WHAP Ch.11 StudyGuide help & KeyTerms
What distinguished the 1st Centuries of Islamic History from the early history of Christianity & Buddhism? What similar & difference characterized their religious outlooks?
Islam differed because its founder was a religious figure as well as a military & political leader. From the start, the Islamic community found itself constituted as a state. Because of this, Islam didn’t develop an as clearly defined a separation between church & state as Christianity & Buddhism did. Islamic conception of monotheism was stronger then that of the Christians. All 3 were founded by single historical figures who had powerful religious experiences, provide a clear path to salvation, & they all proclaim the equality of all believers. Each religion was also shaped in part by cultural traditions in which it emerged.
What changes did Islamic expansion generate in those societies that encountered it, and how was Islam itself transformed by those encounters?
The population of many regions converted wholly or partly to the Islamic faith, regions of the Islamic world were tied more closely together through trade and exchange of technology, crops, and ideas. Older religious & political traditions were at times swept away or at lest altered, Islam was transferred through these encounters, especially when the norms of those societies that converted had impact on social and cultural implications of the faith. The Islamic world & understanding of Islam was shaped by contact with intellectual & cultural tradition, like Greek philosophy.
How does the core message of Islam compare with that of Judaism and Christianity?
All are monotheistic, Allah is the only supreme God. As ” the messenger of God”, Muhammad presented himself in the tradition of earlier prophets like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Like Jewish prophets and Jesus, Muhammad demanded in social justice and laid out prescription for its implementation.
What accounts for widespread conversion to Islam?
Jews, Christians, & Zoroastrians could find familiar elements of their own faiths in Islam. From the start, Islam was associated with sponsorship of powerful state. Conquest called into question the power of old gods, while growing prestige of Arab empire attracted many to Allah. Living in an Islamic-governed state provided a variety of incentives for claiming Muslim identity (better official jobs available = convert = aid to social mobility = no tax) In Islamic states, merchants found religion friendly to commerce, & in Arab empire they enjoyed a huge secure area for trade.
Why were Arabs able to construct such a huge empire so quickly?
For the 1st time, shared faith in Islam allowed the newly organized state to mobilize the military potential of the entire Arab population. The Byzantine and Persian empires were weakened by decades of war with each other and by internal revolts, & also underestimated the Arabian threat. Merchant leaders of the new Islamic community wanted to capture profitable trade routes and wealthy agricultural regions. Individual Arabs found a route to wealth and social promotion in military expansion, and this expansion provided a common task for Arab community, which enforced fragile unity of umma. Arabs motivated by religious dimension, as many viewed the mission of empire in terms of jihad, bringing a righteous government to people they conquered.
How might you account for the immense religious and political/military success of Islam in its early centuries?
For 1st time, shared faith in Islamic areas allowed the state to mobilize the military potential of entire Arab population. The Byzantine and Persian empires were weakened by decades of war with each other and by internal revolts, so they also underestimated the Arab threat. Merchant leaders of the new Islamic community wanted to capture profitable trade routes and wealthy agriculture regions. Individual Arabs found a route to wealth and social promotion in military expansion. This expansion provided a common task for Arab community, which enforced fragile unity of umma. Arabs motivated by religious dimension, as many viewed the mission of empire in terms of jihad, bringing righteous government to the people they conquered. Islam success in attracting converts (Muhammad’s religious message was attractive to many Jews, Christians and Zoroastrianists; could find familiar elements). The growing prestige of the Arab empire attracted many, conquest made them question power of old gods, merchants found Islam was friendly to commerce and in Arab empire a huge and secure area for trade, people who want official positions find social mobility.
What similarities and difference can you identify in spread of Islam to India, Anatolia, West Africa, & Spain?
Islam spread to India, Anatolia, & Spain in part through conquest, while it arrived in West Africa with Muslim traders. Sufis facilitated conversions by accommodating local traditions, especially in India & Anatolia, but played little role in West Africa until at least the 18th century. In India, West Africa, & Spain, Islam became one of several faiths within the wider culture, while in Anatolia it became the dominant faith.
In what ways did the early history of Islam reflect its Arabian origins?
Islam drew on an older Arab identification of Allah with Yahweh(the Jewish High God), & Arabian self identification as children of Abraham. The Quran denounced the prevailing social practices of an increasingly prosperous Mecca, and sought a return to older values of Arabian tribal life. The message of the Quran also rejected the Arabian tribal & clan structure, which was prone to war, feuding, & violence. Instead, the Quran sought to replace this structure with the umma.
Dynasty of caliphs who ruled an increasingly fragmented Islamic state from 750 to 1258, eventually becoming little more than figureheads.
Arabic name for Spain (literally “the land of the Vandals”), most of which was conquered by Arab and Berber forces in the early eighth century C.E.
Ancient name of Asia Minor, part of the Byzantine Empire that was gradually overrun by the Turks and that now is the Republic of Turkey.
Battle of Talas River
Arab victory over the Chinese in 751 C.E. that checked Chinese expansion to the west and enabled the conversion of Central Asia to Islam.
Nomadic Arabians who herded sheep & camels in seasonal migrations. They lived in independent family clans & tribes & were often engaged in bloody feuds with each other. Recognized a variety of gods, ancestors, & nature spirits, valued bravery, loyalty, & hospitality, & greatly treasured their expressive oral poetry.
“Protected subjects” under Islamic rule, non-Muslims who were allowed to practice their faith as “people of the book” in return for their paying special taxes.
Great Muslim theologian, legal scholar, and Sufi mystic(1058 – 1111) who was credited with incorporating Sufism into mainstream Islamic thought.
Traditions passed on about the sayings or actions of Muhammad and his immediate followers; hadiths rank second only to the Quran as a source of Islamic law.
The pilgrimage to Mecca enjoined on every Muslim who is able to make the journey; one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The “flight” of Muhammad and his original seventy followers from Mecca to Yathrib (later Medina) in 622 C.E.; the journey marks the starting point of the Islamic calendar.
House of Wisdom
An academic center for research and translation of foreign texts that was established in Baghdad in 830 C.E. by the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun.
Fourteenth-century Arab traveler (1304-1368) who wrote about his extensive journeys throughout the Islamic world.
(980-1037), a.k.a. “Avicenna”, a Persian prolific writer in almost all fields of science & philosophy. Wrote the Canon of Medicine, a 14-volume work that standards for medical practice in Islamic & Christian worlds for centuries.
In Shia Islam, leaders with high religious authority; the twelve imams of early Shia Islam were Muhammad’s nephew Ali and his descendants.
Arabic for “struggle”, this term describes both the spiritual striving of each Muslim toward a godly life and armed struggle against the forces of unbelief and evil.
Special tax paid by dhimmis in Muslim-ruled territory in return for freedom to practice their own religion.
Great stone shrine in Mecca that was a major pilgrimage center for worshipers of many different deities before it was reconsecrated to monotheistic use by Muhammad.
Formal colleges for higher instruction in the teachings of Islam as well as in secular subjects, founded throughout the Islamic world beginning in the eleventh century.
The most famous European traveler of the Middle Ages (1254-1324), whose travel account of his time in China was widely popular in Europe.
Key pilgrimage center in Arabia that became the birthplace of Islam.