Arab bedouins burst out of the Arabian desert in 7th centuary AD. The Arabs were followers of the prophet Muhammad. They swept through the Holy Land and Mesopotamia, driving back the Byzatines and defeating the Persians in 637 AD. At the time most in the pople in th region wre Christians and Zoroastrians. The Arabs set about spreading the Islamic faith, but allowed much more religious diversity than was the case of Christian Europe. Depite the overwealming military victories, the force of Islam was imerilde in 661 in a fight over sucession. It was at this time that the schism betweenthe Shiites and Sunis developed. The beoudins Arabs by the 8h century had acquired the civilization of the people they conquured. They founded a new capital at
Bagdad in 762. This was the golden age of Islam. While Christian Europe after the fall of Rome descended into a dark age, there was an outpouring of learing and culture in the Islamic world. Baghdad in particular became a renowned center for learning, including science, mathematics, philosophy and literature--especially poetry. Aran rule extended west to Spain. Only gradually did Spanish Christians begin the reconuest in Spain. For centuries the major contacy beten the Islamic Arabs and Christian Europeans was in Spain. Crusaders launched efforts to retake the Holy Land, bringing Europe in contact with the advanced civilization of the Arabs. These contact were to fuel the revival of learning in Europe. The Mongols swept out of trackless plains of central Asia to destroy Bagdad and massacre its people in 1258. The leading figure in the Arab world, the Caliph was executed. Bagdad and the civilization of the Arabs was devestated. Never again would Arab civilization be such a center of earning and enlightenment. Gradually the Otomon Turks became the dominate power in the Islmic world. The Ottomons presed on the Byzatines, taking Constanople in 1453. They then conquered the Balkans, driving deep into Europe, only beeing stopped at the gates of Vienna. The Ottomons conquered Mesopotamia in 1533, ruled until 1918 when th British with hhelp of T.H. Lawrence and the Arab Army expelled them from the Holy Land in the west and Mesopotmia in the east. The role of Islam in the modern world is a subject of increasing sebate. Many think that Wahabism and Ben-Laiden fundamentalist terrorism is an aberation. Others express concern that their are findamental contridictions between Islam and the West over fundamental concepts such as peace, democracy, and market economics.
Historians believe that settlement of the Fertle Cressent creaetd by the Tigris Euphrates Rivers began about 7000 BC. Several important civilizations developed in the Fertile Cressent. The generic name for the cultures of Fertile Cresent is Mesopotamia. The first major civilization was the Sumerians who devloped a loose coaltion of independent city states. Their civilization was concentrated in the marshy south where a thriving civilization emerged about 3500 BC. Summerians developed the pottery wheel from which they mad clay untensils. They also developed an early lunar calendar and advanced mathematics. An inovative irrigation system permitted the first intesive cultivation of the Tigris Euphrates. The Summerians also developed the first primitive writing, cuniform writing first used for commercial records, but evolving into literature such as poetry. The Summerians with their advanced agricuture were able to support the first first urban centers. The first city appears to be Ur. It apparent was fom Ur that Biblical Patiarch left to find Canaan. The Amorite King Hammurabi unified the Sumerian city states. He is know or enacting the fist written legal code. The Amorites and other war-like people from the hearding socities of the north blended blended with agraian Sumerian civilization. Babylon developed as the most important city of the region. Babylon was destroyed by the Assyrians, another war-like northern peolpe, in 669 BC. Nebuhadnezzar II rebuilt Babylon as the worlds most beautiful and advanced city. It was the sit of the Hanging Gardens and Tower of Babel. Babylon was conuered by Alexader the Great in 331 BC who set out to Hllanize it. The Persians after defeating Roman armies led by Anthony, conquered Mesopotamia in 64 AD.
