The History of Islam Presentation for SS2 Asian Studies by Martin Perez With supplementary discussions on Monotheism and Southwest Asia
PREFACE: Inheritor of Two Traditions
Axial Age and the Monotheistic Revolution
The Shifting States and Empires of Southwest Asia
Ibn Khaldun’s Constant: Asabiya
Rise of Islam
The Question of Succession
The Golden Age of Islam
Fragmentation and Consolidation
OUTLINE OF THE PRESENTATION
Being our last lecture for the semester, this presentation also aims to do the following:
Tie in and synthesize a lot of previously mentioned concepts together that will enhance your understanding of Indian and Chinese history, and civilization in general.
Present Asia as a coherent and connected whole that will:
Provide a foundation for our activities in the 3 rd Quarter which focuses on the Asian continent as a modern and thriving civilization even before the coming of the West.
INHERITOR OF TWO TRADITIONS (I): AXIAL AGE AND THE MONOTHEISTIC REVOLUTION
THE AXIAL AGE
THE AXIAL AGE
All occurred in or near the original river valley civilizations. This meant that the material preconditions were present for the development of religion and thought.
Each revolution in thought was born during a period of crisis or instability. Old orders were breaking down and there was a demand for a new standard of behaviour – ethics .
Axial Age revolutions can be counted on the fingers of one hand. This does not mean that religion and thought stopped evolving, but that most breakthroughs and advances either (a) occurred within the original tradition , or (b) is a combination of several other traditions .
Monotheism is the belief in one God. It is an idea that is older than the Hebrews, but it is in them we see the earliest and clearest expression. Moreover, the Hebrew traditions would pave the way for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. MONOTHEISM
THE HEBREW STORY The Hebrews belong to the Semitic language group of people. Other semitic people include: Akkadians, Aramaeans, Amorites, Phoenicians, and the early Arabs. (Semites = son of Shem, one of Noah’s sons) “ Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan.” (Gen. 11:31) This suggests a migration of the Hebrew people from Mesopotamia to Syria around 1900 to 1500BCE.
THE HEBREW STORY Around 1250BCE, the Hebrews found a leader in Moses. His story would end in the forging of the Hebrew’s covenant with Yahweh. “ Thou shalt not have other gods before me.” In terms of Hebrew religious development , this is the first major shift: from polytheism to monolatry . Characteristics of monolatry: 1. transcendent theology 2. moral precepts, rituals, and tabus
THE HEBREW STORY 1050 Invasion of the Philistines 1025 Saul unites the tribes of Israel into one kingdom The kingdom then reaches its peak under David (1000 – 961) and Solomon (961 – 922).
THE HEBREW STORY Solomon’s demise fractured the kingdom into two: Kingdom of Israel (north) and Kingdom of Judah (south) . Relatively weak as a whole, the kingdoms were weaker apart. In 722, Israel fell to the Assyrians. In 586, Judah fell to the Babylonians.
THE HEBREW STORY
As the kingdom of Israel was under threat, a new generation of preachers began to speak of a new message.
God is righteous
He demands ethical behaviour
Justice and ethics were put at the forefront of Hebrew life.
Their message is similar to the Buddha’s commentary on Hindu materialism, and Chinese philosophy’s arguments about social chaos and disorder.
THE HEBREW STORY
THE HEBREW STORY
Upon being liberated by the Persians in 539BCE, the Israelites rebuild the Temple. They last until 332BCE.
Message of the Post-Exilic Age:
Eschatological doctrines, or thoughts on the end of time.
The coming of a Messiah
These beliefs complete the doctrines of Judaism. They hold on tightly to their faith as they wait, committing their learnings and experiences to writing.
THE HEBREW STORY
THE HEBREW STORY
The Hebrew experience with Monotheism eventually leads to the three primary monotheistic religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
There are four stages in the development of Hebrew religion that correspond to key events in their history
INHERITOR OF TWO TRADITIONS (II): THE SHIFTING STATES AND EMPIRES OF SOUTHWEST ASIA
SETTING THE STAGE Islam was born in a desert town, but its story stretched far beyond the borders of the Arabian peninsula. Understanding its history will require a comprehension of the size and scale of the Asian continent. The following section is an overview of the history of Southwest Asia up until the major empires that surrounded Arabia at the dawn of Islam.
STATES AND EMPIRES IN SOUTHWEST ASIA NORTHERN ZONE A complex recorded history of states and empires revolving around Mesopotamia. SOUTHERN ZONE Home to smaller empires that traded across the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, interacting with Egypt and Greece. ARABIAN PENINSULA A tribal desert society that flourished through trade between north and south. NORTHERN ZONE Mesopotamia Persian Empire SOUTHERN ZONE The Incense Road ARABIAN PENINSULA The Bedouin
MESOPOTAMIA Mesopotamian civilization (3200 to 539BCE) is founded between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It is a succession of nations that built on the achievements of the one before.
