Islam From The Beginning To 1300 Date: 2002

The Spread Of Islam To Southeast Asia The spread of Islam to various parts of coastal India set the stage for its further expansion to island Southeast Asia. As we have seen, Arab traders and sailors regularly visited the ports of Southeast Asia long before they converted to Islam. Initially the region was little more than a middle ground, where the Chinese segment of the great Euroasian trading complex met the Indian Ocean trading zone to the west. At ports on the coast of the Malayan peninsula, east Sumatra, and somewhat later north Java, goods from China were transferred from East Asian vessels to Arab or Indian ships, and products from as far west as Rome were loaded into the emptied Chinese ships to be carried to East Asia. By the 7th and 8th centuries A.D., sailors and ships from areas within Southeast Asia - particularly Sumatra and Malaya - had become active in the seaborne trade of the region. Southeast Asian products, especially luxury items, such as aromatic woods from the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, and spices, such as cloves, nutmeg, and mace from the far end of the Indonesian archipelago, had also become important exports to both China in the east and India and the Mediterranean area in the west. These trading links were to prove even more critical to the expansion of Islam in Southeast Asia than they had earlier been to the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism. As the coastal trade and shipping of India came to be controlled (from the 8th century onward) increasingly by Muslims from such regions as Gujarat and various parts of south India, elements of Islamic culture began to filter into island Southeast Asia. But only in the 13th century after the collapse of the far-flung trading empire of Shrivijaya, which was centered on the Straits of Malacca between Malaya and the north tip of Sumatra, was the way open for the widespread proselytization of Islam. With its great war fleets, Shrivijaya controlled trade in much of the area and was at times so powerful that it could launch attacks on rival empires in south India. Indian traders, Muslim or otherwise, were welcome to trade in the chain of ports controlled by Shrivijaya. Since the rulers and officials of Shrivijaya were devout Buddhists, however, there was little incentive for the traders and sailors of Southeast Asian ports to convert to Islam, the religion of growing numbers of the merchants and sailors from India. With the fall of Shrivijaya, the way was open for the establishment of Muslim trading centers and efforts to preach the faith to the coastal peoples. Muslim conquests in areas such as Gujarat and Bengal, which separated Southeast Asia from Buddhist centers in India from the 11th century onward, also played a role in opening the way for Muslim conversion. The Pattern Of Conversion As was the case in most of the areas to which Islam spread, peaceful and voluntary conversion was far more important than conquest and force in spreading the faith in Southeast Asia. Almost everywhere in the islands of the region, trading contacts paved the way for conversion. Muslim merchants and sailors introduced local peoples to the ideas and rituals of the new faith and impressed on them how much of the known world had already been converted. Muslim ships also carried Sufis to various parts of Southeast Asia, where they were destined to play as vital a role in conversion as they had in India. The first areas to be won to Islam in the last decades of the 13th century were several small port centers on the northern coast of Sumatra. From these ports, the religion spread in the following centuries across the Strait of Malacca to Malaya. On the mainland the key to widespread conversion was the powerful trading city of Malacca, whose smaller trading empire had replaced the fallen Shrivijaya. From the capital at Malacca, Islam spread down the east coast of Sumatra, up the east and west coasts of

Malaya, to the island of Borneo, and to the trading center of Demak on the north coast of Java. From Demak, the most powerful of the trading states on north Java, the Muslim faith was disseminated to other Javanese ports and, after a long struggle with a Hindu Buddhist kingdom in the interior, to the rest of the island. From Demak, Islam was also carried to the Celebes, tha spice islands in the eastern archipelago, and from there to Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

This progress of Islamic conversion shows that port cities in coastal areas were particularly receptive to the new faith. Here the trading links were critical. Once one of the key cities in a trading cluster converted, it was in the best interest of others to follow suit in order to enhance personal ties and provide a common basis in Muslim law to regulate business deals. Conversion to Islam also linked these centers, culturally as well as economically, to the merchants and ports of India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Islam made slow progress in areas such as central Java, where Hindu-Buddhist dynasties contested its spread. But the fact that the earlier conversion to these Indian religions had been confined mainly to the ruling elites in Java and other island areas left openings for mass conversions to Islam that the Sufis eventually exploited. The island of Bali, where Hinduism had taken deep root at the popular level, remained largely impervious to the spread of Islam. The same was true of most of mainland Southeast Asia, where centuries before the coming of Islam, Theravada Buddhism had spread from India and Ceylon and won the fervent adherence of both the ruling elites and the peasant masses. Sufi Mystics And The Nature Of Southeast Asian Islam The fact that Islam came to Southeast Asia primarily from India and that it was spread in many areas by Sufis had much to do with the mystical quality of the religion and its tolerance for coexistence with earlier animist, Hindu, and Buddhist beliefs and rituals. Just as they had in the Middle East and India, the Sufis who spread Islam in Southeast Asia varied widely in personality and approach. Most were believed by those who followed them to have magical powers, and virtually all Sufis established mosque and school centers from which they traveled in neighboring regions to preach the faith. In winning converts, the Sufis were willing to allow the inhabitants of island Southeast Asia to retain pre-Islamic beliefs and practices that orthodox scholars would clearly have found contrary to Islamic doctrine. Pre-Islamic customary law remained important in regulating social interaction, while Islamic law was confined to specific sorts of agreements and exchanges. Women retained a much stronger position, both within the family and in society, than they had in the Middle East and India. Local and regional markets, for example, continued to be dominated by the trading of small-scale female buyers and sellers. In such areas as western Sumatra, lineage and inheritance continued to be traced through the female line after the coming of Islam, despite its tendency to promote male dominance and descent through the male line. Perhaps most tellingly, preMuslim religious beliefs and rituals were incorporated into Muslim ceremonies. Indigenous cultural staples, such as the brilliant Javanese shadow plays that were based on the Indian epics of the Brahmanic age, were refined, and they became even more central to popular and elite belief and practice than they had been in the pre-Muslim era. Muhammad, Prophet Of Islam Into this environment at Mecca was born a man who would change completely the religious, political, and social organization of his people. Muhammad (c. 570-632) came from a family belonging to the Koraysh. His early years were difficult because of the deaths of both his parents and his grandfather who cared for him after his parents' loss. He was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib, a prominent merchant of Mecca. His early years

were spent helping his uncle in the caravan trade. Even as a young man, Muhammad came to be admired by his fellow Meccans as a sincere and honest person, and earned the nickname al-Amin, "the trustworthy." When he was about twenty years old, he accepted employment by a wealthy widow, Khadija, whose caravans traded with Syria. He later married Khadija and took his place as a leading influential citizen of the city. Muhammad's marriage to Khadija was a long and happy one, and produced two sons, who both died as infants, and two daughters, of whom the younger, Fatima, is best known. A description of Muhammad, and probably a very accurate one, has been preserved in the Sira, the traditional biography of the Prophet. He is described as a handsome, large man with broad shoulders, black, shining eyes flecked with brown, and a fair complexion. His personality was reserved and gentle, but he was a man of impressive energy. He walked quickly, and always seemed to make it difficult for his friends to keep up with him. Although he was a popular companion, an energetic businessman, and a responsible husband and father, Muhammad was a very introspective man. Often he would escape from the society, which he considered too materialistic and irreligious, and spend long hours alone in a cave on nearby Mount Hira. In these hours of meditation Muhammad searched for answers to the metaphysical questions that many thoughtful Arabs were beginning to explore. Muhammad's meditations many times produced nearly total mental and physical exhaustion. During one such solitary meditation, Muhammad heard a call that was to alter the history of the world. Muhammad's first communication from heaven came in the form of a command: Recite! In the name of your Lord, who created all things, who created man from a clot (of blood). Recite! And your Lord is Most Bounteous Who teaches by the Pen, teaches man that which he would not have otherwise known (Koran 96:1-5) The Arabic word for "recitation" or "reading" is qur'an, and the collected revelations given to Muhammad are known to us as the Koran. The revelations that continued to come over the next twenty years were sometimes terse and short, at other times elaborate and poetic. The early revelations did not immediately convince Muhammad that he was a messenger of God. In fact, his first reaction was fear and self-doubt. During his depressions brought on by fears over the source and nature of his revelations, he sought the comfort and advice of Khadija. As the revelations continued, Muhammad finally became convinced that the message he was receiving was the truth, and that he had been called to be a messenger of divine revelation. He came to think of himself and his mission as one similar to prophets and messengers who had preceded him in announcing the existence of the one God, Allah. Allah, "the God," was the same God worshiped by the Christians and Jews, but Allah had now chosen Muhammad to be his last and greatest prophet to perfect the religion revealed earlier to Abraham, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, and Jesus. The religion Muhammad preached is called Islam, which means surrender or submission to the will of God. The followers of Islam are called Muslims. The term Muslim refers to one who submits to God's law. Muhammad's Message And Early Followers At first Muhammad had little success in attracting followers in Mecca. The early message Muhammad brought to the Arabs was one of sternness and strength: that Allah was one and majestic, all-powerful and demanding of the faith of his followers. Furthermore, Allah demanded that his followers be compassionate, ethical, and just in all their dealings: In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the

Most Merciful by the night as it enshrouds by the day as it illuminates by Him Who created the male and female indeed your affairs lead to various ends. For who gives (of himself) and acts righteously, and conforms to goodness, We will give him ease. But as for him who is niggardly cleaning himself, self-sufficient and rejects goodness, We will indeed ease his path to adversity. Nor shall his wealth save him as he perishes for Guidance is from Us and to Us belongs the Last and First (92:1-14) Muhammad was able to win the early support of some of his relatives and close friends. His first converts were his wife, his cousin Ali, and Abu Bakr, a leading merchant of the Koraysh tribe who was highly respected for his integrity. Abu Bakr remained the constant companion of the Prophet during his persecution and exile and later became the first caliph (leader) of Islam. But opposition to Muhammad's message was very strong, especially from Mecca's leading citizens. Many thought Muhammad was a poor poet attempting to pass on his own literary creations as the word of God. Others believed him to be possessed by demons. Muhammad's strong monotheism worried those residents of Mecca who obtained their income from the pilgrims to the Kaaba. Most of Muhammad's early converts were among the poorest of the city's residents, and Mecca's leading citizens feared social revolution. Since Muhammad was himself a member of the Koraysh tribe, its leaders first tried to convince Abu Talib to persuade his nephew to stop preaching. Next they tried to bribe Muhammad himself with the promise of a lucrative position in tribal affairs. When such offers were rejected, actual persecution of Muhammad's converts began, and a commercial and social boycott of the Prophet's family was attempted. During this time Abu Talib and Khadija both died, and Muhammad's faith and resolution was greatly tested. But inspired by the spirit and example of earlier prophets such as Abraham and Moses, who were also tested and persecuted, Muhammad persevered in his faith and continued his preaching. The Hijrah To the north of Mecca is the city of Medina, which was then called Yathrib. The residents of Medina were more familiar with monotheistic beliefs, perhaps because of the Jewish community in residence there. They also had no dependence on the revenues from a pagan site of pilgrimage, as the Meccans had. Some pilgrims from Medina saw in Muhammad a powerful and influential leader and invited him to come to Medina to settle differences among rival factions. Muhammad sent some of his followers from Mecca to take up residence in Medina in order to escape persecution. Muhammad and Abu Bakr were the last to leave when it became known that the Koraysh intended to kill the Prophet. They were followed, but escaped, the story goes, by hiding in a narrow cave whose entrance was quickly covered by a spider's web. The web convinced Koraysh that the cave had been abandoned for a long while. The Hijrah, or "migration" from Mecca to Medina (often transliterated as Hegira), took place in September 622. The event was such a turning point in the history of Islam that the year is counted as Year One of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, the Prophet met with entirely different circumstance than in his birthplace. His leadership turned Medina (Madinat al Nali, or the City of the Prophet) into the leading center of power in the Arabian

peninsula. The Community At Medina Muhammad was received in Medina as a leader and a spiritual visionary. He and his followers set about the establishment of a genuine community, or Ummah, free of pressure and persecution. The community at Medina included a number of Jewish and Christian families, whom Muhammad tried to convert. His efforts were successful with some Jewish residents, but the Jews who did not choose to accept Muhammad's faith were allowed to continue their way of life, since they were also held to be "people of the Book" to whom Allah had made himself known through earlier prophets. The care of the community at Medina was of grave concern to Muhammad. Many of those who followed the prophet to Medina were without work, and necessary food was sometimes obtained by plundering the caravans passing Medina on the way to Mecca. Also, Muhammad and his followers became steadily more agressive in their attempts to win converts to Islam. The word jihad, meaning struggle, was applied to the early efforts of the Ummah to win converts and strengthen its own recruiting. Military encounters with the pagan opponents of Islam began in 624, with the battle of Bedr. Muhammad defeated the stronger Koraysh army of Mecca, and the victory reinforced the resolve of the new religion's followers. Succeeding battles established the Muslims as the dominant force in Arabia, and finally a truce with Mecca was arranged, under which the Muslims could visit the holy shrines in the city. Return To Mecca In 629 Muhammad returned with his followers to take control of the city of Mecca and to cleanse the Kaaba of pagan idols. The temple itself, together with the Black Stone, was preserved as the supreme religious center of Islam the "Mecca" to which all devout Muslims are to attempt to make a pilgrimage during their lifetimes. Muhammad urged his old enemies and unbelievers to accept Islam and become part of the Ummah. By 632, almost all of the Arabian peninsula had accepted Islam, and Muhammad had even sent ambassadors to the neighboring Byzantine and Persian empires to announce the new religion and encourage converts. Clearly Muhammad did not look upon Islam as only a religion of the Arabs, and certainly sought converts other than the residents of the Arabian peninsula. The Death Of Muhammad Muhammad died on June 8, 632 in Medina. He succumbed to a fever, probably induced by the great strains brought on by constant campaigns for new converts and the unrelenting demands for his attention. Muslims at first refused to accept his death, but were reassured by Abu Bakr, who recited this verse from the Koran: Muhammad is only a messenger: many are the messengers who have died before him; if he dies, or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? (3: 144) On the day of Muhammad's death, the question of leadership of the faithful was solved by the democratic election of Abu Bakr, who became the Prophet's first successor or caliph (from the Arabic khalifa). Abu Bakr was not looked upon as a prophet; Muhammad was seen as the last and the greatest of Allah's messengers. The caliph was regarded as the head of the Islamic Ummah. The significance of Muhammad to the birth and growth of Islam is impossible to overestimate. The Prophet and his message inspired his followers to create and work for

the betterment of a society united by the Islamic faith. Tribal loyalties were replaced by faith in the One God, who chose to speak to his people in their own language through a messenger who was also one of their own. Soon after Muhammad's death, his followers and companions, many of whom were scholars and teachers, began to collect and codify his teachings and actions. The result of their efforts was the hadith, or reports of the activities and sayings of Muhammad. The hadith has become an important source of values and ethical paths of behavior for the Islamic world. The Sunnah, the custom or practice of the Prophet, is grounded in the hadith and serves as a pattern for a model way of life to be imitated by the faithful. Sunni Islam is thus based on imitation of the Prophet's behavior as a proper goal for a meaningful life; 85 percent of the modern world's Muslims are Sunni. The Islamic Faith And Law Islam places great emphasis on the necessity of obedience to God's law in addition to faith. The Koran is the fundamental and ultimate source of knowledge about Allah and the proper actions of his followers. This holy book contains the theology of Islam, in addition to the patterns of ethical and proper conduct to which a Muslim must subscribe. Among the beliefs outlined in the Koran, there are some basic concepts which are held in common by the Islamic community as fundamental to the faith. The Koran Muslims believe that the Koran contains the actual word of God as it was revealed to Muhammad through divine inspiration. The revelations to the Prophet took place over a period of more than twenty years. Before Muhammad's death, many of these messages had been written down in order to be preserved. Muhammad himself began the work of preservation, and Abu Bakr, the first caliph, continued the process by compiling revelations which up to that time had been memorized by the followers and passed on by word of mouth. A complete written text of the Koran was produced shortly after Muhammad's death, with particular care taken to eliminate discrepancies and record only one standard version. This version was then transmitted to various parts of the new Islamic empire and used to assist in the conversion of unbelievers. The text of the Koran has existed virtually unchanged for fourteen centuries. The Koran was intended to be recited aloud; much of the power of the Koran comes from the experience of reciting, listening, and feeling the message. It was in this manner that Muhammad converted his followers. The Koran is never to be translated from the Arabic for worship. Because the followers of Islam had to learn the Koran in Arabic, the spread of Islam created a great amount of linguistic unity. Arabic replaced many local languages as the language of daily use, and the great majority of the Muslim world from Morocco to Iraq is still Arabic-speaking. In addition, the Koran remains the basic document for the study of Islamic theology, law, social institutions, and ethics. The study of the Koran remains at the heart of all Muslim scholarship, from linquistics and grammatical inquiry to scientific and technical investigation. The Tenets Of Islamic Faith Monotheism is the central principle of Islam. Tahwid means the unity or oneness of God; there is no other God but Allah, and this belief is proclaimed five times daily as the believers are called to prayer with these words: God is most great. I testify that there is no God but Allah. I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Come to prayer, come to

revelation, God is most great! There is no God but Allah. Allah is the one and only god, unapproached by other divinities and unlike all others in the strength of his creative power. All life, in fact all creation, is the responsibility of Allah alone. His nature is described in many ways and by many names, one of the most beautiful as "light." Allah is the light of the heaven and the earth .... His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (The lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East or the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light, Allah guided unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things. (This lamp is found) in houses which Allah hath allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein. Therein do offer praise to Him at noon and evening. (24:35) Islam also recognize the significance and contributions of prophets who preceded Muhammad. From the beginnings of human history, Allah has communicated with his people either by the way of the prophets, or by written scriptures: Lo! We inspire thee as We inspired Noah and the Prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon and as We imparted unto David the Psalms. (4:164) Twenty-eight such prophets are mentioned in the Koran as the predecessors of Muhammad, who is believed to have been the last and greatest of all of Allah's messengers. Muhammad is given no divine status by Muslims, even though he was the one chosen to proclaim Allah's message of salvation in its perfected form and final revelation; in fact, Muhammad took great care to see that he was not worshiped as a god. The creation of the universe and all living creatures within it is the work of Allah; harmony and balance in all of creation was ensured by God. In addition to humans and other creatures on the earth, angels exist to protect humans and to pray for forgiveness for the faithful. Jinn are spirits who may be good or bad, and forces known as "the unseen" exist on a level unknown to humans. Men and women are given a special status in the pattern of the universe, since Allah has endowed them with the ability to know and react to him better than any living creatures. They can choose to obey, or to reject Allah's will and deny him. Allah's message includes the belief in a Day of Resurrection when people will be held responsible for their actions and rewarded or punished accordingly for eternity. Geographic imagery played an important role in the Prophet's description of heaven and hell: both are depicted in a manner that calls forth an immediate reaction from people living in the desert. Those who have submitted to Allah's law - the charitable, humble, and forgiving - and those who have preserved his faith, shall dwell in a Garden of Paradise, resting in cool shades, eating delectable foods, attended by "fair ones with wide, lovely eyes like unto hidden pearls," and hearing no vain speech or recrimination but only "Peace! Peace!" This veritable oasis is far different from the agonies of the desert hell that awaits the unbelievers, the covetous, and the erring. Cast into a pit with its "scorching

