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Ch 11 Sec 2 – Islam Spreads

I. An Age of Conquests - Abu Bakr became first caliph (successor) to Muhammad;

Many Muslims refused to follow him and withdrew their loyalty to Islam
A. From Victory to Victory
1. Under the 1st four caliphs, Arab armies marched from victory to victory
and conquered great chunks of the Byzantine empire including Syria and
2. They also rapidly demolished the Persian empire and swept into Egypt
3. In 711 they crossed into Spain and pushed north into France
a.) They were defeated at the battle of Tours and their advance into
W. Europe was halted
b.) Muslims did, however, rule parts of Spain for centuries
B. Reasons for Success
1. One reason the Arabs had such victories is due to the weakness of the
Byzantine and Persian empires
2. Many people welcomed the Arabs as liberators from harsh Byzantine or
Persian rule
3. Bold, efficient, fighting methods also contributed to Arab success
a.) Bedouin camel and horse cavalry overwhelmed traditional armies
4. Perhaps the key reason was the common faith given by Muhammad
C. Treatment of Conquered People
1. Muslim leaders imposed a special tax on non-Muslims, but allowed
Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians to practice their own faiths and follow
their own laws
2. Many Jews and Christians played key roles as officials, doctors, and
a.) In time, many converted to Islam
b.) Many nomadic peoples in N Africa and C Asia chose Islam
3. Islam had no hierarchy or class of priests
4. In principle, it emphasized the equality of all believers regardless of
race, sex, class, or wealth
D. Muslims in Europe
1. For centuries after the battle of Tours, Christian forces fought to
reconquer Spain
2. In 1492 the last Muslim stronghold was seized
3. Muslim rulers in Spain presided over brilliant courts, where arts and
learning thrived and were generally more tolerant than Christian rulers
4. At centers of learning such as the city of Córdoba, rulers employed
Jewish officials and welcomed Christian scholars to study science and
5. Architects built grand building such as the Alhambra, a fortified palace
in Granada
a.) Its lovely gardens, reflecting pools, and finely decorated marble
columns are a high point of Muslim civilization in Spain
II. Movements Within Islam
A. Sunni and Shiites
1. Sunni – felt that caliph should be chosen by leaders of Muslim
community and viewed him as a leader, not religious authority
2. Shiites – only true successors to the Prophet were descendants of
Muhammad’s daughter and son-in-law Fatima and Ali
a.) Believed the Prophet was divinely inspired
3. Ali became 4th caliph but was assassinated in 661
4. Many Shiites died in battle against Sunni and Shiites grew to admire
martyrdom as a demonstration of faith
5. The division between Shiites and Sunnis has survived to this day
6. Both believe in the same one God, look to the Quran for guidance, and
make the hajj
7. Numerous differences such as religious practice, law, and daily life
8. About 90% of Muslims today are Sunni and most Shiites live in Iran,
Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen
B. Sufi – A third Muslim tradition
1. Mystics who sought communion with God through meditation, fasting,
and other tirutals
2. They were respected for their piety and miraculous powers
3. Some Sufis helped spread Islam through missionary work
III. Empire of the Caliphs – After Ali, Umyyad family set up a dynasty & ruled until 750f
A. Umayyads – Faced numerous problems:
1. They had to adapt from desert life to ruling large cities and territories
2. Often relied on local officials, including educated Jews, Greeks, Persians
3. Byzantine and Persian traditions of gov’t influenced Arab rulers
4. Because of their conquests, they became very wealthy and tensions
increased between wealthy Arabs and those who had less
5. Shiites hated the Umayyads because they defeated Ali and killed his son
B. Abbassids – Discontented Muslims followed Abu al-Abbas
1. One of his generalsinbited members of defeated Umayyad family to a
banquet and killed them all
2. He then founded the Abbassid dynasty which lasted until 1258
3. It ended dominance and helped make Islam a universal religion
C. Splendors of Baghdad – Chosen as new capital by Abbassid caliph al-Mansur
1. Baghdad exceeded Constantinople in size and wealth
2. Islam remained religion and Arab the language
3. Above the streets loomed domes and minarets (towers of mosques)
4. A mosque official called a muezzin climbed to top and called the
faithful to daily prayer
5. Baghdad reached its peak under reign of caliph Harun al-Rashid who
was viewed as a symbol of wealth and splendor
IV. Decline of the Caliphate – Starting about 850, Abbassid control faded
A. Seljuks – In 900s Seljuk Turks migrated into Middle East and adopted Islam
1. By 1055, a Seljuk sultan (authority) controlled Baghdad but left
Abbassid caliph as a figurehead
2. Reports of Seljuk interference with Christian pilgrims traveling to
Jerusalem led for Pope Urban II to call for First Crusade
B. Crusades – In 1099 Christian crusaders captured Jerusalem
1. For 150 years the city passed back and forth btw. Muslim and Christians
2. Muslim general Salah al-Din (Saladin) ousted Christians from
Jersulamen in 1186
3. Christians ruled a few states in Palestine but were eventually expelled