NMC103 Lecture 4
September 22, 2011
- Sasanian Empire controlled some of the ports along the coastal region of Arabia.
- Pastoral nomads in Arabia were tribally organized
- A Jewish population existed in Medina (Yathrib)
- There are Zoroastrians near UAE
- A lot of the tribes had animistic beliefs. Inanimate objects have a spirit. A lot of
tribes had their own gods and some towns had their own deities, some of which
are mentioned in the Quran
- Kaaba in Mecca was a pagan shrine and a center of pagan worship before
becoming an Islamic shrine
- Byzantium: state religion is Greek orthodox Christianity. This has nothing to do
with Roman Catholicism. The culture is Greek and Hellenistic.
- Persian Empire has the capital at Ctesiphon, which was a conglomeration of 7
cities. The state religion is Zoroastrianism.
- Muhammad was born in Mecca to the clan of Hashim, and the tribe of Quraysh. He
was also a trader.
3 historical functions
- Message of Muhammad: monotheism; it’s no different from the revelations that
the Jews and Christians received. But his message claims to be the final revelation,
which will supersede other revelations that had been corrupted in writing.
- Muhammad was illiterate: he was not familiar with the scriptures of the past. What
he received was not influenced by earlier scriptures.
BUT, ummi can also mean a gentile prophet. It means a people’s prophet. He is
someone who has come to a people who did not have a prophet before.
- Muhammad is a rebel/revolutionary. He directly attacked polytheistic and animistic
beliefs of the Meccan elite. He cleansed the Kaaba of its idols. Here we have a late
medieval depiction of this event. The picture shows what those idols looked like.
- Muhammad was opposed by his tribe of Quraysh. He was forced out of Mecca.
- Upon arriving in Medina, Muhammad became a mediator to bring warring tribes to
peace. The exodus to Medina inaugurates a whole new era. In English we say it
hijra. The date of 622 AD becomes the year 1 in the Islamic calendar. This is a
lunar calendar (same calendar that the Jews use).
The City of Medina (diagram)
- This is an agricultural/trading community. The Jewish tribes were in Medina. When
diplomacy did not work, many of them were exiled or were killed.
- The community in Medina marks the beginning of the military aspect of the Islamic
movement. Raids were launched against Meccan tribes.
Islamic caliphal empires
- Vicegerent is someone who acts in the place of someone. It’s not vice-regent.
- We will discuss succession later.
- Emergence of Abu Bakr as successor to the Prophet inaugurated the era of the
caliphate. The first group of caliphs w