Abbasid Decline and the Spread of Islamic Civilization to

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Chapter 7

Part II
Chapter 7

Abbasid Decline

and the Spread of Islamic Civilization to

South and Southeast Asia
I. Introduction

A. Mid 9th century losing control

1. Rebellious governors

2. new challenging dynasties

B. …but still creative – ironically – a golden age without political stability

1. architecture

2. fine arts

3. literature

4. philosophy

5. mathematics and science

C. Territorial growth – warriors, traders, wandering mystics

1. political conquest

2. peaceful conversion

D. Conduit for exchange – between urban/agrarian centers and between nomadic peoples

1. ideas

2. plants and medicines

3. commercial goods

4. inventions

II. The Islamic Heartlands in the Middle and Late Abbasid Eras

  1. Introduction – 3rd Abbasid caliph – al-Mahdi

    1. Courtly excesses > financial drain

      1. taste for luxury/monumental buildings

      2. surrounded self with wives, concubines, courtiers

    2. Political divisions

      1. continued Shi’a revolts and assassinations

    3. Problem of succession

      1. Son/successor poisoned

        1. Harun al-Rashid (786-809)

          1. most famous

          2. enduring

  2. Imperial Extravagance and Succession Disputes

    1. Extravagance amazed visitors

      1. Charlemagne impressed by mosques, palaces, treasures

      2. The Thousand and One Nights

        1. Luxury and palace intrigue/manipulations

    2. Throne at 23 – growing power of royal advisors

      1. signaled shift in power – court advisors now more important

      2. Now also power struggles between court factions

    3. Death of Harun al-Rashid led to civil war

      1. winning son had huge army

        1. started precedent of having “bodyguards”

