The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam
Chapter 6

The Rise of Islam

  • Pre-Islamic Arabian world featured bedouin tribes caught in vengeance cycles
  • Islam: Monotheistic religion, originated with the life and work of Muhammad in Mecca (600s)
  • Promoted ethics, equality before God (Allah), charity, prayer, community
  • Umma: Community of believers
  • Islamic Civilization: Culture/society of Islamic believers
  • When Muhammad died (632), Muslims disagreed and split over choosing a new caliph (leader)
  • Shia (supported Ali)
  • Sunni (supported Umayyads)

The Spread of Islam

  • Muslim conquest was important, especially during Umayyad Imperium
  • Umayyads were military oriented; honored warrior elites
  • Umayyad power declined with the corruption/decline of their army
  • Islamic armies pushed into France, Spain, west/central Asia, Arabian Peninsula (Persia), west/north Africa
  • Jihads: holy wars launched to spread Islam
  • Armies took advantage of neighbors’ weaknesses, used military prowess to gain political power and suppress opposition
  • Abbasid Caliphate overthrew Umayyads (750); moved capitol to Baghdad
  • Built bureaucracy with administrative infrastructure

Early Islamic Culture and Society

  • Abbasids forced conversion to Sunni Islam (less tolerant than Umayyads)
  • People of the book: faiths with same “book” and God allowed to practice (Christianity, Judaism)
  • Abbasids promoted learning (built libraries), preserved ancient scholars’ work
  • Islamic artistic expression focused on mosques and palaces
  • First “global civilization”; Middle East set up as hub for trade and merchant activity

Mosque of Kairouan (Uqba), First Built in 670 (has been renovated)

Crashcourse: "Islam, The Quran, and the Five Pillars All without a Flamewar"

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