Mohammed was born in some time around 570 AD. Mohammed grew up in a trading community and was influenced by the many religious traditions of the Middle East. He came to see himself as God's final prophet. The Arabian Peninsula at the time was racked by warring tribes. Mohammed's familt belonged to the Fihr or Quarish/Koreish tribe. This was the dominant tribe in the southern Hijas (Hedjaz) around Mecca. Even before the advent of Islam, Mecca was the both the major religious and commercial center in the Arabian peninsula. The Fihr acquired considerable prestige from their role as gardians of the Kaaba in Mecca. The Kaaba even before Islam was an object of reverance among the Arab tribes who visited Mecca in annual pilgrimages leaving offerings and tributes. Mohammed married Khadija who was a wealthy widow. Mohammed had religious vissions which were set down in theHoly Koran. He tried to convert his tribe in Mecca, but was rejected. Two exceptions were Ali, his son-in-law who married his daughter Fatima, and Abu Bakr. When the people in Mecca tried to kill him, he fled to Medina (622 AD), This is known as the Hegira. Islam bases its calendar on the Hegira. Safe in Medina, Mohammed created a theocraric state based on Islam. War with Mecca followed until Mohammed returned in triumph (630 AD). The prestige of the Fihr was important to Mohammed when he began his religious reform and political effort which led tp the conquest of the Arabian Pm=ninsula and the joining of the various tribes into a single Arab nation with a common religion and legal code a common sacred sanctuary. As an older man Mohammed acuired additional wives, including Ayesha.
The Arabs were a little-known bedouin people from the Arabian Peninsula. For centuries they busied themselves with fraticidal wars and raids. Without much water, there was little agriculture. The Arabian economy was based on trade and raiding. Ourside religions had made some inroads into the native Animism. The Prohet Muhammed provided a religious system that for the time included many advanced themes. In particular in ended fracticidal warfare. Rather the fighting spirit of the bedouin was directed outward. Beedouin warriors who fired with the relevations of the Prophet and the lure of booty burst into the settled lands of the Middle East (7th century AD). The result was one of the most rapid and significant military cazmpaigns in human history. The Arab lands today steach 5,000 miles from Iraq in the east west to Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean. The Arab world straddles two continents, Asia and Africa. The Arab lands have coasts on importan bodies of water, including: the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Arabs oversaw one of the great cultural flowerings of human history--the Caliphate. And for the time the Arabs were a rare island of tolerance and learning. Time has, however, passed the Arabs by. There was nothing in the Arab world resembling the Renaissance, Reformation, and Age of Reason in the West. The West tends to look forward. The Arabs in contrast are obsessed with tradition and looking back at the great achievements of the Caliphate. [Lamb] For the Arabs, if a concept isn't inshrined in the Holy oran or otherwise tied to tradition, it is suspect. Islam strongly encourages this outlook because as Arab and other Muslim readers have told us, the Holy Koran is just as relevant today as it was for Muhammed and the Arabs of the 7th century. The result today is a failed Arab society.
Islam is one of the great monothestic religions. The religion is set forth in the Koran which teaches that there is but one God and Muhammad is his prophet. The word is also used to descibe th civilization and countries in which the Islamic religion dominates. Islam for several centuries while Christian Europe fell into the dark ages and intolerance prevailed, Islam developed a rich often tolerant society which developed science, mathematics, literture, and art. Much of this was based on mjor precepts of the Koran. One of those precepts was tolerance for other civilizations and religions, especially people of the Book. Today many of these basic precepts of Islam are questioned by Fundamentalist Islamic scholars.
The Arabs swept through the Holy Land and Mesopotamia, driving back the Byzatines and defeating the Persians in 637 AD. At the time most in the pople in th region wre Christians and Zoroastrians. The Arabs set about spreading the Islamic faith, but allowed much more religious diversity than was the case of Christian Europe. Islam when the Arab conquet began developed approches for dealing with the "conquered peoples". The conquered peoples were "protected persons" only if they submitted to Islamic domination by a "Contract" (Dhimma), paid poll tax - jizya - and land tax - haraj - to their masters. Any failure to do so was the breach of contract, enabling the Muslims to kill or enslave them and confiscate their property. The cross could not be displayed in public and the people of the book had to wear special clothing or a belt. Their men were not allowed to marry Muslim women, their slaves had to be sold to a Muslim if they
converted and they were not allowed to carry weapons. They had to take in Muslim travelers, especially soldiers on a campaign. This took place after a decade when Muhammad was dead and when his second successor and son-in-law Umar announced these terms to conquered Christians.
