Abbasid decline and the spread of islamic civilization to south and southeast asia

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  1. The Islamic heartlands in the middle and late Abbasid eras

1.)Shi’a revolts and a assassination attempts against Abbasid officials would plague the dynasty to the end of its day.

2.)al-Mahdi would prove to be an ever greater financial drain as his life style would be copied by later caliphs.

a.) He does not solve the problem of succession

b.) Ultimately Harun al Rashid ascends the throne

B.) Imperial extravagance and succession disputes

1.) Harun al Rashid was dependent on Persian advisors

a.) This will become a trend in succeeding reigns

b.) In later reigns, caliphs will be pawns to the


2.) His death will begin the first of several civil wars over


  1. First war convinced the sons of al Ma’mun (813-833) to build a personal army.

  2. This army soon murders the caliph and puts its own ruler own the throne.

C.) Imperial Breakdown and Agrarian Disorder

1.)By late 9th century slave armies are brought under

control for a time, but at a great cost

  1. Strain on treasury

  2. Cost fell on peasants

  3. More mercenary troops were called in

2.) Spiriling taxation and outright pillaging led to the

destruction or abandonment of many villages in the

richest provinces of the empire.

a.)Great irrigation works fell into disrepair

b.) Some peasants perished through flood,

famine or violent assault

  1. Shi’a sects instigated insurrection

D.) The Declining Position of Women in the Family Society

1.) The harem and the veil became the twin emblems of

women’s increasing subjugation to men and confinement

to the home in the Abbasid era.

  1. Harem was a creation of the Abbasid court.

E.) Nomadic Incursions and the Eclipse of Caliphal Power

1.) Preoccupied by struggles in the capital and central

provinces, the caliphs and their advisors were powerless

to prevent further losses of territory in the outer reaches of the empire.

  1. Some parts of the empire broke away

i.)Syria & Egypt

b.) Seljuk Turks (Sunnis) begin controlling the caliphs by

1055 C.E.

i.)They seek to purge the Shi’a officials

F.)The Impact of the Christian Crusades

1.) Muslim political divisions and the elements of surprise

made the first of the crusader’s assaults, between 1096

and 1099, by far the most successful.

  1. Main objective of the crusade, Jerusalem

  2. 8 crusades are mounted

  3. Greatest Muslim leader Salah-ud-Din (Saladin)

  4. Saladin dies in 1193 and his kingdom is broken-up

  5. Last Christian outpost falls in 1191 C.E.

2.) Effects of Crusades on Christians

a.) Christian trading with Muslims

b.) Damascene swords

c.) Muslim techniques of building fortifications

i.) Forts in Normandy & Coast of England after



e.) Recovery of Greek learning

f.) Mastery of Arabic (properly Indian) numerals and the

decimal system

g)Arab and Persian math and science thinkers



i.)Chess, chivalric ideals, troubadour ballads, food

(dates, coffee, yogurt).

G,)An Age of Learning and Artistic Refinements

1.)Even though the Abbasid era is one of political turmoil it

was one of a Golden Age for artist

H.) The Full Flowering of Persian Literature

1.) Persian replaced Arabic as the primary written language at

the Abbasid court.

  1. Arabic remained the language of religion, law, and the

natural sciences.

b.)Persian is considered the language of “high culture”

c.) Most important work Shah-nama (Book of Kings)

written by Firdaws: in late 10th and early 11th


  1. History of early Persia

I.)Achievements in the Sciences

1.) Creation of the objective experiment

2.) al-Razi’s scheme of classification of materials into animal,

vegetable or mineral

3.) al-Biruni was able to calculate the specific weight of 18

major minerals

4.) Strides in Astronomical tables

5.) Mathematics

6.) Physicians & hospitals

7.) Basic machinery, papermaking, silk-weaving, ceramic firing

8.) cartography

J.) Religious Trends and the New Push for Expansion

1.) A resurgence of mysticism injected Islam with a new


2.) Orthodox religious scholars, such as the Ulama, grew

increasingly suspicious of and hostile to non-Islamic ideas

and scientific thinking

  1. They insisted that the Qur’an was the final, perfect, and complete revelation of an all-knowing divinity.

  2. Al-Ghazali-Islams greatest theologian

  1. Sufi

  2. Allah permeated the Universe in ways that appeared to compromise his transcendent status.

K.) New Waves of Nomadic Invasions and the End of the Caliphate

1.) In 1258 C.E the Abbasid capital of Baghdad falls to

the Mongol leader Hulegu

2.) In 1401 C.E. Baghdad is captured by forces of


  1. It will soon be supplanted by Cairo and then Istanbul

L.) The Coming of Islam to South Asia

1.) The faith of the invading Muslims (into India) was

religiously more rigid than that of the absorptive

and adaptive Hindus.

2.) The caste-based social system of India was much more

compartmentalized and closed than the society of

the Muslim invaders, with their emphasis on

mobility and the community of believers

3.) As time passed, peaceful (if wary interaction became

the norm.

O.) Political Divisions and the First Muslim Invasions

1.)The first and least enduring Muslim intrusion, which

came in 711, resulted indirectly from the peaceful

trading contacts that had initially brought Muslims

into contact with Indian civilization.

2.) In many areas, local leaders and the populace

surrendered towns and districts willingly to the

conquerors because they promised lighter taxation

and greater religious tolerance.

3.) Arab overlords decided to treat both Hindus and

Buddhists as protected “peoples of the Book,”

despite the fact that their faiths had no connection to

the Bible, the book in question.

a.)They gained freedom of worship.

4.)The status of the Brahman caste were respected

P.) Indian Influences on Islamic Civilization

1.) Of particular importance was Indian scientific learning,

which rivaled that of the Greeks as the most advanced in

the world.

