How did Islam alter the history of
the world?
Muhammad’s role
Portrait of Muhammad
Rise of Islam
• 7th c. Muhammad received revelations in Arabic –
gathered together into a book Koran- became the
basis of a new religion that we know as Islam
• The Muslim community quickly expanded,
uniting many tribes of Arabia
• These tribes, united by the faith of Islam, swept
out of Arabia to conquer the Persian and
Byzantine empires
Detail of intricate tile work on
mosque dome, Yazd, pilgrimage site
• How did Islam
The advance of Islam
• Charles Martel defeated Muslims at Tours in 732
– checked the Muslim advance into Europe
• Byzantium also halted the invading armies
• However, within a century, the new empire
stretched from southern Spain to northern
India, and from the Caucasus to the Indian
• The empire was ruled by caliphs drawn from the
prophet’s family
• What is Islamic
Islamic civilization
• A synthesis of the religion and culture of Arabia
with the great imperial traditions of the eastern
Mediterranean and the Persian empire.
• This synthesis molded the politics, science,
literature, and arts of the people who adopted
• As a dominant culture of the region, it had a
shaping influence on the Armenians and the Jews
•What is the history
of Islam?
The history of Islam
• Islamic faith was linked to the expansion of
Islamic rule
• Muslim rulers were tolerant of those religions who
faith was based on revelation, such as Judaism
and Christianity, but forbade them to increase
their numbers by conversion
• The history of Islam is turbulent and violent:
• Umayyads were overthrown
• Abassids founded Baghdad, Islam’s imperial city
History of Islam
• Religious factionalism threatened the
• The Muslim community divided between
those who believed that the caliphate should
remain in the prophet’s bloodlines
(shi’ites) and those who insisted only that it
remain within his clan, the Quraysh
History of Islam
• 1210-1220- the Islamic empire was shattered
• The Mongol Chinghis Khan’s armies, which had
already subjugated all of China, swept through
Central Asia, and Iraq, leveling cities.
• 1260- Mamluk rulers of Egypt defeated the
Mongols in Palestine and ended the myth of their
• Baghdad lost its eminence as the chief city of
History of Islam
• The Mongol dynasties that succeeded to rule in
the Islamic world converted to Islam, and
accommodated themselves to Islamic norms of
• 1336-1405-Tamerlane, who claimed descent from
the khans, led his armies from Samarkand into
Iran, Turkey and Russia
• The Timurids were the last powerful dynasty to
originate in the steppes
Islam in the
History of Islam
• The world of Islam came to be divided
between the Ottomans in the west, the
Safavids in Iran, and the Moghuls in India
• The Ottomans launched the last great
conquest, begun in the 14th c., when they
expanded across the Bosphorus into the
Balkans, threatening Vienna in 1683
Islamic literature
• Islam established Arabic as the dominant language of
religion, trade, and learning throughout the empire
• 9th c-center of translation in Baghdad
• Greek science and philosophy, Indian mathematics,
Chinese medicine, and Persian literature were all translated
into Arabic
• Arabic had become the lingua franca of all the
communities of Islam
• Islam had become a cosmopolitan, international culture
Prose vs. poetry
• Prose, which had next to no role in pre-Islamic
literature of Arabia, came to enjoy exceptional
currency because it was a better vehicle than
poetry both for religious learning and for the
new secular, humanistic learning that was
flooding Islam from all sides
• Though poetry enjoyed precedence over prose in
the classical period, as it continued to do until the
present day, prose was the accepted vehicle for
What are the characteristics of
Islamic literature?
• Koranic intolerance of fiction, which it
categorized as ‘lying’
• Prose narratives were strongly didactic or
informative –moralistic beast fables
• The Thousand and One Nights –popular
entertainment –not welcomed into the canon
• Imaginative literature was excluded from religion
• 10th c. with the rise of mysticism poetry became a
vehicle for spirituality in Islam
• What are the languages
of Islam?
The languages of Islam
• Islamic literature began in Arabic
• 9th c. Islamic poetry and prose began to be written
in Persian as well
• Persian poets drew on the pre-Islamic Iranian
stories from its national epic tradition to create an
extremely rich literature – sufi mysticism
• The origins of Islamic literature in Turkish can be
traced to the 11th c.
• 14th c Islamic poetry in the regional languages of
India – Kashmiri, Punjabi etc.
• Did Islam appreciate the great
masterpieces of the Middle
Eastern civilizations?
• The Islamic cultural tradition made no effort
to accept the pre-Islamic cultural traditions
as its own (Greece, Mesopotamia, Palestine)