Five Pillars of Islam
1. Iman à Faith
2. Salah à Prayer
3. Zakah à Almsgiving
4. Sawm à Fasting
5. Hajj à Pilgrimage
The 'Five Pillars' of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life:
  • Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;
  • Establishment of the daily prayers;
  • Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
  • Self-purification through fasting; and
  • The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.

Arabia Before Islam
The economy had different bases in different regions of Arabia.
  • Nomadic tribes had camel and goat herding economies
  • Only in coastal regions (primarily in the south) had extensive agriculture.
  • Trading cities also along coast, including the important cities of Mecca and Medina
The sparse population of the Arabian Peninsula was divided into competing clans and tribes, some nomadic.
  • Bedouin herders lived in kin-related clans which were clustered into larger tribes.
  • There could be wide disparities of wealth within a clan.
  • The lowest “class” were slave families; remnants of rival clans defeated in wars.
  • Husbands had to pay the wives family a “bride-price” to seal the marriage contract.
Political systems were largely built around small local leaders of clans and tribes.
  • Shaykhs were the leaders of tribes, elected by a council, who were usually wealthy.
  • The laws dictated by the Shaykh were enforced by warriors with family in the tribe.
Inter clan wars often broke out as a result of one clan encroaching on the others pasture land.
  • The inter clan feuds were fought under a code of chivalry.
  • The battles almost always initiated or perpetuated clan feuds. Cycle of vengeance.
  • Medina was split between two Bedouin clans and three Jewish ones
Before Islam, Arabia’s people worshiped local gods that had little effect on society as a whole.
  • Bedouin religion was for the most part a mix of animism and polytheism
  • Some tribes recognized a supreme god called Allah, but rarely prayed to him.
  • The worship of nature spirits focused on sacred caves, springs and groves
Arab culture was not highly developed due to the harshness and poverty of the environment.
  • Poetry was the main focus of Bedouin cultural creativity.
  • There was no written language yet so the poetry was passed down orally.
  • It was a celebrated tradition that preserved Bedouin history

Video Notes

  • Addan- Muslim call to prayer
  • Cultures worldwide are shaped by Islam.
  • Muhammad born in 570 A.D.
  • Both parents died at the age of 6; he was taken in by his Uncle
  • As an orphan, he became familiar with everybody
  • Poetry was of great importance to Bedouins and brought them closer together; to their roots.
  • Family and tribal loyalties were crucial for survival.
  • Each clan in the Bedouin tribes worshipped their own gods; mostly nature based.
  • The Kaaba made Mecca a vibrant center of trade, where no feuds could be continued.
  • Mohammed became a merchant; he married Kaddija when he was 25 years old.
  • Communication and charisma were qualities of Muhammad.
  • Was well known as a trustworthy man in Mecca before Islam.
  • After Mohammed receives revelation from angel, the idea of ther being "only one god" was revolutionary and controversial at the time.
  • Universal appeal of equality was why Islam spread so rapidly.
  • Qur'an is a teaching of both ethical and social guidance.
  • Persecution and killings in Mecca caused Mohammed and his followers to flee to Yathrib, the city of the prophet.
  • They left everything they had in Mecca except their newfound faith.
  • The caravan through the desert - known as the Hidzrah - in 622 AD, was considered the true birth of the Muslim faith
  • ^Also is year 1 AD in Muslim calendar.
  • Meccans mobilized against Muslims in Medina, 330 Muslims vs. 1000 Meccans.
  • Muslims emerged victorious as more and more bedouins joined their struggle and they entered Mecca three years later with 10,000 troops.
  • Muhammad entered Mecca peacefully, and the pagan idols in the Kabaa were destroyed.
Video Summary
The Pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula was a polytheistic, bedouin tribe based world. The majority of the people were Bedoiuns, and held poetry and oral recitation of history in very high esteem. Family and tribe loyalty were critical to one's survival in Arabia because of constant warfare over natural resources. Muhammad was born around 570 AD to a Meccan family and was orphaned by age 6. This lack of parental guidance enabled Muhammad to seek out and recieve compassion from all those around him, becoming friendly with all people. Mohammed became a merchant in when he was grown and used his connections with all the tradesmen to become a very trusted and well known man. The trade center in Mecca was also a place where Mohammed could be exposed to many cultures and religions. At the age of 40, Mohammed began to receive many revelations from Allah. He began teaching a religion of equality and justice, something that held a universal appeal that attract followers from all over the globe. The notion of one god was revolutionary, and Islamic values and ethics encouraged people of all races and all classes to convert. After establishing a powerful religious base in Arabia, Islam spread rapidly to many other parts of the world.
Reading Qs
How did the death of Muhammad lead to the Expansion of Islam?

