty chains of authority.

Broad Questions

  1. How did the traditions and religious views of pre-Islamic peoples become integrated into the culture shaped by Islam?

    1. Pre-Islamic Arabs were Bedouins, or nomads, that were mainly traders. Religiously, many Bedouins had a religious center at Mecca in the Ka’ba, where they prayed to idols. The culture shaped by Islam was influenced by the Bedouin culture firstly because Muhammad was originally from Mecca and his traditions previous to revelations were those of the Bedouins. Also, one of Islam’s religious centers is Mecca, more specifically the Ka’ba.

  2. How did the Muslim community of the time of Muhammad differ from the society that developed after the Arab conquests?

    1. Islam had no legal system in the time of Muhammad. There was no real governing system besides the Quran and other religious sources. After the Arab conquests, the hadith was the governing law. Additionally, Islam in the time of Muhammad was still nomadic, whereas after the conquests, the Islamic was among the most sophisticated empires in the world at that time.

  3. Was the Baghdad caliphate really the high point of Muslim civilization?

    1. The answer depends upon whether it is comparatively speaking or not. If it is comparatively speaking, then yes, it was the high point because it is the only time period when the Islamic community was far more advanced than Europeans or the rest of the world. While Europe was in the Dark Ages, the Baghdad caliphate was in its Golden Age. However, if it is not comparatively speaking, then it probably is not the high point. The high point might be considered modern day with newer technologies and growing population or the Ottoman Empire that controlled the Middle East.

  4. How did regional diversity affect the development of Islamic civilization?

    1. The immense geographical and human diversity of the Muslim lands allowed many “small traditions” to coexist with the developing “great tradition” of Islam. Converts to Islam and their descendants, unconverted Arabic-speaking Christians, and Jews joined with the comparatively few descendants of Arab settlers to create new architectural and literary styles.

Information taken from online textbook; ****indicates that I could not find the answer in the text and need to ask about in class



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