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notes lesson 1.03

Lesson 1.03 Guide
Diffusion: the process of spreading phenomena, such as religion and other cultural elements, from one
area or group of people to another through contact.
Pagan: a subjective term describing someone whose religious beliefs do not conform to the dominant
culture’s understanding of religion; for early Christians, anyone who was not a Christian was a pagan
HIJRA: the journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib (Later
Medina) in 622 CE
610 CE Muhammad received his first revelation of Allah through the archangel Gabriel. H was
persecuted by Meccan leaders who disagreed with his message.
622 CE Muhammad fled Mecca because of the persecution from the cities leaders. His hijra led him to
the desert oasis called Medina, or “City of the Prophet.
624 CE Muhammed and his followers ambushed and defeated Meccan forces at Badr. This battle was
influential in Muhammad’s rise as a leader and prophet in the region.
630 CE Muhammad returns to Mecca with an army of 10,000, took control of the city, destroyed all of
the idols , preserved the Kaaba, and converted the population to Islam.
Religion, like most elements of culture, spreads through people. From the seventh through the 17th
century, Islam spread by two primary means—conquest and trade.
612-632CE When Muhammad first began reciting his revelations in 612, authorities in Mecca were
reluctant to accept his monotheistic ideas. Yet, by 632, Muhammad and his followers had come to
control a large area of the Arabian Peninsula. Tribes that came under Muhammad’s rule adopted
Islam. Then, in 632, Muhammad died
632-661CE The first four rulers to follow Muhammad were called the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs or
rulers. Under their rule, Muslim armies defeated the Persians and the Byzantines. As a result, they
took control of the Arabian Peninsula as well as Persia, Syria, and much of Egypt, building the
foundations of an Arab Empire.
661-750 CE In 661, the last Rightly Guided Caliph was murdered. This event not only resulted in a
split within the Islamic world but also gave rise to the powerful Umayyad Caliphate. Umayyad armies
ranged across North Africa into what is now Spain on the Iberian Peninsula as well as farther east
into Central Asia, conquering northern India.
750-1258 CE In 747, conquered people revolted against Umayyad rule, and a new family, the
Abbasids, rose to power. One Umayyad ruler, however, escaped and established a new empire in
Spain. Persian and Turkic rulers also adopted Islam even as they regained control over lands in
Southwest Asia.
Meanwhile, Islam touched outlying regions in Africa, China, and Southeast Asia through trade routes
from the Arabian Peninsula and India. Though these areas did not become part of the various
Muslim empires, they did become Islamic.
1258-1683 CE By the 13th century, Islam was well established in Southwest Asia and North Africa.
In the coming centuries, several powerful empires arose. In what is now Turkey, the Ottomans
conquered Constantinople and extended their empire into not only Arab and Persian lands but also
north into Europe.
To the east, a people known as the Mongols adopted Islam and gave rise to a new empire in India.
By the 17th century, Islam had become the majority religion in the shaded lands and had spread
farther through trade.
Bedouin: an Arab ethnic group that largely lives a nomadic or seminomadic life in the deserts of
southwest Asia and North Africa and whose people are generally organized into tribes or clans.
Sunni Muslims
The Sunni Muslims believed that leadership should pass to people accepted by the Muslim
community, not necessarily a direct relative of Muhammad.
 About 90% of today’s Muslims are Sunni.
Shi’a Muslims
The Shi’a Muslims believed that leadership should pass through descendants of Muhammad or
his blood relatives.
 About 10% of today’s Muslims are Shi’a.
Over the next three decades following Muhammad's death, four different caliphs would rule. Often
referred to as the "Four Rightly Guided Caliphs," they were close advisors to the first leader, chosen by
members of the Muslim community. These rulers oversaw a swift and massive expansion of Arab and
Islamic influence in the region.
Arab Muslims invaded the Persian Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Roman Empire. They conquered
the lands of Syria, Palestine, and Persia. They took the city of Jerusalem, and then marched on and
conquered Egypt and Byzantine North Africa. Just three decades after the death of Muhammad, the
Islamic empire stretched as far north as Armenia, as far west as Morocco, and as far east as Pakistan.
