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The golden age of islam

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Arab and Islamic Civilization

Arab and Islamic Civilization

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  • 1. Introduction to Arab and Islamic Civilization Abir Chaaban LIU The Golden Age of Islam From Damascus to Baghdad
  • 2. Sources
      • The University of Calgary the Islamic World Until 1600 http:// www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/index.html
      • Cleveland, William L. The Development of Islamic Civilization in A History of the Modern Middle East (Third Edition) Part I pp. 5-57 (Westview, 2004)
      • Philip Hitti The Arabs: A Short History, ( Princeton University Press: 1949).
      • Tarabay, Ali and Wakim, Jamal Arabs and Muslims in History (
  • 3. The Struggle for Power The Muslim Civil War
    • The Islamic world erupted into civil war after Othman's death, as the caliphate was contested and anarchy reigned.
    • The Shi’a went to battle against those who refused to recognize Ali's right to the caliphate.
    • The representative of the opposition group, was Muawiya governor of Syria and cousin of Othman.
  • 4. Ali Ibn Abi Taleb The Muslim Civil War
    • Ali declared himself the new caliph.
    • Muawiya challenged Ali's leadership
      • Worked on keeping Othman's murder in public memory to gather supporters.
    • Ali made no attempt to punish Othman's killers. He made further enemies by firing most of Othman's administration.
    • Ali faced challenges from Talha and Zubair, two companions of the Prophet, and A'isha.
    • The first physical fighting of the ensuing civil war occurred at the Battle of the Camel in December 656, during which the popular Talha and Zubair were killed and A'isha was taken prisoner.
  • 5. Muslim Civil War
    • Muslims insisted that the Prophet would not have sanctioned such violence over the caliphate.
    • Ali and Muawiya agreed to have the succession decided by a Koranic tribunal
    • Both Ali and Muawiya agreed to abide by the tribunal's decision.
    • The tribunal ruled that both men should abandon their claims to the caliphate. Both parties refused to step down. The civil war continued.
  • 6. Muslim Civil War
    • Further divisions started to emerge within the Shiite movement.
      • The Kharijites, one group of Ali's supporters, believed that God was the only one who could decide a matter as the succession.
      • The Kharijites , was the first to formally secede from mainstream Islam.
      • They appointed one of their own members to a separate caliphate, and refused to recognize the authority of either Ali or Muawiya.
      • The Shiites and the Kharijites fought a major battle in 658 at Nahrawan.
  • 7. Muslim Civil War
    • July 660, Muawiya proclaimed himself caliph in Jerusalem. He gained the support of the governor of Egypt, as well as the Syrian forces, who raided Ali's base in Iraq in Muawiya’s name.
    • In early 661, Muawiya received assistance in his quest for power from the Kharijites, who had turned to violence in the wake of their defeat at Nahrawan three years earlier.
    • The Kharijites had actually intended to kill both Ali and Muawiya, in order to establish the supremacy of their own candidate for the caliphate. They were only successful, however, in killing Ali.
    • With Ali's claim to the caliphate permanently erased. The civil war ended, and within a few months Muawiya established the first Islamic dynasty in the name of his family, the Umayyads.
  • 8.  
  • 9. The Umayyad
    • The Umayyad Dynasty, begun by Muawiya the founder of the Dynasty. It lasted from 661-750.
    • During his Caliphate the political center of the Empire was transferred from Mecca to Damascus.
    • Muawiya adopted certain Byzantine administrative practices and employed former Byzantine officials and craftsmen.
    • Abd al-Malik, from 684 to 705, brought about many administrative changes in the Islamic empire.
    • Abdul Malik made the decision to establish Arabic as the language of administration, eliminating the Greek and Persian that had been retained since the Islamic conquest of Byzantine and Sassanid lands.
    • Abdul Malik started the process of translation of Greek, Persian and Latin knowledge into Arabic, although the actual development took place during the Abbasid Dynasty.
  • 10. The Umayyad
    • The Umayyad established the practice of hereditary succession for the caliph, a practice they adopted from the Byzantine Empire. This change was politically wise at the time as it decreased the number of succession debates that had plagued the reigns of the first four caliphs.
