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The Arab Empire and its Successors

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  1. The Arab Empire and its Successors Chapter 6-2

  2. Creation of an Arab Empire • During Muhammad’s lifetime he was seen as both the political & religious leader of the Islamic community • His death resulted in a major problem for the Islamic community as he had not named his successor • Normally the eldest son would assume the position but Muhammad only had daughters, no son • This was a male dominated society so the daughters would not do The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven.

  3. Creation of an Arab Empire • Shortly after Muhammad’s death his closest followers chose Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s father in law, as their new leader • Bakr had accompanied Muhammad on his journey to Madinah in 622 as well as led prayers during Muhammad’s final days • In 632 Bakr was named caliph or successor to Muhammad Abu Bakr

  4. Arab Conquest • Under the leadership of Bakr the Muslim Empire grew • The Quran allowed for defensive war known as jihad or “struggle in the way of god” • Now united the Muslim Empire began to turn its energy against its neighbors conquering parts of the Byzantine Empire, Egypt, other parts of Africa, as well as the entire Persian Empire • The Arab effort was enhanced by the belief that Muslim Warriors were assured a place in paradise if they died in battle Caliph Abu Bakr's empire at its peak in August 634.

  5. Arab Rule • The death of Bakr again posed the problem of who should be the next caliph • There were no clear successors as the next two were assassinated • In 656 Ali, Muhammad’s son in law, was chosen as the new caliph • His reign lasted five years as he too was assassinated The grave of Abu Bakr at the Masjid al-Nabawi

  6. Arab Rule • In the conquered territories Arab administrators did allow local officials to govern & Jews & Christians were also allowed to practice their religion • They were allowed to do so because they were “People of the Book” • “People of the Book” were those who had written scripture revealed to them from God before the time of Muhammad • Those who chose not to convert were required only to be loyal & pay taxes to the Muslims

  7. Umayyad Conquests • By the beginning of the eighth century the Arabs had begun attacks on both the eastern & western ends of the Mediterranean world • By 725 most Spain had also become part of the Arab empire • However all did not go the Arab way as they were defeated at the Battle of Tours in Gaul (France), which led to the end of expansion in Europe as well as at Constantinople by the Byzantines which would lead to a very uneasy frontier between the Islamic & Byzantine worlds Umayyad dominance stretching from the Middle East to the Iberian peninsula

  8. Umayyad Conquests • By 750 the Arab advance had come to an end • Arab power extended into the parts of the old Roman empire as well as east to Mesopotamia & Persia as well as northward into central Asia • The conquests brought great wealth to the Arab empire but it also brought in new ethnic groups into the Muslim culture • These new groups would lead to internal conflict that is still seen in the Arab world today

  9. A Split in Islam • In spite of the Umayyad military strength internal struggles threatened the empires stability: • Different belief systems by non-Arabs • Preferential treatment that was given to Arabs • Financial issues • Ruling issues of far away territories • The spoils of war had made the Arab empire strong & wealthy but the influx of new cultures would lead to the downfall from the inside out

  10. A Split in Islam • An important revolt occurred in present day Iran as Hussein, son of ALI-son in law to Muhammad, led a revolt against the Umayyad in 680 • Hussein was crushed and the revolt led to a split in the Arab Empire • On one side were the Shia who would only accept the true descendants of Ali as the true rulers of Islam • On the other were the Sunni who accepted the Umayyad as the ruler or caliphs • This spilt still exists today as the Sunnis make up the majority of the Muslim world while those in Iraq & Iran consider themselves to be Shia Distributionof Sunni and Shia populations

  11. The Abbasid Dynasty • Resentment against Umayyad rule continued to grow among non-Arab Muslims because of favoritism & corruption • As a result in 750 the Umayyad Empire was defeated by Abu al-Abbas & the Abbasid dynasty was formed • The Abbasid Dynasty would last until 1258 Abbasid coins

  12. Abbasid Rule • In 762 the Abbasids moved the capital to Baghdad to take advantage of the river traffic in the Persian Gulf as well as the trade route from the Mediterranean to central Asia • This move also increased the Persian influence & increased a new cultural outlook • Under the Umayyad warriors were seen as the heroes of society while under the Abbasid rule judges, merchants, & government officials were now the heroes of society • When it came to differences between the Arabs & non Arabs the Abbasid attempted to break the barriers by allowing ALL Muslims to hold political & military offices • Under the Abbasids many Arabs began to intermarry

  13. Abbasid Rule • The best known caliph of this period was Harun al-Rashid • Harun’s rule was known for his charity & support for writers & artists • Under the Abbasid’s the caliph became more regal as he began taking an active role in political decisions • Despite great economic prosperity all was not well in the Abbasid Empire as it would soon become divided • Fighting over succession of caliphate • Financial corruption • Shortage of qualified Arabs for key positions in civil service & the military • Rulers of provinces within the empire began to break away from central rule & establish independent dynasties

  14. Seljuk Turks & the Crusades • The Seljuks were a nomadic people who had converted to Islam & prospered as soldiers for the Abbasid caliphate • However the Abbasids grew weak as the Seljuks grew strong • By the eleventh century the Seljuks had taken over the eastern provinces of the Abbasid empire • The new Seljuk leader took the title of sultan or “holder of Power”

  15. The Crusades • Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire appealed to the Christian states of Europe for help against the Turks as the Christian states distrusted the Islamic world • The Christian states agreed thus began a series of crusades that began in 1096 For the first decade, the Crusaders pursed a policy of terror against Muslims and Jews that included mass executions, the throwing of severed heads over besieged cities walls, exhibition and mutilation of naked cadavers, and even cannibalism

  16. The Crusades • In the beginning the Muslims suffered great losses against the invading Crusaders • This soon changed as Saladin took control of the Muslim empire • In 1187 Saladin invaded Jerusalem & destroyed the Christian forces • In victory Saladin did not massacre the population & even allowed Christian worship to continue • In the end the Crusades had a minimal impact on Southwest Asia as the real threat would come from the Mongols Artistic representation of Saladin

  17. The Mongols • The Mongols were a nomadic people who came from the Gobi to control much of the known world • This group of people, as nomads, found it very difficult to settle in one area & were by nature very destructive in their conquests • Their goal was to create so much terror that no one would fight back • One of the most powerful of the Mongols was Genghis Khan