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Mohammed and the Rise of Islam. 600’s A.D. loss of much of the Eastern Roman Empire to a new religious and political power Islam. Middle East, ca. 600 A.D. Islam. Bedouin Arab named Mohammed born ca. 570 A.D. Merchant family, Hasimites Qurayshis tribe, who dominate Mecca

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Mohammed and the Rise of Islam

  • 600’s A.D.

  • loss of much of the Eastern Roman Empire

  • to a new religious and political power

    • Islam



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Islam

  • Bedouin Arab named Mohammed

  • born ca. 570 A.D.

  • Merchant family, Hasimites

  • Qurayshis tribe, who dominate Mecca

    • controlling much of the religious pilgrim trade

  • raised by relatives

    -father and mother died by age six

    -raised by an impoverished uncle


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Mohammed

  • formal education ?? We don’t know

    • Normally only the Poets of the Tribes could read and write

  • commercial agent for a wealthy widow

    • Khadijah

    • supervising caravans from Mecca, north to Jerusalem

    • contact with both Jews and Christians


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Mohammed, con’t

  • He seems to have made an impression on his boss, because of his reputed honesty

    • married her and retired from commerce

    • to devote himself to religion

    • and to making society more fair and equitable


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Mohammed, con’t

  • monogamous until his wife died

  • eventually married nine wives and had assorted concubines

  • last marriage at 53 to Aishah, daughter of a friend

  • wives: widows of friends or political marriages

    • Women alone is such a world were very vulnerable


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Origins of Mohammed’s Teachings

  • periods of unconsciousness are indicated: explanations

    • revelations from Allah by holy trances, spoken to by Gabriel

    • epilepsy or a similar neurological disorder?

    • mental illness or hallucinations ?

  • Mohammed’s explanation:

    • revelations from God

    • Very unpleasant and painful for him


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The Quran

  • Record of revelations received during visions

  • Committed to writing c. 650 CE, compiled (Muhammad dies 632)

    • Under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan

  • Tradition of Muhammad’s life: hadith


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Nature of Revelations

  • diverse

  • social, agricultural, medical, military, astronomical, etc.


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Historical Origins of His Ideas

  • Arab polytheism

  • Hanifism: a belief in one God traced to Abraham, by tradition

  • Judaism

  • Christianity: Orthodox, Nestorian, Arianism

  • Manichaeism: a mixture of Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, and so forth


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Beginning of His Ministry

  • at about age 40, after a number of revelations

  • began to preach publicly

  • continued to receive revelations until death

    • usually related to current problems or concerns

    • Religious, political, social, economic


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Early religious career

  • not particularly successful

  • threatened the social, political, and religious structure, with his doctrine of social equity

  • threatened the economic basis of Mecca as a center of religious pilgrimage

  • particularly the Black Rock

    • sacred to the chief deity of the Arabs

  • run out of town, or at least encouraged to leave

    • Went to the desert with his family and lived for about a year


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The Hijra

  • flight from Mecca, to Yathrib (Medina)

    -tradition: invited by the Jews of Medina

  • 622 A.D.

  • beginning of the Islamic calendar

  • forms the umma (community)

  • welcomed, then resisted

  • Mohammed becomes an absolute theocrat


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Muhammad’s Return to Mecca

  • Attack on Mecca, 630 -- jihad

  • Conversion of Mecca to Islam

  • Destruction of pagan sites, replaced with mosques

    • Ka’aba preserved in honor of importance of Mecca

    • Approved as pilgrimage site


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Jihad

  • holy war against Mecca

  • ten year blockade

  • a deal was made


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The Deal

  • Mecca preserved as a holy city and place of pilgrimage

    • to preserve the economic prosperity

  • the Ka’aba preserved as the central shrine

    • idols and icons destroyed

    • story of its origins emphasized the role of Abraham in its placement

    • pilgrimage as an act of faith, at least once in your life



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The Religion: the Koran (Qu’ran)

  • the Koran (Qu’ran): contains much of Mohammed recounting of Allah’s teachings

  • written down by his followers after his death

    • from notes and memories, on “stones and parchments”

  • Short: 114 chapters

    • arranged from longest to the shortest

    • not by subject or chronologically

    • length is the criterion of order for the text


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The Koran, con’t

  • some “Old” and “New” Testaments stories

    • but sometimes the story seems a bit different to Jews and Christians

  • parables and fables

  • political polemic and prophecy

  • “non-religious” subjects

    • not dissimilar to Jewish and Christian scriptures in some ways


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Five Pillars of Islam

  • uniqueness of God

    • ‘There is no god, but God….’

