January 28, 2020
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Chapter 7 Lecture Ferment in the Middle East The Rise of Islam and its Impact in the Region

[Matt Witt speaking] The Muslims I’ve had the
opportunity to meet are very interesting people,
and again, as we study any religion, I just wanna begin by saying this is all about
learning to appreciate a religion, not to debate it
per se and so I wanna do the best I can to teach it as a
historian, and in an objective manner, and this is
an exciting one for me too, especially considering the times that we live in,
and the political, social things that we’re going
through. So, as we begin, of course, we’re talking about the
Middle East because this is where Islam began,
around two cities known as Mecca and Medina. [Female voice]
>>Chapter Seven: Ferment in the Middle East the
Rise of Islam After the collapse of Roman power in the west, the
eastern Roman empire, centered on
Constantinople, continued in the eastern Mediterranean, and
eventually emerged as the unique Christian
civilization, known as the Byzantine empire, which flourished
for hundreds of years. One of the greatest challenges to the Byzantine
empire however, came from a new force, Islam,
that blossomed in the Arabian peninsula, and spread rapidly throughout the Middle East. In
the eyes of some Europeans during the middle
ages, the Arab empire was a malevolent force, that posed a serious threat to the security of
Christianity. Their fears were not entirely
misplaced, for within a century after the death of Islam’s
founder, Mohammed; Arab armys overran
Christian states and North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, and Turkish Muslims
moved eastward onto the fringes of the Indian
subcontinent, but although the teachings of Mohammed brought
war an conquest to much of the known world, they
also brought hope, and a sense of political and economic stability to peoples throughout the
region, thus for many people in the medieval
Mediterranean world, the arrival of Islam was a welcome event. Islam
brought a code of law, and a written language to
societies that had previously lacked them. Finally, by creating a revitalized trade network,
stretching from West Africa to East Asia, it
established a vehicle, for the exchange of technology and ideas, that
brought untold wealth to thousands, and a better
life to millions. Like other empires in the region, the Arab empire
did not last. It fell victim to a combination of internal
and external pressures, and by the end of the 13th century, it was no more than a memory.
But it left a powerful legacy in Islam, which remains
one of the great religions of the world. In succeeding centuries, Islam began to penetrate
into new areas beyond the edge of the Sahara,
and across the Indian Ocean, and to the islands of the Indonesian archipelago. (Music plays softly)
[Male voice]>>Islam is a religion practiced by
more than a billion people worldwide. The word Islam means, submission to God, in
Arabic. A person who practices Islam, is called a Muslim,
which means, one who submits. Its the second largest religion after Christianity,
and the fastest growing religion in the world. About
four million Muslims live in the United States. Islam got it’s start 1400 years ago, with one man,
the Prophet Mohammed. In the year 610, Muḥammad ibn `Abd Allāh, was a
40 year old merchant in the ancient city of Mecca,
in what is today, Saudi Arabia. Muḥammad had a divine revelation, that he was
one in the great line of prophets, stretching back
from Jesus, to Abraham. Allah, which is the Arabic name for god, told
Muḥammad, that he must spread god’s word to all
of humanity. Mohammed based his sermons on his divine
revelations. As he preached around Mecca, he spoke out
against corruption, and society, and how the rich
were neglecting the poor. Threatened by his teachings, the powers that be in
Mecca, forced Muḥammad into exile in 622. For the next decade, Muḥammad continued
preaching in the city of Medina, and amassed
thousands of followers. When he marched on Mecca, in 630, the city fell
without a fight, and Mecca has been the spiritual
home of Islam, ever since. The Quran is the Islamic holy book. Written in
Arabic, it is said to be the divine word of god,
passed directly to Muḥammad. Mohammed did not write down the Quran himself.
