Robert W. Strayer
Ways of the World: A Brief Global History
Second Edition
Ways of the World:
A Brief Global History with Sources
Second Edition
The Worlds of Islam: Afro-Eurasian Connections
Copyright © 2013 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
The Rise of Islam
3rd wave civilization
Arabian Peninsula
home of the Bedouins Lived in clans and
often engaged in blood feuds
Variety of gods
Yemen had agriculture society, next to the
Mediterranean Sea = involvement in trade
gave rise to trading cities
was the site of Kaaba – most religious
shrine in Arabia
300 deities – destination of many pilgrims
Mecca’s domination tribe Quraysh controlled
access to shrine= great wealth
6th century Mecca was home to various tribes
and clans
Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians here
most Arabs recognized the prominence of
the supreme god Allah
Allah was identified with the Jewish
Arabs regarded themselves as children of
Some Arabs were saying Yahweh / Allah
was the only God and other gods were
helpless/harmless idols
Messenger and the Message
Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (570-632) born in
Member of the Quraysh family – Parents died
and he was raised by his uncle
Worked as a Sheppard and later a trader
Age 25 married Khadija a wealth widow
He became a successful merchant and had 6
Muhammad’s revelations started in 610 and
lasted over 20 years.
The information was written in the Quran
Sacred word of God
During his meditation he was visited by the
angel Gabriel
He later ran to his wife in terror
A Christian assured him that he was the
messenger of God and a Prophet
Muhammad’s wife was the 1st to convert to
this new religion.
Muslim –one who takes Islam as their religion
– or submits to Allah
Allah was the only God
As a messenger of God Muhammad put himself
in line of previous prophets such as Abraham,
Moses and Jesus and others
He was the last seal of the prophets, Gods final
revelation to mankind
Muhammad felt the Jews had considered
wrongly they were the chosen people
Christians had made their prophet into a god
Arabs had become polytheistic
The Quran would correct these mistakes
The Quran denounced the prevailing
society’s practices
Hording wealth
Exploitation of the poor
Corruption in business
Abuse of women
The Quran challenged the tribal and clan
Creation of one Muslim society or umma
No more tribal, ethnic or racial identities
In this society women would be honored
and spiritually equal
Believers would protect one another - Join
what is right and forbid what is wrong
5 pillars of Islam
There is no God but Allah and Muhammad
is the prophet
Pray 5 times a day
Alms giving – giving to the poor
Fasting during Ramadan
Pilgrimage to Mecca known as the hajj
6th Pillar was the Jihad – allows for the sword
against non-believers
Transformation of Arabia
Muhammad was only able to find a small group
of followers in Mecca
His family (clan) was against his claim that he
was the Prophet and reform of society
Muhammad and a few followers were forced to
leave and went to Yathrib
This would become the City of the Prophet
Muhammad became an arbitrator to the people’
Immigration to Yathrib known as hijra
Turning point and marked the beginning of the
new calendar
Tax free market place was established
Mandatory payments to support the poor
Muhammad thought Jews and Christians would
accept his new religion
Muhammad had people pray facing Jerusalem –
but then some Jews joined his enemies
He had people pray facing Jerusalem
Some Jews joined his enemies
Muhammad killed, exiled or enslaved them
Followers were now instructed to pray toward
Jews and Christians who were loyal were
considered Children of The book and given
protection – second class citizens – pay a
special tax
Arab religion with a universal
Islam grew rapidly. People were attracted to it
because it offered
End of warfare among tribes
Muhammad Marched into Mecca and rid it of
By 632 when Muhammad died most of Arabia
was under Muslim control
Sharia Law
Muhammad was not only a religious
leader but also a political and military
The law of Islam became the center of
Muslim society – Sharia Law
Making of an Arab Empire
Within a few years on Muhammad’s death the
Arab armies fought the Byzantine and Persian
Sassanid Empires – The strongest in the region
It was the beginning of an Arab Empire that
would stretch from Spain to India and
conquering parts of China and Europe
644 the Sassanid Empire fell
Byzantine lost most of its southern empire
Muslims swept across Northern Africa and into
Spain and attacked France
Arabs reached the Indus River
751 Crushed the Chinese in the battle of Talas
River – Stopped further expansion of the
Chinese Empire
Most conflict was with armies but in 634 a
battle with the Byzantine 4,000 dead villagers
Trade and Wealth
Driving force was wealth – Merchants wanted
new trade routes
The new Islamic society became a path of
military expansions and a route to wealth and
social promotion
The unity of umma became fragile
Many saw the expansion as a Jihad – bringing
Islam to these lands
People within the Muslim society saw
themselves linked together in a cultural
identity and belief in Allah
