Muslim empire

The Muslim empire was created after the Byzantine empire it was created in the early 600s to 1457.

The muslim empire was out of mecca, east to India, west across North africa and on into Spain.The Islamic empire began to extend beyond the Arabian Peninsula after the death of the prophet and founder of Islam, Mohammed, in 632 AD. Islamic leaders took over Iran in 641. In the year 642 Egypt was under Islamic control. In the eighth century, all of northern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), India and Indonesia became the  lands of Islam. The Muslims were stopped at France by their defeat at the Battle of Tours in 732.

  History : When Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, died in 632 the new religion had already gathered a number of  victories on the battlefield. The armies of Islam  easily conquered the Arabian peninsula before moving on to take the homelands of their various neighbours. Marching out of Arabia in 639 they entered non-Arab Egypt; 43 years later they reached the shores of the Atlantic; in the year of  711 they invaded Spain. In just 70 years they had took over the whole  North Africa, instituting a new order. This conquest, from the Nile to the Atlantic, was more complete than anything achieved by previous invaders and the changes it  proved permanent.

Before the arrival of the Arabs, in 533 the Vandals had, after a century-long residence, been beaten and expelled from North Africa by the partially the Byzantines. However, Byzantium’s grip on the region was never as strong as that of Rome and, as a result, oppression, revolts had characterised Berber-Byzantine relations. This century of hostility saw the slow collapse of Byzantine influence in the region. In the eastern Mediterranean and the lands beyond two decades of war between Byzantium and Sassanian Persia had left both sides tired. Periodic outbreaks of the bubonic plague and, especially in Byzantium,crises further weakened the old empires. The timing could not have been better for the emergence of a new conquering force that came up unannounced from the city-free, plague-free deserts of Arabia.

Following the forced submission of the Arabian peninsula – as well as Syria and Iraq – to the new faith the  warriors of Islam turned their eyes westward. The Arab invasion of Egypt was distinct from their earlier conquests. The Arabian peninsula was their heartland, where they won over rival tribes but remained  among their own kind. In tackling Syria and Iraq, Arabs pitted themselves against people, many of them settled Arabs, to whom they had long been exposed, mostly through trade; they were not, apart from when they entered Sassanian Persia, among complete strangers. In crossing the Sinai peninsula and taking on the Egyptians the Arabs quite intentionally committed themselves to a war of in unfamiliar territory against non-Arab peoples.   

Reluctantly to risk an invasion of Byzantine Egypt, Umar was eventually persuaded to do so by the military governor of Palestine and  governor of the Levant. Like Muhammad and many prominent leaders of Islam Amr was a member of the Quraysh, a tribe from Mecca. Having already secured Palestine and the Levant and with serious Muslim incursions  Byzantine forces in Anatolia, Amr successfully argued that not only was the time right to invade Egypt, but also that such a move would secure the southern borders of the Muslim empire by attacking those Byzantine lands from which the Arabs expected they themselves would otherwise be threatened. 

Egypt was a prize of great value, in spite of its devastation in recent wars.. The envy and goal of many ancient empire-builders, Egypt remained a essential source of grain, especially for Europe. The land of the pharaohs was also known as for the land of wisdom, legend and mystery. On first seeing the pyramids the Arab invaders believed they had found Joseph’s storehouse for grian.

However, the invasion was  nearly abandoned before it began. Having had second thoughts, Umar wrote to Amr ordering him not to enter Egyptian territory, believing with some justification that the 4,000-strong army of Yemeni tribesmen accompanying Amr was too small and poorly supplied to be an effective invasion force. 

According to the Egyptian chronicler Ibn Abd al-Hakam, while the letter had ordered Amr home, it also contained a postscript that stated: ‘If you receive this letter when you have already crossed into Egypt, then you may proceed. Allah will help you and I will send you any things you may need.’ It was December 639 and Amr was free to push on and make his dream of the conquest of Egypt real.

Amr’s first obstacle in Egypt was the  town of Pelusium, or Farama, near the coast, east of Port Said. Known as Egypt’s eastern gate, the town fell after a blockade of just two months with limited loss of life and, more importantly for Amr, a notable lack of Byzantine reinforcements. It appeared that Byzantine commanders were  not willing or unable to confront the Arabs whose numbers had been added to by Bedouin tribesmen from the Sinai, eager to partake in what they reckoned would be significant spoils ahead.

Following another, bloodier, month-long blockade and battle at Bilbays the undefeated Arab army marched towards Babylon, near Cairo. Babylon was a bigger and better protected city than either Pelusium or Bilbays, with both defensive walls and ditches in place. Here the Byzantines had prepared themselves for a long blockade. Amr exerted  his force back and sent a request to Umar for reinforcements. By September, with no sign of a breakthrough in the blockade, Amr had 8,000 reinforcements, many of them veterans from campaigning in Syria, making up a 12,000-strong force.  