Some of it may have been dictated during his
lifetime, but much remains scattered in written fragments
and in the memory of his followers after his death. After Mohammed’s death, followers of Islam
forged a vast empire, that extended from Spain
and North Africa, to Southeast Asia. Islam spread widely, because muslims everywhere
belonged to the same community of believers, all worshiping the same god, and reading the
same holy book, in the same language; regardless of what country they lived in, or what
their native language was. The building for worship used by muslims, is the
mosque. Mosques are designed after Muhammad’s home
in Medina, which had a surrounding courtyard, and
columned hall. They’re often decorated with geometric floral
designs, and elaborate patterns. These designs
are used, because Islam forbids imitating god’s work, by
imitating living creatures in religious art. (Drums softly tapping)
(Male voice singing in Arabic) Five times a day, a cry echoes through muslim
communities. It’s the muezzin, the holy crier, calling
all muslims to pray. Everywhere in the world, muslims stop, and kneel
in the direction of Mecca, and recite prayers to
Allah, five times a day; at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. This ritual has been part of muslim daily life, since
the 7th century. Muslims follow the five pillars of
Islam. They define duties that must be performed;
declaring one’s faith, ritual prayer, charity, spiritual
discipline and fasting, and pilgrimage. The Quran’s 114 chapters, or surahs, also include
teachings on basic human rights, and tolerance for
other religions. In some Islamic cultures it’s common for women to
wear veils, but women can also share many of the
same responsibilities, and rights, as men. Some practices of Islam, such as taking more than
one wife, are observed by very few modern
Muslims. Today, fewer than a fifth of the muslims in the world
are Arabs. Followers of Islam, can now be found
around the globe, and it all began in the deserts of the Arabian
peninsula, 1400 years ago [Female voice]
>>Did you know, Ramadan is the ninth month of
the Muslim lunar calendar year? It commemorates the first revelation of the Quran. During this period, Muslims fast from sunrise to
sunset, and dedicate themselves to prayer and
contemplation. The last day of Ramadan is celebrated by a day of
feasting. [Matt Witt speaking]
>>Okay, so lets begin by talking about the
geography, and culture, of the Middle East, at the time of Muhammad. So, first off, the Middle
East is called the Middle East because it’s a
crossroads between three main continents; Africa, Asia, and Europe; and so as such, the
cultures of the Arabian peninsula were in constant
contact with one another. Southways… southwest Asia, which really the
Middle East is a part of Asia; we just call it the
Middle East. As I said it’s this crossroads between these three
major continents, as such a lot of people pass
through this area, and as such it’s been an area of constant conflict,
trade, and yet times of prosperity. The very first empires we looked at were in
Mesopotamia, this very area that we’re looking at
today. So, the Arabian peninsula at it’s longest and
widest point, is 12,000 miles, but only a narrow strip of it is arable, meaning that
we can grow crops there, and the remainder of the
land is desert, and so as such, the main people living in this area
are nomadic, herders, pastoralists, meaning that
they keep animals, often sheep or goats. On this desert, the Arab nomads called Bedouins
were organized into tribes, family groups, or clans.
Nomadic people, as we’ve learned before, can’t typically exist in massive numbers, and so
they typically group themselves by families,
extended families, what we’d have called clans. Now the Bedouin ideals of courage, and loyalty to
family, along with their skills in war, would become
a part of the Islamic way of life. You know we’ll talk about the spread of Islam, and
the conquest, and just how effective these folks
were at fighting. Now the areas of more fertile soil had enough
water to support farming communities, which
again why we talk about the fertile crescent, and the rise of civilizations there. By the early 600s
many Arabs had chosen to settle either in an oasis
or market town. and as I said, this is a crossroads of trade and
ideas; these towns connecting these major
continents. Trade routes from Arabia ran from the extreme
south of the peninsula, to the Persian empires in
the north. So, spices and incense, common sources of
trade, and as the silk road developed, then these
folks existed as middlemen as well. Speaking of trade routes, during certain holy
months, caravans often stopped in Mecca, this is a
city in western Arabia, in fact we can find it right around here, excuse me,
just below Medina, right here, and so, as caravans,
meaning business trade trains, if you will, just a lot of horses or camels traveling together for
safety, when they would stop, they’d often bring
with them religious pilgrams, who came to worship at an ancient shrine called
the Kaaba. Now the Arabs associated this with
the… with Abraham. You see the Arabs claimed descendants from
Abraham. In fact, often traditionally they would refer
to themselves as the son of Abraham’s bastard child, which I’m struggling to remember
that name from the legend, but it’s traditionally
believed that’s where the Arabs came from. (unintelligble speaker)
[Matt Witt]>>Is it Ishmael? Yeah. Yeah, Ichabod,
was the guy that I was thinking of, but that’s somebody different. So, yeah, Ishmael.
Some people say that, some people say Esau, but again that’s just all tradition, but they still claim
that decendants of Abraham. Over the years these people were polytheists,
living in this area of Arabia, meaning they
worshiped many gods and idols. Now, the Kaaba contained over 360 idols, brought
of course by many of these different tribes,
however there was a monotheistic tradition, among some of the Semitic peoples living there.
Of course, we know there were Jews living in this
area. And the Arabic word for god is Allah. Now this can
be confusing to some. Some people say well they
worship Allah, we worship Jehovah, or Jehovah-Lyceum, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-
whatever Hebrew word you wanna use for the
Judeo-Christian god, when in fact, they’re referring to the exact same god, the god of
Abraham, the god of Issac, the god of Jacob, so
that’s again, a common misconception. So many Jews and Christians lived there, and
practiced Monotheism, so it was into this cultural
environment, that Muhammad was born. Now, Muhammad was born into the clan of a
powerful Meccan family, meaning someone from
Mecca. He was orphaned at the age of 6, and raised by
his grandfather, and uncle. Now he received very
little, formal schooling, and began working in the caravan trades as a very
young man. Now, at 25 he became somewhat
wealthy and prosperous, and managed to actually marry-up, and married a
very wealthy business woman named Khadija. Later, after they got married, they had a very good
business partnership, a very good marriage- for all
we know. Muhammad took great interest in religion,and
often spent time alone in prayer and meditation.