        2. mercenary forces could reach 70,000

    4. Power shift now to military

      1. Between military and court, assassinations quite common

  3. Imperial Breakdown and Agrarian Disorder

    1. Caliphs try to move capitals away from Baghdad – kind of like Versailles

      1. Very expensive

      2. Cost of new palaces/capitals plus mercenary force = high taxes

      3. Peasant revolts caused from

        1. taxation

        2. pillaging

        3. Shi’a “encouragement”

  4. The Declining Position of Women in the Family and Society

    1. Remember Islamic world initially quite open to egalitarian treatment of women

    2. Harem – women kept in seclusion

      1. creation of Abbasid court

      2. win their freedom/gain power by bearing healthy sons

      3. some women became slaves

        1. But…slaves captured, purchased from non-Muslim regions

          1. prized for beauty and intelligence

          2. best educated men and women

          3. officials more attracted to slaves then wives sometimes

          4. more freedom than free women – no veils/robes

    3. Veil

      1. slaves – no veil/robes

      2. Upper class no career outlets beyond homes

        1. focused on interests of sons

      3. lower class women could actually farm, weave clothing, raise silkworms

  5. Nomadic Incursions and the Eclipse of Caliphal Power

a. Kingdoms try to take over power

i. 945 Buyids of Persia invade empire and captured Baghdad

1. Took names of sultan – victorious

ii. 1055 Seljuk Turks – replaced Buyids

  1. Turks were Sunnis – purged Shi’a officials

  2. Kept Byzantines from taking over

  3. Lay foundations for Ottoman Empire

  1. The Impact of the Christian Crusades

    1. First Crusade 1096-1099 – most successful for Europeans

      1. Surpise + political divisions

      2. Europeans killed Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem

    2. 200 years of battle – but…had little effect on Muslim princes

    3. Saladin – Salau-ud-Din – reconquered territory

    4. Impact much greater on Christians – Muslims show little interest in the west

      1. Increased European borrowing

        1. weapons – damascene sword

        2. fortifications

        3. science/medicine

        4. recovered Greek learning

        5. mastered Arabic numerals

        6. Middle Eastern rugs/textiles

        7. names for different cloths – taffeta, muslin

        8. Popular culture

          1. Chess

          2. Troubadours/ballads

          3. food – dates, coffee, yogurt

I. The Age of Learning and Artistic Refinements

A. Introduction

1. Political divisions not that important – still successful artistically

2. Remember – India/Western Europe also fragmented

3. One of great ages in human ingenuity and creativity

4. Expansion of professional classes

a. Great fortunes to be made through trade

1. Middle East > Mediterranean Europe

2. Coastal India and island southeast Asia

3. Overland caravan trade with China

5. Artists and Artisans

a. Mosques/palaces – larger more arnate

b. Tapestries/rugs from Persians – rare

1. exquisite designs

2. vivid colors

3. skill

c. Fine bronzes/superb ceramics

B. The Full Flowering of Persian Literature

1. Persian caliphs, wives, concubines, advisors, bureaucrats

2. Persian language became synonymous with “high culture”

a. Language drafted by skilled cartographers

3. Epic Poem – Shan-Nama – 10th/11th centuries

a. History of Persia – battles, intrigues, love affairs

4. Other topics – love affairs, every day life, striving to reach communion with divine

5. Blend of mystical and commonplace

C. Achievements in the Sciences

1. First, preserved and compiled learning of ancient civilizations

2. Math

a. Second, made major corrections to algebraic/geometric theories

b. Trigonometry – sine, cosine, tangent

3. Science

a. objective experiment

b. classification – animal, vegetable, mineral

c. weight of minerals

d. astronomical tables

4. Practical applications

a. best hospitals – required formal examinations

b. optics/bladder ailments

c. From China trade

1. perfected – papermaking, silk-weaving, ceramic firing

d. best maps – cartography

D. Religious Trends

a. Key Theme of Muslim world **** Social strife and political divisions vs. trading links and intellectual creativity

b. Mysticism gave vibrancy vs. orthodox religious scholars (ulama)

c. Orthodox Muslims

1. Gained prominence after Crusades

2. suspected Greek learning – questioning

a. threatened authority

3. Qur’an – final, perfect, complete revelation

d. Al-Ghazali tried to fuse Greek/Arab traditions

e. Sufist movement

1. Sufis – name from woolen robes

a. great healers

b. some led militant bands

c. some bodily denial

d. some used meditation, songs, drugs, dancing (dervishes)

