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Converts to Islam in South Asia. In India, the authority and prestige of the upper castes was entirely dependent upon Hinduism. The lower castes were more inclined to convert because Islam’s stress on equality was more attractive to them.

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converts to islam in south asia
Converts to Islam in South Asia
  • In India, the authority and prestige of the upper castes was entirely dependent upon Hinduism.
  • The lower castes were more inclined to convert because Islam’s stress on equality was more attractive to them.
  • Since converts came primarily from people with little to no influence in society, Islam did not affect India’s social or political structures in a fundamental way.
islam in south asia
Islam in South Asia
  • The exchange of culture and ideas between Islam and India was basically one way, with Islamic civilization benefiting greatly from Hindu culture:
    • The Hindu numbering system. Because the Muslim Arabs would introduce these to Western Europe, they would be incorrectly named Arabic numerals.
    • Muslims also borrowed mathematical concepts from Hindus, such as a symbol for zero, negative integers that would lead to more advanced forms of mathematics.
islam in western europe
Islam in Western Europe
  • After the Battle of Tours in 732, Islam remained a presence in Spain until the last Muslim stronghold at Granada was defeated in 1492. (Reconquista)
  • The scientific writings of Aristotle were copied, taught, and preserved by Muslim scholars and eventually transmitted to Medieval European universities.
  • The Greek thought of the Arabs exercised a strong influence upon the Christians of Europe in the Middle Ages.
islam in anatolia modern turkey
Islam in Anatolia (Modern Turkey)
  • The Muslim Abbasid dynasty began trade relations with the nomadic Turks who roamed the plains of Asia and Anatolia.
  • The Turks converted to Islam, and as monotheism replaced polytheism, warring tribes were able to unite and strengthen.
  • Faith in Allah provided a broader basis for loyalty than blood or ancestry.
  • This political transformation led to the rise of the Seljuk Turks.
  • The advancement of these Turks into the Christian Holy Land (Palestine) and their threat to Constantinople that provoked the Crusades by Pope Urban II.
islam in sub saharan africa
Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The beginning of trans-Saharan trade, made possible by the domestication of the camel, profoundly influenced the world of sub-Saharan Africa. Gold, salt, and slaves began to make their way across the desert. With them came Islam.
  • Because Islam does not separate religious authority from political authority, it was most appealing to tribal leaders because it strengthened the African concept of kingship.
  • Kings who converted had more power and authority at their disposal.
  • Several Muslim empires would emerge.
islam and the people of sub saharan africa
Islam and the people of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Islam did not greatly affect the lower classes or traditional gender roles in Africa.
  • Most of the people of Africa combined Islam with their established beliefs of ancestor worship and fetishes.
  • Role of Women: “Women in sub-Saharan Africa possessed more opportunities than did women in other parts of the world. Even the arrival of Islam did not substantially worsen the condition of women in sub-Saharan Africa.”
impact of islam trade in africa
Impact of Islam- Trade in Africa
  • Islam dramatically increased trade in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the slave trade.
  • Muslims considered the enslavement of unbelievers as a step toward their conversion.
  • “As many as ten million African slaves were shipped north as part of the trans-Saharan slave trade between 750 and 1500.”
Umayyad Palace/ Mosque in Damascus incorporated the arches and domes of Roman architecture. Fancy, but no where near as luxurious as Abbasid palaces.
pre islamic polytheistic shrine
Pre-Islamic Polytheistic Shrine

Believed to be the site Abraham’s sacrifice, this shrine in Mecca became the “neutral” pilgrimage site for all the pre-Islamic gods. Muhammad smashed the idols to these gods and today this shrine is the destination of the hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca.

At Samarra, the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil built a great mosque in 847. The minaret of the was built out of baked bricks. A minaret is where the muezzin makes the call to prayer.
The bureaucracy during the Abbasid Caliphate was directed by the wazir (Arabic for vizier). These administrators often used their power for personal gain and kept the caliphs isolated from the “people”.
In 732, Charles (the Hammer) Martel stopped the Muslim expansion into Europe at the Battle of Tours in central France. The Muslims returned to Spain (al-Andulus) until their eventual defeat at Granada in 1492.

Technological Innovations during the Abbasid Caliphate reflected new thinking as well as their “additions” to the ideas of other civilizations.

