The Formation of Islamic Civilization up to 1000 The line of monotheistic religions continued with Islam as the last chain in the line. Its prophet is Muhammad. Belief in one god, belief in afterlife and forming the life around these two principles is essential in Islam. This formation is important in creating the sense of community or Umma. Islamic civilization is combination of Arabic, Persian and Turkish civilizations-cultures. It lived its most dynamic times in the first 3 centuries. It rapidly became a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multiethnic civilization. The flexibility of Islamic culture spreaded around swiftly. Willingness of people to accept the Islamic way of life has become amazing. It spreaded over 3 continents and still one of the fastest growing religions in the world. In Islam, individual is important. Self-sacrifice, devotion, an-afterlife-oriented way of life, including practice of rituals and prayers are very important. Creation of an Islamic society, a righteous, obeying the rules and belief system, living a life in practice of Islamic way not just gives meaning to individual practices, but also requires that individuals be part of communal rituals and activities. Those who follow Islamic belief system are called Muslims. There were Jews and Christians in the Arab peninsula, but the main belief system was paganism, which requires followers to worship to idols. Although they believed in one god, they imagined to reach and appreciate the god through idols. There were two dominant powers in the region: Zoroastrians Sasanid Persia and Christian Byzantium. During a time when both were battling and weak, Arab armies broke into the conflict from the south. Arabs weakened Byzantium Empire and destroyed the Sasanid Empire. They did succeed comparably with very small army. Mecca was a famous sanctuary because of Kaaba being there. That is why it was a center of caravan trade. It was also a holy place and pilgrimage site. Mecca was a merchant republic, city-state like place. The Arabic language, which is a Semitic tongue, is defined and linked to Arab peoples. Before Islam, they were divided by tribal, religious, and blood feuds. There was no unity among Arab. Poetry was very important and it was almost used like a weapon. Arabic was very suitable for good poetry. Poetry contests were common among Arabs, Yemen, SyriaPalestine and Mesopotamia. Since Arabic is the language of Qur’an, it became popular and wide spread in new Islamic societies. Commerce and date farming was very developed. So, the saying “Islam is a religion of desert” is not correct. Muhammad and the Qur’an Muhammad (570-632) was raised an orphan in a commercial family of Meccan tribe of Quraysh. He married Khadija at the age of 25, while she was at her 40. She was a wealthy, widow Meccan entrepreneur. When he became 40, Muhammad felt himself called by the one God, who was the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, to “rise and warn” in 610 C.E. He conveyed the message to the people. The first believer was Khadija. But, majority of the people turned against him, in favor of continuing on their paganism. The message of Islam was to worship to Allah, not the idols, to end injustice to the poor, orphans, widows and women all together. He threatened them with the harsh judgment day; a day that everyone will be bodily resurrected to face what they have earned while they were given time in the world. Islam means “Submission” to God’s or Allah’s will. Islamic teaching reveals that Islam is the last religion and Muhammad is the last prophet in the chain of many religions and prophets who chosen to bring God’s word. Many of those prophets are mentioned in the stories of Qur’an but many more are mentioned by Prophet Muhammad. After death of his wife Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib, the situation worsened for Muslims and for the prophet himself. He, first, sent some believers and followers to Yathrib (Medina), which is about 240 miles north of Mecca. Shortly after, he was called on to move to Yathrib too. A place to provide peace and security for the new converts of Islam and its prophet. The prophet emigrated to Medina in 622, therefore this date became the starting point for the Islamic calendar. It is about 11 days shorter than the Christian solar year. The relationship between Mecca and Medina started tangling soon after. The attack on Meccan caravans by Muslims in Medina established his leadership not just as a prophet who preaches, but also a leader in the society. Muslim norms took shape in Medina. Major principles of Islam applied to real life in Medina: honesty in all one’s affairs, modesty in personal habits, abstention from alcohol and pork, fair division of inheritances, improved treatment of women, including property and