Robert W. Strayer
Ways of the World: A Brief Global
History with Sources
Second Edition
Chapter 9
The Worlds of Islam: Afro-Eurasian Connections,
Copyright © 2013 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
I. The Birth of a New Religion
A. The Homeland of Islam
1. Tribal feuds and trading centers of the Arabian
2. Mecca: home of the Kaaba and the Quraysh
3. Contact with Byzantine and Sassanid Empires
4. Gods, idols, and “children of Abraham”
I. Arabia Before Islam
A. Bedouins – nomads; founded many towns in Arabia
1. Camel, goat herding
2. Agriculture – very limited
B. Clan Identity,
1. Clans – often
into tribes
2. Shayks
-- Leaders
3. Rivalry
between clans
a. Pasture,
b. Made them
C. Important Trade – many cities linked the Mediterranean
and East Asian trade
1. Mecca – most important of these cities
a. Founded by the Umayyad clan
b. Ka’ba – shrine that
eventually becomes the
most holy site in Islam
2. Medina – Agricultural oasis
and commercial center
D. Arabian Society before Islam
1. Women have important roles in clan life
a. Higher status than neighboring empires
b. Clans often matrilineal
c. Still not considered equals of men
2. Polygamy – often by both sexes
E. Culture
1. Religion…blend of animism, polytheism
2. Bedouin poetry – oral stories depicting life…gives the
only real glance into this culture
II. Muhammad and the Birth of Islam
A. The Beginning
1. Wealthy clan allowed Muhammad to prosper
2. Orphaned – both mother and father died
3. Mecca – lived here; benefited him since it was a
main trading city
4. Khadijah – Wife
5. Revelations, 610 A.D.
a. via the angel Gabriel
b. Eventually, these revelations were
written down and formed the
basis of the Qur’an.
B. Steps in the Growth of Islam
1. Ka’ba gods threatened – If Muhammad’s revelations
reduced the number who visited, then the city would be
hurt economically
2. Invited to Medina, 622 (1st year of the Muslim calendar)
a. Hijra – His trip to Medina to escape death in Mecca
3. Return to Mecca triumphantly, 629; died in 632
C. Fundamentals of Islam
1. Five Pillars of Islam
a. Acceptance of Islam – “There
is no god but Allah, and
Muhammad is his prophet.”
b. Prayer – 5 times daily facing Mecca
c. Fasting during Ramadan – from sunrise to sunset
d. Payment of zakat – Alms (charity) for the poor
e. Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca
I. The Birth of a New Religion
B. The Messenger and the Message
1. Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (570–632)
2. Series of revelations (610–632) become the Quran
3. Revolutionary message of monotheism
4. A return to the religion of Abraham
I. The Birth of a New Religion
C. The Transformation of Arabia
1. Tension in Mecca and the Hijra, 622
2. Building the Umma in Medina
3. War, alliances, and entry into Mecca, 630
4. Most of the Peninsula under a unified Islamic state
5. Fusion of religious and political authority
6. Sharia
II. The Making of an Arab Empire
A. War, Conquest, and Tolerance
1. From the Iberian Peninsula to the Indus River
2. Battle of Talas, 751
3. Economic drive and spreading the faith
4. Dhimmis and the Jizya
III. Umayyad Arab Empire
--Muhammad died in 632 with no planned successor
A. Abu Bakr – chosen as the new Caliph
1. Consolidated the Islamic empire
B. What Drove the Arabs to Conquer Territory?
1. Conversions were not a motive; didn’t want to share
a. Only Muslim Arabs were first-class citizens
In many cases,
and shared in booty
people who
converted to Islam
b. The number of conversions under the
still had to pay taxes,
Umayyad was low
were excluded from
jobs in government or c. The Arabs accepted “dhimmis”…or
military and were not
“people of the book”…Christians, Jews,
allowed to share in
and later even Hindus
the wealth of
***2. Booty – desire for wealth; initially, the first reason
C. Territories Controlled by the Umayyads
1. Sassanid Empire…conquered by Islamic forces
2. Byzantium
a. Had numerous territorial losses to Islam
b. Was able to stop the advances in Asia Minor
3. Mesopotamia, North Africa, Spain, Crete, Sicily, &
Sardinia, Northwest India, Dominated eastern
Mediterranean Sea, Capital at Damascus (Syria)
4. Expansion into Europe stopped at the Battle of Tours in
France in 732 C.E.