The Byzantines began to negotiate a peace deal with the muslims. Unfortunately for them, the Arabs, believing the negotiations were going nowhere, launched a successful attack at night against Babylon, using blockade ladders to scale the walls, routing the defenders after a six-month siege.

After the fall of Babylon, Cyrus of Alexandria  met with Amr  to surrender. Apart from being a highly regarded Byzantine general, Cyrus, who had been made viceroy of Egypt by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius. With no practical alternative, Cyrus handed over  Egypt to the Umar and agreed to the payment of two dinars per adult male as jizya, a religious tax levied on all non-Muslims across the expanding Islamic empire. Cyrus also made it clear to Amr that, although the terms were subject to approval by his master, Heraclius, whatever the emperor allowed his followers would stick to the agreement.  

The Arab empire was at its is  extent from  700-850

The reaction of the native Egyptians to the Arab invasion were mixed. Heraclius, who regained Egypt from the Persians in 629, had been working towards the forced allteration of the Coptic Christian majority to his own Chalcedonian branch of Christianity. Having been allowed to pratice whichever brand of Christianity they chose by the Zoroastrian Persians, many Egyptians were happy to welcome the Muslim invaders, who offered the promise of religious freedom. Left to pursue their religious rites and to retain ownership of church property as long as they paid the jizya, Copts enjoyed bigger freedom than under their religious overlords from Constantinople. Jizya was one important reason why the Muslim armies that conquered North Africa did not follow a policy of enforced alteration of local populations: any increase in the Muslim population of a newly occupied land meant a reduction in tax income.

When Heraclius learned of Cyrus’ surrender he was angry and stripped his general of his temporay posts. Faced with Heraclius’ rejection to accept the terms of surrender, Amr had little choice but to march on Alexandria, the capital of Byzantine Egypt. All along the route from Babylon to Alexandria small units of Byzantine spies were sent against Amr’s army, doing their best to prevent the inevitable. The Arab army arrived at Alexandria in March 641 and once again set about laying blockade to a walled city.

Alexandria was more heavily strengthen than Babylon, with double walls in many places. In addition the city could always be supplied by sea, a advantage to the Byzantines. Suddenly, while preparing a force that he said he would himself lead into Egypt, Heraclius died. The reinforcements melted away and  Alexandria was left to its fate. In spite of this blow the  Byzantine defenders managed to hold out until September when the Arabs launched a successful attack against the weary city.

Instead of putting the city’s defenders to the sword, Amr gave them an 11-month pardon during which time they were allowed to pack and leave Alexandria in an orderly fashion, taking their possessions with them when they sailed for Constantinople. In order to garantee the smooth transition from one authority to another Amr also kept in place many of the city’s tax collectors and other administrators.

The fall of Alexandria marked the end of any real resistance to the Arabs in Egypt and although a Byzantine force managed to recapture the city four years later, Amr reclaimed it the following year. In 654 a Byzantine fleet was send off. This was the last attempt by the Byzantine empire to make  the city that had been the Greek-speaking capital of Egypt for nearly 1,000 years theirs. .

In the summer of 642 Amr sent an army south to attack and take over Nubia . This force was under the command of Amr’s nephew, Uqba bin Nafi, later to become one of the most famous early Arab generals, the ‘conqueror of Africa’ according to Gibbon. The Nubians soon outmanoeuvred the Arabs, both with their advanced archery skills, which resulted in the blinding of many Arab soldiers, and their best cavalry. Uqba justified his request by saying that the Nubians could not be defeated while they refused to stand and fight any pitched battles. Perhaps to soften the bad news Uqba added that there was no worth in the country worth taking.  

The first serious invasion of North Africa beyond Egypt was launched in 647 by  Uthman ibn Affan, a member of the powerful Umayyad family, who had prospered Umar three years earlier. Uthman had inherited an empire and he was eager to see it grow. He sent off an army of approximately 10,000 from Fustat on a campaign that was to last 15 months. Marching via Barca, Uthman’s army moved fastily without meeting any serious opposition through what is today Libya and into Tunisia. A Byzantine force finally met the Arab army at Sbeitla in southern Tunisia. Gregory, exarch (governor) of Africa, the Roman province that more or less covers modern Tunisia, led the Byzantine forces into battle: they were  beaten and withdrew to Carthage.

This was the only battle between Arab and Byzantine forces in North Africa outside Egypt. After this the Arabs fought the  Berber tribes but for the next 20 years they did little to secure more land.

