I. Questions of periodization A. Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C. E. – 1450 as a period



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600 C.E.–1450


I. Questions of periodization

A. Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C.E. – 1450 as a period

B. Emergence of new empires and political systems

C. Continuities and breaks within the period (e.g., the impact of the Mongols on international contacts and on specific societies)
The Islamic world

II. The rise and role of Dar al-Islam as a unifying cultural and economic force in Eurasia and Africa

A. The Rise

1. Arab Region Before

a. Vast, dry area

b. Nomadic Bedouin tribes

c. Criss-crossed by trade routes

d. Mecca

1. Trading crossroads

2. center for Arab tribal religious worship

3. Ka’aba – fallen from heaven and has special powers

4. Mechants made money selling goods/religious artifacts to travelers

2. Muhammad/Mohammed

a. 610 - Gabriel – one true God – Allah

b. Preached monotheism in Meeca

1. Posed a threat to social and economic order

a. Many of the merchant class hostile

b. Make money from pilgrimages

c. 622 – Travelled/flight to Yahtrib – Medina

1. Hijra – flight – marks beginning of Islamic era

a. Beginning of calendar

d. Preached in Medina

1. Last of long line of prophets – Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus

a. Shares common history with Judaism and Christianity

b. Does not accept Jesus as son of God

c. Mohammad the last great prophet

2. Teachings written down as Quran (Koran) – recitation

3. Community of believers – Muslims

e. 630 – returned to Mecca to conquer it

f. 632 – death – most of Arabia under Musilm Control

3. Beliefs

a. Islam – “submit” to God’s will

b. Five duties “Pillars”

1. Faith – one true God Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet

2. Prayer – five times a day facing Mecca

3. Fasting – daylight hours of Ramadan

4. Alms – money to the poor/needy

5. Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca if able

c. All people equal before God

d. All should be converted to the faith

4. Early leadership under caliphs

a. Expanded aggressively to the north

b. Within 300 years, Middle East, N. Africa, and S. Asia – fell to armies of Islam

c. Weaknesses/decline of Persian/Byzantine Empire helped in spread

5. Empire grows as religion splits

a. Conflict – Shia vs. Sunni – who should succeed Mohammad

1. Shia – only family member of Muhammad – descendants of Ali

2. Sunni – chosen from among Umma – Muslim community

a. Earliest caliphs legitimate rulers

b. Early death – Abu Bakr becomes caliph – head of state, military, judge, religion

1. Caliph unique position – emperor + pope + chief justice

2. Ruled empire, but made important doctrinal decisions

3. Caliphate – theocratic Islamic Empire

4. Abu Bakr ideal

a. Conflict upon death – family members or outside family

b. Abu Bakr – best of both words – not in family, but one of first followers

c. Later religion spread alone, initially spread simultaneously with politics

d. Caliphs began to behave like monarchs

1. Problem – who will rule next

2. Abu Bakr > Umar > Uthman assassinated

a. Back to family > Ali (cousin/son-in-law) assassinated

a. Son Hasan takes over – but relinquishes title

b. Mecca – Umayyads take over

e. *** Notice huge irony – people that wanted to kill him are now running his empire

6. Expansion

a. Conquering of regions – due to jihad – holy war?

b. or…Arabs were nomads, Bedouins, and were used to fighting for territory

1. More interested in riches than converts

2. Many not even converted – wanted head tax


B. Role in unifying culture – another Golden Age

1. Education

a. More educational opportunities, career advancement

b. Institutions of higher learning

a. Cairo, Baghdad and Cordoba arose by 12th century

c. Muhammad al-Razi – massive encyclopedia

2. Learning of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Persians preserved

a. Key, significant role in preserving western culture

1. Byzantines did this also

2. Western cultures decentralized/dismissive of past

b. Translated writings of Plato/Aristotle to Arabic

c. Europeans found saved classic civilization treasures in libraries/museums

1. Positive cultural exchange

3. Language

a. Umayyads – Arabic became official language

b. Persian language and literary style blended with Arabic

4. Flowering of culture pronounced in al-Andalus – Islamic Spain

a. 711 Berbers from North Africa conquered Iberian peninsula

b. Preserved Greco-Roman culture

c. Enhancing it with scientific and mathematical developments of Muslim world

d. Caliphate of Cordoba boasted magnificent library

e. Free education in Muslim schools

f. Interregional commerce thrived

g. Introduction of language – alcohol, algebra, sofa

h. Architecture – minarets, arches and arabesques used in Spanish art/architecture