MESOPOTAMIA People Highlights Sumerians 3200 – 2000 BCE
Had the earliest cities
Invented: the wheel, writing (cuneiform), lunar calendar, the ziggurat as the city center
Amorites 2000 – 1600 BCE
Also called Old Babylon
A Semitic people that conquered Akkad
Hammurabi (ruled 1792-1750BCE)
Known for: The Epic of Gilgamesh , mathematics, division of time: duodecimal system
Assyrians 1300 – 612 BCE
Splendid city of Nineveh
Superb and unmatched warriors of the time
Chaldeans 612 – 539 BCE
Also called New Babylon
Advances in architecture and astronomy
Cities were planned and administered by a pateshi (priest king).
Believed in anthropomorphic gods .
Legally had social classes : nobles, commoners, and slaves.
Had a rich written tradition .
Mesopotamia came to an end in 539BCE by the hand of the Persian Empire.
PERSIAN EMPIRE Persia is modern-day Iran. It’s earliest inhabitants are the Elamites (2800 – 550BCE) who would often feud with the Babylonians and Assyrians. More influential, however, have been the Aryans who came into Iran around 1100BCE. Of these people, the Medes and the Persians were most prominent.
PERSIAN EMPIRE PERSEPOLIS
PERSIAN EMPIRE Achaemenid Empire (550 to 330 BCE) founded by Cyrus the Great
PERSIAN EMPIRE Parthian Empire (247 BCE to 220 CE)
Contributions to World History
Zoroastrianism – Often considered the earliest monotheistic religion, it speaks of a conflict between asha (truth, order) and druj (the lie, chaos).
Universalism – Incredibly tolerant of other cultures (at least by standards of their time), followed a ‘One World Policy’, and called their king the Shahanshah or King of Kings.
Effective Imperial Administration – They divided their lands into satrapies (governed by a satrap), a monarchy with a noble class, professional armies, taxation systems, and even banking.
STATES AND EMPIRES IN SOUTHWEST ASIA
THE INCENSE ROAD Trade in aromatics (such as frankincense and myrrh) and spices connected ancient Arabia, Egypt, India, and Africa. Note: Mecca was one of the key cities along this route.
THE INCENSE ROAD The Incense Road connects with the Silk Road.
THE INCENSE ROAD TRIVIA: Who were the ‘Three Wise Men’? From the Gospel of Matthew: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him... On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” A Magi was an astronomer and a follower of Zoroaster. To the east of Judea is Persia. Gold, frankincense and myrr were all goods traded along the Incense Road.
Contributions of the Fertile Crescent Wheels- Sumerian first used wheeled vehicles to transport goods and trade Cuneiform- The Sumerian cuneiform was made up of wedge-shaped symbols. Its “alphabet” included about 300 symbols representing syllables
Aphabet- This alphabet contained 22 symbols for consonant sounds, written in vertical columns from right to left Iron Working – Hittites learned to extract iron from ore and fashioned tools and weapons that are harder than bronze or copper ones. They helped spread the knowledge of iron Hittites Phoenicians
Advanced Knowledge in Astronomy – Using advanced knowledge in astronomy, astronomers could predict eclipses of the sun and moon and the position of planets in relation to the sun. Coins – Early coins were made of electrum, an alloy, or natural mix, of gold and silver. The image on a coin showed its value. The used of war chariot in expanding the empire Babylonians Lydians and Persians Chaldeans
Which contribution in the presentation do you think is the most important? Explain.
II IBN KHALDUN’S CONSTANT: ASABIYA
IBN KHALDUN He is the father of modern-day historiography and the social sciences. Lived a storied life from 1336 to 1406. He travelled extensively throughout the Muslim world, serving different courts in different capacities. In two key points in his career, he witnessed the instability and chaos caused by two warring dynasties in North Africa, the Marinids and Hafsids. Up until the end of his life, he was lecturing and teaching about his theories on history. One of his last students was Timur (aka Tamerlane), the great Asian empire builder.
IBN KHALDUN’S OBSERVATION Ibn Khaldun noticed that the rise and fall of dynasties followed a cycle. A dynasty establishes its power in a city The city reaches a period of prosperity and prominence Leaders grow either weak, lax, corrupt, or all three; Primary cause is luxury Tribes in the periphery gather in strength and number At its weakest, the city is overrun by invading tribes
Asabiya is often translated as “group feeling” and as a quantity it determines how well one group can work together .
