The Islamic Empire
In the time span of 22 years, the time of Muhammad as the leader of Islam, the Islamic “empire” had spread on a colossal scale. Nearly the whole of the Arabian Peninsula was supporting and practicing Islam, and the faith continued to spread. With the help of the Caliphs, Islam was spread even further. Before the year 652, the Arab Muslims ruled Egypt, the Fertile Crescent and the Iranian Plateau. Under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the empire that was brought together by Umar ibn al-Khattab would go even further. The Umayyad Caliphate
The Umayyad Caliphate was established in 661, although it truly begun in 644 with the rise of Uthman ibn Affan, the successor of Umar ibn al-Khattab. Uthman was the third of the four Rashidun caliphs, the “rightly guided” ones. He was also part of an aristocratic family in Mecca called the Umayyad. With his assassination in 656, the Shiites finally got part of what they wanted; Muhammad’s cousin and son in law Ali ibn Abi Talib became a caliph. Throughout Muhammad’s career as a prophet, the Umayyads rejected his monotheistic beliefs. Once the Umayyads and the rest of the Meccans had “submitted to god”, or began to practice and accept Islam, the Umayyad Caliphate appeared and was moved to Damascus in 661, with the end of the civil war caused by Uthman’s assassination. 661 also marked the year in which Ali was assassinated by his adversaries for want of rule over the newly-born religion, and when Muawiyah, the ruler of Syria, became the next caliph. Again the Shiites were unhappy and saw Muawiyah as merely a usurper, and that Ali’s son Hussein should lead Islam. As previously mentioned, the capital of the Umayyads was moved to the city of Damascus in 661, far north of Medina, in modern-day Syria. Under the Umayyads, the preferred and privileged rulers were the Muslim Arabs, who were granted their citizen’s tax money, and who became extremely rich. As the Umayyads had begun to make sure all transactions were recorded in Arabic, the language became what Greek or Phoenician was many centuries before, or what English is today. The Muslim Empire quickly stretched to even some parts of India and China, and in 717 the land beyond the strait of Gibraltar was Islam. North Africa was also conquered, and even as far as Spain. Eventually, the Islamic faith, language and culture had spread to all these places, though it took longer for places in the Middle East. The Islamic Empire soon grew bigger than that of Alexander the Great. Many were left unhappy, though, including the Shiites, who were not fond of the Sunni system of choosing a ruler, and many Sunni tribes were disputing amongst themselves. The main opposition group, however, were the Abbasids circa 740, led by Abu al-Abbas. In this time the Abbasids united all the anti-Umayyad forces, including the non-Arabian Muslims of an area in Iran called Khurasan. In 747, the group was ready, and they rebelled against the Umayyads. It took less than three years, when, in 750, the Umayyads were defeated, and the Abbasids claimed to be true “rightly guided” ones and that under them, Islam is true and clear, unlike under the Umayyads. The Abbasid Caliphate
The Abbasid caliphate was comparable to the New Kingdom of Egypt, or the Classical Age of Greece. It was the peak of the empire that the Umayyads helped build over the past several decades. After destroying the Umayyad caliphate, only a few of their leaders escaped. One of them was Abd al-Rahman, who went on to establish the Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba, Spain. The Abbasids moved the Islamic centre from Damascus to Baghdad in 762. We know much about the wealth of Baghdad through the tales of the Arabian Nights, many tales that continue intrigue listeners even today. The Abbasid caliphs began to claim to be the “shadows of god on earth”, to show and convince the people of legitimacy. The military began to be composed of Persian administrators, mercenaries, and Turkish slaves made...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document