Lecture 4 Sept. 22 - Spread of Islam.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Maria Subtelny

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
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