wind and shadow of black smoke," they will drink boiling water and suffer forever. The Five Pillars Islam is united in the observance of the Five Pillars, or five essential duties which all Muslims are required to perform as they are able. These obligations are accepted by Muslims everywhere and thus serve to further unite the Islamic world. The first obligation is a simple profession of faith, by which a believer becomes a Muslim. The simple proclamation (shahada) is repeated in daily prayers. Belief in the one God and emulation of the exemplary life led by his Prophet are combined in the profession of faith. Prayer (salat) is said five times a day, when Muslims are called to worship by the muezzin (caller to prayer) who leads the recitation of the faithful from atop the minaret of the mosque (masjid, or place of prostration). During prayer, Muslims face Mecca, and in so doing give recognition to the birthplace of Islam and the unity of the Islamic community. Prayer can be given alone, at work, at home, or in the mosque. A Muslim is required to give alms (zakat) to the poor, orphans, and widows, and to assist the spread of Islam. The payment of alms is not considered to be a charitable activity, but rather a social and religious obligation to provide for the welfare of the Ummah. Muslims are generally expected to contribute a percentage (usually 2.5 percent) of their total wealth and assets annually in alms. Muslims are requested to fast (siyam) during the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. From sunrise to sunset, adult Muslims in good health are to avoid food, drink, and sexual activity. Finally Muslims are called to make a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime, in the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The focus of the pilgrimage is the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of Mecca. The hajj once again emphasizes the unity of the Islamic world community and the adherence to Islamic law no matter where a Muslim may reside. Islamic Law It is not possible to separate Islam from its law, because law in the Muslim community is religious by its nature. Islam is a way of life as well as a religion, and at its heart is the Sharia, or path, the law provided by Allah as a guide for a proper life. The Sharia gives the believers a perfect pattern of human conduct and regulates every aspect of a person's activities. Islamic law is considered to be established by God, and therefore unquestionably correct; God's decrees must be obeyed even if humans are incapable of understanding, since the Sharia is greater than human reason. Islamic law, then, permeates all aspects of human conduct and all levels of activity - from private and personal concerns to those involving the welfare of the whole state. Family law is set forth in the Koran and is based on much earlier Arabic tribal patterns of development. Islamic law emphasizes the patriarchal nature of the family and society. Marriage is expected of every Muslim man and woman unless physical infirmity or financial inability prohibits it. Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women, preferably Christians or Jews, since they too are "People of the Book," but Muslim women are forbidden to marry non-Muslim men. The Koran had the effect of improving the status and opportunities of women in Islam, as opposed to the older and traditional Arabic patterns of conduct. Women can contract their own marriages, keep and maintain their own dowries, and manage and inherit property. The Koran allows Muslim men to marry up to four wives, but polygamy is not required. Cowives must be treated with equal support and affection. Many modern-day Muslims interpret the Koran as encouraging monogamy; the practice of polygamy may have arisen

in order to provide protection and security in early Islamic society, when women outnumbered men because of the toll of constant warfare. For Islamic society as a whole, the law is considered to be universal and equally applied. Islamic law is considered to be God's law for all humankind, not only for the followers of Islam. In addition to its theology, Islam offers to its believers a system of government, a legal foundation, and a pattern of social organization. The Islamic Ummah was and is an excellent example of a theocratic state, one in which all power resides in God, in whose behalf political, religious, and other forms of authority are exercised. In fact, there is not even the combination of church and state in Islam, because there is no "church" or religious organization. The role of the state is to serve as the guardian of religious law. Also a characteristic of Islam is the principle of religious equality. There is no priesthood no intermediaries between people and God. There are leaders of worship in the mosques as well as the ulema, a class of learned experts in the interpretation of the Koran, but they are all members of the secular community. The Spread Of Islam The Islamic state expanded very rapidly after the death of Muhammad through remarkable successes both at converting unbelievers to Islam and by military conquests of the Islamic community's opponents. Expansion of the Islamic state was an understandable development, since Muhammad himself had successfully established the new faith through conversion and conquest of those who stood against him. Immediately after the Prophet's death in 632, Abu Bakr, as the first Caliph, continued the effort to abolish paganism among the Arab tribes, and also to incorporate Arabia into a region controlled by the political power of Medina. United by their faith in God and a commitment to political consolidation, the merchant elite of Arabia succeeded in consolidating their power throughout the Arabian peninsula and began to launch some exploratory offensives north toward Syria. Expansion Under The First Four Caliphs During the reigns of the first four caliphs (632-661), Islam spread rapidly. The wars of expansion were also advanced by the devotion of the faithful to the concept of jihad. Muslims are obliged to extend the faith to unbelievers and to defend Islam from attack. The original concept of jihad did not include agressive warfare against non-Muslims, but "holy war" was sometimes waged by Muslims whose interpretation of the Koran allowed them such latitude. Jihad was directly responsible for some of the early conquests of Islam outside of the Arabian peninsula. The Islamic cause was also aided by political upheavals occurring outside of Arabia. The Muslim triumphs in the Near East can be partly accounted for by the long series of wars between the Byzantine and Persian empires. Earlier Byzantine victories had left both sides exhausted and open to conquest. Moreover, the inhabitants of Syria and Egypt, alienated by religious dissent and resenting the attempts of the Byzantine Empire to impose Christianity on the population, were eager to be free of Byzantine rule. In 636, Arab armies conquered Syria. The Muslims then won Iraq from the Persians and, within ten years after Muhammad's death, subdued Persia itself. The greater part of Egypt fell with little resistance in 640 and the rest shortly afterward. By the end of the reigns of the first four caliphs, Islam had vastly increased its territory in the Near East and Africa. The new conquests of Islam were governed with remarkable efficiency and flexibility. The centralization of authority typical of military organization aided in the incorporation of new peoples. Unbelievers in the conquered territories became increasingly interested in the new religion and accepted Islam in great numbers. In addition to the obvious power of the religious message of Islam, the imposition of a personal tax on all non-Muslims

encouraged many to become converts. Contrary to exaggerated accounts in western Europe of the forceful imposition of Islam upon conquered peoples, Jews and Christians outside of Arabia enjoyed toleration because they worshiped the same God as the Muslims; many non-Muslims participated in the Islamic state and prospered financially and socially. Islam was and remains one the most effective religions in removing barriers of race and nationality. Apart from a certain privileged position allowed Arabs, distinctions were mostly those of economic rank in the early days of conquest. The new religion converted and embraced peoples of many colors and cultures. This egalitarian feature of Islam undoubtedy aided its expansion. Arab Domination Under The Umayyads The first three caliphs of Islam were chosen in consultation with the elders and leaders of the Islamic community, and a pattern was established for selecting the caliph from the Karaysh tribe of Mecca. The fourth caliph, Ali, who was the son-in-law of Muhammad, was devoted to Islam and convinced that leadership of the Islamic community should remain in the family of the Prophet. The followers of Ali were later called Shii or Shiites (after Shiat-u-Ali, or "party of Ali"), and believed that the first three caliphs had been usurpers to legitimate power. Ali and his followers were opposed first by Muslims under the leadership of Muhammad's widow Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr, and later by the forces of Muawiyah, the governor of Syria and a relative of the third caliph. In 661 Muawiyah proclaimed himself caliph, made Damascus his capital, and founded the Umayyad Dynasty, which lasted until 750. Thus the caliphate became in fact, although never in law, a hereditary office, not, as previously, a position filled by election. Umayyad military campaigns of conquest for the most part were highly successful. The Umayyad navy held Cyprus, Rhodes, and number of Aegean islands, which served as bases for annual seaborne attacks on Constantinople from 674 to 678. With the aid of Greek fire Constantinople was successfully defended, and the Arab advance was checked for the first time. Westward across North Africa, however, the Umayyad armies had much greater success. The Berbers, a warlike nomadic people inhabiting the land between the Mediterranean and the Sahara, resisted stubbornly but eventually converted to Islam. The next logical expansion for Islam was across the Strait of Gibraltar into the weak kingdom of the Visigoths in Spain. The governor of Muslim North Africa sent his general, Tarik, and an army across the Strait into Spain in 711. Seven years later the kingdom of the Visigoths completely crumbled. The Muslims advanced across the Pyrenees and gained a strong foothold in southwest France, where they carried out a major raid to explore the possibility of a further northward advance. However, they were defeated by Charles Martel near Tours in 732, in a battle which, together with their defeat by the Byzantine emperor Leo III in 718, proved decisive in halting their northward expansion into Europe. Meanwhile the Muslims had been expanding eastward into Central Asia, and by the eighth century they could claim lands as far as Turkestan and the Indus valley. The mainstay of Umayyad dynastic power was the ruling class consisting of an Arab military aristocracy, who formed a privileged class greatly outnumbered by non-Arabic converts to Islam - Egyptians, Syrians, Persians, Berbers, and others. Many of these converted peoples possessed cultures much more advanced than that of the Arabs, and the economic and cultural life of the Arab empire came to be controlled by these non-Arab Muslims (mawali). Because they were not Arab by birth, they were treated as second-class citizens. High government positions were closed to them. They paid higher taxes than Arabs, and as soldiers they received less pay and loot than the Arabs. Resentment grew among the non-Arabic Muslims who objected to their lesser status as a violation of the Islamic laws of equality. Eventually the resentment of the mawali helped bring about the downfall of the Umayyads.

[See Expansion Of Islam: The expansion of Islam to 750 AD] Shia Movement Against The Ruling Group This resentment also found expression in the religious sphere, where large numbers of non-Arabic Muslims joined the sect known as the Shia, which had been forced from power on the accession of the Umayyads. The Shia continued to regard Ali and his descendants as the rightful rulers of the Islamic community, and believed that in every age a messiahlike leader would appear and that he must be obeyed. The Shia also rejected the Sunna, the body of later tradition concerning Muhammad that was not contained in the Koran; they insisted on the Koran as the sole and unquestioned authority on the life and teachings of the Prophet. Though originally an Arab party, the Shia in time became a general Islamic movement that stood in opposition to the ruling Arabic dynasty. The Shia evolved into one of the two major groups in Islam. The majority, called Sunni because they were the "orthodox" perpetrators of Muhammad's Sunna, or tradition, upheld the principle that the caliph owed his position to the consent of the Islamic community. The numerical superiority of the Sunni Muslims has continued to this day. Conclusion In this chapter, we have examined the origins and meteoric development of Islam - both the religion and the community. The great power of Muhammad's teachings enabled the creative but fragmented Arab tribes to unify and expand across three continents in an astoundingly brief period. During the reigns of the first four caliphs and the century of the Umayyad Dynasty (661750), great strides were made in annexing new territories and peoples. But the Umayyad Dynasty was based on a ruling hierarchy of Arabs, and the resentment that set the Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258) on a new throne in Baghdad. During the early Abbasid period Islam reached the high point of its geographical expansion and cultural achievements, extending from Spain across three continents to east Asia. Unparalleled prosperity evolved from a combination of successful trade, industry, and agriculture. But the Muslims were not able to maintain an integrated empire; despite a religious unity - which still exists - politically the empire broke up into smaller Muslim states. The Muslims were especially gifted in science, literature, and philosophy. Muslim intellectual life was in large part the product of a genius for synthesizing varying cultures, and the diffusion of this knowledge was a tremendous factor in the revival of classical learning and the coming of the Renaissance in Europe. Ironically, while the arts and learning were beginning to thrive in the West, Islamic civilization itself declined. Various reasons have been advanced for this phenomenon, including the influx of semibarbarous peoples into Islamic lands, intellectual inflexibility resulting from rigid adherence to the Koran's sacred law, and the despotic and eventually corrupt rule of such Muslim dynasties as the Ottomans in Turkey, who destroyed most progressive political and economic movements. Islam remains a powerful force in the world today. Its believers encompass the most highly educated scholars and unscholared peasants. The Islamic community likewise is made up of leading industrialized societies as well as nations just emerging from colonialism. The message of faith and the unity of communalism under Islam are powerful influences which will continue to play a part in world politics. Islam has begun its fifteenth century as one of the world's most influential religious and social forces. Present-day

Islam still derives great meaning from the teachings of Muhammad and the community he and his disciples constructed. The power of the ancient message still plays a dominant role in the modern world. The Coming Of Islam To South Asia The pattern of political fragmentation that had left the much-reduced Abbasid caliphate vulnerable to nomadic invasions was also found in the regions of South Asia to which Islam spread during the centuries of Abbasid decline. As in the Islamic heartland, internal political rivalries left openings for nomadic warrior bands to raid the towns and villages on the outer frontiers of the subcontinent. When the indigenous Indian lords failed to patch up their differences in order to effectively repel these incursions, more powerful foreign rulers and ever larger armies descended upon the subcontinent, first to raid and pillage but soon with the intention of conquering and settling. As they had been since ancient times, the fertile and heavily populated river valleys and irrigated plains of west and central India were tempting targets for nomadic chiefs in search of booty or displaced lords in search of a strong base on which to anchor their kingdoms. All through the millennia when a succession of civilizations from Harappa to the Brahmanic Empire of the Guptas developed in the subcontinent, foreigners had entered India in waves of nomadic invaders or as small bands of displaced peoples seeking refuge. Invariably, those who chose to remain were assimilated into the civilizations they encountered in the lowland areas. They converted to the Hindu or Buddhist religion, found a place in the caste hierarchv, and adopted the dress, foods, and life-styles of the farming and city-dwelling peoples of the subcontinent. This capacity to absorb peoples moving into the area owed much to both the strength and flexibility of India's civilizations and the fact that they usually enjoyed a higher level of material culture than peoples entering the subcontinent. As a result, the persistent failure of Indian rulers to unite in the face of aggression on the part of outsiders meant periodic disruptions and localized destruction, but not fundamental challenges to the existing order. All of this changed with the arrival of the Muslims in the last years of the 7th century A.D. With the coming of the Muslims, the peoples of India encountered for the first time a largescale influx of bearers of a civilization as sophisticated, if not as ancient, as their own. They were also confronted by a religious system that was in many ways the very opposite of their own. Hinduism (the predominant Indian religion at that time) was open, tolerant, and inclusive of widely varying forms of religious devotion - from idol worship to meditation - in search of union with the supernatural source of all creation. Islam was doctrinaire, proselytizing, and committed to the exclusive worship of a single, transcendent God. In contrast to the egalitarianism of Islam, which proclaimed all believers equal in the sight of God, Hindu beliefs did much to validate the caste hierarchy, which rested on the acceptance of inborn differences between individuals and groups and the widely varying levels of material wealth, status, and religious purity these differences produced. Thus, where the faith of the invading Muslims was religiously more rigid than that of the absorptive and adaptive Hindus, the caste-based social system of the great majority of the indigenous peoples was much more compartmentalized and closed than those of the Muslim invaders, with their emphasis on mobility and the community of believers. Because growing numbers of Muslim warriors, traders, holy men, and ordinary farmers and herders were able to enter and settle in the subcontinent, extensive interaction between invaders and the indigenous peoples was inevitable. In the early centuries of the Muslim influx, conflict, often involving violent clashes between the two, predominated. But there was also a good deal of trade and even religious interchange between them. As time passed, peaceful (if wary) interaction became the norm. Muslim rulers employed large

numbers of Hindus to govern the largely non-Muslim populations they ruled; mosques and temples dominated different quarters within Indian cities; and Hindu and Muslim holy men strove to find areas of agreement between their two faiths. Tensions remained, and periodically they erupted into communal rioting or sustained warfare between Hindu and Muslim lords. From the 11th century, aowever, Islam became a major force in Indian history. Islam added further layers of richness and complexity to Indian civilization and some of its most enduring channels to the peoples and cultures of neighboring lands. North India On The Eve Of The Muslim Invasions In the years after the collapse of the Gupta Empire at the end of the 5th century, the heads of numerous regional dynasties aspired to restore imperial unity in North India. But until Harsha in the early 7th century, all imperial ambitions were frustrated by timely alliances of rival lords that checked the rise of a single and unifying power center. Harsha was the second son of one of these rival kings, who through a series of wars had carved out a modest domain in the Panjab region to the southeast of the Indus River system. Upon his father's death in 604, Harsha's elder brother ascended the throne. He was soon killed some accounts say treacherously murdered by the agents of a rival confederation of kings centered in Bengal. Although still a youth, Harsha agreed to accept the imperiled throne and was soon at war with the kingdoms of Bengal. The young king proved skillful at forging alliances with other rulers who were the enemies of those in the Bengali confederation; he also was a talented military commander. Soon after ascending the throne, he won a series of battles that both revenged the murder of his brother and led to a great increase in the territories under his control. Within a matter of years he had pieced together the largest empire India had seen since the fall of the Gupta dynasty over a century earlier. Harsha's Empire At the height of his power Harsha ruled much of the central and eastern Gangetic plain, but his "empire" was a good deal smaller than that of the Guptas. He beat the Bengali lords in battle but was unable to control their lands on a sustained basis, and his attempts to expand into southern India were unsuccessful. Harsha also never conquered most of the Indus valley to the northwest of his original kingdom or the region to the south, called Rajputana, which was divided into a patchwork of tiny kingdoms, dominated by a proud and fierce warrior elite. Thus, though he was one of the most powerful rulers India was to know from the time of the Guptas until the establishment of the Delhi sultanate in the 13th century, Harsha's conquests fell far short of uniting even the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. The wars that dominated the early years of Harsha's reign gave way to a long period of peace and prosperity for his empire. Content with his early conquests and too greatly feared by rival rulers to be attacked, Harsha turned his considerable energies to promoting the welfare of his subjects. Like Ashoka, he built roads and numerous rest houses for weary travelers, established hospitals, and endowed temples and Buddhist monasteries. In many cases, Harsha personally supervised the building of these public works projects, and he frequently toured the provinces of his empire to inquire about the condition and needs of his subjects. A Chinese pilgrim named Xuan Zang, who visited the Buddhist shrines of India during Harsha's reign, wrote that as the king toured the provinces he would hold audiences for the common people in a special pavilion that was set up alongside the main roads. Judging from Xuan Zang's account, the prosperity of the Gupta age had been largely restored during Harsha's reign. This was particularly the case in large towns such as the capital, Kanauj, which had formidable walls, palatial homes, and beautiful gardens with man-made tanks or pools. Some of the artistic creativity of the Gupta age was also revived during Harsha's long reign. The ruler was an author of some talent who wrote at least three Sanskrit plays, and he befriended and generously