He was frequently going off to the desert. At about age 40, he claimed, to have had this
experience, where a voice called to him when he
was meditating in a cave outside of Mecca. Now, according to Muslim tradition, this voice was
the voice of the angel, Gabriel, who makes
frequent reference in the New Testament. The same angel that appeared to Jesus. The
same angel that, you know, they make mention of
throughout the Old Testament. The Muslims believe it was that same angel, who
told Muhammad, that he was a messenger of
Allah. To quote the Quran, he says, “What shall I
proclaim? and the voice answered, “Proclaim in
the name of the Lord, and cherisher, who created man out of a clot of congealed blood,
proclaim and thy Lord is most bountiful. He who taught the use of the pen, taught man that
which he knew not.” and that’s from the Quran. So, here’s a painting of this angel Gabriel, visiting
Muhammad. So after much soul searching, Muhammad came
to believe that the Lord who spoke to him, through
Gabriel, was Allah, himself. Again, the Arabic word for the god of Abraham, the
god of Jacob, the god of Issac. Muhammad became convinced that he was the
last of the prophets. he began to teach that Allah,
was the one and only god, and that all other gods must be abandoned. Now
here’s where he runs into conflict. As I said, there
was a long tradition of monotheism, but when this guy starts telling everybody to throw
away their idols, bad things happen. People who
agreed to this basic principle of Islam, were called Muslims. Now in Arabic, Islam, means
submission to the will of Allah. Islam means
submission. Just like to point that out. Muslim means one who has submitted. One who
has submitted to the will of Allah. So, technically all you have to do to be a Muslim, is
say there is only one god, and Muhammad is his
prophet, and bam you’re a Muslim. You’re in the club. Now by 613, Muhammad had
begun to preach publicly in Mecca, but he met with
some hostility. Now many Meccans believed his revoluntionary
ideas would lead him to, would lead to the neglect,
of all these gods. Now, one thing that I forgot to mention was, that
Mecca was a prosperous business hub in the idol
trade. Seriously. These guys were making a killing off of tourists
coming and buying idols, as they were passing
through, and it just so happened that the Kaaba was there;
this mysterious rock, that people believed fell from
heaven. so you have all these pilgrams traveling to see the
big rock, and there was quite a bit of… Guess
what? Souvenirs been sold. Now, when Muhammed starts preaching only one
god, this really upsets this whole trade business, and here’s where we get into our first drama
associated with the beginning of Islam. After some of Muhammad’s followers had been
attacked, Muhammad decided to leave Mecca in
622 A.D. Now he sent a small group of supporters ahead,
they moved to the town of Yathrib, around 200
miles to the North of Mecca. This became known as the Hegira. The Hegira to
Yathrib, this kind of religious journey, if you will, to
escape persecution, was A.) a real turning point in Muhammad’s life, but
B.) is also a part of the reason that the Hajj, is a part of the five pillars of faith in Islam, that all
Muslims at some point, must try to make a journey.
So, while in Yathrib, he attracted a large following. Muhammad was not just a religious leader, he was
very much a politician, if you will, had quite a few
followers, not unlike Moses in the desert. Now in Medina, Muhammad displayed impressive
leadership skills. He joined his people with the
Arabs and Jews in Medina, as a single community. As I said, he was their political leader, as well as
their religious leader, and he even became a very
effective general. Now when he returned to Mecca, he and 10,000 of
his followers; he returned with an army. In fact
10,000 warriors, well that’s quite a sizable force. I mean think of two towers, and all the orks outside
the castle, that’s 10,0000. So, the Meccans were pretty sure they were about
to get whipped, and they surrendered. The prophet entered the city, destroyed all the
idols, and Mecca became the most holy city in
Islam. Most Meccans pledged their loyalty to
Muhammad, and many converted to Islam. Now by doing this, they joined the Muslim
community. They refer to their community as the
Umma. Muhammad, died two years after this, in around
’62. However, more so than anybody, perhaps before
him, he had united the Arabian peninsula and the
semitic people’s in this area. So lets learn a little about the teachings of
Muhammad, primarily monotheistic, again Allah,
the only god, and they’re just referring to the same god that
Jews and Christians are. The main teaching of
Islam is that there’s this one god named, Allah. All of their beliefs and practices follow this
teaching. There is good and evil in Islam, and each
individual is responsible for their own actions, and that a true Muslim, again as I said, all you
gotta do to get in the club is say that, but a true Muslim will also carryout these five
duties, known as the five pillars of Islam. The first is faith, and that is the statement, there’s
only one god, Muhammad is the prophet, we’ve
gone over that. But the next is prayer, and this is a bit different than
maybe prayer that you’ve seen among other faiths,
or prayer in church, etc. Muslims will stop at five certain times of the day,
and they will face east, and they will pray. Now if I were a Muslim; I’m not, and suddenly it’s
5:20 and I have to stop, that’s not exactly how I’m
gonna do it. I would structure out my day, where at five
appropriate times, I would go. Now in Islamic
cultures, for example if you go to Istanbul, formally Constantinople, there will be a formal call
to prayer. You’ll hear some guy on a loud speaker,
and all Muslims will turn east at that point. So, it’s not necessary to do it that way. For
example, if we had a Muslim here at the college,
and we might, for all I know, that person may at the five points in a day, just go
and have some quiet time to himself, find a closet
or something like that, but again, prayer. Next is alms. Muhammad taught that all Muslims
have a responsibility to support the less fortunate. This means that they must give money to the poor,
if they are so able. Next is fasting. Now this is again specific to
Muslims. You wont find this in other faiths. Yes
ma’am? [female student] >>What’s the significance of
them turning to the east? Turning towards Mecca. So for us, it would be in
an eastern direction, so if you’re in China, I
suppose it would be west, it just, they will find out, which is neat, cause when we get into talking
about the Muslim calendar, and the Muslim
astronomers, these folks actually figured out the movement of
the planets and the stars quite well, because it’s
very important that they face Mecca. That’s a very significant thing for them. So, if I’m a
Muslim, in Transylvania County, I can point where
Mecca is. Now, there’s probably an app for that now, but
back then, they had to have a decent knowledge of
astronomy for this. We’ll get into that in just a moment. But, next is
fasting. This is during the month of Ramadan.
Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. So, if you’re watching the John Green videos, he
kinda makes a joke about that; how about during the long summer months, not so
good, during the short winter days, that’s a great
time to have Ramadan. But again, it depends on the movement of the
stars and planets, so these folks have to figure out
a decent amount about astronomy. Okay, and then finally, the Hajj, the pilgrimage to
Mecca. At some point in every Muslim’s life, they’re
gonna make this hajj. Now it’s not like god, in their faith, it’s not like they
go to hell if they don’t make the journey. They do, the Quran does give exception to people
who can not physically make the journey, either
due to extreme poverty, or illness, or whatever. So, there’s that. So this is, I just thought I’d, it’s a
neat picture. In fact if you look at arial photographs
of the kabba, you see it’s just a sea of people, and so this is at one of the five times in day, where
they’ve gone to pray. Because they believe that
standing before Allah places them on holy ground, they often even perform a ritual cleansing before
praying, and they remove their shoes. So just kinda funny side note, I’m assuming there’s
a big shoe store somewhere here, where they’re
all dumping their shoes, but they all remove their shoes. They all often carry
these mats with them, that they roll out, a prayer
mat; and then again they have to cleanse themselves
before they go to the mosque and pray. (wind blowing)
[male voice] (yelling)>>ODIN! ODIN! ODIN!
(boards creaking) [male 2]>>Down.
(ping shhhhhwooosh sound of arrow flying) [male 3] (whispers)>>What are you; what is that?
[male 2] (whispers)>>Be silent. [male voice] (yelling)>>ODIN!
(ping shhhhhwooosh)
(plunck of arrow hitting something) (music)
(quiet echo) land (horses neighing and clomping hooves)
(splashing water)
[male 2]>>Arab, speak what I draw. (horse neighs and grunts)
[male 3]>>There is only one god, and
Muhammad is his prophet. (music grows louder)
[male 2]>>Go. [Matt]>>… Viking bear scenes. I’m telling you it’s
an awesome movie though. So carrying out the five pillars of Islam ensures that
Muslims live their religion while serving in their
community. So, it’s very much a, you know, the love God, love
your neighbor, sort of ethic. It’s very much a
devoted religion, and plus an alteristic religion. Along with the five pillars there are also customs,
morals, and laws, in Islamic society that forbid
them from certain things. For example, believers are forbidden to eat pork,
or drink intoxicating beverages. In fact, there’s another scene in the movie where
they just had a battle, and the vikings hand the guy
a bunch of liquor, cause that’s what you do after you fight with a
sword, apparently, and he says, no I can’t drink. I’m
sorry. He says in fact, I can not drink the fermentation of
grapes, or certain things, and they said, no it’s
mead. It’s made from honey. So I guess that’s a loophole, but anyway, they are
not allowed to be intoxicated. Friday afternoons
are set aside for communal worship, and unlike many other religions, Islam has no
priest or central religious authority. Every Muslim is
expected to worship Allah directly, which is the whole drama of the Protestant
Reformation, that we’ll get into later with
Christianity, that the Catholic church insisted that a priest must
interceed for the believer, between man and God.