D. Dispute Over Succession and the Sunni-Shi’a Split
1. 3rd caliph…Murdered
2. Ali…Cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad
a. The Umayyads rejected his bid for control
b. Loses support
c. Assassinated, 661
--Leads to a division in Islam
3. Sunni – Umayyads and their followers…majority today
4. Shi’a – Ali’s descendants and their followers…minority
Still fighting
E. Family and Gender
1. Muhammad’s Islam stressed family & equality of women
a. Both sexes were equal in the eyes of Allah
2. Men allowed multiple wives
3. Women had some freedom under Umayyads…pursued a
wide range of occupations
4. Eventually, male-dominated traditions return…as they
did in other civilizations. Even so, in Islamic societies
women’s rights did not decline as much.
a. As Arab urbanization increased, women’s rights
F. Umayyad Decline and Fall
1. Umayyad became soft and corrupt due to increasing
wealth and power
a. Warrior lifestyle declined
2. Decadent living sparked revolts
a. Indian frontier - warrior settlers revolted under banner
of Abbasid party…aided by Shi’ites and Mawali (local
converts to Islam)
b. 750 CE victory over Umayyads
3. Umayyads wiped out
a. Grandson of Umayyad caliph
escaped to Spain…founded the
Caliphate of Cordoba
IV. The Abbasids: from Arab to Islamic Empire
A. Early Years of the Abbasids: the Sunni Dominate
1. Abbasids turned on Shi’a (Shi’ite) allies
2. Championed luxurious living
3. Built centralized state…absolute power; expanded
government bureaucracy
4. Baghdad – New capital
B. Change in Attitude: Converts become accepted
1. Under the Abbasids both older believers and new
converts (mawali) were treated equally
C. Islamic Knowledge…different from Western Europe?
1. Building – Mosques, palaces
2. Education – Religious, legal and philosophical
learning…actually stressed science and math
a. “Arabic” numerals
3. Preserved works from earlier civilizations, especially
D. Commercial Boom and Agrarian Expansion
1. Agricultural Growth
a. Ayan – Landed elite class developed
--Many farmers, however, were still tenants,
sharecroppers, or migrant laborers
2. Trade & Towns Grow
a. Muslims and Tang China
(618 – 907) became the
driving force behind the
revival of world trade
--Technology - Arab
Dhows & lateen
(triangular) sails
b. Wealth and status of merchant and landlord class grew
--Trade with Africa, the Mediterranean, China & India
c. Business partnerships between Muslims, Christians, and
Jews common (Sabbaths)
d. Increase in handicraft production (furniture, carpets,
glass, etc)
e. Guild associations formed
f. Towns flourished despite political instability…all of this
led to increased urbanization
E. The Later Abbasid Period
1. Imperial Extravagance
a. Caliphs build lavishly
b. Tax burden increases
c. Agriculture suffers – taxes, destruction, war
d. Caliphs placed themselves above Islamic law
e. Caliphs became remote from people
f. Practice of dividing booty discarded
2. Women under the Abbasids
a. Seclusion, veil…increasing subjugation to men
b. Rich…home, poor…work
c. Marriage age at puberty…legal
age was 9
Purdah: wearing of the veil and seclusion
3. Slavery
a. Huge numbers of slaves demanded
b. Unskilled labor done by slaves - some brutality
c. Slaves could gain freedom and/or serve in positions of
d. Most labor slaves were Zanj slaves
(non-Muslim Africans)
e. Beautiful and educated slaves prized
f. Slave women had more freedom than
Muslim women
e. Caliph had up to 4,000 slave concubines
f. Most slaves from Balkans, Central Asia,
and Sudanic Africa
Zanj Slaves
A caliph and his concubine
F. Cultural and Religious Trends under the Abbasids
1. Muslims often influenced by conquered peoples
2. Islamic technological and scientific advances
a. Math…even corrected some Greek work
b. Improvement in experimental technique
c. Astronomical studies
d. Medicine…improved hospitals; medical studies
3. Languages
a. Persian the court language: administration, literature
b. Arabic in religion, law, sciences
4. Religion
a. Religious scholars (ulama) became increasingly
reactionary…what does this mean?