It is a feeling of belonging to something that is expanding, and expansion can only come about through effective leadership.
Ibn Khaldun observed:
Desert tribes have higher asabiya than city dwellers
Groups with higher asabiya will dominate groups with lower asabiya
There are factors that can increase or decrease asabiya
ASABIYA Asabiya is indirectly proportional to the increasing complexity of society.
WHY A TRIBE HAS HIGHER ASABIYA
Share common blood ties
Driven by the shared need to survive
Have to utilize fewer resources
Encounters competition from other tribes
WHY A CITY HAS LOWER ASABIYA
Not everyone is related by blood
Job specialization and diversification
Thriving intellectual life allows for a variety of views
Luxury, wealth, status, and class set people apart
Government is more distant and decision making is delegated to a few
So how can asabiya be increased or improved?
Ibn Khaldun suggests two ways:
Religion This creates a group feeling among people who are not related by blood.
Royal authority This directs the energies of a people towards a common purpose.
What do YOU think are other ways asabiya can be enhanced?
My own suggestions:
USING ASABIYA IN HISTORICAL ANALYSIS The next two slides were real scenarios in history. I’d like you to think of how the concept of asabiya can explain what happened in these. I am leaving these to you for independent use. I encourage group discussion on this since there are many possible ways to analyze and use asabiya. I’ll be asking for your insights here in either Special Essay #2 or the Periodic Exam, or both.
THE MONGOL INVASION OF CHINA
PEOPLE POWER 1986
III THE PROPHET
THE SETTING By 600CE, at the dawn of Islam’s birth, The Christian Byzantine Empire in Europe and the Zoroastrian Sasanid Empire were exhausting each other through a rivalry that would end by 627. In the Arabian peninsula, the caravan town of Mecca was quickly becoming a prosperous trading center, ushering in urban and commercial changes that put pressure on traditional institutions. Throughout Arabia were the Bedouin tribes who lived on herding and sporadic raids (ghazu) on settlements and caravans.
THE BEDOUIN Pre-Islamic Arabia Tribes were bound together by the muruwah spirit which emphasized courage in battle, patience in suffering, and vengeance to protect the tribe. Most of the tribes were polytheistic, and Mecca served not only as a trading center but a place for the different tribes to house their idols in the Kabah . Tribes living closer to the Byzantine and Persian empires were exposed to Judaism and Christianity, thus the concept of a monotheistic faith is not alien to the Arabs. The Bedouin were gifted poets; oral recitation was a sacred ritual.
GUIDE QUESTIONS AS YOU WATCH
Just three things:
What was Arabia like before the coming of Islam?
What was Muhammad like as a person?
How was monotheism a radical idea at that time?
Muhammad (570 to 632BCE) was raised an orphan in a less well-to-do tribe called the Quraysh. He married Khadija and exposed himself to the commercial lifestyle in Mecca. However, he grew increasingly troubled by the idolatry, worldliness, and lack of social conscience around him. This opened him up to a profound religious experience that would change his life when he was 40 years old. MUHAMMAD
First of all, Muhammad wasn’t well received in his home town of Mecca. His preaching against their traditional gods and goddesses threatened both (a) their ancestral ways and (b) the Meccan pilgrimage shrine and the lucrative trade it attracted. He fled Mecca in 622 for the town of Yathrib (later Medina) who requested his wisdom in helping them resolve a conflict. WHAT DID MUHAMMAD TEACH?
The migration to Medina in 622 is called the hijrah . It is the start of the Muslim calendar and the beginning of the first ummah .
Allegiance to the ummah
Honesty in public and personal affairs
Modesty in personal habits
Abstention from alcohol and pork
Fair division of inheritances
Improved treatment of women
Careful regulation of marriage and divorce
WHAT DID MUHAMMAD TEACH?
Muslim faith is concretized in the Five Pillars of Islam which had an underlying social justice message.
Shahadah (profession of faith)
Salat (ritual prayer)
Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca)
Muhammad made faith and harmony among people accessible so long as they ‘submit’ to Allah.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
THE ARTICLES OF FAITH
In addition, Muhammad did not see himself as the initiator of a new tradition, but the ‘restorer’ of the original message of God.
The unity of God
Scriptures (the Quran)
The Last Day
They regarded Jews and Christians as ‘The People of the Book’ who were spiritually superior over the polytheists.
MUSLIMS BECOME ONE PEOPLE In 630, Muhammad triumphantly returns to Mecca. He casts out idols from the Kabah, declaring the supremacy of the one true God. A tribal confederation is bound by personal allegiance to Muhammad and submission to God.