The resulting inequality of rights in all domains between Muslims and dhimmis was geared to a steady erosion of the latter communities by attrition and conversion. While these provisions seem draconian, they were less rigorous at the time than the approaches taken when Christians conquered Islamic principalities.
Mohammad died (632). The political structure he left was personal rule centered on him. He was a giftd leader. Not only was he a talentd political and military commander, but he was the source of revelation, esentially a direct link to Allah. This is a hard to match combination. Thus for years as Aran rmies emerged fom the desert and conquered large reas, the hard decisions were made by Mohammad. And if he had trouble, he simply turnd to Allah.
Thus the new Islamic polity faced difficult issues when Mohammed died. From the beginning it was decided to seek revelation in the definitive Koran It would ve used a a kind of constitition and baic kgl code, the founation of Sahria. The immedite poblem was who would successd him as both a military and political figure. Mohammed established the precedent, a single leader who ruled with the authority of Allah. No one seems to have given any thought to secession before Mohammd did. Mohamme did not and such discussion may not have been viewed favorably by Mohammed. Mohammed despite his connection with Allah was nevered seen as imortal, but neither was there any planning for the future. The sucesion would be cobbled together by the Prophet's leading followers, but there were imprtant differences. And they would lead to major divisions that would plague the Islamic Ummah to this day. Mohammed's followers weres split among two groups. The Meccan (Muhajirun/Emigrants) followers had emigrated with him when he was driven from Mecca and took refuge in Medina (622). The Medinans (Ansar/Helpers) had then become followers. Family connections proved decisive. Finally Muhammad's father-in-law, Abu Bakr (632-34), was named khalifa (Successor). Abu Baker and his immediate sucessors are known as the Rashidun caliphs. They created a new combined religion and polity was formed--the caliphate. Abu Barker put down a rebellion and invaded Iraq but died before the military campaihns contined furher. Abu Bakr chose Omar/'Umaribn Khattab, to succed him and managed to convince Mohammads major followers to accept his judgement. Omar (634-44) the secon caliph is one of the graet leaders of history, but his sometimes lost in the focus on Mohammed. His military and political genius played a key role even while Mohammed was still alive.
Omar as Caliph continued the aggesive campaign of conquests begun by Abu Bakr. He conquered Persia, drove north into Syria and Byzantine territory and west into Egypt. Islamic armies led by Abu Bakar had brought all of Mesopotamia and most of Syria and Palestine under the say of the new Caliphate. Omar drove into Egypt (642) and then conquere the Persian Empire (643). This was a political earhquate. Islamic armies had defeated well armed and trained armies and conquered some of the richest lands in the known world. Omar not only played a key role in thee conquests, but began to construct the political structure of the Caliphate. Omar did not demand conversion to Islam nor did he try to centralize rule ascthe Byzantines and Persians had done. Under the Caliphate, the conquered peoples to retain their religion, language, customs, and government with only limited interference and a payment of tribute. The new populations were to be overseen by a governor (amir) and financial officer (amil or agent). Omar was especially focused
on the financial structure of the new Caliphate. many Muslims consider this the golden age of pure Islam.
