Arabia before Muhammad
Bedouins (Arab nomads) organized in tribes
Ruled by Sheikh selected by council of elders, the majlis.
Money from sheepherding or raiding caravans
Until domestication of camel in 2nd millennium B.C
Then participated in caravan trade from Persian Gulf to Mediterranean
Religion: polytheistic with supreme god, Allah, no priests, natural spirits
Supreme deity symbolized by a sacred stone,
Housed in Ka’aba, Mecca.
Roman Byzantines and Persian Sassanians
Born in Mecca 570 to merchant family
Member of Quraish tribe (Bani Hashim or "Hashemite' clan)
Married a widow, Khadija, who hired him to manage her caravan trade business
Allah and Islam
Visited by angel Gabriel who brought him messages from God (Allah)
"Islam" = "submission" to the will of Allah
Muhammad is considered the "last Prophet" of God after Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other Prophets.
Muhammad recites the messages from God to his followers (later written down as the Quran)
Move to Medina 622
Called the "Hijrah: or "Hegira"
Muslims fled persecution in Mecca by going to Medina (then called Yathrib)
The date of the flight became the first day in the Muslim calendar (calendar was Lunar, not solar)
In Medina, the Jewish and Muslim tribes sign a constitution.
Return to Mecca 630
Muhammad enters the Ka'aba and smashes more than 300 idols and declares it a sacred shrine to God.
Muhammad dies two years late.
Four “Rightly Guided Caliphs” (Rashidun)
After Muhammad's death
Elders decided on successor to lead Muslims (Muhammad was the only Prophet)
Abu Bakr (632-623)
Consolidated Islam in Arabia
Egypt (642), Persian Empire (643)
Uthman (644, assassinated 656)
Ali (656, assassinated 661)
First was Mu’awiya (passed to son Yazid)
Ali’s son Hussein rose up 680, killed
Spain (see below)
Attacked Byzantines but defeated by Greek fire.
Overtaken by Abbasids (Abd al Abbas)
One survivor Abd al-Rathman (see Spain below)
MUSLIMS IN SPAIN (Iberia, Andalusia)
Across Strait of Gibraltar (under Tariq)
Visigoth king already weak
Battle of Tours (Poitiers) defeated by Charles Martel (732)
Umayyads (Abd al-Rathman) in spain 750
Caliphate of Cordoba
Founded by Abd al Abbas
Greatest caliph (golden age) was Harun al Rashid (786-809)
Son Ma’mum (813-833) was great patron of learning
Paper from China
Caliphs more like kings than spiritual leaders
Hereditary autocrat with bureaucracy (council diwan), prime minister vizier.
Luxury, sex, drinking, non-Arabs in key positions in army and administration
Tigris and Euphrates silt up, food shortages
Fragmentation of empire
Egypt 970 Shi’a dynasty – Fatimids (capital Cairo)
Holding Islamic word together
Arabic and Quran
SELJUK TURKS (1055-1258)
Turks who converted to Islam from Central Asia
Were military mercenaries for Abbasid
1055 took Baghdad
Assumed title f Sultan
Abbasid caliph remained religious authority
1071 took Byzantine city of Manzikert
Byzantine empire turned to west for help
led to Crusades
Brought end to squabbles and revitalized Islamic law and political stability.
Resentment – Assassins
Byzantine emperor Alexius I asked for help from west against Seljuk Turks
Muslims desecrating Christian shrines in Holy Land and molesting Christian pilgrims
1169 Muslims under Saladin
Vizier to last Fatimid caliph, brought end to Fatimid dynasty
Took Egypt and Syria, invade Jerusalem, allowed Christians to pray in holy sites.
Last Christians in Acre fell to Muslims 1291
From northern China
1258 under Hulagu Khan (brother of Khublai Khan)
Took Persia and Mesopotamia
Brought end to caliphate at Baghdad
Mongols went West, stopped at Egypt by Mamelukes (Turkish slaves)
Mongols assimilate, convert to Islam
Split into kingdoms then disintegrate
1453 Sultan Mehmet II seized Constantinople
End to Byzantine Empire
ISLAM IN A NUTSHELL
Quran/Koran (“recitation”): revelations from God, 114 suras
Ethical guidebook, code of law and political theory
Original Arabic (none of the diacritical marks), ambiguous and open to interpretation
Hadith: accounts of Muhammad’s life by followers
Allah (God) created everything.
Including Hell and paradise
Muhammad not divine
He was only a messenger/prophet like Abraham, Moses, Jesus before him.
God had sent down same message to earlier Prophets
Muslim message was the purest because compiled soon after Muhammad's death and not changed since then (Quran is original book)
"People of the Book" = Jews and Christians (who receive God's message before Muhammad)
Five Pillars of Islam
Declaration of Faith -- Belief in Allah and Muhammad
Prayer -- 5 times toward Mecca. Friday public prayer.
