Question: The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Islam were two major turning points in history that impacted Western Europe and the Middle East during the time period of 600 CE - 1450. Compare the role of religion in each region and the impact of the major achievements of each civilization. Comparative Essay
Planning Chart Western Europe Islamic Empires Direct Comparisons Religion
Roman Catholic Church led by Pope
Charlemagne – Holy Roman Emperor
Allah is one true god
Koran is Holy book
Five pillars of Faith
Caliph – leader of centralized Islamic empire
Jizya tax on non-muslims
Mecca, Medina, Ka’ba, Dome of the Rock, Hajj
Both religions play a major role in the political, economic, and social lives of the people.
Both religions used force to spread their faith and power.
Islam ruled over a centralized empire and Christianity influenced a decentralized feudal system
Science, math, medicine, astronomy, calligraphy, literature
Both civilization had major achievements in art and architecture but Western Europe was more influenced by their religion.
Islamic Empire had more achievements in secular and multicultural areas.
Developing a Thesis After you analyze your planning chart, what conclusion can you make about the impact of Christianity and Islam?
Think about major similarities and differences between each religion, civilization and their achievements.
Think about causation and impact of major events to help formulate a thesis.
Look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the beneath-the-surface significance of these relationships.
Look for common trends or information. Is there overwhelming evidence that supports one aspect over another?
Make sure your thesis answers the question and attempts to prove something.
Question: The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Islam were two major turning points in history that impacted Western Europe and the Middle East during the time period of 600 CE - 1450. Compare the role of religion in each region and the impact of the major achievements of each civilization.
Introduction and Thesis From 600-1450, religion played a major political role in the development of feudalism in Western Europe and the rise of Empire in the Middle East. Since Christianity in Western Europe was the only unifying force in a decentralized isolated region, it affected all aspects of society far more than Islam did in the Middle East, which brought about centralized rule in a diverse region. As a result, the major achievements of Western Europe were far more influenced by their religion than the Islamic Empires, who seemed to be influenced by a combination of religious, secular and multicultural beliefs. Includes time periods Reference to role of religions Thesis Statement Refers to major difference Provides reason or causation for major differences Thesis Self Test: "Did I answer the question?" "Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?" "Does my thesis pass the 'So What?' test?" “ Can I use evidence to support my thesis?” Refers to major similarity
Body Paragraph #1 Analysis of first subtopic. Be sure to make direct comparisons in this area and work to prove thesis. Religion played a major political role in both Western Europe and the Middle East from 600-1450. Christianity was the one unifying factor in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Pope was the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and, although Europe had fallen into a decentralized feudal system of government, most people followed canon law. This was similar to the Islamic empires which used Shariah laws to rule over their people. The major difference, however, was that the Islamic empires were centralized and were ruled by the Caliph, who was both the leader of the government and the religion. Both religions, however, used force to spread their faith and control the political and social aspects of their region. For example, Charlemagne, a Christian barbarian, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope for spreading Christianity and using the sword to eliminate pagans. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, also used force to capture the city of Mecca, eliminate pagan gods from the Ka’ba and create an Islamic Empire. Both religions dominated their civilizations politically through the use of military force. Topic sentence Political influence of Christianity Direct Comparison Military use of religion Direct Comparison Summary
Body Paragraph #2 Although Christianity and Islam were both the dominant forces in the lives of their people, they would each play different roles in how they impacted the achievements of each society. In Western Europe, Christianity dominated every aspect of feudal life. Gothic architecture was used to construct massive cathedrals to display the power and presence of God. Stained glass windows, sculptures and reliefs told bible stories to the illiterate masses earning cathedrals the nickname, “Bibles of Stone.” Islamic architecture differed in that it was influenced by Greco-Roman arches and domes, as well as, Persian and Byzantine designs. Topic sentence Western Architecture Supports Thesis Direct Comparison Analysis of second subtopic. Be sure to make direct comparisons in this area and work to prove thesis. Islamic Architecture
Body Paragraph #2 – Continued In Western Europe most artwork and literature was geared toward displaying Jesus, Mary, and other religious themes. Monks spent lifetimes copying and illuminating bibles and tried to preserve the small amount of books they possessed. Islamic art did display some religious themes, displaying images of Muhammad being visited by the angel Gabriel or flying on the back of the mystical creature, the Buraq. Also, Arabic calligraphy was seen as a valuable art form because it was the pure language of Allah himself. Despite some Islamic influence, Muslim art primarily displayed geometric shapes and patterns and their writing was inspired by secular, scientific, and multicultural ideas. They borrowed a numeral system from the Guptas and then developed new concepts in math and science such as algebra and eye surgery. By the adoption and vast use of paper the Muslims preserved Greek and Roman literature, studied and wrote about medicine and astronomy, and wrote secular stories like A Thousand Arabian Nights. This major difference in the influence of achievements developed due to the location and type of government each civilization had. Islamic art and architecture Supportive facts Supports Thesis Summary of major point! Western art and literature similarities differences Analysis
Body Paragraph #3 – Analysis of Causation and Impact These differences of religious influence on each civilization’s achievements stems from the political system they each had. Western Europe was decentralized into small kingdoms and manors usually isolated from the rest of Europe. Especially before the crusades, there was not much trade in Western Europe and, as a result, not much outside influence from other cultures. Christianity was the only institution that survived the fall of Rome and was, therefore, the catalyst for most achievements in society. Islam, on the other hand, was located in the crossroads of civilization and had become a strong centralized force in the Middle East. With organized government, law and order the Islamic Empires traded with many different peoples and were highly interested in learning new ideas. Also, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, The Islamic faith did not see science as a threat to their teachings and allowed scholars to study freely thus allowing secular and multicultural ideas to influence their Empire. Topic sentence Direct Comparison Analysis Analysis Direct Comparison Supports Thesis
Conclusion Paragraph #4 – Summary Wrap it up. Restate thesis. Conclude: overall impact positive/ negative, helpful /harmful, global trends, etc. The time period 600-1450 was a golden age for religious influence around the world. Religion played a major role in the political systems of Western Europe and the Middle East. Christianity was the only institution to survive the fall of Rome and influenced many cultural accomplishments during a dark period of feudalism and isolation. Islam united a diverse nomadic people and helped to preserve and spread numerous religious, secular, and multicultural ideas. It would be the clashing of these two civilizations during the crusades that would lead the world to the great cultural movements of the Renaissance, Age of Exploration, and the Enlightenment. Summary of major similarity Summary of major differences Analysis of impact on the world Global Trends
1. Introduction with thesis – Prove something! DON’T SAY, “There are many similarities and differences” Develop – There are mostly similarities because... They are similar politically but different economically because…
2. Be sure to answer all parts of the question (Similarities, differences, political economic, social, etc.)
3. Using a three stage frame work for your body paragraphs:
Body paragraph #1: Discuss first subtopic – Be sure to directly compare both areas, regions, or civilizations
Body paragraph #2: Discuss first subtopic – Be sure to directly compare both areas, regions, or civilizations
Body paragraph #3: Analyze causation and impact of major differences and similarities.
A strong essay will make more than one direct comparison and will include both similarities and differences.
Analysis of the regions or issues within the global context will also strengthen the essay.