patronized philosophers, poets, artists, and historians. Though he was probably a Hindu devotee of the god Shiva in his early years, Harsha was tolerant of all faiths and increasingly attracted to Buddhism. His generous patronage of Buddhist monasteries and the Buddhist monkhood attracted pilgrims like Xuan Zang. If Xuan Zang's account can be trusted, Harsha came close to converting to Buddhism in the last years of his life. He sponsored great religious assemblies, which were dominated by Buddhist monks and religious rituals, and prohibited eating meat and putting an end to human life. His lavish patronage of the Buddhists led on one occasion to a Brahmininspired assassination attempt, which appears only to have strengthened his preference for Buddhist ceremonies and beliefs. Despite his favoritism, however, Buddhism was clearly in decline. Monasteries were large and wealthy, but monastic discipline was lax and most monks had little contact with the populace at large. Much like a Hindu god, the Buddha was the object of cult veneration, and a variety of corrupt practices had crept into popular worship. Buddhist centers would prove vulnerable targets for Muslim raiders, and in some areas a substantial portion of the dwindling numbers of Buddhist lay believers would soon convert to Islam. Political Divisions And The First Muslim Invasions Harsha died without a successor in 646, and his kingdom was quickly pulled apart by ambitious ministers seeking to found a new dynasty of their own. Though Hindu culture flourished in both north and south India in the centuries after Harsha's death - as evidenced by the great temples that were constructed and the works of sculpture, literature, and music that were produced - no paramount kingdom emerged. Political divisions in the north and west-central regions of the subcontinent proved the most significant because they left openings for a succession of invasions by different Muslim peoples. The first and the least lasting Muslim intrusion, which came in 711, resulted indirectly from the peaceful trading contacts that had initially brought Muslims into contact with Indian civilization. Since ancient times, Arab seafarers and traders had been major carriers in the vast trading network that stretched from Italy in the Mediterranean to the South China Sea. After converting to Islam, these traders continued to frequent the ports of India, particularly those on the western coast. An attack by pirates sailing from Debul (in Sind in western India) on ships owned by some of these Arab traders prompted Hajjaj, the viceroy of the eastern provinces of the Umayyad Empire, to launch a punitive expeditior against the king of Sind. An able Arab general, Muhammad ibn Qasim, who was only 17 years old when the campaign began, led over 10,000 horse- and camel-mounted warriors into Sind to avenge the assault on Arab shipping. After victories in several fiercely fought battles and successful sieges of the great stone fortresses that stood guard over various parts of the arid and thinly peopled Sind interior, Muhammad ibn Qasim declared the region, as well as the Indus valley to the northeast, provinces of the Umayyad Empire. Soon after the territories haddbeen annexed to the Umayyad Empire, a new caliph, who was a bitter enemy of Hajjaj, came to power in Damascus. He purged Hajjaj and recalled and executed his son-in-law, Muhammad ibn Qasim. Though the personnel of the ruling Arab elite shifted as a result, the basic policies established by Muhammad ibn Qasim were followed by his Umayyad and Abbasid successors for several centuries. In these early centuries, the coming of Islam brought little change for most of the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, in many areas

local leaders and the mass of the populace had surrendered towns and districts willingly to the conquerors, who offered the promise of lighter taxation and greater religious tolerance. The Arab overlords decided to treat both Hindus and Buddhists as protected "people of the book," despite the fact that their faiths had no connection to the Bible, the book in question. This meant that though they were obliged to pay special taxes, non-Muslims enjoyed the freedom to worship as they pleased and to maintain their temples and monasteries. As in other areas conquered by the Arabs, most of the indigenous officials and functionaries retained their positions, which did much to reconcile them to Muslim rule. The status and privileges of the Brahmin castes were also respected. Virtually all the Arabs, who made up only a tiny minority of the population, lived in the cities or special garrison towns. Because little effort was expended in converting the peoples of the conquered areas, they remained overwhelmingly Hindu or Buddhist and, initially at least, displayed scant interest in the beliefs or culture of their new overlords. Indian Influences On Islamic Civilization Though the impact of Islam on the Indian subcontinent in this period was limited, the Arab foothold in Sind provided contacts by which Indian learning could be transmitted to the Muslim heartlands in the Middle East. As a result, Islamic civilization was enriched by the skills and discoveries of yet another great civilization. Of particular importance was Indian scientific learning, which rivaled that of the Greeks as the most advanced of the ancient world. Hindu mathematicians and astronomers traveled to Baghdad after the Abbasids came to power in the mid-8th century. Their works on algebra and geometry were translated into Arabic, and their instruments for celestial observation were copied and improved upon by Arab astronomers. Most critically, Arab thinkers in all fields began to use the numerals that Hindu scholars had devised centuries earlier. Because these numbers were passed on to the Europeans through contacts with the Arabs in the early Middle Ages, we call them Arabic numerals today, but they originated in India. Because of the linkages between civilized centers established by the spread of Islam, this system of numerical notation has proved central to two scientific revolutions: the first in the Middle East, which was discussed previously, and a second, more sustained and fundamental transformation first in Europe and subsequently in much of the rest of the world from the 16th century onward. In addition to science and mathematics, Indian treatises on subjects ranging from medicine to music were translated and studied by Arab scholars. Indian physicians were brought to Baghdad to run the well-endowed hospitals that the Christian Crusaders found a source of wonderment and a cause for envy. On a number of occasions, Indian doctors were able to cure Arab rulers and high officials whom Greek physicians had pronounced beyond help. Indian works on statecraft, alchemy, and palmistry were also translated into Arabic, and it is believed that some of the tales in the Arabian Nights were based on ancient Indian stories. Indian musical instruments and melodies made their way into the repertoires of Arab performers, and the Indian game of chess became a favorite of both princes and ordinary townspeople. Arabs who emigrated to Sind and other Muslim-ruled areas often adopted Indian dress and hairstyles, ate Indian foods, and rode on elephants as the Hindu rajas (kings) did. In this era additional Arab colonies were established in coastal areas, such as Malabar to the south and Bengal in the east. These trading enclaves would later provide the staging areas from which Islam was transmitted to island and mainland Southeast Asia.

[See Tomb At Agra: Built in 1626 at Agra, this exquisite tomb of white marble encrusted with semiprecious stones provides a superb example of the blending of Islamic and Hindu architectural forms and artistic motifs.] Muslim Invasions: The Second Wave After the initial conquests by Muhammad ibn Qasim's armies, little territory was added to the Muslim foothold on the subcontinent. In fact, disputes between the Arabs occupying Sind and quarrels with first the Umayyad and later the Abbasid caliphs gradually weakened the Muslim hold on the area and led to the reconquest of parts of the lower Indus valley by Hindu rulers. The slow Muslim retreat was dramatically reversed by a new series of military invasions, this time launched by a Turkish slave dynasty that in 962 had seized power in Afghanistan to the north of the Indus valley. The third ruler of this dynasty, Mahmud of Ghazni, led a series of expeditions that initiated nearly two centuries of Muslim raiding and conquest in northern India. Drawn by the legendary wealth of the subcontinent and a zeal to spread the Muslim faith, Mahmud repeatedly raided northwest India in the first decades of the 11th century. He defeated one confederation of Hindu princes after another and drove deeper and deeper into the subcontinent in the quest of ever richer temples to sack and loot. Mahmud's raids and those of his successors became a lasting source of enmity between Hindus and Muslims in South Asia. After capturing and looting a rich Hindu temple in 1008, he became obsessed with the promise of treasure and the chance to strike a blow at the infidel Hindu faith, which the great temple complexes provided. His most spectacular raid was directed in 1024 at the massive Somanth temple in Gujarat. The temple was served by more than 1,000 Hindu priests and hundreds of temple dancers and singers, supported by 10,000 villages, and defended by nearly 50,000 warriors. Its capture marked the high point of Mahmud's career as general and religious zealot. After stripping the captured shrine of its legendary jewels and golden decorations, Mahmud ordered his followers to smash its idols and destroy the intricate complex of shrines and passageways that housed them. The main idol of the temple was cut into many pieces, and the parts were placed in the floors and stairways at the entrances to Muslim mosques, where the faithful would regularly trod on them when going to prayer. The persecution of both Hindus and Buddhists by invaders, such as Mahmud, gave the Muslims a reputation among the Indian peoples for intolerance and aggression that would greatly hinder the efforts of later and more tolerant Muslim potentates to reconcile Hindu subjects to their rule. From Booty To Empire The raids mounted by Mahmud of Ghazni and his successors, which were devoted primarily to pillaging, gave way in the last decades of the 12th century to sustained campaigns aimed at seizing political control in North India. The key figure in this transition was a tenacious military commander of Persian extraction, Muhammad of Ghur. The breakup of the Ghazni Empire as a result of the ceaseless quarrels of Mahmud's successors made it possible for the small mountain kingdom of Ghur, near Herat in western Afghanistan, to emerge as a formidable regional power center. Vendettas to avenge the death of relatives in the protracted struggle with the Ghaznis and the support of his elder brother prepared Muhammad for ambitious military expeditions into India, which began in 1178. After barely surviving several severe defeats at the

hands of Hindu rulers, Muhammad put together a string of military victories that brought the Indus valley, Sind, and much of north-central India under his control. Muhammad's conquests were extended in the following years by several of his most gifted subordinate commanders, who, as was quite common in Muslim kingdoms, were slaves who had risen to positions of power on the basis of their military skills. These commanders established Muslim rule in the Gangetic plain as far as Bengal and throughout Rajputana to the south and west. After Muhammad of Ghur was assassinated in 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, one of his slave lieutenants, formed a separate kingdom in the Indian portions of the Ghuri Empire. Significantly the capital of the new kingdom was at Delhi along the Jumna River on the Gangetic plain. Delhi's location in the very center of northern India graphically proclaimed that a Muslim dynasty rooted in the subcontinent itself, not an extension of a central Asian empire, had been founded. For the next 300 years a succession of dynasties would rule much of north and central India. Alternatively of Persian, Afghan, Turkic, and mixed descent, the rulers of these imperial houses, who proclaimed themselves the sultans of Delhi, fought each other, Mongol and Turkic invaders, and the indigenous Hindu princes for control of the Indus and Gangetic heartlands of Indian civilization. All the dynasties that laid claim to the sultanate based their power on large military machines, which were anchored on massive contingents of cavalry and, increasingly, on corps of war elephants patterned after those that indigenous rulers had used for centuries. The support of their armies and sumptuous court establishments became the main objectives of the extensive bureaucracies that each of the rulers at Delhi sought to maintain. Though some rulers patronized public works projects, the arts, and charitable relief, most rulers concentrated on maximizing the revenues they could collect from the peasants and townspeople in their domains. Throughout the Delhi sultanate era, however, factional struggles among the ruling Muslims and their dependence on Hindu lords and village notables in administration at the local level greatly limited the actual control exercised by any of the dynasties that emerged. Through the collusion and cheating of lower-level officials, who had no sense of loyalty to the Muslim overlords, much of what the peasants produced was retained by the villagers or appropriated by local and regional elite groups. Conversion Though the Muslims literally fought their way into India, their interaction with the indigenous peoples soon came to be dominated by accommodation and peaceful exchanges. Over the centuries when much of the north was ruled by dynasties centered at Delhi, sizeable Muslim communities developed in different areas of the subcontinent, particularly in Bengal to the east and in the northwestern provinces in the Indus valley that were the points of entry for most of the Muslim peoples who migrated into India. Few of these converts were won by forcible conversion. The main carriers of the new faith were traders, who played a growing role in both coastal and inland trade, and Sufi mystics, whom in both style and message shared much with Indian holy people and wandering ascetics. Belief in their magical and healing powers did much to enhance the stature and increase the following of the Sufis, whose mosques and schools often became centers of regional political power. Sufis organized their devotees in militias to fend off bandits or the

depredations of rival princes, oversaw the clearing of forests for farming and settlement, and welcomed low and outcaste Hindu groups into the Muslim brotherhood. After their deaths, the tombs of Sufi holy men became objects of veneration for Hindus and Buddhists as well as for Muslims. They were sites of pilgrimage, where travelers from many regions congregated and from which Islamic teachings were further spread throughout the subcontinent. Most of the indigenous converts, who came to form a majority of the Muslims living in India, were drawn from specific regions and social groups. Surprisingly small numbers of converts were found in the Indo-Gangetic centers of Muslim political power, a fact that suggests the very limited importance of forced conversions. Most Indians who converted to Islam were from Buddhist or low-caste groups. In areas such as western India and Bengal, where Buddhism had survived as a popular religion until the era of the Muslim invasions, esoteric rituals and corrupt practices had debased Buddhist teachings and undermined the morale of the monastic orders. This decline was accelerated by Muslim raids on Buddhist temples and monasteries, which provided vulnerable and lucrative targets for the early invaders. Without monastic supervision, local congregations sank further into orgies and experiments with magic, and in some areas into practices, such as human sacrifice, that also disregarded the Buddha's social concerns and religious message. Disorganized and misdirected, Buddhism proved no match for the confident and vigorous new religion the Muslim invaders carried into the subcontinent, particularly when those who sought to spread the new faith possessed the charisma and organizing skills of the Sufi holy men. Though Buddhist converts probably made up the larger portion of the Indians who converted to Islam, untouchables and low-caste Hindus, as well as animistic tribal peoples, were also attracted to the more egalitarian social arrangements promoted by the new faith. As was the case with the Buddhists, group conversions were essential since those who remained in the Hindu caste system would have little to do with those who converted. Some conversions were also prompted by the desire of Hindus or Buddhists to escape the hated head tax the Muslim rulers levied on unbelievers and by intermarriage between the indigenous peoples and Muslim migrants, whose communities usually included far fewer women than men. The migrants themselves also increased the size of the Muslim population in the subcontinent. This was particularly true in periods of crisis in central Asia, as in the 13th and 14th centuries when Turkic, Persian, and Afghan peoples retreated to the comparative sanctuary of India in the face of the Mongol and Timurid conquests. Accommodation Although Islam won large numbers of converts in certain areas and communities, it initially made little impression on the Hindu community as a whole. Despite military reverses and the imposition of Muslim political rule over large areas of the subcontinent, high-caste Hindus in particular persisted in regarding the invaders as the bearers of an upstart religion and as polluting outcastes. Al-Biruni, one of the chief chroniclers of the Muslim conquests, complained openly about the prevailing Indian disdain for the newcomers: The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like taeirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited and stolid.

Many Hindus were quite willing to take positions as administrators in the bureaucracies of Muslim overlords or as soldiers in their armies and to trade with Muslim merchants, but they remained socially aloof from their conquerors. Separate living quarters in both cities and rural villages were established everywhere Muslim communities developed; genuine friendships between members of high-caste groups and Muslims were rare and sexual liaisons between them were severely restricted. During the early centuries of the Muslim influx, the Hindus were convinced that, like so many of the peoples who had entered the subcontinent in the preceding millennia, the Muslims would soon be absorbed by the superior religions and more sophisticated cultures of India. Many signs pointed to that outcome. Hindus staffed the bureaucracies and made up a good portion of the armies of Muslim rulers. In addition, Muslim princes adopted regal styles and practices that were Hindu-inspired and contrary to the Quran. Some Hindus proclaimed themselves to be of divine descent, while others minted coins decorated with Hindu images such as Nandi, the bull associated with a major Hindu god, Shiva. More broadly, Muslim communities became socially divided along caste lines. Recently arrived Muslims were generally on top of the hierarchies that developed, and even they were divided depending on whether they were Arab, Turk, or Persian. High-caste Hindu converts came next, followed by "clean" artisan and merchant groups. Lower caste and untouchable converts remained at the bottom of the social hierarchy, which may well explain why conversions by these groups were not as numerous as one would expect, given the original egalitarian thrust of Islam. Muslims also adopted Indian foods and styles of dress and took to chewing pan, or betel leaves. Their intrusion had unfortunate consequences for women in both Muslim and Hindu communities. The invaders increasingly adopted the lower age of women at the time of their marriage and the prohibitions against widow remarriage found especially at the high-caste levels of Indian society. Some upper "caste" Muslim groups even performed the ritual of sati, the immolation of widows with the bodies of their deceased husbands. Islamic Challenge And Hindu Revival Despite a significant degree of acculturation to Hindu life-styles and social organization, Muslim migrants to the subcontinent held to their own, quite distinctive religious beliefs and rituals. The Hindus found Islam impossible to absorb and soon realized that they were confronted by an actively proselytizing religion that had great appeal to substantial segments of the Indian population. Partly in response to this challenge, the Hindus placed ever greater emphasis on the devotional cults of gods and goddesses that had earlier proved so effective in neutralizing the challenge of Buddhism and other indigenous religious rivals. Membership in these devotional, or bhaktic, cult groups was open to all, including women and untouchables. In fact, some of the most celebrated writers of religious poetry and songs of worship were women, such as Mira Bai. Saints from low-caste origins were revered by warriors and Brahmins as well as by farmers, merchants, and outcastes. Because many songs and poems were composed in regional languages, such as Bengali, Marathi, and Tamil, they were more accessiblr to the common people and became prominent expressions of popular culture in many areas. Bhaktic holy people and gurus stressed the importance of a strong emotional bond between devotee and the god or goddess who was their object of

veneration. Chants, dances, and in some settings drugs were used to reach the state of spiritual intoxication that was the key to individual salvation. Once one had achieved the state of ecstasy that came through intense emotional attachment to a god or goddess, all past sins were removed and caste distinctions rendered meaningless. The divine objects of these devotional cults varied not only by region and social group but also by the holy person followed. The most widely worshipped divine objects, however, were the gods Shiva and Vishnu - particularly in the guise of Krishna the goatherd - and the goddess Kali in any one of several manifestations. By increasing popular involvement in Hindu worship and enriching and extending modes of prayer and ritual, the bhaktic movement may have done much to stem the flow of converts to Islam, particularly at the level of low-caste groups. Once again, the Hindu tradition demonstrated its remarkable adaptability and tolerance for widely varying modes of divine worship. Attempts To Bridge The Differences Between Hinduism And Islam The similarities in style and religious message between the Sufis, who sought to spread Islam to the Indian masses, and the gurus, who championed bhaktic devotion to the Hindu gods and goddesses, led to a number of attempts to find common ground between the two communities. One of these attempts can be traced in the teachings, recorded in the form of religious poems, of the 15th century mystic Kabir. A man of humble origins who was raised by Muslim weavers in Banaras, one of the most sacred Hindu cities, Kabir played down the importance of ritual differences between Hinduism and Islam. He declared: O servant, where doest thou seek Me? Lo! I am beside thee. I am neither in temple nor in mosque: Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, nor in Yoga and renunciation. Though he saw both religions as valid paths to God, Kabir taught that the ultimate truths transcended Hinduism and Islam. Sheer devotion, not prayers or sacrifices, he argued, would lead the devotee to divine bliss: If you have not drunk of the nectar of that One Love, what does it matter that you purge yourself of all sins? The Kazi [judge] is searching the words of the Koran [Quran], and instructing others but if his heart is not steeped in that love, what does it avail, though he be a teacher of men? The Yogi dyes his garments with red: but if he knows nothing of the color of love, what does it avail though his garments be tinted? Kabir says: "Whether I be in the temple or the balcony, in the camp or in the flower garden, I tell you truly that every moment my Lord is taking His delight in me." The attempts of mystics like Kabir to minimize the differences between Hindu and Islamic beliefs and worship influenced only small numbers of the followers of either faith. They were also strongly repudiated by the guardians of orthodoxy in each religious community. Sensing the long-term threat to Hinduism posed by Muslim political dominance and conversion efforts, the Brahmins denounced the Muslims as infidel destroyers of Hindu temples and polluted meat eaters. Later Hindu mystics, such as the 15th-century holy man Chaitanya, composed songs that focused on love for Hindu deities and set out