Omar was killed by Piruz Nahavandi, a Persian. The next caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (644-56) was elected by a council of Islamic electors (Majlis). Uthman was killed by members of a disaffected group. It is then that Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (656-61), returning the Caliphate to rule by Mohammed's family. Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet. Ali was, howver, not universally accepted as caliph. The governors of Egypt and then some of his own guard resisted. He thus faced two major rebellions and was eventually assassinated by Abdl-alRahman, a Kharijite (661). . Ali's rule was tumultuous and dominated by internal rebellion. Muslim scholars refer to it as Fitna (first Islamic civil war). Depite the overwealming military victories of Aran armies, the force of Islam was rocked by the dispute over the succession (661). It was at this time that the schism between the Shiites and Sunis developed. The followers of Ali would evolve ino the Shi'a (shiaat Ali/partisans of Ali) a minority sect of Islam. They reject the legitimacy of the first three caliphs. The Rashidun Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali founded the majority Sunni sect. The Arabs both city dwellers and bedouins by the 8th century had acquired the civilization of the people they conqured adding an Islamic overlay and Arab traditions. They founded a new capital at Bagdad (762). Thuis became a bustling center of world commerce and culture at a time that civilization of the West was mired in the Dark Ages. The Abbasid Caliphate is seen as the golden age of Islam--the pinnacle of Arab culture. While Christian Europe after the fall of Rome descended into a dark age, there was an outpouring of learing and culture in the Islamic world. Baghdad in particular became a renowned center for learning, including science, mathematics, philosophy and literature--especially poetry. An important part of Arab learming was all the ancient texts. Jews played an importnt role as translators. Compated to the Christian West, the Caliphate was notble for its toleration of religious divesitgy. Renounded universities, libraries, and public baths were built at Bagdad. The Caliphiate was seized by the Seljuk Turks (1055).
Arab rule extended west to Spain. A Moorish or Saracen army crossed the Straits of Gibraltar from North Aftrica (711). The Moorish army consisted of Moslems of varying origins. The Moorish
army was predominately Arabs, but included Berbers, Syrians, and others). The Moors at the Battle of Río Barbate defeated the forces of Roderick, the last Visogothic king (July 19, 711). The Moors moved through the Toulouse Kingdom destroying ant armed resistance and over the space of a few years totally
dominated the Peninsula. They then crossed the Pyranees amd moved into southern France. There they were defeated by tyhe Frankish leader Charles Martel at the
Battle of Poitiers (732). The Moors moved back accross the Pyraneees and never again seriously threatened France. Only gradually did Spanish Christians begin the Reconquista. For centuries the major contact between the Islamic Arabs and Christian Europeans was in Spain.
The Seljuk were an Islanicized Turkish people who constructed a vast military state that filled the power vzcume left by the decline of the Caliphate duting the medievel era. The Seljuks began as one of countless tribes practicing animistic religions on the vast Eurasian Steppe. They were an unexceptional Turkish people from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. Seljuk culture as we now know it dates to about 950. At this time the leader, Seljuk, broke from the Oghuz and settled south of the Aral Sea in what is now modern Turkmenistan brining the Seljuks in contact with Persia. They had already come in contact with Islamicized cities and Seljuk converted himself and his tribe to Islam. His heirs conyinue to expand and evolved into a kingdom and eventually a mighty empire. The Sekjuk Empire came to encompass some 1 million square miles extending from the Aral Sea to the Mediterranean across what is modern Turkey, the Middle East, and large areas of Western Asia. The Seljuk Empire was a major power for two centuries (1037-1194). This was at a crucial time in history. Western Crusaders marched east. Eastern armies marched west. The Caliphate was no longer a military power. The Seljuks thus became the first important Islamic powers to resist the Crusaders. They would also face have to face the Mongols. The power center became Anatolia, but the Seljuks enter the Middle East through Persia. As a result they were heavily influenced by the rich Persian culture. They rapidly became a Persiante society. They adopted the Persian culture and used the Persian language as the official language of state. They played an critical part in the the development of the Turko-Persian tradition which was essentially Persian culture patronized by Turkic rulers. And their military victory over the Byzantines opened the way for the Turkanization of Anatolia.
Christian pilgrims after the Arab conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries had to travel through Islamic lands to venerate the great shrines in Jeruselum and other Biblical sites in the Holy Land. In addition the Ottoman Turks were increasingly encroaching on the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. The Turks apparently preyed upon
Christian pilgrims. Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus, perhaps concerned about the plight of the pilgrims, more likely seeking allies against the Turks, wrote to a friend Robert, the Count of Flanders, in 1093. He recounted the alegeded atrocities inflicted on the pilgrims by the Turks. Count Robert forwarded Comnenus' letter
to Pope Urban II. Pope Urban like Emperor Comnenus perhaps concerbed about Christian pilgrims, more likely seeing a political opportunity, decided to promote a military crusade to seize the Holy Land from the infidel Turks. European Christians at the time were locked in intractable dynastic wars in England, France, Italy, and other domains, destabilizing large areas of Europe. The Pope sought to redirect the fighting to an infidel adversary. Pope Urban's crusade, the First Crusade, was launched in 1095. The Crusaders effort to retake the Holy Land, brought Europe in contact with the advanced civilization of the Arabs. These contact were to fuel the revival of learning in Europe.