  • prayer five times a day

  • observe the month of Ramadan

  • give alms to the poor

  • pilgrimage to Mecca

    • If possible, once in your life


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Additional teachings

  • dietary laws

  • no gambling or drinking

  • no sexual irregularities, as defined by tradition and custom

  • no faulty weights or usury

  • no infanticide

  • elaborate rules concerning inheritance and property

  • improvement in the status of women and children


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Changing Status of Women

  • Qu’ran improves status of women

    • Outlawed female infanticide

    • Brides, not husbands, claim dowries

  • Yet male dominance preserved

    • Patrilineal descent

    • Polygamy permitted, Polyandry forbidden

    • Veil adopted from ancient Mesopotamian practice


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Similarities to Judaism and Christianity

  • monotheism (defined a bit differently)

  • insistence on the responsibility of human beings

  • final judgment and rewards

  • angels and spirits

  • practice of virtues: truthfulness, compassion, etc.


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Differences

  • an emphasis on compassion and mercy

  • alms giving moderate

  • heaven conceived a bit differently

  • no priests or sacramental system

  • easy conversion: the Shahadah

    • ‘There is no God by Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.’


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Islamic Law: The Sharia

  • Codification of Islamic law

  • Based on Quran, hadith, logical schools of analysis

  • Extends beyond ritual law to all areas of human activity

    • This is the basis the idea of an “Islamic republic” for instance


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Expansion of Islam

  • early victories

  • backsliders (tribes) punished

    • Apostasy = treason = death

  • assaults on:

    • the Byzantine (Roman) empire

    • the Persian empire



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Dome of the Rock,

Temple Mount Jerusalem


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Victories

  • Syria: 635 A.D.

  • Palestine: 636 A.D.

  • Persia: captured in one battle

    • expansion into India

    • expansion to the borders of China

  • Egypt: help by local Christians

  • North Africa: the Berbers


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Expansion, con’t

  • Spain 711-720 A.D.

  • Battle of Tours: October 732 A.D.

    • Charles Martel

  • Siege of Constantinople: 717-718 A.D.

    • Leo III

    • Greek fire

  • beginnings of Christian reconquest of former Roman/Christian territory


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Reasons for success

  • exhaustion of Rome and Persia

    • End of a 400 year war

  • nationalist sentiments in Egypt and Syria

  • arguments among Christian factions

  • speed and size of Moslem armies

  • simplicity and uncomplicated nature of Islam

  • acceptance of the Old and New Testament

    • People of the Book


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Consequences of Expansion

  • loss of the oldest and most central lands of Christendom

  • aided the ascendancy of the bishop of Rome

  • virtual collapse of Zoroastrianism as a major religion

  • radically altered the balance of power between the Roman Empire and the East

  • disruption of the Mediterranean economic community


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Early Problems

  • Succession ?

    • Mohammed had no surviving male children

    • Daughter: Fatima

    • Son-in-law: Ali, child of his uncle

  • generated a permanent split in the Islamic community

    • Sunnis

    • Shi’as


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Sunnis

  • considered themselves the “orthodox” followers of Mohammed

  • consider the Shi’as to be “dissenters”

  • issue: who leads after Mohammed ??

