AN03a2_ An Age of Exchange and Encounter: No ‘Dark Age’ in the Islamic World.
Timeline: 8th C. – 13th C.
FS: There is no ‘Dark Age’ in the Islamic World.
Byzantium (though in Asia Minor, they continued to refer to themselves as Roman) was a shining beacon of civilized life. But to its south, in the Middle Eastern deserts of the Arabian peninsula, there was a stir within tribal customs of the Bedouin. In less than 200 years, it became clear that what was developing in the desert was more than a faith. It was the start of a civilization that would challenge its bigger ‘brother’ to the north and the great Tang dynasty to the east. Europe would fear it and become partially conquered by it. This Islamic empire would become a ‘bridge’ between eastern and western cultures as well as the Classic and Medieval world. Once Islam crossed into the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe the civilization bloomed with the splendor of the classical civilizations of the past.
I. The Spread of Islam
Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa from 632-750 CE. This was a contributing factor to the present dominance of Islam and Arab culture in this area.
A. Very Fast. Three directions & three continents
B. Military Conquests
C. Tolerant Rule (1)
D. Increasing Conflict with Byzantine Empire
II. The Caliphate
The Islamic civilization existed for a period of 600 years. In that time, the center of religious/ secular leadership went from Mecca (the home of The Prophet) to Damascus and then to Baghdad. As time passed, the governmental form of this rising civilization evolved from a religious and tribal base to the secular and institutional base of empires. Central to it, however, remained the question as to who would be the successor to The Prophet.
A. Orthodox Caliphate (632 – 661)
1. Caliph: “Successor” to the Prophet Muhammad. This carried political significance. It did not bestow the title of ‘prophet’ on any individual who became Caliph.
2. The faith extends beyond the boundary of the Arabian peninsula.
3. The mixing of politics with religion leads to intrigue and assassinations.
B. Umayyad Caliphate (Damascus, 7th – 8th C.)
1. Assassination of Husayn
2. Extend Islam to Europe (Iberian Peninsula)
C. Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad, 8th – 13th C.)
1. Dominated East – West Caravan Trade
2. Preservation and Support for ‘learning’. (The Golden Age)
III. The Golden Age
Islamic artists became famous in their own right by comprising some of the world’s most expressive poetry. But to Muslims, the greatest literary work then and now is the Qur-an.
1. Preservation of ‘Classical’ culture via recording of texts and visual arts.
2. Poetry: The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
3. Literature: Prose/ Poetry
a. The Qur-an
b. 1001 Arabian Nights
- al-Khwarizmi (9th C.) => Algebra
- Arabic Numerals and Concept of ‘zero’
2. Chemistry: Alchemy
a. ‘Viral’ nature of disease and development of Vaccines
c. Compilation of medical texts:
* al-Rhazes (850 – 923)
* Ibn-Sina (aka ‘Avicenna’) in Europe (980 – 1037)
a. Religious Significance
b. Sea Charts and maps with Latitude Lines
5. Architecture: Domes, Arches, & Towers (as in Mosque design)
6. Cultural/ Material Diffusion
a. Spices and other luxury items from Far East, South, & S-E Asia (Pepper, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg).
b. Direct competition with Chinese and Byzantine commerce.
c. Silk and Paper from Far East.
d. Lateen Sail
1. The trans-Saharan caravan trade, in addition to these, spread Islam into the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These activities encouraged cultural diffusion. Since tolerance was a religious requirement, the conquest and rule over non-Muslims was less problematic.
-World History: Perspectives on the Past