The murders of the last two Rashidun caliphs, Uthman  in 656 and his successor Ali  in 661, led to a struggle for the the expansion of the Arab empire in North Africa. The battle for supremacy was won by the Umayyads, which ended the Rashidun caliphate. Once established as caliph in Damascus Mu’awiya, founder of the Umayyad dynasty, decided to  expand this empire. He appointed Uqba, who had earlier failed to take over  Nubia, governor of all North Africa, but under the governorship of Egypt. With his hard-earned knowledge of the region Uqba was able to ensure that this second Arab invasion made fast  progress back across Libya and into Ifriqiya, as the Arabs knew the Roman province. Having got within 80 miles of Carthage Uqba decided that his army would be in a greater position if it had a permanent military base in the region and so, in 670, he founded Kairouan.

Having established Kairouan, Uqba pressed on to Morocco. His ultimate goal was Morocco,  the west, or, as he told his sons before he set out, to those lands that no Muslim had never seen. Defeating every Byzantine and Berber force that he meet unexpectedly Uqba successfully reached Tangier before moving south, crossing the Atlas mountains and heading west to the coast.

However it was not until 694 that a third Muslim invasion of North Africa finally settled the question of who would  control Ifriqiya. After decades during which they seemed to have ignored the Byzantine presence at Carthage the Arabs now attacked the city. The fall of Carthage was very  important for the earlier Roman defeat of the Carthaginians in 146 bc, as it marked the end of Romano-Byzantine power in North Africa. Just as they had done in Egypt, the Arabs ignored the earlier coastal capital and satisfied themselves with ruling the province of Ifriqiya from Kairouan.

The most serious uprising, from the 680s, was led by the famous al-Kahina.  Al-Kahina, who was most likely a Jewish or Christian Berber, can be likened to a Berber Boudicca who, through her desire to see her tribe remain free of foreign domination, inspired others in a series of  doomed rise in rebellion.  Understanding that her resistance movement would not mainly be successful, she gave her sons over to her Arab enemies. They were raised by Arabs and became successful commanders of Arab armies, thereby guaranteeing the Berbers a measure of glory in a story otherwise characterised by defeat and subjugation.

Al-Kahina herself died fighting the Arabs in around 700, which marked the end of organised Berber resistance. Since her death she has been an inspiration by an order of disparate groups, from Berber nationalists, Maghrebi feminists, Arab nationalists and even French colonialists.

At the time of al-Kahina’s death the Arabs had conquered  the whole of North Africa. They proceeded to divide the region into the provinces of Egypt, Ifriqiya and the Maghreb. When confronted with the realities of ruling an empire, the  nomads quickly took to the business of building and settling cities. In all three instances they founded many new provincial capitals that allowed them, with their still relatively small numbers, to rule over but live apart from the much larger native populations with a high degree of security. Again in all three regions these new capitals ignored earlier, maritime bases, preferring the security of inland locations more in keeping with the interior of their Arabian homeland.

In the spring of 710 Arab took the city of Tangier, completing the conquest of North Africa. The next year, an Arab army under Tariq bin Ziyad crossed from Tangier to the Iberian peninsula, landing near Gibraltar. From the entry into Egypt to the capture of Tangier had taken the armies of Islam less than 70 years, a great feat in any age, especially when one considers the harsh terrain they had to cross.

The muslim empire had military conquest, they were great fighters if they died in battle, they believed they would go directly to heaven. (Jihod= holy war) They treated conquered people fairly- better than previous rulers. The Battle of Tours was in 732 ad in southern France. The french Christians under Charles Martel, defeated the Muslims and stopped their advance into Europe. The golden age was from 700-900 AD a time of great learning and cultural diffusion. There were many contributions to our society from mathematics, the spread of Gupta math ideas. The Muslims created algebra and trigonometry,  hospitals, wrote medical textbooks, doctors were required to pass exams to practice medicine. Architecture was great contribution to modern day society it was influenced by the Byzantine and Indian styles. Astronomy learned from Greek ideas the study of the stars, created astronomical tables. another contribution was the Islamic law based on the Islamic religious laws in the Qur`an, became the basis for political laws in the empire. They used banking used money allowed credit (money borrowing) to be used.They preserved Greek and Roman ideas that they got from their contacts with the Byzantine empire. They improved upon them.

Around the year 1,000,  doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery. The Encyclopedia of surgery was used inn Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years. Among his  inventions, he discovered the use of dissolving cat gut to stitch wounds — beforehand a second surgery had to be performed to remove sutures. He also accomplished the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps

. In  the year 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Her sister Miriam founded an contiguous mosque and together the complex became the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, Hassani says he hopes that the story will help remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.

Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from Egypt in the 9th century. The first medical center was the, Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in Cairo in 872.  The Tulun hospital provided free care for anyone who needed it — a policy based on the Muslim tradition of caring for all who are sick. From the city Cairo, such hospitals spread around the Muslim world.

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