  • the Caliph (or “leader”)

  • went successively to followers

    -Abu Bakr, then Oman

    -then Uthman and


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The Shia

  • Disagreements over selection of caliphs

  • Ali passed over for Abu Bakr

  • Served as caliph 656-661 CE, then assassinated along with most of his followers

  • Remaining followers organize separate party called “Shia”

    • Traditionalists: Sunni


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Abu Bakr

  • not particularly popular with the Muslim community

  • allowed raid, then invasions of Byzantine and Persian territory

  • subjugated any dissident elements or tribes

  • disposed of any “new prophets”


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Success = strain

  • success introduced luxury and change

    • From original caliphs to the Umayyad caliphs

  • new ideas and new ethnic groups

    • with their own customs and heritage, to try to assimilate

  • rise of a sort of “revivalist element”

    • Islam had strayed from its original path and purity

    • Muslims were being led back to paganism

    • caliphs were becoming idle, corrupt, tyrants


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Uthman: the third Caliph

  • murdered: warfare broke out

  • Ali: cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed

  • originally passed over as too young

  • contested the succession

  • Uthman supported by the Umayyad clan

    • early enemies of Mohammed

    • refused to accept Ali’s claims


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Umayyeds

  • successful in the war

  • Ali assassinated in 661 A.D.

    • by the Kharijites

  • beginning of the Umayyed dynasty


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Policy toward Conquered Peoples

  • Favoritism of Arab military rulers causes discontent

  • Limited social mobility for non-Arab Muslims

  • Head tax (jizya) on non-Muslims

  • Umayyad luxurious living causes further decline in moral authority


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Sunnis

  • accepted the legitimacy of early caliphs

  • “Sunni” : from an Arabic word

    • “usage” or “custom”

    • implies: “precedent”


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Shi’as

  • accepted Ali

  • word means: “party”, “faction”, “following”


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Factions

  • Sunni and Shi’as dominant

  • originally political

    • Eventually the differences became dogmatic in emphasis

  • Shi’as become a party of religious dissent


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Perceptions

  • Sunni: conservative, in favor of the “status quo”

    • consensus is the guiding principle

  • Shi’as: defenders of the oppressed, critics of privilege and power

    • obedience is required only as long as it can be forced, and no longer


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Umayyed empire

  • Atlantic Ocean to India

  • Syria: center of the Islamic World

  • eventually displaced by the Abbasids

    • an Arab family claiming decent from Mohammed


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The Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258 CE)

  • Abu al-Abbas Sunni Arab, allied with Shia, non-Arab Muslims

  • Seizes control of Persia and Mesopotamia

  • Defeats Umayyad army in 750

    • Invited Umayyads to banquet, then massacred them

    • Only Spain remains Umayyad

    • North Africa is disputed territory, ultimately Fatamid


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Nature of the Abbasid Dynasty

  • Diverse nature of administration (i.e. not exclusively Arab)

  • Militarily competent, but not bent on imperial expansion

  • Dar al-Islam

  • Growth through military activity of autonomous Islamic forces


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Nature of the Abbasid Dynasty

  • Diverse nature of administration (i.e. not exclusively Arab)

  • Militarily competent, but not bent on imperial expansion

  • Dar al-Islam

  • Growth through military activity of autonomous Islamic forces


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Caliph Harun al-Rashid (786-809 CE)

  • High point of Abbasid dynasty

  • Baghdad center of commerce

  • Great cultural activity


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Abbasid Decline

  • Civil war between sons of Harun al-Rashid

  • Provincial governers assert regional independence

  • Dissenting sects, heretical movements

  • Abbasid caliphs become puppets of Persian nobility

  • Later, Saljuq Turks influence, Sultan real power behind the throne


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Formation of an Islamic Cultural Tradition

  • Islamic values

    • Uniformity of Islamic law in dar al-Islam

    • Establishment of madrasas

    • Importance of the Hajj

  • Sufi missionaries

    • Asceticism, mysticism

    • Some tension with orthodox Islamic theologians

    • Wide popularity


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Cultural influences on Islam

  • Persia

    • Adminstration and governance

    • literature

  • India

    • Mathematics, science, medicine

      • “Hindi” numbers

  • Greece

    • Philosophy, esp. Aristotle

    • Greek medicine


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Cultural Importance of Islam

  • Development of these received influences

  • Distribution throughout the Muslim world

  • Introduction and reintroduction of these ideas to medieval Europe

    • Through Spain

    • Spanish Jews


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