For the Muslim, it’s much simpler. Ok, every Muslim is expected to worship Allah
directly, however there are scholars, Muslim
scholars, called ummas, excuse me, Ulmas. The Ulamas, religious teachers, apply the words
and deeds of Muhammad to their everyday life. The original source of authority for Muslims, is
Allah. According to Islamic belief, Allah expressed his
will, through the angel Gabriel, who revealed it to
Muhammad. If I can simplify it, the most important book to a
Muslim is the Quran, in Arabic. If you are a Muslim, you’re gonna learn Arabic,
cause that’s the language it’s supposed to be. However, they’re also reading the old new
testament. Again, common misconception, yes Muslims do
read the old new testament of the Christian Bible. Now after Muhammad’s death, there were also
many things written down about him. Things that he
may or may not have said. There was also stories written down about his life. You know? There’s WWMDs, just like WWJDs, so
the what would Muhammad do? His example. Now his example is so important to a Muslim, that
it’s called the Sunnah, and is the model for proper
living. When trying to figure out how to live their life, a
Muslim will consult the Quran, but guess what, the
Quran doesn’t tell me what to eat for breakfast, It doesn’t tell me what to do every single day, and
so when in doubt, I’m going to consult
Muhammad’s life. And then finally the Quran, and the Sunnah, were
assembled into a body of law known as the
Shari’ah, and this system of law regulates family life, moral
conduct, business, community, etc… (loud jumbled sounds of crowd talking) [male voice]>>There are two main sects in the
religion of Islam. Ninety percent of all Muslims
belong to the group known as Sunnis. Most of the remaining 10% are Shi’ites. While
these two groups were both born during the very
earliest period of Islamic history, and share all of the basic beliefs of Islam, they
differ over the choice of caliph, or successor to
Muhammad, as leader of the Islamic community. The Sunnis believe that the honor should go to an
elected member of the tribe of Muhammad. The Shi’ites believe that the position is god given,
only to descendants of Muhammad. Since Muhammad had no sons that lived, Shi’ites
believe the lineage descends through his son-in-
law Ali. In addition to the two major sects, there are a
number of very small subgroups. Among these are Sufis, or Dervishes, the mystics
of Islam who originated in the first generation of
Muhammad’s followers. Another subgroup is the Black Muslims. The term
Black Muslim usually refers to the organization
called the World Community of Islam in the West, originally the nation of Islam headed by it’s
prophet, Elijah Muhammad. In the U.S. the Black Muslims are a sect which
combines the tenets of Islam with black
nationalism, the desire for a black homeland. While relatively small in number, they have focused
on education, economics, and political
aspirations, in the black community. The life of all Muslims, whether Sunni, or Shi’ite, is
governed by five main principles called the five
Pillars of Islam. The first pillar is expressed in the creed; there is
no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of
Allah. The second pillar of faith is prayer, which is
performed at five specified times each day, while
facing toward Mecca. The third pillar is alms giving. This consists of
supporting the poor of the community, giving to the
support of mosques, and for religious training. It is believed that these acts of generosity, purify
one’s personal wealth. The fourth pillar is the fast of Ramadan. During this month, which celebrates Muhammad’s
first revelation, the faithful do not eat from sunrise
to sunset, each day. The fifth pillar of faith is the Hajj, a pilgrimage to
the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, which only
Muslims can enter. (Man speaking loudly in Arabic)
(Crowd repeats his words) [male voice]>>It is very important for devout
Muslims to attempt to make the pilgrimage to
Mecca, at least once during their lifetime, no matter where
they live. Here they perform certain prescribed
rituals, such as wearing the pilgrims white, seamless
garment which symbolizes the equality of all
Muslims. While in Mecca, there is no visible difference
between Muslims from different nations, or from
different social, or economic groups. Their common religious purpose dissolves any
distinctions between them. They relate to each
other as equals. All seekers of god. [man 2]>>You feel you’re one of this whole world.
A world full of people there. There may be kings.
There may be professors. They are doctors, engineers, and ordinary people,
uneducated, illiterate, and they all have one
purpose there. To stand in front of god as one to one, one to one.
There’s nobody in between you and your god.>>The Kaaba, an ancient holy place which
Muhammad captured from Arab pagans, and
dedicated to Allah, is the holiest shrine of Islam. The Kaaba is draped in a sacred carpet, the
kiswa, which is renewed each year. Pilgrims walk seven times around the Kaaba, and
kiss the black stone mounted in it’s corner, as a
sign of their devotion. For Muslims there is no greater joy than to have
completed the hajj. This pilgrimage to Mecca is
considered to be their life’s most sacred duty. The five pillars of Islam give support to the lives of
the followers of Islam, and provide regular practices through which
religion becomes part of daily life. [Matt]>>…where we need to be, so, first lets talk
about after Muhammad died. So, when Muhammad was alive everybody was
happy, everybody was unified, apparently nobody
disagreed. I’m sure that’s not true, but, that’s the story we hear. Now Muhammad’s successor, Abu Bakr, had
promised the Muslim community that he would
uphold what Muhammad had stood for. Shortly after the prophet’s death, some tribes on
the Arabian peninsula abandoned Islam. Others refused to pay taxes, and a few individuals
even declared themselves prophets. So this is what happens when you get a lot of
people together. Some people don’t wanna follow what everybody
else has to do. Some people want to take charge. So, Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s successor, not unlike
Muhammad, immediately had political problems,
as well as religious problems to face. Abu Bakr, now here’s where we get into a
controversial word, invoked the word jihad. Jihad
means striving. Not to be confused with jihad, blowing myself up
with dynamite. Jihad is a word, really it’s a spiritual
word, a spiritual struggle, that is now been bastardized, and misconstrued,
so now we have the unfortunate things that are
going on in the world today. So it means, it can refer to the inner struggle
against evil. However, the word is also used in the
Quran to mean armed struggle against unbelievers and so again we get into these different usages of
the word. For the next two years, Abu Bakr applied the
meaning of jihad to encourage, and justify, the
expansion of Islam. So, from it’s very beginning, in fact, to the second
guy running the show, this word jihad, is being
used to justify the expansion. Not unlike manifest destiny in American History. If
you’re familiar with American history, how it’s the
manifest will of God, for America to take over this continent. Oh sorry
Native Americans. Similar, and so I’m not gonna try to justify these
practices. I’m just letting you know what happened. When Abu Bakr died in 634 AD, the Muslim state
controlled all of Arabia. Under Umar, the second caliph, Muslim armies
conquered Syria, and even into lower Egypt.
