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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).