Slaves and prisoners were early converts
Others converted to avoid paying special tax for
Merchants found Islam friendly to commerce
and by being Muslim it opened you up to trade
without fear
Islam was also an aid to social mobility
Much of the Muslim world lost their old
languages and spoke Arabic
Shahnama (The Book of the Kings) by Persian
poet Ferdowsi
Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan Islamized but not
Zoroastrianism, Jewish and Christians
religions did mix with Islam leaving some with
Satan, judgment day, heaven and hell
Division and Controversies
With the death of Muhammad there was the
question of who would rule
Caliph -Successor to Muhammad – political and
military leaders
The 1st four caliphs were the Rightly Guided
Caliphs 632-661
Division developed and Abu Bakr the first caliph
suppressed tribal rebellion & 3rd and 4th were
both assassinated
Civil war in 656
Sides split
Sunni Muslims believed the caliph - political and
military leader -selected by Islamic community
Shia Muslims – leadership should come from the
bloodline of Muhammad
Sunni Muslims – religious authority emerged
from large communities – scholars called ulama
Shia Muslims leader known as imams – they
could interpret religious law
Sunni and Shia split became a lasting division in
the Muslim world
Empire grew & caliphs were transformed from
tribal chiefs to absolute monarchs
Some established dynasties
Umayyad 661-750 first dynasty to rule following
the Rightly Guided Caliphs
Caliphs became hereditary and capital moved
from Medina to Damascus in Syria
Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad in 750
Capital in Bagdad
Allowed non Arabs mostly Persians playing and
important role
Women and Men in Early Islam
In early society men and women were equal
But in social terms men were superior to women
Islam forbid female infanticide
Women had control over their own properties
Marriage by capture was now illegal
Divorce possible / Women not veiled or secluded
2nd caliph Umar veiling and seclusions
Women no longer in public life
Caliph Masur 754-775 took separation further
Separate bridges for women
Honor killings – women killed by relatives for
violating sexual taboos
Women were considered a sexual threat to men
Led to female circumcision – still practiced
India became part of the Islamic society
Turkic and Muslim rule governed most f India
until British takeover in 18th and 19th century
In the early stages there was much violence
Hindu and Buddhist temples destroyed
Disillusioned Buddhist and members of low casts
were attracted to Islam
The religion never grew more than 25% of
Indian society
Anatolia - Now modern day Turkey
Largely a Christian and Greek speaking society
governed by Byzantine Empire
By 1500 90% Muslim – Turkish speaking and
home of the Ottoman Empire
Turkish rulers offered converts material
rewards, better opportunities, Established
schools, hospitals, and rest places for travelers
1500 it was the most impressive and most
powerful Islam state
West Africa
Trade brought Islam here
It was gradually accepted and mostly peaceful
and voluntary
African merchants saw Islam as an important
link to Muslim trade
By 1600 some West African cities had become
centers of Islamic religion and intellectual life
attracting scholars
Timbuktu – 150 Quranic schools and several
major centers of higher level educations
Students from all over West Africa
Libraries – tens of thousands of books
Monarchs helped pay for the building of
Islam was the culture of the urban elites
The general population practiced African
The religion was often mixed with local customs
Early 8th century Arab and Berber forces
captured much of Spain
10th century Muslim Spain was a place of
harmony – Jews and Christian lived here in
Saw a flourishing of arts, medicine, architecture,
1000 ce 75% of population was Muslim
Late 10th century
Persecution of Christians 11th century
1200 the re-conquest of Spain by the
Christians started – Reconquista
1492 Isabella and Ferdinand unified Spain as a
Catholic society
Muslim and Jews were forced out of Spain
Many of those forced to leave were wealth and
very educated
World of Islam as a New Civilization
Ulama Trained scholars – served as judges,
interpreters, administrators, prayer leaders and
reciters of the Quran
They were supported by local communities,
rulers often gave support
In homes, mosques, shrines, and schools ulama
passed on the core teachings of Islam
11th century – universities built – philosophy,
theology, mathematics and medicine
Common text shared across Islamic world
Sufi – shaykhs or shakes, teachers attracted
The Sufi order would follow armies and traders
Devotion of followers allowed the Sufi to grow
- Belief in saints
The Sufi became another part of the Islam
Network and exchanges
Pilgrimage to Mecca and urbanization of Islamic
civilization fosters commerce
Muslim merchants became dominant players in
the world trade, Mediterranean Sea, Silk Road,
and Sahara
New crops led to the green Revolution =
increased food production, population growth,
urbanization and industrialization across
Islamic world
The End

Ways of the World: A Brief Global History