History 2606E Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Qadi

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Published on 9 Feb 2014
Western University
History 2606E
Lecture 4 – Political Developments
The Islamic State: 632-1258 AD
oThree main “state formation” phases in Islamic history
1. First political unit 632-662 is the Meccan state headed by the
rashidun caliphs
Arab/Islamic conquest of the Middle East takes place under
their guidance, and the early administrative structures of a
state appear
2. The Empire phase under the Umayyad dynasty, 661-750
Empire ruled from Damascus
3. Appearance of the regional states 750-1258
The Islamic Empire ruled by the Assasid dynasty from
Baghdad until 850 after which Egypt and Syria, Iraq, Iran,
Khorasan, North Africa become regional independent states
with political allegiance to a caliph based in Baghdad
Early Conquests: A Short Chronology
o634: Damascus
o636: defeat of the Byzantine army
o637: defeat of the Sassanid army
o638: conquest of Jerusalem
o640: conquest of Egypt
o651: conquest of Persia
o670: North Africa foundation of Qairawan
o705: conquest of the North-eastern Iran, Bukhara and Samarqand
o711: Spain
Explaining the Arab Conquest and State Formation in the Middle East
oArabs founded a state not in Arabia but in the Middle East
oHistorians explain the conquest of the Middle Easy by the new religion
oBy historical conditions
oBy military superiority
oHistorical disconnect with the religion
Muhammad did not envision a conquest in the name of religion
There was no inherent relationship between the new religion and
policy of expansion
Islam is not fully developed enough yet, not institutionalized
oThe focus must be on the historical conditions which pulled or pushed the
Arab tribes to engage in military action and in Empire building
oNo evidence of military superiority
Weakening of Byzantium
oPeriod of the 6th and 7th century was a period of economic decline,
religious strife, demographic loss, military defeats by the Sasanids, Slavs
and Bulghars
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oByzantine Empire is a Greek speaking state, Christian in religion and
Roman in administration, established in the 4th century AD with a capital
in Constantinople
o541 a bubonic plague known as the Justinian Plague, struck the entire
Mediterranean decimating the population
It was followed by recurrences over the next 2 centuries
Estimated to have killed 60% of the population
Population recovery delayed
Cities and trade around the Mediterranean came to a halt
oPeasant conditions deteriorated
oSplit in the church as the Monophysite sect takes over Egypt and Abyssinia
The Coptic church is born
Debate over the nature of Jesus, only divine, not human
Weakening of Sassanid Persia
oPersian Empire of the Sassanids is Indo-European in language, controls a
Semitic population, is Zoroastrian in religion
oIn addition to continuous military clashes with Byzantium it is weakened
by ethnic and religious diversity
oJustinian Plague
oAntagonism between the military and other social groups who pay land
tax as fixed rate to pay the army wages
oPolitical instability and dynastical rivalries
oReligious movements: uprising of the Mazdakites in the 5th century
Mecca after the death of Muhammad
oDemographic strength: Arabian desert population was spared of the plague
because of its different environment
No grains, so no rats or fleas
Population estimated at 5 million at the eve of the conquest
oStart of a migration
Arabs migrated before Islam
oNo provisions were made for succession
Tribal assembly failed to exercise authority or name a successor
Muhammad had no sons, no obvious successors
Left with no directions
Strong minded core of followers appoint Abu Bakr as a deputy, as
khalifat rasul Allah, a Caliph, to be followed by three other
oThis is a new political institution which was capable of unifying tribes,
create a community, head the religion, and exercise military command
The period of the 4 caliphs is therefore of great importance for the
rise of the Islamic state:
1. Abu Bakr (632-634)
2. Umar b. al Khattab (634-644)
3. Uthman b. Affan (644-656)
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