5. Religion

a. at first – didn’t want conversions – taxes

b. later - those conquered “encouraged” to convert – create common faith

c. Suffis – Islamic mystics

1. Stressed personal relationship with Allah

2. Highly adaptable

a. Can practice revering Allah in own ways

b. Can place Allah in framework of own beliefs (is this true?)

d. Respect for Jews/Christians “People of the Book”

1. Required to pay taxes for charity on property

2. Allowed freedom to worship and self-rule within their communities

6. Women in Islam

a. Better

1. Qur’an changed much of negative treatment

2. Treated with more dignity

3. Equal before Allah

4. Would have to return dowry to wife after divorce

5. Infanticide forbidden

6. Gained power within home

7. In early stages, women had power outside of home

a. Muhammad’s wife Khadija – also his boss, businesswoman

b. Worse

1. Before Islam

a. Viewed as property

b. man could divorce woman and keep dowry

c. Infanticide

2. After Islam

a. Up to four wives, but must be able to support

b. Man have one wife

1. Land passed through males, must know father

c. Testimony in court half weight of man

d. Veiled in Persia/Mesopotamia

1. Later spread to Islamic society

e. Over time, changed – more structure, patriarchal

1. Highly protected, more respected than before

C. Role in unifying economic

1. Trade heightened from Western Mediterranean world to China

2. Urban centers

a. Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba

b. Baghdad – great cultural centers of the world

3. Taxes


a. Paid head tax for each person not Muslim

4. Money system

a. Gold and silver coins standard monetary unit

b. Introduced idea of credit

1. Free from burden/danger of carrying coins

c. Itemized receipts/bills – innovations later used elsewhere

5. Manufacturing

a. Steel for swords

D. Islamic political structures, notably the caliphate

1. Umayyad caliphate - Sunnis

a. Moved capital to Damascus

b. Theocratic rulers

1. Established cardinal tenets of faith

2. codified Islamic law

c. Muawiyah – set up central government + allowed provincial leaders

1. provincial leaders appointed officials

a. Diluted authority of caliphs

d. 750 Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq/Iran rebelled – drove out Umayyad, installed Abbasid

e. Negatives

1. Lived in luxury – prompted revolts

2. “People of the Book”

a. Allowed Christians and Jews to rule selves

b. But…inferior status still assigned to non-converts

2. Abassids - Shia

a. Early Phase – Expansion and consolidation

1. Though a theocracy, tolerant of local customs

a. Though Christians/Jews sometimes persecuted in Levant

b. Struggles of the Abassids

1. Too large to govern

2. Failed to address the problems of succession

3. High taxes made leaders less and less popular

c. Fall of the Abassids

1. Local kingdoms began to arise

2. Persian leaders – sultans – took control of Baghdad in 945

3. Persians challenged by Seljuk Turks

a. Eventually unite with Turks

4. Mongol invaders in 13th century

3. Islamic Empire

a. Regular civil wars, internal struggles

1. Often caused by Sunni – Shi’ite conflict

b. 1258 Mongols overran Islamic Empire – destroyed Baghdad

1. People flee to Egypt

c. Eventully Ottoman Turks reunite until 1918

4. Role of sacred law – Sharia

a. Body of Muhammad’s teachings = Quran + interpretations by ulama – holy men

b. Sacred law immutable

c. Model for every Muslim to live life and how state should govern

d. Previously secular considerations became religious concerns


E. Arts, sciences and technologies

1. Art


a. Calligraphy

b. Designs

1. arabesques adorned writing and program

c. Architecture

1. Buildings commonly centered around a patio area

2. Minarets – towers in which faithful received call to prayer

3. Mosques – Muslims place of worship

d. Great literature

1. Poetic works

a. Arabian Nights

2. Science

a. First stage – preservation of classical learning

1. Greek logic, particularly Aristotle penetrated Muslim thought

2. Mathematics from Indcia

a. Zero as place value

b. Carried by caravan to Europe – misnomer as Arabic

b. Improvement, clarification, correction and new theories

1. Mathematics

a. algebra, geometry, and trigonometry refined

2. Science

a. Navigation

1. Astrolabe improved

2. cartographers most detailed maps in the world

b. Astronomy

1. maps of the stars

c. Medicine

1. Optic surgery as specialty

2. Human anatomy studied in detail

3. Hospitals best in the world

a. Charlemagne from Europe chose Arab doctors

c. Non-Arabic Sephardim – Jews in Spain

1. Writing and working in Arabic

2. Cultural bridge between Middle East and Europe

3. Christian monks converted these texts to Latin

3. Technology




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