b. Sufis…wandering mystics…factor in spread of Islam
The Abbasid Empire at Its Peak
G. End of Abbasid Power
1. Issues within the Empire
a. Shi’ite revolts plagued Abbasids
b. Decadent living strained revenues…increased taxes
c. Problem of succession
d. Court intrigue…wives, concubines, ministers,
courtesans, etc
e. Increasing influence of Persian ministers over caliphs
2. The death of Harun al-Rashid, the most famous caliph, led
to civil war for the throne
a. Successors formed large personal armies of slave
mercenaries…over 70,000 Turks
--Turks became power behind throne…murdered and
replaced caliphs
--Turkish mercenaries became violent force in Muslim
society…source of constant riots
--Expense of putting
down Turks, paying
other mercenary forces,
and construction
projects caused
financial crisis
A Turkish warrior
3. Buyids of Persia (breakaway region) captured Baghdad
--Caliphs became puppets (945 CE)
4. Seljuk Turks defeat Buyids (1055 CE)
--Turkish military rulers ran empire in name of caliphs
--Were Sunnis – purged Shi’a threats
--Turks crushed Byzantine army and opened Anatolian
Peninsula to settlement
--Led to the Crusades…Holy Wars to recapture the Holy
5. The Crusades
a. Turks attack the Byzantine
Empire…leads Pope Urban II
to call for a holy war on Islam
b. First Crusade (1096 CE)
--Only successful crusade
--Jerusalem captured 1099
--First instance of Western
--Most knights from France Pope Urban II at the Council of Claremont
--Motives for knights: religious beliefs, military glory,
primogeniture, adventure
The Crusades
Latin Kingdoms established in
the Holy Land as a result of the
First Crusade
c. Second Crusade
--Called after loss of Crusader state
Edessa to the Muslims in 1144
--Internal conflicts between French
king and German emperor
resulted in defeat
d. Third Crusade
--Muslim leader Saladin recaptured
--German Emperor Barbarossa,
French king Philip Augustus,
and English King Richard III
--Internal quarrels led to Christian
e. Fourth Crusade
--Goal of capturing Jerusalem
--1204…Crusading army instead
sacked Constantinople at urging
of Venice
--Byzantines knocked out of power
for decades
--Byzantines never fully recovered;
crusade instrumental in eventual
Byzantine defeat to Ottoman Turks
f. Other crusades were ineffective…in
1244 Jerusalem was recaptured by
--Last Christian defeat was in 1291
g. Impact of the Crusades
--Crusades had little impact on Muslims
--Overall failure in goals for Christianity
--Crusades had positive impact on Europe
--Increased demand for Middle Eastern
goods including textiles, carpets,
and foods
Muslims had
saved the ancient
This series of wars opens Western Europe
to all of the advances of the East –
technology, architecture, medicine, math,
science, and Muslim Culture!