to convince Indian Muslims to renounce Islam in favor of Hinduism. For their part, Muslim ulama, or religious experts, grew increasingly aware of the dangers that Hinduism posed for Islam. Attempts to fuse the two faiths, such as that by Kabir, were rejected on the grounds that though Hindus might argue that specific rituals and beliefs were not essential, they were fundamental for Islam. If one played down the teachings of the Quran, prayer, and the pilgrimage, one was no longer a true Muslim. Thus, the ulama and even some Sufi mystics stressed the teachings of Islam that separated it from Hinduism. They worked to promote unity within the Indian Muslim community and to strengthen its contacts with Muslims in neighboring lands and the Middle Eastern centers of the faith. Stand-off: The Muslim Presence In India At The End Of The Sultanate Period After centuries of invasion and migration, a sizeable Muslim community had been established in the Indian subcontinent. Converts had been won, political control had been established throughout much of the area, and strong links had been forged with Muslims in other lands such as Persia and Afghanistan. But non-Muslims, particularly Hindus, remained the overwhelming majority of the population ofethe vast and diverse lands south of the Himalayas. Unlike the Zoroastrians in Persia or the animistic peoples of the Maghrib and the Sudan, most of the Indians showed little inclination to convert to the religion of the Muslim conquerors. On the contrary, despite their subjugation, they remained convinced that they possessed a superior religion and civilization and that the Muslims would eventually be absorbed into the expansive Hindu fold. The Muslim adoption of Hindu social forms and Indian customs certainly pointed in this direction. The teachings of Hindu and Muslim holy persons threatened to blur the religious boundaries between the two faiths, a process that favored the ascendancy of the more amorphous faith of the Hindu majority. Thus, though Muslim conquests and migration had carried Islam into the heart of one of the most ancient and populous centers of civilization, after centuries of political dominance and missionary activity, India remained one of the least converted and integrated of all the areas to which the message of Muhammad had spread. The Spread Of Islam To Southeast Asia The spread of Islam to various parts of coastal India set the stage for its further expansion to island Southeast Asia. As we have seen, Arab traders and sailors regularly visited the ports of Southeast Asia long before they converted to Islam. Initially the region was little more than a middle ground, where the Chinese segment of the great Euroasian trading complex met the Indian Ocean trading zone to the west. At ports on the coast of the Malayan peninsula, east Sumatra, and somewhat later north Java, goods from China were transferred from East Asian vessels to Arab or Indian ships, and products from as far west as Rome were loaded into the emptied Chinese ships to be carried to East Asia. By the 7th and 8th centuries A.D., sailors and ships from areas within Southeast Asia - particularly Sumatra and Malaya - had become active in the seaborne trade of the region. Southeast Asian products, especially luxury items, such as aromatic woods from the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, and spices, such as cloves, nutmeg, and mace from the far end of the Indonesian archipelago, had also become important exports to both China in the east and India and the Mediterranean area in the west. These trading links were to prove even more critical to the expansion of Islam in Southeast Asia than they had earlier been to the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism.

As the coastal trade and shipping of India came to be controlled (from the 8th century onward) increasingly by Muslims from such regions as Gujarat and various parts of south India, elements of Islamic culture began to filter into island Southeast Asia. But only in the 13th century after the collapse of the far-flung trading empire of Shrivijaya, which was centered on the Straits of Malacca between Malaya and the north tip of Sumatra, was the way open for the widespread proselytization of Islam. With its great war fleets, Shrivijaya controlled trade in much of the area and was at times so powerful that it could launch attacks on rival empires in south India. Indian traders, Muslim or otherwise, were welcome to trade in the chain of ports controlled by Shrivijaya. Since the rulers and officials of Shrivijaya were devout Buddhists, however, there was little incentive for the traders and sailors of Southeast Asian ports to convert to Islam, the religion of growing numbers of the merchants and sailors from India. With the fall of Shrivijaya, the way was open for the establishment of Muslim trading centers and efforts to preach the faith to the coastal peoples. Muslim conquests in areas such as Gujarat and Bengal, which separated Southeast Asia from Buddhist centers in India from the 11th century onward, also played a role in opening the way for Muslim conversion. The Pattern Of Conversion As was the case in most of the areas to which Islam spread, peaceful and voluntary conversion was far more important than conquest and force in spreading the faith in Southeast Asia. Almost everywhere in the islands of the region, trading contacts paved the way for conversion. Muslim merchants and sailors introduced local peoples to the ideas and rituals of the new faith and impressed on them how much of the known world had already been converted. Muslim ships also carried Sufis to various parts of Southeast Asia, where they were destined to play as vital a role in conversion as they had in India. The first areas to be won to Islam in the last decades of the 13th century were several small port centers on the northern coast of Sumatra. From these ports, the religion spread in the following centuries across the Strait of Malacca to Malaya. On the mainland the key to widespread conversion was the powerful trading city of Malacca, whose smaller trading empire had replaced the fallen Shrivijaya. From the capital at Malacca, Islam spread down the east coast of Sumatra, up the east and west coasts of Malaya, to the island of Borneo, and to the trading center of Demak on the north coast of Java. From Demak, the most powerful of the trading states on north Java, the Muslim faith was disseminated to other Javanese ports and, after a long struggle with a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in the interior, to the rest of the island. From Demak, Islam was also carried to the Celebes, tha spice islands in the eastern archipelago, and from there to Mindanao in the southern Philippines. This progress of Islamic conversion shows that port cities in coastal areas were particularly receptive to the new faith. Here the trading links were critical. Once one of the key cities in a trading cluster converted, it was in the best interest of others to follow suit in order to enhance personal ties and provide a common basis in Muslim law to regulate business deals. Conversion to Islam also linked these centers, culturally as well as economically, to the merchants and ports of India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Islam made slow progress in areas such as central Java, where Hindu-Buddhist dynasties contested its spread. But the fact that the earlier

conversion to these Indian religions had been confined mainly to the ruling elites in Java and other island areas left openings for mass conversions to Islam that the Sufis eventually exploited. The island of Bali, where Hinduism had taken deep root at the popular level, remained largely impervious to the spread of Islam. The same was true of most of mainland Southeast Asia, where centuries before the coming of Islam, Theravada Buddhism had spread from India and Ceylon and won the fervent adherence of both the ruling elites and the peasant masses. Sufi Mystics And The Nature Of Southeast Asian Islam The fact that Islam came to Southeast Asia primarily from India and that it was spread in many areas by Sufis had much to do with the mystical quality of the religion and its tolerance for coexistence with earlier animist, Hindu, and Buddhist beliefs and rituals. Just as they had in the Middle East and India, the Sufis who spread Islam in Southeast Asia varied widely in personality and approach. Most were believed by those who followed them to have magical powers, and virtually all Sufis established mosque and school centers from which they traveled in neighboring regions to preach the faith. In winning converts, the Sufis were willing to allow the inhabitants of island Southeast Asia to retain pre-Islamic beliefs and practices that orthodox scholars would clearly have found contrary to Islamic doctrine. Pre-Islamic customary law remained important in regulating social interaction, while Islamic law was confined to specific sorts of agreements and exchanges. Women retained a much stronger position, both within the family and in society, than they had in the Middle East and India. Local and regional markets, for example, continued to be dominated by the trading of small-scale female buyers and sellers. In such areas as western Sumatra, lineage and inheritance continued to be traced through the female line after the coming of Islam, despite its tendency to promote male dominance and descent through the male line. Perhaps most tellingly, pre-Muslim religious beliefs and rituals were incorporated into Muslim ceremonies. Indigenous cultural staples, such as the brilliant Javanese shadow plays that were based on the Indian epics of the Brahmanic age, were refined, and they became even more central to popular and elite belief and practice than they had been in the pre-Muslim era. Spread Into Africa

The spread of Islam, from its heartland in the Middle East and North Africa to India and Southeast Asia, revealed the power of the religion and its commercial and sometimes military attributes. Civilizations were altered without being fully drawn into a single Islamic statement. A similar pattern developed in sub-Saharan Africa, as Islam provided new influences and contacts without amalgamating African culture as a whole to the Middle Eastern core. New religious, economic, and political patterns developed in relation to the Islamic surge, but great diversity remained. Africa below the Sahara was never totally isolated from the centers of civilization in Egypt, west Asia, or the Mediterranean, but for long periods the contacts were difficult and intermittent. During the ascendancy of Rome, sub-Saharan Africa like northern Europe was on the periphery of the major centers of civilization. After the fall of Rome, the civilizations of Byzantium and the Islamic world provided a link between the civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean as well as the areas, such as northern

Europe and Africa, on their frontiers. In Africa, between roughly A.D. 800 and 1500, the frequency and intensity of contact with the outside world increased as part of the growing international network. A number of social, religious, and technological changes took place that influenced many of the different peoples throughout the vast and varied continent. Chief among these changes was the arrival of the followers of the Prophet Muhammad. The spread of Islam across much of the northern third of Africa produced profound effects on both those who converted and those who resisted the new faith. Islamization also served to link Muslim Africa even more closely to the outside world through trade, religion, and politics. Trade and long-distance commerce, in fact, was carried out in many parts of the continent and linked regions beyond the orbit of Muslim penetration. Until about 1450, however, Islam provided the major external contact between sub-Saharan Africa and the world. State building took place in many areas of the continent under a variety of conditions. West Africa, for example, experienced both the cultural influence of Islam and its own internal dynamic of state building and civilizational developments that produced, in some places, great artistic accomplishments. The formation of some powerful states, such as Mali and Songhay, depended more on military power and dynastic alliances than on ethnic or cultural unity. In this aspect and in the process of state formation itself, Africa paralleled the roughly contemporaneous developments of western Europe. The development of city-states, with strong merchant communities in West Africa and on the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa, bore certain similarities to the urban developments of Italy and Germany in this period. However, disparities between the technologies and ideologies of Europeans and Africans by the end of this period also created marked differences in the way in which their societies developed. The arrival of western Europeans - the Portuguese - in the 15th century set in motion a series of exchanges that would draw Africans increasingly into the world economy and create a new set of relationships that would characterize African development for centuries to come. Several emphases thus highlight the history of Africa in the postclassical centuries. Northern Africa and the East African coast became increasingly incorporated into the Arab Muslim world, but even other parts of the continent reflected the power of Islamic thought and institutions. New centers of civilization and political power arose in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa, illustrating the geographical diffusion of civilization. African civilizations, however, built somewhat less clearly on prior precedent than was the case in other postclassical societies. Some earlier themes, such as the Bantu migration and the formation of large states in the western Sudan, persisted. Overall, sub-Saharan Africa remained a varied and distinctive setting, parts of it drawn into new contacts with the growing world network, but much of it retaining a certain isolation. The Abbasids, Zenith Of Islamic Civilization In 750 the Umayyad Dynasty was removed from power by rebels, and a new dynasty, the Abbasid, ruled most of the Muslim world from 750 to 1258. The city of Baghdad was built in 762 as the capital of the new caliph, Abu-al-Abbas, a descendant of the Prophet's uncle. The Abbasids owed their initial success to the discontent of the non-Arabic Muslims, who were the primary leaders in the towns and in the Shia.

The fall of the Umayyad Dynasty marked the end of Arab domination within Islam; the Abbasid caliph made great effort to establish equalitarian treatment of all Muslims. The Arab aristocracy had led the forces of conquest during the great period of Islamic expansion, but with the advent of more stable political conditions, the important status previously held only by the Arab soldier was given to non-Arab administrators, merchants, and scholars. The traditional Arabic patterns of nomadism and warfare gave way before economic prosperity, the growth of town life, and the rise of a merchant class. Caliph Abu-al-Abbas forecast that Baghdad would become the "most flourishing city in the world"; and indeed it rivaled Constantinople for that honor, situated as it was on the trade routes linking West and East. Furthermore, Abbasid patronage of scholarship and the arts produced a rich and complex culture far surpassing that then existing in western Europe. The location of a new capital at Baghdad shifted Islam's center of gravity to the province of Iraq, whose soil, watered by the Tigris and Euphrates, had nurtured the earliest human civilization. Here the Abbasid caliphs set themselves up as potentates in the traditional style of the ancient East (more particularly of Persia) so that they were surrounded by a lavish court that contrasted sharply with the simplicity of the lifestyle of the Prophet. The Abbasid Dynasty marked the high point of Islamic power and civilization. The empire ruled by these caliphs was greater in size than the domain of the Roman Caesars; it was the product of an expansion during which the Muslims assimilated peoples, customs, cultures, and inventions on an unprecedented scale. This Islamic state, in fact, drew from the resources of the entire known world. [See Abbasid Dynasty: The Islamic world under the Abbasid Dynasty.] Trade, Industry, And Agriculture From the eighth to the twelfth century the Muslim world enjoyed enormous prosperity. In close contact with three continents, the Muslims could shuttle goods back and forth from China to western Europe and from Russia to central Africa. The absence of tariff barriers within the empire and the tolerance of the caliphs, who allowed non-Muslim merchants and craftsmen to reside in their territories and carry on commerce with their home countries, further facilitated trade. The presence of such important urban centers as Baghdad, Cairo and Cordova stimulated trade and industry throughout the Muslim world. The cosmopolitan nature of Baghdad was evident in its bazaars, which contained goods from all over the known world. There were spices, minerals, and dyes from India; gems and fabrics from Central Asia; honey and wax from Scandinavia and Russia; and ivory and gold dust from Africa. One bazaar in the city specialized in goods from China, including silks, musk, and porcelain. In the slave markets Muslim traders bought and sold Scandinavians, Mongolians from Central Asia, and Africans. Joint-stock companies flourished along with branch banking organizations, and checks (an Arabic word) drawn on one bank could be cashed elsewhere in the empire. Muslim textile industries turned out excellent cottons (muslins) and silks. The steel of Damascus and Toledo, the leather of Cordova, and the glass of Syria became internationally famous. Notable also was the art of

papermaking, learned from the Chinese. Under the Abbasids, vast irrigation projects in Iraq increased cultivable land, which yielded large crops of fruits and grains. Wheat came from the Nile valley, cotton from North Africa, olives and wine from Spain, wool from eastern Asia Minor, and horses from Persia. The Spectacular Reign Of Harun Al-Rashid Just as the Abbasid Caliphate was the most impressive Islamic dynasty, so the rule of Harun al-Rashid (786-809) was the most spectacular of the Abbasid reigns. A contemporary of Charlemagne, who had revived the idea of a Roman Empire in the West (see ch. 9) there can be no doubt that Harun was the more powerful of the two and ruler of the more highly advanced culture. The two monarchs were on friendly terms, based on self-interest. Charlemagne wanted to exert pressure on the Byzantine emperor to recognize his new imperial title. Harun, on the other hand, saw Charlemagne as an ally against the Umayyad rulers of Spain, who had broken away from Abbasid domination. The two emperors exchanged embassies and presents. The Muslim sent the Christian rich fabrics, aromatics, and even an elephant named Abu-Lababah, meaning "the father of intelligence." An intricate water clock from Baghdad seems to have been looked upon as a miracle in the West. Relations between the Abbasid caliphate and the Byzantine Empire were never very cordial, and conflicts often broke out along the constantly shifting border that separated Christian and Muslim territories. Harun al-Rashid once replied to a communique from the Byzantine emperor in the following terms: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. From Harun, Commander of the Faithful, to Nicephorus, the dog of the Greeks, I have read your letter, you son of a she-infidel, and you shall see the answer before you hear it. Whereupon the irate caliph sent forth expeditions to ravage Asia Minor. In the days of Harun al-Rashid, Baghdad's wealth and splendor equaled that of Constantinople, and its chief glory was the royal palace. With its annexes for eunuchs, officials, and a harem, the caliph's residence occupied a third of Baghdad. The caliph's audience chamber was the setting for an elaborate ceremonial, which imitated that of the Byzantines and Persians. Disintegration Of The Abbasid Empire In some ways, the opulent reign of Harun al-Rashid marked the highpoint of Abbasid achievement. In others it exhibited the warning signs of weakness. Despite the unprecedented prosperity of the far-flung Abbasid Empire, the political unity of Islam began to crumble soon after the accession of the Abbasid caliphs. The first sign of political disintegration appeared in 756 when a member of the deposed Umayyad family founded his own dynasty at Cordova in Spain; in 929 his decendant assumed the title of caliph. Also in the tenth century the Fatimids - Shiites who claimed descent from Muhammad's daughter Fatima who had married Ali, the fourth caliph - proclaimed themselves the true caliphs of all Islam. From their capital at Cairo, which they founded, their rule eventually extended from Morocco to northern Mesopotamia.

