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08 - The Rise of Islan, 600 - 1200.doc

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HST 101
Tom Wang

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CHAPTER 9 The Sasanid Empire and the Rise of Islam, 200–1200 I0. The Sasanid Empire, 224–651 A0. Politics and Society 10. The Sasanid kingdom was established in 224 and controlled the areas of Iran and Mesopotamia. The Sasanids confronted Arab pastoralists on their Euphrates border and the Byzantine Empire on the west. Relations with the Byzantines alternated between war and peaceful trading relationships. In times of peace, the Byzantine cities of Syria and the Arab nomads who guided caravans between the Sasanid and Byzantine Empires all flourished on trade. Arabs also benefited from the invention of the camel saddle, which allowed them to take control of the caravan trade. 20. The Iranian hinterland was ruled by a largely autonomous local aristocracy that did not, however, pose a threat to the stability of the Sasanid Empire. 30. The Silk Road brought new products to the Sasanid Empire, including a number of crops from India and China. B0. Religion and Empire 10. The Sasanid Empire made Zoroastrianism its official religion. The Byzantine Empire made Christianity its official religion. Both Zoroastrianism and Christianity were intolerant of other religions. State sponsorship of Zoroastrianism and Christianity set a precedent for the link that developed between the Islamic religion and the Islamic state. 20. The Byzantine and Sasanid Empires were characterized by state involvement in theological struggles. The Byzantine Empire went to war with the Sasanids over the latter’s persecution of Christians, but the Byzantine emperors and bishops themselves purged Christianity of beliefs that they considered heretical, such as the Monophysite doctrine and Nestorianism. In the third century Mani of Mesopotamia founded a religion whose beliefs centered around the struggle between Good and Evil. Mani was killed by the Sasanid shah, but Manichaeism spread widely in Central Asia. Arabs had some awareness of these religious conflicts and knew about Christianity. 30. During this period, religion had replaced citizenship, language, and ethnicity as the paramount factor in people’s identity. II0. The Origins of Islam A0. The Arabian Peninsula Before Muhammad 10. Most Arabs were settled people. Nomads were a minority, but they were important in the caravan trade that linked Yemen to Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. This caravan trade gave rise to and supported the merchants of caravan cities such as Petra and Palmyra. It also brought Arabs into contact with the Byzantine and Sasanid civilizations. 20. The nomads were polytheists who worshiped natural forces and celestial bodies, but they were also familiar with other religions including Christianity. 30. Mecca was a caravan city between Yemen and Syria. Mecca was also a cult center that attracted nomads to worship the idols enshrined in a small cubical shrine called the Ka’ba. B0. Muhammad in Mecca 10. Muhammad was born in Mecca, grew up as an orphan, and then got involved in the caravan trade. In 610 he began receiving revelations that he concluded were the words of the one god, Allah. Others in his community believed that he might be possessed by a spirit. 20. The message of Muhammad’s revelations was that there is one god, Allah, and that all people ought to submit to him. At the final judgment, those who had submitted to Allah would go to paradise; those who had not, to hell. Muhammad’s revelations were considered to be the final revelations, following and superceding the earlier revelations of God to Noah, Moses, and Jesus. C0. The Formation of the Umma 10. Muhammad and his followers fled from Mecca to Medina in 622. In Medina, Muhammad’s Meccan followers and converts from Medina formed a single community of believers, the umma. 20. During the last decade of Muhammad’s life the umma in Medina developed into the core of the Islamic state that would later expand to include all of Arabia and lands beyond in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. 30. Muhammad’s father-in-law Abu Bakr took over leadership of the umma as the successor (caliph) of Muhammad. Abu Bakr faced two main tasks: standardization of the Islamic religion and consolidation of the Islamic state. Abu Bakr successfully re-established Muslim authority over the Arabs and oversaw the compilation and organization of the Quran in book form. 40. Disagreements over the question of succession to the caliphate emerged following the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman. A civil war was fought between those who supported keeping the caliphate in Uthman’s clan (the Ummaya) and those who supported the claim of Muhammad’s first cousin and son-in-law Ali. The Umayya forces won and established the Umayyad Caliphate in 661. 50. These disagreements led to the development of three rival sects in the Muslim community. The Shi’ites supported Ali’s claim to the caliphate and believed that the position of caliph rightly belonged to the descendants of Ali. Those known as the Sunnis believed that the first three caliphs had been correctly chosen and supported the Umayyad Caliphate. The most militant followers of Ali formed the Kharijite (rebel) sects. Most of the 800 million Muslims of today are either Sunnis or Shi’ites. III0. The Rise and Fall of the Caliphate, 632–1258 A0. The Islamic Conquests, 634–711 10. The Islamic conquests of areas outside Arabia began in the seventh century. In the first wave of conquest, the Arabs took Syria, Egypt, and the Sasanid Empire. In the late seventh and early eighth centuries, Islamic forces took Tunisia, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, and Sind. 20. Common explanations for the rapidity of the Muslim advance include lust for booty, religious fanaticism, and the weakness of the foes of Islam. None of these explanations has a strong basis in fact. The most convincing explanation finds the causes of Muslim expansion in the talent of the Muslim leaders and the structure of Arab society. 30. During the period of expansion the Arab forces were organized into regular, paid armies and kept in military camps and garrison towns so that they did not overrun the countryside. The Arab Muslims became minority rulers, thinly spread over non-Muslim societies that they dominated and taxed, but did not try to convert. B0. The Umayyad and Early Abbasid Caliphates, 661–850 10. The Umayyads ruled an Arab empire, not a Muslim empire. They administered their territory through the establish
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