Chapter 8 Notes ~ The Rise of Islam, 600-1200

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Veronika Morrison

Chapter 8 Notes ~ The Rise of Islam, 600-1200
The Origins of Islam

  1. The Arabian peninsula on the edge of the desert was home to the Arabs (600 C.E.).

  2. Arabs were often sought out for protection by other peoples.

  • The Byzantines and Sasanids were two groups who used the Arabs for protection.

  • Some lands in which the Arabs were isolated were the birthplace of Islam.

The Arabian Peninsula Before Muhammad

  1. The “Empty Quarter” desert was the desert that isolated hidden Arabian lands from other peoples.

  2. Mecca was a caravan city that became a pilgrimage site because of it’s prohibition on killing and the fact that the Ka’ba (a shrine) was located there.

    • The Ka’ba was associated with Jewish and Christian stories. (Abraham built Ka’ba)

    • Nomadic caravans that were abundant near Arab communities were able to spread their culture and ideas to the Arabs that they cam in contact with (not isolated ones where Islam became prominent)

Muhammad in Mecca

  1. Muhammad was born, grew up, and was interested in trade in Mecca, and had revelations (610) which he told to people that were close to him and eventually in public.

  2. Muhammad’s revelations stated that people were to make “submission” (Islam) and become Muslim; accepting that Muhammad was the last prophet of the one true God.

    • Arabs believed in many unseen spirits, while Muhammad’s revelations declared that there is only one true God.

    • Muslims believe Muhammad’s revelations are a more exact form of God’s word because they believe that the Bible has been edited into a form that changed what God’s word really was.

The Formation of the Umma

  1. Muhammad’s followers were pressured and persecuted by Mecca’s rulers in order to protect their own city’s wealth.

  2. Muhammad and his followers fled Mecca and immigrated to Medina where they unified into an umma, which is a community that functions based on the belief of Islam and the “Messenger of God”.

    • The Muslim attacks on the city of Mecca weakened them and allowed the Muslims to return to Mecca and visit the Ka’ba without strife.

    • Medina was unified and flourished due to a common monotheistic belief. (instead of a loosely knit kinship)

    • Abu Bakr took over for Muhammad after he died and created the Five Pillars of Islam, took over other areas, and many people became unwilling to follow him, despite fighting to establish his rule (which spread into Iraq). He also ordered the collection of the revelations into written form which was called the Quaran.

    • The once unified umma separated because of disputed over Abu Bakr which led to many battles and struggles for control.

The Rise and Fall of the Caliphate, 632-1258

  1. The Arab expansions which laid the foundation for the Islamic caliphate led to a new society.

  2. The umma’s Sunni belief emphasized and supported the caliphate idea.

    • The Caliphs could not gain back their complete rule after power (militarily and politically).

The Islamic Conquests, 634-711

  1. Syria and Egypt were taken from the rule of the Byzantine Empire and into Arab rule, as well as Tunisia and Spain; led by Umar (second caliph).

  2. Islam spread through expansion/conquest as well as through trade, however it was not prominent in the conquest period.

    • Umar kept the Arabs from gaining any control over newly coquetted lands, which led to ¾ of the population remaining in a constant state.

The Umayyad and Early Abbasid Caliphates, 661-850

  1. The caliphs of Umayyad ruled mostly Muslim Arabs by ethnicity rather than religion and used governing techniques derived from Byzantine and Sasanid rulers. Muslim officials and standardization of Arabic of the ruled area’s language was substantial to represent a distinct change/beginning of new peoples (as well as a currency of coins).

  2. Scholarly and governmental interests became a prominent part of Arab society resulting in analytical activities having to do with the Quran.

    • Distinct changes in government were prominent as well as a cosmopolitan society.

    • Islam converts became more common in lands that had been conquered and created a lose of interest in a kinship and ethnically defined society.

Political Fragmentation, 850-1050

  1. The spread of Islam is connected to the decline of Abbasid, as well as the ruling of such far-flung lands. (large territories = decline)

  2. Many groups attacked Arabs and Muslims while the Turks controlled Samarra by influencing of the selection of their rulers.

    • Mamluks were used by caliphs as an army to replace generals from far-flung lands that the caliphs did not trust. (well trained but pricey).

    • Ghana was able to gain and prosper from the sub-Saharan’s improved trading by trading their own gold via caravan.

Assault from Within and Without, 1050-1258

  1. The Turk were depicted as barbaric warriors because of the mamluks hand in the decline in Abbasid influence and authority.

  2. Turkish rule led to the deterioration of irrigation systems in the country, deflation of cities, decline of agriculture, and decline in culture and religion.

    • Sunni and Shi’ite led to large amounts of death while the government did nothing to get involved in it (just like the prince fighting for the sultan title).

    • Christians took part in crusades in which they took over Jerusalem (Jewish Holy Land); crusades did not have a fundamental effect on Islam dominated areas.

    • The Mongols attacks were severe and destructive attacks which did not alter the ethnicity or language of the areas they occurred in, however they left the Islamic world bewildered.

Islamic Civilization

  1. Islamic lands benefited from legal improvements, social structure reforms, and the spread and celebration of their religion; despite political fragmentation, economic decay, and the shocking results of war.

  2. Islamic Civilization was inspired by the addition of urbanization and religious celebration.

    • Many “small traditions” in the Muslim world were tolerated in addition to the shared “great traditions” enforced by a common religious belief.

Law and Dogma

  1. Islamic civilization is based on the Islamic law (the Shari’a) because the Islamic civilization originally had no legal system and was governed by the revelations of Muhammad.

  2. Muhammad’s exact words (hadith) had to be analyzed in order to establish the Shari’a.

    • The Shari’s evolution aspired to have umma be unified under exact moral values while politics and ethnicity would be less prominent.

    • Much of the hadith was dismissed as being too edited and false.

    • Muslim leaders were required to live as the law dictated as well as support it in their governing.

Converts and Cities

  1. Urbanization sprang forth from the spread of Islam.

  2. Knowing how to act as Muslims and what it meant to follow Islam was an obstacle that new converts to the religion had to overcome.

    • The urban orientation of Islamic roots in Mecca was strengthened by dense populations of Muslims in Islamic areas due to the migrations of new converts.

    • Science and Technology were prominent in the more urbanized Islamic areas, as well as the improvement of trade.

Islam, Women, and Slaves

  1. Muslim social life emphasized the isolation of women who were infrequently permitted to travel and covered themselves whenever they left the home.

  2. Although women in Islamic societies were uneducated and had other disadvantages, their status was higher that those in Christian and Jewish areas.

    • Islamic women were allowed to inherit property and keep ownership even after marriage; they were permitted to re-marry, and got benefits after a marriage was ended by either party.

    • Women could also use birth control, testify in court at a lower significance than a man, and end a marriage if they had a specific and approved reason.

The Recentering of Islam

  1. Variants of Islam rose from the lack of communications of different Muslim communities because there was no hierarchy that organized the conversion process. (Only the caliphate was prominent).

  2. The ulama became community leaders which created further political fragmentation because of the further divisions of government and land.

    • The ulama were established by Iranians because of the economy and government’s decline.

    • Sufi brotherhoods were spiritual groups that grew thanks to assistance of the Iranians.


  1. Islamic communities were based on the peoples being diverse in many areas, however having an ultimate common value which unified them.

  2. The belief in a one true god banded early Islamic civilizations together, no matter the political organization. (disintegrating when rule over far-flung territories occurred).

    • After political deterioration, Muslims relied on new religious foundations (Sufi) that had the potential to make stable civilizations that could foster the Islamic religion.

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