The Rise of Islam Deserts, Towns, and Trade Routes

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Chapter 10

The Muslim World, 600-1250

The Rise of Islam

Deserts, Towns, and Trade Routes

The Arabian Peninsula

• A crossroads of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe

• Mostly desert with small amount of fertile land

Desert and Town Life

• Bedouins, Arab nomads, thrive in the desert

• Bedouins live in clans, which give support to members

• Some Arabs settle near oases or market towns

Crossroads of Trade and Ideas

• Many sea and land trade routes pass through Arabia

• Trade extends to the Byzantine and Sassanid empires to the north


• Pilgrims come to Mecca to worship at the Ka’aba, an ancient shrine

• Arabs associate shrine with Hebrew prophet Abraham and monotheism

• Some tribes worship many gods and spirits, bring idols to Ka’aba

• Some Arabs believe in one God—Allah in Arabic

The Prophet Muhammad

Early Life

• Around A.D. 570 Muhammad is born into a powerful Meccan clan

• Becomes a trader, marries wealthy businesswoman, Khadijah


• By age 40, Muhammad spends much time in prayer and meditation

• He hears angel Gabriel tell him he is a messenger of Allah

• Muhammad founds religion of Islam—“submission to the will of Allah”

• Many join him and become Muslim—“one who has submitted”

The Hijrah

• Muhammad’s followers are attacked; together they leave Mecca in 622

• Hijrah—the Muslim migration from Mecca to Yathrib (renamed Medina)

• Muhammad attracts many more followers, becomes great leader:

- political leader—joins Jews and Arabs of Medina as a single community

- religious leader—draws more converts to Islam

- military leader—tackles growing hostilities between Mecca and Medina

Returning to Mecca

• In 630, Muhammad and 10,000 followers return to Mecca

• Meccan leaders surrender

• Muhammad destroys idols in Ka’aba

• Meccans convert to Islam

• Muhammad unifies Arabian Peninsula

Beliefs and Practices of Islam


• The main teaching of Islam is that there is only one god, Allah

• People are responsible for their own actions; there is good and evil

• Islamic monument in Jerusalem—Dome of the Rock

• Muslims believe Muhammad rose to heaven here to learn Allah’s will

• Jews believe Abraham was prepared to sacrifice son Isaac at same site

The Five Pillars

• Muslims must carry out five duties—the Five Pillars of Islam

- statement of faith to Allah and to Muhammad as his prophet

- pray five times a day, can use a mosque—Islamic house of worship

- give alms, or money for the poor

- fast between dawn and sunset during holy month of Ramadan

- perform the hajj—pilgrimage to Mecca—at least once

A Way of Life

• Customs and traditions guide Muslim’s lives

• Scholar class, ulama, and teachers apply religion to life; no priests

Sources of Authority

• Original source of authority for Muslims is Allah

• Qur’an—holy book, contains revelations Muhammad received from Allah

• Muslims follow Sunna—Muhammad’s example for proper living

• Guidance of Qur’an and Sunna assembled in body of law—shari’a

Links to Judaism and Christianity

• To Muslims, Allah is same God worshiped by Christians and Jews

• Qur’an, Gospels, Torah—contain God’s will as revealed through others

• Muslims, Christians, and Jews trace their roots to Abraham

• All three religions believe in heaven, hell, and a day of judgement

• Shari’a law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance

Islam Expands

Muhammad’s Successors Spread Islam

A New Leader

• In 632 Muhammad dies; Muslims elect Abu-Bakr to be first caliph

• Caliph, title for Muslim leader, means “successor” or “deputy”

“Rightly Guided” Caliphs

• First four caliphs guided by the Qur’an and Muhammad’s actions

• Jihad, armed struggle against unbelievers, used to expand Islam

• Muslims control all of Arabia, armies conquer Syria, lower Egypt

• By 750, Muslim empire stretches from Atlantic Ocean to Indus River

Reasons for Success

• Muslim armies are well disciplined and expertly commanded

• Byzantine and Sassanid empires are weak from previous conflict

• Persecuted citizens of these empires welcome Islam

• Attracted to Islam’s offer of equality and hope

Treatment of Conquered Peoples

• Muslim invaders tolerate other religions

• Christians, Jews receive special consideration as “people of the book”

Internal Conflict Creates a Crisis

Rise of the Umayyads

• Struggles for power end the elective system of choosing a caliph

• Wealthy family, Umayyads, take power; move Muslim capital to Damascus

Sunni—Shi’a Split

• Shi’a—“party” of Ali—believe caliph should be Muhammad’s descendant

• Sunni—followers of Muhammad’s example—support Umayyads

• Sufi followers pursue life of poverty, spirituality; reject Umayyads

• In 750, a rebel group—the Abbasids—topple the Umayyads

Control Extends Over Three Continents

Fall of the Umayyads

• Abbasids murder Umayyad family; one prince escapes, Abd al-Rahman

• Flees to Spain; establishes new Umayyad caliphate in al-Andalus

• al-Andalus—Muslim state in southern Spain settled by North Africans

Abbasids Consolidate Power

• In 762, Abbasids move Muslim capital from Damascus to Baghdad

• Location provides access to trade goods, gold, information

• Abbasids develop strong bureaucracy to manage empire

Rival Groups Divide Muslim Lands

• Independent Muslim states spring up; Shi’a Muslims form new caliphate

• Fatimid caliphate—claim descent from Fatima, daughter of Muhammad

• Begins in North Africa; spreads to Red Sea, western Arabia and Syria

Muslim Trade Network

• Muslims trade by land and sea with Asia and Europe

• Muslim merchants use Arabic, single currency, and checks

• Córdoba, in al-Andalus, is dazzling center of Muslim culture

Muslim Culture

Muslim Society

The Rise of Muslim Cities

• Leading cities include Damascus, Baghdad, Córdoba, Cairo, Jerusalem

• Baghdad, impressive Abbasid capital; population around one million

Four Social Classes

• Muslim society: Muslims at birth, converts, protected people, slaves

• “Protected people” were Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians

Role of Women

• Women enjoy some rights but expected to submit to men

• Women’s responsibilities vary with husbands’ income

Muslim Scholarship Extends Knowledge

Muslims Support Learning

• Muslims use scientific knowledge to help fulfill religious duties

• Muhammad valued power of learning, study, scholarship

• Muslim scholars preserve and translate scientific, philosophical texts

• House of Wisdom—Bagdad institute: library, academy, translation center

Art and Sciences Flourish

Muslim Literature

• Qu’ran is standard for Arabic literature; praise for Muhammad, Islam

• Abbasid caliphate poets write of nature, life, and love

• Popular literature includes The Thousand and One Nights

Muslim Art and Architecture

• Islam discourages images of living things, artists turn to calligraphy

• Calligraphy—art of beautiful handwriting

• Architecture of Muslim mosques is blend of many cultures

Medical Advances

• Persian al-Razi is greatest physician, from 500 to 1500

• Al-Razi writes encyclopedia of medical knowledge

Math and Science Stretch Horizons

• Muslim scientists solve problems through experimentation

• Al-Khwarizmi develops algebra and writes textbook

• Mathematician Ibn al-Haytham changes ideas about vision

Philosophy and Religion Blend Views

Scholars Promote New Ideas

• Ibn Rushd is criticized for blending Greek philosophy with Islam

• Jewish philosopher Maimonides faces opposition for his ideas

• Blends philosophy, religion, science in The Guide for the Perplexed

• The “Ideal Man”

• Muslims recognize values of many cultures; enjoy a blended culture

• Emerging Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal empires reflect Muslim culture

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