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Background Introduction to Early Islam. Geographic Context - 6 th C Middle East. Close-up - Arabia c. 600 CE. Situation in Arabia, c. 600. Semi-civilized, semi-nomad peripheral area to more advanced urban Byzantine & Persian civilizations

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situation in arabia c 600
Situation in Arabia, c. 600
  • Semi-civilized, semi-nomad peripheral area to more advanced urban Byzantine & Persian civilizations
  • Traditional Arabia culture: male-led, clan-centered, polytheist
  • Clans = excellent camel-mounted warriors & traders; good contact with border civilizations’ ideas, technologies
muhammad s arabian origins
Muhammad’s Arabian Origins
  • Born c. 570, to parents from minor clan of Quraysh tribe that dominates Mecca, runs desert caravans
  • Raised by grandfather & then uncle because father died before his birth – both men strong in disappearing desert codes of behavior
  • Became caravan trader; travels took him to Syrian cities (sees Christianity & Judaism)
  • At about age 25 married Khadija, a wealthy, greatly respected Mecca widow
  • Khadija & Muhammad have children but only girls survived
muhammad s 1st revelation
Muhammad’s 1st Revelation
  • 610 Muhammad has 1st vision
  • Angel Gabriel tells Muhammad he is God’s Final Messenger, given final, correct version of earlier, now flawed, revelations (including Jewish & Christian)
  • Crux of Message: Allah (God) is all powerful; there is a heaven & hell, Allah wants humankind to worship him and live ethical, moral lives

Persian Miniature: Muhammad & Gabriel

islamic learning flourishes
Islamic Learning Flourishes
  • Preserves, builds on Greek, Roman learning & ideas
  • Develops mathematics, science, medicine (building on Indian numerals, Central Asian and other astronomy, etc)
islamic learning
Islamic learning

“Arabic” numbers

Madrasah

(“University”)

Ibn Rushd

Great Philosopher

Astronomy teacher