Ramadan -- month of fasting dawn to sunset
Hajj -- pilgrimage to Mecca
Alms -- zakat to poor
Sharia (Islamic law)
After Muhammad’s death
Ulama – panel of Islamic scholars, drew up law code, Sharia
Based on Hadith and Quran
Up to four wives.
No gambling, no pork, no alcohol, no sex out of marriage, no contacts between unmarried men and women
“striving” in the way of the Lord
Struggle against evil within themselves or “holy war”
Spread of Islam
Drought on Arabian peninsula
Finding new converts
Extending trade routes
Ongoing conflict between Byzantine and Persian empires
Muslim warriors who died in battle became martyrs (to paradise)
Government left to local officials
Conversion to Islam voluntary (“no compulsion in religion”)
Non-Muslims paid head tax (jizya) and exempt from military
Lower tax than under Byzantines and Sassanids
All people equal in eyes of God
ABBASSID GOLDEN AGE
Patron of learning
Founded astronomical observatory
Foundation for translating Classical Greek words
Had conquered many o the richest provinces of the Roman Empire
And controlled routes to the east.
Introduced from China, then to N. Africa, and Europe
Crops from India and southeast Asia
Rice, sugar, sorghum, cotton
Caliphs more regal
Turbans of silk brocade etc.
Advisory council – diwan.
Prime minister – vizier
Caliph sat behind screen then communicated divine will to vizier.
Persian influence (Ma’mun’s mother)
Increased pomp and circumstance
Became international language
Persian and Turksih in administration and culture.
8th and 9th c. Greek, Syrian, Persian scientific and philosophical works translated into Arabic (to Europe)
Aristotle, Plato and other Greek philosophers translated into Arabic
Stored in “house of wisdom” in Baghdad
Eventually translated into Latin and brought to Europe
6th c. Justinian (Byzantine ruler) had shut down Platonic Academy in Athens (heretical ideas)
Many of the scholars fled to Baghdad with Classical texts
Then supplemented by books from Constantinople and Alexandria library.
Disseminated because of paper
Brought by Buddhist pilgrims from China on Silk road
Cheaper than papyrus.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037)
Philosophical writing cited Aristotle
World operated not only at will of Allah but also by own natural laws that could be understood by human reason.
Islamic scholars adopted numerical system of India (including use of zero)
Called “Arabic numerals” replaced Roman numerals in Italy by 13th c.
9th c. Persian mathematician founded algebra (al-jabr, “the reduction”)
Observatory in Baghdad to study position of the stars
Aware that earth was round in 9th c.
Produced a world map based on tradition of Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy.
Aided by astrolabe
Instrument to enable sailors to track positions by means of the stars
Used to find qibla and prayer times
Muslim travelers: Ibn Battuta
Optics and chemistry
With help from anatomy books from Greek physician Galen
Developed medicine as distinctive field of scientific inquiry
Compiled a medical encyclopedia
That emphasized contagious nature of certain disease
Showed how could be spread by contaminated water supplies
Translated into Latin
Became basic medical textbook for medieval European university students.
But thought that reason could build a bridge to faith = ire of Muslim scholars
Classical works by Euclid, Ptolemy, Archimedes continued to be translated
The influence of Greek philosophy began to wane by end of 11th c.
ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Art is blend: Arab, Turkish, Persian traditions
Mathematics and astronomy
Rhythm and abstraction
Repetitive geometric ornamentation (called Arabesque)
Turks brought abstraction in figurative and nonfigurative designs
Persians poetic mysticism
Arabic culture favored memorization and the spoken word
Dome of the Rock 691
Jerusalem, Muhammad’s Holy Rock, touching Western Wall
Constructed on Byzantine lines
Octagonal shape and marble columns and ornamentation
Interior Persian motifs (Mosaics of precious stones)
Rebuilt several times
Desert Arabs prayed in open courts
shaded along the qibla by thatched roof and rows of palm trunks
Ditch where faithful could wash
Enormous mosques modeled on open court
pillar supporting wooden roof over prayer area facing qibla wall
Great Mosque of Samarra (848-852)
Largest mosque: 10 acres, 464 pillars in aisles surrounding the court
Set in qibla wall was niche (mihrab) panel to Mecca
156-foot tall minaret
Tower from where the muezzin calls faithful to prayer 5 times.
Mosque in Cordoba in southern Spain
514 columns supporting double horseshoe arches
Holes for boiling oil could be poured down heads of attacking forces.
Alhambra Spain palace 14th c.
Courtyards, rooms, gardens and fountains
Above city of Granada
Floral and semiabstract patterns.
Lion Court in center of harem, with lion fountain and arcade of columns and carvings.
Women spun and wove cloth
Rugs to insulate stone palaces against cold
Bedouins rugs to cover sandy floors
Arabic script, natural plant and figurative motifs
Arabesque – semiabstract geometrical patterns
Representations of Muhammad discourage (not in quran)
Hadith warned agsaint any attempt to imitate God through arsstistic creation or idolatry.
Interpreted as outright ban on any such depictions
Okay in secular art