The Mongols played an enormously important role in world history. Although a relatively small population, the Mongols established the most extensive empire in histoiry, streaching from Korea to Eastern Europe. Only the Japanese suceessfully defied the Mongols. The Mongols swept out of trackless plains of central into Mesopotamia. Hulagu Khan sacked Bagdad and massacred its people in 1258. The leading figure in the Arab world, the Caliph was executed. The Mongols destroyed the irrigation system that supported the rich harvests in the Tigris Eurphrates Valley. Mesopotamia became a barren, arid plain. Bagdad and the civilization of the Arabs was devestated. Never again would Arab civilization be a great world center of earning and enlightenment.
Persia emerged as an important cultural center in the ancient world. Formidable mountins created a natutral fortress which aided Persians to build a destinct cultural identity in relative security, although major conquests added to the cultural mix. Alexander was the first conqueror (4th century BC). In modern modern times the Arabs invaded as imposed Islam (7th century). Than the Turks (10th century), and the Mongols (13th to 15th centuries). Modern Persian history begins with overthrow of Mongol control. We do not yet have information on Persian history after the Mongols. We do have some Persian images with depictions of clothing. Unlike much of Islam, Persia apparently permitted human depictions.
Gradually the Otomon Turks became the dominate power in the Islamic world. The Ottomons presed on the Byzatines, taking Constanople in 1453. They then conquered the Balkans, driving deep into Europe, only beeing stopped at the gates of Vienna. The Ottoman Turks in 1453 seized Constantinople and by 1460 controlled most of Greece. Thousands of Greeks went into exile in Christain Europe and had an important influence on the European Renaissance. The Ottomons conquered Mesopotamia in 1533. For the next three centuries, the regional Christan powers (Venice, Austria, and Russia) warred intermitently with the Turks and Greece changed hands several times.
The Ottoman Turks had controlled the Arabs and the Middle East for four centuries. Sharif Husayn encouraged by his correspondence with the British launched the famed Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire (June 5, 1916). Husayn declared himself "King of the Arabs" (October 1916). The Arab revolt in the Hejaz broke out, surprising the Ottomans (June 5, 1916). British and French agents played a major role in inducung the Arab rising. The Arabs, however, had no real idea as how to fight the Ottomans. The were also deeply divided by tribes which made any united action dufficult. The Arab Revolt was led chiefly by Col. T.E. Lawrence, Emir Faisal, and his father Sherif Hussein, "King of the Hejaz". The first major success was tsking the Ottoman garison at Aqaba. The Arab Revolt broke out in full force (January-September 1918). Conducted by guerrelia tactics conceived by Col. Lawrence Lawrence himself is a man of legend. He was a junior inteligence officer stationed in Egypt with the British Army. He had an academic background, hardly a person one would except to launch an important guerilla war. When weeks of arriving in Arabia, however, he helped the Arabs seize Aquaba whivh the Brirish thought was inpregnable and then launch the successful military operations of the Arab revolt. Lawrence helped knit together poorly armed, often hostile desert tribes and wage war against their well-armed Turkish overlords. They began blowing up trains in hit and run ttacks that the Turks were unable to defend against. The attraction for the Arab warrirs was largely the booty to be obtained in the attacks and not forging an Arab state. This was the vision of Sharif Husayn and Emir Faisal, along with Lawrence. [Schneider] The Arabs in a year largely took control of Arabia cutting rail lines. Isolated Ottoman garrisons were besieged throughout the Peninsula. The Ottomans hard pressed by the British in Palestine were unable to deal with the Arab Revolt. The War then moved to Palestine as the the British pressed their attack from Egypt.