Muhammad's death in 632 CE caused the Umayya clan to take over the Muslim faith and set out to spread it across the earth. Abu Bakr was the first caliph after Muhammad's death. The Ridda Wars began after turning back the attacks on Mecca.

What were the motivations for Islamic conquest?

Early community leaders used awrs of conquest to release the energy of the bedouin tribes they sought to lead. Warriors were attracted to serving in campaigns of expansion by the promise of treasures. Their conquests became known as jihads; holy wars intended to spread or defend the Muslim faith.

How were the Umayyads able to defeat their adversaries?

In the Sasanian Empire of Persia,the religion Zoroastrianism lacked popular roots. Attempts to defend their borders were futile with their disorganized armies. The Arabs overrun Sasanian territory and took the capital city. In 651, the Muslims completely took over the empire. Overcoming the Byzantine Empire was much more challenging. The Empire was powerful militarily and economically. However, members of the Christian sects within the empire were unhappy with all the taxation and took up arms against the Byzantines in exchange for less taxes under Muslim rule.
What caused the major division in Islam?

The conflict stemmed from who had the right to succeed Muhammad. In 656, conflict arose over a simple dispute over distribution of treasure. Uthman, the third caliph was murdered by warriors returning from Egypt. Ali became the next caliph. In the Battle of Siffin in 657, he was won over by a plea for mediation. Mu'awiya, the Umayyad leader, was made caliph in Jerusalem which challenged Ali's position. The Sunni's backed the Unayyads and the Shi'a supported Ali. Thus, a major split occurred.

What was the extent of the Islamic Empire under the Umayyads?

Although Mecca was the holy city, Damascus was the political center for the Umayyads. Theirs' was the fastest built empire since Rome and by the early 700s, the Umayyads had territory ranging from Spain to the steppes of central Asia.

How were people of the book treated under the Umayyads?

Mawali, Muslim converts, had to pay property taxes and recieved no treasures from conquests. It was also very difficult for them to get positions in the bureaucracy. Muslim leaders tolerated religions of the dhimmi as well.

Explain gender structures under the Umayyads.

The Qur'an stated that men and women were equal before God and Islamic worship. Women played important roles in creating the Qur'an and in the battles with the Meccans, but weren't allowed to lead prayers.

What factors led to the decline of the Umayyads?
The Umayyad decline was largely due to rebellion and conspiracy within the empire which eventually led to the slaughter of most of the Umayyad family and the start of the Abbasid Era.