There were disputes among Muhammad's former companions. Some thought that there should be a
unified state; others thought that each tribe should have its own leader. Ultimately, it was decided that
the conquered lands should have a single ruler. To do this, the caliphs began to build a large governing
During the rule of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, Muslims were in great conflict over succession. In 661
CE, the final of these caliphs, Ali, was assassinated and the Umayyad's took control.
The Umayyads were distant relatives of Muhammad. They established a dynasty that lasted from
661-750 CE.
Under the Umayyads, the size and population of the caliphate grew. They abandoned the simple life
and surrounded themselves with wealth and extravagance, which led to a split in the Islamic
community. They established a capital city at Damascus, in present-day Syria.
They conquered territory and won many converts to Islam. Rulers in Europe, however, saw the
expansion of Islam as a threat and sought to stop it. In 732 CE, the French, led by Charles Martel,
successfully stopped them at Poitiers in France. In Anatolia, or modern Turkey, the Byzantines
delivered a devastating blow to the Syrian army in 740 CE.
In the Umayyad Caliphate, there were four social classes.
Muslim Arabs: most privileged and paid less in taxes
Muslim Non-Arabs or Mawali: paid more in taxes than Muslim Arabs
Dhimmis: People of the Book, referring to Jews and Christians who based their faiths on the
Bible; higher status than slaves but did not have equal rights to Muslims
Slaves: lower status
The Abbasid dynasty, supported in part by the Shi'a and the Persians, finally overthrew the
Umayyads in 750 CE. They brutally took control from the Umayyads by murdering the
remaining family members.
One Umayyad prince, Abd al-Rahman, was able to escape and set up a Muslim caliphate in
Spain. The Umayyads had retreated to the area of the empire called Al-Andalus, in what is
today southern Spain and Portugal.
The Muslims had considerable influence in the region until the last Muslim rulers were driven
from Spain in 1491, just one year before Columbus landed in America.
The Abbasid dynasty moved the capital city by building Baghdad in present-day Iraq.
Baghdad was a key location to build a capital city. The spot was at the crossroads to major
trade routes between Europe and Asia.
Rivers border the city, providing a source of water for residents. The Abbasids hired talented
architects and other professionals to design and build an impressive capital inspired by the
Islamic faith. The Persian influence on the city is evident in its circular design, with the hub
for government and worship at the center. Its nickname was, appropriately, the "Round City."
Hindu a follower of Hinduism, a religious system that originated on the Indian subcontinent that
emphasizes a cycle of rebirth in human existence and the role of dharma, or one’s duty according to
basic universal principles and laws.
Sultanate: a state or country generally Islamic governed by a ruler known as a sultan.
The Mughal Empire was one of three "gunpowder empires," so named because of the role that
Chinese gunpowder played in their powerful militaries. Backed by cannons and firearms, the
Mughals "outgunned" their competition.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is not only an impressive example of Islamic architecture but also a
reminder of the follies of late Mughal emperors. Built as a tomb for the wife of Shah Jahan in the
mid-17th century, it represents the excess that led to the fall of the empire.
The Muslim Empire developed well-organized and efficient systems that allowed it to thrive and
become prosperous. Trade extended from northern Africa to southern Europe and into parts of Asia.
The help of a single currency, universal banking system, and common language—Arabic,
contributed to unifying the empire both politically and economically.
the 10th century, the city of Córdoba in Spain was bustling. It had an impressive population of nearly
200,000 people and served as an impressive cultural center, much like we might view New York City
At the same time Paris, France only had a population of a mere 38,000. Many cities in the Muslim
empire became thriving places of culture, learning, and the arts. These cities include Damascus,
Cairo, Baghdad, and, of course, Córdoba. These cultural centers kept scholarship alive during the
Dark Ages of Europe and played a major role in sparking the European Renaissance. Can you think
of any other cities that you might consider major cultural centers today aside from New York City?
What impact might they have in transmitting knowledge to future generations?
Because the Abbasid territory was so grand, they were unable to keep their political grip, and
independent Muslim states began to form. By the 10th century, most of North Africa was Islamic,
and a new group of rulers emerged. In 909 CE, Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah started the Fatimid dynasty
in the area known as the Maghreb. This dynasty claims to be direct descendants of Muhammad's
daughter Fatima. In 969 CE, the Fatimids conquered Egypt and made Cairo their new capital. The
final blow to the Abbasids came in 1258 CE, when invading Mongols finally put an end to their rule.