2.) Hindu mathematics and astronomers traveled to Baghdad

after the Abbasid era came to power in the mid-8th


  1. Their works on algebra and geometry were translated into Arabic, and their instruments for celestial observation were copied and improved by Arab astronomers.

3.) Arab thinkers in all fields began to use the numerals that Hindu scholars had devised centuries earlier

4.) Indian treatises on subjects ranging from medicine to music were translated and studied by Arab scholars.

5.) Indian works on statecraft, alchemy, and palmistry were also translated into Arabic.

6.) Adoption of Indian building styles and artistic motifs.

Q.)From Booty to Empire: The Second Wave of Muslim Invasions

1.) Disputes between the Arabs occupying Sind and their

quarrels with first the Umayyad and later the Abbasid

caliphs gradually weakened the Muslim hold on the area.

2.) A later Turkish slave dynasty invasion in 962 seized power

in Afghanistan to the north of the Indus valley.

3.) One of the most successful raids was led by the third

dynasty ruler Mahmud of Ghazni.

4.) Muhammad of Ghur led raids into central India.

a.) Muslim capital became Delhi

b.) Rulers were the Sultans of Delhi (Princes of the


R.) Patterns of Conversion

1.) The main carriers of the new faith often were merchants,

who played a growing role in both coastal and inland

trade, but were most especially Sufi mystics.

  1. Beliefs in their magical and healing powers enhanced the Sufis’ stature and increased their following

  2. Their mosques and schools often became centers of regional political power.

  3. Sufis organized their devotees in militias to fend off bandits or rival princes, oversaw the clearing of forests for farming and settlement, and welcomed low-caste and outcaste Hindu groups into Islam.

2.) Most Indians who converted to Islam were from Buddhist or low-caste groups

a.) Buddhist probably made-up the majority of Indians

who converted to Islam.

  1. Untouchables and low caste Hindus, as well as animistic tribal peoples, were also attracted to the more egalitarian social arrangements promoted by the new faith.

S.) Patterns of Accommodation

1.) Many Hindus were willing to take positions as administrators in the bureaucracies of Muslim overlords or as soldiers in their armies and to trade with Muslim Merchants.

a.) They remained socially aloof from their conquerors.

b.) Muslim communities became socially divided along

caste lines.

T.) Islamic Challenge and Hindu Revival

1.)To offset the Islamic challenge Hindus opened membership

into the Bhaktic Cults to all (they had been reserved to

certain caste before).

2.) Kabir (a Muslim weaver) played down the significance of

religious differences and proclaimed that all could

provide a path to spiritual fulfillment.

3.) Bhakti mystics and gurus stressed the importance of a

strong emotional bond between the devotee and the god

and goddess who was the object of veneration.

U.) Stand-Off: The Muslim Presence in India at the End of the Sultanate Period

1.) The Brahmans denounced the Muslims as infidel destroyers

of Hindu temples and polluted meat-eaters.

2.) Later Hindu mystics, such as the 15th century holy man

Chaittanya, composed songs that focused on love for

Hindu deities and set out to convince Indian Muslims to

renounce Islam in favor of Hinduism.

3.) South Asia remained one of the least converted and

integrated of all the areas Muhammad’s message had


V.) The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia

1.) From the 8th century onward, the coastal trade of India

came increasingly to be controlled by Muslims from such

regions as Gujarat in western India and various parts of

south India. As a result, elements of Islamic culture

began to filter into island southeast Asia.

2.) Widespread introduction of Islam comes about in 13th

century after the collapse of the Shrivijaya Empire

(Buddhist Empire).

W.) Trading Contacts and Conversion

1.) As in most of the areas to which Islam spread, peaceful

contacts and voluntary conversion were far more

important than conquest and force in spreading the faith

in Southeast Asia.

  1. The first areas to be won to Islam in the late 13th century were several small part centers on the northern coast of Sumatra.

  2. On the mainland, the key to widespread conversion was the powerful trading city of Malacca, whose smaller trading empire had replaced the fallen Shrivijaya.

  3. The progress of Islamic conversion shows that port cities in coastal areas were particularly receptive to the new faith.

  1. Once one of the key cities in a trading cluster converted, it was in the best interest of others to follow suit to enhance personal ties and provide a common basis in Muslim law to regulate business deals.

  2. Conversion to Islam also linked these centers, culturally as well as economically, to the merchants and parts of India, the Middle East, and the Med.

X.) Sufi Mystics and the Nature of Southeast Asian Islam

1.) In winning converts, the Sufis were willing to allow the

inhabitants of island southeast Asia to retain pre-Islamic

beliefs and practices that orthodox scholars would have

found contrary to Islamic doctrine.

  1. Pr-Islamic customary law remained important in regulating social interaction, whereas Islamic law was confined to specific sorts of agreements and exchanges

  2. Women retained a much stronger position, both within the family and in society, than they had in the Middle East and India.

2.) Pre-Muslim religious beliefs and rituals were incorporated

into Muslim ceremonies.

Y.) Global Connections: Islam: A Bridge Between Worlds

1.) Its role as the go between for the more ancient civilizations

of the Eastern Hemisphere grew as Arab trading

networks expanded into new areas.

  1. It enriched the lives of nomadic peoples

  2. Islam’s original contributions to the growth and refinement of civilized life greatly increased

  3. Islam pioneered patterns of organization and thinking that would affect the development of human societies in major ways for centuries to come.

2.) Muslim divisions would leave openings for political

expansion that the Europeans would eagerly exploit,

beginning with the island Southeast Asian extremities of

the Islamic world and the moving across North India.

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