Meanwhile, in the latter part of the tenth century Turkish nomads, called Seljuks, had migrated from Central Asia into the Abbasid lands, where they accepted Islam. After annexing most of Persia, the Seljuks gained control of Baghdad in 1055 and subjugated Iraq. Subsequently they conquered Syria and Palestine at the expense of the Fatimids and proceeded to annex most of Asia Minor from the Byzantines. It was the Seljuks' advance that prompted the First Crusade in 1095. The Seljuks permitted the Abbasids to retain nominal rule, but a new and powerful enemy now appeared and overran Abbasid lands. Early in the thirteenth century Genghis Khan succeeded in uniting the nomads of Mongolia, and conquering much of China and Russia; he and his successors moved on to eastern and central Asia (see ch. 8) and swept into Persia and Iraq. In 1258 a grandson of Genghis Khan captured Baghdad and had the caliph put in a sack and trampled to death. Not only did the Abbasid Dynasty come to an end, but so did most of the vast irrigation system that had supported the land since the beginning of civilization; Iraq was not to recover until modern times. The dynasty established by the Mongols survived for only a short time, and the Mongol ruling class was eventually absorbed into the native populations of Persia and Iraq. Muslim Egypt was saved from the Mongol advance by the Mamluks ("the owned ones"), captured Turkish slaves trained to become Muslims and soldiers. Serving as a elite guard for their Fatimid masters, the Mamluks rebelled, seized power in Egypt, and eventually took over Palestine and Syria, ejecting the last of the crusaders in 1291. Ultimately they fell before the onslaught of another Turkish force, the Ottomans, in 1517. The Ottoman Turks Having settled in northwestern Asia Minor in the thirteenth century as vassals of the Seljuks, the Ottoman Turks had organized their own aggressive state by the end of that century. The name Ottoman is derived from Osman I (d. 1324), founding chieftan of the dynasty, who organized Muslim volunteer fighters against the Byzantines on the western borders. These fighters committed themselves to ghaza, or Islamic holy war, in order to eliminate the unbelievers surrounding the Turkish homeland. The Ottomans pitted their considerable strength against the crumbling power of the Byzantines, pressed on into southeastern Europe, and finally captured Constantinople in 1453. Driving as far as Vienna, they were turned back with tremendous difficulty in 1529 and again in 1683. Meanwhile, in 1517, the Ottomans had conquered the Mamluk territories, and within a few years they added Iraq, much of Arabia, and all of the North African coastal belt to the borders of Morocco. slamic Culture The attainments of the Muslims in the intellectual and artistic fields can be attributed not only to the genius of Arabs, but also to those peoples who embraced the Islamic faith in Persia, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. Muslim learning benefitted both from Islam's ability to absorb other cultures and from the native talents of the Islamic peoples. The cosmopolitan spirit permeating the Abbasid Dynasty supplied the tolerance necessary for a diversity of ideas, so that the science and philosophy of ancient Greece and India alike received a cordial reception in Baghdad. Under Harun al-Rashid and his successors, the writings of Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Archimedes, Galen, and other great Greek scientific writers were translated into Arabic. This knowledge, together with the teachings of the

Koran, formed the basis of Muslim learning, which in turn was later transmitted to scholars in western Europe. In addition to being invaluable transmitters of learning, the Muslims made many original contributions to science and the arts. Advances In Medicine The years between 900 and 1100 can be called the golden age of Muslim learning. This period was particularly significant for medical advances. Muslim students of medicine were by all measures far superior to their European contemporaries. Muslim cities had excellent pharmacies and hospitals, and both pharmacists and physicians had to pass state examinations for licensure. Physicians received instruction in medical schools and hospitals. Perhaps the greatest Muslim physician was the Persian al-Razi (d. 925), better known in the West as Rhazes. He wrote more than a hundred medical treatises in which he summarized Greek medical knowledge and added his own clinical observations. His most famous work, On Smallpox and Measles, is the first clear description of the symptoms and treatment of these diseases. The most influential Muslim medical treatise is the vast Canon of Medicine of the Persian scholar Avicenna (d. 1037), in which all Greek and Muslim medical learning is systematically organized. In the twelfth century the Canon was translated into Latin and was so much in demand in the West that it was issued sixteen times in the last half of the fifteenth century and more than twenty times in the sixteenth. It is still read and used in east Asia today. Progress In Other Sciences Muslim physicists were not just copyists, but highly creative scientists as well. Alhazen (d. 1039) of Cairo developed optics to a remarkable degree and challenged the theory of Ptolemy and Euclid that the eye sends visual rays to its object. The chief source of all medieval Western writers on optics, Alhazen interested himself in optic reflections and illusions and examined the refraction of light rays through air and water. Although astronomy continued to be strongly influenced by astrology, Muslim astronomers built observatories, recorded their observations over long periods, and achieved greater accuracy than the Greeks in measuring the length of the solar year and in calculating eclipses. Interest in alchemy - the attempt to change base metals into precious ones and to find the magic elixir for the preservation of human life - produced the first chemical laboratories and caused an emphasis on the value of experimentation. Muslim alchemists prepared many chemical substances (sulfuric acid, for example) and developed methods for evaporation, filtration, sublimation, crystallization, and distillation. The process of distillation, invented around 800, produced what was called alkuhl (alcohol), a new liquor that had made Geber, its inventor, an honored name in some circles. In mathematics the Muslims were indebted to the Hindus as well as to the Greeks. From the Greeks came the geometry of Euclid and the fundamentals of trigonometry, which Ptolemy had worked out. From the Hindus came arithmetic and algebra and the nine signs, known as Arabic numerals. The Muslims probably invented the all-important zero, although some scholars assign this honor to the Indians. Two Persian mathematicians made significant contributions: al-Khwarizmi (d. about 840), whose Arithmetic introduced Arabic numerals and whose Algebra first employed that mathematical term, and Omar Khayyam (d. c.

1123), whose work in algebra went beyond quadratics to cubic equations. Other scholars developed plane and spherical trigonometry. In an empire that straddled continents, where trade and administration made an accurate knowledge of lands imperative, the science of geography flourished. The Muslims added to the geographical knowledge of the Greeks, whose treatises they translated, by producing detailed descriptions of the climate, manners, and customs of many parts of the known world. Islamic Literature And Scholarship To Westerners, whose literary tastes have been largely modeled after the Graeco-Roman classics, Islamic literature may seem very alien. Whereas we are used to restraint and simplicity, Muslim writers have long enjoyed elegant expression, subtle combinations of words, and fanciful and even extravagant imagery. Westerners' knowledge of Islamic literature tends to be limited to the Arabian Nights and the poetry of Omar Khayyam. The former is a collection of often erotic tales told with a wealth of local color; although it professedly covers different facets of life at the Abbasid capital, it is in fact often based on life in medieval Cairo. The fame of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat is partly due to the musical (though somewhat free) translation of Edward FitzGerald. The following stanzas indicate the poem's beautiful imagery and gentle resignation: A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! Some for the Glories of This World; and some Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come; Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go, Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum! ... The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky, Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die, Lift not your hands to It for help - for It As impotently moves as you or I. ^1 [Footnote 1: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, trans. by Edward Fitzgerald, Stanzas 12, 13, 71, 72.] The same rich imagery characterizes much Islamic prose. As the first important prose work in Arab literature, the Koran set the stylistic pattern for all Arabic writers. The holy book was designed particularly to be recited aloud; anyone who has listened to the chanting of the Koran can testify to its cadence, melody, and power. Muslim philosophy, essentially Greek in origin, was developed by secular

scholars and not, as in the West, by churchmen. Like the medieval Christian philosophers (see ch. 10), Muslim thinkers were largely concerned with reconciling Aristotelian rationalism and religion. The earlier Muslim thinkers, including Avicenna, the physician with many talents, sought to harmonize Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Islam. Avicenna's work was widely read in the West, where it was translated in the twelfth century. The last great Islamic philosopher, Averroes (d. 1198), lived in Cordova where he was the caliph's personal doctor. In his commentaries on Aristotle's works, which gave the Christian West its knowledge of Aristotle long before the original Greek texts were obtained from Constantinople, Averroes rejected the belief in the ultimate harmony between faith and reason along with all earlier attempts to reconcile Aristotle and Plato. Faith and reason, he argued, operate on different levels; a proposition can be true philosophically but false theologically. On the other hand, Moses Maimonides, Averroes' contemporary who was also born in Muslim Spain, sought, in his still influential Guide to the Perplexed, to harmonize Judaism and Aristotelian philosophy. St. Thomas Aquinas, who in the next century undertook a similar project for Christianity, was influenced by these earlier attempts to reconcile faith and reason. Islamic historiography found its finest expression in the work of ibn-Khaldun of Tunis (d. 1406), who has also been called a "father of sociology." Despite his busy life in public affairs, he found time to write a large general history dealing particularly with human social development, which he held to be the result of interaction of society and the physical environment. Ibn-Khaldun defined history thus: It should be known that history, in matter of fact, is information about human social organization, which itself is identical with world civilization. It deals with such conditions affecting the nature of civilization as, for instance, savagery and sociability, group feelings, and the different ways by which one group of human beings achieves superiority over another. It deals with royal authority and ... with the different kinds of gainful occupations and ways of making a living, with the sciences and crafts that human beings pursue as part of their activities and efforts, and with all the other institutions that originate in civilization through its very nature. ^2 [Footnote 2: Ibn Khaldun, The Mugaddimah: An Introduction to History, trans. by Franz Rosenthal, Vol. I (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul Ltd., 1958), p. 71.] Ibn-Kaldun conceived of history as an evolutionary process, in which societies and institutions change continually. Art And Architecture Religious attitudes played an important part in Muslim art. Because the Prophet warned against idols and their worship, there was a prohibition against pictorial representation of human and animal figures. The effect of this injunction was to encourage the development of stylized and geometrical design. Muslim art, like Muslim learning, borrowed from many sources. Islamic artists and craftsmen followed chiefly Byzantine and Persian models and eventually integrated what they had learned into a distinctive and original style.

The Muslims excelled in the fields of architecture and the decorative arts. That Islamic architecture can boast of many large and imposing structures is not surprising, because it drew much of its inspiration from the Byzantines and Persians, who were monumental builders. In time an original style of building evolved; the great mosques embody such typical features as domes, arcades, and minarets, the slender towers from which the faithful are summoned to prayer. The horseshoe arch is another graceful and familiar feature of Muslim architecture. On the walls and ceilings of their buildings, the Muslims gave full rein to their love of ornamentation and beauty of detail. The Spanish interpretation of the Muslim tradition is particularly delicate and elegant. Other outstanding examples of Islamic architecture are to be found in India; the Taj Mahal, for example, is based largely on Persian motifs. Restricted in their subject matter, Muslim craftsmen conceived beautiful patterns from flowers and geometric figures. Even Arabic script, certainly one of the most beautiful ever devised, was used as a decorative motif. Muslim decorative skill also found expression in such fields as carpet and rug weaving, brass work, and the making of steel products inlaid with precious metals. The Arab Empire Of The Umayyads Muhammad's victory over the Umayyads, his capture of Mecca, and the resulting allegiance of many of the bedouin tribes of Arabia created a wholly new center of power in the Middle Eastern cradle of civilizations. A backward, non-agrarian area outside the core zones of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia suddenly emerged as the source of religious and political forces that would eventually affect the history of much of the known world. But when the prophet Muhammad died quite suddenly in 632, it appeared that his religion might altogether disappear. Many of the bedouin tribes that had converted to Islam renounced the new faith in the months after Muhammad's death, and his remaining followers quarreled over who should succeed him. Though these quarrels were never fully resolved, the community managed to find new leaders who directed a series of campaigns to force those who had abandoned Islam to return to the fold. Having united most of Arabia under the Islamic banner by 633, Muslim military commanders began to mount serious expeditions beyond the peninsula, where only probing attacks had occurred during the lifetime of the prophet and in the period of tribal warfare after his death. The courage, military prowess, and religious zeal of the warriors of Islam and the weaknesses of the empires that bordered on Arabia resulted in stunning conquests in Mesopotamia, North Africa, and Persia that dominated the next two decades of Islamic history. The empire built from these conquests was Arab rather than Islamic. Most of it was ruled by a small Arab-warrior elite, led by the Umayyads and other prominent clans, which had little desire to convert the subject populations, either Arab or otherwise, to the new religion. Unaccustomed wealth and political power, which was reflected in the growth of new cities around Arab garrisons and the expansion of older urban centers, were the Arabs' rewards for these startling victories. The Umayyads, to the dismay of many of the faithful, developed into autocratic rulers who were more concerned with perpetuating their dynastic power than advancing the

interests of the Islamic faithful as a whole. Their growing arrogance and adoption of a life-style stressing luxury and material gain exacerbated divisions within the Islamic community that had begun to emerge soon after Muhammad's death. Consolidation And Division In The Islamic Community The leadership crisis brought on by Muhammad's death in 632 was compounded by the fact that he had not appointed a successor or even established a procedure by which a new leader might be chosen. Opinion within the Muslim community was deeply divided as to who should succeed him. In addition, many bedouin tribes broke from the Islamic fold after hearing of the prophet's passing. Several of these tribes produced prophets of their own and some of the larger ones launched attacks on Mecca. In this moment of extreme danger, there was an urgent need to find a new leader who could rally the faithful and put down the bedouin challenges to the community and the new faith. On the afternoon Muhammad died, one of the loyal clans called a meeting to select a new leader who would be designated as the caliph, the political and religious successor to Muhammad. Several choices were possible, and a deadlock between the clans appeared likely - a deadlock that would almost certainly have been fatal to a community threatened by enemies on all sides. One of the main candidates, Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, was passed over because he was considered too young to assume a position of such great responsibility. This decision was later to prove a major source of division in the Islamic community. But in 632, it appeared that a difficult reconciliation had been won by the choice of one of Muhammad's earliest followers and closest friends, Abu Bakr (caliph from 632 to 634). In addition to his personal courage, warmth, and wisdom, Abu Bakr was well versed in the genealogical histories of the bedouin tribes, which meant that he was well placed to determine which tribes could be turned against each other and which ones could be enticed into alliances. Initially at least, his mandate was very limited. He received no financial support from the Muslim community. Thus, he had to continue his previous occupation as a merchant on a part-time basis, and he only loosely controlled the better military commanders of the faithful. These commanders turned out to be very able indeed. After turning back attacks on Mecca, the Islamic faithful routed one after another of the bedouin tribes. The defeat of rival prophets and some of the larger clans in what were known as the Ridda Wars soon brought about the return of one tribe after another to the Islamic fold. Emboldened by the proven skills of his generals and the swelling ranks of the Muslim faithful, Abu Bakr did nothing to stop raids to the north of Arabia into the sedentary zones in present-day Iraq and Syria and eastward into Egypt. There is evidence that Muhammad envisioned expansion into these areas, but his death left whatever plans he had unfulfilled. The unified bedouin forces had originally intended merely to raid for booty and then retreat back into the desert. But their initial probes revealed the deep-seated rot and vulnerability of the Byzantine and Persian empires, which dominated or ruled directly the territories into which the Muslim warriors rode. The invaders were also prodded onward by the growing support of the Arab bedouin peoples who had migrated to the Fertile Crescent decades and even centuries earlier. These peoples had long served as the vassals and frontier guardians of the Byzantine and Persian empires. Now they joined their

Arab brethren in a combined assault on the two empires. Motives For Conquest The Arab warriors were driven by a number of forces. The unity the Islamic faith provided gave them a new sense of common cause and strength. United they could stand up to the non-Arab rulers who had so long played them against each other and despised them as unwashed and backward barbarians from the desert wastelands. It is also probable that the early leaders of the community saw the wars of conquest as a good way to release the pent-up energies of the martial bedouin tribes they now sought to lead. Above all, the bedouin warriors were drawn to the campaigns of expansion by the promise of a share in the booty to be won in the rich farmlands raided and the tribute that could be exacted from the towns and cities that came under Arab rule. As an early Arab writer remarked, the bedouins forsook their life as desert nomads not out of a promise of religious rewards, but due to a "yearning after bread and dates." The chance to glorify their new religion may have been a motive for the Arab conquests, but they were not driven by a desire to win converts to it. In fact, other than fellow bedouin tribes of Arab descent, the invaders had good reason to avoid mass conversions. Not only would Arab warriors have to share the booty of their military expeditions with ever larger numbers if converts were made, but Muslims were exempted from some of the more lucrative taxes levied on Christian and other non-Muslim groups. Thus, the vision of Islamic jihads, or holy wars, launched to forcibly spread the faith, which has been associated with Islam, distorts the forces behind the early Arab expansion. Weaknesses Of The Adversary Empires Of the two great empires that had once contested for dominance in the Fertile Crescent transit zone, the Sasanian Empire of Persia proved the more vulnerable. Power in the extensive Sasanian domains was formally concentrated in the hands of an autocratic emperor. By the time of the Arab explosion, the emperor was manipulated by a landed, aristocratic class that harshly exploited the cultivators who made up most of the population of the empire. Zoroastrianism, the official religion of the emperor, lacked popular roots. By contrast, the religion of a visionary reformer named Mazdak, which had won considerable support among the peasantry, had been brutally suppressed by the Sasanian rulers in the period before the rise of Islam. At first the Sasanian commanders had little more than contempt for the Arab invaders and set out against them with poorly prepared forces. By the time the seriousness of the Islamic threat was made all too clear by decisive Arab victories in the Fertile Crescent region and the defection of the Arab tribes on the frontier, Muslim warriors had broken into the Sasanian heartland. Further Muslim victories brought about the rapid collapse of the vast empire. The Sasanian rulers and their forces retreated eastward in the face of the Muslim advance. The capital was taken, armies were destroyed, and generals were slain. When, in 651, the last of the Sasanian rulers was assassinated, Muslim victory and the destruction of the empire were ensured. [See Persian Prisoners] Despite an equally impressive string of Muslim victories in the provinces of their empire, the Byzantines proved a more resilient adversary. Their

ability to resist the Muslim onslaught, however, was impeded both by the defection of their own frontier Arabs and the support the Muslim invaders received from the Christians of Syria and Egypt. Members of the Christian sects dominant in these areas, such as the Copts and Nestorians, had long resented the rule of the Orthodox Byzantines, who taxed them heavily and, periodically, openly persecuted them as heretics. When it became clear that the Muslims would not only tolerate the Christians but tax them less heavily than the Byzantines did, these Christian groups rallied to the Arabs. Weakened from within and exhausted by the long wars fought with Persia in the decades before the Arab explosion, the Byzantines reeled from the Arab assaults. Syria, western Iraq, and Palestine were quickly taken by the Arab invaders, and by 640 a series of probes had been made into Egypt, one of the richest provinces of the empire. In the early 640s, the ancient center of learning and commerce, Alexandria, was taken; most of Egypt was occupied; and Arab armies extended their conquests into Libya to the west. Perhaps even more astounding from the point of view of the Byzantines, by the mid-640s the desert bedouins were putting together war fleets that increasingly challenged the long-standing Byzantine mastery of the Mediterranean. The rise of Muslim naval supremacy in the eastern end of the sea sealed the loss of Byzantium's rich provinces in Syria and Egypt and opened the way to further Muslim conquests in North Africa, the Mediterranean islands, and even southern Italy. For a time the Byzantines managed to rally their forces and stave off further inroads into their Balkan and Asia Minor heartlands. But the early triumphs of the Arab invaders had greatly reduced the strength and magnificence of the empire. Though it would survive for centuries, it would henceforth be a kingdom under siege. The Lingering Problem Of Succession And Sectarian Strife The stunning successes of Muslim armies and the sudden rise of an Arab empire covered over for a time continuing divisions within the community. The old division between the tribes of Mecca and Medina was compounded by differences between the tribes of north and south Arabia as well as those who came to identify Syria as their homeland and those who settled in Iraq. Though these divisions were often generations old and the result of personal animosities, resentments had also begun to build over how the booty from the conquests ought to be divided among the tribal blocks that made up the Islamic community. In 656, just over two decades after the death of the prophet, the growing tensions broke into open violence. The spark that began the conflict was the murder of the third caliph, Uthman, by mutinous warriors returning from Egypt. Uthman's death was the signal for the supporters of Ali to proclaim him as caliph. In part Uthman's unpopularity among many of the tribes, particularly those from Medina and the prophet's earliest followers, arose from the fact that he was the first caliph to be chosen from Muhammad's early enemies, the Umayyad clan. Already angered by the murder of their kinsman, the Umayyads rejected Ali's claims and swore revenge when he failed to punish Uthman's assassins. Warfare erupted between the two factions. Ali was a famed warrior and experienced commander, and his deeply committed supporters soon gained the upper hand. After his victory at the Battle of the Camel in late 656, most of the Arab garrisons shifted to his side in opposition to the Umayyads, whose supporters were concentrated in the province of Syria and the holy city of Mecca. Just as Ali was on the verge of routing the Umayyad forces at the battle of Siffin in 657, he was won over by a plea for mediation of the dispute. His decision to accept arbitration was

