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The Umayyad Caliphate

661-750 CE

Consolidating Power
Muawiya is named Caliph in Jerusalem
in 660 CE
From the Umayyad Clan

Alis son Husayn attempts to oppose him

but is killed
Constant Shii resistance to Umayyads

New Capital at Damascus

Mecca still the Holy City

Into Central Asia and NW India
Into North Africa
Into Europe (Spain, then France where
stopped by Charles Martel and the
Into the Mediterranean (Crete, Sicily,


Govt under the Umayyads

Arab Aristocracy ruled the vast empire

Granted lands by the Caliph

Muslim Arabs = Citizens

Core of the army
Core of the bureaucracy and imperial administration
Received equal shares of loot from conquests
Taxed only for charity (zakat)
Soldiers stationed in garrisons throughout the empire
isolated to avoid intermarriage and assimilation

Society under the Umayyads

Voluntary Converts - mawali (low #s)

Not full members of the Umma

Had to pay jizya (poll tax), property tax

Got no share of the spoils of conquest

Could not hold govt positions

Dhimmi (people of the book)

Majority of population

Originally Jews and Christians, but later extended to

Zoroastrians and Hindus

Free to worship

Communities and legal systems left intact

Had to pay jizya (poll tax)

Gender Roles Early Years

Women - strong but not equal

Public roles, scholars, warriors, political voice (contrast to the seclusion and
subordination of women elsewhere)

Principles advocated by the Prophet

Morals and ethics in marriage

No adultery

No female infanticide

Bride price paid to bride, not her father or male relative

Men could marry up to 4 wives, as long as he could afford it must be treated


Legal rights of inheritance, divorce, remarriage

Degree of choice in marriage

Equality before Allah and in worship could not lead prayers

Gender Roles Later Years

Gradual erosion of position

Ambiguities in the Quran/Hadith which scholars and
leaders interpreted differently
Cultural norms of conquered people incorporated
into Islamic tradition

Different punishments for adultery harsher for
Increasing seclusion
Loss of occupational mobility

Class and Gender Roles

All Women

Educated in order to read the Quran

Legal Rights preserved

Royal Women

Lived in the harem, guarded by eunuchs

Some political influence

Lots of intrigue and competition

Upper Class Women

Lived in separate womens quarters

Could go out only in covered chairs

Had female slaves to do housework

Lower Class Women

Cottage industry

More mobility

Field work

Religious Rift
Sunni/Shia Split
Shiites: leader needed to be a relative of the prophet
Sunnis: leader only needed to follow the example and teachings of
the prophet
Different interpretations of the Quran
Different definition of imam
Sunni: teacher who leads prayer
Shii: the descendants of Husayn who were seen as the legitimate leaders of
Muslims (rifts over who they are; last one is hidden)
Now follow leaders call ayatollahs

Many Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian converts to Islam chose to

become Shia rather than Sunni
protest against the ethnic treatment of non-Arabs as second-class citizens.!/?cid=otr-marketing_url-sunni_shia_infoguide

Economy of the Umayyads

Taxes flowed into
royal treasury
Spoils of War
Revival of trade

Decline and Fall of the

Addicted to luxury abandoned the
piety and frugality of Rightly Guided
Long-disputed legitimacy
Aloof from affairs of state, wars etc.

Decline and Fall of the


Rise of the Abbasids

Frontier warriors from Persia

Leader Abu al-Abbas (descendant of Muhammads uncle)

Resented rule of Umayyad governors
Did not receive share of war spoils they had fought for and won

Resented troops being sent into the region

Forged alliances with other dissident groups (the Shii and
Took Persia, then Iraq, then Syria and the capital at Damascus
Murdered key Umayyad leaders at a feast; hunted down and
killed others
Survivors fled to Cordoba, Spain

The Abbasid Caliphate

750-1258 CE

Consolidation of Power

Sunni - Rejected Shii and mawali allies after gaining power

increasingly less tolerant of Shiism

Centralized, absolutist regime

New capital at Baghdad

Emulated Persian emperors luxurious palace culture, opulence,


Abbasid Government
Extensive bureaucracy
Growing power of the
wazir (chief
Poor communication
with outlying areas
not effectively governed

Abbasid Society

Full integration of non-Arab converts

Loot no longer divided among Muslim Arabs

Exemption from jizya

More opportunities for advancement and education

Mass conversions in regions outside the peninsula (N.

African Berbers, Persians, Turks in Central Asia)

Persian families rise to prominent positions in politics

Gender Roles
Women married at puberty (age 9)
Upper class women restricted to home
Lower class women slightly more mobile

Abbasid Economy - Revenue

Tribute system
Revenue collection (jizya, zakat, property tax)
Charity Tax built mosques, schools, baths, rest houses, hospitals

Abbasid Economy - Trade

Growth of merchant and
landlord classes
Luxury goods needed for
social elite
Revival of Afro-Eurasian
trade (Silk Roads reestablished by Chinas Tang
and Song Dynasties)
Dhow ships with triangular
lateen sails Indian Ocean
Sea Lanes
Joint ventures with Jews and

Abbasid Economy - Industry

Thriving handcraft industry

(furniture, carpets, glass, jewelry)
Some govt run, some privately
Artisans owned own tools and
were valued for their skills but
were poorly paid

Negotiated working
conditions and wages
Supported members in
need or crisis

Abbasid Economy - Agriculture

Ayan = landowning elite
Peasants (tenant farmers/ sharecroppers/
migrant workers) worked the land

Abbasid Economy - Slavery

Muslims could not be slaves

Captured/purchased in non-Muslim
regions (Central and Eastern Europe,
Africa, Central Asia)
Eunuchs castrated before entering
Muslim territory

Slave markets throughout the empire

Prized for beauty and intelligence,

sometimes highly educated

Unskilled labor in wealthy households

and rural estates

Manual labor (e.g. draining marshes,

mining salt)

Islam: Empire of Faith

Episode 2: Awakening

Islamic Culture Expands

Learning = Power
Acquire knowledge! It enables its
possessor to distinguish right from wrong;
it lights the way to Heaven. It is our friend
in the desert, our society in solitude, our
companion when friendless. It guides us to
happiness. Its sustains us in misery. It is
an ornament among friends, and an armor
against our enemies
the prophet

House of Wisdom
A library, academy,
and center of learning
for scholars from all
nations to study and
learn side by side


Glass and tile work



Math and Science

Banking; Lines of Credit sakks (checks)
Lunar calendar
Astrolabe: used to calculate time and position
based on the location of the stars and planets
Armillary sphere
Algebra (al-jabr)
Laboratories and Experimentation

Treatments for smallpox and measles
El Razi the greatest physician in the
world between 500 and 1500 AD also an
alchemist, chemist, mathematician and

Bedouin poetry
The Quran
The Thousand and
One Nights