    • The Umayyads adopted some of the Byzantines military practices improving the efficiency of the Arab Army. Their aim was the expansion of the Muslim conquest of North Africa, Spain, and Central Asia.
    • The caliphate was secular and less religious, as administering the vast empire took precedence over the religious conversion of the conquered peoples.
  • 11. Causes of Weakness
      • Indulgence in luxury was rife due to increased wealth and supper abundance of slaves.
        • During the era of Rightly Guided Caliphs the Caliphs functioned as equals living a life in simplicity.
        • The emphasis on simplicity changed with the Umayyads who isolated themselves from the rest of the population.
        • They took pleasure in the riches that flowed into the treasury in Damascus.
        • They became less consultative and more authoritative.
  • 12. Causes of Weakness
      • The lack of any definite and fixed rule of heredity succession to the Caliph weakened the dynasty. The Arabian principles of seniority succession were violated by the hereditary dynasty.
      • Muawiya caused a significant disturbance in the empire by naming his son, Yazid, as his successor.
      • The ensuing controversy stemmed from the fact that the caliphate had traditionally been an elected office.
      • Yazid was not a popular leader, and he reigned for only three years.
      • The Shi'ites again vied for the caliphate starting a rebellion.
      • Ali's second son, Hussein, whose subsequent death at the Battle of Karbala, in Iraq, is still commemorated by Shiite Muslims today.
  • 13. The Mawalies
      • From Yazid's hereditary succession in 680 until 692, a second civil war raged throughout the Islamic empire.
        • The focus of the second civil war was the mawali , or non-Arab Muslims.
        • The mawali who had converted to Islam, were led by a man named Mukhtar.
        • The mawali challenged the authority Arabs held in the Islamic empire and sought to elevate themselves from the second-class status imposed by the Arabs.
        • After many years of fighting, Abd al-Malik's forces prevailed over the mawali , and in 692 an era of peace was ushered in.
  • 14. Internal divisions
    • The position of the Umayyad was weakened by the sharp division of North Arabians against South Arabian Tribes.
    • The size of the Islamic empire was a major factor in the demise of the Umayyad Dynasty.
    • In 739, the Umayyad lost control of their Berber subjects in North Africa. The Muslim Berbers, now considered mawali, or non-Arab Muslims, fought the Arabs for three years, until their rebellion was finally crushed in 742.
    • Persia, was quickly becoming a haven for the Kharijites, who had formally seceded from the central administrative power of the empire during the 656-61 civil war, and who continued to challenge the authority of the caliph.
  • 15. Quays and Yemen
    • Political disputes within the Dynasty were manifested with the clash between Northern and Southern Arabians.
    • The most prominent was the alliances formed between Quays and Yemen.
    • The difference between Quaysides and Yemenites was over the policy to be followed with regard to the role of non-Arab Muslims in the Islamic state.
    • The Quaysides and the Umayyads fought against a policy of assimilating and conciliating non-Arabs, whereas the Yemenites, in the interest of settled life and trade, opted for a policy of assimilation and cooperation.
  • 16. The Collapse of the Umayyad Dynasty
    • The Umayyads' enemies formed a unified group to oppose the rulers. This group, led by descendants of Muhammad's uncle, Abbas, called themselves the Abbasids.
    • After several military conflicts between the two groups, the Abbasids succeeded in overthrowing the Umayyads in the battle of Zab 750, and installing their own caliph on the throne.
    • The Abbasids promised their supporters, many of whom were mawali , that all Muslims would be treated equally.
  • 17. The Abbasid
    • The Abbasids symbolized their connection with their pre-Islamic predecessors by founding a new capital, Baghdad, near the old Sasanian capital.
    • Iraq was influenced by Persian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the mawali demand for less Arab influence in the empire.
    • The city of Baghdad was constructed by al-Mansur on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital.
  • 18. The Administrative Structure
    • The change in the location of the center to Baghdad brought Islamic civilization to the Persian administrative structures institutionalized by the Sasanide Empire.
    • Iranian imperial traditions of royal absolutism and bureaucratic specialization were brought to the Empire.
    • This was added to the Arab and Byzantine experiences that were adopted by the Umayyads.
    • Abbasid employed large number of converted Iranians into their elaborate administrative structure.