6. Nomadic Mongols Invade…The End of the Caliphate
a. Chinggis Khan – began the Mongol invasions; died
before many of the conquests…grandson finishes the
b. In 1258 Baghdad falls to the Mongols
--Last Abbasid Caliph killed
c. Mongol advance finally stopped by the Mameluk Turks
(rulers of Egypt)
III. Islam and Cultural Encounter:
A Four-Way Comparison
A. The Case of India
1. Turkic invaders
2. Disillusioned Buddhists and lower-caste Hindus
3. Appeal of Sufi mystics
4. Punjab, Sind, and Bengal
5. Sikhism
V. Islam’s Move to South Asia…Hinduism vs. Islam
As Muslim rule had expanded
A. Islam the Threat
there was
1. India always had a great conflict between the two systems:
Hindu religion (Caste System)
capacity to absorb new
Muslim monotheism
2. Islam presented the first
serious threat to Indian society as laid out by
Hinduism and the caste system
3. The first Muslims were 8th century traders
a. First Muslim intrusion in 711 as punitive expedition
due to pirate attacks on Muslim traders
b. Eventually, the Umayyads take the Sind,
and Indus valleys
c. Divisions among Indian kingdoms left way open to
Muslim invasions
d. Hindu and Buddhist subjects treated as Dhimmi
The Spread of Islam, 10th-16th Centuries
4. Islam was everything Hinduism was not
a. Monotheistic versus polytheistic
b. Hinduism was open and tolerant
c. Hindus worshipped idols while Islam hated idols
d. Islam was egalitarian while Hinduism believed in the
caste system
e. Islam was rigid while Hinduism was much more flexible
5. Islamic Actions in India
a. Caste differences were respected by the Muslims
b. Little effort was made to convert the Indian population
c. Muslims remained mostly in the towns
d. Many Muslims adopted Indian dress and foods
B. Indian Influences on Islam
1. **Math**, medicine, music, astronomy
C. New Muslim Invasions…reconquer territories lost to Hindus
1. 962 CE...invasions by slave Turks from Afghanistan
2. Conquest of Northern India
a. Began as a state in the Indus valley
b. Moved to Bengal
c. Eventually forms a military state:
The Delhi Sultanate
--Delhi sultanate rules for 300
years constantly battling to
maintain power
--Muslim control limited by
Hindu lords and Hindu
D. Patterns of Islamic Conversion
1. Most came from Buddhists, lower castes, untouchables
a. Buddhism had become corrupted in Northern India
-- Muslims also frequently raided Buddhist
b. Islamic equality was attractive
c. Also conversion to escape taxes
E. Patterns of Accommodation
1. High-caste Hindus remain apart from Islam culture
a. Muslims often failed to integrate into Indian society as
other invaders had done…separate living areas
--However, some adaptations occurred such as
some adherence to caste system and sati
F. Hindu Revival…battled Islamic Conversions
1. Bhakti – devotional cults for Hindu gods
a. Caste distinctions were
dissolved…open to
everyone…tried to create an
emotional connection to the
gods (Shiva, Vishnu, and
Kali especially).
b. This movement really helped
among the lower
classes…diminished the
influence of Islam.
G. End Results of the Muslim Invasions of India
1. Both religions realized the incompatibility of the two
a. This led to distinct religious communities…Muslims
were now in India to stay
2. South Asia was the area with the least conversion within
the areas receiving Islam…WHY?
a. Indian population remained overwhelmingly Hindu
III. Islam and Cultural Encounter:
A Four-Way Comparison
B. The Case of Anatolia
1. Turkic invaders
2. 90 percent by 1500
3. Ottoman Empire
III. Islam and Cultural Encounter:
A Four-Way Comparison
C. The Case of West Africa
1. Muslim merchants and scholars
2. Urban centers
3. Little penetration of rural world and popular culture
III. Islam and Cultural Encounter:
A Four-Way Comparison
D. The Case of Spain
1. Arab and Berber invasion of Al-Andalus
2. Cordoba’s golden age
3. Increased intolerance
4. Christian reconquest and expulsion
V. Reflections: Past and Present:
Choosing Our History
Islamic glories and Western encroachment
Using an Islamic past
Diversity of the Islamic world
Histories of Tolerance and Conflict

America: A Concise History