Abbasid Empire

The Abbasid Empire was the bridge that reinstated the Afro-Eurasian trade route
  • Merchant and landlord classes grew in the empire
  • Revival of the Afro-Eurasian trade network
  • The acquired wealth was spent largely on running public buildings and organizations (mosques, religious schools, baths, inns, and hospitals).
  • Skilled laborers and artisans were highly valued and created guilds to support each other.
The Abbasid Era saw increased acceptance and integration of outsiders and a complex social structure.
  • Saw the full integration of Arab and mawali converts into the Islamic community and the acceptance mawali as equals.
  • Many people converted peacefully to receive the advantages that Muslims had under Abbasid rule.
  • Medical care in the empire surpassed that of any other civilizations of that time.
  • Most slaves that were clever and ambitious could buy their freedom and rise to power.
  • Some slaves were less fortunate and were forced to do hard labor for government projects or under Ayan (a wealthy elite class of landlords).
  • The harem and the veil became twin emblems of the subjugation of women in society.
  • Ironically, slave women were often better educated and more independent.
Abbasid rulers adopted the luxurious lifestyles the Umayyads had before them
  • Caliphs resembled the Persian kings of old, totalitarian.
  • Wazir was chief administrator of the caliph's inner council and was leader of the bureaucrats.
  • The Abbasid were able to collect taxes from all their subjects in the empire.
  • Al-Mahdi (775-785)- caliph that led to the fall of the Abbbasid Empire.
  • Harun al-Rashid (786-809)- caliph right after the death of al-Mahdi's son died.
  • Buyids- invaded the Abbasid Empire; Baghdad captured; took the name Sultan, ruled the Muslims and the caliphs.
  • Seljuk Turks invaded the Buyids, ruled the remaining empire, took the names of the caliphs, and were Sunnis- wanted to get rid of the Shi’a.
  • Saladin led an army that reunited most of the lands taken by the crusades.
  • Fall of Acre (1291 AD), Christians lost their kingdoms.
The Abbasid Empire was the first to rule over such a vast patchwork of religions, ethnicities, and linguistic groups.
  • The Christian Crusades against the Holy Lands were the peak of action between the Western Europe and the Islamic world.
  • Otherwise the regions were involved in the Afro-Eurasian trade routes.
  • Europe also adopted many ideas and inventions from the Islamic World.
The Abbasid Empire was an Islamic civilization that went through several periods of religious trends.
  • Shi’a sects continued to vie for power over the Sunni regime. They instigated peasant uprisings to try and destroy the Abbasid dynasty,
  • A resurgence of mysticism gave Islam a newfound vibrancy
  • At the same time, orthodox religious scholars (ulama) grew suspicious and hostile towards non-Islamic ideas and scientific thinking.
  • Brilliant thinkers like al-Ghazali attempted to fuse the Greek and Qur’anic traditions although the idea was often rejected by orthodox scholars.
  • The late Abbasid period was centered on Sufism. Sufis were wandering mystics who sought a personal union with Allah.
Abbasid contribution to intelligence was to recover all the lost wisdom of the ancient Greeks.
  • Islamic and Jewish scholars saved the priceless writings of the Greeks on key subjects such as medicine, algebra, geometry, astronomy, anatomy, and ethics. They were recopied in Arabic.
  • Works by Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, and Euclid were recovered.
  • The Indian numerical system was adopted into the Abbasid Empire.
Technology of the Abbasid Empire didn’t change or improve much from earlier Muslim dynasties.
· Dhows – sailing vessels with lateen sails that were specifically built for trade.

Civilization(s): Stateless societies, Songhay Kingdom, Swahili, The Congo

· No taxes for revenue
· Before he took rule, Songhay had broken free of Mali's control (c. 1370) and thrived from gold sources and resident foreign merchants
· Fishing, pottery making, farming, and simple iron metallurgy
· Strong agricultural basis
· Economy based on weaving, wood carving, and pottery making as well
· Metalworkers used copper and iron; iron was very valuable
· The eight provinces had local chieftains; highest governing body

· Secret societies transcended lineages
· Internal pressures were solved by exile or leaving
· Songhay consisted of farmers, herders, and fishermen
· Constituted of Bantu-speaking herders from the north, farmers to the south, indigenous peoples, Indonesian/Malayan immigrants
· Men took care of the labor intensive, political and commercial jobs
· Women were housewives and farmers

· Societies that lack political concentration
· Stateless societies relied on kinships for power
· No ruler or court; council of families or secret societies
· Succeeded Mali and dominated the middle Niger Valley; began around 7th century
· Empire began with Sunni Ali who ruled 1464-1492
· Great military tactician and ruthless leader: askia
· Songhay fell in 1591 when a Muslim Morrocan army destroyed the Songhay army, causing ruling families to quarrel; others within revolted and disbanded the empire
· Governed by Muslim ruling families
· Began c. 1200 and flourished by the late 1400s

· Difficult to resist external pressures
· Stateless societies embarked on war expeditions, started large construction projects, and established stable long distance trade
· Led conquests throughout the Niger Valley
· Captured Timbuktu and Jenne, two major commercial centers
· Muhammad the Great extended the borders to encompass central Sudan by the mid-16th century
· Wave of immigrants from Oman and the Persian Gulf during the 8th and 9th centuries
· Traded with China until 1431
· Introduced Islam to cosmopolitan trading ports; Muslim community by the 13th century

· Islam was introduced by 1010.
· Muhammad the Great was one of the line of Muslim successors
· Syncretism of Islam with the pagan religions in Afica

· Syncretism à Bantu into Arabic
· Developed a provincial administration system