These are both still heavily Islamic states today. In fact, I’m sure you’ve been hearing about Syria,
and Egypt in the news today. Gaddafi was murdered couple of years ago now,
and they’re still in the process of building a stable
state in Egypt. It’s kind of exciting what’s going on there. But they
are, of course, a very heavy Muslim state.
They also took parts of the Sassanid Empire. The next two caliphs Uthman, and Ali, continued to
expand the Muslim territory until it became one of
the largest empires in world history. So, the Muslim armies were very well disciplined,
and very expertly commanded, however, the success of the armies was also due to the
weakness in the two empires north of Arabia. The Byzantine and Sassanid empires had long
been in conflict for a period of time, and were
exhausted militarily. As you know, the Byzantines have been, were the
surviving remnant of the Roman empire for about
1000 years after the Romans collapsed, but they were in a near state of constant warfare. Another reason for Muslim success was the
persecution suffered by people under Byzantine,
or Sassanid rule, because they did not support the official state
religions; either Christianity or Zoroastrianism,
respectively. Persecuted people often welcomed the invaders,
and chose to accept Islam. They were attracted by the appeal of the message
of Islam, which offered equality and hope in this
world. When you look at the spread of Islam, it often
appeals among the very poor, because Islam
preaches the equality of all human beings. Though I’m not a Muslim, I would like to make the
journey to Mecca at some point. You know just for…
I guess just for my own benefit. A neat thing about it is when you go, everybody
wears the exact same clothes. I don’t know where they get ’em, but whoever’s
making ’em is making a killin’ there. but they all wear the exact same robe. A white
robe, and everybody is friendly with everybody.
Everybody talks to everybody. It’s a powerful experience for anybody, I suppose.
It’s just that, having that sense of equality, and
brotherhood. And so that’s why it’s encouraged, but again, that’s
a basic tenet of this faith, and something I do
admire about it. Now because the Quran forbade forced
conversion, Muslims allowed conqured people to
follow their own religion. Christians and Jews quote people of the book
receive special consideration. They did have to pay a tax in exchange for their
exemption from military duties, however, they were
subject to various restrictions on their lives. But, generally, they were allowed to keep their
religions. So typically Muslims come into an area. They
conquer the area. The people surrender.
Muslims and Christians were safe. Other religions generally converted to Islam. Tolerance like this continued after the Muslim state
was established. Though Christians and Jews
were not allowed to spread their religion, they could become, you know, free citizens,
officials, whatever. Now despite near constant success on the
battlefield, the Muslim community did have
difficulty maintaining a unified rule. Just like any new emerging nation. You know,
United States, case in point, our Civil War. In 656 Uthman was murdered, starting a civil war,
which various groups struggled for power. Ali, as
Muhammad’s cousin, and son-in-law, was the natural choice as a successor to Uthman,
however, his right was challanged by a governor of
Syria, and 661, Ali, also was assassinated. And so, the whole system, their unified political
system of Muslims, was beginning to crumble. A certain family known as the Umayyads came into
power. The Umayyads moved the Muslim capital
to Damascus. This location was away from Mecca, and it made
controlling conquered territories much easier. Damascus, if memory serves, is in Syria, which is
north of where Israel is today, kind of east, excuse
me, west of Iraq. However the Arab Muslims felt it was too far away
from their lands. In addition, the Umayyad’s abandoned the simple
life of previous caliphs, and began to surround
themselves with wealth, and ceremonies similar to that of non-Muslim
rulers. So, these guys became divas, if you will. These actions, along with the leadership issue,
gave rise to a fundamental division in the Muslim
community. In the interest of peace, the majority of Muslims
accepted the Umayyads rule, however a minority
continued to resist. This group developed an alternate view of the
office of caliph. In this view the caliph needed to be
a direct descendant of the prophet. This group called themselves the Shi’a, meaning
the party of Allah. So here we begin to get into the major three
different types of Muslims. Just like denominations
in Christianity, any religion, any group of people, given a long enough time to spend together will
find something to disagree about, and enough people, enough time, will find big
things to disagree about. So, here we wind up with
the three major denominations. The Shi’a are the ones that believe that you have
to be a direct decendant of Muhammad to run the
show. The next, those who did not outwardly resist the
Umayyads, meaning the folks who followed that
big imporant family, that moved the capital to Damascus, called
themselves Sunnis. Now we hear a lot of drama
between the Sunnis, and the Shi’as. Sunnis and Shi’a, of course, have fought and killed
each other countless times, not unlike Protestants
and Catholics, if you will. So, not trying to justify anything these people are
doing, but I just want you to know that, again, the
misunderstandings arise when we think that we haven’t done the same
things that other people have. Another group, the Sufis, rejected the luxurious life
of the Umayyads. They persued a life of poverty
and devotion to a spiritual path. So these are kind of like the aesthetics in the
Hindu faith, if you will. Vigorous religious and political opposition to the
Umayyad caliphate led to its downfall. Rebel
groups overthrew the Umayyads around 750. The most powerful of these groups, known as the
Abbasids, rose and took control. When the Abbasids came to power in 750, they
murdered the remaining members of the Umayyad
family. One prince named Abd al-Rahman, escaped, and
fled to Spain. In fact in southern Spain there’s still a
