-The Islamic Heartlands in the Middle and
Late Abbasid Eras
- An Age of Learning and Artistic
- The Coming of Islam to South Asia
- The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia
Chapter 7
8th Century Abassid Era
Golden age of Muslim civilization
Baghdad - unrivaled intellectual center - science,
philosophy, medicine & education
"House of Wisdom" in Baghdad - both Muslim
and non-Muslim scholars - translate all world's
knowledge into Arabic
Baghdad - over 800 doctors - great discoveries
of anatomy & diseases made - distinction b/w
measles and smallpox
Papermaking from China & invented papermills
Gunpowder from China – developed formulas
for pure potassium nitrate & explosive
Agricultural advances such as the windmill
in Astronomy,
Thousand and
One Nights
Abbasid empire weakened during 9th-13th centuries
-peasant revolts/slavery increased & position of women eroded
The Abbasid Empire at Its Peak
Caliph Al-Mahdi (775-785)
failed to reconcile moderate Shi’a
court of luxury
succession not secure – disputes among his numerous sons
Declining position of women
Male-dominated Abbasid society believed women possessed
incurable lust
Result: men needed to be segregated from all but the women of their
Symbols of subjugation: harem & veil & seclusion
Abbasid wealth generated large demand for concubines and male
slaves - most from non-Muslim neighboring lands
Poor women remained economically active
Elite women – stayed in home/harem; tried to advance sons’ political
Women married at puberty; spent life at home & childbearing
Decline of Abbasids
Within 150 years of
gaining power across
Persia - forced to cede
power to local
dynastic amirs –
barely acknowledged
their power
Dependent on Persian
Caliph al-Ma'mun created
personal Mamluk army
Armies eventually held
power - removed/selected
-Civil unrest
-Caliphs live lavishly;
rule poorly
-tax burden increases
-agriculture suffers
Spread of Islam
Former provinces threaten Abbasids
Buyids, Persia capture Baghdad, 945
caliphs - powerless puppets controlled by
Seljuk Turks defeated the Buyids in 1055 &
ruled Abbasid Empire for two centuries
The Seljuks -- staunch Sunni -- purged the Shi’a
Egyptians and Byzantines defeated
Arabs establish rule over Anatolia -- center of
later Ottoman Empire
Eastern Christianity under threat
Christian Crusades to conquer the
“Holy Land” 1096 - 1291
First Crusade was launched in
1095 by Pope Urban II with the
dual goals of reconquering the
sacred city of Jerusalem and the
Holy Land and freeing the Eastern
Christians from Islamic rule.
Byzantine Emperor Alexius I
Comnenus asked Pope for western
mercenaries to fight the Seljuk
Turks in Anatolia
Turned into a whole scale Western
conquest of territory outside of
Europe - lasted less than 200 yrs
first major step towards reopening
international trade in the West
Besieging Jerusalem
Pope Urban II & the Council of Clermont
In July of 1095, Urban turned
to his homeland - France to
recruit men for Crusades
Council of Clermont – Pope
gave an impassioned
sermon to a large audience
of French nobles & clergy
Graphically detailed the
fantastic atrocities being
committed against pilgrims
& eastern Christians
Impact of the Christian Crusades
Increased the power of kings, who raised taxes
and commanded large national armies
Many feudal nobles were killed, while others
sold rights and privileges to towns to raise the
funds necessary for a crusade
Exposure to sophisticated technology,
architecture, medicine, mathematics, science, &
Muslim culture
learn new military tactics, to become familiar
with new weapons like the crossbow, and to
construct new types of castles
Europeans recover Greek/Roman learning
Italian merchants remain in Islamic centers;
important carriers of Islamic knowledge
(Christian warriors were not)
**Muslim peoples not interested in European
civilization – barbarians**
The Children's Crusade,
1212 by Gustave Doré
a variety of fictional and factual
visions by a French or German boy;
an intention to peacefully convert
Muslims in the Holy Land to
Christianity; bands of children
marching to Italy; and children
being sold into slavery
A study published in 1977 cast
doubt on the existence of these
events and many historians now
believe that they were not (or not
primarily) children but multiple
bands of "wandering poor" in
Germany and France, some of
whom tried to reach the Holy Land
and others who never intended to do
Crusades Continue
In 1096 - Western European
Christian knights had established
small kingdoms in Arab world
 Saladin reconquered lands for Arabs
 Last Crusade in 1291
Religious Trends and the New Push for Expansion
Sufis - mysticism
Ulama - conservative religious scholars (against outside
 -Greek philosophy rejected
 Qur'an sufficient
Al-Ghazali – great Islamic theologian
 synthesis of Greek, Qur'anic ideas
 opposed by ulama
New Waves of Nomadic Invasions & End of the Caliphate
Mongols – nomads from central Asia
 Chinggis Khan’s grandson Hulegu – conquered Abassid
 1258, Baghdad falls - last Abbasid caliphe was killed
Islam spreads to South Asia
By 1200, Muslims rule much of north, central India
Conflict between two different systems
Hindu polytheism vs. Muslim monotheism
caste system vs. egalitarianism
The Spread of Islam, 10th-16th Centuries
Islam in India
Muhammad ibn Qasim - Umayyad general
captured city of Sind & Indus valleys
Indians treated as dhimmi – “people of the
Sultanate of Delhi (300 yrs)
*Indian Influences on Islamic Civilization
Math, medicine, music, astronomy,
treatment of women,
 food, literature
Islam vs. Hinduism
Converts - Buddhists, lower castes, untouchables
High-caste Hindus remain apart
also conversion to escape taxes
Muslims also often fail to integrate
Islamic Challenge results in Hindu Revival
Bhakti movement
devotional cults; emotional approach
caste distinctions dissolved somewhat
Gods - Shiva, Vishnu, Kali gain prominence
Mira Bai, Kabir – popular songs in regional languages
Make Hinduism more accessible to masses
Spread of Islam to islands of SE Asia
Trade leads to peaceful
business advantage
Sufis important in cities of
Malacca, Malaya, Sumatra,
& Demak (Java)
Buddhist elites, but
population converts to
Important mystical strain
Women in a stronger
Matrilineal societies

-The Islamic Heartlands in the Middle and Late Abbasid