Millions of Christians from Spain, Egypt, Syria, Greece, And Armenia; Latins and Slavs from southern and central Europe, henceforth lived under the shari'a. Christian majorities survived in most of the Balkans under thge Ottomans. This appears to have changed in modern times. What has happened to Christian majorities in the Middle East, North Africa, Bosnia and Kosovo, has happened to the Hindus. Pakistan had over 25 percent Hindus, now only 1.5 percent remained. If you are not a Muslim and living in an Islamic country now, you are sub servant to the Muslims.
The Arab States responded to the creation of the UN-mandated Jewish State of Israel with a joint invasion (May 1948). Each of the neigboring Arab states had armies with modern weapons although the training was uneven. The neigboring Arabs states (Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt) invaded to destroy the new Jewish state. The invasion force included five regular Arab armies along with armed Palestinians, and armed Arab volunteers (including Moslem Brotherhood elements). One of the participants was the Cairo-born and educated engineering student, Yasser Arafat. He was 19 years old and young Leiutenant in the Egyptian Army. He fought on the Sinai front. Palestenian Arab irregulars attack Jewish settlements. Here the Arabs targeted both the Jewish fighters and non-conbatants. Few thought the Jews could prevail. The Haganah was not a modern army and the British had prevented then from acquiring weapons. The Haganah had only a small number of rifles (of a myriad of types and caliburs), few heavy weapons, and no tanks. About 4,000 foreign volunteers join the Isrealis. The Jews proved to be a more formidable force than the Arabs had anticipated. Somehow the Israelis with a hodgepoge of weapons fought off the invading Arab armies. A Jewish Kibutz, Yod Mordichai stoped the entire Egyptian army for 5 days while the Isrealis organized the defense of Telaviv. The most professional military proved to be the British-trained Jordanian army--the Arab Legion. The Isrealis and Jordanians fought each other to a srandstill in Jeruselum. A series of truces failed to stop the fighting. Atrocities were reported on both sides. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire finally ended the war (1949). One of the countroversies resulting from the War was the Palestinian Arab refugees. Some fled Palestine because of both the fighting and Jewish attacks like that Deir Yassin village near Jerusalem. It is unclear to what extent the Arab refugees resulted from this or the fact that the Arabs called on the Arab Palestinians to evacuate Palestine. The idea was to create a "free-fire zone" in which Jews could better be targeted. This was the genisis of the Paestinian refugee problem.
Primarily because of American support for Israel, America in the eyes of many Arabs has been precieved as hostile. American support for Arab government which are mostly undemocratic has also angered many Arabs. The Fundamentalists charge that America is an evil society that has launched a war on the Arabs. Fundamentalits widen their appeal now charge that America has launched a war on Islam itself. In fact America has consistently acted to prevent starvation and mass murder of Islamic people. Some of these countrie are oil rich and others are impoverished countries of no real ecomnomic importance. The countries include: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia. America has often been accused of making war for oil. In fact in all of these countries, only Kuwait has important oil resources. And in Kuwait only Sadam seized the oil fields. After liberation, control of the oil fields immeiately returned to Kuwati control. There are Islamic scholars who dispute the Fundamentalits. Some even maintain that America is more Islamic (just and tolerant) than fundamntalist states like the Taliaban in Afghanistan.
The role of Islam in the modern world is a subject of increasing debate. Many think that Wahabism and Ben-Laiden fundamentalist terrorism is an aberation. Others express concern that their are findamental contridictions between Islam and the West over fundamental concepts such as peace, democracy, and market economics. Today many of these basic precepts of Islam are questioned by Fundamentalist Islamic scholars. One of the principal features of fundamentalist regims is intolerance to diversity. Not only do fundamentalists reject toleration of other religious faiths, but they are intolerant of other Muslims who differ from their narrow sectarian traditon. This was the casof the Taliban in Afghanistan and Reolutionary Iran. This extends to more than just religion as the Pastuns who dominated the Taliban brutally supressed other ethnic groups in the country.
Lamb, David. The Arabs: Journey's Beyond the Mirage .
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