Chapter 14 – The Expansive Realm of Islam
I. Chapter Intro
A. “In 632 CE the prophet Muhammad visited his native city of Mecca from his home in exile at Medina, and in doing so he set an example that devout Muslims have sought to emulate ever since” (B&Z 355). Each year hundreds of thousands of Muslims travel to Mecca by land, sea, and air to make the hajj (“the holy pilgrimage to Mecca”) and visit the holy sites of Islam. As years went by the pilgrims decrease, but in the 9th c. it had become so popular that Muslim rulers went to the extent to meet the needs of travelers passing through their lands. When the pilgrimage season was nearing, crowds would gather at major trading centers such as Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo. There the crowds would reside in tent cities, living off food and water provided from the government officials, and wait until there is an available caravan for them to join to travel to Mecca. The Muslim rulers invested a fair amount for maintenance of roads, wells, cistern, lodgings that accommodated pilgrims, and castles and police forces to protect travelers on their quest to Mecca and back. Hajj was not only of solemn observance it was also a time to celebrate with joy. Muslim rulers and wealthy pilgrims usually made gifts for companions or others they’d meet on the way. An example: Mesopotamian princess Jamila bint Nasir al – Dawa provided food and vegetables for pilgrims, supplied five hundred camels for handicapped travelers, purchased freedom for five hundred slaves, and distributed fifty thousand fine robes among the common people of Mecca in her famous hajj of 976 – 977. Most pilgrims couldn’t afford to be as generous as the princess, but the occasion was also special to common travelers as well. Merchants and crafts men made acquaintances and then arrange business deals with pilgrims from different lands. Students and scholars would exchange ideas during their journey together. To all pilgrims cooperating in ritual activities lent new meaning and significance to their faith. Islam means “submission” meaning the obedience to the rule and will of Allah, and if one accepts the faith they are considered Muslim meaning “one who has submitted.” Islam attracted many and took political, social, and religious significance. In the first c. of the new born religion, it spread past its Arabian homeland, and taking in Sasanid Persia and parts of the Byzantine empire. In the eighth c. Islam had stood by the Byzantine empire as a political and economic anchor of the postclassical world. Islamic society originally indicated the nomadic and mercantile Arabian society where Islam had come. After overthrowing the Sasanid empire, the Muslim conquerors adapted to Persian techniques of government and finance to manage their lands. Persian literature, science, and religious values found a place in the society as well. In the later centuries Muslims then drew inspiration from Greek and Indian traditions. Muslims didn’t invent a new Islamic society, but formed it with the elements from the Arab, Persian, Greek, and Indian societies. By embracing other societies the Islamic faith transformed cultural traditions that it had taken in. The realm of Islam then administered a political framework for trade and diplomacy over a wide-range for the eastern hemisphere, from west Africa to the islands of southeast Asia. Many lands then became part of a larger society referred to as the dar al-Islam the Arabic term that means “house of Islam” and this means the land that is under Islamic rule.
II. A Prophet and His World
A. Intro. Islam came about in the Arabian peninsula, and the religion reflected the social and cultural conditions of its origin. Most of the Arabian peninsula was desert, and only in the well-watered area of Yemen in the south and a few other places like Medina were enabled to have agriculture. Although that may be, there were human communities that resided in Arabia for millennia. “Nomadic peoples...
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