IV.A THE RISE OF ISLAM THE QUESTION OF SUCCESSION
THE NEXT QUESTION After Muhammad dies in 632, the question immediately turns to who will succeed him. Abu Bakr, his most gifted student, assumes command of the ummah. He is called the caliph . “ O Men, if you have been worshipping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping Allah, then know that Allah is living and never dies.” With this, the ummah transcends loyalty to a particular person, but to God himself.
A DIFFERING OPINION However, some contested that the successor should be a relative of the prophet. His closest relative, his cousin Ali, became the caliph in 656 but was largely contested by rival parties. He was murdered in 661 and his bloodline was eradicated when his son, Husayn, was murdered at Karbala, in Iraq, at the year 680. Loyalists (partisans, Shia ) of Ali claim he is the true imam . Other claimants to the title imam soon followed.
SUNNI AND SHIA
AGE OF THE CALIPHS (632 – 750)
ABBASID DYNASTY (750 – 1258)
WAS IT HOLY WAR? Jihad is mistakenly translated as ‘holy war’. It simply means ‘struggle’. It can refer to a person’s internal struggle against temptation and sin. It can also refer to an external struggle against those who may invade or harm the Dar al-Islam (the Abode of Islam).
REASONS FOR THE EASE OF ISLAM’S SPREAD
The Byzantine and Persian empires were weak and vulnerable.
Islam bound the once separated tribes together. Coupled with their experience in warfare, this contributed to incredibly high asabiya.
Other people were ready to accept Islam, especially with its emphasis on having no clergy and focus on social justice.
Muslims were tolerant and protected their subjects. They did not force conversion and allowed others to continue with their own faith and laws provided they pay a tax (jizyah).
Muslims adopted existing systems of government and trade.
IV.B THE RISE OF ISLAM THE GOLDEN AGE OF ISLAM
THE GOLDEN AGE OF ISLAM The Umayyad and Abbasid periods are considered “The High Caliphate” where a politically strong, culturally vibrant, and economically wealthy system led to a “Golden Age” for Islam.
KEY RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENTS
During the Abbasid dynasty, the following emerged:
Ulama (“persons of right knowledge”) argued that Muslim law must be derived from the practices ( sunnah ) and sayings (hadith ) of the Prophet Muhammad, the Perfect Man.
Shariah law became the Muslim’s definitive guide for legal, social, commercial, political, ritual and moral concerns.
Sunni Islam was concretized, following three prinicples
The umma is a theocracy, ruled by shariah law
The caliph is charged with administering the ummah and protecting the Dar al-Islam.
A person who professes the shahadah is a Muslim, and those who commit a mortal sin is excluded from the ummah.
FLOWERING OF ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION
Note these three things as you watch:
What is the significance of Baghdad?
How did the House of Wisdom bring people together?
What were some of the achievements in Baghdad?
IV.C THE RISE OF ISLAM FRAGMENTATION AND CONSOLIDATION
DECLINE OF THE EMPIRE
In the final years of the Abbasid, the caliphate weakened as power devolved to local leaders such as the amir and religious authorities such as the ulama .
One can argue that Islam has a historical tendency to be fragmented (as opposed to China which had a tendency towards unification).
Islam is egalitarian; the Quran never really talks about centralized authority.
Muslims were an inherently mercantile people. Trade and commerce would flourish with or without the state.
CENTURIES OF TURMOIL The Muslim world was embroiled in a conflict with Christianity. From 1095 to 1291, the Holy Roman Empire fought to seize control of Jerusalem. In 1216, Genghis Khan leads the Mongols into Persia and Mesopotamia. By 1258, Baghdad is burned and looted.
THE LATER ISLAMIC EMPIRES
Between 1450 and 1650, Islamic culture and statecraft blossomed. Instead of one universal empire however, there emerged three, distinctively “Islamic” states.
Ottoman Empire in the Middle East
Safavid Empire in Iran
Mughal Empire in India
By 1700, Islamic civilization was as strong and vital as Europe, Ming China, and Tokugawa Japan.
OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1299 –1922)
SAFAVID EMPIRE (1501 – 1722)
MUGHAL EMPIRE (1526 – 1707)
HOW HISTORY BRIDGES PEOPLE We will be watching a clip of President Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world delivered last June 4. Observe how he uses history to express his respect for the Muslim world and reaffirm their common ties.
END OF THE PRESENTATION
OTHER PRESENTATIONS IN THE SS2 ASIAN STUDIES CIVILIZATION LECTURE SERIES