other rights that given to women, careful regulation of marriage and divorce, ritual ablution before any act of worship, the way how to recite the Qur’an and pray. There are 5 pillars of Islam: The witness (shahadah) that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God, the performance of worship (salat), the giving of alms (zakat), the pilgrimage (Hajj) and fasting in Ramadan. There are 6 pillars of faith in Islam: You have faith in one God, his angels, his books (scriptures), his messengers, the Last Day, and that you have faith in divine determination of good and evil. In Medina, accepting Islamic political authority brought legal toleration of Jewish and Christians. Followers of those other religions had the freedom of practicing their religion, own their property, and be safe and secure under an Islamic authority in exchange for paying a Women in Early Islamic Society The Umma is a central concern in Islam and the family is the core of the Umma. Consequently, family law played a central role in the development of Islamic law. That law stipulates the rights of women and men. With Islam, women’s situation dramatically improved. It prohibited the common practice of female infanticide. Regardless of gender, all children should live. Woman has the right to contract her marriage and receive the dowry from her husband. Woman was not a material to be bought and sold. She was given the right to inherit, own and manage property. Islamic law stipulates that the father or senior male controls and guides the family unit. Although polygamy is a practice in Islam, it is not encouraged, rather discouraged. When you look at the practice among Muslims, you will see that it is not a common practice. Female veiling or hijab, is a common practice, and in fact mandated in Islam that women wear hijab. It is a sign of modesty and it asks to cover not just the head, but also the full body of female after certain age. It is to protect women and their honor. Veiling of women existed before Islam. Role of women in the Islamic society, depending on the time period and geographical location, varied. While Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadijah was a merchant, his other wife A’isha commanded troops in warfare. In medieval times, however, women were not that prominent in the public sphere. The same situation is still persistent in many Islamic countries. Women are fighting their right to engage more in public life. Early Islamic Conquests After Prophet Muhammad died in 632, leaving neither a son, nor a designated successor, the Umma faced its first major crisis. The elderly of two cities, Mecca and Medina, came together to choose a khalifa. They agreed on Abu Bakr, who was the most senior of the early Meccan converts. He served between 632-634. During his time, Abu Bakr reestablished Medinan hegemony, and at least nominal religious conformity for much of Arabia. Sense of Umma was affirmed. Under the next 2 khalifas, Umar (634-644) and Uthman (644-656), Arab armies moved beyond the Arab peninsula, with one of history’s most astonishing expansions. They had conquered the Byzantine and Sasanid territories of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and most of Iran. The land from Egypt to Iran came under one rule first time in the history. Later on, Arab armies swept west over the Byzantinecontrolled Libyan coast and pushed to the Oxus, defeating the last Sasanid ruler by 651. There were political issues in election and departure of last 3 khalifas. Internal unrest, political opposition and clashes occurred and last three khalifas of Umma were killed. Islamic territory continued to expend after first 4 khalifas too. Islamic armies conquered Cyprus, Sicily and Rhodes in the Mediterranean region, in the east; they completely controlled greater Persia in the north, and they controlled much of Anatolia, besieged Constantinople and Armenia was under Islamic rule. Modern Morocco and Algeria in the west, in 711 raids into Spain began and later on by 716 Spanish Visigoth kingdoms had fallen to the Islamic armies. This way, Islamic power dominated from the Atlantic to Central and South Asia. The reasons behind this spectacular success of Islamic armies is the notion of devotion, sense of unity or Umma, social-political situation of other powers at the time, oppressive rulers of both Persia and Byzantium, Islamic religious zeal was important obviously. With this regard, notion of jihad and martyrdom had a substantial influence. The fact that Islamic rule protected members of other religions in exchange for a little head tax or jizya helped the spread. One important point was that Muslims caused little bloodshed, destruction or disruption in their conquest. Good leaders, governors, with respect to minority rights let the Islamic rule and society flourish.