significant Muslim population living in Morraco. There he set up a Umayyad caliphate. Spain had
already been conquered and settled by Muslims
from North Africa known as the Berbers. The Berber armies advanced north, and nearly
conquered Paris before they were halted at the
Battle of Tours. They then settled in southern Spain, when they
helped form a Muslim state known as Al-Andalus. To solidify power, the Abbasids moved the capital
of the empire, in 762, to a newly created city,
Baghdad, in Iraq. Baghdad is Babylon, was the capital of
Mesopotamia, the Babylonian empire, the Syrian empire, and of course now, the capital
of Iraq, and then the capital of the Abbasian
empire. The location on key trade routes. That’s what’s
made a capital a such important city, is it is right
on the hub of all of these trade routes. The Abbasids developed a strong bureaucracy to
conduct the huge empire’s affairs. Treasury
managed the money flow. Special department managed the army, and they
sent diplomats out to Europe, Africa, and all
throughout Asia. Just wanted to point out briefly, how big Baghdad
was, in relation to the rest of the world at it’s time. The Abbasid capital city, Baghdad, impressed all
who saw it. Caliph Al-Mansur chose the site for his
captial on the west bank of the Tigris River in 762. Extensive planning went into the city’s distinctive
circular design formed by three protective walls. The caliph’s palace of marble and stone sat in the
innermost circle, along with the grand mosque. Of
course their religious center’s called the mosque. Originally the main streets between the middle wall
and palace were lined with shops. Later the
market place moved to a district outside the walls. It’s population approached one million people, at
it’s peak. Now, if that doesn’t blow your mind to think that at
one time the Mongols slaughtered everyone in the
city. So we’ll get to the Mongols. Don’t worry, but they’re
rough. Both Umayyads and Abbasids encouraged
scholars to collect and translate scientific, and
philosophical text. In the early 800s, caliph Al-Ma’mun opened in
Baghdad a combination of library, academy, and
translation center, called the House of Wisdom. There scholars of different cultures, and beliefs,
worked side by side translating text from Greece,
India, Persia, and elsewhere. Another fun fact, many Muslim scholars at this
house of wisdom are perhaps the reason that we
still have many classical text left over from the Greeks and the Romans. They
preserved a lot of them. Now the Abbasid caliphate lasted until 1258.
During that time they increased their authority, by
consulting religious leaders, but they failed to keep complete political control
over this immense territory. Muslim states, of course, sprang up. Local leaders
dominated smaller regions, and again, division
was the name of the day. The Fatimid caliphate was formed by Shia
Muslims, who claimed descent from Muhammad’s
daughter. The caliphate began in north Africa, spread across
into Arabia, as well as Syria. Now as powerful as the Abbasids were, they
constantly struggled, as I’ve been saying, to
maintain their control over their empire. Spain broke away, after the Abbasids came to
power, 6 years after. After setting up their capital in Baghdad, they lost
their grip on other parts of the empire as well,
and even in 868, they lost Egypt. Now finally in 945, the Persian armies moved into
Baghdad, and put an end to the power of the
caliph. Even though he continued as the religious leader
of Islam, he gave up all political power. and it wasn’t long before the Persians themselves,
fell to a different power. So what we’re seeing here is just, again, just
squabbling, I suppose. Divison. Strife. And we first
start with Muhammad, and then we get the Umayyads, and then the
Abbasids, and then later the Persians take over,
and then later, they’re conquered. But the Abbasid caliphate at it’s height; I just want
you to look at this for just a moment. So in area,
almost as large as the Roman empire Now in fact by the time the ottoman empire,
another Muslim empire, which comes along later
and we’ll talk about, when they reach their height in power, they will rival
the Roman empire in size, so it’s kind of neat just
how large an area these folks conquered. In fact, at one end of the Muslim empire was the
city of Cordoba, which I’d have to look and find it,
uuhhm so, excuse me I’ll have to find it later, and then this city had a
population of 200,000. Now at the same time, Paris only had 38,000
people living in it, and again, Baghdad, city of one
million. No city in the world was half the size of Baghdad at
this time. So, in Cordoba, and Damascus, and Cairo, and
Baghdad, this time brought a great period of
cultural blending. Ok so now the Seljuk Turks. In the 10th century a growing number of Turks
began converting to Islam, and slowly migrating
into the weakened Abbasid empire. One of the first of these migrating Turkish groups
is known as the Seljuks. After the family that led them, the Seljuks gradually
grew in number and strength, and by 1055 they attacked Baghdad, and
captured it from the Persians. Now nearly 20 years later, the Seljuk sultans
marched on the Byzantine empire, and at the Battle of Manzikert, Turkish forces
crushed the Byzantine defenders, and within 10 years, the Seljuks occupied most of
Anatolia; the eastern flank of Byzantium. This brought the Turks closer to the Byzantine
capital, Constantinople, than the Arabs, or
Persians had ever come. Now this near conquest of what was then the new
Rome, of course the Byzantine Empire was all that
was left of Rome, inspired the name of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum,
from Rome. So they, the Seljuk Turks, this migrating group of
nomads, moved in, and conquered most of the
area. (Matt laughs) Took over most of Anatolia, which is what we call
Turkey today, and these same Turks when they
become the Ottoman Turks will actually conquer the remnants of the Byzantine empire, capture the
city of Constantinople, rename it Istanbul, and
today Turkey is an Islamic nation as a result. (no audio) (no audio) You’ll have to excuse me. My notes must not have
fully printed off, so I have them here fortunately.