The “slave army” of Mameluks from Egypt protected and threatened the Baghdad caliphs. They even stopped the Mongols!
Before the birth of Islam the Middle East was controlled by two aging empires that had been fighting for decades.
The move of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad further weakened the ties of Islam to its religious base in Mecca.
An Islamic man could marry up to four wives if he could support all of them and treat them equally. Women could not take more than one husband. In some modern societies the Muslim women object to this practice.
During the Abbasid Caliphate the level of trade steadily increased regardless of whether the caliph was strong or weak.
The Second Pillar of Islam, to pray five times daily facing Mecca, remained a tenet of Islam even after the move to Damascus.
During the time of the Abbasids often the slave girls were more educated and more “interesting” than the Muslim wives. This slave has enticed the caliph with her stories of love and adventure … 1001 different stories.
The expansion of Islam started during the time of Muhammad and the first four caliphs continues under the Umayyads.
Despite the Crusades the interaction between Muslims and Europeans continued throughout the Abbasid era.
Completed during the Umayyad Dynasty, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is located on the site of Solomon’s 2nd temple.

The Abbasid caliphs used an extensive bureaucracy to keep the taxes rolling into the treasury. Their lifestyle reflected how the money was spent.

Islamic merchants linked Asia to the Middle East and thus to Europe. Their role in expanding global trade cannot be exaggerated.
trade under islamic caliphates
Trade under Islamic Caliphates
  • One important result of the spread of Islam was an increase in trade. Unlike Christianity, Islam did not originally have prohibitions against wealth and profit. Muhammad himself was a merchant. Merchants were protected by Islamic law. Banking and credit flourished, and trade and financial transactions became much safer and easier.
inventions help trade
Inventions Help Trade
  • Saddles for camels made the deserts of north Africa and Arabia no longer as obstructive as before.
  • Muslims opened up the eastern part of the Silk Road trade routes with China and:
    • compass from the Chinese
    • lateen sail from Asia
decline of the caliphate
Decline of the Caliphate
  • Starting about 850, Abbasid control over the Arab empire fragmented. In Spain, Egypt, and elsewhere, independent dynasties ruled separate Muslim states. As the caliph’s power faded, civil wars erupted, and Shiite rulers took over parts of the empire. Between 900 and 1400, a series of invasions added to the chaos.
Seljuks Dynasty, 1037-1194

Seljuks Dynasty of Rum (Byzantium) 11th –14th c.

During the 12th c. the Seljuks empire was divided into three main groups: a western group comprising Anatolia, a central group covering Syria and Iraq, and an eastern group including Iran and Central Asia.


Seljuk architecture is characterized by the rapid transmission of ideas and forms.

  • They built mosques, palaces, and new functional building, such as mausoleums (tombs), madrasas (schools), public fountains, khans (urban hostels), and remote caravanserais (inns) for traveling merchants on a long-distance trade journey.
As the Seljuks pushed into Asia Minor, they threatened the Byzantine empire.

Reports of Seljuk interference with Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem led Pope Urban II, in 1095, to call for the First Crusade.

In 1099, after a long and bloody siege, Christian crusaders captured Jerusalem. For 150 years, the city passed back and forth between Muslims and Christians. The Muslim general Salah al-Din, or Saladin, ousted the Christians from Jerusalem in 1187. They regained if after his death, holding it until 1244. In the long term, the Crusades had a much greater impact on Europe than on the Muslim world.
impact of crusades
Impact of Crusades
  • Although unsuccessful, the Crusades introduced Europeans for the first time to the extravagance of Muslim civilization.
  • The Crusaders brought home silks, porcelain, spices and other goods.
    • Demand in Europe for such goods began to grow, especially as the emerging bourgeois class of Europeans became a market for these luxury goods.
  • The groundwork was laid for the age of trade and exploration.
the crusades contributed to the end of medieval europe
The Crusades Contributed to the End of Medieval Europe
  • Increased the power of the monarchs: Rulers won new rights to levy taxes in order to support the Crusades
  • Decreased power of The Church: Popes were soon involved in bitter clashes with monarchs
  • Economic Expansion: The Crusades increased trade and furthered the development of a monetary economy, which undermined serfdom.
  • Trade and Exploration: By the 1400s, a desire to trade directly with India and China led Europeans to a new age of trade and exploration.

Expanding the Ottoman Empire – The Ottomans were a Turkish-speaking nomadic people who had migrated from Central Asia into northwestern Asia Minor. In the 1300s, they expanded across Asia Minor into southeastern Europe. They established a capital in the Balkan Peninsula.

  • The Ottomans levied a “tax” on Christian families in the Balkans, requiring them to turn over young sons to the government.
  • The boys were converted to Islam and put into rigorous military training at the palace school. The best soldiers won a prized place in the janizaries, the elite force of the Ottoman army.
  • Non-Muslim girls from Eastern Europe were brought to serve as slaves in wealthy Muslim households.
Ottoman expansion threatened the crumbling Byzantine empire. After several failed attempts to capture Constantinople, Muhammad II finally succeeded in 1453. For the next 200 years, the Ottoman empire continued to expand.