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Lecture 2

POLI 340 Lecture 2: Historical Context – Islamic, Ottoman, and Colonial Legacies
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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 340
Professor
Rex Brynen

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Lecture Notes - Historical Context Islamic, Ottoman, and Colonial Legacies
Birth of Islam
- Muhammad born in 580 ce in Mecca; Muslims believe that he was commanded by the angel
Gabriel to recite the word of God; later collected into the Koran
o Seen as the final and most accurate prophet of Jewish/Christian monotheistic tradition
o First believers his family and clan; move to Medina
o Political and military warfare; Muslim control throughout the Arabian Peninsula
- Islam = monotheistic theology
o Emphasis on social reform -> justice, community, spiritual equality of believers, social
reasonability
Ended infanticide and improved status of women during its early growth
o Religious practice based on the ‘five pillars of Islam)
- Rise of Islam is both a religious and political event
o 632: prophet dies with no obvious political successor; father in law is chosen as successor
but some supported Ali, cousin and son-in-law
o Caliphates expand throughout Middle East, North Africa changes politics and remakes
society of Middle East
o Arabization of non-Arabs -> non-Semitic populations acquiring Arab as a language
Success due to being the language of the Koran (translations as a distortion of the
word of God); results in minimal evolution of Arab as a written language
o Islamicization of non-Muslims
Christians/Jews (monotheistic ‘people of the book’) regarded as second-class
citizens but still recognized; conversions to Islam due to tax benefits
Institutionalized religious pluralism; high level of conversion to Islam
- Problem of political authority -> no clear rules for succession or form of Islamic government
o Struggle over leadership and organization of the umma
o Leadership struggle leads to Sunni-Shiite split
Twelver Shia = Iran
However Sunni-Shiite =/= implacable hostility throughout the ages -> identities
are not always politically mobilized
Ex: Kurds can be Sunni or Shia
- Islamic Age
o Consolidation of Islamic Law -> based on Quran, Hadith and Sunna, consensus of
community and religious scholars
o Golden Age of Islam: commerce successes, bureaucracy/public administration, scientific
advances, etc.
o Decline of the Caliphate
Internal challenges
Highly centrifugal tensions due to distances
Growing power of minorities and the periphery
External threats from the Crusades and Mongols (most serious damage by
sacking Baghdad)
Rise of Ottoman Empire
- Rose from Turkish tribes in Anatolia
o 1453: capture of Constantinople and remnants of Byzantine Empire; center of empire in
modern-day Turkey
o 1566: zenith under Sulayman of the Empire
- Basis of empire: elite slave-soldiers (janissaries); feudal/military tax grants; Sunni Islam;
sophisticated system of governance with ministers and provincial governors
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Description
Lecture Notes - Historical Context – Islamic, Ottoman, and Colonial Legacies Birth of Islam - Muhammad born in 580 ce in Mecca; Muslims believe that he was commanded by the angel Gabriel to recite the word of God; later collected into the Koran o Seen as the final and most accurate prophet of Jewish/Christian monotheistic tradition o First believers his family and clan; move to Medina o Political and military warfare; Muslim control throughout the Arabian Peninsula - Islam = monotheistic theology o Emphasis on social reform -> justice, community, spiritual equality of believers, social reasonability  Ended infanticide and improved status of women during its early growth o Religious practice based on the ‘five pillars of Islam) - Rise of Islam is both a religious and political event o 632: prophet dies with no obvious political successor; father in law is chosen as successor but some supported Ali, cousin and son-in-law o Caliphates expand throughout Middle East, North Africa – changes politics and remakes society of Middle East o Arabization of non-Arabs -> non-Semitic populations acquiring Arab as a language  Success due to being the language of the Koran (translations as a distortion of the word of God); results in minimal evolution of Arab as a written language o Islamicization of non-Muslims  Christians/Jews (monotheistic ‘people of the book’) regarded as second-class citizens but still recognized; conversions to Islam due to tax benefits  Institutionalized religious pluralism; high level of conversion to Islam - Problem of political authority -> no clear rules for succession or form of Islamic government o Struggle over leadership and organization of the umma o Leadership struggle leads to Sunni-Shiite split  Twelver Shia = Iran  However Sunni-Shiite =/= implacable hostility throughout the ages -> identities are not always politically mobilized  Ex: Kurds can be Sunni or Shia - Islamic Age o Consolidation of Islamic Law -> based on Quran, Hadith and Sunna, consensus of community and religious scholars o Golden Age of Islam: commerce successes, bureaucracy/public administration, scientific advances, etc. o Decline of the Caliphate  Internal challenges  Highly centrifugal tensions due to distances  Growing power of minorities and the periphery  External threats from the Crusades and Mongols (most serious damage by sacking Baghdad) Rise of Ottoman Empire - Rose from Turkish tribes in Anatolia o 1453: capture of Constantinople and remnants of Byzantine Empire; center of empire in modern-day Turkey o 1566: zenith under Sulayman of the Empire - Basis of empire: elite slave-soldiers (janissaries); feudal/military tax grants; Sunni Islam; sophisticated system of governance with ministers and provincial governors o Millet system -> way to deal with large multiethnic empire  Limited self-government for recognized religious minorities -> identity in the empire based on religious identity  Communities administer their own affairs, collect/pay taxes, and have their own hierarchy within community; backed by power of Ottoman state - Shifting balance of power towards Europe o Faster European population growth o European in
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