(intelligible mumbling) Ah! Here we go. So, Malik Shah ruled as the last of the strong
Seljuk leaders. after his unexpected death in 1092 no capable
Shah appeared to replace him, so the Seljuk Empire quickly disintegrated into a
loose collection of minor kingdoms. Just at that point the west launched a counter
attack against the Turks, and other Muslims for
control of the holy land, and of the Middle East. The series of military campaigns was known as
The Crusades. Pope Urban the second launched
the first crusade in 1095. He called on Christians to drive out the Turks out of
Anatolia, and recover Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Armies from western Europe soon poured in
through Constantinople, and proceeded on to
Palastine. In 1099, the Crusaders captured Jerusalem, and
massacred it’s Jewish and Muslim inhabitants. They established a Latin Christian kingdom that
lasted about a century. That was known as the
First Crusade. Eventually a fragment of the former Seljuk Empire
gathered enough strength to fight back. Under their famous Kurdish Captian Saladin, the
Muslims recovered Jerusalem in 1187. Eventually, Saladin and his Western opponent
King Richard I of England signed a truce. Their
agreement gave Jerusalem to the Muslims, but granted Western pilgrims access to Christian
holy places, and that was known as the Third
Crusade. Subsequent popes called for further Crusades, but
each new military expedition proved weaker than
the last. By the 13th century, the Western powers seemed
to pose little problem for the Turks. It was around this time, however, that a new threat
emerged from the east, the Mongols. Now on a side note, you don’t have to know this,
but one of the later crusades was known as the
Children’s Crusade. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this, or the
rumor of the Pide Piper. If anybody uses the word, the euphemism pied
piper, it can also be used to refer to a very
crooked salesman. Now the pied piper traveled all throughout Europe, quoting a verse from, I believe the Old Testament, that said, “and a little child shall lead them.”; and this man gathered up an army of children. It’s a very sad story in fact when he In fact when he got this army of children, and he left to go off to the holy land to fight his crusade, he turned and sold them all into slavery. (Laughing) I’m not making this up (no audio) (no audio) [Matt] and you’ve waited for it, lets talk about the Mongols. Ok. The Mongols were a group of nomadic clans. Now when Hulagu finally did take Baghdad, he burned down the caliph’s palace. Now the Mongols did believe that it was forbidden to spill the blood of a sacred person. They’re an interesting group of people. They had very little belongings or possessions of their own. They always traveled from place to place. They often stole when they were with Genghis Khan, so they developed this culture of razing, and pillaging. and since they were so used to traveling in this nomadic lifestyle the whole population of forces made very affective warriors. They had the most skilled horsed archerers that ever lived. I don’t know if anyone ever matched their expertise in horsed archery. They also developed quite a culture of cruelty, and perfected the use of terrorism, and warfare. For example, when he did finally take Baghdad, as I said he burned the entire city down, killing almost everyone inside. Genghis khan had a tradition that when he would march up to a city, he would put a white flag outside the city, and that meant surrender, or else, If they surrendered, awesome. They didn’t kill anybody. In fact all they did was take taxes, maybe draft some soldiers, and then they’d move on their way. They could do whatever they want, believe whatever they wanna believe, do whatever they wanna do. They’re free essentially except they had to pay taxes, and they had to provide sons. Now when they put up the black flag, that’s what happened, unfortunately. So, with untold brutality, Genghis Khan, and his successor, shaped the biggest land empire in history. The Mongol warriors, however, knew little about administering this territory, as a result, their vast empire crumbled in just a few generations. (no audio) (unintelligible)

Jean Kelley