fatal to his cause. Some of his most fervent adherents repudiated his leadership and had to be violently suppressed. While representatives of both parties sought unsuccessfully to work out a compromise, the Umayyads regrouped their forces and added Egypt to the provinces backing their claims. In 660, Mu'awiya, the new leader of the Umayyads, was proclaimed caliph in Jerusalem, thereby directly challenging Ali's position. A year later, Ali was assassinated, and his son, Hasan, was pressured by the Umayyads into renouncing his claims to the caliphate. The Sunni-Shi'a Division In the generation after the prophet's death, the question of succession, which has proved to be a persistent problem in Islamic political systems, generated deep divisions within the Muslim community. The Sunnis, who backed the Umayyads, and the Shi'as, or dissenters who supported Ali, remain to this day the most fundamental divisions in the Islamic world. Hostility between these two branches of the Islaeic faithful was further heightened in the years after Ali's death by the continuing struggle between the Umayyads and Ali's second son, Husayn. After being abandoned by the clans in southern Iraq, who had promised to rise in a revolt supporting his claims against the Umayyads, Husayn and a small party were overwhelmed and killed at Karbala in 680. From that point the Shi'as mounted determined and sustained resistance to thec Umayyad caliphate. Over the centuries factional disputes about who had the right to succeed Muhammad, with the Shi'ites recognizing none of the early caliphs except Ali, have been compounded by differences in belief, ritual, and law that have steadily widened the gap between Sunnis and Shi'as. These divisions have been further complicated by the formation of splinter sects within the Shi'a community in particular, beginning with those who defected from Ali when he agreed to arbitration of his and the Umayyads' claims. The Umayyad Imperium After a pause to settle internal disputes over succession, the remarkable sequence of Arab conquest was renewed in the last half of the 7th century. Muslim armies broke into central Asia, thus inaugurating a rivalry with Buddhism in the region that continues to the present day. By the early 8th century, the southern prong of this advance had reached into northwest India. Far to the west, Arab armies swept across North Africa and crossed the Straits of Gibraltar to conquer Spain and threaten France. Though the Muslim advance into western Europe was in effect checked by the hard-fought victory of Charles Martel and the Franks at Poitiers in 732, the Arabs did not fully retreat beyond the Pyrenees into Spain until decades later. Muslim warriors and sailors dominated much of the Mediterranean, a position that would be solidified by the conquest of key islands, such as Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia, in the early decades of the 9th century. By the early 700s, the Umayyads ruled an empire that extended from Spain in the west to the steppes of central Asia in the east. Not since the Romans had there been an empire to match it; never had an empire of its size been built so rapidly. Though Mecca remained the holy city of Islam, under the Umayyads the political center of community shifted to Damascus in Syria, where the Umayyads chose to reside after the murder of Uthman. From Damascus a succession of Umayyad caliphs strove to build a bureaucracy that would bind together the vast domains they claimed to rule. The empire was very much an Arab conquest

state. Except in the Arabian peninsula and parts of the Fertile Crescent, a small Arab and Muslim aristocracy ruled over peoples who were neither Arab nor Muslim. Only Muslim Arabs were first-class citizens of this great empire. They made up the core of the army and imperial administration, and only they received a share of the booty derived from the ongoing conquests. They could be taxed only for charity. The Umayyads sought to keep the Muslim warrior elite concentrated in garrison towns and separated from the local population. It was hoped that isolation would keep them from assimilating to the subjugated cultures, because intermarriage meant conversion and the loss of taxable subjects. Converts And "Peoples Of The Book" Umayyad attempts to block extensive interaction between the Muslim warrior elite and the mass of their non-Muslim subjects had little chance of succeeding. The citified bedouin tribesmen were soon interacting intensively and intermarrying in considerable numbers with the local populations of the areas conquered. Equally critical, increasing numbers of these peoples were voluntarily converting to Islam, despite the fact that conversion did little to advance them socially or politically in the Umayyad period. Mawali, or Muslim converts, in this era still had to pay property taxes and in some cases the jizya, or head tax, levied on nonbelievers. They received no share of the booty and found it difficult, if not impossible, to acquire important positions in the army or bureaucracy. They were not even considered full members of the umma but were accepted only as clients of the powerful Arab clans. As a result, the number of conversions in the Umayyad era was low, and mawali were frequently found in the ranks of the dissident sects generated by the struggles over succession. By far the greater portion of the population of the empire were dhimmis, or people of the book. As the title suggests, it was originally applied to Christians and Jews who shared the Bible with the Muslims. As Islamic conquests spread to peoples, such as the Zoroastrians of Persia and the Hindus of India, the designation "dhimmi" was necessarily stretched to accommodate the majority groups within these areas of the empire. The Muslim overlords generally displayed tolerance toward the religions of dhimmi peoples. Though they had to pay the jizya and both commercial and property taxes, their communities and legal systems were left intact and they were allowed to worship as they pleased. This approach made it a good deal easier for these peoples to accept Arab rule, particularly since many had been oppressed by their pre-Muslim rulers. Family And Gender Roles In The Umayyad Age Broader social changes within the Arab and widening Islamic community were accompanied by significant shifts in the position of women, both within the family and in society at large. In the first centuries of Arab expansion, the greatly strengthened position of women under Islam prevailed over the seclusion and domination by males that were characteristic features of women's lives through much of the rest of the Middle East. Muhammad's teachings and the dictates of the Quran stressed the moral and ethical dimensions of marriage. The kindness and concern the prophet displayed for his own wives and daughters did much to strengthen the bonds between husband and wife and the nuclear family in the Islamic community. Muhammad encouraged marriage as a replacement for the casual and often commercial sexual liaisons that had been widespread in pre-Islamic Arabia. He vehemently denounced adultery on the part

of both husbands and wives, though the punishment he recommended (100 lashes) was a good deal less draconian than the death by stoning later prescribed by some versions of Islamic law. He forbadr female infanticide, which had apparently been widely practiced in Arabia in pre-Islamic times. Though men were allowed to take up to four wives, the Quran forbade multiple marriages if the husband was not able to support more than one wife or treat all of his wives equally. Women could not take more than one husband, but Muhammad gave his own daughters a say as to whom they might marry and greatly strengthened the legal rights of women regarding inheritance and divorce. He insisted that the bride-price paid by the husband's family be given to his future wife, rather than to her father as before. By his own example, Muhammad greatly strengthened the position of women within the family. Not only were his wives and daughters prominent figures in the early Islamic community, but he treated them with great respect and even on occasion was known to take a hand in the household chores. The prophet's teachings proclaimed the equality of men and women before God and in Islamic worship. Women, such as Kadijah, the prophet's first wife, were some of Muhammad's earliest and bravest followers. They accompanied his forces to battle (as did the wives of their adversaries) with the Meccans, and a woman was the first martyr for the new faith. Many of the traditions of the prophet, which have played such a critical role in Islamic law afd ritual, were recorded by women, and his wives and daughters played an important role in the compilation of the Quran. Though women were not allowed to be prayer leaders, they played an active role in the politics of the early community. Muhammad's wife Aisha actively promoted the claims of the Umayyad party against Ali, while Zainab, his daughter by Fatima, went into battle with the ill-fated Husayn. Through much of the Umayyad period, little is heard of veiled Arab women, and they appear to have pursued a wide range of occupations, including scholarship, law, and commerce. Perhaps one of Zainab's nieces best epitomizes the independent-mindedness of Muslim women in the early Islamic era. When chided for going about without a veil, she replied that God in His wisdom had chosen to give her a beautiful face and that she intended to make sure that it was seen in public so that all might appreciate God's grace. Umayyad Decline And Fall The ever-increasing size of the royal harem was just one manifestation of the Umayyad caliphs' growing addiction to luxury and soft living. Their legitimacy had been disputed by various Muslim factions from the outset of their seizure of the caliphate. But the Umayyads further alienated the Muslim faithful as they became more aloof in the early decades of the 8th century and retreated from the dirty business of war into their pleasure gardens and marble palaces. Their abandonment of the frugal, simple life-style followed by Muha mad and the earliest caliphs - including Abu Bakr, who made a trip to the market the day after he was selected to succeed the prophet - enraged the dissenting sects and sparked revolts throughout the empire. The uprising that would prove fatal to the short-lived dynasty began among the frontier warriors who had fought and settled in distant Iran. By the middle decades of the 8th century, more than 50,000 warriors had settled near the oasis town of Merv in the eastern Iranian borderlands of the empire. Many of them had married local women, and over time they had come to identify with the region and to resent the dictates of governors sent from distant Damascus. The warrior settlers were also angered by the fact that they

were rarely given the share of the booty, which was now officially tallied in the account books of the royal treasury, that they had earned by fighting the wars of expansion and defending the frontiers. They were contemptuous of the Umay-yads and the Damascus elite, whom they viewed as corrupt and decadent. In the early 740s an attempt by Umayyad palace officials to introduce new troops into the Merv area touched off a revolt that soon spread over much of the eastern po tions of the empire. Marching under the black banners of the Abbasid party, which traced its descent from Muhammad's uncle, al-Abbas, the frontier warriors were openly challenging Umayyad armies by 747. Deftly forging alliances with Shi'ite rebels and other dissident groups that challenged the Umayyads throughout the empire, their leader, Abu al-Abbas, the great-great-grandson of the prophet's uncle, led his forces from victory to victory. Persia and then Iraq fell to the rebels. In 750, they met an army led by the Umayyad caliph himself in a massive battle on the river Zab near the Tigris. The Abbasid victory resulted in the conquest of Syria and the capture of the Umayyad capital. Desiring to eliminate the Umayyad family altogether to prevent recurring challenges to his rule, Abu al-Abbas invited numerous members ofithe clan to w at was styled as a reconciliation banquet in the same year. As the Umay-yads were enjoying the feast, guards covered them with carpets and they were slaughtered by Abbas's troops. An effort was then made to hunt down and kill all the remaining members of the family throughout the empire. Most were slain, but the grandson of a former caliph fled to distant Spain, where he founded the Caliphate of Cordoba that was to live on for centuries after the rest of the empire had disappeared. From Arab To Islamic Empire: The Early Abbasid Era The sudden shift from Umayyad to Abbasid leadership within the Islamic Empire reflected a series of even more fundamental transformations within evolving Islamic civilization. The revolts against the Umayyads had arisen in part from a lingering hostility toward the Umayyad clan. But they were even more a product of growing regional identities and divisions within the Islamic world. As Islamic civilization spread even farther under the Abbasids, these regional interests and loyalties made it increasingly difficult to hold together the vast areas the Arabs had conquered. They also gave rise to new cleavages in the Islamic community that have sapped its strength from within, from Abbasid times to the present day. The revolts against the Umayyads were also an expression of the growing displeasure, if not disgust, of the Muslim faithful with the absolutist pretensions and extravagant life-styles of the Umayyad elite. There was a very strong puritanical thrust to the resistance of the Abbasids and their Shi'ite allies. Ironically, as we shall see, the victory of the Abbasids led to bureaucratic expansion, absolutism, and luxury on a scale beyond the wildest dreams of the Umayyads. Finally, the coalition of forces that overthrew the Umayyads was strengthened by the support of the mawali who were weary of being second-class citizens in the Muslim world. They saw the Abbasids as champions of a policy of active conversion and their admission as full members of the Islamic community. Of all the major transformations that were marked by the Abbasids' rise to power, the last was the most significant for the development of Islamic civilization. From the religion of a small, Arab warrior elite, Islam became a cosmopolitan and genuinely universal faith with tens of millions of adherents from Spain to the Philippine islands.

Abbasid Absolutism The rough treatment the Umayyad clan had received at the hands of the victorious Abbasids ought to have forewarned their Shi'ite and mawali allies of what was to come. But the Shi'a and other dissenting groups continued the support that allowed the Abbasids to level all other centers of political rivalry until it was too late. Gradually, the Abbasids rejected many of their old allies, becoming in the process more and more righteous in their defense of Sunni Islam and less and less tolerant of what they termed the heretical views of the various sects of Shi'ism. With the Umayyads all but eliminated and their allies brutally suppressed, the way was clear for the Abbasids to build a centralized, absolutist imperial order. The fact that they chose to build their new capital, Baghdad, in Iraq near the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon was a clear sign of things to come. Soon the Abbasid caliphs were perched atop jewel-encrusted thrones, reminiscent of those of the ancient Persian emperors, gazing down on the great gatherings of courtiers and petitioners who bowed before them in their gilt and marbled audience halls. The caliphs' palaces and harems expanded to keep pace with their claims to absolute power over the Islamic faithful as well as the non-Muslim subjects of their vast empire. The ever expanding corps of bureaucrats, servants, and slaves, who strove to translate Abbasid political claims into reality, lived and worked within the circular walls of the new capital at Baghdad. The bureaucratization of the Islamic Empire was reflected above all in the growing power of the wazir, or chief administrator and head of the caliph's inner councils, and the sinister figure of the royal executioner, who stood close to the throne in the public audiences of the Abbasid rulers. The wazirs, who were initially recruited mainly from the Persian provinces of the empire, oversaw the building of an administrative infrastructure that allowed the Abbasids to project their demands for tribute to the most distant provinces of the empire. Sheer size, poor communications, and collusion between Abbasid officials and local notables meant that the farther the town or village was from the capital, the less effectively royal commands were carried out. But for well over a century, the Abbasid regime was fairly effective at collecting revenue from its subject peoples and preserving law and order over much of the empire. The presence of the executioner perhaps most strikingly symbolized the absolutist pretensions of the Abbasid rulers. With a wave of his hand, a caliph could condemn the highest of Muslim nobles to death. Thus, even in matters of life and death, the Abbasids claimed a status above the rest of the Muslim faithful and even Islamic law that would have been rejected as heretical by the early community of believers. Though they stopped short of declaring themselves divine, the Abbasid rulers styled themselves the "shadow of God on earth," clearly beings superior to ordinary mortals - Muslim or otherwise. The openness and accessibility of the earlier caliphs, including the Umayyads, was increasingly unimaginable. The old days, when members of the Muslim community could request an audience with the caliph merely by ringing a bell announcing their presence in the palace, were clearly gone. Now, just to get into the vast and crowded throne room, one had to bribe and petition numerous officials, and more often than not the best result would be to win a few minutes with the wazir or one of his assistants. If an official or notable were lucky enough to buy and beg an audience with the caliph, he had to observe an elaborate sequence of bowing and prostration in approaching the throne. Positions at court and throughout the bureaucracy were won and lost

depending on one's standing with powerful officials in the Abbasid hierarchy, and these great men could in turn be elevated or dismissed on the whim of the caliph. The "Good Life" And Its Enemies In The Abbasid Age The luxurious life-style of the Abbasid rulers and their courtiers both reflected the new wealth of the political and commercial elites of the Islamic Empire and intensified sectarian and social divisions within the Islamic community. As the compilation of folk tales, The Thousand and One Nights, from many parts of the empire testifies, life for much of the elite in Baghdad and other major urban centers was luxurious and oriented to the delights of the flesh. Caliphs and wealthy merchants lived in palatial residences of stone and marble, complete with gurgling fountains and elaborate gardens, which served as retreats from the glare and heat of the southern Mediterranean climate. In the Abbasid palaces luxurious living and ostentation soared to fantastic heights. In the Hall of the Tree, for example, there was a huge artificial tree, made entirely of gold and silver and filled with gold mechanical birds that chirped to keep the caliph in good cheer. Sexual enjoyment, which within the confines of marriage had been condoned rather than restricted by the Quran, often degenerated into eroticism for its own sake. The harem, replete with fierce eunuchs, insatiable sultans, and veiled damsels, provided outside observers with a stereotypic image of the Abbasid world that had little to do with the life of the average citizen of the empire - and often even with that of the caliph and high officials. Yet as the following passage from The Thousand and One Nights describing the interior of the mansion of a Baghdad notable illustrates, the material delights of the Abbasid era were enjoyed far beyond the confines of the palace: They reached a spacious ground-floor hall, built with admirable skill and beautified with all manner of colors and carvings, with upper balconies and groined arches and galleries and cupboards and recesses whose curtains hung before them. In the midst stood a great basin full of water surrounding a fine fountain, and at the upper end on the raised dais was a couch of juniper wood set with gems and pearls, with a canopy like mosquito curtain of red satin-silk looped up with pearls as big as filberts and bigger. Since the tales were just that, tall stories, there is some exaggeration of the wealth, as well as the romantic exploits and human excesses, of the world depicted. But for the free-living members of the elite classes, the luxuries, frivolities, and vices of the Abbasid age were very real indeed. This sort of living was, of course, highly offensive to the pious, particularly those of the dissenting sects, such as the Shi'as. Members of these sects also built up an abiding hatred for what they perceived as the arrogance and heresy of the Abbasid rulers and high officials. Thus, throughout their reign, the Abbasid rulers were threatened by periodic revolts on the part of sectarian groups. The leaders of these risings promised to cleanse the Islamic community of the excesses of the court and notables. In the centuries of Abbasid decline, when real power passed to a succession of regional dynasties, there emerged a number of violence-prone sects, such as the Assassins whose members were devoted to striking down Abbasid officials whenever the opportunity arose. Even for less-radical Muslims, the excesses of the Abbasid court and elite classes made a mockery of their claims to be the

religious successors of Muhammad and the upholders of Islamic law. The resulting erosion of their legitimacy had much to do with the extended decline of the caliphates' authority, particularly from the middle of the 9th century onward. Islamic Conversion And Mawali Acceptance Popular enmity for the political elite was offset to some extent by the fact that the Abbasid era saw the full integration of new converts, both Arab and non-Arab, into the Islamic community. In the last decades of the Umayyad period there was a growing acceptance of the mawali as equals and some effort to win new converts to the faith, particularly among Arab peoples outside the Arabian peninsula. In the Abbasid era, mass conversions to Islam were encouraged for all peoples of the empire from the Berbers of North Africa in the west to the Persians and Turkic peoples of Central Asia in the east. Converts were admitted on an equal footing with the first generations of believers, and over time the distinction between mawali and the earlier converts all but disappeared. Most converts were won over peacefully, due to the great appeal of Islamic beliefs and to the considerable advantages they enjoyed over non-Muslim peoples in the empire. Not only were converts exempt from paying the head tax, but greater opportunities were open to them to get advanced schooling and launch careers as administrators, traders, or judges. No group demonstrated the new opportunities open to converts as dramatically as the Persians, who soon came to dominate the upper levels of imperial administration. In fact, as the Abbasid rulers became more dissolute and consequently less interested in affairs of state, a number of powerful Persian families close to the throne became the real locus of power within the imperial system. [See Persian School: A Persian school - bastinado for an unruly pupil.] Commercial Boom And Urban Growth The rise of the mawali was paralleled in the Abbasid era by the growth in wealth and social status of the commercial and landlord classes of the empire. The Abbasid age was a time of great urban expansion that was linked to a revival of the Afro-Eurasian trading network, which had declined with the fall of the Han dynasty in China in the early 3d century A.D. and the slow collapse of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries. The Abbasid domains in the west and the great Tang and Song empires in the east became the pivots of the revived commercial system. From the western Mediterranean to the South China Sea, Arab dhows, or sailing vessels with triangular, or lateen, sails that later strongly influenced European ship design, carried the goods of one civilized core to be exchanged with those of another. Muslim merchants, often in joint ventures with Christians and Jews (which, because each merchant had a different Sabbath, meant that the firm could carry on business all week), grew rich by supplying the cities of the empire with provisions and by taking charge of the long-distance trade that specialized in luxury products for the elite classes. The great profits made from the trade were reinvested in new commercial enterprises or the purchase of land and in the construction of the great mansions that dominated the central quarters of the political and commercial hubs of the empire. Some wealth also went to charity, as required by the Quran. A good deal of the