    • The Abbasids established the position of vizier in their administration. This change meant that caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power.
  • 19. Administrative Structure Continued
    • The Abbasids exposure to the absolutist King adopted from the Sasanides carried the absolutist monarchy further than the Umayyads, isolating the Caliph except from his trusted ones.
    • The Abbasid Caliphs lived in luxurious palaces, they identified themselves not as the successors of the profit but “The Shadow of God on Earth.”
    • The Abbasids centralized political authority and the court system. The absolutist monarch played the role of the secular king and the head of judges.
    • This formula worked well and brought the Empire to 200 years of stability and prosperity, intellectual achievements, and general political stability based on the widespread acceptance to the benefits of the Caliph’s absolutism.
  • 20. The Golden Age
    • In the ninth century two imperial powers stood opposite to each other Charlemagne in the West and Harun al-Rashid in the East.
    • Harun al-Rashid and Charlemagne were allies they exchanged letters of friendly relations.
    • During the reign of Harun al-Rashid Baghdad was the world center of wealth and international significance, standing against its rival of Byzantium.
    • Rashid’s era witnessed a the core of the development of Byzantine and Sasanide civilizations into a new awakening. This awakening was due in large measure to foreign influences.
  • 21. The Golden Age
    • The Abbasid could rival their pre-Islamic predecessors in carrying and developing a civilization that was the most superior of its time.
    • Arab Muslims, who brought with him from the desert a keen curiosity to gathering knowledge adopted Aramaic civilization influenced by the Greeks in Syria and Persian civilization in Iraq.
    • The Arabic reading world was in position of the chief philosophical works of Aristotle, of chief Neo-Platonic Commentators and of most of the medical writings of Galen, as well as Persian and Indian sciences works.
    • This development was enhanced by The Caliphs generous patronage of artists and artisans of all kinds.
    • Economic prosperity and intellectual exchange was enhanced by the trade rout established by the great 7,000-mile Silk Road from Xi’an [Sian], China to Baghdad—then the two largest cities in the world—helped provide the wealth.
  • 22. Translation
    • The ensuing literary florescence was promoted by the capture of a group of Chinese papermakers at the Battle of Talas in 751.
    • The Abbasid encouraged translation from pre-Islamic languages, particularly Middle Persian, Greek, and Syriac.
    • This activity provided a channel through which older thought could enter and be reoriented by Islamic societies.
    • In the field of mathematics, al-Khwārizmī, from whose name the word algorithm is derived, creatively combined Hellenistic and Sanskritic concepts.
    • The word algebra derives from the title of his major work, Kitāb al-jabr wa al-muqābalah (“The Book of Integration and Equation”).
    • Encyclopedia Britanica “The Abbasides”
  • 23. Tolerance and Pluralism
    • The Abbasids ability to expand and develop the Arab Islamic Civilization was mainly due to the principle of tolerance leading to the development of a pluralistic society.
    • The State was secular administering Jews, Christians, non believers, Zoroastrians and Muslims.
    • In Medina the Prophet started this process by making a defense alliance with the Jewish tribes that supported him. ( Mithaq al-Madina). The Abbasid followed this example.
    • Jewish scholars as masters of Arabic, Hebrew and Latin languages were seminal in the translation process.
  • 24. Take Home Exam Questions
    • Explain how the struggle over sovereignty and the distribution of wealth within the Empire led to the demise of the Umayyad Dynasty. In your answer explain the nature of the dispute after the death of Mohamed, the social classes and political parties that existed within the Umayyad Dynasty, and the role that the dispute and the people played leading to the Battle of Zab 750 AD and the collapse of the Umayyad Dynasty. (Power Point Presentation and Philip Hitti “Social and Cultural Life Makes a Start”, Tarabay and Wakin Chapter II).
    • What were the characteristics of Arab and Islamic civilization? In your opinion how did these characteristics support in the development of the Arts and Sciences in Baghdad. In your answer you should attend to the factors instituted by each state (Rightly Guided Caliphs, Umayyad, and Abbasids leading to the Abbasids Golden Age. (See Power Point Presentation, Philip Hitti “The Glory that was Baghdad”, Tarabay and Wakim Chapter III).