e. helped expand religion

2. Personal union with Allah

3. Reaction to abstract/impersonal divinity

4. World illusory

E. New Waves of Nomadic Invasions and the End of the Caliphate

a. Abbasid domains divided as rival states grew

b. Mongols under Chinggis Khan – 1220s

1. Grandson – Hulegu continued

2. Baghdad overthrown in 1258

a. Cairo and Istanbul would become dominant city

3. Defeated by Mamluks – Turkish slaves

II. The Coming of Islam to South Asia

A. Introduction

1. Religion carried by invaders, traders, migrants

2. Hindus and Muslims came into contact/conflict

3. India pattern of nomadic invaders

1. those who remained usually assimilated

a. Due to strength and flexibility of India’s civilizations

b. Offered higher level of material culture than they had before

2. Muslims – first to bring in religion and not want to change/assimilate

4. Differences between Hindus and Muslims

1. Hinduism – open, tolerant, inclusive of various forms, idol worship, meditation

2. Islam – doctrinaire, proselytizing, exclusive worship of single god

3. Socially – Islam egalitarian vs. Hindu caste, compartmentalized, more rigid

4. So…religiously more restrictive vs. socially more restrictive

5. Interactions – violent > trade > religious interchange > wary peace

B. Political Divisions and the First Muslim Invaders

1. First – 711 – Traders

1. Arab seafarers

2. Muhammad ibn Qasim – preemptive assault to punish attack on Arab trading

3. Brought little change – embraced by some

a. Lower taxes

b. Greater religious toleration

c. Local officials get to retain titles, keep running things

d. Status of Brahman castes repected

4. Arabs lived in cities/garrison towns – apart

5. Same pattern as other parts – little attempt at first at conversion, few converted

C. Indian Influences on Islamic Civilization

1. Indian learning

a. Hindu mathematics – algebra/geometry

1. Use numerals of Hindu scholars

2. This number critical to two scientific revolutions

b. Medicine to music

1. Physicians brought to Baghdad

2. Arabian Nights tales maybe based on Indian stories

c. Game of chess

2. Indian dress, hairstyles, foods, rode on elephants

D. From Booty to Empire: The Second Wave of Muslim Invasions

1. Little territory added in centuries following Muhammad ibn Qasim

a. But…Turkish slave dynasty? – 962

b. Mahmud of Ghazni – series of expeditions

1. Drawn by wealth

2. Zeal to spread Muslim faith

3. Defeated princes

c. Muhammad of Ghur and Qutb-ud-din Aibak pushed territory further

2. Capital becomes Delhi

a. 300 year Muslim dynasties – sultans of Delhi

1. Fought Mongol/Turk invaders

2. Fought internally

3. Fought Hindu princes

E. Patterns of Conversion

1. Interactions accommodating and peaceful

a. Few converts won forcibly***

b. Sufi mystics quite successful – similar to gurus – helped region

1. Mosques/schools center of regional power

2. Militias to help protect from bandits

3. Cleared forests, helped with settlement

4. Welcomed low caste/outcastes

5. Charisma

2. Most attractive to Islam?

a. Buddhists

1. Buddhism being corrupted by rituals/didn’t follow Buddha’s teachings

2. Muslims raided Buddhist temples

3. Some Buddhists – orgies/magic experiments

b. Low-caste, untouchables, animistic tribal peoples

1. Egalitarian

2. Group conversions

c. Desire to escape head tax

d. Intermarriage

F. Patterns of Accommodation

1. Hindu community not really concerned with Islam initially

a. Believed religion would soon be absorbed

2. Hindus worked as administrators

3. Muslims separated from Hindus

a. Muslim communities

b. sexual relations restricted

4. Some Muslims adopted Hindu ways

a. claimed divine descent

b. minted coins with Hindu images

c. socially divided Muslim communities along caste lines

d. adopted customs

1. Indian foods

2. dress

3. Pan – limestone wrapped in betel leaves

4. Women treated poorly

a. Married at early ages

b. sati performed by upper caste Muslims

G. Islamic Challenge and Hindu Revival

1. Threatened by Islam

a. Actively proselytizing religion

b. Great appeal to large segments of the Indian population

2. Hindu reaction – increasing popularity – extending methods of prayer/ritual

a. Place greater emphasis on devotion to gods/goddesses

b. bhaktic cults

1. open to women/untouchables

2. Mira Bai – writers of religious poetry

3. saints from low-caste origins worshipped by all – brahmains down

a. Kabir – saint who played down difference

c. languages in vernacular

d. chants, dances, drugs – spiritual intoxication

1. state of ecstasy > attachment to gods – earthly life irrelevant

H. Stand-Off: The Muslim Presence in India at the End of the Sultanate Period

1. Brahmans took a more active role

a. Denounced Muslims as infidel destroyers of Hind temples

b. Denounced Muslims as polluted meat-eaters

2. Muslims couldn’t be flexible

a. Hinduism says some rituals optional – can’t be true for Islam

3. Hindus remained majority

a. Least converted/integrated of all the areas Muhammad’s message reached ***

III. The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia

A. Introduction

1. Island southeast Asia usually a middle ground for trade

a. Drop off Chinese products, Arab/Indian vessels pick up

b. Goods from Sumatra

1. aromatic woods

2. spices, cloves, mace

2. By 8th century – trade controlled by Muslims

a. Elements of religion filtered slowly

b. 13th century – Shrivijaya empire fell, Islams had full control

1. Incentive now for trading centers to adopt faith

B. Trading Contacts and Conversion

1. Peaceful/voluntary conversion more common than force

a. Merchants introduced rituals

1. Stated most of known world already converted

b. Port centers convert first

1. Malacca converted – moved inland

2. Trading links critical

a. Enhance personal ties

b. Common basis in law

c. Eastern ports now culturally/economically linked

c. Bali – Hinduism – remained impervious to Islam

d. Mainland southeast Asia remained Buddhist

C. Sufi Mystics and the Nature of Southeast Asian Islam

1. Syncretism

2. Spread by Sufis – mysticism

a. Tolerated earlier animist, Hindu, Buddhist beliefs/rituals

b. Many beliefs would be seen contrary to origins

1. Women retained stronger position

2. Markets dominated by female buyers/sellers

3. Inheritance still matrilineal

4. Fused Javanese puppet shows

IV. Global Connections

A. Political friction irrelevant, still a central focus for many continents

1. Led to refinement of civilized life

2. Fine arts, sciences and literature

B. Conflicts left open fringes to European political expansion

C. Growing orthodoxy – growing less receptive to outside influences

1. Bad timing, Christian Europe entering stage of unprecedented curiosity, experimentation

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