wealth was spent on building and running mosques and religious schools, baths and rest houses for weary travelers, and hospitals, which in the numbers of patients served and the quality of their medical care surpassed those of any other civilization to that time. Town and Country In addition to the expanding bureaucracy and servant classes and the boom in commerce, the growth of Abbasid cities was fed by a great increase in artisan handicraft production. Both government-run and privately owned artisan workshops expanded or were established for the production of a wide range of products, from necessities, such as furniture and carpets, to luxury items such as glassware, jewelry, and tapestries. Though the artisans were frequently poorly paid and some worked in great workshops, they were not slaves or drudge laborers. They owned their own tools and were often highly valued for their craft skills. The most skilled of the artisans formed guildlike organizations that negotiated wages and working conditions with the merchant oligarchy and provided support for their members in times of financial difficulty or personal crisis. In towns and the countryside, much of the unskilled labor was left to slaves, who were frequently attached in considerable numbers to prominent families as domestic servants. Large numbers of slaves were also in the service of the caliphs and their highest advisors. It was possible for the more clever and ambitious of these to rise to positions of considerable power, and many were able eventually to be granted or to buy their freedom. Less fortunate were the slaves forced into lives of hard labor under the overseer's whip on rural estates and government projects, such as those devoted to draining marshlands, or into a lifetime of labor in the nightmare conditions of the great salt mines in southern Iraq. Most of these drudge laborers, who were called the Zanj slaves, were non-Muslims captured on slaving raids in East Africa. With little hope of mobility, much less manumission, they had little reason to convert to Islam, and from the middle of the 9th century they became a major source of social unrest. In the countryside a wealthy and deeply entrenched landed elite, referred to as the ayan, emerged in the early decades of Abbasid rule. Many of the landlords had been long established. Others were newcomers - Arab soldiers who invested their share of the booty in land, or merchants and administrators who funneled their profits and kickbacks into the acquisition of sizeable estates. In many regions, the vast majority of the peasantry did not own the land they worked. They occupied it as tenants, sharecroppers, or migratory laborers who were required to give the greater portion of the crops they harvested to the estate owners. In densely populated areas, the bargaining power of the agricultural tenants and laborers was greatly reduced by the ready supply of extra hands to replace those who would not agree to a division of the harvest that the landlord found sufficiently to his advantage. The control the ayan exercised over the cultivating classes gave them more and more independence from the Abbasid regime. In times of crisis, the ayan readily shifted their allegiance to regional challengers of the imperial administration or foreign invaders eager to carve out independent kingdoms within the Abbasid domains. The First Flowering Of Islamic Learning When the Arabs first came out of the desert, they were for the most part illiterate and ignorant of the wider world. Their provincialism and cultural

backwardness was no better revealed than at the moment when the victorious Muslim armi s came within sight of the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Chroniclers of the great conquests record how the veteran Arab warriors halted and sat on their horses, mouths literally open in wonderment, before the great walls of the city that stretched across the horizon from the Pharos lighthouse in the north to perhaps the greatest library in the ancient world in the south. As this confrontation suggests, hhe Arab conquerors burst quite suddenly into some of the most ancient and highly developed centers of civilization known to human history. Within the confines of the Islamic domains were located the centers of the Hellenistic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian civilizations as well as the widely dispersed Christian and Jewish traditions of thought and learning. The rather sparse cultural tradition of the Arabs, which one author has fittingly captured with reference to their "mental virginity," made them highly receptive to influences percolating from the subject peoples and remarkably tolerant of the great diversity of their styles and approaches to thought and artistic creativity. In the first phase of Abbasid rule, the Islamic contribution to human artistic expression focused on the great mosques and palaces. In addition to advances in religious, legal, and philosophical discourse, the Islamic contribution to learning was focused on the sciences and mathematics. In the early Abbasid period, the main tasks were recovering and preserving the learning of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Beyond the works of Plato, for example, much of Greek learning had been lost to the peoples of western Europe. Thanks to Muslim and Jewish scholars in the Abbasid domains, the priceless writings of the Greeks on key subjects such as medicine, algebra, geometry, astronomy, anatomy, and ethics were saved, recopied in Arabic, and dispersed throughout the empire. From Spain in the west, Greek writings found their way into Christendom. Among the authors rescued in this manner, one need only mention Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, and Euclid to demonstrate the importance of the preservation effort. In addition, scholars working in Arabic played a role as transmitters of ideas that paralleled the rise of Arab traders and merchants as the carriers of goods and inventions. Indian numbers, for example - which, along with Greek mathematics, would prove critical to the development of scientific thinking in western Europe - were learned by Muslim invaders of India, carried to the Middle Eastern centers of Islamic civilization, and eventually transmitted across the Mediterranean to Italy and from there to northern Europe. But the best was yet to come. It is no exaggeration that from the 9th to about the 13th century, Arabic was the most important and the first language of science and learning that extended across civilizations. In this era, Islamic scientific discoveries and imagination significantly affected the thinking and creativity of virtually all Old World civilizations from western Europe to China. The Mosque As A Symbol Of Islamic Civilization From one end of the Islamic world to the other, Muslim towns and cities could (and can today) be readily identified by the domes and minarets of the mosques where the faithful were (and are) called to prayer five times daily. The following illustrations trace the development of the mosque and the refinement of mosque architecture - the crowning glory of Islamic material culture - during the early centuries of Muslim expansion. As you look at these

photos and follow the development of the mosque, consider what the functions of the mosque aed the evolving style of mosque architecture can tell us about Muslim beliefs and values and the impact of earlier religions such as Judaism and Christianity on Islam. Given the low level of material culture in pre-Islamic Arabia, it is not surprising that the earliest prayer houses were simple in design and construction. In fact, these first mosques were laid out along the lines suggested by Muhammad's own house. They were square enclosures with a shaded porch on one side, a columned shelter on the other, and an open courtyard in between. The outer perimeter of the earliest mosques were made of reed mats, but soon more permanent stone walls surrounded the courtyard and prayer areas. After Mecca was taken and the Ka'ba became the central shrine of the new faith, each mosque was oriented to the qibla, or Mecca wall, that always faced in the direction of the holy city. In the last years of the prophet, the place where his chair was located was raised so that the faithful could see and hear him during prayer sessions. During the time of the first caliphs, the raised area became the place from which sermons were delivered. From the middle of the 8th century, this space evolved into a genuine pulpit. Somewhat earlier, the practice of building a special and often elaborately decorated niche in the qibla had developed. Over time the construction of the mosque became more elaborate. Very often the remains of Greek or Roman temples or abandoned Christian churches formed the core of major mosques, or the ruins of these structures were mined for stone for mosque construction. In the larger cities, the courtyards of the great mosques were surrounded by columns and arches, and eventually they were enclosed by great domes such as that at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The first minarets or towers from which the faithful were called to prayer were added in the early 8th century and soon became a key feature of the mosque complex. As mosques grew larger and more architecturally refined, elaborate decoration in brightly colored ceramic tiles, semiprecious stones, and gold and silver filigree adorned their sides and domes. Because human and animal images were forbidden, geometric designs, passages from the Quran in swirling Arabic, and flower and plant motifs were favored. Nowhere were these decorations more splendid than in the great mosques of Persia. Thus, in the early centuries of Islam, these great houses of worship became the focal points of Islamic cities, key places of community worship and socialization, and, with the schools that were often attached, vital intellectual and educational centers of the Islamic world. An Age Of Learning And Artistic Refinement The avid interest in Muslim ideas and material culture displayed by European knights and merchants who journeyed to the centers of Islamic civilization in this era cautions us against placing too great an emphasis on the political divisions and struggles that were such a prominent feature of the later Abbasid era. It also invites comparison with neighboring civilizations, such as India and western Europe, that were a good deal more fragmented and racked by endless warfare in late-Abbasid times. In the midst of the political turmoil and social tensions of the Abbasid age, Muslim thinkers and craftsmen living in kingdoms from Spain to Persia created, refined, and made discoveries in a remarkable range of fields. Their collective accomplishments mark one of the great ages of human ingenuity and

creativity. Their thought and techniques influenced their counterparts in virtually all the civilized centers of the Old World from the Sudanic peoples of Africa to the Iberians and Franks of western Europe, and from the Hindus of India to the distant and relatively isolated Chinese. [See Cordoba Mosque Interior: A forest of graceful arches fills the interior of the mosque at Cordoba in Spain. Such an architectural feat testifies to the depth and expansive power of Islamic civilization.] Urban Growth And Continuing Prosperity Though town life became somewhat more dangerous, the rapid growth and increasing prosperity that had been dominant trends in the first centuries of Muslim expansion continued until quite late in the Abbasid era. Expanding bureaucracies and caliphal building projects meant that employment opportunities for the well-educated and for skilled craftsmen remained surprisingly abundant. Despite the declining revenue base of the caliphate and deteriorating conditions in the countryside, there was a great expansion of the professional classes, particularly doctors, scholars, and legal and religious experts. Muslim, Jewish, and in some areas Christian entrepreneurs amassed great fortunes supplying the cities of the empire with staples such as grain and barley, essentials such as cotton and woolen textiles for clothing, and luxury items such as precious gems, citrus fruits, and sugar cane. Long-distance trade with coastal India and island Southeast Asia as well as the overland caravan trade with China flourished through much of the Abbasid era, despite periodic interruptions due to warfare between rival kingdoms. Trade across the Mediterranean to western Europe, both from North Africa and the Middle East, also increased. Merchants of Italian towns, such as Venice and Genoa, expanded their operations in the eastern Mediterranean, ironically as a by-product of the Crusades. Nonetheless, the continuing prosperity of many urban centers of the Islamic world gave a false impression of the economic state of Muslim lands as a whole. In the later centuries of Abbasid rule, the agrarian base on which the townspeople and rulers were ultimately dependent was rapidly eroding through much of the Middle East. [See Persian City: The Persian of Yezd.] Among the chief beneficiaries of the sustained urban prosperity were the artists and artisans, who continued the great achievements in architecture and the crafts that had begun in the Umayyad era. Mosques and palaces grew larger and more ornate in most parts of the empire, and even in outlying areas, such as Cordoba in Spain, Muslim engineers and craftsmen created some of the great architectural treasures of all time. The tapestries and rugs of Muslim peoples, such as the Persians, were in great demand from Europe to China. To this day, Muslim rugs have rarely been matched for their exquisite designs, vivid colors, and the skill with which they are woven. Muslim craftsmen also produced superb ceramics. Particularly stunning were the blue-glazed tiles, which were used to decorate the mosques and palaces of Persia, and the wonderfully designed pitchers and bowls, which were fashioned for everyday use in the Abbasid era but have become museum pieces in our day. Though the great age of miniature painting still lay ahead, Persian and Arab artists were famed for their lifelike depictions of plants and animals. The Full Flowering Of Persian Literature As Persian wives, concubines, advisors, bureaucrats, and - after the

mid-10th century - Persian caliphs came to play central roles in imperial politics, Persian gradually replaced Arabic as the primary written language at the Abbasid court. Arabic remained the language of religion, law, and the natural sciences, but Persian was favored by Arabs, Turks, and those of Persian descent as the language of literary expression, administration, and scholarship. In Baghdad and major cities throughout the Abbasid Empire and in neighboring kingdoms, Persian was the chief language of "high culture," the language of polite exchanges between courtiers as well as of history, poetic musings, and mystical revelations. Written in a modified Arabic script and drawing selectively on Arabic vocabulary, the Persian of the Abbasid age was a supple language as beautiful to look at when drafted by a skilled calligrapher as it was to read aloud. Though catch phrases ("A jug of wine, a loaf of bread - and Thou") from Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam are certainly the pieces of Persian literature best known in the West, other writers from this period surpassed Khayyam in profundity of thought and elegance of style. Perhaps the greatest single work was the lengthy epic poem, Shah-Nama (Book of Kings), written by Firdawsi in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. The work relates the history of Persia from Creation to the Islamic conquests, and it abounds in dramatic details of battles, intrigues, and illicit love affairs. Firdawsi's Persian has been extolled for its grand, yet musical, virtuosity, and portions of the Shah-Nama and other Persian works were actually read aloud to musical accompaniment. Brilliantly illustrated manuscripts of Firdawsi's epic history are among the most exquisite works of Islamic art. In addition to historical epics, Persian writers in the Abbasid era wrote on all manner of subjects, from doomed love affairs and the elements of statecraft to incidents from everyday life and mystical striving for communion with the divine. One of the great poets of the age, Sa'di, fuses an everyday and a religious message in the following relation of a single moment in his own life: Often I am minded, from the days of my childhood, How once I went out with my father on a festival; In fun I grew preoccupied with all the folk about, Losing touch with my father in the popular confusion; In terror and bewilderment I raised up a cry, Then suddenly my father boxed my ears: "You bold-eyed child, how many times, now, Have I told you not to lose hold of my skirt?" A tiny child cannot walk out alone, For it is difficult to take a way not seen; You too, poor friend, are but a child upon endeavour's way: Go, seize the skirts of those who know the way! This blend of the mystical and commonplace was widely adopted in the literature of this period. It is epitomized in Rubiyat, whose author is much more concerned with finding meaning in life and a path to union with the divine than with extolling the delights of picnics in the garden with beautiful women. Achievements In The Sciences From the preservers and compilers of the learning of the ancient civilizations they had conquered in the early centuries of expansion, Muslim

peoples - and the Jewish scholars who lived peacefully in Muslim lands increasingly became creators and inventors in their own right. For several centuries, which spanned much of the period of Abbasid rule, Islamic civilization outstripped all others in scientific discoveries, devising new techniques of investigation, and in the innovation and dissemination of technology. Their many accomplishments in these areas include major corrections to the algebraic and geometric theories of the ancient Greeks and great advances in the use of the concepts of the sine, cosine, and tangent that are basic to trigonometry. Among numerous discoveries in chemistry, two that were fundamental to all subsequent investigation were the creation of the objective experiment and al-Razi's scheme of classifying all material substances into three categories: animal, vegetable, and mineral. The sophistication of Muslim scientific techniques is indicated by the fact that in the 11th century al-Biruni was able to calculate the exact specific weight of 18 major minerals. This sophistication was also manifested in the astronomical instruments and observations made through the cooperation of Muslim scholars and skilled craftsmen. Muslim technicians greatly improved devices, such as the astrolabe and armillary sphere, for measuring and mapping the position of celestial bodies. Muslim astronomers devised the names, which we still use today, of many of the constellations and individual stars. Their astronomical tables and maps of the stars were in great demand among scholars of other civilizations, including those of Europe and China. As these breakthroughs suggest, much of the Muslims' work in scientific investigation had very practical applications. This practical bent was even more pronounced in a number of other fields. In medicine, for example, Muslim cities, such as Cairo, boasted some of the best hospitals in the world; doctors and pharmacis s had to follow a regular course of study and pass a formal exam before they were allowed to practice; and Muslim scientists did important work on optics and bladder ailments. Muslim traders and crafpsmen introduced into the Islamic world and Europe many basic machines and techniques - namely, paper making, silk weaving, and ceramic firing - that had been devised earlier in China. Muslim scholars made some of the world's best maps, which were envied and copied by geographers from Portugal to Poland. Muslim travelers, such as Ibn Khaldun and al-Biruni, wrote ethnographic and historical accounts of the lands they visited, which remain to the present day some of our fullest and most accurate sources on these regions. The Arab dhow was one of the finest sailing vessels of its day, and its hull and sail design later greatly influenced the shipbuilders of Italy and Iberia who would pioneer European overseas exploration from the 13th century onward. As these achievements testify, despite continuing political instability, Islamic civilization remained vibrant, receptive, and highly creative through much of the era of Abbasid decline and the political fragmentation of the Muslim heartlands. Religious Trends And The New Impetus For Expansion The contradictory trends in Islamic civilization - social strife and political divisions versus expanding trading links and intellectual creativity - were strongly reflected in divergent trends in religious development in the later centuries of the caliphate. On the one hand, Sufist mysticism injected Islam with a new vibrancy and expansiveness; on the other hand, orthodox religious scholars, such as the ulama, grew increasingly suspicious of and hostile to non-Islamic ideas and scientific thinking. The Crusades had given

great impetus to the latter trend, particularly with regard to Muslim borrowing from ancient Greek learning that the ulama associated with the aggressive civilizations of Christian Europe. Many orthodox scholars came to suspect that the propensity for empirical testing and seemingly endless questioning of the Greek tradition posed potential challenges to the absolute authority of the Quran, which they insisted was the final, perfect, and complete revelation of an all-knowing divinity. Brilliant thinkers like al-Ghazali, who was perhaps the greatest of Islamic theologians and whose ideas indirectly influenced major European philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, struggled to fuse the Greek and Quranic traditions, achieving mixed success in terms of acceptance by orthodox scholars. Much of the religious vitality in Islam in the later Abbasid period was centered in the Sufist movement. Like the Buddhist and Hindu holy men earlier in India, Sufis (whose title was derived from the woolen robes they wore) were wandering mystics who sought a personal union with God. In its various guises - including both Sunni and Shi'a manifestations - Sufism was a reaction against the impersonal and abstract divinity that many ulama scholars argued was the true God of the Quran. Like the Indian mystics, the Sufis and their followers sought to see beyond what they believed to be the illusory existence of everyday life and to delight in the presence of God in the world. True to the uncompromising monotheism of Islam, most Sufis insisted on a clear distinction between God and humans - a distinction Hindu and Buddhist mystics tended to deny or blur. But in some Sufist teachings God permeated the universe in ways that appeared to compromise his transcendent status. Some Sufis gained reputations as great healers and workers of miracles; others led militant bands that sought to spread Islam to infidel peoples. To find God some Sufis used asceticism or bodily denial; others used meditation, songs, drugs, or (in the case of the famous dervishes) ecstatic dancing. Most Sufis built up a sizeable popular following, and the movement as a whole was a central factor in the continuing expansion of the Muslim religion and Islamic civilization in the later centuries of the Abbasid caliphate. New Waves Of Nomadic Invasions And The End Of The Caliphate As we have seen, in the 10th and 11th centuries the Abbasid domains were divided by ever-growing numbers of rival successor states. Independent kingdoms or empires threatened the Islamic heartlands from Egypt and North Africa, northern Syria, and Persia. Asia Minor was divided between different bands of Seljuk Turks; much of Arabia was occupied for decades by Shi'a rebels; and the Tigris-Euphrates core of the empire was controlled by Turkic sultans who manipulated the caliphs they chose to put on the throne. In the early decades of the 13th century, a new threat arose at the eastern extremities of the original Abbasid domains. Another central Asian nomadic people, the Mongols, united by their great war commander, Chinggis Khan, first raided in the 1220s and then smashed the Turko-Persian kingdoms that had developed in the regions to the east of Baghdad. Chinggis Khan died before the heartlands of the Muslim world were invaded, but his grandson, Hulegu, renewed the Mongol assault on the rich centers of Islamic civilization in the 1250s. In 1258, the Abbasid capital at Baghdad was taken by the Mongols and much of it was sacked. The thirty-seventh and last Abbasid caliph was put to death by the Mongols, who continued westward until they were finally defeated by the Mamluks, or Turkic slaves, who then ruled Egypt. Baghdad never recovered from the Mongol depredations and in 1401 a second capture of the

city and another round of pillaging by the even fiercer forces of Tamerlane. Baghdad shrank from the status of one of the great cities of the world - from the cultural, if not the political center of Islamic civilization - to a provincial backwater, supplanted by Cairo to the west and soon thereafter Istanbul to the north. Western Intrusions And The Crisis In The Arab Islamic Heartlands By the early 1800s, the Arab peoples of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, coastal Arabia and North Afric had lived for centuries under Ottoman-Turkish rule. Though most Arabs resented Turkish domination, they could identify with the Ottomans as fellow Muslims, who were both ardent defenders of the faith and patrons of Islamic culture. Still, the steadily diminishing capacity of the Ottomans to defend the Arab Islamic heartlands left them exposed to the danger of conquest by the aggressive European powers. The European capture of outlying, but highly developed, Islamic states from those in the Indonesian archipelago and India to Algeria in North Africa engendered a sense of crisis among the Islamic faithful in the Middle Eastern heartlands. From the terror of Christendom and the encirclers of its European bastion, the Muslims had become the besieged. Islam had been displaced by Europe as the leading civilization in a wide range of endeavors from scientific inquiry to monumental architecture. Much of the Muslim community was forced to live under infidel European overlords; what remained was threatened by European conquest. The profound crisis of Islamic confidence brought on by successive reverses and the ever-increasing strength of their old European rivals gave rise to a wide variety of responses in the Islamic world. Islamic thinkers debated the best way of reversing the decline and driving back the Europeans. Some argued for a return to the Islamic past; others favored a large-scale adoption of Western ways; while still others sought to find ways to combine the two approaches. Reformist leaders, such as those in 19th-century Turkey, tried to graft on elements of Western culture while preserving the old state and society pretty much intact. Religious leaders, sometimes proclaiming themselves divinely appointed prophets, rose up to lead their followers in jihads, or holy wars, against the advancing Europeans. Though it is not possible to examine all of these responses in each of the Islamic lands, the following sections focus on key responses on the part of Arab peoples in Egypt and the Sudan in the 19th century. In these areas, European involvement was intense and the growing challenges posed by the West generated important attempts to find ways of reversing the decline of Islamic civilization and restoring it to its former glory. French Invasion And Mamluk Defeat Though it did not establish a permanent European presence in the Islamic heartlands, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 sent shock waves across what remained of the Muslim world. Significantly, Napoleon's motives for launching the expedition had little to do with designs for empire in the Middle East itself. Rather he saw the Egyptian campaign as the prelude to the destruction of British power in India, where, as we have seen, the French had come out on the short end of earlier wars for empire. Whatever his calculations, Napoleon managed to slip his fleet past the British blockade in the Mediterranean and put ashore his armies in July 1798. There followed one of the most lopsided military clashes in modern history. As they advanced inland, Napoleon's forces were met by tens of thousands of cavalrymen bent on defending the Mamluk regime that then ruled Egypt as a vassal of the Ottoman sultans. The term

Mamluk literally meant slave, and it suggested the Turkic origins of the regime in Egypt. Beginning as slaves who served Muslim overlords, the Mamluks had centuries earlier risen in the ranks as military commanders to the point where they were able to seize power in their own name. Murad, the head of the coalition of Mamluk households that shared power in Egypt at the time of Napoleon's arrival, dismissed the invader as a donkey boy whom he would soon drive from his lands. Murad's contempt for the talented young French commander was symptomatic of the profound ignorance of events in Europe that was characteristic of many leaders of the Islamic world at that time. Murad's ignorance led to a series of crushing defeats, the most famous of which came in a battle fought beneath the pyramids of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. In the brief but bloody battle, the disciplined firepower of the French legions devastated the ranks of Mamluk horsemen clad in medieval armor, wielding spears against the artillery Napoleon used with such devastating effect. Because the Mamluks had long been regarded as fighters of great prowess in the Islamic world, their rout was literally traumatic. It brutally revealed just how vulnerable even the Muslim core areas were to European aggression and how far the Muslims had fallen behind the Europeans in the capacity to wage war. Ironically, the successful invasion of Egypt brought little advantage to Napoleon or the French. The British caught up with the French fleet and sunk most of it at the Battle of Aboukir in August of 1798. With his supply line cut off, Napoleon was forced to abandon his army and sneak back to Paris, where his enemies were attempting to use his reverses in Egypt to put an end to his rise to power. Thus, Egypt was spared European conquest - for a time. The reprieve brought little consolation, since the British, not Egypt's Muslim defenders, had been responsible for the French retreat. The Rise Of Muhammad Ali In the chaos that followed the French invasion and eventual withdrawal in 1801, the Mamluk survivors fought with local notables for political control. The unexpected winner of these struggles was a young officer of Albanian origins named Muhammad Ali. He was a member of the Ottoman expeditionary force that had been sent to drive the French from Egypt. Having consolidated his base in the Cairo area by 1805, Muhammad Ali was master of Egypt after his soldiers slaughtered 300 Mamluk chieftains in 1811. Deeply impressed by the weapons and discipline of the French armies, the Albanian upstart devoted his energies and the resources of the land that he had brought under his rule to building an up-to-date European-style military force. He introduced Western-style conscription among the Egyptian peasantry, hired French officers to train his troops, imported Western arms, and adopted Western tactics and modes of organization and supply. Within years he had put together the most effective fighting force in the Middle East. With it, he flaunted the authority of his nominal overlord, the Ottoman sultan, by successfully invading Syria and building a modern war fleet that threatened Istanbul on a number of occasions. By the 1830s Muhammad Ali's armies had been so successful that they were threatening the Ottoman regime itself. Twice, intervention by European powers was necessary to rescue the regime at Istanbul and foil Muhammad Ali's dreams of becoming the paramount lord of the Arab Muslim heartlands. Once again, the Europeans, not Muslim leaders, emerged as the arbiters of the destiny of the Arab world.

Though Muhammad Ali's efforts to introduce reforms patterned after Western precedents were not confined to the military, they fell far short of a fundamental transformation of Egyptian society. To shore up his economic base, he ordered the Egyptian peasantry to expand their production of cotton, hemp, indigo, and other crops that were in growing demand in industrial Europe. Efforts to improve Egyptian harbors and extend irrigation works met with some success and led to modest increases in the revenues that could be devoted to the continuing modernization of the military. Attempts to reform education were ambitious but limited in what was actually achieved. Many of the most significant innovations in schooling were linked to Muhammad Ali's military projects. His frequent schemes to build up an Egyptian industrial sector were eventually frustrated by the opposition of the European powers and by the intense competition from imported, Western-manufactured goods. To secure his home base, Muhammad Ali also found that he had little choice but to ally with the powerful rural landlords, the ayan, to control the peasantry. He eliminated the tax farmers and claimed all land as state property, but despite these measures within decades a hereditary landlord class was firmly entrenched in the rural areas. His forcible confiscations of the peasants' produce to pay for the rising costs of the military establishment and for his foreign entanglements further impoverished an already hard-pressed rural population. The limited scope of Muhammad Ali's reforms ultimately checked his plans for territorial expansion and left Egypt open to inroads by the European powers. He died in 1848, embittered by the European opposition that had prevented him from mastering the Ottoman sultans and well aware that his empire beyond Egypt was crumbling. Lacking his ambition and ability, his successors were content to confine their claims to Egypt and the Sudanic lands that stretched away from the banks of the Upper Nile to the south. Intermarrying with Turkish families that had originally come to Egypt to govern in the name of the Ottoman sultans, Muhammad Ali's descendants provided a succession of rulers, known as khedives after 1867, who were the formal rulers of Egypt until they were overthrown by the military coup that brought Nasser to power in 1952. Bankruptcy, European Intervention, And Strategies Of Resistance Muhammad Ali's successors made a muddle of his efforts to reform and revitalize Egyptian society. While cotton production increased and the landlord class grew fat, the great majority of the peasants went hungry or starved. The long-term consequences of these developments were equally troubling. The great expansion of cotton production at the expense of food grains and alternative market crops rendered Egypt dependent on a single export and vulnerable to fluctuations in demand on the European markets to which most of it was exported. Some further educational advances were made, mainly at elite schools where French was the language of instruction. But the advances were too limited to benefit the populace by making government more efficient or stimulating public works projects and improved health care. Much of the revenue the khedives managed to collect, despite the resistance of the ayan, was wasted on extravagant pastimes and fruitless military campaigns to assert Egyptian authority over the Sudanic peoples along the Upper Nile. The increasing inability of the khedives to balance their books led in the middle decades of the 19th century to their growing

indebtedness to European financiers. The latter lent money to the profligate khedives and members of the Turkish elite because the financiers desired both continued access to Egypt's cheap cotton and, by the 1850s, a share in the potentially lucrative schemes to build a canal across the Isthmus of Suez that would connect the Mediterranean and Red seas. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 shortened the distance by sea between Europe and Asia and allowed steamboats to replace sailing vessels, which had earlier proven better able to weather the rough passage around Africa. The ineptitude of the khedival regime and the Ottoman sultans, who were their nominal overlords, prompted a good deal of discussion among Muslim intellectuals and political activists as to how they might find the leadership and means to ward off the growing European menace. Egypt, and particularly Cairo's ancient Muslim University of al-Azhar, became in the middle decades of the 19th century one of the key meeting places of these thinkers from throughout the Islamic world. Some prominent Islamic scholars called for a jihad to drive the infidels from Muslim lands. They also argued that the Muslim world could be saved only by a return to the patterns of religious observance and social interaction that they believed had existed in the "golden age" of the Prophet. Other thinkers, such as al-Afghani (1839-1897) and his disciple Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), stressed the need for Muslims to borrow scientific learning and technology from the West and to revive their earlier capacity to innovate. They argued that Islamic civilization had once taught the Europeans much in the sciences and mathematics, including such critical concepts as the Indian numerals. Thus, it was fitting that Muslims learn from the advances the Europeans had made with the help of Islamic borrowings. Those who advocated this approach also stressed the importance of the tradition of rational s inquiry in Islamic history. They strongly disputed the views of fundamentalist theorists who contended that the Quran was the source of all truth and should be interpreted literally. Though both fundamentalists and those who stressed the need for imports from the West agreed on the need for Muslim unity in the face of the growing European threat, they could not reconcile their very different approaches to Islamic revival. Their differences and the uncertainties they have injected into Islamic efforts to cope with the challenges of the West remain central problems in the Muslim world today. The mounting debts of the khedival regime and the strategic importance of the canal gave the European powers, particularly Britain and France, a growing stake in the stability and accessibility of Egypt. French and British bankers, who had bought up a good portion of the khedive's shares in the canal, urged their governments to intervene militarily when the khedives proved unable to meet their loan payments. At the same time, French and British diplomats quarreled over how much influence their nations should exercise within Egypt. In the early 1880s a genuinely nationalist challenge to both the puppet khedival regime and the European powers prompted the British to intervene militarily to the chagrin of the French, who at that point were in no position to do likewise. The challenge was mounted by the supporters of a charismatic young Egyptian officer named Achmad Orabi. The son of a small farmer in lower Egypt, Orabi had attended Quranic school and studied under the reform-minded Muhammad Abduh at al-Azhar. Though a native Egyptian, Orabi had risen in the ranks of

the khedival army and had become increasingly critical of the fact that the officer corps was dominated by Turks with strong ties to the khedival regime. An attempt by the khedive to save money by disbanding Egyptian regiments and dismissing Egyptian officers sparked a revolt led by Orabi in the summer of 1882. Riots in the city of Alexandria, associated with mutinies in the Egyptian armies, drove the frightened khedive to seek British assistance. After bombarding coastal batteries set up by Orabi's troops, the British sent ashore an expeditionary force that crushed Orabi's rebellion and secured the position of the khedive. Though Egypt was not formally colonized, the British intervention began decades of dominance by both British consuls, who ruled through the puppet khedives, and British advisors to all high-ranking Egyptian administrators. British officials controlled Egypt's finances and foreign affairs, and British troops ensured that their directives were heeded by Egyptian administrators. Direct European control over the Islamic heartlands had begun. Jihad: The Mahdist Revolt In The Sudan As Egypt fell under British control, the invaders were inevitably drawn into the turmoil and conflict that gripped the Sudanic region to the south in the last decades of the 19th century. Egyptian efforts to conquer and rule the Sudan, beginning in the 1820s, were fiercely resisted, particularly by the camel and cattle herding nomads who occupied the vast, arid plains that stretched west and east from the Upper Nile. The sedentary peoples who worked the narrow strip of fertile land along the river were more easily dominated. Thus, Egyptian authority, insofar as it existed at all, was concentrated in these areas and in river towns such as Khartoum, which was the center of Egyptian administration. Even in the riverine areas Egyptian overlordship was greatly resented. The Egyptian regime was notoriously corrupt and its taxes placed a heavy burden on the peasants compelled to pay them. The Egyptians were clearly carpetbagging outsiders, and the favoritism they showed some of the Sudanic tribes was guaranteed to alienate the others. In addition, virtually all groups in the Muslim areas in the north Sudan were angered by Egyptian attempts in the 1870s to eradicate the slave trade. The trade had long been a great source of profit for both the merchants of the Nile towns and the nomads, who attacked non-Muslim peoples, such as the Dinka in the south, in order to capture slaves. British advisors at the khedive's court had strongly pushed for the antislavery effort, and an English commander, George Gordon, had taken charge of the campaign and on occasion employed very heavy-handed methods to suppress the trade. By the late 1870s Egyptian oppression and British intervention had aroused deep resentment and hostility, particularly among the Muslim peoples of the northern Sudan. But a leader was needed to unite the diverse and often divided peoples of the region and to provide an ideology that would give focus and meaning to rebellion. The son of a boat builder named Muhammad Achmad, who had been educated by the holy man head of a local Sufi brotherhood, proved to be that leader. The fact that his family claimed descent from the Prophet and that he had the physical signs - a cleft in his teeth and a mole on his right cheek - that the local people associated with the promised deliverer did much to advance his reputation. The visions he began to experience, after he had broken with his Sufi master and established his own sectarian following, also suggested that a remarkable future was in store. What was seen to be a miraculous escape from a bungled Egyptian effort to capture and imprison

Muhammad Achmad soon led to his widespread acceptance as a divinely appointed leader of revolt against the foreign intruders. The jihad that Muhammad Achmad, who was known to his followers as the Mahdi (the promised deliverer), proclaimed against both the Egyptian heretics and British infidels was one of a number of such movements that had swept sub-Saharan Africa since the 18th century. It represented the most extreme and violent Islamic response to what was perceived as the dilution of Islam in the African environment and the growing threat of Europe. Muhammad Achmad promised to purge Islam of what he viewed as superstitious beliefs and degrading practices that had built up over the centuries and to return Islam to what he claimed was its original purity. He led his followers in a violent assault on the Egyptians, whom he believed professed this corrupt version of the faith, and the European infidels. At one point, his successors dreamed of toppling the Ottoman sultans and invading Europe itself. The Mahdi's skillful use of guerrilla tactics and the confidence his followers placed in his blessings and magical charms earned his forces a number of stunning victories over the Egyptians. In 1883 the Mahdi's commanders drew a force of 8000 Egyptians, led by British officers, deep into the desert wilderness and ambushed and destroyed it in a desolate valley called Shaykan. By the end of 1883 the Mahdi's forces controlled most of the northern Sudan and were besieging the Egyptians' last major stronghold at Khartoum. In both ignorance and arrogance, the British sent a single officer, General Gordon, who had earlier overseen the suppression of the slave trade, up the Nile to Khartoum to command the Egyptian garrison and put down the Mahdist rebellion. Just under a year after Gordon's arrival, the city was taken and he was killed by the Mahdi's followers. The Mahdists had driven off the Egyptians, slaughtered their British commanders, and were now the masters of the Sudan. At the peak of his power, the Mahdi fell ill from typhus and died just months after the capture of Khartoum. In contrast to many movements of this type, which have collapsed rapidly after the death of their prophetic leaders, the Mahdists found a capable successor to Muhammad Achmad in the Khalifa Abdallahi, one of his most skillful military commanders. Under Abdallahi, the Mahdists built a strong, expansive state and a closely controlled society, where smoking, dancing, and alcoholic drink were forbidden and theft, prostitution, and adultery were severely punished. For nearly a decade, Mahdist armies attacked or threatened neighboring states on all sides, including the Egyptians to the north, whose territories the Mahdists planned to invade. But in the fall of 1896, famed British General Kitchener was sent with an expeditionary force to put an end to what was one of the most serious threats to European domination in Africa. The spears and magical garments of the Mahdist forces proved no match for the machine guns and artillery of Kitchener's columns, and at the battle of Omdurman in 1898 the bulk of the Mahdist cavalry and Abdallahi himself were slaughtered. The Mahdist state collapsed and British power advanced still farther into the interior of Africa. Retreat And Anxiety: Islam Imperiled The 19th century was a time of severe reverses for the peoples of the Islamic world. Outflanked and outfought by their old European rivals, Islamic leaders either became puppets of European overlords or their lands passed under the rule of infidel colonial rulers. Diverse forms of resistance, from

the reformist path taken by the Ottoman sultans to the prophetic rebellions of leaders such as Muhammad Achmad, slowed but could not halt the European advance. European products and demands steadily eroded the economic fabric and heightened social tensions in Islamic lands. The stunning military and economic successes of the Christian Europeans cast doubts on Muslim claims to possession of the one true faith. By the century's end it was clear that neither the fundamentalists, who called for a return to a purified Islam free of Western influences, nor the reformers, who argued that some borrowing from the West was essential for survival, had come up with a successful formula for dealing with the powerful challenges posed by the industrial West. Failing to find adequate responses and deeply divided within, the Islamic community grew increasingly anxious over the dangers that lay ahead. Islamic civilization was by no means defeated, but its continued viability was clearly threatened by the powerful neighbor that had become master of the world.

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